Saturday, December 12, 2009

New ASHE Cuyahoga Valley Website goes live!


My most recent website design is now live. ASHE Cuyahoga Valley is a membership organization for civil engineers, construction management professionals and project management companies in Northeast Ohio.

This new site features a dynamic calendar for the events page as well as a gallery page with inherent image navigation.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Business Cards, Flyers, Brochures, Letterheads - all Cheap!

The Wonderful New World of Print-on-Demand

Those of us who have been working in the print design world for a number of years can recall how time consuming and expensive it once was to order items as simple as printed business cards. Single color cards ran at least $100 for 250 qty, and full color business cards often cost hundreds of dollars!

Fast forward to the present, and you will find many more cost-effective options for printing not only business cards, but just about any business or personal print collateral you can think of: letterheads, post cards, invitations, calendars, envelopes and more. The cost of printings these things hasn't just come down, it has plummeted.

Add to great pricing the ability to use your own design, canned templates or a combination of template and custom formatting, and you have a winning package. The icing on the cake is that you can actually get these items printed and delivered quickly.

What has made all this possible is the evolution of the digital printing industry, or "print-on-demand." While some printing companies still utilize lithographic printing methods for print-on-demand orders, much of the printed product is being produced via digital printing technologies.

You and I don't need to understand the equipment used, or how they do it. What matters to us is that we receive a high-quality product for a great price.

One thing you do need to keep in mind when you order from a Print-on-Demand house ... read ALL of the instructions before uploading any custom artwork and particularly before hitting the "Buy" button! This especially applies to designs you have created yourself. Each printer has different specifications for file size, resolution, crop dimensions, etc. Not following instructions to the letter is likely to yield an end product with surprise results. For instance, one would think that the dimensions on a standard business card are universal. Not so! Each print-on-demand site has slightly different dimensions for a custom business card design.

While there are many print-on-demand suppliers now on the market, I have three favorites that I would like to share with you: Vistaprint.com, overnightprints.com and got print.net.

Vistaprint.com is one of the early leaders in this market, and they continue to break new ground by adding more and more options for printed items, as well as many new stock/template designs. They also now offer specialty items such as t-shirts. Website design & hosting (yes, you can create your own) is one vistaprint's newest ventures.

Overnightprints.com is a wonderful supplier for all sorts of business stationery. Last year they started offering an interactive online design tool - sure to delight just about anyone who doesn't have time to do their own custom design, but also doesn't want stock artwork for his/her look.

My latest, and current favorite, in the print-on-demand field is gotprint.net. They have several paper stock selections for business cards, including a recycled stock with aqueous coating. This creates a top professional business card - sporting a high quality coating, yet with a paper surface that remains "writeable" so that you can pen a note on the card. I was extremely impressed with their 3-panel brochures as well.

All of these sites have an amazing array of standing artwork and pre-printed backgrounds. Thanks to print-on-demand, you can have a professional, full-color image for your business in no time at all!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Featured Graphic Designer: Janet Kullman

This article begins the first in a series of Featured Graphic Designers. Over the years I have been privileged to meet many fellow designer friends, both personally and online. This blog will now broaden it's horizons by featuring the work of these wonderfully creative individuals on a regular basis.




An admitted typoholic, "I love words, but am not a verbose persons," Janet says, "it's actually the interplay between the letters and other elements that attracts me."

This love of type mixed with her love of color and overpowering need to create, lead her to study graphic design. "Oh yes, I still love words, they can say a lot, but poet or essayist, I'm not. I like things said in their most succinct form and that, to me, is visual".

Janet worked for several ad agencies and of course a typehouse, before opening her own design studio, Kullman Design, in 1991. She refers to herself not as a graphic designer, but a communications designer. "It's not only what you say, but how you say it that communicates your message," she states. Her tagline, Building Images that Build Business, emphasizes her mission of creating unique visual messaging — putting form and content together— to make her client's message visually appealing and memorable.


She has built a successful list of long-term clients by focusing on relationships. "Building relationships are a key component in helping a cleint successfully build their brand. It's that level of trust and collaboration that enables me to effectively create their unique design," Janet explains.

Logo, brand identity, a new brochure, business cards and stationery, post cards for direct mail, catalogs, billboards, etc – Whatever your print design needs — from concept design through to printing, contact Janet. 330.456.7261, www.janetkullmandesign.com.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Offsite Methods of Getting Traffic to Your Website

“Link to Me ... Please!”

In the last post we talked about those pesky keywords - and the important role they play on a website. Quality keywords, placed strategically on a well designed website, should be front and center in any search marketing plan. This is part of your onsite search optimization plan.

If you are looking for other low cost methods of driving more traffic to your website, then inbound “Links” are one of the most productive means of doing so. The actual results will depend upon the type of links, the quality of the links and just how much time you can invest in obtaining a quantity of links. For those who don’t understand what links are - anytime you can click on an image or text and be taken to a different page on a website (or a different site all together), that is a link.

Quality Links Rule
You will want to cultivate quality inbound links to your site. That is - other sites that have links to your website. This takes time, and is an on-going process. Start with organizations and associations through which you have membership. A blog can be a great vehicle for inbound links. If you take part in any social networking sites you can usually add your website link to your profile. For instance, my Pencil Drawings by Kelli Swan Blog has several links to both my own sites, and client/friend’s sites.

Formatting Links
When setting up links, it is advantageous to be as descriptive as possible in the linked text. Even though the link address might be http://www.photographerjanedoe.com, the verbiage in the link should be a literal description, like: black and white photographs of windows and doors. (Example: Notice the descriptive links about each website sample on my SEO and eMarketing page. Instead of using the url address in the text, the words used are descriptive and more like keyword phrases.) What you are doing here is telling the search engines the search terms through which you would like your website to be found.

Link Requests
If you’ve had a web presence for any length of time, you are probably receiving email requests for “reciprocal links.” In this case, a website is promising you an inbound link to your site in exchange for you placing a link to their site on your own site. Personally I ignore the bulk of these requests. In most cases, I have found that the requesting site wants a prominent listing on my Favorite Links page, and in return I would be receiving a link nested somewhere in the middle of hundreds of other links. Hardly a fair exchange. Also - many of these link requests come from totally unrelated sites. You want to keep your inbound links relative in some way to your site. In other words, a website that sells shoes which links to a website that promotes local arts & crafts doesn't really help the arts/crafts site. An inbound links from an artist or arts supplier would be a much higher quality link from a search engine's perspective.

Friday, October 30, 2009

SEO - How Important are Those Pesky Keywords?

Everybody seems to be talking about keywords these days. Just what are they and how important are they? Keywords are an important tool in the wonderful world of search engine optimization.

Remember that the internet, for the most part, is based upon words. While we all like fancy, dynamic sites, and know that "a picture is worth a thousand words," we generally find what we seek on the internet using words.

This means that unless your business is already famous, your business name does not qualify as a high quality keyword! (At least not yet.) Think about words and phrases that describe your business and/or service. Then, use your logic and perhaps one or more of the online keyword selector sites to help you research keywords. You are looking for words that other people are using in searches - words that relate to you and your business. (i.e. “pet portraits” and “dog breed art” for an artist who specializes in painting dogs.) You will typically want a combination of 2-4 words. The competition for a single key word if far too intense for most small businesses to make a dent. Let’s use “Artists” as an example. If you expect to be found on a web search of the word “artists,” you will likely be disappointed. “Black and white landscape artist” as a target keyword phrase for example has much better potential for success.

Once you select a keyword phrase, or ideally a number of phrases, you will want to write copy for your website that includes these phrases. Your top one or two keyword phrase selections should be used at least once in every paragraph on the page, as well as in the headline. Other keyword phrases should be used less frequently, though repeated at least once on the page if possible. The challenge here is to write copy that reads well, is informative, and yet enticing to search engine crawlers. (Spiders or webcrawlers are software programs used by search engines to search the internet for sites and site content.) Also, you can target different pages of your site with different keyword combinations to attract more traffic. Any page of your website should be considered a potential “landing” page - the first page a visitor to your site sees. You do this through well chosen and utilized keyword phrases. Don’t assume that all users will go straight to your home page.

Once on your site, the hope is that your visitor will stay a while to navigate the pages and learn more about you and your business. Make sure to highlight your chosen keywords when you give your copy to your site designer so that he/she can include these phrases in the description metatags contained in the source code of the website pages. These “metatags” are part of the behind-the-scenes workings of a website. While you do not see the actual code when you view a site, the code is responsible for how the website looks. Your computer’s browser interprets the code, and then displays the site for viewing.

Another concept that incorporates keywords is the “alt tag.” The alt tag is text that describes a picture or graphic on a website. It shows up when your cursor hovers over an image on the site. The website designer places this alt tag text in the source code of the web pages. The alt tags are one more way to get relevant keyword phrases onto your site. The file names of images and pages should also utilize your keyword phrases. So, if you have a painting of a Greyhound dog titled “My Best Friend,” the alt tag on the image, as well as the image file name, should be something like “Greyhound Dog Portrait,” not the title of the painting. If your images have quality names and alt tags, people who use Google Images to search are much more likely to find your work. Then, the picture will link them into your site! A good practice is to give all images file names that are descriptive (i.e. “vintage horse and buggy painting” as opposed to “my first landscape”) and use similar alt tags.

Once you are ready to address off-site optimization techniques, these same keywords that you've chosen to use come into place. These keyword phrases should become the active links in blog articles you post about your site and any other inbound links you can cultivate. More on that approach in an upcoming post!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

New Website for Jason Stephen Abstract Art - Colorful Paintings



My newest website design is now uploaded and active. The site was designed for the Jason Stephen Abstract Art in Nashville, Tennessee.

“This site features the contemporary abstract paintings of Jason Stephen. Residing in Nashville, Tennessee, Jason finds his inspiration in music. The nature of the music played often “dictates” where the creative process goes. ”

If you would like to see more websites that I have designed, as well as samples of my other Graphic Design Services, please visit: Kelli Swan’s Graphic Design and Marketing Services.

Friday, July 31, 2009

New Website for Omnipro - Construction Management Services in Ohio


My newest website design is now uploaded and active. This site was designed for the Construction Management firm Omnipro Services in Northeast Ohio.

“OmniPro Services has been providing Construction Management, Construction Engineering, Preconstruction Services, and Inspection Services for a multitude of DOT’s, State Building Programs, Toll Authorities, Local Public Agencies, and Privates Sector Projects for decades. Their staff includes the finest construction personnel in the industry today. They treat each job as if it were our own project. Delivering a project on time, within the budget’s constraints, is a top priority.”

If you would like to see more websites that I have designed, as well as samples of my other Graphic Design Services, please visit: Kelli Swan’s Graphic Design and Marketing Services.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Online purchasing now at Deb Simon's Wildlife Photography Site


In the past several months I have added numerous new photographic prints to Deb Simon's photography website. And now the site has been upgraded to offer online purchasing through PayPal!

Deb offers a wonderful collection of tiger prints, elephant photos, bald eagle photos, butterfly images and so much more.

It has been my honor to work with Deb and her incredible photographs. And I am eternally grateful to her for supplying me with some great equine reference photos for my own pencil drawing artwork! Thanks Deb!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

e-Marketing for Cleveland, Ohio area accounting and tax preparation services

I recently began search engine optimization and e-marketing for Cleveland, Ohio Accounting and Tax Services by Klinc & Associates LLC. Ray Klinc, a long-time friend and great asset to my own business, is chief CPA at Klinc & Associates.

Klinc & Associates, LLC provides accounting, tax and advisory services for small businesses in Cleveland, Akron, Columbus, Cincinnati & Youngstown, Ohio. They also work with clientele nationwide. With a focus on providing proactive advice, timely responses, and building personal relationships, each and every client is equally valuable. They strive to provide extraordinary service. This personal approach sets Klinc & Associates LLC apart from other firms.

Among other things, we have started a small business, estate planning and accounting information blog for Klinc & Associates. This blog will feature general articles of interest to many. The first artilce is posted now: Home-Based Business Considerations for Self-Employed Artists and Crafters

Friday, April 17, 2009

New website for Akron, Ohio Neuropsychologist Dr. Delphi Toth



One of my newest website designs is now uploaded and active. This site was designed for Clinical Psychologist Dr. Delphi Toth in Northeast Ohio. Dr. Delphi Toth - Clinical Psychologist and Neuropsychologist offers psychotherapy and other counseling services.

If you would like to see more websites that I have designed, as well as samples of my other Graphic Design Services, please visit: Kelli Swan’s Graphic Design and Marketing Services.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

New website design is now live - Ohio Arts and Craft Guild



My most recent website design is now uploaded and active! This site was designed for the Ohio Arts and Crafts Guild, based in Canton, Ohio. The OACG mission is to preserve, promote and develop fine arts, performing arts and crafts in the state of Ohio. www.ohioartsandcraftsguild.org.

If you would like to see more websites that I have designed, as well as samples of my other Graphic Design and Logo Design Services, please visit my: Graphic Design Services at www.cygnetgraphics.com.

Monday, February 16, 2009

A Primer on Web Sites and Finding Web Hosting Providers

My thanks to contributing author Chris Jones for this latest article in the internet marketing series:

What is a Web Site?

In our last article we briefly discussed the differences between web sites and e-commerce sites and how having either one allows you to have a web presence. I want to get mildly technical for a moment so that you can better understand how a web site works, which will in turn set the stage for the remainder of this article. If you just can't bear the technicalities, feel free to skip to the next section. Everyone ready? Deep breath...here we go.

Fundamentally a web or e-commerce site is nothing more than a collection of electronic files. These files contain instructions for web servers, the software that runs your web site. Different kinds of files contain different instructions. One of the most common files is an HTML file. HTML files don't contain information for the web server, but rather for the web browser. No matter how complicated or sophisticated the web site, it always comes down to an HTML file. The trick is being able to identify the specific HTML file that you want. This is where URLs come in.

URL stands for Uniform Resource Locator and is the basis for all web-based interactions. The web was originally designed so that individual users could publish basic documents that could be requested by other users. These documents became known as "resources." A URL is constructed in such a way as to unambiguously identify any given resource on the web. It does this by providing a computer name and a path to the target resource. The computer name, also called a host name, identifies the physical computer on the Internet that contains the resource. The path tells the host computer which resource you think you want. As both an example and a shameless bit of self-promotion, consider the following URL:

http://www.blackhoundjewelry.com/store

The "http" part of the URL is called the protocol and you don't need to know much about it. Next comes the host name, "www.blackhoundjewelry.com". This allows the web browser to locate my particular computer on the Internet. The resource being requested is a document called "store." The web server on the host computer will look for a file with that name. If it finds it, it returns it to the browser, which can then interpret the HTML inside that file. If the web server can't find the requested resource, then it will return one of several different error codes back to the browser, which will then display one of its often cryptic error pages.

No matter how simple or complex the web or e-commerce site, this same basic exchange of information occurs every time you request any kind of resource on the Internet.

Now that you've got a basic understanding of the underpinnings of the web, we're ready to start talking about how you can avoid having to deal with a lot of its complexities. One key way of keeping your life simple is by hosting your web site rather than running it yourself.


What is Hosting?

Because the care-and-feeding of a web server and its hardware is a non-trivial task, at least if it's done well, most of us let someone experienced handle it. When we talk about "hosting" a website, what we're really saying is that we want some outside group to manage the hardware and software needed to keep our site available on the Web. Individuals or companies that provider this service are called "web hosting providers."

The process of locating and contracting with a web host provider doesn't need to be long or arduous, but it does require that you maintain a careful balance between two factors: current need and future growth. You may find that these two factors come into conflict from time to time, but it's essential that you live in the now while you plan for the future.



How to Find a Web Host Provider

When you first start researching web host providers, there will be a lot of information and you probably won't understand it all. Fortunately, once you learn some basic questions and how to evaluate the answers, you'll find that you can compare all of your candidate providers against a common set of criteria. We're going to get into the nuts and bolts of some web-related technologies in later articles, but here are a few critical questions that you should ask the sales department of each provider you're considering.

1. Does the vendor provide you with any service-level agreements (SLAs)? SLAs are essentially contractual agreements that the vendor makes with you regarding things like their up-time (the amount of time in a given period of time that one of their hosted sites is guaranteed to be available on the web). In all honesty, at the lower price points of hosting you probably won't find such SLAs, but most vendors will at least advertise their up times in an attempt to convince you to choose them as your web host. One way to verify their claims is by visiting the support forums and seeing the feedback from their existing customers. If you see that they voice complaints about site downtime, then you might want to look elsewhere.

2. Is technical support available 7x24? One of the reasons for a web site is so that your business can be "open" all of the time. If your web hosting provider can't commit to being available to help you when you need it, then they might not be a good choice for you. Keep in mind that customer support and technical service is usually only for troubleshooting host-related problems like hardware failures or slow performance. They typically won't help with things like website design or troubleshooting software that you install on your site yourself. In those cases you're looking at subcontracting to a web site designer, which is the topic of another article.

3. Is a domain name included in your costs? A domain name is the name by which your web site will be identified by a customer's browser. We'll save the pointers for choosing domain names for a different article, but for now you should know that domain names can often be purchased separately from the actual web hosting service. As a matter of fact you can purchase a domain name from one organization and transfer it to your own web hosting provider later. Even so, many web hosts will allow you to purchase domain names for somewhere between $9-$12 per name. If you purchase the name with your web hosting package you may be able to save some money. Since this is probably one of cheapest expenses you have, at least for a new domain name, I tend to look at this as an "all else being equal" kind of consideration.

4. Are there any limits on the amount of traffic that your web site can receive? Some providers put limits on the amount of data that can be downloaded from their sites. This is done partly for self-preservation since they don't want their sites to be used as video download sites or some such. It's also a way for them to regulate the use of their limited computer hardware. If you're running a static website with limited imagery, such as a corporate logo, then these restrictions may not be a problem for you. However, if you have a hgh-traffic site, or an e-commerce site that has lots of product imagery, then these limitations should be considered. If a site does limit your monthly traffic, they often have a tiered purchasing plan where you can buy more bandwidth for a greater monthly cost.

5. Does the provider give you email addresses? Most providers throw in some number of email addresses as part of any package. For some sites the initial number of email addresses is relatively low, but you can buy more for a higher monthly cost. Other groups give you a ridiculously large number of email addresses that you'll never use. Be sure that you're not paying a premium for a feature that you don't need. My own provider falls in that "ridiculously large" category, but the overall hosting cost is reasonable so I don't feel like I'm throwing money away. One advantage of extra email addresses is that you can create separate accounts for different aspects of your organization if you wish, even if you're the sole owner. For example, I have a dedicated email address for me as the owner of Black Hound Jewelry, but another email address to deal with things like error messages from my web site. You might want to check and see how many email auto-responders (automated replies to incoming emails) you can have. You might also want the ability to forward your email to another account.

6. What other software does the provider offer? We'll do a more thorough treatment of the typical hosting technologies in a different article, but most providers will offer you the option to install a dizzying array of software at no additional charge. You may not currently need this kind of software, particularly if all you're planning is a static web site, but this is one area where planning for future growth is a good idea. If nothing else you should keep in mind that if your provider doesn't offer additional software, then if the time comes to upgrade from a static site to an e-commerce site, you will need to do another search for another provider, but with a different set of criteria. This will take additional time so you can plan for that in your schedule.

7. Do you have any kind of resource limitations? Most providers limit the amount of disk space that you can use. This is done because you are often sharing the physical hardware for your website with other paying customers and the provider doesn't want one customer to monopolize all of the disk. There are often limitation on your use of the machine's CPU for the same reason. Customers who find that they routinely exceed these limits may be asked to move to a higher price tier. If your site has significant resource requirements, like a heavily-trafficked e-commerce cite, you should plan on speaking with your provider about getting a dedicated server.

8. What kind of access do you have to your website? You need the ability to get content to and from your website. There are a variety of software tools that allow you to do this including: FTP and SSH. If you are subcontracting your site design and development to a third party, you'll also need the ability to give them access to your site so that they can update it for you.

9. What kinds of management utilities do you have access to? Some of these management utilities are more important than others. For example, .htaccess is a file that allows you to control which visitors can see which parts of your site. Crontabs enable you to have programs run periodically against your site in order to perform useful work. For example, Black Hound Jewelry has a crontab that runs every so often to automatically update information on the site that is then used by Google to improve its search results.


Remember that the choice of web host provider can seem complex, but after you look at a few different providers you'll start seeing similarities. In many cases the decision may come down to things like reputation and cost rather than for any specific technical benefits that one provider has that another does not.

In the next "Getting on the Web" article, we'll look at the process of choosing a domain name and what it can mean for your business.

About Chris Jones
Chris Jones has over 15 years of IT experience developing web-based software for both the public and private sectors. He is the owner and artist of Black Hound Jewelry, an online retailer of custom chain maille jewelry. He has a Masters degree in Software Engineering from DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois where he is also an adjunct faculty member teaching software development at the undergraduate, graduate and professional levels. He is active in Greyhound rescue in the Chicagoland area.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

So You Want to be on the Web?

My thanks to contributing author Chris Jones for this wonderful article and upcoming series:

Why the Web?

For many businesses the web is no longer a luxury but a business necessity. Most large businesses have learned, sometimes painfully, that they will not be taken seriously without some kind of web presence. Small businesses have discovered that the web can be a great equalizer, allowing their products and services to get in front of potential customers that might never have considered them before. But what about very small business? What about the sole proprietorships or the mom-and-pop stores? Should they be on the web? Should you?

The web can be a great tool and its potential for reaching large audiences quickly is unmatched. However, as with most tools, the web has its own rules. Rules that you will need to understand if you want to take full advantage of all that the web can provide.

This article will be the first in a series of short articles that will get you acquainted with the web, what it means to be on the web, and what it will require of you once you're there. We can’t possibly discuss all aspects of the web in these articles, but we hope to make you aware of the issues so that you can at least make informed decisions. Perhaps even more importantly, you will be knowledgeable enough to know what you don't know and to enlist the right kind of help before you get into trouble.

This first article will acquaint you with some of the most common issues you’ll face if you chose to go on the web. It will also start to acquaint you with common terminology that you’ll come across.

What Does it Mean to be on the Web?

Being on the Web means different things to different people. For some people it means having a simple, static web site while for others it means having a complete e-commerce solution. When we say “static web site,” we mean a site whose content does not change unless the site’s author changes it. In contrast “e-commerce sites” provide capabilities far beyond those of static web sites. Many e-commerce solutions include pieces of software, typically called modules, to help you manage inventory, facilitate user registration and tracking, and report on key business performance indicators. Regardless of whether you intend to use a static web site or an e-commerce solution, there are some points that you should keep in mind.

1. Think of your web presence as a very real extension of your core business. It needs constant care-and-feeding just as your in-person presence does. We’ve all seen examples of web sites that seem to be stale or stagnant because their content is old and out of date. Your business and the complexity of your site will dictate how much time you spend maintaining it. For instance, my web site, Black Hound Jewelry, requires a significant amount of maintenance from me per week because this is my sole retail outlet and I’m counting on it to drive my business. If your business is service-oriented or requires significant face-time with your customers, then a static web site, rather than an e-commerce site, may be a better choice for you simply because you won’t be able to use your site to conduct business in any meaningful way.

2. Plan for your site to be another monthly expense. We'll go into the details of where web sites come from and where they live in a later article, but for now you should know that there will be expenses involved in setting up and maintaining a site. For example, you’ll need to pay to have a company setup and run your site for you, a process called “hosting”. You may need to pay for special software to maintain the site. If you expect to conduct credit card transactions you should expect monthly fees for your hosting provider to supply you with the technology needed to support such transactions securely.

3. Plan to spend some time educating yourself about the web technologies on which your site is based. While you probably won’t ever want or need to become an expert on those technologies, you should at least understand some of the jargon so that you can have meaningful dialogs with any contractors you commission and so that you can better understand useful articles that you find on the web. In addition knowing the current technical trends may allow you to envision ways to use your web site to provide a better return-on-investment by directing more customers to you.

4. Plan to spend some money on contractors. If you’ve already dealt with contractors, then this requires that you learn what questions to ask. If you haven’t dealt with contractors before, then this will be a big learning experience for you. The reason for using contractors is simple: while working on the web is easier now than ever, there are still many technical specialities that you either won’t want to do for yourself or that you won’t be able to do yourself. After all, you still have your core business to run. Contractors can often complete tasks for you much more quickly and thoroughly than you can do yourself by virtue of their experience and expertise. As to what these contractors will cost you, it depends on the kind of contractor. Contracting for basic web site design is relatively low-cost compared to contracting someone to customize an e-commerce software package.

In this article we’ve tried to set your expectations that although the web can be a valuable tool, it’s by no means an exercise to be undertaken lightly. You should put as much due diligence into the decision about whether or not to go on the web that you put into your other major business decisions. In our next article we'll start to explore the process of locating a web hosting provider and how to evaluate what you’re getting for your money.

About Chris Jones
Chris Jones has over 15 years of IT experience developing web-based software for both the public and private sectors. He is the owner and artist of Black Hound Jewelry, an online retailer of custom chain maille jewelry. He has a Masters degree in Software Engineering from DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois where he is also an adjunct faculty member teaching software development at the undergraduate, graduate and professional levels. He is active in Greyhound rescue in the Chicagoland area.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Affirmative Action Plans - Website Goes Live



I have another new website design now uploaded and ready for surfers. This site was designed for Corporate Compliance Associates, Inc. in Ohio. Affirmative Actions Plans and Solutions for Single and Multiple Locations specializes in the technical compliance and education related to EEO and Affirmative Action issues at manufacturing, retail and service firms, as well as financial institutions and hospitals.

CCA primarily assists federal contractors with the development and implementation of Affirmative Action Plans, as well as with the successful completion of O.F.C.C.P. audits. Their client base ranges in size from small single-location companies to Fortune 500 establishments with multiple locations. See the pages on What is an Affirmative Action Plan? and Who Needs an AAP? for more information on Affirmative Action Plans and Corporate Compliance issues.

If you would like to see more websites by Cygnet Graphics Ltd, as well as samples of other Graphic Design Services, please visit: Kelli Swan’s Graphic Design and Marketing Services.

New Health and Wellness Site Goes Live



One of my newest website designs is now uploaded and active. This site was designed for Frank Personal Development in Ohio. Frank Personal Development - Health, Wellness and Integrative Living Solutions offers health and wellness products and services. Frank Personal Development is dedicated to helping you explore the approach or combination of healing approaches that best suits your needs and life situation.

While there are many methods of enhancing the health of the mental, physical, emotional and spiritual self, one element is common to all. That element is water. Water is key to all life forms and quality water is essential to good health. See the page on Ionized Water which covers this topic in depth. Also visit the pages on the Healing Mosaic which provide more information on the four bodies which comprise an individual.

If you would like to see more websites that I have designed, as well as samples of my other Graphic Design Services, please visit: Kelli Swan’s Graphic Design and Marketing Services.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Using Print-On-Demand Products for Marketing

Selling your logo or other artwork on products

In addition to my graphic design and e-marketing endeavors, I have a thriving fine art business in the medium of pencil drawing. Several years ago I found that putting my images on products was a great way to broaden the audience for my work. AND, through using a quality online print-on-demand source, I was able to increase traffic to my website.

It works like this: I set up a CafePress store and uploaded the images that I thought would do well on items like t-shirts, mugs and tote bags. While the store was somewhat time-consuming to set up, I have been quite happy with the ultimate results. (In the past couple of years CafePress has made tremendous improvements to their site, making it much easier to navigate and use.) The added benefit from an SEO standpoint is that I was able to add quality inbound links from my CafePress store to my primary Pencil Drawings of horses and dogs site.

The point is this - if a business or company has a logo it would like to reproduce on products (say for customer or employee gifts), it makes sense to use the online, print-on-demand store approach. That way, not only can the products be purchased in small quantities if desired, but the added e-marketing benefits of quality inbound links to a website can be reaped.

FYI - The most important part about selling images on products is the electronic image preparation. CafePress has many wonderful help pages. For more on preparing your images for reproduction on products, you may want to visit their Beginners Image Workshop.