How To Be Creative: A Designer’s Guide

Local Pages` creative designer explores the issue

Are we born with a creative mind, as opposed to a mathematical mind? Some say we are, and that we can’t be both. We are either governed by the right side (the creative side), or left side (the logical side). This is only a theory – that our characteristics come through according to which side is more dominant. But new research says otherwise.

Creativity can be nurtured in someone who perhaps thinks they are not creative. We all have to be creative to solve problems in life in one way or another. Obviously creativity is very subjective. If you asked 10 different people for feedback on your creative ideas, you’d get 10 different answers! Do not let criticism strangle your creative process. It’s good to listen to others and their constructive criticism, and by taking the positive out of this, you can use some of what they say to play around with other ideas.

Nothing is perfect, so don’t feel you have to come up with the perfect solution. Don’t rule out working on ideas that perhaps you are not so keen on because following these paths may make you come up with another solution that fits. Of course someone who is trained in creativeness will be able to initiate ideas quicker than someone with no experience.

Some creative designers prefer to work on their own but for ideas to flow, it’s always good to share. This is called “brainstorming”, where a few creative minds get together and thrash out an idea or concept by drawing on bits of paper with doodles or writing them down or sharing them verbally. People can bounce ideas off of each other then and perhaps take their ideas one step further in a way they hadn’t thought of. The initial brief needs to be clear and concise though. You cannot say everything in one design, so good communication is the key.

Inspiration is always a good starting point. Collect pictures, patterns or colours that you like in the form of magazine articles, photos or illustrations and make a book of them. Anything that catches your eye. Some small thing, like a colour, may spark off a flurry of creativeness and lead you in all sorts of directions. The internet is obviously a good place to explore for ideas too. Save the pages and images you like into a file on your Mac or PC and use them to get the creative juices flowing.

Think of children and how unselfconcious they generally are. Try and think like a child and your imagination may take you on a very creative journey. Try not to be too analytical. Perhaps use  a list of single words to describe the possible answers to your brief. Each word may spark an idea which may encapsulate the personality or essence of the message you want to put across. Look up key words in a thesaurus or dictionary, which in turn may spark a visual metaphor.

Let’s make up an example: Let’s say we need to design a poster for a dog’s home – they want something positive to advertise what they do. Write down key words when you think of dogs or animal sanctuaries. My thoughts are: unconditional / beautiful / refuge / safety / cuddles / fur  – the list could go on and on. Look up some of these words in a dictionary or thesaurus. I looked up “refuge”. The dictionary says “a place or situation providing safety or shelter”. Or “safety” – “the condition of being protected from or unlikely to cause danger, risk, or injury”.

Working on the word “safety”, I came up with an idea. “Safety” sparked a visual of cotton wool – you probably know the phrase – “wrap someone up in cotton wool” which suggests keeping that person safe from harm as cotton wool is so soft and inviting. This was my very first thought (write down all thoughts) and it came to me in a matter of seconds: So how about a picture of a dog surrounded by cotton wool or bouncing around a field of cotton wool?! So in a few minutes I already have one positive idea. I have roughly illustrated my idea it below.

 

Creative

So, now you have seen a brief outline of the creative process, go and play away! Do you have any tips of how to be creative? We’d love it if you share your own creative process below.

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25 Years of World Wide Web

Who remembers 1989? Hands up. Yep – most of us here at Local Pages too! Whilst we were busy perming our hair and rocking out to Rick Astley, a very clever guy called Sir Tim Berners-Lee was creating the World Wide Web in Switzerland. It was a new way to distribute information on the Internet. We’re not sure about you but how often do you stop and think about how the World Wide Web actually works? It just does, right? Well here’s the science behind it.

 

The Web is based on hypertext which allows the user to connect from one document to another at different sites on the Internet via hyperlinks. And for the first time in 1989, the Web was accessible to use through graphical icons. Some of the early adopters of this new technology were Apple, Yahoo, The Telegraph and The White House to name but a few. Those first sites seem so basic to us now.

 

The Telegraph Webpage World Wide Web

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At Local Pages life continued without www. until the millennium when our first site was designed. As you can imagine, it was a simple site that allowed us to show information about who we are, what we do and how to contact us. Since then, we’ve had two major re-designs. And our website is a lot more involved. You can access price lists, online copies of directories, our search site, as well as this blog!

 

It’s not just our appearance, but the way we think about websites has changed too. For any size of business, your website is your “shop window” – your chance to invite people in, stay a while, and invite them to (hopefully) buy something. And businesses spend time and money making sure that people see that shop-window through social media, SEO and blogs. A website that isn’t attractive, or doesn’t rotate it’s “window-stock” regularly can quickly become a redundant or even negative attribute for a business. It’s the age-old saying of “first impressions count” and a customer with plenty of distractions can easily have their heads turned in a different direction.

 

We would love to hear from you – leave us a comment below telling us about how your website has changed over the years. Did you know we can help with all aspects of website design? We offer anything from a free review, to a re-design or brand new site development.

www.localpages.co.uk World Wide Web

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5 Social Media Strategy Tips For Local Businesses

Whether you’re a multinational corporation or a one-man band, using social media is a powerful and cost-effective way to grow your business. If you’re looking to target customers local to you, here are a few things to consider.

 

  1. JOIN THE COMMUNITY CONVERSATION

It’s one thing posting and tweeting to keep followers updated. But wherever you’re based, there are guaranteed to be online conversations taking place in your community about the things that matter to you. Identifying the most relevant and adding your voice to them is a great way to build valuable connections.

As it’s a conversation and not a sales pitch, being open, friendly and not too “salesy” always helps. As do tagging, @mentioning and using local #hashtags.

 

  1. CONTENT IS KING

There are loads of interesting tools out there to make social output more interesting and engaging. Most are pretty simple to use. Emojis, Vines, Snapchat filters or even the simple act of posting a tweet with an image is proven to significantly increase engagement vs. those without.

Landscape gardener? Try creating gifs that showcase before and after shots. Restaurant? How about a Twitter poll to pick a new dish on the menu?

To see what works, test a few out and stick with the ones people engage with most.

 

  1. KEEP GOING!

Social media never sleeps, so it’s vital to be prepared for the long game. The relatively small pool of a local area means that once people become aware of you online, they’ll expect to hear from you and talk to you on a regular basis.

Having someone permanently dedicated to it is the simplest approach. Though I have other duties at READY, one of my tasks is to manage our social channels. I devote time to it every day, and we’re significantly growing our following as a result.

 

  1. HAVE A PLAN, AND STICK TO IT

It’s important to set a long-term strategy complete with goals and measurable results. Otherwise how do you know if what you’re doing is working

It can be done alone, or with an expert’s help. However, we’d advise keeping day-to-day management in-house. Your staff know your products and the community you’re targeting better than anyone outside your business.

Do ensure they have clear rules and governance to follow, particularly in terms of what’s appropriate to post and what isn’t.

 

  1. THINK ABOUT CAMPAIGNS

As mentioned, regular maintenance is essential for building your business’s profile. But consider dedicated campaigns too, like competitions, promotions or celebrations around particular occasions or local events.

To maximise impact, it’s essential to plan them well in advance and set clear objectives, such as capturing data or generating an uplift in sales. Social platforms offer plenty of nifty tracking options, which you can use to measure performance and identify improvements for future campaigns.

 

Did you like this post? You might also be interested in Choosing The Right Social Media Platforms.

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More Leads = More Customers? Think Again.

I am often reminded of getting back to basics to build revenues and profits in business. But none more so than when I am confronted with a business owner who shows me they need more new customers. If you really want to grow your business and you really want to do it fast, then take a look at grasping these few simple ideas.

You are already getting people contacting you, coming in, emailing you and so on. Your people are already messing up and not selling to anywhere near enough of these potential customers. Want to know just how bad it is, ask one of your friends to call your business and try to buy, just wait and see how they go.

Almost every business owner I meet believes that they are selling to the majority of prospects they come into contact with. Well, put bluntly, you are not. How do I know? After doing this exercise with hundreds of business owners, I have only twice been proven wrong.

For the next two weeks keep a record of every phone call, every email enquiry, every walk in every single prospective buyer that contacts your business. Ask every single one of them how they found out about your business and keep a record of it. Was it referral, direct search etc.? Then, at the end of the two weeks see how many of them have bought from you. If you think you are at about 6 or 7 out of 10, it will be about 3 or 4 out of 10. I have seen this with so many companies, even restaurants who think they get everybody, then measure the people that call versus the people that book, and the people that read the menu out front versus those who actually come in.

Your Conversion Rate is a massive opportunity. If it is lower than say 50%, then we’ve got to get to work!

First, you’ve got to start measuring it every day. That focus alone will get it up to 10% higher than it is right now.

Add to that, here’s another 11 ways to boost your conversion rate right now, this week:

  1. Get your salesperson with the best conversion rate to train everybody else for a day or two.
  2. Script your sales process. Use a lot of questions in the script (it’s NOT a sales pitch) and learn from what the best sales people are doing.
  3. Break your sales process down into each and every critical step and work on one step at a time.
  4. Measure your conversion from one step to the next and work on improving each step by just 10% more than it was.
  5. Work on the letters, brochures and other written or audio and video material you use during each step of the sales process.
  6. Use my magic question for phone selling, “Thanks for your call, just so I can help you best would it be OK if I asked you a couple of questions?
  7. Run a competition among your sales people for a week or two around the one area you need to see the most improvement in, then learn from the new ways they start doing things.
  8. Learn the critical buying step in your sale, for example in female fashion stores, it’s trying the clothes on, with it you have more than a 50% chance at making a sale, without it, less than 10%.
  9. Follow up and follow through, too many sales are lost by salespeople who can’t be bothered to follow up again and again and again at least 7 times.
  10. Make an offer that is either limited or a bonus offer or something to get customers to act now and to give sales people some ammunition
  11. Just plain ask people to buy, usually in sales training the one biggest reason sales people are not getting the sale is that they don’t ask for it.

Stay focused on your conversion rate for 3 months and watch the dramatic effect it has on your bottom line.

Once you’ve got it right, or at least much better than it is today, then and only then is it time to go to work getting more potential customers and investing more money into your marketing and fixing the marketing you are doing now.

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