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6 ways your blog design might be turning off customers

(Business Marketing) In the arena of content marketing, fewer titans loom larger than the company blog. With engaging, informative, and timely blogs, businesses can establish themselves as thought leaders and provide a valuable resource.

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Don’t lose biz because of your blog design

In the arena of content marketing, fewer titans loom larger than the company blog. With engaging, informative, and timely blogs, businesses can establish themselves as thought leaders and provide a valuable resource to their customers and attract significant traffic to their websites.

While quality writing is crucial, another component of an effective blog is its visual content. According to GetResponse blogger Sara-Ruth Wolkiewicz, any company should be able to create a visually compelling blog with the use of one or more free tools.

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Whether your firm invests in an elite designer and development team to construct the best blog money can buy, or a few savvy inside personnel team up to create something clean and navigable, visual appeal is vital.

Unfortunately, many companies make grave errors when it comes to visual design. Their sites are not just irritating to the customer’s eye, but bad enough to turn readers away completely.

Take a look at some of the primary mistakes companies have made while blogging, if you want to preserve your readership.

Common design pitfalls of company blogs are outlined below:

1. Generic stock photography.

Customers perceive stock photography as a cheap trick. When a business does not take the time or have the means to create honest and real images for its website blog, it gives the impression that the company is careless.

Perhaps visitors wonder whether the company is worried about how proprietary images would look. Would the business seem less professional and savvy if you saw it in its real light?

Stock photography also does not necessarily convey the purpose or meaning of the blog content. It can make the content seem thrown together or unnecessarily misleading.

2. A lack of images.

In addition to the gaffe above, some companies publish all their blog communications without any images. Websites that lack visual richness often suffer the worst bounce ratings.

To combat this problem, hire a professional photographer to take fabulous photos of your facility, products, services in action, or anything else that represents what you do well. Release them gradually, with new posts, to get the most out of your investment.

If this is not workable, take your own photos! Customers forgive an amateur photo as long as it is appropriate, clear, the right size, and loads quickly.

3. Inconsistent or unattractive color schemes.

This can be serious. Inconsistency causes customers to recall a valuable tidbit they read in your blog and wonder where they read it.

If the answer doesn’t come to them, they may scour your competitor’s website in search of this useful information. If you keep your look consistent, customers are better able to remember your stellar content from its familiar, trusted source.

An unattractive color scheme can drive potential customers away from your website. While attractiveness is somewhat subjective, some color combinations are almost universally repellent, including those that are scathingly bright or conversely dim and overcast, or those which are unreadable.

4. Inappropriate or difficult-to-read fonts.

Color is not the only cause of accelerating bounce rates. Illegible fonts account for a great deal of customer exits.

As web users evolve, there has been a greater upsurge of interest in clean, thin-yet-wide fonts such as Century Gothic and Arial. Serif fonts such as Times New Roman are still acceptable for more traditional content.

Promotional images and headlines can have a curlier, bold, or script-like font, but readability is still paramount. Customers can often be put off by fonts that do not seem appropriate, such as overly curly, feminine fonts for a truck rally or bulky, jagged fonts for a wedding expo.

Stereotypes aside, Google doesn’t play well with unacceptable fonts either, and SEO rankings defer to websites with cleaner blogs.

5. Lack of responsive design.

Look around you. Everyone at the coffee shop, in the store, on the sidewalk, and even in their cars is operating a mobile device.

Gone are the days when people spent more of their hours — as much as 16 hours a day — sitting at a laptop. Desktop computers with their separate tower and monitor are even more antiquated.

So it should be intuitive that company blogs and websites as a whole should be designed to be responsive to mobile browsers, right? Unfortunately that does not appear to be the case: Many companies’ sites are still inaccessible, mangled, or partial in mobile view.

Customers who come across your blog on mobile and find that it doesn’t automatically suit their screen will simply not take the time to minimize, maximize, or otherwise bend to your layout. Responsive design is important for all aspects of web content in 2014.

6. Slow loading.

This is absolutely unacceptable to customers. If your images and videos — or worse, your entire content panel — load slowly or partially as a result of a poorly optimized website structure, customers will flee. Guaranteed.

The current generation of web users, which now includes your grandmother and mine, doesn’t have the time or patience of the dialup generation. We will not wait to see your carefully chosen image, and we will not stream your embedded video and wait for it to load the remainder halfway through. A great developer can handle optimization to make everything run faster and more efficiently.

Larry Alton is an independent business consultant specializing in social media trends, business, and entrepreneurship. When he's not consulting, glued to a headset, he's working on one of his many business projects. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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Business Marketing

Pay employees for their time, not only their work

(MARKETING) Yes, you still must pay employees for their time even if they aren’t able to complete their work due to restrictions. Time = Money.

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pay employees for their time

The COVID-19 pandemic has inspired a lot of insightful questions about things like our healthcare system, worldwide containment procedures, and about a billion other things that all deserve well-thought answers.

Unfortunately, it has also led to some of the dumbest questions of all time.

One such question comes courtesy of Comstock Mag, with the inquiry asking whether or not employees who show up on time can be deducted an hour’s pay if the manager shows up an hour later.

From a legal standpoint, Comstock Mag points out that employees participating in such activities are “engaged to wait”, meaning that – while they aren’t necessarily “working” – they are still on the clock and waiting for work to appear; in this case, the aforementioned “work” comes in the form of the manager or supervisor showing up.

In short: if the reason your employees aren’t working is that the precursor to completing the work for which you pay them is inaccessible, you still have to pay them for their time.

Morally, of course, the answer is much simpler: pay your employees for their time, especially if the reason they are unable to complete work is because you (or a subordinate) didn’t make it to work at the right time.

Certainly, you might be able to justify sending all of your employees home early if you run into something like a technology snag or a hiccup in the processes which make it possible for them to do their jobs – that would mean your employees were no longer engaged to wait, thus removing your legal obligation to continue paying them.

Then again, the moral question of whether or not cutting your employees’ hours comes into play here. It’s understandable that funds would be tight for the time being, but docking employees an hour of their work here or there due to problems that no one can control may cause them to resent you down the line when you need their support in return.

The real problem with this question is that, despite most people knowing that the answer should always be “pay them”, the sheer number of people working from home in the wake of worldwide closures and social distancing could muddy the water in terms of what constitutes the difference between being engaged to wait and simply burning time.

For example, an employee who is waiting for a meeting to start still fits the bill of “engaged to wait” even if the meeting software takes an extra half hour to kick in (or, worse yet, the meeting never happens), and docking them pay for timecard issues or other extenuating factors that keep them from their work is similarly disingenuous – and illegal.

There are a lot of unknowns these days, but basic human decency should never be up for debate – especially now.

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Business Marketing

Cooler temps mean restaurants have to get creative to survive

(MARKETING) With winter approaching, restaurants are starting to find creative and sustainable ways to keep customers coming in… and warm.

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Outdoor eating at restaurants grows in popularity.

Over the last decade we have seen a change in the approach to clientele experiences in the restaurant business. It’s no longer just about how good your food is, although that is still key. Now you have to give your customers an experience to remember. There are now restaurants that feed you in the dark, and others who require you to check all your clothes at the door. Each of these provides an experience to remember alongside food that ranges from good to exquisite, depending on your taste.

Now, however, the global pandemic has rearranged how we think about dining. We can no longer just shove people into a building and create a delectable meal. If you’ve relied mostly on people coming into your restaurant, you may struggle to survive now.

The new rules of keeping clients safe means setting things up outside is the easiest means of keeping large numbers of them from crowding inside. Because of this, weather has become a key influence in a company’s daily income. Tents that were a gimmick before, only needed by presumptuous millennials, are now a requirement to keep afloat. People are rushing to make their yards into lawns that bring some in some fancy feeling.

The ties to the sun in some areas are so strong that cloudy days have been shown to drop attendance as much as 14% for the day. This will become the more apparent the colder it gets. For me, I always mention hibernation weight in the winter, when all I want to do is curl up and eat at home. Down here in Texas we are already finding cooler weather, drops into the 70s even in August and September. We are all assuming a cold winter ahead. So, a bit of foresight is finding a means of keeping your guests warm for the winter ahead.

San Francisco restaurants have started with heat lamps during their cooler evenings. Fiberglass igloos have also been added to outdoor seating as a means of temperature control. A few places down in the Lonestar state keep roaring fires going for their outdoor activities. While others actually keep you running in between beverages by encouraging volleyball matches. This is the new future ahead of us, and being memorable is the way to go.

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Business Marketing

Canva is catching on to content trends, launches in-app video editor

(MARKETING) Canva launches an in-platform video editor, allowing access to their extensive library of assets and animations to create high-quality videos

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African American woman working on Canva Video Editor Desktop in office setting.

Video content consumption is on the rise, and the graphic design platform, Canva, took note of it. The $40 billion Australian startup has entered the video business and announced the launch of its video editor, Canva Video Suite.

The end-to-end video editor is an easy-to-use platform that anyone, no matter the skill level, can create, edit, and record high-quality videos. Best of all, it’s free, and it’s available on both desktop and mobile platforms.

The tool has hundreds of editable templates that you can use to create videos for several online platforms like TikTok, YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook. Some templates can be used to create workplace and business videos, while other templates are perfect for personal videos. There are playful themes you can use to create that spooky video just in time for Halloween or make a laugh-out-loud video to send to your best friend! With a wide range of selections, in no time you’ll start creating your very own video masterpiece with Canva.

Caucasian man holding iPhone showing Canva video editor on mobile.

What else does the video software offer and what can you do with it? Well, let me tell you:

Collaborate in real-time

Having everyone on the same page is important and Canva’s video suite takes that into account. To collaborate with others, you simply send them an invite, and together you can edit videos, manage assets, and leave comments to give your input.

Video timeline editing and in-app recording

Similar to building presentation slides, Canva’s scene-based editor simplifies video editing by using a timeline approach. With it, you can quickly reorder, crop, trim, and splice your videos. Also, users don’t need to leave the platform to record that last-minute shot; within the app, you can shoot and record yourself from a camera or a screen.

Library of assets

The video editor is filled with an array of watermark-free stock footage, icons, images, illustrations, and even audio tracks that you can choose from – but if you really need something that is not on their platform – you can upload your own image, video, or audio track.

Animate with ease

Although still in the process of being released, soon you will be able to add animations of both text and visual elements in just a few simple clicks. Among others, animation presets that fade, pan, and tumble will help you transform your video and take it to a whole other level.

Overall, Canva Video Suite is very intuitive and has all the essential things you need to create a video. And by streamlining the video creation process, Canva is ensuring it enters the video marketplace with a bang.

“One of Canva’s guiding principles is to make complex things simple, and our new Video Suite will allow everyone to unlock the power of video, whether that’s to market their business, make engaging social posts, or express their creativity,” said Rob Kawalsky, Head of Product at Canva.

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