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Website Design tips

Website Design tips

Website design is difficult for many small businesses. It takes up time that most thriving businesses don’t have.  Read on for 5 basic website design tips, and reach out to The Write Hand LLC when you get stuck!

5 killer web design tips that will make your life easier

Originally written by Skillcrush

website design

We all want to have a beautifully designed website and yet, it’s surprisingly hard. So what is it that great designers know that the rest of us don’t?

The key to great web design is really very simple: you’ve got to understand the universal rules of good design and follow them, all the time.

Let’s make sure this never happens to you.

1. Learn the fundamental rules of type design
The key to good web design, says Ryan Shafer, Lead Digital Designers at MTV & VH1, is remembering that the web is really just a bunch of text. “I encourage all budding web designers to embrace that the web is fundamentally about typography design.”

And the great news is that type designers have spent the past five thousand years perfecting text design, and there are a few golden rules that all websites should adhere to:

For headlines:

  • Make them bold and easy to scan

  • San serif typefaces are great for headlines because they are stark and easy to read at larger sizes

For body text, you want to maximize legibility:

  • For lots of text opt for a serif typeface

  • Make the font-size much larger than you think is necessary, we recommend 16 px at minimum

  • Lines should never be more than 50-60 characters long

2. Pick a solid typeface, and maybe one with a touch of whimsy
Now, don’t get us wrong, we love Helvetica as much as the next designer. When it comes to picking a font-face you want to pick something super easy to read, graphic, and maybe something a little, you know, whimsical.

Colin Nederkoorn, founder of Customer.io says that recently, “Proxima Nova has replaced Helvetica Neue as my sans-serif typeface of choice. They probably won’t make a movie about it, but if you want a sophisticated sans-serif typeface that the lay(wo)man won’t recognize, give Proxima Nova a shot.”

Some other good choices are Montserrat and Merriweather Sans.

website design

3. Pick a three-color palette & then stick to it!
When it comes to picking a color palette the key is to pick it and stick (to) it. Consistency is everything when it comes to creating a cohesive color palette for your site.

“I prefer neutral palettes that use a strong accent color in a bold way,” says Mike Fortress designer at Oak Studios. “Perhaps a white background (#fff), a not- too-dark text value with a little hue in it (#45585f), and a strong accent color (#4e5fff). But,” warns Mike, “Be careful with that last color!”

Check out Adobe’s Kuler tool for picking colors, or get inspired by the collection of palettes at Colour Lovers.

4. Make sure your photos are the right size
Remember, the web is pixel based, so if your image isn’t large enough it’s going to look pixelated.

“When you are looking for images on Google or iStock, make sure to get the proper size” says designer Kristina Zmaic. “Photo clarity adds a lot of credibility to a site, even if they weren’t taken by you.”

If the image is too small, don’t use it!

5. When in doubt, give it space
The most important design tip is also the simplest: “Make sure your content has breathing room; give it proper margins will help with legibility and focus.” In particular, says Kristina, it’s important to avoid overwhelming users with walls of text.

“Too much text can be a bit daunting. Text is necessary so make sure to break it up with larger sub headings and legible paragraphs. Considering using icons or images as alternative ways to communicate your point.”

If there is one golden rule of design it’s this: pick your aesthetic and stick to it. Consistency is key. Nothing will tank your design faster than picking one design direction and then switching it halfway through.

Read more website tips here.

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WOW – I found this article to be a great start to my week. I’m not going to toot my horn too loud, but frankly when you grow as a person and better things happen for you; it’s important to acknowledge it with grace and be proud of yourself. As such, this article reminded me of all I’ve gone through from childhood until today, it reminded me of always trying to improve day after day, even when some days I might have gone backward a bit too far. This article reminded me that I built The Write Hand, LLC from a little part-time side thing all by myself; to a fully functioning Online Business Management Network. My company provides income for the specialty contractors on my team and provides growth and revenue for the business owners we service. All said (this is where the actual Horn Toot comes in), I couldn’t have built The Write Hand, LLC without my life journeys, my professional experiences, and my daily and formal education; and I am proud of that.

The full article link is at the end; it’s a quick, easy read. But before you click the article, below is what I thought as I read it. Perhaps go into this article with the idea of putting yourself in each category and evaluate where you should be the proudest and where you should try to put forth more effort for greater improvement. The best quote in this article by my opinion; “…be transformational, not transactional…”

  • ENGAGED – They are personally engaged. Not only do these managers preach engagement, they live it. They are engaged as both individuals and managers. They bring their hearts, spirits, minds, and hands to their work. It’s contagious.
    • My 2 Cents: Money is a necessary evil and in proper terms is earned with hard work. There are a zillion jobs in the world; with a good attitude and dedication to your goals, you can make any job enjoyable – or at least learn to keep yourself happy and balanced within the job.
  • INVOLVED – They are involved. We often see “management by exception,” which means the only time a subordinate interacts with their leader is when they do something well or really steps in it. Engaged managers are there day-to-day, taking the temperature, learning what people need to be inspired to give discretionary effort.
    • My 2 Cents: It’s easy enough to ask your employees or team members how things are going, where are they seeing the most successes and challenges, or is there something they think would improve a process or the environment. Just ask, listen, and implement as best you can to keep your team happy. Sometimes the simplest things can make folks feel appreciated and thus, they want to follow you and stick with you.
  • HIRE WISE – They hire wisely. You may not have total discretion over hiring for your team or department. But you probably have influence. The engaged manager does whatever he or she can to ensure that new hires are people likely to get on board with the organization’s engagement environment.
    • My 2 Cents: I do have the total discretion of who I hire but I also value the input of my whole team. I may hire based on my criteria, yet during a trial period I will ask my team how the new member is interacting, do they need guidance in one place more than another, are they stronger somewhere that we should capitalize on, etc. Similarly, with tact and a non-judgmental tone; I will always let my team know when something has not occurred as it should and how we can improve the action for the future. Wasn’t that a PC way to say, “I politely tell people when they screw up and how to not do it again?” LOL
  • MAGIC – They create an environment of “MAGIC”: Meaning, Autonomy, Growth, Impact, and Connection. They understand the key components of engagement and don’t try to substitute imitation satisfaction factors for what’s truly important.
    • My 2 Cents: This is perfect for The Write Hand, LLC because I feel like we do create MAGIC particularly for our clients. We build websites and marketing plans that get results; they are attractive and appealing. We make things come to life for our clients. But this actual acronym as relates to management is cool in my opinion. The MAGIC formula is a simple way to make your team feel needed, successful, and valued for their talents.
    • The portion of this acronym that speaks to growth is one that I think a lot of managers don’t focus on enough. Though you never want to lose good people, you must keep your team forward thinking for themselves and your business. If they have dreams, goals, and motivation; help them get there. Five excellent and successful years with a top-notch employee is better than 15 years with a miserable one. In the case of my company where I use many different experts, most of whom work for me ‘on-the-side’ in addition to full-time employment; I try to show my team how what they do for me can translate into addition work or learning they can use elsewhere or to grow their own side business, if that’s what they wish.
  • TRUST – They don’t mess it up. When your team is fully engaged, sometimes your job is just to get out of the way and adjust the sails.
    • My 2 Cents: This is so perfect for the way I built my company. I used to do it all, but ‘all’ was limited to the few areas of expertise in my brain. With excellent connections and the vision to capitalize on other people’s expertise, I learned how to package and sell my smarts and the smarts of others, so yet other-others could benefit – LOL. Even though I am the Project Manager and liaison between all clients and the contractors working for us; I know when to sit back and watch my experts work together to get the job done. I might occasionally chime in and say, “Good Job, can’t wait to see it…”, or “This is over my head, y’all let me know the outcome…”, or even, “Sounds good; let me know if you need me…”
  • EXAMPLE – They lead by example. More than anything, the engaged manager’s role is to lead by example. In the words of Gandhi, “be the change you wish to create.”
    • My 2 Cents: This one is a bit more interpersonal and while I feel I try hard at this, definitely this is one that always needs to be top of mind in LIFE in general; not just management.

FULL ARTICLE HERE!

https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/270429

 
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Posted by on June 12, 2017 in Let's Share...

 

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Business By Mr. Rogers??? 

So I was searching around YouTube for something totally different and found this unique remix featuring Mr. Rogers. If you really truly listen to the words of the song you can apply this to so much stuff in your life. Be inspired, use your mind, and chase your dreams. Whether they are personal or business, dreams can only come true if first try … and maybe try again, and again, until you get it right. https://youtu.be/OFzXaFbxDcM

 
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Posted by on June 8, 2017 in Let's Share...

 

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The Top 5 Myths of Mobile Apps — And Why Believing Them Will Hurt Your Business

The Top 5 Myths of Mobile Apps — And Why Believing Them Will Hurt Your Business

As an Online Business Management and Virtual Assistant Network, I can testify that I use several great apps for not only managing my business but also managing the business for my clients. Some of my favorite apps are Pages (for FB), Groups (for FB), BaseCamp, DropBox, and QuickBooks. Of course with all the travel I do, there are apps I love for that as well, such as AllStays Camp & RV, Hotels.com, GasBuddy, and a couple of weather apps. Check out my website for more helpful resources.

Here’s an article about apps that I really enjoyed and it even made go hmmm…

Smart phone icon

Myth 1: Consumers no longer download apps.
Rumor has it that the app economy has peaked and that downloads are on the decline.

The Truth: In 2016, global app downloads surpassed 90 billion across iOS and Google Play. This represents 15 percent annual growth — an annual increase of more than 13 billion. In the U.S., consumers downloaded 12 billion apps last year, an average of roughly six per month, according to App Annie data. Businesses that buy into this myth will lose to competitors and tarnish their brand. The app stores are alive and well, so every brand needs to have a robust app strategy in place.

Myth 2: The app store is only for big publishers.
The assumption here is that big players like Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat are dominating app stores, and new players have little to no shot in such a saturated market.

The Truth: Our data shows the app economy experienced 20 percent year-over-year growth in new apps — more than 2.2 million last year — capturing consumer attention across verticals and countries. Look at the gaming space for instance: Within the last year, Pokemon GO and Super Mario came out with a bang, giving long-standing games like Clash Royale increased competition and opening the door for AR. Verticals like retail, banking, travel and foodservice have seen huge growth. The app economy and the app stores present a huge opportunity for new and emerging apps to make their mark, as long as they have the right strategy.

Myth 3: Downloads = dollars.
Many believe downloads are the most important metric when determining the success of an app. They assume that if downloads decline, the app is not performing well and conversely, that downloads are a measure of engagement.

The Truth: Usage is the new currency of success, and Americans on average spend well over 2 hours per day in apps. Usage metrics that track engagement are more indicative of an app’s success than downloads alone. What happens after the download is what ultimately matters: Are users engaged, or do they download and dump? How much time are they spending in the app and how often? What’s your retention rate look like? These metrics can guide businesses to optimize the experience to capture more revenue and increase customer satisfaction.

Myth 4: Bots will overtake apps.
The rise of bots brought forth the idea that apps are old news and chatbots are the “next big thing.”

The Truth: Apps aren’t going anywhere. App Annie data shows that average consumers use more than 35 apps per month, and time in apps has nearly doubled over the past two years. Conversational products simply cannot compete with the breadth and depth of value provided by visual experiences. We are still at the beginning stages of bots. Though bots and conversational experiences may play more of a role through integrations in time, they will not displace apps all together.

Myth 5: Apps are a “nice to have” not “need to have.”
Though we know consumers are primarily mobile-first, some businesses still don’t see mobile — let alone apps — as a necessity, but rather as optional, if budget permits.

The Truth: No one can question the importance of mobile as a critical tool for business success. In today’s market, we’re not only seeing digital-first apps compete with incumbents but also long-standing businesses are implementing mobile-first strategies. In order for any brand to successfully engage its audience, it must meet customers where they are, whenever they seek to engage. Apps uniquely enable this and are fueling this mobile first transformation.

The amount of success we’ve already seen in the app market makes it impossible to dismiss this industry as a “novelty” or “optional” any longer. With the maturity of the market, businesses of all types can reap the benefits of a well-designed app. However, by heeding these misconceptions, many are missing out on the opportunity at their fingertips. Armed with these truths, any business — from games to banks — can be transformed into long-term success.

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Ingredients for Creativity and Innovation

Ingredients for Creativity and Innovation

I rather liked this article. It reminded me that I use several of these techniques but must make a habit of using them continuously to maximize my potential. As a Virtual Assistant my days are never exactly the same, so I have to work harder at making good practices into second-nature.

7 ingredients for Creativity and Innovation

by Eve Ash / Tuesday, May 10 2016

Click for Full Article and Credits

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“Discovery” Albert Szent-Gyorgyi wrote, “is seeing what everybody else has seen and thinking what nobody else has thought”. Very true, which is why all workplaces seeking to make their mark should provide the following necessary conditions for creativity and innovation.

Space

This means a certain amount of latitude to pursue a problem or consider alternatives. It is difficult to be innovative when someone is micromanaging you or tut-tutting about the state of your desk or personal circumstances. If a project’s outcomes aren’t pressing, or if a person really does their most inspired work alone or even at home, let them get on with it (providing of course you’ve seen that this does work for that person).

Boundaries

Workplaces invariably have rules and restrictions, so creativity must be able to be triggered within certain expectations or constraints (which is not the same as micromanaging). When there’s a deadline to meet, or a client is jumping up and down, we need people who can thrive on a slightly frenetic atmosphere and under these circumstances turn out creative solutions. But the boundaries must be clear and tangible – not shifting goalposts.

Challenge

Then there are those among us who are a little bit feisty; people who love it when a metaphorical gauntlet is thrown down. Most people love competition. Providing there’s a level playing field where the rules are clear, the incentives are there and stringent penalties exist to prevent cheats, a challenge can produce wonderful ideas and refinements on what currently exists in the marketplace.

Jolt

It’s important to give ourselves a small jolt from time to time. Everyone is apt to become a little stale, irrespective of their daily output or viability of routines. Human beings lap up interesting concepts, new ways of seeing and experiencing things, visiting places never seen – the list goes on. Find new external stimuli – go to an interesting lecture, listen to a debate, pick up a book you’ve heard about and read it to the end, find a relevant best practice article related to your work. Or go and volunteer somewhere completely different for a few days.

Stretch

Start stretching your body and honing your health and fitness in ways you’ve never tried. Even sitting straight (standing preferably) acts as a stimulant to a brain’s electric circuitry. There’s no need to become obsessive, but a few minutes of intense physical activity will cause tingling endorphins and a feeling of wellbeing, which in turn sparks fresh approaches to your life.

Mix

Once in while take people from different areas of the business and different teams and create a multidisciplinary mini-team that can brainstorm and solve issues together. Just the simple action of mixing non-traditional roles can release a whole new way of approaching tasks. Accept different approaches and find ways to BUILD on each others ideas without offence.

Special

Create special places at work to have fun and “incubate” ideas, for example, by adding whiteboards on pillars, breakout rooms with fun seating, or a games room. But ensure there are ways to record the ideas. Make sure everyone is encouraged to write down ideas, whether in groups or alone. Regularly review ideas – keep lists fresh and fun, and celebrate the implementation of new ideas.

 
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Posted by on May 10, 2016 in Time Management

 

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Effective FB Advertising Virtual Assistant Tricks

Effective FB Advertising Virtual Assistant Tricks

This is one more of those emails I debate whether to “UNSUBSCRIBE” and Clean my Inbox of recurring emails that mostly I NOT INTERESTED in. This time – I took the time and I really enjoyed a lot of this lady’s perspective on Facebook Advertising.

Things that make you go hmmmmm… time to rearrange and keep up…

Full Article and Credit Here

February 3, 2016 — Posted By

Bigger is always better, right?

When it comes to Facebook advertising and your audience—think again!

Advertising in general is both an art and a science, and the same is absolutely true when advertising on Facebook.

This week’s Mari Minute poses the question: what is the ideal audience size for your Facebook ads?

Given that there are 1.59 billion monthly active users on Facebook, it seems almost counterintuitive to aim small, but as Facebook explains it,  “the ad in your ad set is likely to perform better if it’s displayed to the people who are most likely to be interested in your product or service.”

The reality is that a smaller number means you are targeting specific users to help you achieve a desired outcome, as opposed to casting a wide net and just seeing what sticks. For you as the advertiser, aiming smaller will allow you to narrow in on the exact type of customer or client that your business really wants.

Tips for Successful Audience Targeting

  1. Aim for an ideal audience size between 30,000-300,000 users.
  2. Use Interest & Behavior Targeting to narrow down the audience size.
  3. Use Detailed Targeting in the Power Editor to use Boolean search terms, like “and” “or” to reach users that, for example, like Mexican food AND Los Angeles, or Mexican food AND Los Angeles or Orange County.
  4. When building your ad, aim to get the Audience Definition meter somewhere in the middle between specific and broad.
 
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Posted by on March 3, 2016 in Time Management

 

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Self-Filing Taxes vs. Hiring an Accountant: The Cost Breakdown

Self-Filing Taxes vs. Hiring an Accountant: The Cost Breakdown

The Write Hand, LLC is a Virtual Assistant Company

At The Write Hand, LLC, we are dedicated to helping small business owners eliminate and manage all sorts of administrative tasks. We have assistants with a variety of talents enabling us to create and maintain websites, create and distribute all manners of marketing collateral, down to simple tasks like scheduling, email clean-up, travel reservations and so much more. We like to share articles of value when we come across them and we hope you’ll enjoy this one…

Self-Filing Taxes vs. Hiring an Accountant: The Cost Breakdown

From Kabbage – Click Here for Full Article and Credits

To file, or hire it done, that is the question. Whether ‘tis nobler in the pocketbook to hire a professional, or to suffer the slings and errors of doing it all yourself…

Tax time is on us, and that means struggling with a question millions of small business owners ask themselves every year: is it worth the money to hire an accountant?

Fifteen years ago, the answer was clear. Unless you’re an accountant yourself, hire it done. With the new(ish) wave of websites and apps that do the hardest parts for you, though, filing your own taxes is within the ability of many small and most micro business owners. It boils down to a question of cost.

Let’s look at those costs…

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The Costs of Self-Filing

The good news here is that the cash costs of filing correctly are free as compared to filing via a professional. Yes, state filings include a nominal fee — but your accountant includes that fee in his charges, so there’s no difference there. Additional costs of self-filing fall into three categories:

  • The cost of labor. The average personal tax filing requires 16 hours of record keeping, tax planning and filling out of forms. The average business tax filing requires 24 hours for small businesses and increases exponentially as the operation becomes larger and more complex. This could represent cash laid out for a bookkeeper or office manager, or your own precious time.
  • Costs of organization. If you want to come in at anything near the estimated times above, you need to have your business finances in relatively good order. This means paying a bookkeeper, buying financial software, organizing paper records and/or a combination of all three. There’s no true average cost of making this happen, but it will cost you time and money.
  • Software and apps. TurboTax, TaxAct and similar tax preparation help sites are what make this question reasonable, but they do come at a cost. TurboTax costs $80 for federal small business tax filing, while TaxAct costs $50 for federal taxes. Both charge an additional fee for state filing, which varies by state but is rarely higher than the cost for federal filing.

The bad news here is that those low costs are for filing correctly. If it’s an honest mistake, the IRS will ask you to correct the information, and charge you 0.5 percent of any overdue payment for every month it’s late. Considering how long it takes the IRS to process your taxes, you can already have racked up six months or more worth of interest penalties before you even find out about the error.

If they think you filed untrue information intentionally, you’re in a huge world of hurt. Don’t even think about it.

The Costs of Hiring an Accountant

Hiring an accountant is pretty straightforward, cost-wise. On average, it costs about $420 to professionally prepare a Schedule E or C tax filing. This doesn’t include any filing fees you would pay if you filed yourself, but in terms of out-of-pocket expense it’s comparable to the $50 to $80 you would pay to use an online tax service to help you prepare on your own.

It’s important to remember that some of the costs of labor and organization still fall in your lap if you hire an accountant. That $400 charge only happens if you show up with your books already in order, and are able to quickly answer any questions the accountant might have. If you drop off a bunch of disorganized notes, your accountant will charge you for the time spent putting it together…and his/her time costs more than your time or your office manager’s.

On the plus side, hiring a professional accountant provides some protection from the costs of incorrectly filing your taxes. If the mistake was because you gave bad information, those fees are generally your problem. But if you provided accurate information and the tax filings were prepared wrong, that’s what their errors and omissions insurance is for.

The Middle Ground

Choosing whether to hire an accountant or to prepare taxes on your own is a matter of weighing risks, costs and opportunities. Whichever direction you choose, there are ways to mitigate risks and costs that might shade your decision toward one direction or another.

  • If preparing your own taxes, use a tax preparation service and opt-in for their audit protection and other error protection services. It’s not 100 percent protection against everything that could go wrong, but it is a cost-effective way of hedging your bets.
  • If hiring an accountant, ask your accountant exactly how he/she likes to receive documents. Put in the time to have them exactly that way. This will keep your accountant’s time spent at a minimum and keep your fees as low as possible.

Our Recommendation

Since every business is different, there’s no right or wrong answer to this question. However, we can give some general advice based on the trends we’ve seen among our own clients:

  • Very small businesses, including sole proprietorships, microbusinesses and most home-based operations, aren’t much more complex that the personal filings you make when you have income from a business. If you’re filing successfully for yourself, you can probably file successfully for your business.
  • Small businesses with equipment to depreciate and employees with payroll are usually better off hiring an accountant. The variables and complexities are too numerous to do successfully without costing you more time and energy than you would save…unless you or a staff member (or a family member) is already confident and experienced with bookkeeping and tax preparation.
  • Medium businesses with complex payroll, multiple locations and other complications should hire an accountant. Even experienced tax people who don’t do taxes professionally can’t count on knowing all the changes and updates to the tax code that could be relevant.
  • Multi-state and other large enterprises should always hire professionals for the job. In fact, at this size there’s a good chance you’ll want an accountant on your payroll full time.

We do our best to report truthfully with up-to-date information, but none of us are tax lawyers and you should take this advice as advice only. If you have any serious tax questions, check with a professional.

Sometimes, small businesses end up in a crack where a tax refund will set them right but they don’t have the money on hand to hire an accountant. In such cases, a Kabbage loan can be a quick and cost-effective way to bridge that gap. Find out more today.

 

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