How to use Asana for Web Projects

How to use Asana for Web Projects

If you don’t know, you know now, I geek out over project management systems and software because organization is sexy.  I love learning about new systems, testing out demos, and fanning out over intuitive interfaces that just seem to ‘get me’ and knows what move I’m about to make and delivers the right features at the right time.

Its a beautiful thing when form meets function.

There’s nothing fun or sexy about about scrambling to find a file you stashed away in folder months ago or digging through emails for an obscure, but key bit of info for your project. Stop the madness and get your projects outlined, organized, and efficient. With tools like Evernote, Smartsheets, and Asana, (just to name a few) your workflow can do just that…flow.

I use Asana for my web design projects because 1, its free, and 2, it just makes sense. This system is very intuitive and simple to use and works perfectly for me. By the way, I’m not an Asana affiliate (I don’t think they even offer that). 

Here is a quick video on how I use it to organize and collaborate on projects.

 

You can also view on You Tube here: https://youtu.be/lApoB2Ox6u8

5 Questions to Answer Before Designing Your Website

5 Questions to Answer Before Designing Your Website

At Bustle Creative, I love the excitement that comes from creating and launching a new website. Its easy to get caught up in the branding and building, but long before we get into the work, there are some things that need to be sorted out.

There’s a lot of work that goes into a new site, so to make sure we’re heading toward the same goal, let’s nail down some basics.

1. What is the goal of your website?

Websites are designed for function and not looks. Its always a good idea to have both, but first, we need to start with a goal in mind. Clarifying the purpose of your website will help determine which features and functions to include. Before spending hours of research and work, I’ll need to know why you’re building a new website. So, what is the purpose of your website?

Selling a product?

Showcasing expertise and driving more leads?

Rebranding and looking to reach a wider audience?

Take a look at these common goals and how they translate into website features:

Sales

Functions:
landing pages, e-commerce, user-friendly design, SEO, variety of products, services, and bundles to purchase, address objections, build rapport with great copy, clear calls to action, increase conversion rates with well placed opt-ins, prominently placed contact info and contact form, E-mail newsletters, live chat box, webinars, videos, limited time offers,

Showcase expertise in a niche

Functions:
SEO and keywords, webinars, providing exceptional and knowledgable articles, videos, resources and content. Regularly updating and adding new content. Establishing know, like, and trust. Social media and online marketing campaigns, blogging.

Build your brand

Functions: Active social media strategy, reputation management, special events, promos, closely adhere to brand standards in website and all collateral, network with industry leaders, publish on other platforms.

2. Who is your audience?

This can be a tough question. You may initially want everyone to be your potential customer, but marketing to everyone is marketing to no one. Identifying who the site is for will improve your conversion rates and boost your reach. A business to business site will have a very different layout, writing style, and images compared to, say, a site for a local photographer or restaurant.

To build an effective site for your business and audience, take the time to consider who your target audience is and what is important to them. For example, A millennial may be interested in a mobile site with lots of social media integration or a mobile app. An older retiree may require simple layouts and legible text.

3. What is your timeline?

I know, you needed your site up and running months ago and every day that passes you’re missing out on new opportunities so let’s address the project timeline. If you have a firm launch date, then you’ll need to work closely with your designer to hit project milestones to keep the site development on schedule.

A custom agency website design can take between 4-8 weeks or more. The Bustle Creative Web Suite package takes only 30 days from concept to new site, getting you online faster. Now that you have your timeline determined, let’s move onto question 4.

4. Do you have content prepped?

Whether you’re working with a large agency that does all the work in-house (for a steep price) or an independent designer/ developer, like me, we’ll need to know if you already have content prepared. Take the time to sort through your content, and collect all articles, written content, photography, graphics, and your logo and send to your designer.

Your designer should have a system in place for sending files and collaborating. I like to use Asana project management system.

If you have the natives (original design files) in .psd, .eps, then please send the original copies. Coming into a new web design project with all content prepped and all original files organized will save time and cut down on unexpected custom design costs, such as redesigning a blurry logo.

If you need some help fleshing out your site’s written content, then check out the Website Copy Cure below and sign up for your Free guide. I put together this resource to dig deeper into your purpose, audience, and mission and bring it all together in a neat outline for your website.

 

Grab your FREE guide to organize your website's COPY & CONTENT.

Screen Shot 2016-05-26 at 7.29.41 PM

Thank you! Your copy of the Website Copy Cure is on its way to your inbox.

 

5. What’s your style?

Now that we know the goal of the site, the features, who its built for and have some content files prepped, the next step is to uncover your style. You don’t have to take too much time on this task or learn all about color psychology and typography, but you do have to know which designs light you up. Take a look at several websites in your niche and outside and see which trends you are drawn to. Examine the design and the usability of each and see which you like to use and the style you prefer. You may want to start a Pintrest board of your favorite designs or email yourself a link with a screenshot for reference.

To go deeper into your style. let’s touch on branding. Branding is all about how you make your customer’s feel when they interact with you so let’s make a great first impression through design. What does your design say about your brand? What would you like your design to convey? Is it professional, playful, luxurious, or conservative? If your business was hosting an event, what type of event would it be? A VIP red carpet photo-op or a local block party?

Identifying your brand’s personality and style will bring form to function and ensure your designer is building a site that both you and your audience will love. Now that we’ve got these details nailed down, we can get onto building your site.

 


So tell me in the comments below, can you answer all 5 questions?

Which are you working on right now?

7 Free tools for making awesome blog graphics

7 Free tools for making awesome blog graphics

Online graphic design tools have come a long way (remember GIMP?) with newer interfaces, more features, and preloaded templates that give Adobe Photoshop a run for their money. Well, the die-hard designers out there may never make the switch to use these tools over Photoshop, but for bloggers and marketers, these are quickly becoming the go-to solution for their design needs. Its no secret that Photoshop is memory heavy and their new monthly subscription can add up quickly, so having this list of design tools on hand is your ace-in-the-pocket for your next project. 
Seriously, you’re gonna want to bookmark this page and play around with each tool later. ;) Let’s get to it shall we?

 

Easel.ly

http://www.easel.ly Easel.ly makes it (ahem…) easy to create infographics from their extensive template library. Not only do they have 1,000s to choose from, but each infographic is customizable so you can click, drag, and type to make it your own. It is basically a simplified Illustrator for infographics.

Be Funky

https://www.befunky.com/create/designer/ ooooooh, I’m so excited about this one! Its like a picmonkey, meets pixlr, meets Canva 3 way love child. This tool is your new design bff. It has 3 features: collage, designer, and photo editor with templates for social media, filters, and a library of stock photos from pixabay. Its fast, intuitive, and mostly free.

Pixlr

Pixlr.com This is one of my favorite tools to use in-browser when I need to remove a background or edit a photo quickly. Pixlr Editor offers a Photoshop-like interface and features like smudge and magic wand. For fun effects and collages, check out their Pixlr Express tool. http://madewithpixlr.com

Pic Monkey

http://www.picmonkey.com Pic Monkey isn’t messing around. If you need filters, effects, and cropping, then Pic Monkey can handle it all. They even have a zombie brush effect and comic hero theme built in. Neat.

Canva

canva.com If you’ve drank up all of your creative juices and are looking for something out-of-the-box, then check out canva. Their pre-made templates offer designs for all shapes and sizes. Save your uploads and creations to the library, then download or share directly to your social media accounts. The only downside here is the random occurrence that the download will be blurry. Yes, frustrating, I know.

Inkscape

https://inkscape.org/en/ Goodbye blurry logos, hello crisp edges! Inkscape, is a lesser known tool, but it's an extremely capable vector editor that functions much like Illustrator. The best part is, it's completely free and open source. Score!

Vector Magic

http://vectormagic.com/home Yet another vector tool. Trust me, you’ll want to keep this handy if you plan on creating and printing a crisp clean graphic. This tool will automatically convert bitmap images like JPEGs, GIFs and PNGs to the crisp, clean, scalable vector art of EPS, SVG, and PDF with the world's best auto-tracing software. Yes, that’s right, auto-vectors. You’re welcome.
Just for the heck of it, how about some free stock photos so you can test out each tool? Oh, you’d love some? Great!

Here are 20 totally free and totally useful stock photography resources:

1. Life of Pix http://www.lifeofpix.com/

2. picjumbo http://picjumbo.com

3. picography http://picography.co

4. pixabay http://pixabay.com

5. photype http://photype.co

6. kaboompics http://kaboompics.com

7. Fancy Crave http://fancycrave.com/

8. Insta stock http://instastock.co/

9. stocka.co http://www.stocka.co/

10. Splitshire http://www.splitshire.com/

11. Gratisography http://www.gratisography.com/

12. Start up Stock Photos http://startupstockphotos.com/

13. Pic Jumbo http://picjumbo.com/

14. Jay Mantri http://jaymantri.com/

15. Death to the Stock Photo http://deathtothestockphoto.com/

16. Stock Snap https://stocksnap.io/

17. Super Famous http://superfamous.com/

18. Lock and Stock Photos http://lockandstockphotos.com/

19. Designer Pics http://www.designerspics.com/

20. Unsplash https://unsplash.com


So, tell me, which tools do you prefer to use and why?

Which tools are you eager to check out? Let me know in the comments below:

Should you DIY your website? 4 things to consider.

Should you DIY your website? 4 things to consider.

The DIY movement with do-it-yourself home improvements, interior design hacks, and online stores like ETSY have created a whole economy built on sweat equity. Building your own business and buying unique handmade goods and services has never been easier.

Well, I wouldn’t call it easy. DIY can be very time consuming, complex, and at the end of the day, that chair you were reupholstering doesn’t quiet look like a replica of Martha Stuart’s despite your best efforts, right?

So, let’s talk about DIYing your site. You’ve just launched your business and you need a site, but there is so much information online you don’t know where to start. You spent so much time researching free web builders and hosting services that you’ve completely neglected your business and you still don’t have a website yet.

At this point, your ready to get some help and might be looking into hiring a designer, but most agencies and pro developers will be out of your price range, so you’re back at square one.

So, should you DIY or hire a pro?

The honest answer is, it depends on your skill level, time, budget, and your business goals.

 

1. SKILL LEVEL

Before running to a designer or jumping into a new site design on your own, take a moment to determine your skill level. To build your own site, you'll need to be comfortable organizing files, creating images, have a knack for organization and be resourceful in digging up new tools and info.

DETERMINE YOUR SKILL LEVEL
Lo: Know your way around the basics of Word or Excel. Hire a Pro
Mid: Can tackle new software over time and can resize images easily. DIY or PRO
High: Tech whiz with coding chops. DIY for fun.

I have no doubt that a determined entrepreneur, like you, can build your own site if you really wanted to, but do you want to take on yet another time sucking task?

Smart business owners understand that delegating tasks that aren’t in their area of expertise is the best way to grow and grow quickly.

 

2. TIME

When planning, take into consideration the time it will take to develop your site. A custom website will typically take 4-6 weeks to build, or longer for a larger e-commerce site. If you have already launched and need to get online quickly, then be sure to communicate your timeline to the developer. While the site is under construction they can create a coming soon page to share information and direct users to your social media pages or an opt-in.

If you create your own site, be prepared to set aside a least an hour a day for a few weeks to design the creative elements and complete the build.

 

3. BUDGET & 4. GOALS

Depending on the type of site you are creating, a website can start at $500 for a brochure site to up to $6,000 for a custom build or e-commerce site. E-commerce sites with advanced custom features will run a bit more and will require a seasoned developer.
Take some time to consider the goal of your site. Is this simply a 1 page brochure site or do you need to have a membership area, blog, or other features?

If you are starting with a simple site and would like to grow, then working with Wordpress, whether you hire or not, is a great start. You can start on your own and work with a pro later down the road when it fits your budget.

While it’s free, WordPress.org does require a web host and domain registration. You can find a reliable host for $10 per month and domain name registration is typically $10- $20 per year.

 

DIY

If you’re a bit tech savvy with plenty of time on your hands and you feel excited by the idea of creating your own site, DIY is a great option for you. I don’t (and neither would any other sane developer) recommend WIX or similar web builders. These services can be very limiting when it comes to growing and scaling your business into the empire you envision. Stick with Wordpress, Joomla, Magento or other CMS based system and utilize a page builder to create code-free layouts.

CONS OF DIY

-time consuming
-steep learning curve
-need to create site layout and all creative elements

PROS of DIY

the confidence gained from doing it all on your own
a ‘free’ website (save for the hosting costs, graphics, or other items purchased)
the fun ‘ah-ha’ moments as you have as you change code and find the fix

 

WORK WITH A PRO

If your eyes glaze over just thinking about setting up a site and you’ve outgrown the free site builders, then its time to work with a pro. Working with a designer will make the process pleasant and easy.

CONS OF HIRING

-more costly
-difficulty choosing the right designer
-schedule may be booked

PROS OF HIRING

site built on best practices that is responsive, SEO optimized, and built for speed
assistance with fixes and maintenance
peace of mind and time to focus on your business
hours, weeks, or months saved by delegating to a pro
a smart investment in your business
a modern design with personal touches

 

What are your thoughts?

Are you considering about going it alone or ready to get some help?
Let me know in the comments below.

8 dang good reasons why your site should be mobile responsive

8 dang good reasons why your site should be mobile responsive

I know that you know that your website needs to be mobile right? And I’m sure you’ve already optimized your site for mobile right…riiiight? Then I’m sure you already know that smartphones are quickly becoming the preferred devices for browsing, sharing, & buying, yes?

Your customers are mobile and you should be to. Here’s why:

1.  Cut down on development time and costs

Responsive sites work on a single URL. There’s no need to have a desktop site and a second mobile site developed. Not anymore. Save big on a single website that works across all devices and just say no to wasted time and money on updating 2 sites. Score!

2.  Everyone is mobile

Over 20% of Google searches are performed on a mobile device. Your customers are searching for your services on the go at all hours of the day and not just on their desktops. Most customers are switching between their laptop, cell, and tablet all at once and throughout the day. Cut the clutter and greet them with a mobile friendly site that displays well on all their devices.

3.  People like to share on mobile.

55% of social media consumption happens on a mobile device. So, if you have a social media strategy in place then you better have a mobile site to compliment it. If you are sharing content to your social networks and through your blog, be sure to send your readers to a mobile friendly site to keep the conversation going.

4.  Google says so

Google prefers mobile friendly and responsive design ranks these higher than non-mobile sites. Take a look at these site results after their 2015 algorithm change. The mobile friendly sites faired well, while the others are losing ground.

Screen Shot 2016-05-17 at 8.44.32 PM

source

5.  Let your viewers stay awhile

Responsive site design flows from one device to another and offer a seamless and pleasant experience. This decreases bounce rates and keeps viewers on your site longer.

6.  Show you care

48% of users said that if a site didn’t work well on their smartphone, they felt like the company didn’t care about their business. Ouch! Show that you care and take pride in your business and service. Ensure that your customers are getting the royal treatment on all fronts.

7.  Increase your bottom line

67% of users are more likely to make a purchase with a smartphone on a mobile friendly site. Remember, most users don’t purchase the first time they see your ad or hear of your service. They may wait awhile, discuss it with the wife or hubs, and buy at a later time when convenient for them, and most of the time it will be from their mobile device.

8.  There’s no time to waste

The best time to get online was yesterday, the next best time is right now. If you’re not online, then you’re missing out on business…big time! Join the online cocktail party, get visible, and start sharing your services with a mobile friendly site design.

To check your site, run a quick Google mobility test here:

https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/

So, tellis your site mobile-friendly?

Did you recently upgrade to a mobile-friendly site?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.