LogoPro Blog - Logo News, Opinions and Discussion
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
A New Format
We started to work on a new format for LogoPro in 2007 – the new site went ‘live’ in March 2011. Four years may sound rather a long time to give a website a new look. Here is an insight into the thinking, the designing and the effort that went into that journey.
From the beginning we had 3 packages. The site was designed in the days when credit cards were given names to differentiate them, names like Gold and Platinum. Along the same vein, we chose to call our packaged Business Class, Business Plus and Business Advantage. They were on the home page as colour text links and could easily go unnoticed. Web design wisdom says ‘call to action’, make it super easy to buy your product or service. Every extra click it takes to buy is potentially a click away from your site.
Did we still need 3 packages? After careful consideration, yes we do, people like simple choices. We have invented new packages and called them economy, extra and elite. We have separated out the confusing options on stationery design and concentrated on the difference between the logo design service offered and the flexibility of the final logo files. So our 3 packages needed to be clear, concise and obvious on the front page, where you could buy with one click, 2 clicks absolute max.
We spent hours working on our navigation, recognising that if our viewer has to spend time wondering how to get somewhere, we have lost the game. Keeping it simple had to be balanced with making it obvious where you can get to, to display all the services we had to offer. Initially we roughed out ideas that would show all the pages, it took a lot of valuable space and our viewer would be faced with a bundle of words – would they be bothered to read? Possibly not, so our navigation was put in the obvious place (generally a good plan) with drop down menus with simple page names that would work at just a glance.
Here is one of our very first roughs when we thought scrolling images on the side bar would be a good idea.
As any blogger knows, writing articles takes a lot of time and energy, looking for inspiration, doing the research and writing the article. Actually, sometime it can be a little bit of a chore! Surprisingly the commitment to share this experience is enjoyable and I will continue till I reach a conclusion (or until someone asks me to stop)!
Next post – colour.
Thursday, April 07, 2011
7th April 2011
Why Did We Want A New Design?
Changing an established website is frightening! Why?
Over the years you have achieved your rank on the internet. You are doing well in your relevant search terms? Work comes in, but not as much as it used to. You ask yourself
‘Could we be doing better? Could we get more work or has the market changed?’
You spy on your competitors on the internet, you wonder around your website, you look to your analytics for answers.
But will change make the difference? Could we disappear never to be seen again? If we change the look, should we change the format? Depending on the internet for business is an uncomfortable position to be in, at the mercy of google and it’s ever changing rules and goalposts with more and more competition coming online every day. We have learned not to put all our eggs in one basket and nurture our clients old, new and local.
Things have moved so fast, in 2001 most of us unplugged our phones, plugged in the computer and dialled up to get onto the internet. Within a few years that changed to broadband being the norm. Broadband is getting faster, not for everyone I know, but enough for web designers and developers to change the way they work. The speed that a web page downloads to your computer, while still a consideration, is not so much of an issue. To add to the equation the size of the screen people view websites on has changed in every direction, from huge wide screen monitors to teeny tiny screens on a smart phone.
Thinking back over the process, we knew we had a problem as far back as 2006, but making the change took far too long. The face of the internet has changed and web design has evolved. It was time to catch up.
In our next post, I will explain why the redesign took so long.
Tuesday, April 05, 2011
5th April 2011
In The Beginning.
Way back in the year 2000, Peter Lock, a partner in our graphic design business, spotted a niche market while doing research on the internet. Within a year we launched www.logopro.co.uk
Our style was simple, the page dark blue with tasteful graphics inviting the viewer to buy a logo online for £160.00.
Our team worked studiously to understand how the search engines worked, seeking reciprocal links, setting up other related web sites that linked to Logopro, making sure the key search terms were all in place. Our business blossomed. We bobbed to the top of google with seemingly little effort and the work began to flow in.
We learned a lot about logo design in that time. Although both partners had years of experience as graphic designers, logo design was often a very precious art where you worked hard on one or two concepts and then presented them to your client with a load of waffle to go with them. This new format cut out the flannel, our philosophy was that if the design didn’t tell the story then the design didn’t work. Working up several different concepts was a challenge but we began to understand the art and logo design became our passion.
It was 6 years later we realised our image was beginning to look tired. It took another 4 years to work on a redesign that would do our business justice. Like the proverbial builder, the redesign of our site took a back seat in the day to day running of the business, until it became obvious that the number of visitors to our site did not match the number that turned into a new job.
But redesigning a site is a daunting prospect and our next post will look at the process we went through on our route to our shiny new site.
Monday, March 28, 2011
28th March 2011
Being a professional service on the internet has never been more challenging, you have to not only provide a service comparable to the most competitive company in your field but also compete for visibility on a global scale. Through search engine sites such as ‘google’ we all have a chance at gaining some free advertising space in the organic listings but keeping yourself there can be a real struggle.
SEO (search engine optimisation) is not an exact science; it is best described as feeling your way through marketing search terms and public trends to find your own niche – that search term that gives you the visibility you need while being easily maintained so as to not leech all your valuable time. The time that you could otherwise be giving straight back to your customers and providing that fantastic service that you have spent so much time promoting.
A little patch of heaven…
Thursday, November 25, 2010
25th Nov 2010
So, nearing completion of my first wordpress based site and I have to say that my brain is overflowing with new knowledge.
I’m pretty proud of my new creation, not only did I finish my first wordpress site but I themed it myself and customized the “dashboard” as well. This was a proper bespoke offering made to our client and I’m hoping that she’ll be pleased with it!
What next?! Well as most of our readers and followers on twitter will know, we’ve been planning on updating our site for quite some time now but as there aren’t many of us working here we’ve been struggling to get the time out that we need to begin designing it.
We feel that although we’ve held a commanding spot in the search engines for quite some time now without the throughput of work that our analytics would suggest, we need a site that reflects a more modern business and puts our design skills in the spotlight the moment someone like you enters through the metaphorical doors to our homepage.
Would you agree that this place needs a makeover? I certainly would – the fact that LogoPro has continued to make a success is not based on the design of our site but the designers within, the problem with this of course is that you have to convince a business owner of this before he/she parts with their well earned cash in exchange for the design work. After nearly 10 years of work with our current page design on display it’s beginning to look extremely dated and thus out of fashion. It’s time to take that step to modernize and grow further, I can’t wait to be a part of this process, exciting stuff!
My job as an apprentice here will be to provide research into our changing market and to try and find ways to bring our site head and shoulders above the rest in terms of customer relation, satisfaction and participation. This in turn will help LogoPro challenge the market to evolve and bring customers back to the forefront of the design process while my colleagues come up with something that is modern and clean with a good sense of style.
We’re hoping to have this up and running by the beginning of January to help us kick start the new decade!
Monday, October 18, 2010
18th Oct 2010
So it’s been a week since my last post and it’s been rather hectic here at LogoPro.
This week I’ve been getting my head around WordPress: the installation and integration, the loop and all the associated php that’s involved.
I’ve never really worked with php before this endeavour so I suppose that it’s a good thing that I like to be dropped in the deep end!
I wanted to learn how to use wordpress because as you may have guessed, our blog is run by the wordpress engine. This was originally set up for us as a tool for search engine optimization by another company specializing in the field and we wanted to be able to run it ourselves, make changes and ultimately transplant it into our new website that’s currently being built (watch this space!).
So I began by installing wordpress on my local machine with the help of xampp (a nice little free-ware program designed to emulate a web server on your home machine) which went relatively smoothly once I had figured out how to make use of phpMyAdmin.
Moving on to the next step I fired up my web browser and pointed it at the localhost and was promptly greeted by wordpress in all it’s stock untouched glory! At this point I realised that I would have to figure out how to build a theme so I went in search a good beginners tutorial on how to skin wordpress, there are literally hundreds of sites offering detailed descriptions and it soon became apparent that it was going to be hard finding a how-to that started at my level (no PHP experience). In the end however I found one that stood out from the rest in having a slow step by step breakdown of what is needed to create a theme from scratch – If you are interested I have posted the link to the tutorial I used at the bottom of this post.
So I had a bit of a headache and plenty of hours twiddling my thumbs while I tried to remember where I’d left my “?>” but eventually I had a pretty nice looking theme complete with a widget enabled side bar and some cool looking graphics!
On to the back end! – I remember when I was quite a lot younger I started a phpBB forum for a group of my friends, we all played the same video game and wanted to be able to compete in leagues online but that meant that we needed a place to organize matches and keep in touch with the opposition. Looking back on my experience then was a great help when it came to structuring my wordpress site (pages -> categories -> posts -> comments) as the web based control panel was pretty similar to that of the forum I set up. The only issue I had here was that when I took it upon myself to try and set up a system in which I had two sites that were running from the same blog I couldn’t get wordpress to see both theme’s and suddenly I was getting “unable to communicate with database” errors whenever I tried to load up my second page – I turned to a friend of mine who showed me a nifty bit of code that makes wordpress identify a new .php page as a separate entity: <?php /* Template Name: example */ ?> Hallelujah! (Thanks James!)
So I had:
WordPress installed and working
A lovely custom built theme
A Good site structure
Separate pages outside of wordpress that were behaving as wordpress templates
Great! Not bad for a weeks work?
I upgraded our wordpress last week to version 3.0.1 and it couldn’t have gone more smoothly. What a lovely CMS!
I would love to hear of other problems that people encountered while setting up and using wordpress so leave me a comment, I’m still a learner so I really benefit for taking on board other people’s experiences.
Off topic: I have been following the news on the Chilean Miners Disaster with awe and am really happy that everyone made it out alive and well! Go Chile!
Well that’s it for this week’s blog and I hope you enjoyed reading it (even if you have no understanding of php or what wordpress is).
Stay tuned for next Monday’s post!
Monday, October 11, 2010
11th Oct 2010
my name is Alfie and I’m the new apprentice at LogoPro with daily duties including much more than just tea making and paperwork!
The idea of this new column is that while I learn, develop and train that I should document my progress in order to perhaps provide an insight into the graphic design sector for up and coming designers, printers and illustrators. Everyone else can of course read this and relate, in a nostalgic fashion, to when they were learning the trade.
I suppose that to help visualize the situation I should provide a little about myself, so here it goes; I’m a young man (20) from the Ceredigion area in West Wales with no previous training in graphic design or web design.
My parents lifted me from primary school at the age of 9 to pursue home tutoring and subsequently, at the age of 15 I enrolled in our local college to chase several GCSE’s and a First diploma in Art & Design. At age 18 I registered at Aberystwyth University to attend a foundation degree in Physics in order to increase my options within the education system.
The following year was a quiet one – Job hunting in W. Wales is a brave task for any individual and was obviously hard going with no real leads on any of my applications despite some interest in me myself, there simply aren’t any jobs in the area. Luckily I was in contact with LogoPro personally and was offered an apprenticeship in February this year which I have gladly taken!
I had always had a very keen interest in websites from an early age, learning to build a basic html page at age 14 and continuing to experiment with programs like Adobe Photoshop and Dreamweaver to this day so I had a grasp of what the job involved, I had some previous experience in dealing with customers, helping to provide a service and I had the support from LogoPro to go at my own pace initially while I got to grips with everything.
So here we are!
I will be writing a post once a week so that you can follow my journey from trainee to entrepreneur and I would appreciate any comments/ideas/guidance that you can give
Check back every Monday for an update on my progress, things I’ve learnt, obstacles I’ve encountered and how many cups of tea I’ve made…
Monday, September 20, 2010
20 September 2010
With global warming and mass devastation looming the world is turning it’s head to all sorts of new way’s to lead a sustainable lifestyle such as recycling – using discarded waste and renewable materials is becoming more a part of our lives than ever before. For some this has sparked a huge wave of creativity from creating scupltures out of materials more often found in landfill to inventing cars that charge their own batteries.
Helen came to LogoPro in June requiring a logo for her sustainable furniture design company. She was struggling to find a logo that she liked, she came to us in the hope that she may get a modern and professional looking design that screams quality. In her brief she wrote:
‘HELP! I have no idea how to help you on this one! I do not want anything too light or jokey, so many other sites offer what for the most part looks like cartoons which is the antithesis of my offering.
The fact that “it’s got legs”, the very suggestion of it, is because there is forward movement in it, whatever it is… it is the root and kernel of something that might just work, it’s worth giving it a go, try running with it, you never know, it might just become something, pick up its skirts and head off at a pace in a direction all of its own… but if not, if it doesn’t, there are still other things with legs out there, sometimes you have to give it a bit of encouragement… and never give up!’
We worked through some concepts which Helen appreciated. During the process our client had some inspiration of her own, a fabric she was using on one of her creations was the springboard to the final design and is now is ecstatic with her logo – ‘– you have totally cracked it, thank you so, so much for your patience!
25 is the one, and I want it!!’
We must say that this logo is a favourite of our most recent projects given it’s quirky, bold and informative style with the recycling symbol at the heart of the subject.
Here at LogoPro we ourselves strive to create as little waste as possible and what waste that we do create we recycle – we strongly urge everyone else to do the same, what have you got to lose?
Here’s to the future!
Friday, August 20, 2010
20 August 2010
Angela came to us at the end of June looking for a custom logo design that would reflect the nostalgic feeling surrounding the humble cupcake. Celebrate The Cupcake are setting up an online store to sell bakeware, decorations and accessories for everything cupcake related – they will be the one stop shop for everything needed to create these little beauties.
Stating in her brief that she wanted to use pastel colours with a 50’s diner, retro feel we set to work to try and encorporate these idea into a smart, playful look for her up and coming business. We decided that it needed to fit absolutely with her website design – clean, simple and absolutely unique.
“I love it! it uses modern colours that really pull the eye! Thank you again for lending your fantastic skill and flair to the development of my logo.”
We think we came up with a logo that’s just as tasty as her cupcakes, let us know your opinion!
20 August 2010
Logo design for a company that specialises in supporting organisations and individuals in becoming more effective by identifying and developing potential.
Clarity Matters requested a logo design that was simple and abstract, a logo that conveyed clarity, honesty, creativity and insight.
The chosen concept uses an image of stacked stones. It has a vibrant look and can be interpreted in several different ways, which as a logo designer, I love.
Stacked stones are associated with meditation, a state where clarity of thought can be achieved by the concentration on selection and balancing of rocks. It is a simple process of taking one step at a time in a logical order.
Stacked stones can be found on hilltops in the UK. In many cultures, stacked stones serve as mile posts or road markers.
The image could also been seen as reaching for the highest point of achievement or perfection.
The different shapes also look like stepping stones, or a pathway, the colours cool and almost luminous, leading to the bright, shining point.
Several good metaphors for our journey through life in one logo design. Have I missed anything? Do let me know by commenting on this blog.