Project 5- Choosing a Client

This is our Final project. The brief stated that:

Following discussions with your project supervisor you should identify an external company/individual who needs a product or service and then conceive, prepare, develop, execute and evaluate a digital product.

At first I struggled to find a client because I wanted an opportunity that combined two of my passions: photography and film.  I wanted the opportunity to create content for a company or individual using those mediums and through that, enhance their brand. These are some of the services I want to offer in the future

My first potential client was a Graphic Designer who wanted to enhance his online presence. I would take photographs of his work showing his work ethos and shoot a short film about his workflow, ethos and design.

My second potential client was a budding singer/songwriter also wanting to enhance her online presence with a photoshoot and short film about herself.

These both however didn’t completely convince me as I wanted a challenge, something that will help me to develop new skills and stretch myself

It seem like fate when this email was sent to our cohort:

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This seemed like the perfect opportunity to combine my passions and learn something new. I have never made a fashion film so I was excited to take on this client. I replied the email and to my delight the client accepted! It worked even better because as a student herself, her deadlines cohered nicely with mine. The following posts will show the design process and communications to the end product.

 

Final Portfolio Feedback

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FIRST IMPRESSIONS

Responses about people’s first impression of the website was very positive, there wasn’t any negative feedback which was a great start!

COVER PAGE

When asked about whether the cover page gave insight to the rest of the website, only 66.7% people said yes. Even though this was the higher statistic, I was dissatisfied with the results. When asked about the visibility of the welcome link, 55.33% said it wasn’t visible enough. Popular suggestions included centralising it, making it bigger, or making the entire page a link to enter. One person suggested to remove the landing/splash page altogether and got straight into the website, a suggestion which was also made by Chris Allwood regarding my first portfolio draft.

LOGO

100% of respondents fond the logo visually appealing. This was extremely comforting and reassuring as a logo acts as the first impression of a brand.

NAVIGATION

This still seems to be a thorn in my side as respondents still found navigation slightly complicated. Although this was still and improvement from the 90% that found it complicated.

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CONTACT AND ABOUT ME PAGES

Respondents were 100 satisfied with both pages. A respondent however pointed out a grammatical error on the page which I will rectify immediately.

CLARITY OF SERVICES 

80% of respondents said the website made clear what services I offer, however the comments differed from the statistics.

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This highlighted that it is something I need to seriously work on. I especially liked the suggestion of including a services section.

ANY OTHER FEEDBACK?

When I asked for general feedback I considered and appreciated all the response however one to stood out me from the rest:

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“The file size of the photographs is too large- pages take too long to load. Maybe compress  the photos”

This issue is a huge repellent when it comes to websites (slow loading) and could deter several customers. It is an issue I would see to immediately.

So generally feedback for my final portfolio was positive. I will definitely take into consideration all said here and will implement it into my website.

 

 

 

 

Business Stationary

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In addition to my logo, I asked the graphic designer to create different stationary tailored to my business. This included:

  • ADVERT
  • BUSINESS CARD
  • INVOICE
  • CONTACT SHEET
  • LETTERHEAD

These items offer brand consistency and when I officially launch my business, it is my hope that customers will appreciate the sentiment!

 

SEO-LinkedIn

I chose LinkedIn as my online CV. Apart from being an active profile that can be regularly updated, it allows me to showcase my work and offer services.

I also embedded this link on my website to allow employers to see my past work experience and achievements

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SEO- Social Media (Instagram)

Another way to enhance my SEO was to embed my social media channels into my website and vice versa. I chose Instagram as my extended portfolio and to help improve market reach.

I felt it important to have all these channels linked for the continuity and fluidity of my brand. It also would increase my SEO.

I also enabled share buttons, which would allow users on my page to share content to their social media pages.

On my Instagram page (mobile display) I embedded my email address so people can contact me immediately. If they wished to know more, my website would be available to them.

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SEO – Google Search Console

After buying and registering my domain I was excited to see my name pop up on the top of the list when I type it into google. However this was far from the case. My name brought up nothing and I was made aware of the several steps I was still going to have to take to optimise search results. I researched Squarespace’s methods to improve SEO and one of these first steps was using Google Search Console:

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https://support.squarespace.com/hc/en-us/articles/205813918

When I followed the instructions on the page, I verified my ownership with Google.

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This then meant allowed Google to make my site more visible.

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When I typed in my name a few days after that, although it didn’t appear at the top of the search list as yet, I still got a few hits:

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Appearance wasn’t perfect and not to my satisfaction, but it was a start. Squarespace also gave me the option to manage this appearance:

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SEO-Buying a domain

To make my website more professional, I bought a domain for my website:

http://www.arabaackahyensu.com -This cost me $20/year ~ £15/year.

(For security reasons, my built-in/previous domain -acandlelight.squarespace.com will never expire. However though I can access my website through this domain, customers won’t receive that domain.)

Yearly renewal costs allows me to breathe easy as I don’t have to worry about site disruption, should I fail a payment if it was monthly. Even in that event, I’ve put on ‘Auto-Renew’ so Squarespace automatically renew the domain every year.

Options such as .net .org were cheaper to buy (although the .com domain is still inexpensive). I initially wanted the domain name to be http://www.arabaay.com as it was short and sweet and matched my new professional email – arabaay@gmail.com. However the .com domain was taken and only .net, .org and others were available. I made the sacrifice of having my full name instead and sticking to .com because:

it helps with “brandability” because let’s face it: a .com looks more authoritative, is more common, and is more popular than any other option. It is memorable – our minds are wired to think “dot com”! – Koene (2015)

I didn’t want the wrong domain to negatively affect my market reach and I also eventually warmed up to the idea that my full name as the website name will help people familiarise better with the brand.

This infographic, also provides further reasons why a .com domain is best above all else:

dotcom-vs-dotorg-in-search-engine

So now my domain name has been fully changed from:

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to:Screen Shot 2017-05-25 at 07.28.41

REFERENCE

  • Koene, J., (2015). SEO Benefits of .com Versus Everything Else [online]. Available at: https://blog.searchmetrics.com/us/2015/04/06/seo-benefits-of-com-versus-everything-else/

Website Navigation

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My biggest criticism about my portfolio was the navigation. I received a lot of complaints where people thought the Prev/Next tools were far too small hard to identify. What I then did was to increase the letter spacing and make the size of the font bigger. This makes it more visible without affecting website design.

Logo Placement

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I decided to display both designs of my logo on the website. The landscape design I felt worked best on the cover/splash page and the portrait logo looked best with the design of the main site. It sits in line with the other links.

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New Cover/Splash Page

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In response to previous feedback, I changed my cover page to have more information about my self, my brand  and a picture of myself. I still included both social icons and a welcome button to enter the site.  I felt like this gave the audience more of an idea of who I am and what I offer. Having the picture in black and white also helped to match the colour theme of my website.

Logo Development

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Final Logos.

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When I decided to create a website/portfolio for my business, I decided that I had to have a very professional logo. I contacted a friend graphic designer and we had a meeting about the business, my brand and what to I wanted to portray with my logo because:

“Logos are the chief visual component of a company’s overall brand identity.”-Gillikin (2017)

After several emails, Skype calls, the above logo was chosen. It  was a long process of 5 months with several questions. One of which was:

Should I use my full name or just my first name?

I want my customers to always connect with me and feel like they’re getting the nest of me and not just a service, so just having my first name would warm people to that idea. However I ended up going with my full name with a vision to rebrand in the future. My last name, culturally is important part of me and my identity and starting off a business, I wouldn’t want to remove that. When I build a big clientele then i’ll perhaps consider changing.

The initials AAY also worked nicely for the logo design And all names being 5 letters: ARABA ACKAH-YENSU, made for a seamless line up. I also chose to have the design both in portrait and landscape, depending on usage. This offered flexibility. The designer also aided in my decision by showing me examples of what the logo would look like on different stationary and platforms including my website. Being able to visualise this helped with making the right decision.

In the process, not only didn’t strengthen a friendship, but I also created a business partner. This was a unique networking opportunity that I took advantage of and really learnt from. One of the key skills of a digital marketer is the ability to create and utilise other talent around you. I am not very savvy in Graphic Design. Even though I could have made a point to learn some new skills (which I still went ahead to do) and create my own logo, I chose to go to the expert and in turn, built a great connection.

It was a great learning process for me and one I would explore again.

 

REFERENCES

  • Gillikin, J., (2017). Importance of Logos in Business [online]. Available at: http://smallbusiness.chron.com/importance-logos-business-577.html
  • All designs and PDFs by alaneniang design.

Portfolio First Draft (Pre Development)

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My portfolio had a cover/splash page showcasing my what I chose as the best of my pictures, however feedback informed that I should have far less pictures as there were about 14 pictures. I was told to have 3 best pictures with a maximum of 5.  The about page had a picture of myself and the contact page was empty. I wanted people to contact me using the Instagram and LinkedIn icons. I went for a minimalist feel as I felt like that portrayed my style best. My logo, was temporary as I was waiting for my logo from a graphic designer (which I’ll take about in another post)

90% of users on my portfolio complained about navigation, saying they didn’t know where to click or what back led to what. They found the ‘prev/next’ buttons far to small and even suggested thumbnails even thought that appears as an option.

My first steps of development were to make these corrections.  A comment was also made about reducing the size of the picture on my about page, which I also aimed to do.