Go-To Apps for Marketing and Design

JanuaryThe team members at Cooper Smith & Company rely on our smart phones to make our lives easier and our work more productive. Want to know which apps we turn to on a daily basis? Here’s a list of our go-to favorites.

Evernote I use Evernote like the iPhone’s Notes app — on steroids. Because it syncs with all my devices, anything I jot at my computer can be retrieved later on my phone or iPad. Evernote let’s you store photos, recipes, to-do lists and reminders and now even has a chat function. Stored notes are searchable by keyword, tag or content. You can also organize your notes into “notebooks” and even share them with others.

The Font Game If you’re a type geek like me, testing your font identification skill is a blast. This little app is just $1,99 and can suck in you as fast as any game of Angry Birds or Candy Crush.

What the Font What the Font draws on the font identification engine of the global type library, MyFonts. Snap a photo of type and this app will attempt to identify the typeface. Like the font? You can link to more information and purchase options right from the app. Of course, it can sometimes miss the mark – but when it works it’s fantastically useful.

Kuler I used to rely of Palettes. It’s a free app and still a lot of fun. But Kuler is one of the best iPhone apps for color picking around. Snap a photo, or pull up a photo from your library or the web, and Kuler will capture five points of color, creating a palette you can then tweak, save and send to other Adobe tools such as Illustrator.

Adobe Ideas Adobe’s iOS companion to Illustrator is one of the best iPhone apps I’ve come across – and the best news is, Adobe has made it free to download. The features in version 2.6 include the ability to customize your toolbar with your favorite brushes, draw more accurately, share your designs on Facebook and Twitter, and sync your color themes with Kuler . If you have Creative Cloud membership you can also sync the app between your iPad, your iPhone and your desktop.

Dropbox A cloud-based server system, we rely on Dropbox for several of our clients. Using Dropbox, we share files, keep teams current and collaborate with the programmers, animators and photographers we work with. A Dropbox account is accessible from any mobile or desktop device with an internet connection.

Facebook Pages Since we currently manage six of our client’s Facebook accounts, I’m checking Pages several times a day. (More often I’m afraid, than I check my own account!) Through Pages you can make and schedule posts, stay on top of activity and check your insights right from your phone.

TED It’s not exactly a marketing app, but I am addicted to TED. Fascinating and inspiring, TED talks (and TedEd presentations) are available on nearly every topic. I often watch TED talks when I’m on the machines at the gym, and I would rather watch a TED before bed than TV.

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The power of graphics in social media

Add Photos/VideosWhen you flip through your social media feeds, what do you stop and read? The photos and videos attached to social media posts strongly influence engagement. In fact, visuals are so critical that posts to Twitter, once a primarily text-based communication system, now include images more often than not. In addition, platforms such as Vine, Instagram and YouTube continue to grow in popularity.

If visuals are so important, why do so many businesses accompany their posts with generic stock photos?
My suspicion is that most business still consider social media to be a throw-away communication. However in a recent survey, web consumers were more likely to visit a company’s Facebook page or YouTube feed for information than visit the corporate website. (Which is a sign that it’s time for corporations to build consumer facing websites in addition to their standard corporate sites, but that’s a blog topic for a later time.)

If you’ve made a commitment to be in social, go all the wayl Your images are seen long before your copy is read. Invest the time necessary to develop custom graphics that reflect your brand, and illustrate your message. Or hire designers to help you.

At Cooper Smith & Company, when we manage social media communications for our clients, we build upon corporate house styles to create posts that stand out in a feed and reinforce brand messages. Stock images, if used, are customized with text or graphics. Images are formatted for the particular platform they are appearing in, and variety is employed to provide a mix of video, still graphics and photo galleries.

If it’s important to you to have a presence in social media, it’s important to do it well. Craft interesting posts and accompany them with graphics that get attention and support your brand.

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Web Design Checklist: 8 Tips

How to create a WebsiteBy Bridget Drendel, Cooper Smith & Company web designer
Designing a website is not just dumping copy and images into a template. A proficient web designer knows that considerable planning is involved to create a clean, functional website. Here is a simple checklist that every designer needs to take a website from cluttered to streamlined.

1. Domain and Hosting: Setting up the web domain and hosting is a top priority, as these pieces must be in place before the site can go live. Settling on a domain name early in the web design process alleviates the stress of last-minute decisions. If you don’t already own the domain name, you’ll need to check if the name you want is available.
2. Involvement in Site Maintenance: Will you need to edit the site during design or after the site is complete? If you want to change copy, add images, etc., it is smart to create the website with a program such as WordPress, Squarespace, or Wix, which allow edits without knowledge of code.
3. Page Count: How big will the site be? Sketching out a site map and talking through the flow of the site are vital to knowing what the final product will look like. This also helps the designer and client determine the goal of the website, such as request donations, sell products, or showcase client work.
4. What the Other Guy is Doing: Do your homework and check out competitor websites to see what you are up against. What do similar sites have in common? What is working? What is not? This will help you make design decisions to enhance the functionality and usability of your site.
5. Look and Feel: Start by roughly sketching some simple scenarios. Outline the navigation, the mainframe work, the main content area and the footer. Be sure to list key graphical elements. This step is important – it helps pinpoint the central elements of the site and verifies where the site is leading the visitor. This process also determines site hierarchy— which buttons, rotators, or navigation need dominance? The most beautiful site is worthless if the user can’t use it. Keep asking yourself “Why?”
6. Making Things Pretty: You have the tough part done; now the fun starts. Design the home page, (also known as the index page), and one or two sub-pages. This is usually enough to get a feel for the site, and big design changes become easier. This step establishes navigation look and position, and anchors items that will appear on every page.
7. Test Your Site: And test it again. As the site is being built, make sure it works on various browsers and displays the way you have in mind. Testing the site once it is complete could be devastating if you find things are not working and need an overhaul.
8. It’s Alive: Once the site is designed, built, and tested, it is ready to go live. This step is always the most exciting and terrifying. Planning a web launch date is important: 2-3 days should be set aside to get things up and checked.

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