Designing for the Real World

Page 1 of the Final Magazine Spread

Intro

Welcome to my first project! This project was to make a magazine spread using a talk from either lds.org or byuiscroll.org. The hard part was picking a talk that didn’t have any heading besides the title. We had to add 3+ of our own headings and pull a quote out of the article to display as a pull quote. We also had to take at least 2 of the pictures in the spread ourselves (the rest could taken by someone else) and use all of the principles of design and typography to tie everything we have learned up to this point all together. I want to share the final draft of my magazine spread here first so you can see how it turned out but then I want to go back to the beginning to show you how I got to this point.

Page 1 of the Final Magazine Spread
Page 1 of the Final Magazine Spread
Page 2 and 3 of my Final Magazine Spread
Page 2 and 3 of the Final Magazine Spread. Article from: https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2017/10/gods-compelling-witness-the-book-of-mormon?lang=eng

The Beginning/The Draft

To start I think it would be important to tell you about how I started this project. I chose the talk called “God’s Compelling Witness: The Book of Mormon” from this last General Conference in October. The article is about the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith.

Target Audience

Before even starting to design our spreads we needed to define an audience for our project. The audience I chose was latter-day saints and investigators, both male and female, ages 12+. I chose this age as the starting age, because 12 is when children become teenagers. It is when they begin to really think for themselves and choose their own paths. I chose latter-day saints and investigators because the article I am sharing is about the Book of Mormon and its beginnings. It is a good place to start for an investigator and a good topic for latter-day saints looking to reaffirm their testimonies.

Message and Design Decisions

The message I wanted to convey through my design was a message of peace, and what is more peaceful than nature. As I mentioned already, the article I chose talks about Joseph Smith and how the Book of Mormon came to be. Joseph went out into nature to ponder and pray. This is why I chose to use my son as the one holding the scriptures in the picture on page three. He is too young to be Joseph Smith, but he is a young boy striving to learn and study. This message helped me choose where to take my pictures and even which colors to use in my project. When using paletton.com to chose my color scheme I went with neutral colors like brown and green. I chose a triad off of the brown as my base and got green and blue with it, so these are the main colors I used throughout my design.

Typography Choices

As part of the assignment we needed to chose from at least two different typography categories. For mine I ended up using three. From what I have read, a serif as the body text is the easiest to read in print (Go pick up a book and see for yourself! They will all be some kind of serif font). So I went with Georgia as my body text. For the title, I wanted to use a script and after trying many different ones, I finally decided I liked Vivaldi. To contrast with this font, I chose to use a san serif with it because it contrasted best: very curly vs very smooth, thin vs thick, etc. (which is why I ended up with three categories…). Eras Bold ITC worked really well with Vivaldi so I chose that one.

Sketches

Once all of that was decided, I sketched out 3 different layouts I could use for my spread.

Layout Sketches
Layout Sketches

After looking them over, I decided to go big and try the third variation which is a full page image on the first page.

First Draft

I want to show you my first draft because it shows just how far I came through this assignment.

First Draft
First Draft
pg 2 and 3
pg 2 and 3

When I first started, I thought we needed to use the full article on our three page spread. Because of this thinking, I added text on the tree of the first page so that I could fit it all. This left me not much room for the title. The background was also tricky to get the text to show up so I ended up putting text wherever I could that made it easier to read. This is very bad practice. Not only did I break the proximity principle of design by separating the two parts of the title, I also broke the alignment principle several times. Also by having the text under the title jump up to the text at the top of the tree, it made it hard to follow the text. My second page was pretty good by my picture of my son reading the scriptures was taking my readers eye down to the page he was reading and then up and out of the spread. This isn’t good practice either. My background was also too white. It needed some contrast.

Back to the Drawing Board

After getting critiques by two other classmates and the teacher, it was time to fix my draft.

Version 2

Version 2
page 2 and 3
page 2 and 3

After finding out I didn’t have to have all of the text from the article on my spread, I reworked it so that I had more room for my title to put them next to each other and make them easier to place together. I moved my picture to the bottom right corner to help bring the eye into the spread and also added an extra image on page 2 and 3 behind the text to give it some more color. But something was still wrong. My text was wrapped too close to the scriptures on page 1 that I was creating tension. Another thing that was mentioned was that my title was read together now but seemed disconnected because they were two different font colors. So I went back to rework it.

Version 3

Version 3
Version 3
page 2 and 3
page 2 and 3

With this version, I made the title all one color and used my script font in both sections to really connect them together. I also added some space between the scriptures and my text. But something was still not right. For one by adding the space for my text around the scriptures, I was creating funny spacing in my lines (since I changed the alignment to justify left). The title also wasn’t contrasting much now. It was all one flat color. Someone suggested I add a second color maybe on the words with the script font and I tried it out. Which takes us to the last and final version #4.

Version 4 (Final Draft)

Page 1 of the Final Magazine Spread
Final Magazine Spread
Page 2 and 3 of my Final Magazine Spread
Page 2 and 3

I know I already showed these images at the beginning but I wanted to show them again now in sequence. I moved the text around such that it got rid of the funny spacing, I changed the color of the scripted font to green to give it some contrast with the brown, and now have this version fourth and final version of my magazine draft! It was a long time coming but I am proud of it.

Design Analysis

I want to take a minutes and just explain quickly how I used the principles of design and typography in my design. I used the principle of proximity in the end to group my title together and keep it separate from my body text. I used the principle of alignment on each of the columns but also on the right hand side of my title it is aligned with the column below it, connecting the two even though there is space between them. I used the principle of contrast in my font choices and in my contrasting colors in the title. I used the principle of repetition by repeating my colors from the title throughout the piece giving it a uniform look (the brown in the title and on the border, the green in the title and in the pull quote box, the greens and browns in my images, etc.) I also repeated fonts. All the headings are the same san serif used in the main title and I repeated the script font twice in the title to give unity as well.

Looking at the final design, I think my target audience would be very happy with it. It uses the neutral colors to give that peaceful, nature look and it uses images that aren’t busy but are of something quiet and serene.

Conclusion

In conclusion, I learned a lot from this assignment. In the beginning I wasn’t thinking too much about the principles of design and how they would fit in. I was worried about meeting the minimum criteria for the project. After getting some good critiques on that first draft I really started to see and remember these principles and how important they were. If I had just started this project a little more design oriented, I think my first draft could have turned out better. I can say for sure though, that I came a long way from the beginning of it to end.

Photography Attribution

Here are each of the images I used in my project. All three were taken by me this semester. Two were taken specifically for this project and the third was one I took before thinking I could use it in my photography blog post and then didn’t (the leaf). I cut it out to use on pages 2 and 3. The tree picture originally had a sun spot on the tree by right above the scriptures that I had to Photoshop out so you could read the text easier.

Scriptures by the Tree
Scriptures by the Tree (page 1)
Matthew Reading
Matthew Reading (page 3)
Left
Leaf (cut out and used on pages 2 and 3)

 

Advertisements

There Are No Rules in Photography: Just Guidelines

Rule of Thirds Mimic

Intro

While there are no rules in photography, there are guidelines. We were asked to look for three professional examples using some of these guidelines: the Rule of Thirds, Leading Lines, and Depth. We were also asked to create our own mimic of those professional examples to make sure we understood the concept and how to replicate it. I will begin with the Rule of Thirds.

Rule of Thirds

Rule of Thirds (professional)
Professional Example of the Rule of Thirds: https://blog.udemy.com/learn-photography-a-comprehensive-beginners-guide/#31

Draw over professional RoT

When looking for an example of the Rule of Thirds, I found and went through several examples before I found this one. This was found through google images and it took me to a post on the udemy blog. I am not sure who the original designer is as they weren’t mentioned in the post. You can check out the post here and see the original photo under the rule of thirds section: https://blog.udemy.com/learn-photography-a-comprehensive-beginners-guide/#31.

I really liked this example for the Rule of Thirds because the main flower is right on top of the left vertical line and the middle of the flower is right on the bottom left cross-hair. The seeds that are blowing away are also in the cross-hairs in the upper right hand corner. When using the rule of thirds, you want to place your main focal points on either the lines or the cross-hairs. This used both.

Rule of Thirds Mimic
My image mimicking the style and design element for the rule of thirds

For the image I took to mimic the example, I looked for an angle similar to that of the professional image I selected and made sure to put the middle of the flower in a cross-hair. It isn’t the same cross-hair as the example but I do have a leaf in that one which follows that left vertical line. I also found another flower that had lost it’s petals to put in the diagonal cross-hair to act like the seeds in the example. It follows the right vertical line down with it’s branch. It is slightly blurry so that it doesn’t take away from the main flower, but is still present.

Depth

Professional Example of Depth: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/236227942930213060/

Draw over on depth

I also found several examples for Depth before I found this one. This was found through google images searching for something like “depth professional photography.” I couldn’t find a photographers name with it but it was shared by Cortney Stewart on her pinterest board: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/236227942930213060/. When you click on the link to see the original image, PLEASE DON’T CLICK ON THE IMAGE WHEN YOU GET TO THE PINTEREST BOARD. It links to a not very friendly article that used the image. If you must see it bigger, only go to the pinterest board. Don’t click! I don’t endorse the article, I just like the image.

I thought this was a very good example of Depth. You have the small snail which is very in focus and you have the train track underneath him leading the eye back to the tunnel behind him. The snail even has his head turned, looking back behind him at the tunnel. Having your eye move from the very in focus snail back along the train track to the blurry tunnel is what shows the depth. It makes a 2D image look 3D.

Depth Mimic
My image mimicking the style and design element for depth

Draw Over Depth (mine)

I will tell you right now, I had a hard time mimicking this one. The piano was the closest I could come up with to mimic the depth of the train track. I tried several different objects on the piano to be my focal point. My son’s hand just seemed too big, the crayon and necklace I tried just didn’t fit right. I had added this pin on the piano near the beginning of my search and thought it looked a little too big, but, in the end, I decided that it drew the focus in well. It also is very detailed which makes the contrast of the very long, blurry way to the end of the piano stronger.

Leading Lines

Leading Lines Professional Example
Picture taken by Courtney Slazinik with Click it Up a Notch: https://clickitupanotch.com/2011/08/leading-lines-composition/

Draw over professional example. Leading lines

Again it took many examples before I found my way to this one. It also came from a google search looking for “leading lines professional photography.” This images was taken by Courtney Slazinik with Click it Up a Notch. Original image can be found here: https://clickitupanotch.com/2011/08/leading-lines-composition/.

I really liked this example for leading lines. All of the (I am assuming they are mail lockers) are all the same size and the angle at which the image was taken shows lines pointing directly at the two girls. The frame under the lockers, the tops and bottoms of each of the rows of lockers, etc. They all point to the two girls who are the main focus of the picture, leading the eye right to them.

Leading Lines Mimic
My image mimicking the style and design element for leading lines

Draw over for leading lines (mine)

This image took me several tries to finally find and get right. I tried using a fence and a pole and neither of those were working the right way. I had thought about using the bricks on my apartment but it wasn’t until my husband mentioned the bricks to me that I realized they would work the best. I did several takes and finally got the right picture. In the photo I used the bricks to mimic the lockers and placed my faithful husband at the other end to be the focal point (he got to keep reading so he was fine with it :D). Like the lockers, the bricks formed several straight lines all leading down to my husband who was acting as the focal point (like the girls in the example). I got just the right amount of blur on the bricks without most of the image being blurry. The sun even reflected off a window on my neighbors apartment and landed nicely on my husband to really help bring him in focus. That, with all of the lines, leads the eye right to him.

Conclusion

In conclusion, this was a very fun but frustrating project. The perfectionist in me had me changing photos, redoing a picture, etc., but I am satisfied with the images I found and the images I took. I learned a lot about the these three guidelines (rule of thirds, depths and leading lines). I also learned a lot about my phone camera and the angles at which I needed to take the images to get them just right. I hope to continue to use these skills in my own daily picture taking to make them the best they can be.

Take Action for Success in Typography

Typography Example
Typography Example
Design from http://webneel.com/30-best-and-motivational-typography-quotes-design-examples-your-inspiration?i=11-motivational-typography-quotes/03-2013/d
No author found

Intro

When looking for a typography example, I looked far and wide and wasn’t having much success. I would find one with more than one font but it would also have more than two. There were also several others that had the right specifications but the message wasn’t one I wanted to promote. I decided I needed to try and look for motivational examples as I knew their topics would be same. I finally found this one and love the message it sends. Without action, you can’t be successful! That is true in every aspect in life.

The image was found on a site with several other motivational quotes. Check it out here: http://webneel.com/30-best-and-motivational-typography-quotes-design-examples-your-inspiration?i=11-motivational-typography-quotes/03-2013/d. I couldn’t find the designer’s name but it looks the like author of the quote is Pablo Picasso (at least that is what the name at the bottom of the quote says).

Font 1

Font 1

The first font I decided to identify was the one you see first. This font is clearly a sans serif font type as there are no serifs anywhere! There is also no thick/thin sections in the font. It is all a uniform thickness and there is no stress because there are no thick/thin sections.

Font 2

Font 2

The second font I identified was the middle text. This font was a hard font to figure out. At first I thought it was an Oldstyle font because the serifs looked slanted and it looked like it had a diagonal stress line. The problem though is the stress line is going the wrong way, going right to left instead of left to right. There are also very drastic thick/thin sections in the font, not moderate like an Oldstyle would have. I think that if we were to change font to be regular style instead of an italic style that the serifs would in fact be horizontal instead of slanted the stress would be horizontal instead of diagonal. From this criteria, I believe that the font type would be a Modern type, not Oldstyle.

Contrasting Factors

Contrast

When looking at the two different fonts, I saw a couple differences that make them contrast nicely. The first difference is that one font is serif, and the other is sans serif. This is a contrast in Structure. These two styles complement each other in the piece because they are very different. One is monoweight where as the other has very radical thick/thin transitions in the stroke.  One has serifs while the other doesn’t have any.

Next is the fact that one font is in all caps and the other font is lowercase. This is a contrast in Form. Having all caps brings attention and highlights the words Action and Success. All caps is harder and slower to read, but that is why they put the majority of the text in lowercase and just the main words in all caps. The majority of the text is also in an italic style while the main words are in a roman typeface (regular). This also gives us a good contrast in Form.

There was kind of a contrast in color/weight too. By putting a thin empty space in the middle of the main text, it makes the main text not as thick as the middle text and it also lets some of the blue background inside the main text and makes it appear darker than the middle text.

I did not see a huge contrast in size or a contrast in direction.

Conclusion

In conclusion, this piece had some pretty good contrast.

  • It used two fonts from different categories (serif and sans serif), which is an easy way to contrast structure. It helps make having a different font look intentional instead of looking like a mistake.
  • It used all caps vs lowercase which is a great way to contrast form. Lowercase is easier to read, which is why they used it for the bulk of the text, but all caps draws attention, which is why they used it for the main words.
  • It kind of contrasted color and weight by adding the empty space inside the text. This made the main text appear thinner and brought some of the blue background color through to make it appear darker. This gave contrast between the all white, thick main text and the thinner, darkened main text.

There wasn’t any contrast in size or direction but it doesn’t need to have all of the different types of contrast in order to be a good example or typography. Even just having a few good ones goes a long way.

Perfect Match for Good Design

Original reverse engineer photo
Original reverse engineer photo
Photo created by Nicholas Shurr
https://www.behance.net/gallery/26177817/Porsche-Tennis-Grand-Prix-2016

Intro

When looking for a design to reverse engineer, I started by googling “advertisements with good design.” This gave me a plethora of images to choose from, but I decided to go with the one above because of the fun use of alignment. The image was designed by Nicholas Shurr for the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in 2016. You can find the original post I got it from here: https://www.behance.net/gallery/26177817/Porsche-Tennis-Grand-Prix-2016.

Alignment

Alignment Example
Alignment Example

I wanted to start with alignment because it was what first drew me to the image. The alignment is left aligned but tilted at an angle. You can tell the designer knew what he was doing because there is a line that runs right into the white line on the car so that your eye continues the line even though it is a different thickness. The text on the right parallels that line and also parallel the line at the bottom to give a nice right angle to the text. That right angle continues throughout the text, aligning with both the line on the left as well as the line on the bottom to create a very safe feeling. The text also aligns and connects the logo to it even though there is clearly a space separation between them.

Proximity

Proximity Example
Proximity Example

Proximity was the next one I looked for. The main text is ordered very nicely and is in close proximity to each other. The heading is big and bold and clearly shows that “Match” is part of the title even though it is on a different line. The event name and date are displayed next biggest in a nice box, visually putting the two together. Next the location, ticket info, and web address are smaller in text and grouped together as well. The logo is all the way at the bottom giving some distance between it and the text to show it isn’t part of the main text, but is still aligned with it as said above.

Contrast

Contrast Example
Contrast Example

Contrast was next in my analysis. The first thing I noticed was the contrast of color. The white text on the orange background makes it very easy to read and pops the text right off the page. Next was the title itself. It is a much bigger font size than the location and ticket information and gives great size contrast. We also have a contrast in fonts with the word Porsche in a different font. It draws the eye to it because it is different. Not slightly different, completely different which is how it should be.

Repetition

Repetition Example
Repetition Example

With repetition, the font was the first thing to pop out. The title font is repeated several times throughout the piece, as well as the all caps style that the title uses. The white lines along the left and bottom of the piece are repeated as thinner lines around the event name and date. The white color is also repeated in the text to help your eye see the white lines. The orange color of the background is repeated in the car in different shades and hues, enough to separate it from the background. This gives emphasis to the piece.

Color

Color Example
Color Example

Speaking of color, it is the last one left to talk about. As I said above, the designer used shades and tints of the orange to make the car stand out. The shadow of the car adequately pops the car out of the background so it doesn’t blend too much. After doing a little research, I actually found that the tennis courts in Stuttgart for the event are orange and the lines on the court are white. This explains the color choice for the advertisement as well as the design. I didn’t realize until I came to color and tried to decide why the designer had chosen orange that the entire advertisement is a tennis court! This realization helped make all the other design elements make sense. The designer continued the color scheme of the white tennis lines for the text and  used various shades and tints of orange for the car to give the ad a familiar look.

Conclusion

In conclusion, this advertisement needed each principle of design to be what it is. The colors and design were chosen to match the tennis courts of the event. The white court lines on the bottom and left set the alignment for the piece. The proximity of the text gave order to the page. Repetition was used to give emphasis and a sense of familiarity to the piece Contrast was used to separate the text from the background, make it readable, and also gave some emphasis to what to read first. This piece needed each principle of design to be complete,  and I, for one, feel like they were used very well.

Lesson Twelve Weekly Reflection

I can’t believe we are on our last week this next week! It seems like it hasn’t been that long but at the same time it feels like it has been forever since this class started. I was just looking back at some of my earlier assignments and realizing how far we have come.

This week we worked on ranking and link building as well as learning more about google analytics and how to use adwords in analytics.

Ranking and Link Building

For this assignment we needed to develop a strategy to build our rank on google and our back links for our site. We did this by figuring out the who, when, what, how, and where.

Who and When?

  1. Who is going to do the work?
    1. I am. Being the sole owner of my business, there is no one else to do it. I could hire someone who is trained in this subject to do it for me, but I think right now, it would be best for me to figure out how to do it myself.
  2. When is the work going to start?
    1. I would say it would need to be started as soon as possible. The sooner I can start, the quicker I can get my ranking up higher and get more traffic to and conversions from my site.
  3. Is the work ongoing? Or is there a date that the work should be finished?
    1. Because this is for a webpage vs a printed book, I would have to say that the work will always be ongoing. There is always something that changes, upgrades to technology that happen, content that is out of date, etc. That being said, it is always good to set mini deadlines along the way. For this particular project I am going to set the date to be finished for the end of the semester (April, 9, 2016). This will ensure that I have everything I need for the class requirements before the end of the semester.
  4. Who reports to whom? Is there a reporting process?
    1. There is not a reporting process as I am the only owner. This means I will need to do all the work and report to myself on what I get done (as well as to my professor for this class).

What and How?

  1. What web pages are the links directed to (in importance)?
    1. At first I wasn’t quite sure what this question was asking. I thought it was asking, “What of my web pages are the links from other sites going to be directed to.” If this is what it is asking, then most of the links will link to my landing page (with possible anchor tags of contact, about, mission, etc). They might also link to my pricing and payments page but I have the price on my landing page under a specific anchor tag so really the sites will just be going to my landing page tags.
    2. After reading the example for this assignment it seems like the question is really asking, “What web page’s links are going to be directing to our sites.” If this is what the question means then, for my site, it would be probably be best for me to get a link to my site on some “Find a Tutor” directory sites like maybe LinkedIn. I found this page (https://www.linkedin.com/title/web-developer,-tutor) which would be similar to what I am looking for and LinkedIn is a well-known site vs something like tutoruniverse.com (which I had never heard of till I googled it). By placing myself and my site on pages that are viewed more, I will get a better ranking.
  2. What keywords (anchor text) will be used in each webpage?
    1. I took a page out of the example’s book and decided to take a look at my google adwords campaign. I really feel like I don’t have very good keywords (as I have tons of clicks on my ads but not a lot of clicks on my keywords) but some of the ones I do have lots of clicks on are “CSS help”, “online tutor”, “Javascript help”, “html tutor”, and “web development tutor”. Out of all of these the one that has the highest click-through-rate is “web development tutor” at 1.60%. I also have two keywords that have only been clicked once but they have a 4% and a 5.88% CTR so “website help” and “MySQL help” might also be good keywords to use in my anchor text because they have a high CTR.
  3. What types of content/websites will be targeted to get links?
    1. For my website, I don’t have a lot of content. I will be making a blog for my site though with tips and tricks for different parts of web development (specifically for each language). So really looking at the keywords I mentioned in the above question might help me to see which content people are most interested in. My top clicked keyword was “CSS help.” So making content geared towards helping with CSS might help me get more people to find my site and stay on it. The keyword I had with the highest CTR was “MySQL help.” This will be similar to CSS help in that I can make content specific to that language and have other sites target that link.
  4. How will the content/websites to get links be found?
    1. For this I could use a couple different approaches. If I want people to find my landing page and my tutoring schedule then I would probably want to stick with “find a tutor” directory agencies. When people are looking for tutors they don’t usually click on a site with just one tutor, they click on a site with lots of tutors that they can search through to find the right one. If I can get myself on one of these directories, I think I will have a better chance of getting found.
    2. If I want people to find my blog which will hopefully lead to scheduling me as their tutor then I might want to look into getting links on pages that specialize in the specific languages that I am writing about. One that came to mind was w3schools.com. I am not sure if they link to other site like I need but I know they are a well-known site. I could also maybe have some of my friends that have a well-established blog share some of these links to help get the word out. There are many possibilities.
  5. How to approach the content/websites to gather links?
    1. When doing this assignment it seems obvious that I will probably get the best results for my site using directories. When looking at this link: (https://www.searchenginegenie.com/advanced-link-building-strategies.html), I found that “When submitting to directories, [I need to] make sure to vary anchor text and try to use [my] keywords in the description and title fields as obviously as possible.”
    2. I could also follow number 8 in the link above which talks about renting space on “a page hosted on a better or more authoritative site in [my] industry.” This basically is like putting my ad in a newspaper or magazine where lots of people look. I would have to pay for it though so I think it might be best for me to approach directories first and see how far they get me and then go for renting space if I need to.

Where will the links be gathered?

  1. This link (https://www.searchenginejournal.com/link-building-strategies-checklist/17256/) for this question gave lots of ides of where the links could be gathered. I think some of the best ideas from the list were to use, social profiles, social groups, friends, guest posts, some of my own sites, and directories post might be some good places to go to.
    1. I already have a social profile on a couple different sites that I could post content to but according to this site (http://www.searchengineguide.com/stone-reuning/a-brief-intro-to-link-building-for-small.php), “It’s tempting to think you can just link to pages on your site from your Twitter tweets, Facebook and other social media applications. However, many of these sites as well as online ads and also some directories employ “no follow” tags that prevent the search engines from following a link to your site. In this case, it’s as if the link doesn’t exist in the eyes of the search engines.” From this, I am not sure if this posting to social media would actually help me to get links and build my ranking.
    2. I am not sure if social groups are different than social profiles but I am already in a couple of groups/communities in the particular topic on Facebook and this seems to get me business but not really any backlinks.
    3. I could have some friends who have well-established blogs do a guess post for me to help spread the word but again this may not be the best way to get my ranking up. I think it would definitely be worth a try though. The more people I can get to spread the word, the better for me.
    4. I have some of my own sites (personal blog, business blog for this class, website I made for family, etc) that I could put my link on but I fear that they aren’t the most traveled pages and might be bad for my site.
    5. I think again that directories (if they are the right ones) are probably going to be the best place to gather my links. People tend to like to search for a product/service they want amongst similar products/services so that they can make sure they are getting the best one. Comparison is everything!

Google Analytics Overview

This was an interesting assignment that was actually really frustrating for me because there was something I apparently missed earlier in the semester in linking my adwords and analytics accounts together. I needed to enable auto tagging so I didn’t have any data in my adwords section in my analytics account.

I turned the functionality but I took a couple of days to verify (and it doesn’t just auto fill all the days I missed so I have to wait for data to accumulate).

Because I didn’t have this data, I decided to look at some of the other sections that the video we watched did talk about and found the landing page section under behavior -> site content. From there I was able to see that it showed tons of landing pages (not sure what all of them are) but I found two that I know are on my site (my root page ‘/’ and my make-a-payment page). From the information on this page, I saw that my make-a-payment page had a lot less sessions and new users. This is to be expected though because most people come to this page after viewing and contacting me through the site to pay. The bounce rate was a lot lower and the session duration was higher than that of my root landing page but the bounce rate is probably lower because it is usually the second page that is viewed unless I give someone the direct link (which I do in all my invoices) so this to me says that most people coming to this page either came from my landing page and then either left or went back to the landing page or they came directly to it and clicked the payment button to leave (so the bounce rate was lower).

I then looked at the exit pages section of analytics and found that only 6 people exited from the make-a-payment page out of 23 page views whereas 293 people left from the landing page out of 416 page views. This showed that most people don’t leave from the payment page but from the landing page.

The make a payment page isn’t as important for people to view as my landing page (as I have my pricing on the landing page) so I would think that my worst landing page would be my main landing page because that is where people come in, view my site and other links in it, and then leave. It has a high bounce rate (which isn’t necessarily bad) but I want them to interact with my site (i.e. fill out my form to contact me). I found through the video, though, that filling out a form and then leaving the site can still count as a bounce. Because of this, I plan to make a goal on google analytics to see how many interactions people have on my landing page before they leave (buttons clicked, forms filled out, etc) to see if people are even reading/interacting with the site or if they just look and leave (a true bounce). Hopefully this will help me add more appealing things to my landing page to keep people on my site.

Project 5

We also completed project 5 this last week which was interesting because we used a site called woorank.com that went to our site and checked the speed of it, keywords, social media connected with the site, etc. We then needed to pick a couple of the things it suggested we fix to make our sites better. We then need to complete the ones we picked before next Saturday when we need to run woorank.com again to see if the rank score it gave us before is higher now. Here is the list of changes I chose to make:

  1. Add a meta description – High Impact
  2. Missing a rel=”Publisher” tag for linking to my Google+ Page. – Low Impact
  3. Optimize load time (1.18 seconds right now) – High Impact – use this url: http://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwebdevtutoring.com
  4. Look at speed tips to make my pages faster — Medium Impact – uses this url: https://developers.google.com/speed/docs/insights/rules
  5. Add a twitter account – Low Impact
  6. Add XML site map – Medium Impact – maybe use this url or something similar: https://www.xml-sitemaps.com/
  7. Discovered Pages shows one page – Medium Impact – it recommends making sure my XML site map is present and submitted to the major search engines
  8. Make a blog for the site – Medium Impact – this actually shows as being found but only because it is a WordPress site which has a built in blog. I am not currently using this blog but I want to incorporate a blog to get better SEO.

Next week we have to make a presentation about our site and make the changes above for project 6 so check back next week to see how that all goes. WE ARE ALMOST DONE!

Lesson Eleven Weekly Reflection

The semester is coming to a close so quickly! Only next week and the week after and we are done!! Project 4 went well this last week (I think). I am hoping I started my campaign up again in time and that I was able to get enough numbers to show a difference. We shall see I guess. This last week was all about Social Media. The first assignment was about social media for SEO and the second assignment was an introduction to social media.

Social Media for SEO

For this assignment we needed to write an essay about our social media optimization strategy/goals. We needed to talk about long term goals and short term goals that we had for our site and how we would measure the success of those goals. Here is my essay. I feel I should share the whole thing here rather than have me botch a summary of it:

“According to the 2010 Social Media Marketing Report, 67% of marketers plan to increase their use of social media channels including blogs, Twitter, and Facebook. As more companies integrate social media into their marketing and communications plans, emphasis needs to be on creating a social media strategy” (http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/7-steps-for-a-successful-social-media-strategy/). I found this particular quote to be important. As it says, “67%” are planning to use social media more and I for one don’t want to be left out of the loop because I am not using it. I also don’t want to just jump in because ‘everyone else is doing it.’ As it says in the above quote, “emphasis needs to be on creating a social media strategy.” A key part to creating this strategy is to set goals.

“What’s important is to understand your social media goals and objectives and how they tie into your overall company goals. Keep it Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic/Relevant, and Timely (aka be SMART!)” (http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/7-steps-for-a-successful-social-media-strategy/). When creating goals for our businesses we need to make sure, as it says in the quote above, that we make our goals, “specific, measurable, attainable, realistic/relevant and timely.”

With that said, I would like one of my goals to be pulling more traffic into my website, specifically from Facebook. I would like to increase the number I am pulling in right now from Facebook by at least 1% by the end of the semester. In order to measure this goal, I will make use of the google analytics segment tool. Through this tool I can create a segment that checks specifically where a user it coming from when they come to my site. I have set up that segment and it currently checks if the source contains “facebook.com” and will show me all the information about users coming from there. The nice thing about this tool is I can use it on any report in google analytics. For example, the overview of my audience section shows that 15.38% of my sessions are coming from Facebook already. I believe this goal is attainable because I already have a presence on Facebook as well as a company page. All I need to do is post content on my company page, and share it with my personal account. I also have a presence on the “BYU-I Online WDD Majors” and the “BYU-I Online Student Support” group pages where I have many students who I have tutored already who might be willing to help me spread the word there. Because I have a presence on Facebook already I feel this is a realistic/relevant goal to my business. As the infographic on the notes from instructor page points out, Facebook “has 1 billion users worldwide.” This is by far the most popular social media platform and therefore gives me a more realistic opportunity to spread the word of my business faster and easier than some of the other social media platforms.  As I mentioned in my goal, I would like this particular goal to be timely and met by the end of the semester.

This is a short term goal though as the end of the semester is in less than three weeks. As a longer term goal I would really like to just pull more users to my site (possibly from other social media platforms like I am planning on doing with Facebook but as a longer term goal I will take them coming from anywhere). Of those users, I would like to have at least three (specific) of those users schedule and follow through with me before the end of the next semester (timely). I have had quite a few people contact and set something up with me this semester so I think at least 3 people it is attainable and realistic for my business. I set the time to be before the end of next semester because I will get the most traffic during the semester. I will mostly be measuring this through Google AdWords, more specifically, through the conversion tool. I already have some conversion tracking code on my thank you message page after someone submits the scheduling form. I believe, though, that the conversion tracking tool only measures conversions when they come through one of the google ads I have created. If I want to measure my success no matter where someone is coming to my site from, I can keep a count of the people who schedule with me through the emails I get from someone scheduling with me. By also doing it this way, I will get a day for when they scheduled and I can check it with google analytics to see where the users were coming from that day.

Success comes in many forms and with social media marketing and social SEO, it’s the combination of social media monitoring and web analytics that provides the most actionable value (http://www.toprankblog.com/2010/07/4-social-seo-success/). Through planning and following through on these goals, I feel I will really be able to socialize with others in the same communities, build relationships with many people who share my same passions or with those who want to have the same passions but are just getting started, and market myself well enough to get a good amount of traffic to my site through social media. Social media is growing bigger and bigger as the years pass. Why not take advantage of it? Not only can it help me, but I can help others through it as well. “Good marketing itself is not about the platform, it’s about the idea. The platform is merely an enabler, but to utilize it effectively comprehension is vital. With social media gaining popularity daily it is necessary for marketing professionals and businesses alike to comprehend this dynamic communication environment. And the only true way to accomplish this is to become involved yourself”(http://www.toprankblog.com/2009/08/social-media-optimization-redux/).

 Introduction to Social Media

For this assignment we needed to do some reading and watch some videos about the different platforms for social media and then pick four that we could market our sites on. Of those four we needed to pick one and  list the different steps we could take to market our business. The four I chose were:

  1. Facebook
  2. Twitter
  3. Google Plus
  4. LinkedIn

The one I picked to list steps I could take was Facebook. I chose Facebook because it is the platform that reaches the most people and is the easiest (I think) for people to use. It also has so many different generations of people which gives me a better reach (as a grandma might see my post and know that her grandson is struggling in school). The steps I would take to market my website would be to first create a company page and have my personal account like the page. By having my personal account like it, it makes it more likely to show up on the sidebar of my friend’s news feeds showing that I recently liked a page. I can then share that page with friends and on Facebook group pages dedicated to students learning web development. By sharing the page with these types of people, I am confident that if enough people share it around that it will help me get a great following. I can then start posting about things I can do; tips, tricks, and teasers I have; etc. that will hopefully help others learn from me and want to schedule to learn more.

After participating in the discussion board this week I actually found from several students that LinkedIn (which was my fourth platform I chose) is actually not that good of a platform to market a business on. If you are looking for employees, talking with other companies, or if your business is about recruiting, then LinkedIn is great. Otherwise it isn’t as easy as something like Facebook or Twitter to promote and share your page around with people.

I also found through the discussion board that becoming part of groups and first, making friends there, is very important! People are more likely to buy and work with someone they know or associate with vs a complete stranger. People are also more likely to work with someone who is friends with their friends. If someone can recommend you, you are set!

Just some of my thoughts from the week. This next week is about ranking and link building as well as learning more about google analytics. We also will turn in project 5 this next week and have lots of changes to make before turning in project 6.

Check back next week if you want to see how that all goes. Thanks for reading!

Lesson Ten Weekly Reflection

The weeks are flying by fast. We are at the end of week 10 and we only have 11, 12, and the conclusion week left!! This week we worked on learning how to optimize our landing page and our website in general and we also learned about basic SEO.

Landing Page Optimization and Website Optimizer

For this assignment, we needed to answer 3 different questions. I have the questions and how I answered them here below:

  1. What would you change on one landing page that you believe would increase conversion and why?
    1. I think one thing I would change is the text that the user sees right off. It isn’t very “attention grabbing.” I like that right now it works with my ad but I think it needs some changes to make it a little more appealing and help visitors want to stay on the site. I want them to look at the headline and say to themselves, “That is exactly what I need.” I will want to make sure I reflect the change in my ad once I come up with the right text. Right now the text reads “AN AFFORDABLE, RELIABLE WEB DEVELOPMENT TUTOR.” I am hoping to use the discussion board tomorrow to get some ideas about what to change this text to. I felt this was something I could experiment with because this reading mentioned that some elements I could test might be “headlines and headers.” I think I will get more conversions if I can convince the visitor right off that I am exactly what they are looking for.
    2. The reading link above also mentioned experimenting with “calls to action.” I am not sure if my site needs it but I was wondering about having more call-to-action buttons. I feel like I have a couple already and I don’t really want to be in their face, but I also think it might increase my conversions if visitors are seeing calls to action throughout the site.
  1. Is the page featuring what you promised in the ad?
    1. I believe it is. The very first thing they see when they come to the site are some of the exact words I used in one of my ads (Affordable Reliable, Web Development Tutor, etc). I also have the price from my ad on the landing page once they scroll to the right section with a link to schedule right by it in the hopes that after they see the price they want to schedule).
  1. Can people easily find what they are looking for on your site?
    1. I think that it is easy for people to find what they need on my site. I have contact and pricing buttons right first off on my page because pricing is always something people want to know first off and contact is how I do business. I have my navigation at the top that allows them to find what they might need, whether that is to learn more about the company, pay an invoice, read some testimonials/reviews, etc. it is there at their fingertips.
    2. Another thing I think that is helpful is the fact that most of the links are on the same page. There is no reloading of content, or having to jump back and forth. The link at the top just makes it convenient so they don’t have to remember the scroll order of the page and allows them to get back to any section they want through the link.

After going through the discussion board (which there wasn’t room to ask my classmates about my own website), I posted on the office hours discussion board with my question about what I could change on my landing page and my professor thought that changing the headline would be a good idea. I talked with my husband and we came up with a few ideas:

  1. “Try” Your Code Before It “Catches” You.
  2. Broken Code? Broken Bank? Affordable Tutoring
  3. Bug-Infested Code? Call the Exterminator.

I really liked the first one but I wasn’t sure how many people would understand it (because it is a php thing). I liked number two because it keep the keyword “affordable tutoring” but it didn’t really roll off the tongue well. Then we came up with number 3 and that is what I decided to go with. Everyone knows about bugs in your code and it gives a call-to-action right in the headline with the word “call” (which in my case technically means contact but call was shorter and fit better with the phrase) and then it has pricing and contact buttons underneath to help them out.

Basic SEO

For this assignment, we had a few different questions to answer as well but I really only want to share the first question and what I came up with for it here:

  1. List the five best things you can do to help your sites be optimized for search engines. Explain your reasoning.

After doing the reading, I found that some of the best things I can do to help my site be optimized for search engines are:

    1. To check my title tag for my website and make sure I am using my keywords in it. I am using WordPress so I am not sure if this is already getting set somewhere from something I input or something WordPress input. The reading says that, “Using the primary keyword phrase at least once in the page’s title, and preferably as close to the start of the title tag/element as possible is highly recommended. Not only are titles key to how engines weigh relevance, they also dramatically impact a searcher’s propensity to click” (https://moz.com/blog/visual-guide-to-keyword-targeting-onpage-optimization).
    2. Check my body text for potential keywords/make sure to use my keywords in the body text. The reading talks about making sure I have keywords in my body text but it also mentions not to overdo it. “It’s wise to make your content comprehensive, useful, and relevant as possible, not just filled with instance of a keyword” (https://moz.com/blog/visual-guide-to-keyword-targeting-onpage-optimization). It needs to make sense when I read it and not just end up being a bunch of keywords. I think that making sure I have some keywords in there (whether using some of my own text as a keyword or inserting some of the keywords I already have) it will make my site more optimized for the web.
    3. Adding share links to my site. Right now I have links to my business Facebook and LinkedIn pages but I am realizing I don’t have share links on my site anywhere. The reading mentions that, “A well-optimized page should help to make social sharing as easy and seamless as possible” (https://moz.com/blog/visual-guide-to-keyword-targeting-onpage-optimization). So by adding share links it will make my site more optimized and also allow others to share my site with friends (hopefully because they enjoyed my service).
    4. Making sure my headers have keywords in them. I know I made a big effort to make the main header (the first thing visitors see when coming to the site) had keywords in it but I am realizing that each section on my website has a sub header that I should probably see about putting a few of my keywords in them as well. The reading mentions that “Failure to do so may increase the odds of pogo-sticking, and our most recent rank correlations suggest that a topically relevant H1 is associated with higher rankings” (https://moz.com/blog/visual-guide-to-keyword-targeting-onpage-optimization).
    5. Making sure all my images have alt attributes. I hadn’t realized this was so important for SEO. I knew it was important for accessibility. The reading says, “For search engines, the image’s title, filename, surrounding text, and alt attribute all matter from a ranking perspective. In particular, those doing SEO should know that when an image is linked, the alt attribute is treated similarly to anchor text in a text link” (https://moz.com/blog/visual-guide-to-keyword-targeting-onpage-optimization). So by making sure my images have the right information in their attributes, I can make my site more optimized for search engines.

I feel that by making these changes to my site, I can have it better optimized for the search engines that people use to find my site. I also how that it brings in more people.

That is all for this week. We have been working on Project 4 but that really has just been pausing the campaign, taking down numbers, implementing the changes I have been talking about making to the site, and then re-enabling the campaign and taking down the new numbers to see the difference. So check back next week to see how that went.

Thanks for reading!