Being Creative in the Digital World

Being Creative in the Digital World

Do you worry about the right app to use to edit your photos or design an amazing graphic. Do you worry about which web site or blogging platform you need to be using to keep up with the latest publishing trends. You ponder over Wordpess.com v WordPress.org and then people tell you about Weebly, Wix, Square Space . . . and the list goes on.

Well STOP, let’s rewind.

Being Digitally Creative starts before any app or web platform, it’s starts with your potential customers in mind.
  • Who are your customers
  • What what do they wish to see and read
  • What imagery will excite them and make them flock to your door.
Before you start worrying about how many pixels wide your Social Media image needs to be, you need to think about the message that your visuals aim to convey. Now if you already have brand guidelines for typography, colours and logo identity you’ll know to stick with them. If you haven’t nailed down a visual brand identity, then, at least stay consistent in your visual approach and read on for some more guidance.

Image research.

Consider the style of image that you’ll use to convey your message. Should it be serious, professional, business-like or light-hearted and fun. Maybe it’s all about caring, healthy lifestyle and fitness or it is hip and trendy fashion. Your business - your choice. Think about your brand message and seek out images that complement your vision and stick with them; no one likes a curve ball.

Typography

Every font face tells a story. There are thousands of typefaces to choose from, although, a word of caution, some online graphic design apps may restrict your choice. Things to consider . . .
  • Serif or Sans Serif - or should I say, plain or curly. Helvetica v Times New Roman
  • Stroke weight: fine light fonts or heavy bold weights. Century Gothic v Arial Black
  • Style: classic, modern, script, handwritten, comical etc.
And the rule-of-thumb is no more than 2 typefaces at a time or life get just that bit too confusing. See below link for typography resources.

Colours

Choosing the correct colours is a complex philosophical and aesthetic challenge. Say you are in the health and well-being market then black with yellow may not sit right, whereas, the more obvious choice of blue and green and pastel shades resonate with the market’s expectations. However, if everyone is using blue and green you’re just going to become another brand lost in the sea of blue and green. I told you it was complex.

Trevor says

By using images of a similar style and keeping to your chosen typography and colour scheme, then the consistency will win through and begin to make your brand image recognisable as being yours. It’s that hook of recognition that draws the customers mind nearer to yours.
I love the helping people with their creative challenges. If you need help being digitally creative then my creative thoughts are for hire.
Here’s a few resources you may find useful http://bizzyfizzy.co.uk/digital-alchemist/links/

Are you still in love with email?

email spam - are you still in love with email.

Email is increasingly becoming a less efficient technology for human communication.

A few facts . . .

  • There are an estimated 250 billion emails flowing through the internet everyday
  • Click though rates on marketing emails are typically 3%
  • Top reason people unsubscribe - “I get too many emails”
  • Estimates of spam emails are between 50 & 60%
  • Decreased productivity costs due to email/spam overload - who knows?

Just sending more and more stuff is drowning us in data. Our productivity falls as we try and keep up with our never ending tidal wave of rubbish arriving in our inbox.

How many emails - a reality check?

So we have a global infrastructure that takes a whole heap of technology and resources. There are vast data centres spanning our planet with a web of cables and satellite communication gadgets that shove all those emails around the ether.

STOP - can you really imagine how much kit is required to move all these emails around the world each day?

They transmit over 100 billion emails destined for the spam folder on a daily basis. I bet this concept wasn’t on the drawing board of whoever invented email.

Now I know that’s a lot of numbers and the mechanics of electronic communication is invisible to most. So let us relate the scale of the problem to the paper-based office. If each email was one A4 sheet of paper that would be 500,000 tons of paper that would fill 5 million, 4 drawer filing cabinets per day. Is this really a wonderful heart warming communication tool that we want to be apart of?

5 million filing cabinets - email spam

Spam, Spam, Spam

The fundamental problem is that it’s a non permission based system. Anyone can send an email to your email account, whether you want it or not. OK, yes there are laws about sending spam. Do they apply to all countries, do you know what they are, have you got the time to prosecute everyone who sends you spam. No, you just hit the delete button and move on. And for the opt-in mailing lists, you have no say in how often you’ll receive stuff in your inbox, other than unsubscribing when it gets too much.

Over the past few years I have found I communicate far less by email. It just drains the life blood out of me. Some mornings I stare at my inbox, post spam filtering and see miracle cures for hair loss, weight loss and a whole plethora of health issues I don’t have. I like my hair loss, it’s me and I’m sticking with it. I get offers to invest in the next big thing that will make me millions. Do I need a realistic flight simulator in my life, but hey wait, 16,000 shed plans - how could a shed-loving guy resist. Delete, delete, delete.

I “feel” the cost of all the global technology and human resource that is employed to convey that junk to my trash can - what a waste. It doesn’t feel good.

A better way?

There must be a better way. Pop over to my social media permission based communication inbox and life get’s a whole lot better. There are people that I know, that I have spoken to or met in person have sent me a warm greeting and quick question on Instagram private messenger. Another sent me a Twitter DM to ask me if I got the email they sent - I love the irony.  And then there’s the short video message on Facebook messenger.

I’d love to know how you prefer to connect with other people on our planet that keeps the positivity and human connections alive.

Social media images – is it hip to be square?

Social media images - is it hip to be square

If like me you love mathematics and Italy then you'll probably come across a guy called Fibonacci; an Italian mathematician from the 12th century who became famous for his series of numbers known as the Fibonacci sequence. 

Let’s do some maths

Let's start 1+1 = 2,
This starts off our sequence 1, 1, 2
Keep taking the last two digits and add them together
1+2 = 3, giving 1, 1, 2, 3
2+3 = 5, giving 1, 1, 2, 3, 5
3+5 = 8 giving 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8
and so on 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144, 233  . . . .

Let’s discover the magic

If we do some simple maths - division - then the magic happens. By diving each number in the list by it's preceding neighbour like this . . .

A 1 1 2 3 5 8 13 21 34 55 89 144 233
B - 1 1 2 3 5 8 13 21 34 55 89 144
A/b - 1 2 1.5 1.667 1.600 1.625 1.615 1.619 1.618 1.618 1.618 1.618

To cut a long story short and ignoring too many decimal places the sequence returns the number 1.618. This is know at the Greek letter “phi”. Whilst Fibonacci’s sequence reveals this number, other deep thinkers such as Euclid & Plato uncovered this mystical number many centuries before.

OK 1.618 you ask, what on earth has that got to do with social media then? Let’s discover more magic.

It’s not hip to be square, it’s hip to be a rectangle.

Whilst Huey Lewis & The News tried to convince us back in the 80s that it was Hip to be Square, it was the gifted souls we called Leonardo da Vinci and Salvador Dali, to name but two, that thought it was hip to be a rectangle. But not just any old rectangle, these special sized rectangles are known as Golden Rectangles with width to height ratio of 1.618, or better known as the Golden Ratio. This ratio keeps on turning up in art, architecture, plants, animals, nature, water and weather flows.  It has a natural seduction and we feel its beauty.

According to US academic Adrian Bejan:
Whether intentional or not, the ratio represents the best proportions to transfer [visual information] to the brain.  We really want to get on, we don't want to get headaches while we are scanning and recording and understanding things. Shapes that resemble the golden ratio facilitate the scanning of images and their transmission through vision organs to the brain. Animals are wired to feel better and better when they are helped and so they feel pleasure when they find food or shelter or a mate. When we see the proportions in the golden ratio, we are helped. We feel pleasure and we call it beauty.

For further visual imagery regarding the usage and wonderment of this so special ratio just take a look at our magical world on Google Images

Social media images - is it hip to be square

Social Media is not so golden in our digital world

When it comes to social media graphic sizes it can be very confusing to know which size image you need for each platform.

Here’s a contemporary social image size guide, thanks to Hubspot

Let’s do some maths on how magically golden our favourite social media platforms are when it comes to image sizes for posting. Remember we are looking for 1.6.

Facebook Twitter Instagram Linkedin YouTube Snapchar Filters Pinterest Google+
1.9 2.0 1.0 1.75 1.77 1.77 Variable Variable

So our social media gods haven’t learned much from centuries of beautiful wisdom.

Making beautiful images

I guess by now you are in a state of confusion when it comes to creating social media graphics. You're confused as to how many pixels you should have for the optimum post with the most likes, re-tweets, shares, engagements . . . aaaaaarrrrrhhhh - stop. Just getting the right size image isn’t going to make you an overnight success.

  • Take a step back and consider what your image is representing.
  • What message are you trying to convey?
  • How will the image or photograph help to complement and reinforce your message?
    How will the image portray your brand values?
  • What typeface will you use for any text; what size, colour and weight will it have?

A well-crafted image can tell a story of 1000 words. Its width and height may not diminish its sentiment. A perfectly sized image void of a message will fail to tell a story. Share your voice, that message from your thoughts. Send it out with the positivity from your heart and your story will be felt.

And if you are still struggling with creating images, you may need the help of a Digital Alchemist.

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How making tea widened my life and business.

How making tea widened my life and business.

I recently made it to 50. I know, pretty cool hey, I'm told it's the new 40. Time to celebrate the milestone.

Well, whilst as milestone marks a distance - the length between two points - when and how do we measure the width of our life. Do we ever reach out and touch the sides?

We live in a fast paced, ever more automated and artificial world, rushing to reach our destiny. We make plans, we strive to reach targets, set our goals and desire to fulfill the dreams on our vision boards. Our thoughts are time travelling into our future along a hopeful path paved with success and happiness.

STOP

STOP - look now,  look all around (I’m sounding like Duran Duran now - a teenager of the 80s) here is your life. As we reach out and widen our outlook, we start to connect with people, places, panoramic views unseen in our previous blur as time flew by. A vision that extends beyond life’s fast track superhighway that’s heading into tomorrow’s oblivion.

The slower you go, the wider you’ll live.

Have a nice cup of tea

“Tea Rosie” - that’s a statement said so fast, it’s meaningless and thus never made it to a question mark. (In case you didn't know, Rosie is my wonderful wife)

Tea bag,
hot water,
dip, dunk, squeeze,
add milk and . . .

mug placed on Rosie’s desk as I pass through the office. That mug of tea is void of any connection to life. It’s an empty lifeless liquid. I may have saved time, however, had little to widen or enrich either of our existences.

Let’s try again.

“Would you like me, to make you, a cup of tea Rosie?”

Tea leaves
Filtered water
Tea Pot
and the special milk jug - Rosie loves that jug, I think it’s the one we bought on our holiday in the Isle of Wight.

and as the water is boiling I lay it all out on a tray which encourages far more care and attention to detail. There is emotion and feeling in this pot of tea. It delivers a collective connection of satisfied enjoyment. We appreciate the moment of life’s value that in the pot. We are both in a moment of happiness.

Slow down, smile and connect to happy.
This is your life, enjoy its width.
Its length has a habit of taking care of itself.

Me, a perfectionist?

This may sound like I’m a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to making tea. I’d rather frame it as taking the time to take pleasure in the attention to detail. Slowing down and taking time to reach a wider perspective. To enrich the experience. To feel more alive. It’s all about getting enough detail for today and leaving the perfection for tomorrow.

“The race to chase perfection is an infinite task.”

All this talk about making a cup of tea is fine, but life is more than just tea. So, here’s how it relates to my "Digital Alchemist" business.

“How much do you charge for a 5 page website”

This question used to deflate me and got a sarcastic reply like, "how long is a piece of string". They used to teach sarcasm when I worked in corporate world; I’m now a recovering sarcastic.

STOP, step sideways. I’d rather explore the sideways. Tell me more about your business, your hopes, fears and dreams. How is your website going to help you to help others; let’s explore the width of your website. What is it’s true purpose? What's your true purpose? We’re talking a key marketing asset with width, we are making a digital cup of tea. We're attempting to connect your business to life; let's not rush its creation.

And helping you widen the perspective on your business, and your life, helps me widen mine. We develop, we progress, we both win. We should celebrate over a nice cup of tea.