Setting up a business used to be a cumbersome process, requiring a commercial lease, sometimes even before the first customer comes in the door. Now setting up a business online can be done in less than a day, and more brick and mortar businesses are turning to the web to find customers.
Despite this positive trend, there are still a few common mistakes that small businesses are making in their online marketing efforts – ones that can be voided.
Any pro will tell you that the key to productivity is delegating. Yet, for some reason, many small businesses still try to tackle digital marketing entirely by themselves.
Forbes reports that upwards of 70.8% of small businesses do ALL their marketing in-house. Only about 4.4% of small businesses are outsourcing to a third party, agency, or contractor.
Yet it’s the small businesses who outsource who are happiest with the results for both increasing sales and bringing in new customers.
Yes, finding an affordable graphic design service and reliable SEO company can be tricky – but spending time getting up to speed on marketing, if you haven't done it before, takes away time from your primary business. Getting help will almost certainly beat taking the DIY approach.
Sometimes businesses think they can get away with a local listing on Google, but the opposite is also true. Sometimes businesses invest purely on a fancy website and forget to optimize the local business listing.
Trends show that consumers aren’t following local searches with website visits as frequently as in the past. Instead, they are relying on the plethora of information given right in the SERPs as part of Google My Business Listings.
Google My Business (which is a hub that replaced Google Places) provides opening hours, phone numbers, addresses and directions, and reviews of local businesses. It can even provide wait times for restaurants.
With all this information given right in the SERPs, there’s less need for consumers to bother with a website visit.
A Bright Local study found that, after a local business search:
With Google My Business replacing local websites, why are so few local businesses using it? Bill Hartzer reports on a review of over 9,000 local businesses. It found that:
It doesn’t take a lot of time or effort to optimize a Google My Business listing. So, there is really no reason for local businesses to be missing out on this marketing opportunity.
Google My Business isn’t the only platform replacing websites. There are many online directories and review sites where consumers go to find local businesses. Yet, many businesses missing these opportunities.
Bite Size Media reports that only 33% of local businesses have a Yelp listing, 21% have a Yahoo listing, and just 19% have a Yellow Pages listing.
Hacking isn’t just happening in the political sphere with elections. The MIT Technology Review warns that cyber threats are something website owners need to worry about in 2018. The threats that small businesses should worry about include:
According to Inside Small Business, hackers love small businesses because they have fewer security measures in place. Research shows that anywhere from 43% to 61% of breaches are targeted at small businesses.
Despite the risk, 51% of small businesses aren’t allocating any budget to reduce the risk.
Cyber attacks cost businesses revenue – 38% of those attacked lost more than 20% of their revenue. The attacks also have other costs, such as losing reputation and customer loyalty.
Small businesses should look at investing in better security can be viewed as insurance against potentially devastating losses.
This goes along with the “not securing website” mistake. As Google writes, an HTTPS certificate is an internet communication protocol. It allows data to be sent through three layers of protection.
Google announced that, as of July 2018, all websites without HTTPS encryption will be marked as “not secure.”
According to EuroDNS, fewer than 30% of websites are using an HTTPS-encrypted SSL certificate. These websites face many risks, including:
It’s possible to get a free HHTPS-SSL certificate, so there’s no reason for small businesses not to take this step.
A Google report found that the average mobile web page takes 22 seconds to load. Note that this is for all mobile sites. It is likely that small business pages take even longer to load than their big-business (and bigger budget) competitors.
This statistic is alarming because 53% of visitors will leave a mobile site if it takes more than 3 seconds to load. For online retail, a one-second delay can decrease conversions by up to 20%!
Practical Ecommerce backs up these findings. They report that a 100 millisecond delay in load time can decrease conversions by 7% and bounce rates increase by 103% when load time increases by 2 seconds.
Slow load time is particularly devastating for ecommerce, but local businesses are also impacted. The same Google report found that consumers are more likely to abandon a mobile site if it takes too long to load. Small businesses could be losing 53% of mobile traffic if their site takes more than just 3 seconds to load!
Because of strict laws, virtually all small business owners know that their storefronts must be accessible to people with disabilities.
Yet, few realize that their websites should also be accessible.
People with disabilities use various tools to help them access the internet. For sight-impaired people, for example, this could mean using a screen reader. People with motor impairments might use tools like mouth sticks or voice commands.
If a website doesn’t meet certain standards, it could be difficult or even impossible for people with disabilities to access the website.
There is no denying that social media is important for small businesses. Being present on social media can boost branding, customer loyalty, sales, and new leads.
But social media isn’t the end-all of online marketing!
According to stats at Blue Corona, 32% of small businesses are only investing in social media.
As Entrepreneur notes, diversifying digital marketing methods means benefits like:
So, while small businesses certainly don’t want to stretch their budgets to cover all digital marketing methods, they should think outside of social media to get better results.
The sheer number of platforms and tools for online marketing can be overwhelming, but the key to remember is that you have to start somewhere. Marketing drives the continuous growth of businesses.
What mistakes do you think are the worst in small business marketing?
Your brand has numerous elements, all playing an essential role in conveying your core message to consumers, and none more so than your visual identity.
It's because visual branding is the most effective way of capturing your target audience's attention, and as images stay stored in our memory for years, they're also essential for building brand recognition.
As consumers gravitate further away from the traditional written content and move towards visual advertising, brands must know how to implement a consistent visual branding strategy if they want audiences to notice them. Consistency also creates familiarity, and this is what builds the trust between a brand and its community.
But how do you find the perfect visuals, ones that accurately reflect your written content, and most importantly, your brand's voice and core beliefs?
Every visual you promote has to relate to your brand's voice; think of it as your DNA. It's only when you have your voice can set the tone of your visual branding. By doing so, you can apply it to everything you do, ensuring that all your content, especially your visuals, are connected.
Get this right, and viewers will instantly know the brand they're interacting with, and that element of trust will build.
Here are some strategies for finding and maintaining your voice:
You can't fake your voice, or to be more precise, you shouldn't, because today's online consumers want authenticity; it's what replaces that lack of tactility; it's also why they'll trust to use your brand.
Think of three major brands that you use. Did their logos appear in your mind?
Logos may be small, but their importance is unmeasurable.
It's because they are a summary of your brand and what it stands for.
A logo has milliseconds to engage the viewer, connect on an emotional level, and convey your brand's ethos! So, the type (Wordmark, Icon, Combination), the style (traditional, modern, minimalistic, bold), and the colors, fonts, and shapes you choose must all work together in getting your message across.
Here are some tips on how to start designing your logo:
An excellent way of finding inspiration and designing a logo is by using one of the various companies, such as Tailor Brands or DesignCrowd, that lets you get a logo online. These innovative AI logo makers already know which designs, colors, and fonts work for each market and save you both time and money.
Whichever logotype, style, colors, or fonts you choose, they all have to be versatile (work for both online and offline on numerous materials) and scalable (so it looks just as good on your website header and your social media avatar).
An excellent way of giving your visual branding a distinct style is by choosing a color palette that suits your voice.
All markets have a range of colors that suit them; however, you can distinguish yourself from your competitors and create that all-important visual identity by carefully choosing a palette that your competitors aren't using.
Palettes generally have three primary and three secondary colors, giving you all the colors you need for creating a distinct and cohesive feel to your visual branding. A pro tip is to start with one color that suits your core voice and then find its related palette.
When choosing your palette, consider the emotions and feelings you want them to convey, as color is often the first visual viewers see. When asked, 85% of consumers said color to be the main driving factor when choosing a product, and 92% believe visual appearance to be the biggest motivator for giving their allegiance to a brand!
Fortunately, there's a proven method for finding the right color for your visual branding:
It pays to be mindful of all the images you use and not just your infographics.
But let's first talk about infographics:
Infographics are being used more today than ever before due to their visual impact. A consumer will learn more about your brand from a well laid out infographic than pages of content, and as most consumers now skim read, the only way to grab their attention is by using attention-grabbing graphics.
However, they're just a part of the general strategy of visual branding!
You also need to consider other equally essential visuals for your branding to work at an optimum level.
Here's where images have a starring role:
Images are now a driving factor in e-commerce, and brands need to embrace them in every way possible.
Consider Instagram for a moment. Brands are creating communities based on the high-quality images they're posting, but it's not just Instagram where they're needed!
Almost every social media platform now considers images as an essential element in any brand's advertising campaign.
But you must also use the same high-quality images on your website, merchandise, icons, and avatars; by doing so, you'll create consistency throughout your visual branding.
Keep an eye on your fonts as they can have an impact on how your target audience and community perceive your brand. It's because every audience has their style of language, and your fonts must speak it.
You can find the perfect fonts for your brand by choosing ones that reflect its message and values; this, in turn, will attract the kind of customers that are right for you.
As with color, try to use no more than two font types as this helps build that all-important continuity.
Some tips for finding and using the right fonts:
Trying to design your visual branding alone can be a daunting and confusing task, so don't!
There's a wealth of high-quality online information available, and you can find almost everything you need for creating high-quality infographics and eye-popping visuals.
You can also reach out and collaborate with designers; these can be hired on a task by task basis. But of course, you first want to build the design relationship so any team you use knows your brand's DNA and how you want to show it to the world.
Technological advancements have brought on a new era of business ownership – the online business owner. Having an online business means that you get to save money on traditional business costs, like rent for a warehouse or utilities.
So, let’s say you decide that you want to set up your online store. How easy, or difficult, is it really to start an online business? Can you go from 0-100 in just one day? You can, if you use an online store hosting platform like Shopify. Keep reading to find out how you can start an online business in just one day.
Shopify is an eCommerce subscription platform where business owners create their website using the site’s servers. This means that you can build and manage your online store, without the hassle of maintaining your own domain. No need to upgrade servers or update software – Shopify is globally supervised, so the site is monitored 24/7.
Shopify has over one million users in 175 different countries. And these users aren’t just small-time business owners. There are dozens of big-name companies, like Heinz, Red Bull, Harper Collins, Nestle, and Hasbro that have websites hosted through Shopify. Even these major brands understand the benefit of outsourcing website management responsibilities.
Using Shopify is relatively simple. If you already have a domain name, you can connect your existing domain to Shopify using two methods. This is possible whether your website is fully operational or still in the developmental phases.
A domain transferral gives Shopify full management of your site. Once transferred, you will pay for and renew your domain through Shopify, and not the previous host site. You also will be able to adjust your domain settings directly from your Shopify admin account.
If you prefer to keep your domain hosted elsewhere, you can simply connect it to Shopify without the need for a full transferral. The payment for your domain, its renewal, and settings will continue to be facilitated through the third-party.
If you have not already purchased a domain for your business, you can purchase one through Shopify. Your domain will be registered for one year and can be renewed yearly until you move hosting from Shopify or delete the domain. The domain is yours to keep, even if you decide to cancel your account.
There are various ways to use Shopify, so it can be a bit difficult to determine which use is best for you. To decide how to utilize the site to its full potential, you can ask yourself a few questions:
Once you have these base questions answered, you can choose the Shopify pricing plan that both suits your budget and your needs. But – let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Follow the four steps below to kickstart your journey to a fully functioning online store.
Step One: Signup for a free trial
Shopify starts off every user with an automatic 14-day free trial. This means your first two weeks will be commitment-free! All you have to do is head to the Shopify homepage and click the Start free trial button in the top right corner.
You’ll be directed to enter your name and email address and sent an email confirmation. Confirming your email will open a separate window where you’ll have to answer a few questions to help Shopify customize your store.
Step Two: Answer basic store queries
This section is critical for your store, so take your time as you answer each question. Shopify will ask you questions such as ‘Are you already selling?’, ‘What is your current revenue?’, and ‘Which industry will you be operating in?’.
Some answers will cause additional options to pop up, some of them about your logo, brainstorming names for your business, and signing up for business webinars. If you are interested in any of the additional options, you can click to select them and move on to the next question.
Step Three: Add your address
The next page is where you’ll need to enter your address. Even if you only plan to work online, without entering your address you can’t be paid. So this part is important! If your business is already registered, you can click the box in the lower-left corner to indicate this.
Step Four: Explore your admin page
After you’ve entered your address, your administration page will load and appear. This page is directly reflective of the way you answered the questions in the first step. You’ll see prompts offering to help you complete actions such as finding products, customizing your store’s theme, setting up local delivery, and adding online tipping.
You’ll also have access to Shopify Compass, a free training offered (one-on-one!) to help you set up your store. Using Shopify Compass will help speed up the learning process and make your one-day setup goal all that much easier.
Once you’ve made it to the admin page, you’re well on your way to finalizing your store. Shopify will automatically create a domain name for you that will look something like your-store-name.myshopify.com. Your next big step will be to add a customizing theme to your online store.
Shopify has 70+ beautifully designed themes in its Theme Store to choose from, each of which is fully customizable. If you’re tech-savvy and feeling a bit creative, you can even edit your theme using HTML and CSS codes. All you need to do is choose a template, add some unique personal touches, and then you’re ready to launch!
Don’t worry, we haven’t forgotten about your store’s inventory. Adding your products and services is the next step.
After you’ve designed your store to your liking, you’ll need to add your products. This process may be the most time-consuming, so block out a few hours – just in case.
First, you’ll need to upload your product images. Thankfully, many of the nitty-gritty’s of this section (like resizing product photos) are automated for your convenience. After upload, fill out the item’s detailed description, like its title, price(s) and available size(s), and color(s). You can even import your inventory in bulk from eBay, Magento, and/or an Excel or CSV file.
Indicate in the shipping section whether your product is physical and if so, its size and weight (if you know it). This section is also where you’ll need to state if you plan to ship your items yourself or use a fulfillment center.
If you need to add a dropshipping option to your site, you can do so now using the Shopify App Store. There are over 200 dropshipping apps and services available! Just create an account on the dropshipping platform of your choice and head back over to Shopify to integrate the platform’s app.
You’ll need to add a payment provider to your site so you can receive customer payments. The way to do this is to enable the payment providers you wish to accept. Shopify Payments is a payment system that removes the need for adding a third-party provider. If you’d like to use Shopify Payments, you can create an account with your business details and banking information.
Since PayPal is one of the most trusted global payment providers, Shopify has made it default for each store. Another perk to setting up Shopify Payments? If you have a Shopify Payment account, you won’t be charged any additional fees when transacting through PayPal.
Not interested in using Shopify Payment? You can deactivate this feature and accept credit card payments from over 100 credit card providers. If you decide to do this, just note that this may decrease your customer base, since credit card use is limited in some parts of the world.
A vital part of your business lies in establishing a domain for your site. Although Shopify generates a generic URL when your site is created, you’ll want to get a little more personal. Having a personalized domain also assures customers that your business is trustworthy and credible.
As mentioned previously, you can buy a domain through Shopify or connect or transfer an established domain. If you have a subdomain, you also add this to your site. A subdomain is essentially a part of your primary domain and can direct your customers to your website’s store.
Rather than directing to a page on your primary domain, a subdomain allows you to create an entirely new website subsection for your store. An example of this is store.yourwebsite.com – the ‘store’ portion is the name of the subdomain, hosted on the ‘yourwebsite’ section.
The ‘About Me’, ‘Contact’, and ‘Home’ pages of your site shouldn’t be overlooked. You can get creative with the way you title these sections of your site. Instead of an ‘About Us’ page, you can have a ‘Getting to Know Us’ or ‘What We’re All About’ page.
These small changes can help set your site apart from your competitors, in originality alone. You should add descriptive text and links and visually appealing photos and videos to these pages to aid your customers in understanding your brand.
How you set up your shipping will depend on where your store’s items are shipping from. If you are in the US or Canada, you have access to Shopify Shipping. Shopify Shipping can be managed from within your admin and provides you with predetermined rates and shipping labels for your items. With Shopify, you don’t have to worry about managing shipping once your business grows. You can ship items from up to 20 different locations!
If you are outside of the US or Canada, you can add your local shipping option instead. Just head to the Shopify App Store to find shipping providers in your country that meet your criteria. Remember to create shipping zones only for locations you are willing to ship to. Want to attract more customers to purchase items? Consider using basic shipping strategies, like free shipping over $100, to encourage customers and help finalize sales.
As an online business owner, you are responsible for maintaining your own tax information. You may be new to handling your own taxes, but the Shopify Compass portal can help guide you in the right direction. Shopify helps to automatically calculate these taxes by using default tax rates from around the world.
You’ll do well to check with your local tax authority or an accountant to ensure that you are complying with your country’s tax laws. Making a mistake on your taxes can cost you greatly in the long-run, so be sure you are well-informed about the payments required of you.
When you have finally made it through the last stages of site planning, you are ready to launch your site! Shopify has a “test order” option where you can simulate a real order to ensure that all your features are functioning. You’ll need to activate a paid Shopify plan to actually do the test order, so now is the time to choose one. We’ll talk about the options for plans in the Pricing section of this article a little later. For now, let’s cover the launch essentials.
There are three ways to create your test order: using Shopify as a ‘bogus gateway’, using an actual payment provider, or using Shopify Payments. You’ll get further guidance for this test order when you get towards the end of the Shopify Compass video guides.
When you’ve done your checks and balances and your store is ready for launch, the process is swift and easy. Your site is automatically password-protected so that it can’t be accessed by customers while you’re still constructing it. To remove the password protection, head to Online Store, Preferences, and then Password protection. Click the check next to Enable password to turn off the feature and save the changes to complete the action.
And, just like that, your new Shopify site is officially launched and live to customers! You can keep updating and editing your site as needed, but customers can now browse your site and place orders while you continue your site’s evolution.
#1 – You don’t have to worry about choosing the ‘perfect’ server – Whether you choose to transfer your domain or buy it through Shopify, your hunt for the ‘perfect’ server is over. Unlike with many third-party servers, Shopify is designed to be the optimal online store hosting platform. Shopify has features for every site detail you can imagine – you’re guaranteed to have the best server possible for your online business.
#2 – The Shopify App Store connects you with 1,200+ useful app integrations – The Shopify App Store is utilized by over 80% of Shopify users to integrate different applications to their stores. These apps often make managing your store much easier, and help you focus on growing and building your business.
Install apps for everything from social media marketing, to dropshipping, to inventory management. Apps are both paid premium and free, so you can choose which options fit both your budget and your needs.
#3 – Server security and reliability are almost guaranteed – When you manage your own site, its reliability is completely up to you. Many business owners know nothing about website management, and have to hire costly web developers to handle the more tricky, technical aspects. Security updates, software upgrades, and data analytics are all handled with Shopify – which leaves you free to manage your business.
#4 – The size of your online store isn’t a factor – You don’t need to have 100,000+ site visitors or hundreds of inventory items to have a successful online store. Shopify gives you all the tools you need to thrive as a business owner, even with a smaller-size store. You may only be selling three or four products and you’ll still have access to all the same amazing features, and benefits as larger stores.
#5 – Shopify’s interface is user-friendly and easy to navigate – Your customers need a website that isn’t overly complicated. No matter how great your product is, if your customers have a hard time navigating your site, they’ll likely never make it to the ‘submit payment’ stage. Shopify stores are all optimized for mobile use, so customers can comfortably shop from any of their devices.
Before you decide to put all that effort into setting up your Shopify account, let’s compare its pricing plans to those of its competitors.
So, who are some of Shopify’s major competitions? There are quite a few, but we’ll be focusing on the top three most popular options: Wix, BigCommerce, and Squarespace.
Here’s a quick table breaking down the three main tiers of pricing at each platform (in USD).
As you can see, the Shopify and BigCommerce plans are comparable in cost, while Wix and Squarespace have similar pricing. This is likely due to the fact that both Shopify and BigCommerce cater to customers interested in scaling their businesses.
Online store owners who intend to increase their revenue without increasing costs (which is what ‘scaling’ entails) need specialized support and features to do so.
Wix and Squarespace
Both Wix and Squarespace are website hosting platforms that allow an online business website, but neither is directly designed for eCommerce. Their pricing is much lower than Shopify or BigCommerce to reflect less advanced features. A less complicated interface is certainly a positive for beginners, which is why both platforms are still solid Shopify competitors.
A significant downside? Both platforms offer less backend control than Shopify. This means that while your site may be easier to create, you have decreased flexibility in terms of your site’s functionality.
BigCommerce has a complex interface that both attracts and deters users, depending on how tech-savvy they may be. As an eCommerce platform, BigCommerce is formatted for online business owners that want a more streamlined start-to-finish service. In contrast to Shopify, BigCommerce is a fully integrated platform – removing the dependence on apps.
Although it sells itself on integration, BigCommerce has a complex interface that isn’t suited for beginners. The learning curve is a bit steep, but if you are more advanced or willing to put in the effort, it can be worth your while.
No platform is without downsides. Shopify is no exception to this rule. If you are looking for a cheap online store-building option, you’ll need to look elsewhere. Shopify also can be a little complicated to navigate without the help of its many tutorials and guides. Other platforms may offer more design themes than Shopify, which are easier for you to customize and add your own personal flair.
Here’s a shortlist of some of the main points of contention that users have expressed about Shopify:
In the grand scheme of things, the downsides of Shopify are minor when compared to its benefits. You’ll need to be comfortable investing more money into your company than the average eCommerce platform might require, but the payoff is a powerful platform at your fingertips.
Do you need to start an online business in just one day? Then Shopify is the easy, hassle-free, user-friendly eCommerce platform for you. There are plenty of other online business hosting platforms, but Shopify wins in the areas that matter. It continues to outperform its competitors in design flexibility, help and support, sales features, and customer satisfaction.
Your online business deserves the best backend and frontend development possible. Shopify offers you amazing, state-of-the-art web development services, perfect for setting up, launching, and growing your online store.
Did you know that the first jigsaw puzzle was invented in 1767 by John Spilsbury, an engraver and cartographer? Or that the first puzzle video games were around as early as the late 70s?
Whether done as a hobby or for personal development, there is no question that puzzles bring with them a sense of satisfaction once completed. The same can be said for other popular brain teaser puzzle formats, such as the number-based soduko and crosswords – and even digital puzzles!
Your favorite pastime, however, is more than just slipping the right pieces into the right places or filling in the right numbers or letters. It unlocks a world of possibilities by boosting your brain power and cognitive abilities, shaping your problem-solving skills and helping you to work out complex problems and concepts.
Curious to find out more? Have a look below for our list of key brain-boosting benefits that puzzles have for kids and adults.
Physical, real-life puzzles are usually the first encounter that little ones have with the concept of building and solving these games. It plays an important part in educational playtime – but, luckily, it comes with a lot of fun and enjoyment too!
During early childhood development, puzzles play a key role in a toddler and preschooler’s development. One of the first instances where children get their first taste of puzzles comes with puzzle shapes that they need to fit into a matching slot – which teaches them about shape recognition and looking for similar shapes to match up, such as circles, triangles and squares. This, in turn, builds their vocabulary too.
Puzzle building also teaches kids about logic and problem-solving. Whether they are slotting little dinosaur shapes into a puzzle board or figuring out an easy 12-piece puzzle, they are boosting their concentration skills to figure out solutions for this “challenge”. They are inspired to think about how they will finish their puzzle and how they need to get there.
At the same time, they are improving their fine motor skills as they grip each little puzzle piece, which will help them with their pencil grip and handwriting as they get a little older.
Once kids reach their primary school years, they without a doubt are getting more interested in computers and, even more so, digital games. Puzzles are a great way to help them make the most of their screen time – plus it can help them broaden their minds if there is an educational element such as word recognition and reading associated with the game they are playing.
As adults, we might not always have the same amount of time we had as when we were kids to enjoy completing puzzles. But this doesn’t mean not making the time for this activity.
Building puzzles, or engaging in crossword and soduko puzzles are perfect for brain stimulation. It can help you exercise your mind to be more productive at work and stay in your groove by strengthening your brain.
Just like its big benefits for kids, adults can also improve their concentration skills through puzzles and work on their cognitive ability and memory. However, an even more important brain-boosting benefit is lowering stress levels by enjoying a puzzle activity, which allows you to be more relaxed and better equipped with handling difficult tasks and problems.
According to Marcel Danesi, author of The Total Brain Workout: 450 Puzzles to Sharpen Your Mind, Improve Your Memory, and Keep Your Brain Fit, “specific types of puzzles can be used to stimulate particular areas of the brain”. Some of his examples include language-based puzzles such as riddles that would, for instance, fuel the language areas of the brain, and logical thinking-based puzzles like symbols in grids.
Considering how doing puzzles often give your brain a full workout, it is more than enough reason to do puzzles often – and inspiring your family to do the same! Have a look below at some of the real-life and digital puzzles that we recommend for kids and adults.
When it comes to puzzle games and brain teasers for kids, the brighter and more colorful, the better! Especially younger kids are easily drawn to vibrant puzzles and familiar shapes, so keep this in mind if you are considering a puzzle activity for your child.
Knob puzzle pieces are easy to grip and place, which makes it easy for younger children to handle. Parents can invest in character or animal shapes that will captivate little imaginations. For a little extra brain boosting, it is a great idea to chat with a child about their animal or character shape – such as where a giraffe comes from or what a zebra eats. This will add an extra element of imaginative play too, which is great for cognitive development!
Colorful shape puzzles are perfect for pre-schoolers and will boost their brain power as they develop their special awareness and creativity.
Toddlers who are introduced to letters and numbers to prepare them for eventually making the move to primary school will love these types of games that teach them number and letter recognition. Plus, they will have fun slotting in the different shapes where they fit in!
Older kids are usually more comfortable with puzzles that need a little more grit to solve. Here are a few picks that are suited for kids who are ready to for the next challenge.
Once they are comfortable with puzzle building, kids can work themselves up to a puzzle size that they are comfortable with. Older kids are also able to work more independently and can build puzzles on their own without supervision. They are also more equipped to tackle difficult patterns like a night sky, forest or ocean that requires more concentration and persistence – something that working on puzzles like these will definitely help them with!
Curious little explorers will get a kick out of explorer map-type puzzles. With the chance to delve into interesting trivia, it is a great activity for them to learn about the concept of geography and a sense of place as they build the different cities to form a whole. This will also help them expand their knowledge of the world.
If you're lucky, kids may even start to grasp that they aren't always the center of the universe!
There are many puzzle activities for adults to enjoy and become engrossed in. Whether real-life or digital and mobile-friendly, getting that all-important brain boosting fix every day can be easy if you choose puzzle and brain teasers that suit your schedule.
Doing a 1000-piece puzzle can be the ultimate challenge for any adult – made all the more fun if it becomes part of a family activity. Many designs offer contemporary imagery such as famous artworks
Whether easy or hard, soduko is an approachable brain teaser to figure out number sequences. Some books also include free digital downloads, which means you can take your puzzle play on-the-go.
This android and desktop-friendly app offers bite-size puzzle games of various playing level (9-pieces, 25-pieces, 100-pieces and 225-pieces). It is perfect if your time is limited during the day but you would still love to get some puzzle play into your day.
Crossword puzzles needn’t be limited to newspapers or magazines – you can complete many of these popular brain teasers from the comfort of your mobile device! Crossword Puzzle Free offers thousands of crossword puzzles from indie and industry leader crossword constructors for free, which means wherever you are, you will be able to finish a crossword puzzle – at home or during your lunch hour.
Twisting, pulling apart and putting everything back in sequence again makes playing with a Rubik’s cube one of the most fun puzzle activities. With many varieties available, such as the standard square, a triangle or hexagon-shape, it is a great activity for exercising problem-solving skills.
Just don't let your kid google the answer before trying.
Puzzle play and brain teasers needn’t feel like a chore – it can become a fun learning activity that you and your family engage in daily. The most important thing is to keep things entertaining and light – don’t make it just another task to tick off on your to-do list!
With many families and couples currently limiting movement and social distancing, these brain boosting activities are perhaps the best answer to offer respite from the demands of everyday life. So, why not start your puzzle building ritual today? There are so many rewards for when you do!
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Today’s marketing world is increasingly visual. No matter how great your product or content is, it won’t get noticed if it doesn’t have stunning visuals to accompany it. Luckily, there has been a surge in affordable graphic design services.
Whether you need a logo, infographic, website layout, brochure, or something unique, these platforms are great places to go for graphic design services on a budget.
If you still haven’t heard of Fiverr, then you are missing out on a platform for finding dirt-cheap graphic design services. Yes, a lot of the services actually do cost just five dollars – especially jobs like logos, business cards, and simple banner ads.
For anything more time-intensive or creatively demanding, you’ll need to pay more than five dollars. Most sellers offer a variety of options and add-ons (such as paying extra for more revisions or certain file formats). You save money by paying only for the design services you actually need.
Even the “expensive” graphic designers on Fiverr can be relatively cheap, since the platform taps into global talent. You can typically find a professional quality logo, brochure, banner, book cover, or even custom illustration for under $50. The platform has more of a product focus, where design services are offered with a focus on the product and the price, for example “$20 professional logo”. As a result many of the freelancers operate under screen names and you're often not sure of the identity of the person hired.
*Be wary of any graphic designer that seems too good to be true. It's impossible to completely verify the freelancer's portfolios showing examples of their work. Since gigs are cheap, it is also easy for service providers to build up fake positive reviews. Luckily, Fiverr has a dispute policy and money can sometimes be refunded when the work is not up to par.
Formally known as Elance, Upwork is one of the largest platforms of freelancers marketing their services. As expected, there are plenty of affordable graphic design services to be found.
Using Upwork is fairly simple. You create a public job, set the budget, and wait for freelancers to apply. Or, you can create a private job and invite only selected freelancers to apply. Either way, you’ll have a large pool of candidates.
Upwork has a freelancer based focus, as opposed to a product based like Fiverr. Real names are used and Upwork may required identity document verification. Freelancers upload work to their portfolio and even have tests to prove skill knowledge. You may still have to weed through lower quality freelancers, but Upwork also has a “job success score” that helps to rate freelancers based on past work.
The reviews on Upwork tend to be more reliable. Especially if project costs are higher, it would be costly for a freelancer to get friends to write fake reviews. You can also check the history of the reviewer, which means it is easier to spot fakes.
Hiring a graphic designer online can take a long time. You first need to narrow down the candidates, and after hiring spend time communicating with the designer to make sure the parameters are understood. For simple jobs it might make sense to just do the work yourself.
PicMonkey is a good solution for people who want to take a DIY approach to graphic design, but are intimidated by Photoshop.
You won’t be able to create stunning logos or visuals from scratch with PicMonkey. However, the service does allow you to easily touch up existing photos, make collages, create album covers, and create social media ads using templates.
The platform is heavily marketed towards small business websites and bloggers, particularly ones who want to expand their social media presence without having to add an additional member to their staff.
Canva is a popular design tool that’s free and easy to use without any design experience. The site offers templates and is popular among bloggers, content marketers, small business owners alike. Designed for work, school, and play, it even offers design tips for non-designers.
The interface is intuitive and easy for anyone to use. Whether it's creating presentations, magazine covers or simple marketing materials, you can create beautiful graphics with the provided layouts. Even for designing mockups this would be a great place to start.
For more efficient teamwork, Canva offers a paid service called Canva At Work which allows integration with several team members.
Design Pickle offers an innovative flat rate approach to affordable graphic design services. Instead of charging you on a per-project basis, they offer unlimited graphic design services for a flat monthly fee. They were created for the average non-creative small business.
After signing up for the service, you are matched with a graphic designer who will be primarily responsible for your designs. They've pre selected a team of designers trained for high volume work. If that designer goes on leave, another one will fill in, ensuring on call design services.
While you do get unlimited work each month for the fixed price, the jobs are queued up in your dashboard. You set which ones have priority and these are done first. Turnaround depends on the total request volume and complexity.
The service fits people who can answer yes to the following question: “Can I reasonably explain or show what I want in an email?” If you have an eye for design and know exactly what you want, or you only need simple tasks done regularly, you may find these services valuable.
While some platforms are better for certain types of design work, it is ultimately about how you use the platform.
Whether you want to use one of the affordable design services listed above or another, make sure you follow these tips.
Don’t think you can ask for a “design for XYZ industry” and get great results. For graphic designers to succeed, they need details about what you want.
This doesn’t mean you necessarily have to give details about color psychology and contrast ratios. However, you should include in your project description:
Finding a good quality, affordable graphic designer can consume a lot of your time. So, when you do find one, you don’t want to let him or her go. That is why it is so crucial to look for long-term relationships.
How can you tell if a graphic designer is interested in long-term working relationships? Look for:
It might seem counterintuitive to pay more than necessary within a competitive market. But once you've invested in a freelance hire, monetary incentives can often pave the way for a more productive relationship. As with most employees, designers enjoy being rewarded for consistent work that exceeds your expectations.
What are your favorite sources for affordable design work?
Whether you work in marketing, research, education, or the non-profit sector, infographics are likely a part of your everyday life. Even if your sector hasn’t jumped on the infographic bandwagon, it is likely that you see infographics as you scroll through social media and blogs.
Despite how widespread infographics are, there is still confusion about what exactly qualifies as an infographic.
According to Merriam Webster dictionary, an infographic is defined as:
A chart, diagram, or illustration (as in a book or magazine, or on a website) that uses graphic elements to present information in a visually striking way.
If we go by this definition of an infographic though, then virtually all types of visual information would be considered an infographic.
Even signs like the one below would be considered an infographic.
While useful, we generally now appreciate infographics to be more detailed and complex than a simple sign.
Wikipedia expands on the definition of infographic by saying that,
Infographics are graphic visual representations of information, data or knowledge intended to present complex information quickly and clearly.
The key term here is complex information. Hence why street signs aren’t considered infographics by modern standards.
I also like how Venture Beat defines infographic as a “Picture painted with data. Take a quick look and a story emerges from numbers. Look more closely, and a complex narrative emerges from dense clusters of information.”
There are a lot of design and marketing agencies that have broken down infographics into types. However, it is hard to find a consensus amongst them.
As one designer points out, the breakdown of infographic types depends on how you define the different between data, information, and knowledge. These terms are highly subjective, which explains why we still don’t have a widely-agreed upon definition of infographic, nevertheless the types.
The Harvard Business Review guide Good Charts lays out four types of infographics: declarative, conceptual, exploratory, and data-driven. In this classification system, the types overlap each other, such as declarative-exploratory.
However, I prefer the simpler breakdown of infographic types by Column Five Media. They define three main infographic types: Data visualization, information design, and editorial infographics.
As a consumer, understanding the types of infographics can help you better gauge the value of the information presented.
You’ll be able to ask yourself questions like how many data sets are being presented, and is the infographic trying to elicit a response from me? Considering that infographics have long been used as a propaganda tool, this insight can help you avoid being manipulated with data.
Many of the early precursors to infographics, such as line graphs and charts, are types of data visualizations. The difference is that today’s data visualizations often present huge amounts of information.
There is a lot of debate about the difference between an infographic and data visualization. Some would argue that they are completely different things. However, the common consensus is that data visualizations are a type of infographic, but not all infographics are data visualizations.
Example of Data Visualization Infographic
With these information design infographics, the data is not specific numbers. Rather, the data is concepts which are visualized. Some examples of these information design are timelines, how-to steps, flowcharts, comparisons, hierarchical, and anatomical illustrations.
Example of Information Design Infographic
It used to be that text-based editorials were found in newspapers and magazines to supplement the objective news reporting. Now, there is a growing trend towards editorial type infographics.
Example of an Editorial Infographic:
Long before humans invented alphabet systems, they communicated with visuals. The human brain is hardwired to process visual information, and it does it much more efficiently than it processes text information.
Another reason that infographics are so powerful in today's era of the internet, is that they capture attention. Our attention spans have drastically shortened because of the constant stimulus we receive. In this era of goldfish brains, learning needs to be micro.
Infographics are one of the best ways to present huge amounts of data in small bites, thus making them a very powerful learning tool. They are also great for marketers who want to get their message across as quickly as possible. Color visuals increase comprehension, learning, and retention by over 73%. The appeal lasts: Eye tracking research on news pages has shown that 87% of people who saw an infographic also read the accompanying text, whereas only 41% read the text of a typical page with heading and text.
The key to having content go viral is to make it shareable. Your readers see the content and believe that sharing it makes them look good. They then want to share it with their friends, coworkers, and grandparents. Visual content is 40X more likely to get shared on social media than other types of content (Buffer, 2014).
We humans are visual thinkers, so it is no surprise that infographics have been around since even before civilization. The earliest examples of infographics are arguably cave paintings which many experts believe were used to communicate information about animals and hunting methods. There are also prehistoric examples of constellations maps and land maps. However, the combining of data and art didn’t develop until the 1600s.
Maps had been around for long before the 17th century, but this is when the principles of measuring and marking distances as well as special geometry were laid down. As a result, we see a huge jump in the quality of maps during this century.
Christoph Scheiner is usually credited as the person responsible for making the first modern infographic. His map of sunspots was printed in 1626.
The end of the 18th century in Europe was a Golden Age for sciences and arts. The date 1786 stands out as when a Scotsman named William Playfair published his work “Commercial and Political Atlas.” The work contains the first examples of a bar chart. Playfair also is credited with inventing the line, area, and pie charts.
The 1800s was the era of charts. Many government offices started using visual charts for statistical analysis. The popularity of charts led to major innovations in their types and styles.
Suddenly, we had more attractive charts as well as new types like bubble charts, contour plots, and 3d charts.
Infographic charts also started to influence history.
If it weren’t for John Snow’s 1841 cholera map (which showed cholera outbreaks linked to a common water source), he probably wouldn’t have been able to convince public officials that cholera is spread by water. Thanks to his visualization, the well pump was removed.
In 1860, a map of slavery influenced the course of the Civil War. By seeing which areas held slaves, the Union was able to determine which areas would fight harder to keep slavery – and which ones might switch sides.
One of the first infographics to combine multiple data sets was made in 169 by designer Charles Minard. He visualized Emperor Napoleon’s 1812 invasion of Russia, showing the number of forces, distance traveled, temperatures, and rivers crossed.
Florence Nightingale was amongst the first to use infographics for activism. Her 1858 infographic of mortality of British army was used to convince the Queen to provide better medical care for soldiers in the Crimean War.
Up until this period, infographics were mainly used to convey data within scientific circles and niche audiences. The booming 1900s found infographics being adopted by mainstream media.
People were moving to cities during this time and public transportation was getting complex. Infographics were made to help the public navigate. The first few attempts at mapping the subway systems in NYC were far from ideal. It wasn’t until 1967 that subway routes were given their own color on maps.
Computers and software finally became affordable and small enough to make it into homes. Design software suddenly made it possible to visualize data quickly without having to hand-draw visualizations.
The result were infographics which were much more complex, such as network graphs, dendrograms, sunburst charts, and chord diagrams.
Now is the era we are familiar with. With the huge demand for visual content, everyone from marketers to government agencies to nonprofits have adopted infographics.
The push towards visual content also means there’s been a surge in bad infographics. It got so bad that a 2011 article in the Atlantic called the infographic trend a “plague” and “endemic in the blogosphere.”
By the end of the decade, marketers realize that they can’t make an impact simply by putting content in visual form. Consumers are demanding more to capture their attention.
Living in the information age means we are getting inundated with huge amounts of data daily. A Telegraph report found we consume the equivalent of 174 newspapers per day – which is five times more information consumed daily in 1986.
That statistic was reported in 2011. Since then, the amount of information overload has only increased.
With so much information overload, people have become very picky about what they consume. Content doesn’t even stand a chance without a visual strategy.
Thus, there is a huge push to transform content into visual form. In an article about how infographics jumped the shark, Flowing Data creator Nathan Yau comments on how infographics are replacing the blog post format.
Infographics have gotten longer to fit into the blog format. Posts that used to be long lists of favorite things and best methods have shifted to something more visual.
We've also seen more infographic trends like interactive, 3d, and motion infographics.
Infographics have grown to great lengths, quite literally. Keep scrolling..
Online users have also gotten immune to the visual pull of infographics. Without a good story throughout the infographic, people get bored.
Thus, it is no surprise that infographic design best practices include making a narrative flow. When done well, the narrative will engage consumers as they scroll down the infographic. The message is clear and there is a strong visual focus.
The final piece to pull it all together is a Call To Action or conclusion. Because, without a CTA guiding you in how to react, what was the point of consuming the infographic? Data only becomes knowledge when it can be put to use!