Graphic Design

A Picture Says a Thousand Words -- Free, High-Quality Photos for Your Nonprofit CommunicationsPhotographs are a vital tool for engaging overloaded audiences. And when you’re publishing online — be it a blog, e-newsletter or Web site — it’s easy to cut and paste in just the right shot. Presentation skills experts emphasize the impact of photos too — ideally screen size with text overlaid, rather than those deadly text bullet points. Unfortunately, photos can be very expensive, and rights issues a mess to deal with.

My solution of late is Stock.xchng for no- or low-cost photos. Some photos have restrictions in terms of type of use (e.g. not in pornography) and requests to contact and/or credit the photographer. But with those few steps, there are thousands of great photos here, yours for the taking.

Flickr is another great resource. Lots of great photos with few restrictions.

Nonprofit tech experts TechSoup has just released its list of free and low-cost photo sources.  I hold with Stock.xchng as my source of choice, but find some of these recommendations great for specialty images. Take a look at the Yellowstone National Park digital photo file for no-charge nature shots (just inlude the "NPS photo" credit) and Mayang’s Free Texture Library of over 3,000 images of walls, signage, fabrics, nature, stone, plants and more.

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Nancy Schwartz in Graphic Design, Nonprofit Communications, Recommended Resources | 4 comments

Email Marketing Metrics Report Summarizes Trends in Your Audience’s Habits and Preferences

E-news service provider Mailer-Mailer tracked all messages sent through its system in the first half of 2006 to generate these key findings:

  • Open and Click-Through Rates – Overall open rates remained relatively steady compared to the last half of 2005.
    • Take away: Don’t give up on email. It remains an important marketing channel for your nonprofit organization, but you have to do it smarter.
  • Best Days to Send – Mondays, Tuesdays, and the weekends earned higher open and click rates.
    • Take away: Reconsider when you launch your e-newsletter, and even all-organization or all-customer/client emails. Despite these findings,
      I’m not a fan of Monday e-blasts, as I feel audiences aren’t as receptive as they are later in the week.
  • Subject Lines – Emails with shorter subject lines outperformed emails with longer subject lines.
    • Take away: Less than 10 words is best. If you go longer, make sure that the key message is captured in the part of the subject line that’s visible to recipients without opening your email. Read more about email subject lines here.
  • Personalization – Emails that used personalization received higher click and open rates.
    • Take away: Remember to capture nonprofit e-news subscriber names (first and last, in separate fields) so that you can personalize. You’ll already have names for clients and members.
    • In addition, capture subject interests (via a clickable form) so you can customize content, in addition to addressing each reader by name.

Fast Company’s 2006 Masters of Design

Here’s Fast Company’s annual design round up, one of my favorites as far as design trends. You’ll find sage advice on what design can (and can’t) do for your nonprofit — and get an eyeful of some amazing examples of the craft. The To Read the Consumer’s Mind article, on the importance of in-depth audience research, is just one of the many highlights here.

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Nancy Schwartz in Email and E-Newsletters, Graphic Design, Nonprofit Communications, Recommended Resources | 2 comments

You know all that copy that goes on your website, in your brochures and in your nonprofit’s emails?  Who’s writing it? Derek Powazek explains why it’s important for web (and print too, as I see it)  designers to sharpen up their writing skills. And in his web article “Calling All Designers: Learn to Write,” Powazek asserts that designers should start considering themselves as “creators of experiences.” And that includes content as well as design.

Powazek asserts that any designer who prides himself on really creating the user experience for that blog or brochure has to be concerned with the content too. And recommends that you ask prospective designers what they like to read. Maybe even give them a crack at writing your brochure intro or website About page.

Any GA readers using designers who can write or edit? Let me know.

More about strengthening your graphic design here:

Nancy Schwartz in Copywriting, Graphic Design, Nonprofit Communications | 7 comments

I recently spoke with three nonprofit communicator colleagues and four graphic designers who outlined this three-fold path to a process that will ensure high-impact design for your nonprofit. But your even get to the design process itself, remember to follow these five pre-design steps to effective graphic design, from finding the right designers to crafting a creative brief.

Your colleagues advise:

  • Be clear, comprehensive and realistic
  • Build a solid, candid, ongoing relationship with your graphic designers
  • Don’t try to be the graphic designer

For the complete story, and the nitty-gritty of the how to, read the full article.

And don’t forget to download the Getting Attention Creative Brief  template.

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Nancy Schwartz in Graphic Design, Nonprofit Communications, People | 1 comment

Many creative marketing projects get underway without a clear sense of expectations between a nonprofit’s marketing and organizational leadership, and the creative folks (whether in-house or freelance) delivering it. The result? An extended and expensive creative development process with many revisions – not to mention chewed-up nails, bruised egos and depleted momentum.

Taking the time and energy up front to craft a thorough creative brief will save your nonprofit time and money, and ensure you get the fundraising brochure, campaign website or annual report you envisioned. And, in going through this process you may realize that another medium or approach will work better than the one you had in mind.

Click here for the nitty-gritty on how to use a creative brief and downloadable template ready for your use.

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Nancy Schwartz in Copywriting, Graphic Design, Nonprofit Communications, Planning and Evaluation | 2 comments

Nothing is as compelling as managing the design, of a printed piece or web look for your organization, service or campaign. It’s easy to get swept away envisioning the impact it will have on your target audiences. And the creative adventure of bringing that piece, or web design, to life, is usually a welcome change from strategic and administrative work.
However, the excitement often fades when you dive into the process of finding, hiring, and managing a designer or design team. I urge you to take these five steps to generate the design results that make the greatest impact for your nonprofit:

===> Step One: Take your time to find the RIGHT designer.
NOTE: Take this step immediately, not when you’re in desperate need of a designer.
    Here’s how to find your designers:
==> Step Two: Gather favorite design samples
Keep a folder of favorites, printed materials you identify as good design in the same range as your
organization’s image or the image you want to establish. Bookmark website designs too.
==> Step Three: Compile your list of prospective designers
Contact communications colleagues (make sure you like their design sensibility first, judging by their products) and ask for designer recommendations. Get basic information on pricing, work style, and client base. Also contact the communications director at those organizations who produced the print materials or websites you’ve tagged.
==> Step Four: Hone your list to the top three or four by interviewing ten to twelve designers
Contact the top ten to twelve before you have a design project ready to go. At that point, you won’t want to waste a minute in getting design estimates in.
==> Step Five: Write a creative brief the moment you get a whiff of a pending writing or design job.
For details on the "how-to" of each step, read the full Getting Attention article.

Nancy Schwartz in Graphic Design, Nonprofit Communications, People | 1 comment

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