Pacesetter Media Blog

We Know Media, We Know Code, We Know Design

When do you need a mobile website?

Mobile Websites:
The New fax machine, website, social media
oh, whatever.

In the 80's, everybody needed a fax machine.

In the 90's, everybody needed a website.

In the aughts, everybody needed social media.

Now they say everybody needs a mobile website. That's this month's topic.

Everybody Needs A Mobile Website?

Bunko, I say. That is, not everybody needs one. Like all the latest buzz words, it depends.

First, let's define a few terms.

Mobile-Safe Site
A website that doesn't fail on a mobile device.
Media-heavy sites that have video, audio or Flash might fail on a phone.
Standard HTML sites probably work on most mobile devices. They might
appear very small, but they don't fail.
Mobile-Friendly Site
A website designed to accommodate small screens.
A standard HTML site can use different styles, larger text and bigger
buttons when it's viewed on a phone or tablet. This could include bigger
buttons and larger menus that can be tapped with a thumb on a phone. Or
it could be as simple as having a tappable phone number in the upper
left corner where most mobile devices focus when displaying a website.
Mobile Site
A website designed specifically for mobile devices.
Websites can easily detect the type of device a user has and serve a
different layout for each device. It can be as simple as one site for
mobile devices and one for computers, and it can be as complex as a
different website for each brand or model of mobile device.

Do you need a mobile site?

The first questions are:

  • Who's your audience?
  • How do you communicate with them and they with you?
  • What are your business goals for your website?

Let's take a few examples.

Restaurant…yeah, a mobile website could be a big help.
More and more people (particularly younger demographics) use mobile
phones to search and browse the web. And where are people when they're
looking for a restaurant? Sometimes at home, but often they're on the
road searching on their mobile phone. A mobile site is in order.

Financial Planner…oh, maybe. How much financial
research do people do their phones? Not much. A mobile site could help
but wouldn't be a priority in most cases. A mobile-friendly site would
be enough.

High Tech Company…probably, even if the only reason is to create an image of being up-to-date.

Attorney…Corporate Attorney, maybe but probably not. A
Criminal Attorney, yes. People who have been arrested (or their family
whom they called) might be at the jail and have only their mobile
phones.

Handy Man Service…probably not. A mobile-safe site or a mobile-friendly site is probably the right approach.

Of course, these generalizations can be thrown away based on your
specific situation. You could imagine any business that's trying to
reach recent college graduates, a demographic that uses mobile devices a
lot. A very mobile-friendly site or even a mobile site would be the
right option.

The Good News:
It's Easier and Better Today

These days, browsers, computers and mobile devices work pretty well with the current web standards–HTML5 and CSS3.

Back in the old days (you know, 1996), browser support for web standards
was mixed; some design features required hacks to compensate for quirks
in Internet Explorer and Netscape Navigator. Today there are still
hacks and quirks, but it has come a long way. We've reached that sweet
spot where popular browsers have pretty consistent support for the
current standards.

The Bottom Line

With the current standards, designing for mobile devices is fairly
routine. Don't be intimidated by the newness of the technology. If a
mobile site could help with a relevant business goal, it's within reach
even with a modest budget.

DIY Logo Design

Do-it-Yourself Logos – STOP

STOP

If you’re designing your own logo, STOP. You are not properly licensed and certified. That’s the topic this month.

Do-It-Yourself Logos

So if you’re designing your own logo, STOP. For the sake of humanity, please STOP.

This is overstating it, of course, but I see the bad results of DIY logos every week…sigh.

Simple Logos, CNN, Microsoft, Nokia, AdobeLogos seem so easy. Look at corporate logos like CNN, Microsoft and Nokia. They’re just SOOOO simple. Even Adobe, the top company in graphic design software, has a simple logo.

Why? Because it has to work in many different media: websites, business cards, brochures, tee shirts, hats, pens and everywhere they can put it. It should be easy to reproduce, even as a very small graphic on a pen.

Why Amateurs Fail

Most DIY logos fail because of one or a combination of reasons.

The designer includes too many concepts.

Simplicity is key, and that means you shouldn’t try to illustrate concepts and ideas.

Chiquita Banana Logo ExampleIt’s possible to capture a concept in the simplicity of a logo, but it’s not easy. Take the Chiquita Banana logo. The company created a version that works as a single color imprint on a small banana label–it’s small and it still illustrates the concept of a woman with a basket on her head.

Now, about that logo somebody whipped up for you? It looks great full-size, full-color, on a bright computer screen, but it won’t work as a small, one-color graphic. Trust me. I see it all the time. (Okay, maybe it will work, but I see this problem all the time.)

Unless you’ve studied printing, vector graphics, design, illustration and other related topics AND spend lots of time working through your ideas AND spend lots of time to make sure your logo works across many media, your logo is likely to have problems.

The designer wants something graphically fancy but doesn’t have the eye or experience for it.

Shadows, bevels, overlapping elements, gradients, lots of colors…these are great design elements and software makes it so easy. But the experienced logo designer knows that if these elements are used in a logo, they could make logo reproduction more complicated and in some cases impossible. If these elements must be included, the experienced designer knows how to use vector graphics properly, or the designer will create two versions…one with the fancy elements and another simple version for one-color printing.

The logo fails technically — it’s not in vector format or doesn’t work in certain media or sizes.

VECTOR…logos should be in vector file format. It’s just the way it is. When you need something fancy, that simple vector design can be embellished, but the original logo should be vector graphics.

Another technical problem is the size of the elements in a logo. A logo might look great when it’s big, but when you shrink it down to put it on a pen for instance, the text and graphic details merge together.

The design is horrible.

Some of the designs are just blah, horrible. Enough said.

You’re going to design your own logo anyway, right? It’s just so easy. Okay. Here’s how.

KEEP IT SIMPLE — Text only. Do not include any graphics.

If you think you must have graphics in your logo, STOP. Consider these logos: Ebay, Google, Nokia, Yahoo. All these logos are text. If it works for these giants, it can work for your DIY project.

  1. Go to https://fonts.google.com/.
    Google fonts are licensed for commercial use for free. Many fonts on your computer and the internet are not licensed for commercial use without buying a commercial license. Some of the Google fonts are not the highest quality or have limited styles, but there are over 600 fonts. It’s a good starting point for DIY logos.
  2. Click in the sample text of any font. (Triple click to select all the text.)
  3. Type your company name or product name.
  4. Click APPLY TO ALL FONTS.
  5. Use the Google Fonts site to review and select a distinct font for your text logo.
  6. Call Pacesetter Media. We’ll take that font and your text, adjust letter and line spacing for the best look and create a vector file for you. It’ll run about $75-$150. Or do it all yourself. It’s up to you.

Bad-Logo Fun

When this blog post was created, there was a site called Your Logo Makes Me Barf, but it’s not working now. (Too bad. It was fun in a bad kind of way).

But you can always search Google for “bad logos”. You’ll find plenty.

Logo Design Flowchart

Many factors go into good logo design. Computer Arts magazine recruited designer Michael Johnson to create a flowchart for logo design. It illustrates the many factors at play. It’s a great tool for designers, and it shows why good logo design is not so easy.

Download the PDF Here

Promotion Scheduling

You could imagine that I deal with promotion scheduling on a regular basis. So that’s this month’s topic.

Steps of Promotional Projects

Before planning a promotional project, you should first have a promotional goal or problem you’re trying to solve. Presuming that, the sequence of a promotional project is something like this:

  1. Research options and costs, and decide to do the project.
  2. Craft the message, write the text and create the graphics.
  3. Design text, layout or video.
  4. Decision maker review of the design(s).
  5. Tweak and adjust the design and content.
  6. Repeat steps 3 thru 5, sometimes several times.
  7. Print or produce the finished product.
  8. Ship the product to you.

So how long does it take?

Planning Times

I use the term “planning time”. It’s an estimate that’s includes some time to “do it right” and is a little inflated in case there is a delay. The list below has planning times I suggest for typical promotional projects and commodities.

And earlier is even better because the commodity is one thing–the postcard, the website, the brochure. But what about the message you put on those commodities? That message is usually more important. Early planning means more time to generate ideas and refine your message. So earlier is a good idea, too.

 Simple – First Run
(Subsequent Runs)
Complex – First Run
(Subsequent Runs)
Business Cards2.5 weeks
(1.5 weeks)
4 weeks
(2.5 weeks)
Brochures3 weeks
(1.5 weeks)
8 weeks
(3 weeks)
Signs3 weeks
(2.5 weeks)
8 weeks
(3-4 weeks)
Website4 weeks3-6 months
Logo Design3 weeks8 weeks
Promo Items3-5 weeks
(2-3 weeks)
8 weeks
(3-4 weeks)
Logo Apparel3 weeks (2.5 weeks)6 weeks (and longer)
(4 weeks)
Trade Show3-6 months6-12 months
as early as possible
Photography2 weeks
(1 week)
3 months
(3 months)
Video3 weeks
(2 weeks)
2 months
(2 months)
New Branding Project3 months12 months

“Simple” means projects with a basic design or concept.

“Complex” means projects with extra features, high-end materials or complex design concepts.

“First Run” means the first creation and production of a project.

“Subsequent Run”, when applicable, means additional runs of the same project with very few tweaks or changes.

Post updated March 2019