Affordable, Eco-friendly Banners and Yard Signs

Smashing Magazine

  • Top 5 Free Fonts for Your Next Custom Banners!

    Fonts are said to be the essence of web design, and that’s partially true. The first thing your eye will notice (besides big pictures) on a web page, is the font type of the text. It’s also really important to choose a font that best complements the purpose of your page: industrial-size font for antiques, etc., playful font for children’s games, and so on. And what do people love more than awesome fonts to look at? FREE FONTS.

    Here’s a list of my Top 5 Free Fonts favorites, which were featured on Smashing Magazine.  If you like what you see, check out the full article for links to the font downloads HERE.

    1) PLSTK

    Inspired by the plastic material, this font would be stellar for any site wanting to show a more “playful” side.

     

    2) METROPOLIS

    This is a throwback to the 1920's, the gilded age and the height of industry in America. It's got a distinct art deco feel to it, and would be perfect for conveying a sense of elegance, whether it's for your business or a party invitation.

     

    3) VENEER

    I love vintage-looking fonts, but this one is a little different. Instead of vintage it purposely looks faded, which is new to me. Perfect way to get that "old" feeling, with an air of authority.

     

    4) RANGER

    Just like the wild, wild West, this font is ready to grace your adventurous page. Use it for exciting new announcements, travelogues, or wherever your journeys take you.

     

    5) VALENTINA

    Last, but not least, is the beautiful and elegant font that reminds me of old-fashioned literature texts. I love the little tails on the ends of some letters. My favorite parts are the ligatures, or the ones where letters are connected, such as between c & k, g & j, and ff.

  • Beyond the Banner: "Too Many Choices"

    We are fickle humans. We like having a say in what we buy or don't buy, use or don't use, who we vote for, etc. We like choices, but we also believe in the saying that there can be "too much of a good thing", and this can be applied to your business as well.

    Too many choices within a single product can be "too much of a good thing". For example, with Apple products like the iPod: you only get a choice of a few colors, instead of the whole rainbow spectrum. Why? It simply makes choosing easier, and when you spend less time choosing a color, you spend more time selecting and making your purchase.

    To quote Paul Scrivens, from the Smashing Magazine article, Easier is Better Than Better:

    "... in reality humans usually choose the one that is easiest for them to understand and evaluate. Very often we do so because we don’t have the time to put in the research necessary to make an informed decision."

    You don't want this ^. Perhaps you won't mind competing products between businesses, but having too many choices among the same product wihtin your own business? Well, that might be a shot to the foot. It's all about the time. Or as the ol' businessmen with the fancy canes and monacles once said, "Time is Money!"

    So, when considering your latest and greatest product, limit the choices of color, texture, features, etc. that it comes with. Make it simple, make it smart, and it'll sell.

    For a more in-depth discussion about this topic, swing on over to Smashing Magazine and read Paul Scriven's article HERE.

  • The Seven Deadly Sins and Advertising: Techniques to Draw New Customers

    Alright, this is fascinating to me. Over at Smashing Magazine, a group of designers and writers known as ZURB, submitted an article about utilizing the legendary Seven Deadly Sins to turn site visitors into customers. This is a clever article about legitimate marketing techniques, and it's a fun and easy way to really think about how you want to sell your product. Not only can this be applied to banner and sign design, but in any other media of advertising that you're leaning towards.

    I'll summarize the gist of the article below, but if you'd like to read the whole enchilada, cruise on over HERE.

    Pride

    Pretty simple. By showcasing the pride you have in your products, especially with sales numbers, etc.  a customer can fall in love with the legitimacy. Another way is to showcase brand names and well-known companies associated with your business or who have used your product. Big names like FaceBook, Costco, or AT&T...you get the picture. Their names will hold up yours on a higher pedestal above your competitors, and for some customers, success like that is attractive.

    Gluttony

    Everyone is thrifty: we like it cheap, we like it packaged, we like it instant. And that's not necessarily a bad thing. This technique is all about putting your best offers up front: sign up and get "this", here's a new 2-for-1 package, etc. Giving visitors an instant opportunity to catch a good deal can guarantee returning customers down the road. Don't be ashamed to exploit that new deal you've got going. Make it loud, make it awesome, make it once-in-a-lifetime and we will come flocking.

    Sloth

    This one is kind of difficult, but it's more to the effect of the opposite of laziness: constantly updating blogs, Twitter and RSS feeds, a solid stream of updates, anything to make you look like you're constantly on the move and updating new things.  You appear cultured, in tune with news of the day, and knowledgable with what you're trying to sell. A technique like this is especially great for websites.

    Envy

    Over in the original article, ZURB used FourSquare as an example of making others envious of your status. When checking-in, players can earn points and eventually become "mayor" or a real location. As mayor, you can get special offers and considerations. Other businesses create response sections that showcase customers' appreciation: "I love my new [blank], and I lost 35 lbs!", "Can't get enough of this!", or "Thanks to [insert name] for being an awesome customer! You've just won [blank]". Sentences like these can make visitors eager to try and win or gain that appreciation that others have been showered with.

    Lust

    Usually though of as something sexual, it can actually stand for something extremely attractive (like shiny or sexy), but is only attainable at a high cost. You see it on ads and websites all the time: glamor shots of that brand new iPad, new car models, or a fancy perfume or watch. So shiny....

    Greed

    This more aimed at services that require collecting something. For FourSquare, it's points, for Twitter it's followers, for Pinterest, it's that urge to pin as much as possible (of which I am guilty). It's a seemingly simple marketing technique that makes the customer come back for more and more of whatever is the goal, even if it's free. No play, no gain.

    Wrath

    Mostly used by review sites like Amazon or Best Buy, customers can rank their reviews on products and what hurts is that businesses can't delete these comments. Sometimes, "flamers" will pit two products against each other: "[blank company] makes a MUCH better tablet than [blank company]", "[blank] has terrible service, try [blank] instead". Vengeful and a little back-stabby, this less kind technique is to be used with caution. Bashing on other companies that you share competition with is not recommended (unless it's subtle...)

  • Breaking Out of the Box: A New Approach to Banners

    It gets pretty boring when all you see is the same ad over and over again, doesn’t it? But imagine, how it must feel for the designer in question and ask yourself this: am I truly being creative, or does this project look eerily similar to that sign I just saw on the freeway?

    Fear not, for we are all plagued with the occasional creativity slump! But at Smashing Magazine, Mark Cossey offers some advice on how to keep your right brain stretched and toned and ready to go. He calls it “cross-training” for designers.

    Flee the Confines of your Cubicle!

    Looking Outside for Banner Inspiration

    First of all, look around you. Chances are, you are in an office at home or at work, surrounded by four walls and a water cooler (or your Keurig coffee maker, don’t deny it!).

    Cossey suggests that you go outside. No, seriously, throw on some sneakers and take a camera or a notepad. Drawing inspiration from the world in motion is just as important as the experiences that your brain draws on to shape your perceptions.

    The trend, it seems nowadays, is drifting back either towards the organic or the futuristic: natural shapes versus streamlined shapes. Both of these are plenty in evidence outside your door. Take a walk and photograph the shapes you see, be it the clouds or the trolley, that wonky tree you always drive by on your morning commute. Something you see will stir the imagination in you.

    Stimulate Your Brain

    As a designer, whether for a banner or a website, you are creating a visual for the eye. If what you see is the same day after day, it will begin to reflect in your work. The importance of “cross-training” is to stimulate the visuals with new images, and sometimes it’s images that you can’t get in your home or on the internet.

    For the full article, as well as some fantastic and helpful tips, check it out on Smashing Magazine.

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