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    Sarah is co-director of Malvolio. She brings her creative skills to the business, and loves concept development in commercial projects, illustration, and working on various self-initiated paper craft projects in her spare time.

  • Things I love: zines

    While corporate design is generally full of perfect grids and smooth lines, I am always drawn to the grass roots process of zines.

    As soon as I was old enough to travel to the city on my own in my teens, I found the little hub of shops under Flinders St Station – and there was Sticky Institute. With high school thundering towards the shift to digital design (it was new and shiny at that point), finding somewhere that celebrated “doing it manually” with paper, scissors, pens and a photocopier was a complete joy. It was what I needed at the time.

    Throughout my life, there has been a constant push towards using computers to aid design. But design is not about a computer to me, it’s about the process. Most times, that process starts on a piece of paper – notes, sketches, ideas. Then that process moves onto the computer to complete what most of you see as the final design. But in zines, the process never reaches the computer – the notes, sketches and ideas turn into typewriter stories, refined illustrations and a whole lot of collage. The technology is the photocopier.

    I adore that after all of these years, Sticky still has a space in Melbourne. While I don’t get to frequent the city anymore, Sticky is always in my heart and never far from my mind. I understand why we design using technology, but there is reason in the design process (at the very least) starting on paper. The fact that Sticky is keeping design manual – design on paper – is a very special thing to me.

    Photo of outside Sticky, credit: www.facebook.com/stickytheinstitute


    Websites and Copyright

    Recently, I was chatting to one of our clients about her website content. She was rewriting her website pages, as she felt they were being copied from others in her industry. From this, the conversation about what’s covered by copyright on a website came up.

    The Australian Copyright Council has a great fact sheet on this topic (titled “Websites & Copyright”), which is the guidance I’ll be sharing in this article.

    Firstly – a website in its entirety is not under copyright, it’s the elements that make the website that are subject to copyright individually, eg. your business logo, photos, illustrations, videos, animations, and text. And generally, most elements that makes up a website will have copyright.

    What does this mean?

    It means that using text and images from other websites without permission may see you infringing copyright. We see people fall into this trap often and innocently. For example – people don’t realise that Google Images aren’t “free” images, but each image in the search results belong to a website. You need to contact the owner of the original website to seek permission to publish their image on your website.

    The best thing to do is use your own images where possible. When that’s not possible, look at stock image libraries, where you purchase rights to use an image.

    Text and content is the other part of the equation. Google search is already onto this, by punishing websites who plagiarise text from another website. In short: write your own content. Don’t copy words from another website and hope for the best. There are exceptions to this – if you are citing a reference or quoting (and acknowledging the source), with relevant conversation around the reference/quote (such as a review or news article), that’s okay. Direct copying is the issue. Always best to be original.

    How do I protect my own text and images?

    According to the Australian Copyright Council, “Any copyright material you create for your website (such as text, photos and artworks) is automatically protected by copyright as soon as it is saved to disk, USB drive, hard drive or otherwise in “material form”.”

    So if you are working on text for your website, save a copy of it somewhere other than on your website. This may be in the form of a document or file saved on your computer. This will help identify you as the original writer and publisher of the content, should the situation arise that someone copies your text.

    With images, you can make them less appealing for others to use by:

    • adding a watermark on the images;
    • uploading low-resolution versions of your images (making them unsuitable for resizing or printing).

    What do I do if someone has copied my text and images?

    If you find your text and images on another website without your permission, the first place to start is by contacting the owner and asking them to remove or attribute the works (depending on what you would prefer). If they don’t respond to your request, you can contact the website’s host about the copyright infringement, or seek legal representation to follow it up on your behalf.


    Should my business have multiple websites?

    For businesses who have a variety of offerings, we are often asked if they should have a website for each part of their business.

    If we are talking very different businesses that play no part together – then yes, separate websites make sense. However, if they are related products or services, there is often a lot of benefit in keeping everything in the one place.

    Website Management

    The obvious part is website management. As a business owner, if you have one central place to log into, one central place to update, it can feel a lot less daunting than having 2 or 3 websites to maintain.

    Navigation

    By placing products and services on separate websites can also create a lost opportunity; a potential customer may not get to see something worthwhile to them that you offer if it’s on another website. Ideally, you want to be capturing the attention of a potential customer as soon as they reach your first website, rather than redirecting them to another website where they can begin to lose interest. You have to make navigation easy for your customers.

    SEO

    Another aspect to consider is SEO. One of the things that search engines want to see is lots of informative content, updated regularly. Adding content to one website gives all of the “points” to that website. If you have 2-3 websites, then those points are split across those websites, which is ultimately more work for you.

    Even if you think your offerings are too different to be placed together, we can always workshop it and see how they can work in the one website. You might be surprised how it can work.

     


    Publication Design in 2019

    Publication design in 2019 has included small brochures, through to 80+ page books.

    I’ve never been able to put my finger on what the appeal of publication design is, but it’s something we love working on. Maybe it’s the process; maybe it’s the fact that everything has to be so orderly for a publication to work. Or maybe it’s the tangible, physical product at the end. Maybe it’s all of those combined.

    Whatever it is, publications are a lovely thing to design. In 2019 we created a number of publications based on training documentation – making them visual and easy to understand was a great challenge. We then developed a range of icons to make a report of facts eye-catching for another client. Our largest publication for the year was the book “Entrepreneurs Generations Apart”, by Celebrate Living History. A long book of over 60 interviews with entrepreneurs worldwide, young and old.

    Here are snippets of publications we designed in 2019.


    COVID-19: what to do with your time?

    What a strange time we are living in – a pandemic, something that happens once a century.

    Some of our clients are still going okay, but for many, they have had to wind down or temporarily close their businesses. We’ve had clients who have had to cancel or postpone events, too. The stress of losing income is really scary – but also trying to be remembered even while being closed. What do you do without money to spend?

    You make the most of that time you would have been spending working in your business, working on your business. If you’re not completely tied down to entertaining kids who are home from school, this is the time to look at your online presence.

    When was the last time you reviewed your website? If you haven’t had a chance recently, make time now to go through each page and update them. You might even have new products or services to add that you’ve been too busy to do – until now.

    Have you got an online store? You could add descriptions to each product, helping your search engine rankings (SEO).

    Have you got a blog? Don’t just use this time to add one blog entry – write as many as you can, so you can post them in the future when you’re too busy to write again (it will happen).

    Have you got a Google Business listing? Look it up and check that it’s up to date. Google keep adding new fields to the listings, so it’s a good idea to log in and check if you have added everything you can – including photos.

    How’s your social media going? Social media is your friend during a closure. Even if you are stuck at home, your knowledge about your industry and business is not forgotten. Record some videos, add photos, share previous reviews, share your favourite work memories. Show people that you are still indeed here and aren’t going anywhere.

    Although some days feel like they drag on forever, the pandemic is temporary. This will not be forever. And you might not be feeling the most productive during such an awful time of uncertainty,  but even if you write a list and do a task here and there – every little bit counts.


    Event Branding Design in 2019

    Event branding design in 2019 saw us provide continued support and services to a collection of long-standing events.

    Some events we provide design services for were just a colour scheme and date update in 2019 (eg. Peninsula Film Festival). Others involved new illustrations (Pets’ Day Out) or entirely new branding (Musiqua). Posters for promoting events is still a constant, but we are definitely seeing a shift towards digital media over printed media. So banners, social media images and other types of online advertising have taken precedence over brochures and newspaper ads.

    Here are a snippet of event branding we completed in 2019.


    Website Design in 2019

    Website design in 2019 has seen some big advances in supported code, which means we’ve been able to build websites beyond our clients’ dreams.

    HTML (the language that is used to build websites) is constantly improving, but it can take years for those new little bits of code to be fully supported. So a new piece of code might only work on the latest versions of a browser. Then we have to wait until the majority of users are on those versions before it’s safe to roll out these new little gems.

    2019 was the year this happened; and wow, it has opened so much opportunity. We can do so much more in a mobile-responsive website than we could before, which is great for those folks checking out websites on their devices. And on desktop, there’s a lot more flexibility around positioning content in a layout. Where you would often be stuck with a single text box years ago, now you can have multiple content blocks to choose from – all with their own styling, and all interchangeable.

    To be relevant to their audiences, we have built traditional looking websites through to websites with alternative structures than what you would normally expect. For example, one website we built works horizontally, instead of top-down/scrolling.

    There has also been a drive towards in-depth information websites, where well-planned navigation, filtering and search options have been incredibly important. The aim of the least clicks to reach the desired information is always at the forefront of our minds when designing and planning a website.

    Here are a snippet of websites we developed in 2019.


    Logo Design in 2019

    Logo design in 2019 has been varied. We’ve been lucky to work on developing brands for a wide range of businesses, most based on the Mornington Peninsula.

    While the logos featured below use a range of colours, corporate blues have been popular in the past year. I personally find this a little ironic (or timely!) as this trend lines up with Pantone’s 2020 colour of the year: Classic Blue.

    There has also been a move towards logos with flexible colour options. For example, Innerspirit Property Styling’s logo is in black and white but can be changed into another colour as desired.

    Icons and symbols have been a popular request, moving away from text-only logos.

    Here are a snippet of logos we’ve designed in 2019. We hope all the brands we helped develop have an exciting and successful 2020!


    Rebranding? Don’t let your domain name lapse!

    If you’re rebranding, you might decide to change your domain name.

    While it might seem like a refreshing or exciting change, here’s a couple of things that can make this tricky:

    • Many customers will have your current email and website address saved as your contact point.
    • Any previous marketing material, business stationery and advertising will still have your current domain name published.
    • Search engines (eg. Google) will have positioned your website address in their search results, based on all of the work you have put into your current website.

    So a new domain name means that ultimately, you are starting over online. This might not bother you too much; you might have a new website with completely different information. But if you’re wanting customers to still be able to find you via your old details – don’t let your domain name lapse!

    The best thing to do is redirect your current domain name to your new domain name/website. Also make sure to do the same with your email addresses, so no emails are missed.

    You might find that people finding or emailing you via your old domain name will dwindle eventually, but still hold onto the ownership your domain name, even if you do stop the redirection. If you ever let ownership go, anyone out there can buy it and set up their own website and email addresses. If they set up the same email addresses that you used, they can potentially receive correspondence from your customers who haven’t updated your details – which can be a huge security risk.

    With your website, make sure to redirect all pages on your current website to the relevant page on your new website – not only will this help your customers find you (and not see errors!), it will help the search engines update and replace their results sooner, which helps your business too.


    The Wiggles: We All Start Somewhere…

    We have preschoolers in our house, so The Wiggles are huge around here. I probably know more song lyrics than I should…but I digress.

    Wiggles and branding…what’s the connection? We all see how polished their marketing is today, but this article isn’t about that. It’s about where they started.

    We see a lot of start-up businesses get disheartened that their first go isn’t an overnight success. We generally look at the success stories, at what is currently working well – but not at the journey that got a business to that spot. The Wiggles is a good example to look at. Their “brand” we all recognise came later – they simply started by doing mini-concerts, playing kids songs in kindergartens.

    Turn back to 1991. The Wiggles released their first album, and it looked like this:

    Can you see the branded shirts? Can you see the colour coding? Nope. Look at those PATTERNS!!! (And the extra Wiggle, but you can Google the backstory of that). If you find old Wiggles videos on YouTube, you will see a variety of styles of tops – including other 90s cringe-worthy patterns, and Anthony wearing a green t-shirt.

    So they didn’t start with a perfect brand, and from all I’ve seen (thanks to our kids wanting to watch every version of The Wiggles, 1991–today), they didn’t have their “brand” really set in concrete until around 1997-1998. That’s at least 5 years in.

    But what did they do? They jumped into honing their skills and their product – in their situation, their product is their music. The brand evolved slowly as their reputation started to grow, and eventually evolved into The Wiggles we know today:

    So if you’re a start-up and find a business that you aspire to be like, go back and research how they started. See what their brand and products first looked like. See how long it took them to reach their current success. In some cases, they may have tried out multiple businesses before running the successful one that you connect with today. And most of all: keep working at it. Don’t be ashamed of where you are, we all start somewhere and you have a really exciting journey ahead of you.

    If you ever need a pep-up, just look at the first Wiggles CD cover again to remind you that no business starts with a perfect brand.