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Building your Brand with Canva

It’s really exciting for me when small companies and individuals with beautiful branding start building their website with Skizzar. Because well if you guys look good so do we! So it makes perfect sense then that I load you guys up with as much resource and information as I can so that you can build a really successful brand. I recently discovered an amazing resource available through one of my absolute favourite places on the internet, Canva. Incase you don’t know, Canva is an incredible online resource which allows you to easily design and build your brand. You can make logos, email headers, social media graphics basically everything you could ever need. It’s incredibly easy to use and I’ve used it for the design of our brand as well as for many other clients and I always get great results. I guess I often start making things with a pretty clear idea of what I want to create. But what about if you’ve got a brilliant business idea but you haven’t got a clue about where to start with branding… well thankfully they’ve got amazing tutorials that will teach you everything you need to know about building your brand from the ground up. One of my favourites is the creative colour palette tutorial it breaks down information into really easy to understand information. It gives you opportunities to ‘learn’ and ‘do’ breaking down really simply how you can put into practice the skills you learn.

Once you’ve gone through these tutorials which literally take just a minute to complete, you’ll feel much more confident about building a really solid brand. I actually think this can be a really big stumbling block for small businesses. It might be that you’ve got a really good idea but the thought of paying thousands for branding design can completely put you off. Canva really allows you to create amazing graphics and logos as well as a whole load of other things and it’s totally free! Which I think we can all agree is pretty great when you’re starting out. This is also one of the many reasons we let our clients pay what they like for their website as well as giving you as much help as you need whilst you build your site. We think that if you’ve got a great business or perhaps you’re an amazing blogger or artist or musician you deserve to have an amazing website and strong on point branding.

So what are you waiting for? Get stuck into these awesome tutorials on Canva honestly it’s such a great resource. Also if you’re a Skizzar Client and you want some extra advice and tips feel free to get in touch using the support tab and I’ll be happy to give you some extra help and advice with building your brand and designing your site! Like I said, it’s in our interests for you to have a rad looking site!

 

Not a Skizzar Client yet? Sign up here and get building today!

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Choosing The Right Images

Going to put it out there, on more than one occasion I have been given the most dreadful images and expected to include them in a website I’ve been designing. Really, the most beautiful websites can go from fab to drab in about 0.0012 milliseconds when you insert a poorly curated image. So I cannot stress enough the importance of good imagery. Consider your images carefully. As the saying goes, a picture paints a thousand words.

There are so many different things to consider when choosing images, so hopefully this post can give you some really practical advice for choosing images.

Firstly whenever I’m thinking about the images I want for a site, I start by listing what I want to communicate with the images. For example, if you were a tattoo artist, you’d want your images to show off your work obviously but you might also want to communicate that you are creative, that you have great attention to detail, that you’re cool or alternative etc etc. Your images need to be aspirational, you might want to include images of some of your coolest clients. That’s a fairly specific example but hopefully you get where I’m coming from. Some poorly thrown together images are not going to cut it in this particular circumstance. If the images that you used were out of focus or messy, it will communicate that you’re not careful of precise. No one wants to be tattooed by someone who is sloppy and messy!

Once you’ve decided what you want to communicate, you have two options, you can take your own images and edit them yourself/ hire a professional, or you can use stock images. This really depends on if you have a product or service you need to have pictures of or perhaps you’re website is a bit more abstract and you can use less personal stock imagery. I actually think using your own images is best, as it is way more authentic and gives you much more credibility, however saying that if you can’t take good pictures or you don’t have the budget for a professional then stock imagery can be a really good route to take.

Personally my favourite stock imagery site is unsplash.com they’re really great quality, their library is fairly extensive and many featured photographers have very thematic collections, giving your website a good feeling of continuity throughout. The downside to this is that unsplash is no secret and you see the same stock images cropping up across other sites. Another great stock image site is deathtothestockphoto.com this is slightly more underground and they send images directly to your inbox. Definitely worth signing up for, if that’s the route you’re going down.

There are a few other important things you need to consider with your images.They need to be at least 1000 pixels wide but the bigger the better really. If they’re smaller than this then they’ll be too low in resolution for your site and will look low in quality. Thanks to our inbuilt image smusher Skizzar automatically compresses your image making it perfect for websites without loosing quality. Which basically just means it loads quickly! (you’re welcome)

So remember this is probably one of the most important elements of your site! Invest the effort and time to get this right and your whole site will look better. Decide what you want to communicate and take time to make sure your images do that effectively.

Don’t forget to connect with us on our social networks, and in the interest of community spirit if you’ve used a photographer for your branding and you’re particularly happy with how it all turned out then give them a shout out on our Facebook group, the chances are you could help them to pick up additional clients and well, that’s just a nice thing to do really!

 

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Choosing Colours and Typography

Ok, so now we’re getting down to the pretty stuff, and by pretty, I mean pretty important. You know why… because this is how you build a consistent brand. Today we’ll be chatting to you about why these things are important and also give you some tips about how to change fonts and colours throughout your site.

So I’m going to just jump right in and say, if you have loads of different fonts and font sizes throughout your site, it will look messy. On the other hand, have just one font in one size throughout the whole of your website and it will look flat and boring. So it’s about getting the balance right. It’s good to use two or three different fonts and to ensure all headings or all buttons have the same font. Obviously because we’re great, we’ve done the hard work for you and grouped the text into four categories. Body, Headings, Menu Headings and Buttons. You can select fonts for the whole of your site, in one simple step. This means that your website will have continuity right across the board. This will help your site to look really professional and help to build your brand. You should make sure you use these fonts across absolutely all of your branding and mailouts. It will help your users to instantly recognise your brand. You can edit your fonts in the customiser, under site settings.

Not surprisingly then, colour has the same, no scratch that waaaaay more of an impact on your branding. So just like fonts you want to choose a palette of colours that represent what you’re about. Colour has an amazing impact on how people perceive your brand. For example green tones give an impression of being environmentally friendly, healthy etc. Whereas pink might be more fun and light hearted. Take a look at this article about the psychology of colour, if you haven’t already chosen the colours for your brand. You might want to add in a few more colours across your site, that perhaps don’t feature in your logo, or perhaps your logo is simply black or white. In that case I really recommend taking a look at coolors.co which can help you generate a scheme for your site. I love this site, I’ve used it loads and also recommended it to lots of other people and it’s really helpful in coming up with a scheme, you can copy and paste the hex codes onto your site and use them for backgrounds and buttons.

So once you start formatting these things across your site you’ll see it really coming together. I think formatting is the biggest difference between a site that looks great and a site that doesn’t. Consider if your headers are all centrally aligned or to the left, are your buttons all a solid colour or transparent? Ya catch my drift, this post is a gentle reminder that the devil is in the detail. It may only take you five minutes to go through your site and check, but it speaks volumes about who you are, what you’re brand is about and erm most importantly how awesome you are!

Hopefully you’ve found this post helpful, remember to check out coolor.co it’s a great site and can help you battle the minefield that is colour schemes! I am really excited to take a look at your site, feel free to share you site on the Facebook group once it’s live!

Also little side note. We really love to feature our clients across our social media and on blog posts, if you’d like to be considered for a feature, you can share your site and a little about yourself with us and we’d love to feature you across our network!

 

 

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How are you getting on?

Hey there newbies! So if you’ve just signed up, we thought we better check in and see how you’re doing? It can feel a bit overwhelming creating a new website right? We’ve made it as simple as we can for you to get started but sometimes staring at a blank canvas can be pretty daunting, even if you’re Picasso (ok maybe a bad example, that guy loved flinging paint around) Anyhoo… ya catch my drift. So I thought I’d give you a little to do list for your website that could really help you get the bulk of work done. I fall into the trap all the time of concentrating on the tiniest of details and this can sometimes lead to me feeling I haven’t achieved anything, so trust me when I say that it’s best to do these main things first.

 

  1. Write out your content Spend some time working out how to say what you need to say in the most concise way possible. Obviously if you’re a writer don’t be afraid of writing long blog posts but your home page needs to be visually appealing. Spend some time deciding what you want to say and how you’d like to lay it out. Browse some other websites and see how they do it, or use some of our amazing templates, you can always remove sections if the template doesn’t completely fit your purpose.
  2. Choose a strong  image (s) You will need quality visual images for your site, we really recommend having a bold and very high quality image at the top of your page here’s a video on how you can do that. If you don’t have your own images there are some great stock sites we think are really great. We’ve written all about choosing images in another blog post for you.
  3. Saaaaaay whaaaaat your website is about. It might be obvious to you but make it really clear with a short easy to understand tag line, you should also definitely add in your logo or the name of your company.
  4. Add pages to your site Before you start to worry that this sounds like a lot of work, you don’t need to have loads of pages. Keep everything as concise as possible, even big companies don’t necessarily have extensive websites with lots of pages, smart cookies will know that the purpose of your website should be to show off you or your product and call readers to action, and that’s it.  That being said sometimes you need to have more than just a home page, so here’s a guide on how to add in more pages and also a guide on how to add a menu to your site so that readers can see those beautiful pages!
  5. Why are you doing this? No really, why are you building a website? Are you offering a service or product, are you a blogger or musician? Whatever the point of the site make sure everything guides the reader to where they need to go. For example, if you’re an musician and you want to be booked for gigs you’ll need a contact form, so try and guide people to that contact form by using buttons. Obviously don’t go crazy, but if you’re trying to get people to fill in a contact form them give them plenty of options to click straight to it.

So that’s my list of the top things to do to get your site looking good, later on you might want to play around with the padding and layout of content, ensuring it looks really visually appealing but follow those steps and you should have a frame work completed.

Have you found this helpful? Don’t forget to visit the help site for more how to videos and use the Facebook group to share ideas and ask questions.

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Welcome to the Skizzar community

Hello there! Well welcome to Skizzar, I guess if you’re reading this you’re pretty new to the gang, so let me start by just saying a massive thank you for choosing Skizzar to build your website.

We started this whole thing because we wanted it to be really easy to make beautiful, fully customisable sites without all the confusion and stress, or without all the nonsense of free vs premium packages, you see on a lot of other website builders.

We’re hoping that if you’ve chosen to use Skizzar you’re a pretty out of the box and creative thinker. We’ll take a guess that you’ve probably got a great product (or are a really great person) and the thing you want to share with the world is pretty rad. The reason being is that we really value community and we really love to connect our clients together. Which is why we have a Team Skizzar Facebook group, it’s only available to members and it’s a great way for you to connect with other users, get inspirational tips and advice and make some great business contacts. Although our client base is super varied, Skizzar tends to attract really cool people (see that’s why you’re here) so it’s a really awesome group to be a part of. It’s run by me (Emma) and I’ll also be on hand to answer any questions you might have. Of course, you’ll probably want to get started on building your site straight away (this is the fun bit after all.) If you want a bit of help on how to master the basics then visit our help site and if you’ve got any more questions then you can raise a support ticket, by clicking on the support tab on your dashboard.

Remember that Skizzar is fully customisable, but we also have some great templates. Our designers have put them together very thoughtfully so that you can create a beautiful website really easily. I’m so excited to see what you come up with. So why not start by going to the Facebook page and giving us a like, I’ll be sure to add you to the group. Also, make sure you giz us a follow on Instagram where you can enjoy a bit of visual stimulation if you like.  As well as some nonsense Instagram stories from me, which I can’t promise will be at all helpful but might give you a glimpse into the wonderful world of Skizzar.

Thank you for joining us on this marvellous journey through life.

 

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Pay what you want!

So you’ve made your site and it’s probably looking pretty dope by now! You’ll be forgiven for thinking that there’s going to be some hidden charges or you’ll have to have loads of ugly adverts plastered across your site. Well the long and short of it is, there are no hidden costs and no advertising. You just select an amount to pay monthly using our simple and easy to use slider. In short you pay what you want.

When we tell people about this feature there are two very distinct groups of people, those that get it and those that don’t. So if you’re scratching your head wondering how do these guys make any money, the answer is simple. Even when given the choice of how much to pay (anything between £1 and £25 per month) the majority of our clients think that Skizzar and the amazing support we offer are worth paying a little for each month. On average our clients pay around £7 a month which makes us really happy. We’ll always aim to be transparent about this which is why we post monthly updates about how much our clients are choosing to pay over on Twitter.

There are a few reasons we chose to build our business this way, firstly, we’re super passionate about supporting small businesses and individuals that deserve amazing websites but perhaps don’t have the budget to spend a lot of money. Secondly it is the best indicator of how happy our clients are with the service they receive. Most importantly Radiohead did it Circa 2007 with their album ‘In Rainbows’ and it worked out pretty well for them.

So, hopefully that makes things a bit clearer, really we want you to decide how much you pay each month and if you’re really like what we’re doing then why not give this post a share and spread the word.

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7 Great Uses for the Skizzar Slider Widget

Here at Skizzar we’re a big fan of making it as easy as possible to implement the most current design trends into your website, and with as little effort as possible! So, with that in mind, we want to talk about one of our most useful (and our personal favourite) elements – the slider widget – and how you can use it to bring your site to life!

Sliders have been around for years! They are a great way of displaying eye-catching information and grabbing the attention of your users from the minute they view your site, so it’s worth knowing your way around this widget and learning how you can get the most out of it. So without further ado, here are our top 7 best uses for the Skizzar Slider widget.

Traditional Slider

Well, it makes sense to start with what the slider is best at…sliding. With the Skizzar slider widget you can set a background image/colour, featured image (which you can align top, left, right or bottom) and Heading/excerpt text. When you combine this with the power of being able to add in an unlimited amount of slides – you actually have a very powerful tool in your hands.

It means you can easily create a layout like this:

customise-demo-site-this-is-your-site-tagline

This is a slide with a background colour of #8b8cc9, featured image (the phones) aligned left, layout style is full page and auto slide set to 4 seconds.

Have a play with the layout options and display options to get the slider to sit in your site as you want it to. It’s a great and visual way to show off what your site is about for all those visitors who are only planning on hanging around for a few seconds!

The Hero Header

The trend known as hero images may be summarised simply as large attractive headers. You will have seen them, a big background iamge that generally relates to the content of the site, with some bold text over the top, something like this:

julian_chambers_drummer_slider_example

http://julianldcmusic.co.uk/

To make a slider like this on your own site, start by adding a slider widget to your page.

The slider widget has 3 layout options; Boxed, Full Width and Full Screen. We suggest using either Full Width or Full Screen for your hero header.

Add you text to the slider and then select a background image to add to it. We recommend a minimum width of 1900px for your background image to ensure that it fills the whole page. You may also want to check the following options:

  • Stretch (this will stretch the image to fill all screen sizes)
  • Darken (This will slightly darken the image and allow text on top to stand out better)
  • Parallax (This adds a parallax, 3D scrolling effect to your image…it’s dead cool)

These options can be found on the individual slide background settings as shown in the image below:

skizzar website builder tips for the slider widget 1

Landing Page

A landing page is the first page of your website which some people like to make look as striking as possible and then add an enter button to take them to the main body of the site.

A slider is a great way of creating a landing page for your website because of the full page layout option.

To build a landing page,
Add a slider to a blank page with the layout setting set to full page. Delete all the slides except for one, and on the remaining slide change the background colour or add an image (Note, if you are using a background image, play around with some of the bg image settings such as stretch and darken to make it fit properly on your site). If you have a logo or an image you want to use it’s a good idea to add this as a featured image – you can also set where the image is aligned on the slide. Add some text and a button to the main page of your site and you’re done.

To set this page as the front page of your website, go to Site Settings > Static Front Page on the main menu in the customizer and pick your landing page.

Lastly, we’ll want to get rid of the footer on this page only – this is a little bit fiddly, but hover over the Skizzar icon in the customizer and click on DevKit – the DevKit allows you to insert custom code to your site – it’s a very useful tool if you have a few coding chops. Add this code into the DevKit

.home #footer.footer-site { display:none !important }

This will remove the footer on the homepage (which, if you followed the previous step, should be your landing page) and no other page.

Page Header

So it’s common practice to put some sort of fancy big header on your home page (like a hero header), but what about all your other pages. Personally, I think it’s overkill to have a full page slider on every page. But, having said that, it is nice to have something at the top of each page instead of jumping straight in with text. So why not have a slider with your page title on it, something like this:

services-fazane-fox-apparel-production-developemt-copy

http://www.fazanefoxapparelproduction.co.uk/

This is a simple way of making your site attractive and letting your users know what page they are on (and what it’s about) without them having to do much work to find that information out themselves! This slider is set to Full Width  in the layout options, a striking background image which is stretched to fit the whole screen, darkened slightly and with a parallax effect added to give the site a little extra pizazz!

Side Note: Personally, I think a website will live or die based on it’s images – get good images and it will lead to good business. If you don’t have high quality images to hand, you might want to consider using stock images (royalty free images). Here at Skizzar we hold several premium stock imagery accounts, but we also love using this free service: http://unsplash.com – give them a look over if you are after some great and free images for your website.

Testimonial Slider

Testimonials are an incredibly effective way of letting your users know that you are real, you do a great job and that people are using your business. However, a page full of testimonials is off putting for a visitor – infact, I can honestly say I’ve never visited the testimonials page on any site.

So, say hello to the testimonial slider – a great way of displaying several testimonials in one place without it coming across as a long, boring list of quotes.

Here’s an example we like:

http://thedistractionsband.co.uk

thedistractionsband.co.uk

 

Set your testimonial slider to either Full Width or Boxed layout (boxed means it won’t take up the full width of the page), make sure the slides are set to autoplay in the slider settings and show the slider arrows and dots so users can scroll through them at their own pace.

There are plenty of things we could say about the content for your testimonial slider, but here are some quick tips:

  • Make the testimonials real…from real people! You might think no one can tell – but I like to think they can
  • Add a picture – it shows they’re real, from real people…and makes it look better visually
  • Don’t make them too short, don’t make them too long. Something like “Great service” is a rubbish testimonial – but then a long winded one with every last detail is too intense. Aim for around 300 – 350 characters
  • Use testimonials that talk specifically about what was good about the service you provided – this will let your visitors know exactly what to expect from you, and again, it comes across more real!

Page Separator

If you have a lot of content going on one page, or, if you’re going for a single page site, you might want to consider breaking it up a little bit. Using a slider as a visual separator is a great way to do this, here’s an example of what this design technique can look like:

http://qualityoverseasmusic.com/

http://qualityoverseasmusic.com/

 

Set your slider to Full Width in the layout options, add a great background image (we like to check the parallax option too as it looks great when scrolling past it!), you may also like to use the stretch and darken options to make your background image fill the whole width of the site and to make your text on top stand out better.

Add a header and some excerpt text (and maybe a button) and you’ve got yourself a kick ass separator on your site.

Video Background

Last but not least, video backgrounds. We LOVE this feature! If you have a great video for your business, then you should totally add it as a background to a full page slider, it’s by far one of the most eye-catching design techniques you can use for your site.

The Skizzar slider widget allows you to embed videos from youtube or vimeo as a background, or to upload your own mp4 video. Here’s how to do it.

  • Add a slider to your page and set the layout to Full Page
  • Delete all the additional slides except for the first one (you’ll only need one slide for this)
  • Click on the background settings for that slide and select the source for your video from the dropdown (Self hosted, Youtube or Vimeo)
  • Add in the link or upload your video (self hosted only)
  • Done!

There are, however, a few things to consider before you go crazy and add videos everywhere:

  1. Videos will autoplay as soon as your site loads. This has the advantage of meaning your users don’t have to action anything, they are just greeted with it. The downsides are that it will play out sound, and a lot of visitors will be put off by this – so we advise making a separate video just for your site (which you can set to private if you are using youtube/vimeo) and using that.
  2. Videos are BIG files – so if you are planning on self hosting, make sure it’s not going to use all of some poor guy’s data if they view your site on their mobile
  3. Speaking of mobiles, video backgrounds won’t play on all devices (thanks to the loving relationship between apple and adobe), so instead it will default to displaying the video thumbnail, so make sure your video has a relevant and high quality thumbnail set in the youtube/vimeo video settings.

We love video backgrounds so have worked hard to make sure that they look great on all screens – so why not give it a try on your site and see how it looks.

That’s all from us this week – we can’t wait to see how you start using sliders on your site to bring it to life! Drop us a message or a support request if you need help with any of the slider features, or visit our help site at http://help.skizzar.com

 

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