I don't know about you, but I always thought The Dog Days of Summer were those days when it's so hot, all the dogs are panting.
Well, the heat does make them, and most of us, pant. But that's not where the name comes from.
No, the term comes from ancient forecasters and astrologers who noticed the seasonal alignment of the Sun and Sirius (the Dog Star constellation). They believed the combination generated more heat and called the stretch between July 3 and August 11, The Dog Days of Summer.
My curiosity about The Dog Days of Summer started with the August edition of my Riddle Me Mail project. I was searching for a theme and decided to go with what I thought I knew about The Dog Days of Summer.
Connecting the Dots
So why do The Dog Days of Summer matter? They're a good example of how often we think we know something, but don't know the whole story.
How one thought leads to another, and how unexpected connections can generate new interest in a familiar topic.
Share What You Know
When it came time to design the stationery for Riddle Me Mail, I settled on postcards and decided to share what I'd learned, adding information about Canis Major, the constellation that features the Dog Star, Sirius.
I also learned that Sirius is the brightest star in the sky, not the North Star. Did you know that?
What About Your Business?
What information could you share or clarify? Is there a backstory about your business or products people would find interesting?
Are there ways you might simplify your message?
Could you present it in a new format or context that would generate new interest?
If I can help, let me know.
We design and edit websites, books, and presentations.
There’s a reason you see so many lists online.
They’re easy to share and easy to skim, and that makes great content for your website or blog.
The KEY to a good list though, is making it interesting and helpful. It doesn’t do any good if your list repeats common knowledge, or leaves people wondering how to do what you suggest.
With our 3-Course Cook-Off And Other Things to Do On A Rainy Day, we illustrate just how you can build an interesting and helpful list. Click here or on the image above read the three things to do on a rainy day.
At Composition 1206, we are information architects. If you have information to share and want to be sure it reads well and makes you proud we can help. Let’s talk!
We design and edit:
websites • books • presentations
5 Ways to Build a Better Website
You've got a website and it's been up for a while, but is it as good as it could be?
1. A fresh approach
If your website is more than a couple of years old, it may be time for an update.
Take a critical look at your site. Does it inspire confidence? Is your information up to date? Is your logo big enough? Do the fonts and colors on your site reflect your logo and branding?
Do you have large blocks of text that read more like a novel than a website?
Writing for the web is different than other forms of writing. Keep your audience engaged with:
This article is a good example. People like to skim headlines, subheads, and lists and then go deeper. Make it easy for them to skim.
Does your site feature a dark background? Though it can be striking to have a dark background, it makes reading difficult. And that means people will stop reading before they finish learning more about how you can help them.
2. Is it all about you? It shouldn't be
Do you welcome visitors with a line that's all about them ... or is it all about you?
Sure, your website is about you, but when people visit they're thinking about themselves and how you can help them. Your landing page should start with sentences like -- We help YOU make better decisions ..., or Become the best ..., or even, Discover how to ..., -- sentences that make people feel welcome and let them know right away what you can do for them.
Sentences like, "WE have 25 years of experience ...," or "WE'RE members of ..." belong on your about page.
Who you are, your background, your years of service, it's all important information. But it's information people want only after they know how you can help them.
3. Share your expertise
When someone comes to your site they’re looking for information, hoping to be inspired. Make it interesting. Aside from the usual menu items (home/about/contact), what else can you offer? Maybe you could consider a blog or special features:
Blogs are great if you commit to posting regularly, but clearly not for everyone or every business. If you have a blog and the last post is from over a year ago (or, gasp, three or four years ago), you might consider taking it down. Or, breathing new life into it.
Special Features. Consider features like how-to articles, a behind-the-scenes segment, staff profiles, infographics, and updated photographs.
Regular updates can also help with search engine results. Turns out a stale website is, well, stale. New information garners attention and boosts your ranking.
4. Offer downloads and products
If you have how-to information, a special edition poster, infographic, a report, an ebook or print edition, promote it on your website.
You can also consider sharing what you know for a fee or by subscription. You have information people want and need. Position yourself as an expert and distribute and sell what you know.
5. Stay In Touch
Email remains one of the best ways to connect with customers and associates. Consider a monthly newsletter delivered by email.
You can build your email list by offering something in exchange for contact information. Something like an ebook, a top five list of something relevant, or a discount for services or products.
Use the content you develop on your blog. As you build your email list, you'll be helping others by sharing what you know and building your reputation as an expert in your field.
Is it time to refresh your website?
Call or write today to learn more about making your website the best it can be.
I'm the first to admit to a little DIY plumbing. I've changed a washer on the bathroom faucet and replaced the hoses on the washing machine. But, when it comes to replacing the seal on the toilet or installing a new garbage disposal, I call the professionals.
DIY publishing and graphic design is easier than ever, and chances are, you publish a lot of your own content.
A critical element in content design, and one that's often misunderstood, is font choice. There are so many to choose from and it's tempting to use too many, or the wrong ones.
Here are some tips to choosing the right fonts that will help you attract and keep your reader's attention:
Display fonts are the fancy, decorative styles, and they should be used sparingly. Just a few words. Really. Maybe a headline. Well, maybe not. Definitely not for sentences or paragraphs. They are just too hard to read. Go easy on these. Too much of a good thing is, well, too much. I used a display font above ... for one number and two words. Just two. And it works. Any more than that and it becomes difficult to read.
These are the fonts that have little bits at the ends and tips of the letters; fonts like Times, Goudy, and Garamond. These are great for long passages of text, for books, and reports. They also add a warmer feel to your text. If you're writing a book, be sure to set the text in a serif font. It's easier to read and will look more professional. Not sure about that? Grab a few books from the bookshelf and see what style fonts are used.
These are straight-up fonts, no embellishment, no little bits at the ends or tips of the letters. Helvetica and Arial are common san serif fonts. You’ll see a lot of san serif fonts on the web. They can be easier to read online for blog posts and on your about page, but again, if you have a lot of text or long passages, consider a serif font. Something like Georgia is great for online reading.
Two things to remember.
1) Make it Easy to Read
Your text needs to be easy to read. If it’s not, people will abandon what you've written and your message will be lost.
- Use display fonts sparingly.
- Choose serif fonts for longer passages and a softer, more welcoming feel.
- Use sans serif fonts for shorter entries, technical writing, instructions, and headlines.
2) Use The Two Font Rule
What is the two font rule? Use only one or two fonts on any document, report, or page. Sure, you can use the italic and bold features within the same font and you can combine it with a display font, but that’s it. Any more than that and you risk losing your reader. Too many fonts distract the eye and make it difficult to follow.
I'm here to help. If you're too busy to worry about font choice, content design and editing, send an email, or give me a call. I'd love to help out.
Making you look good in print, online and on paper.
Legacy Books • Presentations
Infographics • Magazines
Annual Reports • Invitations
After I made my first SnowGirl, people had lots of questions.
"What did you use for her hair?"
"Is that an orange peel around her neck?"
Their interest made me consider sharing the information in a way that would be accessible to more people. In a way that might even encourage them to get outside and give it a go.
So I created an infographic, a combination of text and image.
Click on image to see full size version.
If you've got information to share, consider an infographic. Illustrated information attracts more attention and interest.
Online applications, email, websites, and blogs allow us to reach out and connect with the people who care about what we do. But, in order to get (and hold) their attention, the information we share needs to be presented in a way that's eye-catching and interesting.
Here are some ways to make it more interesting:
• photographs (your own if possible, carefully selected, and cropped)
• frequent paragraph breaks
• bold headings
Regular output and information that's helpful and interesting will keep your audience coming back for more.
From figuring out just what it is you need to say, to finding the right words and images to make it interesting, let's make something worth talking about.
Call (207-252-9757) or write today to talk.
It's my goal to help you look good in print. Let's get started.