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  • A Creative and Meaningful website for Light Up A Life

    A Creative and Meaningful website for Light Up A Life

    Occasionally we get to work on really challenging and interesting projects.

    The Light up a Life website for Ashgate Hospicecare was one of those projects.

    The client, in a wonderfully trusting manner, gave us freedom to come up with the best way to represent the night sky along with stars that could be dedicated to a loved one.

    The solution was a combination of creativity, UX design, planning, mathematics and clever coding

    • An empty night sky and silhouettes of Chesterfield were designed, as well as individual stars
    • These stars are randomly spread throughout the night sky by a mathematical formula and algorithm
    • The website has to be usable on desktop, tablet and mobile, so things like star density on mobile phones was an issue
    • A search function allows those remembering family and friend to re-find the star they sponsored
    • People can add photos and messages of loved one
    • All this managed by an intuitive interface that links directly to a payment gateway for donations

    The biggest problem with the website was just how popular this way of remembering people has been, as the first 300 stars were dedicated almost within the first week.

    Please see for yourselves: lightupalife.ashgatehospicecare.org.uk

     

     

  • A quick guide to duplicated content and Google

    A quick guide to duplicated content and Google

    All clients, and without exception, who are looking to optimise their websites to get better ranking on Google (other search engine do exist…, just) will have ask me about the dangers of duplicating content. So here is the low down.

    Why is this important?

    Google rewards fresh and regular content; but there is limit to the amount new and interesting topics one can write about (and chances are someone else in the world has written a similar article), and we all have so little time.

    Legacy of cheating

    Early Google algorithms based rankings on the amount and frequency of content updates. Sadly there was nothing to stop wise guys stealing / copying vast amounts of content and pasting it directly on to their own website to get to number 1 in the ranking, and this became an epidemic. To stop this blatant cheating Google launch their Panda update on duplicated content, and many subsequent updates.

    • Only sites that are blatantly copying large amounts of content for profit have been banned
    • Duplicated copy across your own website is ignored
    • Duplicated content from other sites is downgraded depending on the similarity and frequency

    Examples of duplicated content

    1. Systemic duplicated content – this is content duplicated due to the nature of the website, most frequently e-commerce website where there is a page for a blue jumper and a red jumper. Google can handle this and will make up its own mind on which page to index and which to ignore, alternatively you can manage this Google decision manually by using canonical tags.
    2. Press releases – sharing a really good press release is good for customer experience but not good for SEO. Google won’t penalise, it will just give that page no value.
    3. Accidental duplication – most people don’t know that http://www.mysite.com and  http://mysite.com are in fact two identical sites. This is simply resolved using Google Search Console.

    Checking your site for duplicated content

    There are services available for checking your site for any duplicated content, though these are typically paid for services. Best thing to do…, hire Crush design to help you manage your website and its optimisation!

    Finally, a shout out to the photographer!

    Photo by Eye for Ebony on Unsplash

  • New Era Beginning At Crush Design!

    New Era Beginning At Crush Design!

    This week feels like the beginning of something wonderful!

    We have been working on buying and moving in to new offices over the past gazillion months…, and now it is really happening!

    The building is ours, owned by Crush, which makes us super proud.

    We have stripped away all and any remnants of the 80’s, including acres of wood-chip wall paper. And now the two top floors of our new three storey office are all ready to move in.

    • Our design team will be designing on the top floor.
    • Our developers developing on the first floor.
    • And the ground floor is a space for our to show off what we do and expand.

    Watch this space for the next phase in Crush Design’s success story.

    design agency in chesterfield

     

  • Crush runs the Chesterfield Half Marathon

    Crush runs the Chesterfield Half Marathon

    At Crush we love a challenge. So not only have we decided to sponsor the Chesterfield Half Marathon, we are running it too!

    In less than a month Jonathan, Paul, Celine and Nick are defeatedly going to run (or more like stagger) 13.1 miles around the streets of Chesterfield.

    But it’s all for a great cause! We will be raising money for our wonderful local hospice Ashgate Hospicecare.

    We’ve worked closely with Ashgate for over a year now and have been extremely impressed with the work they do for the local community. Hospice care is also a cause close to our hearts as several members of Crush have experienced first-hand how important is was for loved ones.

    Please help us make it all worth it by sponsoring us! Dig deep and click here to link to our donation page.

    Wish us luck!

  • Our love-hate relationship with stock photography

    Our love-hate relationship with stock photography

    Every day you come across hundreds of examples of stock photography. If you live in London you most likely come across it a lot more. Stock imagery is used everywhere for marketing material, websites, social media and outdoor advertising. Designers rely on it all the time to break up text, clarify a point and keep readers intrigued.

    So what is stock photography exactly?

    Stock photography are professional photographs that are sold on a royalty-free basis and can be used and reused for commercial purposes.

    Why we sometimes love it
    People are naturally visual creatures, and using photography and images in online and offline marketing is essential.
    Most clients don’t have good enough quality images for their marketing material. And most don’t have the resources to hire a photographer. In these cases, stock photography is the answer.
    Nowadays there is a vast array of cheap and sometimes free stock photography to choose from on the internet, easily available with a one-click download.

    Everyone does it- and that’s part of the problem
    Lat week a client realised the photo we had used on their website previously is now the image plastered across all East Midlands trains. Slightly awkward.

    Stock photos are free for anyone to use, with no exclusivities. This means any stock image you use to represent your business can also be used by anyone else. You have no control over it.

    The cheesy stock photography cliché
    How many times have you seen a cheesy photo of business men shaking hands and smiling unnaturally?
    Photographers that contribute to stock photography try to submit photos that will be used by as many people as possible. As a result, stock photography is often very predictable.
    Audiences can see right through this, and don’t connect with these cringy images.

    It creates design limitation
    A designer wants to be as original and creative as possible, and wants to create a website or marketing material which is unique to your brand.
    However the stock photos were not taken with your brand in mind, and do not accurately represent your products or services. This in turn hinders the authenticity of the designs.

    People want to see authentic, emotional photos
    In an ideal world, we would get our Art Director Natalie (who is also a photographer) to take photos for our clients as she is the person who knows and understands the brands the best.
    However, as we mentioned previously, sometimes client budget prohibits this.

    So when stock imagery is necessary here are our top tips for choosing the best of the best.

    Think about the message
    It’s easy to get distracted when looking for stock photography, and forgetting what your initial message is. Stick to photos which are consistent with the message, tone and colour palettes of your design.
    Go for images that are more relatable. If you are advertising to the corporate world, keep your photos sleek and professional. If you are catering to the older generation, make sure your photos resonate with that specific target audience. This will let them feel like the content was produced for them, and consequentially they will relate to it better.
    While it might take longer to find the perfect images to compliment your brand, once you do it’ll all be worthwhile.

    Look for the more realistic images
    Sounds obvious. Choose a photo in a realistic setting, with models that don’t look out of place. Try and avoid the cliché options.
    If you are looking for a holiday-themed image, don’t go for the typical white sand and palm tree beach- instead try and find an image with humans enjoying themselves (without it looking too staged!).

    Don’t overdo it
    Audiences can tell when a stock photo is chosen for the sake of having a placeholder image versus a contextual placement. Don’t start downloading and adding any image that “will do”. Only add stock imagery when needed otherwise your audience will end up getting bored.
    Think about whether you really need an image in that space? Is it distracting from the content?
    If you can try and mix it with some of your own content- to keep your brand feeling more genuine.

    And finally, make sure you are using them legally

    Make sure you are using proper stock photography, and don’t end up being sued.
    Some licenses allow you complete freedom, whereas others limit you to non-commercial use only. A reputable site will clearly indicate your rights. If in doubt don’t use it.

    While stock photography does get a bad name, it is also very valuable to small businesses and designer. As long as you use it properly there is no reason to avoid it.

    Photo credits to Kuan Fang. Photo from Splash.

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