Graphic Design in Asheville, NCGraphic Design

At heart, Blue Dozen Design is about graphic design and graphic art. Because it IS an art.

Since graphic design (and advertising design and web design) can so easily encompass all types of art – illustration, painting, design, photography, yadda yadda yadda, it stands on it’s own two feet as an art form in and of itself.

While we’re graphic designers by profession, we’re artists by the grace of God. We were born with it, raised with it, and we live it every day.

Sure beats a real job!

21 Days to Search Engine Optimization on WordPress

21 Days to SEO Your WordPress Site…

21 Days to Search Engine Optimization on WordPressSo, you’ve got a WordPress site. It’s your pride and joy (especially if we designed and developed it) and you’re really excited to show it off – but you’re not quite sure what to do to get traffic. The brass ring here is good placement with Google (and to a lesser extent, Bing and Yahoo.) How do you do that? You optimize your site – SEO. Search Engine Optimization. There are a few steps – and they can seem a little daunting, but for the next 21 days, we’re going to walk you through how to really SEO your WordPress site, get it set up right and get some asses in the seats.

3 weeks. No guarantee that you’re going to dominate Google, but in those three weeks, you’ll learn what to do and what not to do to set your site up for success with search engines – and more importantly, how to set it up for long term, sustainable and legit traffic.

Why do you want to SEO your WordPress site?

  • Search engines (especially Google) are a hugely important traffic source.
  • Usually, before someone decides to use your goods and services, they’re going to Google you.
  • You’ve got a website – don’t you want to generate leads and sales? If folks are out there searching for the products and services you offer, don’t you want to stand up and be counted? Yes, you do.
  • Google is ubiquitous, and they control much of the search (and hence, a lot of the business) on the web. It’s a fact.

As good as dominating Google can be, you don’t want to put ALL your eggs in that basket – and you don’t want to design and develop your marketing strictly on the merits of good SEO.

Search Engine Optimization should be a part of your total marketing strategy. An important part – but a part, nonetheless.

There’s 3 reasons for that thinking:

  1. SEO Can Take a Long Time to Work Optimally: You’re not going to see overnight results. The stuff you do during these three weeks could take months to pay real dividends. SEO is a long, slow burn – but that burn is important.
  2. SEO Changes: Google is the consummate tinkerer. They change their algorithm more than Rue Paul changes wigs – and your traffic and placement can go up and down. Your competition makes changes and improvements. There are so many variables, but the constant is change. If you stay on top of it, though – you WILL see long-term benefits from good SEO practices, regardless of what Google does.
  3. SEO Can Make People Sick: An over-optimized site can be irritating. If your site and your posts and pages are set up to first and foremost make Google happy, you’re going to alienate the folks that visit your site. Getting them there is important, but you can’t present them with something that is ugly or confusing and stuffed with keywords. Always think user experience FIRST – SEO second.

So – don’t put all your eggs in the SEO basket. It’s important, but you need an overall marketing plan for your business (and your site.) Don’t neglect content, social media and traditional marketing efforts. SEO is part of the gestalt of good marketing. In this day and age, it’s enormous – but it’s not the only place to look.

Stay tuned for the next (now) 20 days. You’ll come away with a better understanding of what good SEO is, a little more intimate knowledge of your WordPress site and a bit of a plan to keep it up and get more visitors, more clicks and more sales. It’s gonna be fun, kiddies!

Tomorrow: Installing Yoast SEO and Setting Up Webmaster Tools

And, for your auditory pleasure, a vaguely relevant reggae tune…

Logo Design Asheville NC

Logo Design – It’s Not That Damned Hard…

Logo Design Asheville NCActually, logo design can be horribly difficult. There are so many forms, so many shapes, so many fonts, so many tools, so many colors that it can be a difficult thing to whittle down to the essential, creative process of logo design. We’ve nailed the process – and if you need a beautiful, non-crappy logo, you’re in the right place.

We’ve done hundreds upon hundreds of logos – everything from sports teams to e-liquid companies and pretty much everything in between – but the logo design process remains the same:

Step One: Gather info on who you are, what you are, who your audience is and what your “vibe” is as a person or as a business. We’ve got a comprehensive logo design questionnaire that we use to gather info, and we’re always happy to chat and gather ideas the old-fashioned way. Once we’ve got a lock on what you’re about and what you’re looking for, we gather it up, put it between the ears and get the process really rolling.

Step Two: Think. This is always the hardest part to bill – but it’s the most crucial part. Inspiration doesn’t always come when you’re sitting at your desk from 9 to 5. Sometimes, it’s in the shower. Sometimes, it’s while I’m feeding the chickens. I can spend, quite literally, 20+ hours thinking about a logo design direction before anything ever reaches paper or pixel.

Step Three: The blank sheet. I keep a number of sketchbooks, Moleskines, notepads and Post-it note pads around me at all times. When the ideas flow, they hit the paper as soon as I can get them there. Sketches, roughs, notes, dumb jokes – they’re all part of the logo design process. Ideas about your name, ideas about your audience, ideas for generating more ideas – all on the paper.

Step Four: The pixel. After the sketches are where they need to be (also known as coherent,) the work of digitizing the logo roughs begins. Photoshop, Illustrator and (gasp – 1997!) Freehand round out the tool box. A zillion fonts to choose from – but by this point, we have a pretty good idea of what we’re looking for. We build anywhere from 6 to 15 “rough” ideas and let you start narrowing them down.

Step Five: The back and forth. Once the initial round is done, we let you play with them. Combine, rearrange, add, subtract. It all helps us get down to the final, perfect piece. We usually find that 2-3 rounds of revision are sufficient, but if we need to keep going we can keep going.

Step Six: Done. You’ve got a killer, 100% original logo. We deliver in a variety of formats (PDF, AI, EPS, PSD, JPG, etc.,) and we make sure you’ve got everything you need – color specs, font specs, spacing conventions, all that jazz.

Since your logo is arguably the MOST important part of your identity and marketing, it needs to be good. Hell, it needs to be GREAT. Let’s get started on making something great.

We ran across this video of Aaron Draplin’s process – and while it’s a 15 minute video that shows how some of the stuff is done, it’s the years of experience and his genuine talent that makes the process look so smooth and quick. It’s worth a watch. Now, if you just imagine this guy being a 6′ 4″ graying doofus, about 100 pounds lighter and with a coffee cup permanently attached to his left hand, you get a good idea of what it looks like here when we attack the logo process. Enjoy! Then, when you’re ready to roll on YOUR logo, click here.

 

BRIXTON POUND

Designer Currency? Why Not?

BRIXTON_POUNDTalk about keeping it local! The Brixton 10 pound note, designed by Jeremy Deller, is pretty damned fabulous, and the concept of using local, alternative currency is something that I fully support.

I’m not a huge fan of our current fiat currency (thanks, Federal Reserve – but that’s a story for another time,) and for promoting local trade and keeping money SERIOUSLY in the local system, these boutique currencies hit the mark.

Our current bill designs leave a little something to be desired (white space, anyone?) and the monetary system is obviously pretty broken – so why don’t we burn it down and make a local currency for Asheville? I propose a Lane Reid 20 dollar West Asheville note. If they can do it in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, why not here in our own little town? Imagine, walking into Gas Up to grab a brew and pulling out a $20 Black Wolf. You’d be a superstar almost instantly!

Stay tuned – we’re going to design some money for West Asheville. Nominations for denominations are now open – contact us with ideas on who you think should grace our currency.

I’ll be on the Million Dollar West AVL Buck. Cash value 1/100th of a cent.

 

OUROBOROS CASSETTE DESIGN

Quick Cassette Design for Ouroboros Boys

OUROBOROS_CASSETTE_DESIGN

We had the pleasure of doing some quick design for Asheville’s own Ouroboros Boys. To build these very simple 2-sided j-card designs, Nick sat down and helped pick some bizarre images, we threw them together in Photoshop, and we wound up with a couple of cassettes that fit right in to the feel of the Ouroboros Boys music – strange, uncomfortable, loud, but ultimately cool.

If you’re down for some trippy, surfy punk with a little bit of rag time thrown in, check out Ouroboros Boys. You’ll be glad you did.

 

Human Resources in Asheville

WordPress Site Launch, Logo and Human Resources…

Look! A happy client! Go, Jamie, go!

Look! A happy client! Go, Jamie, go!

HR Designs offers on-call human resources solutions to businesses big and small – outsourcing what can be a difficult job, and one that can be personal and uncomfortable (and unpleasant if handled improperly.) HR Designs partners with businesses and helps them in many areas – hiring, firing and personnel strategies. Everyone wins – and if someone decides to be butthurt about being canned, the company can say “Hey, HR Designs fired you. Wasn’t me!”

We recently had the pleasure to work with Jamie at HR Designs in developing a logo, website and marketing materials.

Very cool company with a great concept and an owner with a great passion for human resources and for enabling business growth. Jamie was a lot of fun to work with, and the logo, website and collateral turned out great! Take THAT, Toby.

Visit HRDesigns.com to check out the logo and the HR goodness. The site features:

  • Built using WordPress, so it’s easy to keep it all updated and humming on along.
  • Theme based on Canvas by WooThemes, so it looks great and functions like a champ.
  • Contact forms, content toggles and all sorts of bells and whistles.
  • Responsive design, so the whole shebangabang looks great on all devices – phones, pads, laptops and desktops.

Thanks to Jamie and the crew at HR Designs for a fun project. Even Michael Scott would approve…

WordPress Site Design for HR Designs, Asheville NC

Logo Design for Neigh Savers Foundation

We had the privilege to develop a logo for the Neigh Savers Foundation, a remarkable group of folks that provide retired racehorses with new homes and a better, more humane retirement. They had an established logo (you can still see it on their site – this one’s hot off the presses) and we were tasked to improve and update their look. (We’re pressing for a site redesign, too – stay tuned!)

Flaring nostrils, flowing manes and a streamlined look pairs well with a classic, solid typeface to create a great-looking logo that will reproduce well across web and print applications. Check it out below, and see it and a whole bunch more logo design goodness in our portfolio. Also, be sure to check out the Neigh Savers Foundation. Good folks, good cause. Good stuff.

Web Design and Logo Development for The Honey Bee Steward

HONEYBEESTEWARD_LOGO_DESIGN

We’re privileged to work with some pretty special people – and the Honey Bee Steward is certainly tone of those. This fellow has dedicated a huge portion of his life to the preservation of honey bees, educating folks about honey bees – and just about everything else you can do concerning the little buggers.

Independent Studios developed a lovely, subtle logo for him, and a bold, bright website. The logo captures the honey cell and some good, earthy tones – and comes out warm and subtle. The site, built with WordPress and WooThemes, is as bold as the logo is subtle. The site is easy to update, and the design really makes it all pop.

Check out the Honey Bee Stewardgive us a call – we’ll help you be the bee’s knees too!