Five quotations about design

Like most writers, I own a lot of books. I have books on word origins, slang, idiomatic expressions, and—my favorite—quotations. Here are a few observations on design:

"Good design is good business."
—Thomas J. Watson 

"Design is a plan for arranging elements in such a way as best to accomplish a particular purpose."
—Charles Eames 

"To design is to communicate clearly by whatever means you can control or master."
—Milton Glaser 

"Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works."
—Steve Jobs 

"Our guiding principle was that design is neither an intellectual nor a material affair, but simply an integral part of the stuff of life, necessary for everyone in a civilized society."
—Walter Gropius 

"Design is everything. Everything!"
—Paul Rand


A movie masterpiece in under three minutes

It's Friday! Take a moment and enjoy a wonderful, wordless movie.


How to keep an eye on your competitors

Want to know about changes to the websites of your competitors, suppliers, favorite news outlets, or, heck, One Direction? WatchThatPage can help.

Once you register, it'll keep an eye on all the sites you specify, consolidate any changes, and provide you with an update in an email message or on a special webpage.

Want to track mentions of your own name online? Google Alerts will do it.


Got five minutes? Read a short-short story

Warning! This is a shameless plug for one of my extracurricular activities.

The Rose City Sisters is a flash fiction blog that presents a 1,000 word stories. To date, a few dozen writers from the U.S., Canada, the U.K. and India have submitted stories.

If you're having one of those days when lunch means "sandwich at desk while waiting for an important call," treat yourself to a side order of fiction.


Advertising eye candy!

This little video shows how to use the structural elements of buses and shopping bags in creative and fun ways.


Happy Cinco de Mayo

Flyers–the ubiquitious marketing tool! Print 'em, email 'em or post them online. I did this one for Zapata Vive, a Mexican restaurant in Arcadia for Cinco de Mayo.


Facebook ads: Short text and one itty-bitty photo

My client, Dressed Up!, asked for a Facebook ad to wrap up prom season. My first Facebook ad! I specified the gender, age range, geographical location, and interests of the high school students who would see the ad. That was the fun part. 

The challenge was writing a short headline and text, and finding a photo that looked nice at a very small size.  

On Facebook, the ad will link to the client's store site, which features prom dresses for the rest of the month.


How to create an email signature

I started a flash fiction blog in 2009 and, in addition to publishing short-short stories, I post marketing tips for writers. Last month I posted a tutorial on email signatures and realized it was good advice for anyone in business. I've edited my original post and offer it here:

An email signature is a free, simple way to look professional, communicate your brand, and make life easier for the recipients of your email messages. By my tally, that's win-win-win. 

If you're ready to start signing off in style, here are the steps to get you started.

1. Decide what to include.

Typically, a signature contains your name, plus a few of these items:
• Name
• Title 

• Company
• Address

• Telephone number(s)

• Web address

• Blog address

• Social media links (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, MySpace)
Hunt down the full addresses for any websites as you'll need the URL, starting with http, to create links. 

2. Format your content.
Let's say you've decided on this:
Jane Smith
Technical writer
Office: 000/000-0000
Cell: 000/000-0000
Website: http://www.paulaljohnson.com
Blog: http://paulaljohnson.blogspot.com

I'm using my own URLs, but you get the idea.

Most email programs will let you change the font, the weight and the color. However, don't choose an exotic font because if the recipient does have that font on their computer, your signature will default to something like the decidedly unsexy Courier.

So…you jazz it up a bit and decide on this:

JANE SMITH :: Technical writer


3. Learn how signatures work in your specific email program.

If you enter "email signatures" in your email program's HELP window, you should find what you need to set up your signature.

To get you going, here are instructions for the most common programs:

Don't despair if the instructions don't match what's on your screen exactly. Software gets updated all the time, so some items may be reordered or on another menu. Poke around—you'll figure it out.

If you don't have an email program and check your mail from a web browser, you can still have an email signature. Just look for a menu item called "tools" or "settings" or "preferences." 

4. Fine tune your signature and test it. 
When you paste your signature into the signature window, add a few hard returns above it so there is always space between the last line of your message and the start of your signature.

If your program doesn't turn your URLs into clickable links, you can do that manually (in most programs). 

Finally, type a few lines in a test message and send it to yourself. Adjust the signature as needed, then start using it.

For more bossy advice helpful suggestions for marketing yourself, read part one, part two, and part three of "Upping your online presence" on my flash fiction blog.


You deserve a cookie

Lots of websites use cookies to identify site visitors. I'm just not that fancy.


Here comes the (mother of) the bride…

After Five is the eveningwear store that makes my client roster international.

Of course, Canada's fashion forecast is nearly identical to that of the United States: Prom Season, Wedding Season, Holiday Season and Resort Season. The latest ad promotes mother-of-the-bride gowns in a wedding magazine.

I also handle marketing for Dressed Up! L.A.'s only eveningwear superstore, but there's no conflict of interest. The store owners are cousins.