In 2012, even nonprofits were utilizing social media. MDG Advertising looked into this developing trend and found that the inclusion of social media marketing meant more exposure and more donations for these organizations, as reported by The Huffington Post.

The innovation of ‘Giving Tuesday’, which grew over social media, is a glowing example of what is possible when online marketing is utilized properly. The model used by nonprofits is not revolutionary. Rather, it is simply a testament to why putting the time and effort into social media marketing is necessary.

While you browse the included infographic, think about how you can increase your conversions through a better social media strategy.

You know how sometimes a group of words are thrown around together so much their meaning becomes blurry? If you don’t understand what I mean, think about how you understand brand, identity, and logo. Almost any article about logo design will intrinsically link these three words together without clarifying where the line between each one is. I’m as guilty of this as anyone else.

Jacob Cass from Just Creative noticed this and put it upon himself to clarify the differences between brand, identity, and logo, and what each does. Breaking it down simply:

  • Brand is the “perceived emotional corporate image” of the business all together.
  • Identity combines all of the visual aspects that form a brand.
  • Logos identify a business in the simplest form by using icons.
It is a heirarchy in which a logo is part of the visual identity of a company, which helps mold the brand as a whole.


It is hard to write shortly about branding, as Cass even points out, but to summarize the concept, it is the audience’s idea of a service, product, or organization. Visual aspects of the brand including its marketing and logo can help mold it, but ultimately, the audience decides the shared perception overall. “A designer can’t make a brand […] a designer forms the foundation of the brand”, which the audience then builds upon with their reception of the product and marketing as a whole.

Identity Design

That foundation the brand is built on is it’s identity, or its image. Every business creates sets of visual devices they use to interact with their audience including color palettes, fonts, layouts, etc. Every visual aspect is considered part of the identity, even things like a web page design, and especially the logo.


I’ve talked quite a bit about logos before, but when it comes down to it, a logo identifies your brand. It becomes one of the most prevalent aspects of the image, and shapes how customers perceive your brand.
According to Cass, a logo doesn’t sell or describe a company, but that is the only aspect of his article with which I don’t completely agree. Once a business is established, their logo is understood by the quality of the company and product it represents. However, for young businesses trying to establish themselves, a quality logo is important in attracting companies by letting them quickly know what that company does and showing they care about how their audience feels about them.


The three are absolutely linked, but when writing about them we often make it unclear what each seperate part really is. Logos affect identities, which set the floor for a brand. All are important, but they are all unique to each other

Most average people have know idea what SEO is, and have probably never even heard the term before. Still, the industry is essential to running a popular and credible website. It is important enough that there are an inordinant amount of people writing about it every day online. That wide amount of people writing has lead to the spread of apparent misinformation, usually by well-meaning people who were never exactly explained what SEO is and what one does.

That type of misinformation, though well intentioned, seems to have lead to a bit of an identity crisis for the market. We can see it in a couple recent articles for Smashing Magazine. The first is called “The Inconvenient Truth About SEO” and the second is its rebuttal. The first simulataneously cites the spread of misinformation as a huge issue in the field, while also attributing numerous non-SEO practices to the industry. While trying to show that a lot of the practices offered by so-called “SEO experts” are can actually be wastes of money, Paul Boag also shows that his own idea of SEO has slipped askew from what SEO does.

The rebuttal, by Bill Slawski, on the other hand is aimed at resolving these questions about what an SEO does, and more importantly, doesn’t do. Summarizing it in short would not do justice to the full explanation he offers, so I suggest just diving in and reading what he has to say.

It is hard to say that Bill Slawski’s idea of what SEO does is exactly correct either, as the people working in the field are the ones who define it, and some SEOs have been using these practices. Instead, think of it as a way to get closer to a more traditional spin on current SEO practices, and what SEO really means.

The internet relies on agreements and standards to work, especially web design. With the constant barrage of new devices and input types, there is the need for each design to follow these agreed upon practices, less our entire system fall apart. This is why it confuses designers when a device or browser seems to ignore those practices.

The iPad Mini is a huge problem for many designers. The device-width viewport tag is set to the same values as the original (and obviously larger) iPad, which means that every button, logo, and line of text, appears 40 percent smaller. To someone using the tablet, this means everything is tiny.

That’s not to say the iPad Mini is the only rule breaker out there, but it is the latest high profile case which makes us all have to reconsider how we do design. The writers from A List Apart have used the issue to try to understand just what the issue is, and why breaking the agreed upon practices could actually be good for designers.


SEO relies on data. That’s a pretty simple fact. Still, for some reason, some SEOs still do all their research by hand and manually track their performance, usually by making Excel charts that seem to stretch for days. I honestly don’t completely understand how they put the time into even trying to do this, at this point in SEO. So for this article I won’t be answering the question posed in the title, but instead showing why manual data gathering doesn’t make sense anymore.

To do well in SEO, you require fresh and accurate data to base your decisions upon. If you spend all your time and effort doing data gathering by hand, how do you have the time to make solid judgments and strategies for your customers?

SEO, of course, did start out with that exact manual strategy, but the reason it isn’t anymore is because this very problem I’m talking about. There is simply too much data, and data gathering can be easily automated, so doing it by hand is a waste of time and resources.

But, for those few SEOs out there still doing things the old fasioned way, there are pleny of ways to get all of your data gathering automated quickly. Myles Anderson from Search Engine Land gathered a quite a few tools you could use to get started, as well as answering just about any question about local SEO tools anyone has had ever.

It is a comprehensive guide, so if you just need the tools, head straight for that section, but if you need more convincing or don’t understand how the tools work or their benefits, Anderson makes a strong case with his explanations.

We’re officially in 2013 now, and it is time to plan for the year ahead, if you haven’t started already. Planning means trying to predict the biggest trends that will hit design before they get here, which can be tricky, but there are plenty of lists already out there of people making their predictions.

The one I believe is the most accurate is Andrew Kuchariavv’s article on Intechnic. He starts with the same item that has topped just about every list I’ve seen, and seems less like a prediction than a statement. Yes, responsive and adaptive design will only be more important in the next year. There are a few drawbacks, but the bottom line is responsive design means a quality design will look good, if not great, on any display from an iPhone to a desktop.

Predicting parallax scrolling will be more common in 2013 however is a bit more of a reach. Parallax scrolling is a technique where multiple layers of a website scroll at different speeds, creating a 3D effect. For an example, check out Bagigia’s website. There have been sites with parallax scrolling for a short while now, but it is only now beginning to catch on, because it works great for product presentations and looks excellent on smart phones or tablets.

Probably my favorite prediction Kuchariavv made might be more of a hope than a foresight, but it is still fairly probable Flash could finally die in the next year. Javascript, HTML 5, and CSS3 enable just about every animation effect you could make with Flash, but without the need for plug-ins, and compatibility issues with mobile devices.

The next year looks promising for web design, and I personally am excited to see what comes out. There are always the new things we can’t see before they get here, but just these trends suggest websites will keep getting sleeker and more fun to use.


After Google launched the disavow link tool in mid-October, there were a fair amount of doubters and those that claimed it doesn’t work. Dixon Jones from Majestic SEO, a well known and respected member of the SEO community posted in a Google+ thread that he used it for a site and it worked to remove a manual link penalty.

SEO Roundtable has the exact posts he made explaining the process and what happened. For Jones, the manual penalty was removed fairly efficiently, but those wanting to use it for a Penguin link penalty may need to wait for a new refresh.

The best option is of course to try to avoid link penalties or bad links, but the world isn’t perfect. If you’ve dealt with the root issue which caused the penalty, the disavow links tool may just be the solution you need.


As with any business, you not only need to keep up with current trends and updates in online marketing, but you also need to be looking ahead to attempt to predict some of the changes ahead.

To help with this task, Business2Community presents their predictions for the 2013 landscape of social media and search engine marketing. If you’ve stayed current with the trends of the past year, there aren’t any big surprises here. But, it’s nice to see a succinct list of things to keep an eye out for in the coming year.

The limits that come from working with a strict color scheme can feel restricting and maybe even frustrating at first, but once you’ve put in some thought, it is easy to see the effect they can have on a design.

Strict color schemes add coherence to your overall layout and establishing consistency. Working with a monochromatic palette makes designing all about contrasts, and automatically establishes a message or mood on a web page.

Don’t get excited if you think working with just one color will be easier. A single set of colors have such a huge range of tints and shades that you can carefully manipulate to create a striking layout. There are plenty of ways to go about it, but Carrie Cousins from Designmodo suggests starting with a dark color scheme, and I agree it is a good place to start.

Before you try to start with a dark palette, remember that black can easily overwhelm the rest of the page and make content hard to digest. Balance is as essential as contrast when trying to design a page with black as a base color.

The first step is of course selecting the colors you want to use. As I’ve suggested before, using a full black is tricky for any composition, be it on a web page of a canvas. Instead, saturate your blacks with the other main color of your composition, so that “real black” is only used extremely selectively. Even using a dark gray is usually preferable to completely black.

For your lighter colors, select your other main color, and add black in ten percent increments to create a “set” of consistent hues for your page. You also need to decide how much contrast you want on your page, which is usually reliant on the feeling you are attempting to cultivate. If you want a moody atmosphere, less contrast can help create a spooky or creepy feel, while brighter colors and contrasts may suggest a slicker or hipper mood.

Carrie Cousins’ article on dark color palettes and designs includes some quick color palette tools you might use if you don’t know where to start.