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Our team of writers brings you daily trend coverage, new products, inspiration, information and fun ideas. With an archive of more than 2,273 articles, you're sure to find something you love. Or if you have a great idea, let us know!

TOP Art Residencies in 2019


If you made it this year's resolution to travel and improve your skills, meet artists worldwide, exhibit your artwork, engage your audience and create without limitations, then an art residency might be your perfect move in 2019!

 

For Colourlovers community, we distinguish some awesome opportunities for designers and artists!

 

1. Inspiring Change Training Course & Art Residency

 

Inspiring Change training course & residency is about professionalizing your creative ideas and supporting your entrepreneurial initiatives. They offer education within the fields of project management, design thinking, visual identity & branding, marketing & social media, and public speaking & pitching project ideas.

All you need is a good idea - and the team will help you do the rest! By the end of the two-week programme, you are equipped with skills to develop a kick-ass project, inspire your community and grow your network on a global level. In short, Inspiring Change mission is to help you emerge and overcome the obstacles you weren't thinking about during your art school. The workshops are facilitated by appropriate experts in these fields, with wide experience in developing creative projects.

 

This residency takes place in Belgrade, Serbia, from 21st of July till 2nd of August 2019, and the deadline for applying is 22nd of April.

www.residency.inspiringchange.rs

2. Antropical

 

For those who love nature, Kolla Festival offers a unique experience for artists from all over Europe. The whole residency takes place in a forest, at a camp spot, with late night talks under the stars.

Antropical is a multidisciplinary practical research residency within a festival setting, merging the performing arts (dance, theatre, circus, conceptual art, video, audiovisual art, etc.) with theory (philosophy, [art] history, curating, political science, etc.), design (landscape design, graphic design, architecture), education (art therapy, teaching, etc.) and any other discipline interested in partaking in the debate on the relation between art and festival culture.

 

This residency takes place in Steinfort, Luxembourg, from 2nd till 22nd of August 2019, and the deadline for applying is 26th of April.

www.antropical.com

 

apply for art residency

 

3. Cold Bench - "The Rejects"

 

If you are not really in the position to travel to a far place to meet fellow artists and exhibit your work, you can always do so online!

Cold Bench is an online community with a gallery that exhibits arts on a rolling basis and creates an online art residency experience. Their open call "The Rejects" is looking for two things:

  1. Artistic expressions concerning the theme in the body of work

or

  1. Unsuccessful entries and works that have not been selected in other curated shows.

 

The call is open until 20th of May 2019. Look up their online residency opportunities and previous showreels.

www.coldbench.com/callforart

 

4. Artnoise Residence

 

The Artnoise Artist in Residence in Karen Village, Kenya, is a fully funded residency program which provides time and space for visual artists, curators, and arts professionals to create, research, experiment, cultivate new directions in their work as well as execute new projects. In addition to a shared studio space and living facilities, artists are surrounded by a community of artistic peers and have the opportunity to learn from their peers in a tranquil cultural environment.

Their call is open to visual artists, designers, curators, art writers, cultural students, applied artists researchers, and other arts professionals who are interested in drawing inspiration from African arts and cultures whether they speak English, French, Arabic, Spanish, Portuguese or German.

 

The residence takes place from 26th of May till 15th of June 2019, and the deadline for applying is 19th of April.

artnoiseng.com/artresidency2019

 

5. Paradise Air

 

This residence in Japan offers a long stay and a short stay program. In the Long Stay Program, they provide lodging for a foreign artist for a period of up to 60 consecutive days. During artists'stay, the host not only support the artist financially, but also help to provide him or her access to the local community, particularly in terms of overcoming language barriers.

In the Short Stay Program, they offer a free, short-term residence for artists in return for an artistic donation in the form of a public event, performance, installation, etc. They aspire to make the residence a new artistic point of transit so that it may continue to attract artists to Matsudo – and Japan – from around the world.

 

The residence is located in between central Tokyo and Narita, the deadline for applying is 30th of April (for long stay) and ongoing for short stay.

paradiseair.info/opencall

 

Where are you going to spend your summer and what will your focus be? What will you choose to learn, who will you meet and what will you create?

What are your experiences with art residencies so far?

 

Tell us more in the comment section bellow!

 

About the author:

Nina Petrov is an activist, poet, performer and mathematician. She communicates with the world mostly through words, movement and equations, but sometimes also by speaking very loudly. The only truth she could say about herself is that she keeps changing every day, never stops learning and interacting with her surroundings.

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Tips To Grow Your New Personalized Portrait Business For Less


portrait business

30% of new businesses fail within the first two years, according to the Small Business Association. As such, when you’re launching your own personalized portrait business, you need to have solid marketing in place to attract customers. Additionally, you’ll need all the stock and tools required to create an original, quirky, and colorful piece that your customer will treasure forever. But, how do you ensure that you don’t overspend and ruin your growth potential?

Buy Materials in Bulk

Before you even consider launching your personalized portrait business, you should produce a detailed business plan, highlighting how you plan to grow your business and cover your expenses. As part of this plan, you’ll need to thoroughly research how and where you’ll purchase your materials from. In general, buying canvases, paints, and pencils in bulk will save you an average of 45%, according to one wholesaler. However, you mustn’t let the lure of ‘buy more to save more’ tempt you as you’ll have to sell more portraits to make a profit. So, ensure you carefully plan how many portraits you can realistically produce in a three-month period initially, and only buy the materials required to cover this output.

Offer More to Earn More

When you’re starting out in the custom portrait business, it can be tempting to offer customers portraits in standard sizes and formats to keep your costs down. However, customized goods are typically given as gifts, and this presents a great opportunity when you’re keen to get your business off the ground. By offering portrait cards, gifts, gift wrapping, colorful frames, and the option of adding a personalized message to your portrait, your business will stand out from the rest. Of course, this will increase your initial expenses. So, when you’re considering your business costs, you may need to borrow more capital in order to earn more income.

Be Accessible

Customers are prepared to pay high for personalized portraits as a unique and fully customizable design is something you can’t put a price on. But when consumers are sending you images, color swatches, and specific requests, they expect to be able to contact you as and when they need to. It’s, therefore, crucial that you have multiple methods available for them to contact you on. If you’ve met up face to face, handing out a business card is wise, whereas, being active on social media, having an easy-to-use contact form on your website, and an email address is crucial. By providing a good first-time experience, you’re much more likely to get repeat custom, positive reviews, and referrals.

Launching a personal portrait business takes a lot of enthusiasm and investment. But, by being smart with the way you launch your new venture, you can keep costings to a minimum while growing your business at the same time.

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The Most Effective Ways to Make Your Photos Popular


As far back as 2014, an annual internet trends report, published by Mary Meeker, made the astounding claim that 1.8 million digital images were being uploaded onto the internet on a daily basis. Look around you and you will agree that this is a plausible number. With the proliferation of mobile devices that have cameras, everybody has become a photographer. For anyone building a photography portfolio, the number of images around can be a predicament. How do you ensure that the images you take are seen and become popular?

Here are some suggestions on the most effective ways of ensuring that your photos become popular.

Identify your audience

Treat photos as would any other content; create them for a particular audience. Anyone creating content and believing that it would appeal to everybody will fail. Start by determining who you would want to see your photos. Once you are clear about this, determine the kind of photographs these people would want to see and give it to them.

Attempting to create images for a particular audience leads to an important question: how do you know what your audience wants? Research the audience and collect data. With the internet, it has become easy to collect data about the kind of things a particular group of people is interested in.

Follow Search Engine Optimization principles

When many photographers hear about search engine optimization (SEO), they often think that it’s only suitable for written content. This is a misconception because search engines also rank images. Hence, to ensure that your images rank higher on search engines and are seen, you have to use image optimization.

To ensure image optimization, include some relevant text explaining what is happening on the image. If your image is appealing and connected to a topic of interest, it might make sense to the person who looks at it. If it leaves a good impression on someone, they will probably share it. When an image is shared, it is likely to be seen by more people.

To help you understand how to optimize an image, look at the image below.

make popular photos

Photo by Maggie Grace Photography

One of the most important aspects of image optimization is alt text (or alt tag). This is a description you add so that if the image is not available to the visitor for any reason, they would know what is on the images. An example of such reasons would include a person who has turned off images. It is also useful for visually impaired persons using a screen reader.

The following suggestions will help you optimize the image above.

  • Select the right name for your file. Images usually have names that don’t help the reader understand what is on the image such as Nokia555444.jpg. For the above image, you would have something like, trendy-modern-wedding-attire.jpg.
  • Mention photo´s credits if you know it.
  • Ensure the image size is reduced so that it doesn’t take too long to display. In most cases, everything in between 1200 and 700 pixels is fine. We used 800 pixels on the longer side.
  • Make sure the image is responsive (i.e. can display on different devices).
  • Check on PageSpeed Insights whether your webpage loads as fast as before.
  • Compress the image so that it is stored as a small file size if you need it.
  • Caption all images so that people who scan your article will get an idea of what is in the image.

Create value

When people search the internet, they are usually looking for solutions to the challenges they are meeting. If your images create value and help people solve challenges, they are likely to appeal to an audience.

Creating value means making a decision regarding what people would use your image for. For instance, do you intend that people would use your photos as wallpapers? Then you may want to look at what people usually look for when they select wallpapers. The same would apply if you are taking photos that you want people to use for educational purposes.  It is important to inform your audience what you think the photos would be more suitable for.

Share on social networking sites

One of the most effective and scalable methods of getting anything good to go viral nowadays is social media. However, if you are going to use social media, it is important that you ensure your images are the highest quality and they are relevant for your audience.

The mistake that many photographers make is not to clearly request people to share the images they post. Many people will do nothing if they have not been asked.

When posting your images on social media, start by doing your research to determine the time when most of your images are likely to be seen by those you are targeting. You don’t have to have the resources to collect this information, some analytics specialists have probably got the information somewhere. All you need to do is to search for it.

If you follow the advice above, if you are willing to research, and if you understand that there is no magic in getting your photos popular but hard work, you will soon reap the fruit of your labor.

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What A Digital Marketing Agency Can Advise Your Company When Choosing Colors


choosing colors

Colors ignite different types of emotions. Depending on which kind of feeling you plan to entice, colors are useful techniques in reaching out to your audience. Getting customers’ attention can be a challenge, but you can be more effective in this endeavor by using color theory. Many web marketing agencies, like webmarketing123, advise companies to use the right color combinations to provoke a specific response or behavior from their audience. Companies also apply color theory when it comes to their branding or logos.

 

Here’s some more advice for your company when choosing the right colors:

 

  1. Know your audience and your competition

 

Before anything else, you should know your target audience. It is essential that you fully understand the demographics and psychographics. Knowing which demographic your products serve can point you to the right colors you can use for marketing. For instance, if your audience is mostly comprised of females, you will be more inclined to use colors that appeal to the feminine psyche.

 

Benchmarking, too, may help you get an idea on how you are going to present your brand. Observe and examine your competitors’ logos, websites, and color schemes. Knowing about the competition will give you an edge not only by letting you stand out among them, but by letting you avoid copying what might already be an existing design.

choosing colors

 

  1. Know the psychological effects of colors

 

Think psychologically and know the facts of your chosen colors to your audience. Try to put yourself in your customers’ shoes. Try to comprehend how they will see the meaning behind your selected colors, or their initial reactions with the colors.

 

Know what kind of face your company is going to wear. In business, your brand’s personality will identify you among the crowd, helping you create a place in the market. This is how people will find you because the market usually gravitates with brand identities that they feel are similar or could relate to them.

 

These are some of the personalities related to colors, which can help you identify yours:

 

  • Red for passion, anger, vigor, speed
  • Orange for fun, liveliness, energy
  • Yellow for friendliness, youth, and cheer
  • Green for nature, refreshment, growth
  • Blue for knowledge, peace, security, trust
  • Purple for royalty, wisdom, authority
  • Pink for nurture, warmth, softness
  • Brown for reliability and toughness
  • White for purity, virtue, cleanliness
  • Black for formality, luxury, secrecy
  • Gray for impartiality, compromise, maturity, composure

 

  1. Be direct and intentional in your approach

 

In choosing the right colors to represent you, being direct and deliberate in your approach is the best strategy. Choose your base, accent, and background wisely. These will function as initial calls to action throughout your site.

 

  • Choosing your base

Choosing the right color as your base is a vital role in building your brand identity. Your base color should match with your brand’s personality as mentioned above. That way, it is much easier for your brand to reach its target audience and attract their attention.

 

  • Choosing your accent

The second thing you need to consider after accomplishing your base is the accent. This can be the most delicate part. It is imperative for your accent to match up not just with your brand’s personality but even with your chosen base. Furthermore, it should never overlook its impact on the audience.

 

  • Choosing your neutral

The neutral color will serve as your background. Hence, try to look for a color that does not attract too much attention. Commonly, colors used as neutrals are white, gray, beige and its variations.

 

Black can be used as a neutral color, too; however, it needs careful attention. Black as a background can be inflexible and only works with specified colors, mainly white. Furthermore, having white text on a black background may slow down people’s reading speed because it’s not the format that most are used to.

 

  1. Stand out

 

Don’t be afraid to set your brand apart and be different. The goal is to be different and to stand out but in a good way.

 

Here are some examples of companies that brilliantly differentiated themselves:

 

  • Cadbury

Cadbury uses purple as its product’s primary color. It unlikely for a chocolatier to use such unique and random color. Commonly, when it is chocolate, warm colors such as brown or red best suit with it. However, Cadbury decided to stand out and utilize the color to bring their product into the pedestal.

 

  • UPS (United States Postal Service)

This logistics company used the color brown as their brand color. In 1916, where the color brown is much perceived as an epitome of luxury, it is a very unfavorable choice. However, UPS proved everyone wrong and used color brown to evoke simplicity and honesty.

 

  • Veuve Clicquot

Yellow for the color of expensive champagne is so unlikely and intriguing. Yellow, which signifies friendliness, youth, and cheer, do not typically match to a champagne product in the general view. Regardless of how people perceive it, Veuve Clicquot just made a visual innovation to promote their brand further.

 

The Bottom Line

 

There is no shortcut in the process of finding the right colors. There is no right or wrong way either. It may sound daunting, but it can also be enticing. Don’t be afraid to try out different things and to follow your gut feeling. The primary purpose of using colors is to convey the right emotions, thus never neglect your own.

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The Hottest Color and Shopping Trends for Spring and Summer 2019


Hottest Color and Shopping Trends

 

Shoppers and retailers have one thing in common: they always want to stay on top of the latest trends. And that is why everyone should be on the lookout for the hottest shopping trends out there.

 

The thing about fashion and shopping trends is that every season, a lot of things fall out of favor and many other trends rise. And yet there are classics that continue to reign, so you should know about those eternal trends.

 

Whether it’s for spring or summer, it can be quite difficult to keep up with these ever-changing trends. So today, we will take a look at the colors and trends that are dominating this year, so that you don’t get left out. Suffice to say, spring and summer 2019 are going to be exciting.

The Colors of Spring and Summer

 

For 2019, the hottest colors are going to be red, clear blue, yellow, orange, and metallic. You can go bold with your color options this year because these hues are going to be everywhere.

 

Wine red, mandarin orange, butter yellow, teal, and mauve are the colors of the season. However, metallic pieces should not be ignored, because these items have been conquering the runway for a while. Even various metallic shades are being used to shake things up: pink, gold, and green that lean towards silver, for example, are worth exploring.

 

For even more options, there are other sleeper picks to look out for. Living coral, which is a salmon-pink color, is a surprisingly popular pick. Dove blue, lemon verbena, dusty rose, and even beige are slowly making a case for themselves.

 

The color theme of spring and summer 2019 is “empowering colors”. These various shades could make anyone feel empowered.

Denim and Leather Remain in the Spotlight

 

Fashion designers are still flaunting their skills by using these two, ever-reliable materials. Denim and leather are all over the runways, and you can expect them to be everywhere this season too.

 

However, crochet and vinyl are hot on their tracks and are eagerly waiting for their moment in the spotlight, because these fashion choices are definitely gaining popularity.

Shoes and Accessories to Wear this Season

 

Instagram really is taking over the social media industry by storm, and that is part of the reason why millennial's are so trend-conscious these days. Accessories that are slowly captivating this generation are micro-sunglasses, fishing hats, scarves, and necklaces. It’s interesting that millennial's are stacking as many necklaces as possible—this is a surprising new trend that remains relevant in spring and less for summer 2019.

 

And don’t underestimate the power of statement earrings. Bigger, angular, and embellished statement earrings are really making their mark on the fashion world these days.

 

As for shoes, you’ll see a strikingly large amount of yellow being worn everywhere: runways, streets, etc. Footwear choices that were popular last season are expected to remain on top of the trends this year. But also try animal prints, transparent bands, and rope/braided slippers if you want to spice things up.

Other Trends to Watch Out for

 

Catwalks were filled with asymmetrical, one-shoulder dresses. But even more interesting is the fact that the polo dress is seemingly making a comeback. The oversized shirt, the so-called boyfriend shirt, and the oversized blazer are also in this season.

 

If you want to keep things interesting, the Wild West remains an important theme that anybody can try. Cotton is combed with heavier suedes and leather. The western focus easily shifts from practical outerwear to more romantic clothing.

Keep up with the latest fashion trends this season and visit The Shops @Rockvale at 35 S. Willowdale Drive, Lancaster, PA 17602.

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7 Ways to Boost Your Brand Identity Online


brand

Before you can take steps to boost your online brand, you need to know what you want it to be. Your brand identity is akin to your personal identity.

 

The characteristics and traits that differentiate you from others constitute your personal identity. Your brand identity is made up of the look and feel of how your company presents itself including your:

 

  • Logo
  • Tagline
  • Jingle
  • Slogan
  • Typography
  • Packaging
  • Content

 

Your brand identity includes any visual or audio representations that others recognize as your company.

Be Consistent

Brands that consistently and honestly promote their message are powerful. Think about some of the most famous brands. What is it about them makes them recognizable to you?

 

Is it their logo like McDonald's golden arches? Or their slogan like Verizon's "Can you hear me now"? What do you think of when you hear "Good to the last drop?" That's right, Maxwell House coffee.

 

How did these major brands gain such recognition? By consistently and repeatedly exposing the public to their visual, audio, and content-related brand identity.

 

The more consistent you are in your branding, the more familiar your target market will become with your business.

Create a Brand Book

Once your company has established your brand identity and chosen your logo, tone, typography, and design styles, you want to be sure all employees and departments consistently speak in one voice.

 

Creating a professional brand book will keep your entire team on point with your brands message. Also, being able to align your business strategy with your brand position is facilitated by the creation of a brand book.

 

It also saves time for companies of all sizes if you add staff to your team or replace a designer. New employees can get up-to-speed very quickly by referring to your brand guidelines.

Speak with One Voice

Your brand is also reflected in what you do and don’t say on social media. Part of your brand identity is to know your target audience and to speak to them on all relevant platforms in the same voice.

 

Spend more time on the social media platforms where your target audience hangs out. For example, if you are selling clothes for teenage girls, your social media focus should be on Instagram and Tumblr as opposed to Twitter or LinkedIn.

 

Be sure that the type of language you use, like your captions on Instagram or your Facebook posts, speak directly to your audience.

 

All content you publish and share, such as blog posts or social media stories, should reflect your brand and be consistent.

 

Whether your brand voice is humorous, makes use of colloquialisms, or is more fact-based and diplomatic, as long as you "speak" consistently and authentically, your audience will feel a connection to you and be more likely to trust your brand.

Use an Emotional Appeal

Did you know that most purchase decisions are based on emotion? For brands who are trying to get more buyers, understanding this concept can help.

 

Your brand story should communicate feelings by appealing to the emotions of your target audience.

 

Even if someone in your target audience sees an online video, image, or post, and they are not ready at that moment to make a purchase, they will feel a connection to your brand.

 

If they consistently see the same or similar messaging that elicits an emotional response, when they are ready to make a purchase, guess whose brand they will remember? The one they feel an emotional connection to and the one they trust is the brand they will purchase from when ready.

Be Creative

When you are developing your brand strategy, be creative so that your online voice and content is unique, engaging, and compelling.

 

It is vital that your brand stand out from your competitors. So when deciding on your company logo, the fonts you use, the colors you choose, and your overall style, make sure they all resonate with your prospective customers.

 

To determine your correct voice and identity, study the demographics, preferences, and needs of your target market.

Understand Your Competition

For your target market to purchase from you and not your competitors, you should know who is competing with you in the same space and what they are doing to attract customers.

 

Do some research to find out where they are hanging out online and be sure you are there, too. Your goal is to do what your competitors are doing - only do it better.

 

Also, try to identify gaps in what your audience needs to see or hear and develop your brand strategy around what your competitors are not doing.

 

You want your brand to fulfill needs, be the solutions for any problems, and be memorable and recognizable.

Show Some Personality

Some companies decide to create a fun and humorous brand identity. If you are in a niche where being comedic is appropriate, give it a shot.

 

Some major brands create silly or outrageous online campaigns that work. A few examples are:

 

  • Charmin: Using cute and silly campaign strategies, like the hashtag #tweetfromtheseat, help to keep Charmin a leader in the toilet paper industry due to their creative marketing strategies.

 

  • Old Spice: Historically known as your dad’s aftershave, Old Spice chose to rebrand in unusual and humorous ways, including using sassy social media strategies to remain relevant and memorable.

 

  • Squatty Potty: This brand utilizes unusual and comedic marketing to promote a rather bizarre concept. But it works. After receiving financial backing from appearing on Shark Tank, Squatty Potty enjoys market dominance in a somewhat sensitive niche.

 

Creating and building a brand identity is a process, and it is often not a finite one. In the case of Old Spice, they needed to rebrand to remain competitive.

 

Continue to study your market and your competitors. Measure the success of your current branding initiatives and marketing strategies.

 

Make changes where needed and test branding strategies frequently to keep your brand in the minds of your target audience.

 

Image Pixabay CC0 License

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Things to Keep in Mind to Make Your Website Look More Attractive


website design

All the web designers wish that they work on a well designed and formatted website. However, it doesn't mean that the website has to look all glitter and flawless. It means that how professional and sophisticated your site looks. Reason being, a number of websites are available online that are attractive but are unable to enchant and captivate potential customers. Therefore, web designing is crucial if you want your business to grow when it comes to web designing.

 

This article has clubbed together some of the top ways in which you can make your website look more attractive.

 

  • Keep the basic design simple

You must have noticed that certain websites have dozens of highlights, drop shadows, borders, and colors over the webpage. This would look colorful but might often fail to attract the customers. If you are planning to create a web design that it is loaded with colors and lines, this might be the right to drop it. Reason being, visitors will find it really hard to hunt for the relevant information and might consequently drop the idea of visiting your site.

 

In this era, minimalism in everything is becoming more and more wanted. Therefore, you should adopt a more sophisticated design that looks neat and tidy when approached. Adding tons of flashy elements will ultimately turn off the impression of your content and services provided.

 

  • Make the navigation over your website easy

An ultimate goal that every skillful web designer aspires to achieve is to give the best customer experience. A responsive web designer will make both the ends meet to get the best out of what is available. One of the awesome ways by which he can achieve this is causing the navigation over your website simple. Customers are in a great hurry to hunt for the required information.

 

Therefore, the website should look clean, neat and well organized so that the customers can get what they want easily with just a few hits.

 

  • Use the white space thoughtfully

Having a cluttered website design makes it tough for any visitor to be able to differentiate between various thoughts and ideas. It is necessarily the empty space that is devoid of any text or image and is strategically used to give a neat layout to the site. Moreover, white space determines the readability of the content published on your website along with deciding how appealing it looks to any visitor.

 

  • Use big and high-quality images

Using high-quality images may take a bit of time to get loaded, however, will make your website appear one in a million. Using these high-quality images will enable your site to look more professional. This will attract customers and eventually increase the traffic on your website.

 

Therefore, factors like choice of font, quality of images, use of CTA buttons etc. are essential when it comes to web designing. The first impression over your potential customers must be great. This will make them to visit our website more often.

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How to Build Your Website to be Safe From Cyber Attacks


cyber security

Today, at least 55% of all websites are built on content management systems (CMS). Data from Web Technology Surveys show that only 45.4% of websites are coded from scratch.
While CMS platforms such as WordPress present an easier way to build websites and also come with a lot of SEO tools and advantages, they are not without downsides.
The key one is cybersecurity with studies showing that most come with security vulnerabilities. This explains why websites built on CMS are among the top hacking targets on the internet.
Whether you are using a CMS or coding your website from scratch, it is essential that you take precautionary cybersecurity measures.
Remember that the internet users of today are highly informed and super-conscious about cybersecurity and are therefore likely stigmatise your brand at the first sign security loopholes.
Here are some cybersecurity tips to take into account when building a website using a CMS. Some of these measures are also applicable to hand-coded websites.

Ensure secure hosting
Before everything else, you need to ensure that you subscribe to a reputable and adequately secure web hosting.
The first step to determining the best web hosting provider is by reading other customers’ online reviews. It is important to note that some of these reviews may be faked and therefore only settle for a well-known provider.
Also, ensure that the hosting provider offers the necessary tools to secure your site and its functionality. Some of the things to look for include the SSL certificate and an SFTP option. CMS platforms such as WordPress provide free SSL certificates.
Another thing worth checking is whether the hosting provider offers backup tools. These tools protect your data from loss in the event of a system failure. While the task of backing up your data relies on you, you should ensure that the hosting provider has sound backup procedures and they back up their servers regularly.

You should also check whether their servers are maintained adequately and have a published security protocol.
Have a web-application firewall (WAF) in place

Another must-have tool in the website building process is a web application firewall (WAF). This tool can be software or hardware based, and its main purpose includes filtering unwanted traffic between your website server and data connection.
Common forms of cybersecurity issues addressed by WAF include hacks, DDoS attacks, Brute Force attacks, SQL injection, cross-site scripting, and Zero-day exploits.
Even better, this tool offers virtual patching before CMS platforms release virtual patches. The virtual patching is on a continuous basis meaning that hackers have no room to exploit unseen security loopholes.

On top of that, a WAF increases site speed and performance via top-level caching mechanisms. In the unlikely event that your website gets infected, a WAF greatly enhances the ability to clean your website faster and efficiently.

If you are using WordPress, there are numerous WAF plugins that you can install on your website. Popular plugins include Wordfence, Sucuri, Cloudflare, Stackpath, and NinjaFirewall.

Have Monitoring tools in Place
Website security monitoring tools are meant to help you to scan for vulnerabilities on your website and take the necessary measures.
Without these tools, you are likely to remain in the dark on the potential dangers facing your website until it is too late.
For most CMS platforms, there are multiple free tools that you can install to receive updates on your website security. The most common with WordPress users is SiteLock, a tool that identifies and fixes threats.
Other common monitoring tools that you should look for include Scan My Server, Sucuri, Quttera, Detectify, Web Inspector, and Netsparker Cloud. Each of these tools has unique monitoring functions, and therefore you should explore each and its benefits.
Use a VPN

A VPN is another must-have tool for your website security. With cyber attacks becoming complicated by the day, cybersecurity experts are recommending an extra layer of security on top what is commonly used.
What a VPN does is to encrypt your internet activity hence keeping off snoopers including your ISP, government agencies and cyber attackers.
In most instances, hackers must identify your hosting details to be able to perpetrate attacks on your website. A VPN alongside SSL completely hide your activities and CMS usage behind multiple layers of encryption.

Whether you are building your own site or for a client, a VPN will help you hide your trails and therefore keep attackers at bay. When shopping for a VPN, only settle for reputable brands and do research on where they stand in terms of speed, security, and accessibility.
There are many VPN options out there, but from our own experience, NordVPN is the best for website security.
Final Verdict
Website security should be a top priority for every web developer irrespective of whether they are coding from scratch or using a CMS. The website building process should involve measures such as researching and installing highly reputable security tools.

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Lighting Colour And The Effect On Our Sleep


lamp shade

Sleep is one of the most important activities that we engage in and it’s essential to ensuring optimal health. Lack of sleep can compromise your ability to perform even the most basic mental functions like focusing on a task or processing thoughts clearly. That’s why it’s paramount to not only focus on the quantity of sleep but on the quality as well.

According to experts, light exposure can have a tremendous effect your body’s internal clock. This is what makes us feel sleepy when it’s dark and energized when the suns out. New research suggests that it’s not just the presence or absence of light that affects our circadian rhythm, but the color of that light as well.

This might explain why we feel a certain way when we see a beautiful peachy sunset or the blue light emanating from our electronic devices.  Read on to find out how lighting color can affect your sleep.

 

Blue Light

It’s a well-known fact that the blue light coming from our laptops and smart devices can have a detrimental effect on our circadian rhythm. That’s because it suppresses the body’s ability to produce melatonin and this gives rise to problems like insomnia and restlessness. That’s also why we tend to have a harder time falling sitting in front of a laptop or smartphone screen.

The PLOS Biology journal published a 2015 study which was aimed at understanding how mice responded to light color exposure. What makes this study unique is the fact that it focused on the effect of light color on suprachiasmatic nucleus. This is the part of the brain that regulates time through chemical signals. As such, the researchers checked the mice’s mental and physical chemical reactions to light color changes.

During the research, the mice were exposed to different levels of light intensity and darkness while measuring their suprachiasmatic nerve signals. To achieve this, the researchers used a “fake sky” setup, kind of like in the Jim Carrey movie The Truman Show. The researchers also tested the mice’s response to different light colors like the purples and peaches that you get during sunrises and sunsets.

The data showed that the mice reacted normally to regular light exposure. However, the response of their suprachiasmatic nerve signals showed a 30 minute delay whenever they were exposed to conditions that went from light to dark without any changes in color hue. This is like working on your laptop all night and being exposed to its blue light and then suddenly switching it off without any sort of transition light color.

This research also shows us that the mice actually needed changes in light color to help them transition from light to dark. So the intensity and color of light has a strong correlation to our sleep patterns because science has shown us that there is a strong link between humans and mice in terms of suprachiasmatic nerve signals.

It’s also interesting to note that LED light bulbs may affect our ability to fall asleep because they emit more blue light than other light bulbs. But, according to the Elektra lighting design team, light fittings with specially engineered LED light can actually facilitate better sleep by emiting a unique amber glow.

 

Rectifying the Problem

The good news is that there are certain methods that we can apply to correct the problems caused by blue light exposure. The most obvious solution is to work on drastically reducing your exposure. This is understandably difficult for anyone living in the 21st century because we conduct most of our lives through a screen interface.

But, even if you can’t eliminate the use of blue light emitting screens during the day, you may do so at night. Try and read a book instead of looking at your cellphone, resist the urge to check emails or texts before bedtime, and avoid watching TV for at least two hours before you sleep.

If you can’t completely avoid blue light exposure at night, then wear orange tinted sunglasses while looking at the screen to reduce its effects on your biology. Orange tinted glasses help to block the blue light, thus making it easier to fall asleep afterward.

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Why Every Business Needs a Style Guide


style guide

Photo by energepic.com from Pexels

Whether you’re a big believer in marketing, or you think that if you build it people will buy it, the fact is that your business is a brand. Your brand is like your business card, and it’s what people will experience long before they actually do business with you. It precedes you, and it’s something that you need to fine-tune constantly if you want to be able to stand out from the crowd.

 

To give you plenty of food for thought, we’ve put together a simple 5 minute read that will tell you everything you need to know about a commonly overlooked creative tool: the style guide. Have a read, sit back and reflect, and then put the hints and tips into action. Your brand will be all the better for it in no time at all.

 

A style guide saves you from wasting time discussing tangential ideas

The first thing to note about a style guide is that it will always save you time in the long run. People will probably think you’re indulging in a drawn out needlessly creative endeavor when you suggest creating a style guide, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.

 

It will take some time to get it right, but that’s just the cost of building a brand that actually stands for something. Commit to finishing your guide no matter what, and always remember that it will save you plenty of time later on. It’s there as reference material for the lifetime of your business, and it will prove invaluable when it inevitably comes time to rebrand, or when you’re launching a new product or service. The more you put into it now, the more it will give back when you need it.

 

It will ensure you stay ‘on-brand’ at every creative turn

Staying true to your brand is easier said than done. When you’re in the thick of it and faced with half a dozen mounting deadlines it can be all too easy to churn out a logo that’s okay, and a tagline that you think is ‘good enough’. The problem is that once you launch them into the market they’re now the face of your brand. If they don’t fit with what you’ve done before then they’ll just confuse people.

 

You could always retract them, but then you just look like you’re chopping and changing the offering based on negative feedback. And that’s a surefire to lose your voice of authority and open yourself up to further criticism. Your audience doesn’t want to believe that you’re just telling them what they want to hear. They want to believe that you’re the authority, the thought leader, and the trendsetter that they’ve been waiting to buy into.

 

They connect your brand to your target audience

If you want to know why style guides matter, all you need to do is think about the last bad branding exercise you saw. It could be a website, fashion label, home collection, or anything that left you speechless. With so many different creative threads to play with, you’ll probably have been confused at how they could have got it so wrong.

 

The issue will, more than likely, have been that there was no style guide in place. The style guide is what you use to ensure there is uniformity and a common thread running through every aspect of a marketing campaign. It’s easy to copy and paste the same old tagline, but there’s a lot more to uniformity than that. You need to tailor each offering so that it’s suitable for every new platform and setting, but in a way that’s sensitive to the core of your brand. Which leads us nicely onto the next point on our list.

 

 

You can express your brand’s core ethos in a variety of different mediums

Your brand needs to have something at the center of it if it’s going to connect with the people you want to do business with. It’s an emotion that it evokes in people, and it will be far stronger than their memory of your latest tagline, sale, or discount offer.

 

The problem with tackling different promotional mediums without a style guide is that most of the time a different person will have input into each platform. You may all be working for the same end goal, but unless there is central creative guide you can all refer back to then it’s unlikely you’ll end up pulling in the same direction.

 

Your customers will actually know what you stand for

Businesses like the The Word Point work in a very specialist niche, and so need to target a specific section of the online market. This means that they need to stand for something, and just as importantly, they need to ensure that their customers know they stand for it.

 

By compiling a style guide that focuses on precision, flexibility, and knowledgeable input they can build a creative framework around their brand. If you can do the same, you’ll be able to tell a potential audience of millions what your business stands for.

 

What should your style guide include?

The specifics will depend on the size of your brand, and what industry you work in, but there are a number of core features every style guide must have:

 

  • Your logo, along with alternative forms that are used in specific settings, or on specific platforms
  • Guidelines on the position, sizing, and background colors of all content pages and their contents
  • Base typography that will be used for all of your content
  • Your core color palette that can be referred to when designing new content
  • A list of things to be avoided at all costs as they are not in alignment with your brand’s ethos

 

Static or dynamic style guides?

A style guide has to be a dynamic document, but one that is governed by a certain set of creative rules:

 

  • Guides need to evolve with the times so that they reflect the changes businesses undergo as the years go by
  • They must adapt to the launch of new sections of the business, but do so in a way that brings the new ventures under the same core brand of the business
  • Style guides cannot be chopped and changed purely because a new idea doesn’t fit in with them. Think about whether the new idea has had anything like the degree of thought put into it as the style guide, and then decide which one you’re going to keep

 

Getting the balance right between process and creativity

The final thing to say is that a style guide is a great way to help you find the right balance between process and creativity. If you have a deadline, it can be all too easy to submit something that does the job and be done with it.

 

What the style guide does in these instances is keep your output honest so that you can see whether your new content actually adds anything to your brand. Often you’ll find that referring back to the style guide points you in a subtly different direction that makes all the difference to the finished article. Ideal if you want to enhance your brand every single day.

 

pauline farris

BIO: Pauline speaks Portuguese, English, Spanish and Italian. She travelled the world to immerse herself in the new cultures and learn languages. Today she is proud to be a voting member of the American Translators Association and an active participant of the Leadership Council of its Portuguese Language Division.

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