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6 Essential Parts of the Content Writing Process

content writing for websites

Many newbies mistakenly think that content writing is as simple as typing up an article from scratch and publishing it immediately. However, effective content writing takes a lot of skill, patience, and determination.

If you’d like to master the art of writing great content, read on to learn some essential steps of the process you should pay extra attention to.

Study Your Target Audience

Writing content without a target audience is like writing a letter without a recipient in mind. Without a deep understanding of who you’re writing for, you’ll likely end up with haphazard and disjointed work that will miss the mark.

Study your ideal reader’s demographics, psychographics, and other characteristics. You can even go one step further and invite some of them for an interview. That way, you’ll be able to ask them directly for their thoughts on your subject matter, as well as any pain points that they may have.

With this, you can craft a content strategy that will appeal to them. This will also let you know what keywords you should incorporate into your content.

Pick the Right Tone

Many experts agree that writing in a friendly, conversational tone works best. By using simple and accessible language, you can make your content less intimidating to consume. This helps readers feel more like they’re talking to a friend rather than getting lectured by a teacher.

However, writing in a style that’s too casual may cause readers to not take you seriously. Certain audiences may also be more receptive to formal writing styles than others.

Trying to sound professional yet approachable can be difficult. But ultimately, the tone you choose will all depend on the type of language your audience uses. For instance, do they use particularly technical terms in their line of work? By using the same words as they do, you’ll instantly bridge the gap between yourself and your readers.

Brainstorm Topic Ideas

Once you know who you’re writing for, it’ll be easier to think of relevant topics. You can start off by using word association exercises such as mind maps to draw from your existing knowledge. This will help you come up with ideas by breaking broader concepts down into narrow topics.

Another effective way to generate ideas is to do some keyword research. This can give you insights on what topics people are interested in and what queries they’re searching for.

If you’re still out of ideas, you can always try repurposing older content that performed well in the past. You can even take it one step further by employing the Skyscraper Technique. This method works by researching existing well-received content and creating a new and improved version of it (making it ‘tower over’ the content it competes against).

Research Your Chosen Topic

Now that you know what to write about, make sure to thoroughly research your topic. This will not only help you build the foundations for your article, but it will also boost the validity of your content. 

Remember: your target audience likely already knows a thing or two about your subject matter. So they’ll immediately be able to tell if you’re making anything up.

That said, the quality of your research also matters. Look at the data, statistics, and other information you gather with a critical eye and determine whether the source is credible or not. That’s because flimsy citations can negatively impact people’s perception of your brand.

Outline Your Article

Have you ever stared at a blank document and struggled to get the words out onto the page?

If so, you’ve experienced writer’s block, wherein you find yourself unable to write for any reason. Often, content writers feel stuck because they aren’t sure how to start their article. Others feel paralyzed by fear that their output won’t be of good quality.

To overcome writer’s block, start by breaking the article down into manageable chunks. You can do this by crafting a simple outline. This will help you organise your thoughts so you can connect one idea to another.

Outlining will also allow you to identify potential gaps in your article that may require further research.

Edit and Proofread

After you’re done drafting your article, don’t publish it just yet as the first draft is often far from perfect. Instead, set the draft aside for some time first. By stepping away from the article, you’ll be able to come back to it later with a fresh and more objective perspective.

When you’re ready to edit, pay close attention to the general structure of your article. See if any sections need to be rearranged for a better flow from one idea to the next. You should also take note of any sentences that are either off-topic or don’t add any valuable information for the reader.

Finally, do a final skim of your article to correct any spelling and grammar mistakes.

These are just some of the most important parts of the content writing process to keep in mind. By taking the time to execute each step, you’ll be one step closer to creating engaging content that can hook your audience in.

Posted in Uncategorized, Uncategorized

6 Essential Parts of the Content Writing Process

content writing for websites

Many newbies mistakenly think that content writing is as simple as typing up an article from scratch and publishing it immediately. However, effective content writing takes a lot of skill, patience, and determination.

If you’d like to master the art of writing great content, read on to learn some essential steps of the process you should pay extra attention to.

Study Your Target Audience

Writing content without a target audience is like writing a letter without a recipient in mind. Without a deep understanding of who you’re writing for, you’ll likely end up with haphazard and disjointed work that will miss the mark.

Study your ideal reader’s demographics, psychographics, and other characteristics. You can even go one step further and invite some of them for an interview. That way, you’ll be able to ask them directly for their thoughts on your subject matter, as well as any pain points that they may have.

With this, you can craft a content strategy that will appeal to them. This will also let you know what keywords you should incorporate into your content.

Pick the Right Tone

Many experts agree that writing in a friendly, conversational tone works best. By using simple and accessible language, you can make your content less intimidating to consume. This helps readers feel more like they’re talking to a friend rather than getting lectured by a teacher.

However, writing in a style that’s too casual may cause readers to not take you seriously. Certain audiences may also be more receptive to formal writing styles than others.

Trying to sound professional yet approachable can be difficult. But ultimately, the tone you choose will all depend on the type of language your audience uses. For instance, do they use particularly technical terms in their line of work? By using the same words as they do, you’ll instantly bridge the gap between yourself and your readers.

Brainstorm Topic Ideas

Once you know who you’re writing for, it’ll be easier to think of relevant topics. You can start off by using word association exercises such as mind maps to draw from your existing knowledge. This will help you come up with ideas by breaking broader concepts down into narrow topics.

Another effective way to generate ideas is to do some keyword research. This can give you insights on what topics people are interested in and what queries they’re searching for.

If you’re still out of ideas, you can always try repurposing older content that performed well in the past. You can even take it one step further by employing the Skyscraper Technique. This method works by researching existing well-received content and creating a new and improved version of it (making it ‘tower over’ the content it competes against).

Research Your Chosen Topic

Now that you know what to write about, make sure to thoroughly research your topic. This will not only help you build the foundations for your article, but it will also boost the validity of your content. 

Remember: your target audience likely already knows a thing or two about your subject matter. So they’ll immediately be able to tell if you’re making anything up.

That said, the quality of your research also matters. Look at the data, statistics, and other information you gather with a critical eye and determine whether the source is credible or not. That’s because flimsy citations can negatively impact people’s perception of your brand.

Outline Your Article

Have you ever stared at a blank document and struggled to get the words out onto the page?

If so, you’ve experienced writer’s block, wherein you find yourself unable to write for any reason. Often, content writers feel stuck because they aren’t sure how to start their article. Others feel paralyzed by fear that their output won’t be of good quality.

To overcome writer’s block, start by breaking the article down into manageable chunks. You can do this by crafting a simple outline. This will help you organise your thoughts so you can connect one idea to another.

Outlining will also allow you to identify potential gaps in your article that may require further research.

Edit and Proofread

After you’re done drafting your article, don’t publish it just yet as the first draft is often far from perfect. Instead, set the draft aside for some time first. By stepping away from the article, you’ll be able to come back to it later with a fresh and more objective perspective.

When you’re ready to edit, pay close attention to the general structure of your article. See if any sections need to be rearranged for a better flow from one idea to the next. You should also take note of any sentences that are either off-topic or don’t add any valuable information for the reader.

Finally, do a final skim of your article to correct any spelling and grammar mistakes.

These are just some of the most important parts of the content writing process to keep in mind. By taking the time to execute each step, you’ll be one step closer to creating engaging content that can hook your audience in.

Posted in Uncategorized, Uncategorized

Having Trouble Sending Emails to Xtra?

Yahoo Xtra Mail

Issues sending emails to recipients with Xtra email addresses is not unusual but it is terribly frustrating.  
 
There have been wide spread problems with Sparks Xtra/Yahoo email services dating back as far as 2008, with a resurgence in 2018.

Issues with Spark email Xtra hitting Kiwi businesses – 13th Sept 2018
 
Essentially Xtra have implemented ‘security measures’ in an attempt to reduce spam. But have been over-zealous in their approach so that legitimate mail is also blocked.
 
Rigorous testing by the the IT community has discovered that it is not just emails that may appear suspicious. Such as those from blacklisted accounts or untrusted servers, or those without a subject line, or those with attachments. No, it is actually almost ANYTHING, especially those containing financially related themes.
 
Even more unfortunate is that Xtra stubbornly believe that what they are doing is best practice. So although the problem lies with them - they are unlikely to fix it.
 
Technically the problem isn’t yours, but the reality of the problem is.

So what can you do if you have a whole bunch of customers using Xtra who are just not receiving your emails? Not a lot unfortunately.
 
Ideally your recipients ought to be the ones who contact Xtra to complain that they are not receiving legitimate emails and demand a resolution or change to a different provider. Unfortunately, most of them are not going to do this as they do not actually KNOW they are not getting emails.
 

•••

Imagine you are sending a traditional letter to a friend. You put it into an approved Dimension Lengthwise Envelope with a government issued postage stamp. You deliver it to an official post shop. Your letter is delivered by the official post man. BUT your friend actually hires someone to collect their mail each day. He throws out any pizza flyers and put the important looking stuff on the kitchen bench. But all YOUR letters have been going in the rubbish with the junk. What’s more, he doesn’t tell your friend he threw anything out.
Your friend should probably fire this guy!


 •••

The problem really lies with Xtra (Spark) to ensure delivery. What makes things worse is that there doesn’t appear to be a department responsible to help with external senders. Most online reports show a frustrating lack of success from any Spark customer service team regarding this. Mostly they say that you need to get your recipient to ‘whitelist your email address.’

But this is a poor solution really. Firstly, contacting your customers individually to try and get them to whitelist your email would be a maddening exercise. Many will not even know what this means or how to do it. Secondly, there have been tests done, where the email address HAS been whitelisted in Xtra – and yet the emails STILL do not get through.
 
We always recommend that Xtra users move to a different provider.
 
“I have also learnt that Xtra fervently believe this is all designed to make the internet a safer place. On that I can agree. If you cant send email and you cant receive email and you spend your time on the telephone to Xtra and the rest of your time filling out meaningless forms then the internet is indeed a safer place. You are after all not using it - therefore it is a safer place. Well done Xtra - you have succeeded in that goal.” – GeekZone, 2008
 
Incidentally – our own email servers (ActiveHost) do not currently appear to experience trouble sending to Xtra accounts. Whist anything could happen with Xtra in the future, we currently don’t have any email customers reporting problems associated with this.

 

Posted in Uncategorized

The Importance of Professional Logo Design

Why is Professional Logo Design Important?

A logo is essential to any business, big or small, which serves as the foundation to branding and as a symbol that customers associate with the company.

A logo is critical for brand-recognition. Think Coca-Cola. Everyone knows that particular colour red and that swirly script that is associated with one of the most well-branded soft drinks on the market.

CocaCola Logo DesignHaving a strong logo and brand like this one means that we don't have to think on a conscious level, "what does this represent?", we can automatically recognise this brand at a glance.

This is the kind of brand recognition that is possible when you have a strong logo and bespoke branding strategy. People will come to recognise your brand at a glance, and the more they see it, the more you will be remembered as the "go to" company for your particular product or service.

 

The Infamous $100,000 logo design

NEXT Logo DesignMany design companies will offer you a fixed price and one option for your logo. We do not. An infamous example of the 'fixed price one option logo design' is the NeXT Logo designed by Paul Rand at a cost to Steve Jobs of $100,000.

Steve Jobs has this memorable comment regarding working with Paul Rand; “I asked him if he would come up with a few options, and he said, ‘No, I will solve your problem for you and you will pay me. You don’t have to use the solution. If you want options go talk to other people.’”

Now, not every logo designer is the next Paul Rand; and it’s unlikely that your business is like NeXT.  At Activate Design, we feel that it’s best to work through various ideas & designs directly with you, ultimately creating a logo that is best for your business.

 

What should a logo mean to me?

A logo is something that you should be proud to include on building and car signage, on company clothing and stationery. It must be unique to your brand and recognisable by your customers, and a signature of your products and services.

Activate logo design examples

Shaggy Bones Bakery logo: representing a bakery specialising in all natural dog treats.

Advanced Applicators logo: representing a service driven company established to distribute and install a range of Passive Fire Protection products.

For more examples of our logo designs, visit our Portfolio Page.

A logo is something that precedes you in business. In this way, your company logo will either be lifting your potential customers' expectations of you or it may be working against you, projecting a negative image. The latter can often occur if your logo resembles a competitor, does not relate well to your company or if the fonts or style is outdated.

Is changing your logo a good idea?

If you have a strong logo then yes, you could use it indefinitely. BUT, it’s worth noting that many well-recognised companies have continued to evolve their logo with time. Companies such as Microsoft and Coca-Cola, Shell, McDonalds and Apple have refreshed and reimagined their brand to keep up with modern styles and ideas.

We offer re-branding services as well, to give your logo new life. Re-branding can be very effective, and you can choose to debut a completely new design or maintain aspects of your previous logo; perhaps a shape or colour that served as the focal point of the design. Ask us about design and brand refresh, to give your brand a makeover with a splash of modern creativity and professionalism.

Apple Logo Design evolutionLogo left: Apple logo 1976 Middle: Apple's logo 1976-1998 Logo right: Apple's current logo.

 

How is creating a logo design with Activate Design different?


At Activate Design, logos are our passion, and we would prefer to work with you to create a logo that exceeds your expectations. We do this by listening to you, by offering you choices and by listening to your feedback.

We do not outsource your design work.  Our experienced designers will meet with you to discuss your needs. We then research your market to create a unique concept that will make you stand out from the crowd. The research is important to us because you need to be different.

For example, if we were to design a logo for your new soft drink company, it would be prudent to avoid a certain shade of red, and any similar swirly fonts that may relate to existing well-known brands. Business logo design is not just about creating something visually pleasing, it's about doing the research to back it up. About providing a design solution that meets the ongoing marketing needs of your company and being able to provide the reasons why it will work not and for the long term.

If you’re looking for a  logo design company, contact us today to discuss a new logo, logo refresh, or full branding strategy for your business today.

 

Posted in Uncategorized

Effective Website Design

Here is some general information on what makes a website effective. This may be especially helpful for those of you who are using our unique WEP-Com Content Management System, enabling you to create your own pages, galleries, links and more.

So we know that there are infinite options available in how to layout a website, but to have an effective website that users will actually want to spend time viewing, here are a few tips to keep in mind ;

sign-post

CLEAR NAVIGATION

Many studies have been conducted on how people use the internet, how they view website pages, and what they choose to click on. Consistent results show that clear navigation makes the difference between an average website and a really good website.

Although you could have a snazzy website that looks like a spinning planet spitting out rocket-shaped pages of information - it would not be effective in that yes, people want to see something new, but in a familiar environment. If it's too strange, if there's no clear navigation to see what page you're currently on, where the links to the other pages are, and indeed what website you're even at - people will click on your website and then 'bounce' right back out again. Your websites' 'bounce rate' then becomes very high, negatively impacting on your website ratings.

KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE TO GIVE PURPOSE TO YOUR WEBSITE

Keep in mind what you are offering so that amongst all the information you are providing about your business, your staff, images, products, services and contact details, ensure there is a very clear and simple path for your customers to take in as few a steps (or clicks) as possible. Understanding why your clients choose to visit your site will help you cater your website to their needs. If they get in touch, always ask for feedback on how your site worked (or did not work) for them.

USE VERY OBVIOUS PAGE NAMES

Some of us like to get a bit fancy, so instead of "home page" we have "home base", or possibly "home portal" or "starbase one" - cool, but in the fast-paced world of website-hopping, it should only take a fraction of a second to recognise a website's page name for what it is. Pausing on a webpage trying to work out what page "home base" is supposed to be, is simply frustrating, and if a whole website is like that then very few viewers would take the time to actually browse your website. Are you using standard terms for your navigation? Can you simplify your terms for easier recognition?

compass

KEEP NAVIGATION IN THE SAME PLACE

Clear navigation is one thing, but what happens when you navigate away from the main page? Do you get lost in the website pages, not knowing how many pages there are or where it ends - or do you have the reassurance of the same navigation bar, or simple listed text links of all the pages, located in the same place on every page - giving you the peace of mind of knowing where you are at all times. Having the page you're currently on highlighted in addition to fixed navigation on all pages will make navigating through your website much easier.

KEEP IT SIMPLE - THE LESS CLICKS THE BETTER

Websites must cater to the fact that most of us are 'skimmers' rather than 'readers' when it comes to browsing websites and we expect instantaneous results, whether that be clearly knowing what is where on a website, to being able to access pages in one-to-two clicks only. A site can be too clever, to it's detriment.

Example : I can across a site recently that was selling clothing, I was looking for a nice t-shirt for a friend but first I had to click on 'clothing' then choose 'mens' or 'womens', then click on 't-shirts', then select one of the many 'brand options' to get to view the range of t-shirts available in that brand only. When I did not find what I wanted I only had an option to go back to the home page and start again, or use my browsers 'back' button to choose another brand, view the t-shirts, go back, choose the next brand, etc.

 

Yes, it was clever, and it was organised, but it was too time consuming and I left feeling frustrated. What would have worked better would be to simplify the site into a two-click or three-click process, ie. clothing / t-shirts / and a gallery showing the full range, with some some sub-text under each product showing the brand, rather that clicking through to the brand first, thus reducing the number of clicks to access the product/information.

Is there a way you can simplify your current website? How many clicks does it take to get to the product/service you are offering? Can you navigate from anywhere in your site to exactly where you wish to go?

Contact us for any upgrades to your website design and layout, and View Our Portfolio for recent examples of the many successful websites our team has designed & created.

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized

Yahoo mail plagued by compromised security

Did Your Yahoo Email Get Hacked Again?

mailguy smltallYahoo Mail fixes another compromise in security this week.

Yahoo publicly admitted that there is an on-going issue of Yahoo email accounts being hacked, leading to stolen password, spam emails, and the spread of malware.

This dates back to a serious hack into the Yahoo email accounts that occurred when a hacker uploaded a video to YouTube to show just how easy it is to compromise a Yahoo email account. Yahoo was quick to respond, confirming the flaw had been investigated and fixed.

Later on, a company called ‘Offensive Security’ let Yahoo know that their email service was still vulnerable to attack with flawed security. Yahoo again confirmed that these flaws had been fixed.

It was then discovered that the spam in question, that has been sent from compromised Yahoo email accounts, had been circulating for about a month, stealing login details and bypassing Yahoo mail security.

Yahoo has again confirmed that these security and data breaches have been fixed, but should they be trusted?

Are you prepared to use an email service, that is plagued by attacks and flawed security?

By now, you're probably sorting through options in your head. Let me stop you right there.

At Activate Design, we have the solution.

 

email carriers

At Activate Design, we'll set your business up with a professional, secure, and New Zealand-hosted email.

What is a Professional Email Account?

As an example, if you own the domain name, “cityflowers.co.nz”, then your own email address could be something like; orders@cityflowers.co.nz. At Activate we create email accounts that are hosted on our secure New Zealand-based server, allowing you to choose from a variety of email software options to manage your emails. Amongst the most popular software for emails, today are Microsoft Outlook, MacMail & Thunderbird.

How Much Does a Domain-Name Email Cost?

At Activate Design if you already have a website hosted by us, then email accounts are complementary, and we can setup up to 15 accounts under one domain name. If you do not yet have a website with us, we can host your email account from just $5.00 +gst per month. Contact us for more information or to get started with a new email account today.

Do You Offer Technical Support?

We provide an online troubleshooting guide for email setups, and beyond that we advise those that rely on one technology for their business to have an IT Specialist for your company, or to utilise one of the many IT Specialist call-out technician services available today, to assist with any technical issues such as email setups and keeping software and security updated on your computers.

emailservices tall

Why Shift to a New Email Provider?

Another reason to shift to your own, a more professional domain email account is that Yahoo mail is not good for business because the spam filters are set so high that legitimate business enquiries are often unable to reach you.

What Do I Do With My Existing Yahoo Email Account?

With your Yahoo email, Hotmail, or other personal email accounts, you can set up forwarders to go to your new domain email account, until those older accounts are no longer needed and can be closed.

Where Do I Purchase a Domain Name?

If you do not yet have a domain name, contact our friendly team at Activate Design where we can register domain names on your behalf, or you are welcome to visit our dedicated hosting website www.activehost.co.nz where you can search for the availability of domain names of your choice, with a variety of suffix available such as .com / .co.nz / .net.nz and more.

Simply follow the link above, enter the domain you would like and click "find" to check if it is available. You can purchase your domain right then and there if you wish, or contact us to purchase it for you.

Do I Need a Website?

These days having an online presence is a must. The internet is now the first place most people will go to find a product or service, and increasingly this is being done on mobile devices such as iPhones and iPads. Take a look at our Portfolio Page for examples of websites we have done recently, and for ideas on what we could design and create for you.

Next Steps

 Contact us to arrange a meeting, where we can discuss the options available, introduce you to our own uniquely developed Content Management System (CMS); created so that you can manage your own content and add images etc, with our easy to use a client-friendly system. We can then provide a quote and proceed at your convenience.

Our team at Activate Design can: launch a new or update your existing online presence with CMS websites, E-commerce websites, and other professional services like email accounts and our easy-to-use ActiveMail newsletter system, as well as iPhone and iPad applications. Our team consists of experienced graphic designers, developers, copywriters, programmers, SEO specialists, and a great sales team to advise you on expanding your company logo and brand into an online presence you will be proud to stand behind.

 

Posted in Uncategorized

Who to trust for websites and hosting

There are many companies offering website hosting but how do you know if they are up with the play? There are SO many risks in hosting that most clients simply are not aware of until they are stung.

When thinking about hosting your current website or having a new website created, you need to ensure you choose a company that knows what they’re are doing. By simply being aware that there are dodgy companies out there, and amateurs out there who may be short changing you by simply not knowing the optimal way of setting up and hosting a site, linking and renewing domain names, and being able to problem-solve and customise your online business, you can make a wiser decision on whom to choose for such an important aspect of your company - your website.

It is important to choose a company that is up to date with modern technology and who can communicate with you clearly in your initial website creation, as well as any on-going website support and changes you may need - and there may be a lot, especially if you need an eCommerce website to enable you to sell and update products online.

How do you tell if a company has graphic design skills to match their level of technical website development knowledge?

If it's the style that is crucial to you, take a look at the online portfolio that showcases what a company can do for you. If you're looking to update the look of your current site to encourage more repeat visitors to your site and more traffic, then viewing online portfolios is an excellent way to gauge the quality of a designers' skill. View our online portfolio.

How do you know you have your own individual and unique server space and not hidden away as a sub-domain of another account? Rogue hosting companies do this sort of thing and it has terrible consequences for the client.

A website can be hosted as a ‘subdomain’ - this means it doesn’t have it’s own space on a server but slots in under another server’s space, called a ‘subdomain’. This is perfectly alright if the websites are related or for the same company, but if your website is hosted as a sub-domain you will not be getting the online ratings that your site should be getting as it’s own domain - this means the search engines will be showing you not as a first-page option on a search, but as a 4th of 5th, or even further down the end of the lists of options shown to an internet surfer who may be looking for a company just like yours.

Hosting your website as a subdomain may save the hosting company money but cost the website owner long-term through a loss in search engine rankings.

How do you know your website is even hosted in New Zealand and do you know what it means if you are not?

We host our websites on a secure New Zealand based server. The location of the server that your site is hosted on is crucial to the speed at which your site performs, and these days search engines are smart enough to see find discrepancies, such as products made in New Zealand, but hosted from a site overseas, and this could have a negative impact on your rankings.

Contact us at Activate Design to discuss all your website design and website enhancing requirements today.

 

Posted in Uncategorized

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