7 Ways to make your Website Accessible

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Administration, Branding, Websites

A great way to reach more people with your arts business is to ensure it is accessible to everyone, regardless of ability and the best way to start is by making sure your website is disability friendly.

 

The most common types of impairments that you need to think about in your website design are:

  • Visual Impairment: anyone who is blind, has low vision, requires corrective eyewear or is colour-blind.
  • Physical Impairment: anyone who has restricted movement caused by a disability or struggles with certain motor skills like moving a mouse or typing on a keyboard.
  • Hearing Impairment: anyone who is deaf or hard of hearing.
  • Psychiatric Disability: something you need to be aware of should you have content which may be triggering to someone with mental illness.
  • Photosensitivity: users with epilepsy who could have seizures induced from flashing lights.
  • Cognitive Impairment: a disability which affects someone’s cognitive functions like dyslexia, dysnomia or dementia.

 

With that in mind here are The Arts Business’ top tips for making your website accessible

 

  1. Image Tags Alt text

You should be doing this already to improve your SEO but for accessibility purposes you basically want to give a detailed description on what can be seen in the images on your website.

For example, if this is the image you’re using:

Then a good alt tag would be ‘ballet dancer in a forest’. An even better one might read ‘Ballet dancer in black leotard and tutu, standing on one foot en pointe in a forest in the sunshine’. Whatever you do, don’t leave your alt text blank.

 

  1. Colour Scheme

There are a few things to consider here.

Firstly, think about your company’s branding, try to use distinctive colours. Think about shades of colour, for example, if you use indigo and lilac in your companies branding ensure the colours are not two similar shades of purple as this could make your content difficult to decipher.

Next, you must think about a potential user who is colour blind. We’ve all seen the colour-blindness tests, right?

Think about the colours you’re using together and if in doubt of colour combinations, you can refer to the image above. If you want to learn more about different types of colour blindness you can visit the Colour-Blind Awareness Website.

 

 

  1. Text Sizing

Primarily you want to ensure that your text is an appropriate size, colour and font which is easy to read.

So, for colour, think either light coloured font on a dark background, or a dark coloured font on a light background. I have dyslexia myself and find it much easier to read black text on a yellow background which is also something to take into account.

And it is so important to think about the readability of your chosen font type. Print types of font (serif and sans serif) are generally easier to read than handwriting or calligraphy fonts (script) especially if you’re writing long blog posts, you want to keep the reader engaged. Time is precious and if your audience struggles to read your font, they’re quite simply not going to bother.

Sizing is slightly more complex. Yes, simply put, you want to make sure the size is readable. Think about your target audience here. If your target audience is in the 50+ age range, you will want to have a larger font to start with.

You will also want to check the quality when you zoom in. Ideally, you want your website to be responsive which means that when you zoom in and out the font reformats so that you can still read all the content from left to right. This is more difficult to programme depending on the software you have used to make it, so don’t worry if you can’t do this. Just check it out for yourself on different devices.

 

  1. Device Friendly

Similar to no. 3 you need to check the ability to resize text and imagery across different devices, ideally on a phone and tablet.

You will also want to check your imagery and colour scheme to ensure it is still readable on devices with different resolutions.

 

  1. Closed Captions

This is a simple one! If you have video content, subtitle your work. Most online video platforms like YouTube have editing software to enable you to add subtitles yourself quickly and easily!

 

  1. Tab-able keyboard friendly

Bear in mind that some physical impairments mean that users can’t use a touchpad or mouse so you have to make sure that your website can be navigated through their keyboard.

Don’t panic if you’re not up to scratch on your keyboard shortcuts. The simplest way to check this is by using your up and down arrows to scroll, tab to move between tabs on the page and enter to select links. So long as that works it’s keyboard compatible.

 

  1. Hyperlink Format

When you create a link in a post you want to describe the page it will lead to. You want to avoid links like Click Here or Read Now as they are an accessibility nightmare. So instead of:

Read up on Inside Theatre in our latest app of the month post click here.

Try:

Read up on Inside Theatre in our latest app of the month post

 

All pretty straight forward and as an added bonus this will also help you with your brand design and SEO!

If you want to know how accessible your website currently is just head to the Web Accessibility Website and stick in your address! They’ll outline any problem areas of your website in terms of accessibility.

 

What have you done to make your website more accessible? Let us know in the comments below!

 

APP OF THE MONTH: Speechify

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Administration, App of the Month, Education
Name Speechify
Product Description Text to speech software. Either copy and paste in text, upload a pdf or simply snap a photo and Speechify will read it in a human-sounding voice.
Availability Available from the Apple App Store and as an extension on Google Chrome. Currently available in Beta Form on Google Play Store. A desktop app for MacBooks can be downloaded from the Speechify Website.
Key Features ·       Choose your natural sounding voice from a selection and listen to text in over 50 different languages.

·       Change your reading speed so you can listen at up to 900 words a minute, which is 5 times the average reading speed.

·       Take a photo of whatever your reading and upload it to Speechify which will then read it to you!

·       Import articles directly from your internet browser or install the chrome add on so you don’t have to!

·       Compatible with loads of different apps including Dropbox, iCloud and Google Drive.

Prices and Plans Free! Premium packages starting from £11.25 a month which allows unlimited access and HD Voices,
Biggest Pro The voice! Having struggled with dyslexia all my educational and professional life this is BY FAR the easiest to use and best sounding software I have ever come across.
Biggest Con Pretty new, so a little glitchy here and there but you can’t have everything.

 

An effortlessly simple piece of software which integrates flawlessly with your internet platforms.

I wish I would have had this at university!

Cover page

The Brand Book: What it is and how to make it

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Branding, Graphic Design, Marketing

As your business expands so will you staffing base and it is important when you bring newbies aboard that they fully understand your company and your brand.

It may even be useful to have when you’re starting out as it can really resonate clarity in your presentation.  If you create a system of branding rules to stick to then your website and marketing material is bound to look super profesh!

A Brand Book can be an excellent way to not only create your parameters for your brand but also format it in such a way that is in keeping with your company’s branding.  This not only gives your presentation a clear vision but also allows others who join you, whether freelancers or employees, to quickly gain a full understanding of your business’ branding.

You may want to consider hiring a professional (like The Arts Business) to pull together your brand properly, especially if there is no one on your team with a graphic design edge. This document makes a statement for your entire operations so it’s important to get it right.

But, as I’m sure you know by now, here at The Arts Business we are firm believers in Doing It Yourself!

So, here’s how to make your very own!  You can pick and choose the aspects of Brand Book you want to enclose and as you grow, it can grow with you.

I’ll be working off The Arts Business’ very own Brand Book’s included sections and how to write them. Here is our lovely front cover!

 

Cover page

 

Click here to download The Arts Business Brand Book to follow along, use as reference or simply admire.

I will also chuck in some bonus headings you can include. Just pick and choose which ones are best suited to you and your business.

 

Contents Page

  1. Contents

Direct the reader to each section at the beginning. Simples!

 

brand book

  1. Mission Statement

Kick start the book with what the brand represents.  Officially it is a formal summary of the company, but I like to think of it as a series of bullet points telling the reader immediately what the company does and its goals.

 

  1. Core Values

Single Words or phrases that ring true with your company and its aims.  Have fun with this page. Really let your imagination run free with your design!

 

  1. Target Audience

Who are you trying to reach? This is so important to define as it will not only make your vision clearer but will help you to design growth and marketing strategies to ensure that your business is reaching the right people.

 

logo brand book

  1. Logo

Not only are you showing how your logo is displayed in colour, greyscale and how much space should be allowed around it but also any dos and don’ts for your logo. For example: don’t stretch or distort the logo, don’t recolour the logo. Don’t be afraid of details, your logo is one of the most important aspects of your brand and you want to make sure it always stands out.

 

  1. Tagline

Think of this like your company slogan. When starting out you want to make sure your tagline clearly explains what your company does, really spell it out for anyone who stumbles across your page organically! Here is your opportunity to display how you want your tagline to tie in with your logo and those ever so important dos or don’ts.

 

  1. Colours

In a nutshell this is the colours you want associated with your brand. It pulls your designs together. Be sure to include the:

  • HEX code: a six-digit number used particularly in coding.
  • RGB: it’s a mix of red, green and blue balance which dictates how the colour appears onscreen,
  • CMYK: stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Key. This is the colour balance to recreate the exact same colours in printed materials.

Most brands include primary and secondary colours. Generally, (although not a rule) primary colours are those seen in the logo and secondary colours are used to compliment and offset those colours.

Some bigger brands even name their colour, so it is forever associated with their brand, for example: Spotify Green & Netflix Red.

 

font

  1. Typography

Similar to colours these are the typefaces you want your brand to use. Give a description of each font along with what and when it is appropriate to use them. You can use the terminology primary and secondary here again to create a font hierarchy. You can also include information about font format and weight.

 

  1. Social Media

A relatively new addition to the Brand Book and so important it takes up two pages. This should show what social networks your business uses and how to use them in keeping with your brand. Remember your dos and don’ts and be sure to use some illustrative imagery to explain exactly what to do. Social Media is one of the most important platforms for your company’s organic growth so if you’re not sure what sites to use or how you should check out our previous post on finding the perfect social media platform for your business.

 

  1. Photography, Illustration & Artwork

The Arts Business has chosen to group these items into a single category to explain simply and efficiently how to use imagery throughout the website and any branded documentation. Should your Arts Business focus on any of these elements you may want to break them down into individual categories to expand on how you use them for company branding.

 

tone of voice

  1. Tone of Voice

This is how you want your content to come across. Are you professional and corporate? Conversational and friendly? Explanatory and informative? It’s up to you how you want your brand to be portrayed but think carefully about your target audience appeal when making this decision.

 

brand book stationery

  1. Stationery

Stationery in this context includes branding like letterheads, email signatures and business cards. Pretty much any time your business presents itself in print. Use this page to show examples of your stationery and how you have incorporated your brand guidelines into the design.

 

  1. Flyers, Posters & Merchandise

Similar to stationery I have shown examples of flyers and merchandise The Arts Business has produced in the past to suggest how the logo might be used.

 

  1. Contact Details

Self-explanatory really! Whoever reads your Brand Book should be able contact you if they have any questions or simply want to congratulate you on a job well done!

contact us

I like to display my contact information in the same way:

  • Logo – make sure it’s there somewhere, doesn’t necessarily need to be above but somewhere on the same page! I like to think that subconsciously this means that when someone sees your logo, they automatically associate it with you contact details springing to mind but even if this isn’t true it still looks pretty.
  • Name and Job Title – not necessary to include with the Brand Book but if you think it is applicable to the document go for it!
  • Tagline – As I explained previously the company’s tagline is kind of like a one sentence pitch or explanation of what you do, so I try to include it at the beginning or end of official company documentation to remind anyone who may be reading it exactly what we do.
  • Phone Number,Email Address, Social Media, Website – make it as easy as possible for the reader to contact you should they have any questions.

 

  • Optional Extras
    • Brand Journey – your company’s origin story and brand history
    • Composition – how to arrange company documentation
    • Iconography – specifically about little, simple icons used throughout your branding
    • Animation and Video – should you include video content frequently with your work, you’ll also wanna specify guidelines for these
    • Product Line – should this be central to your brand, include it

 

There are loads of ways you can build your brand book so here are some links to awesome examples from companies of all shapes and sizes including:

 

Ultimately, don’t be afraid to get specific! Remember, it’s your business, your brand, your baby. It should be exactly how you want it to be!

 

Do you have a brand book to be proud of? Let us know! We’d love to share it.

Want The Arts Business to create a brand book for you? Get in touch.

 

APP OF THE MONTH: HoursTracker

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Administration, App of the Month

 

Name HoursTracker
Product Description The perfect app for freelancers! Track the work you do for the multitudes of companies you work for down to the minute by checking in and out and tracking your wages!
Availability Available on the Apple App Store and from the Google Play Store.

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.cribasoft.HoursTrackerFree.Android&hl=en_GB

https://apps.apple.com/gb/app/hours-tracker-hours-and-pay/id336456412

Key Features ·         If you spend your day flitting between companies and to do lists this app is perfect for clocking your hours for each individual job by hour, day, week and month.

·         Pay is added up for every minute you work!  HoursTracker also calculates an estimated net pay and any overtime.

·         Enter a job location to list in the order of jobs from closest to furthest

·         Tags help you to organise what jobs are active, billable and have been paid

·         Note how many hours your expected to do each day and when.  HoursTracker lets you know when to clock out and gives you a 15 minute warning so you can wrap up

·         Quick and easy to learn, as soon as you register your first job it’s all pretty self-explanatory

·         Shortcuts make navigation of the app super quick and easy.

Prices and Plans It starts completely free which only allows you to enter a limited number of jobs.  To upgrade from the personal to pro version is a one off payment of £4.99 and that pretty much opens all of the app’s capabilities.  Trust me when I say it is well worth it.
Biggest Pro It has a beautiful simplicity which basically allows all freelancers who work for multiple companies to live a much simpler, more organised life!
Biggest Con It would be nice to be able to figure out different amounts of tax through this app but you can’t have everything and even without this it’s still pretty great

 

All in all, a brilliant app which does exactly what it says on the tin!

10 Must Have Skills to Smash Your Admin: Part 2

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Administration, Business Skills

Welcome back!

Time for those last 5 skills to needed to smash your admin!

6.       Spend Time Filing

You’ve heard of the expression ‘a stitch in time saves nine’?  This expression may be clichéd but it’s so true!

A little bit of time now spent on developing a sensible and straightforward method for your filing the easier you will be able to lay your hands on exactly what you need in the future!

Remember, nowadays this doesn’t just apply to that enormous grey monster of a filing cabinet lovingly rescued from a skip and now stuffed in the corner of your office.  This also applies to your computer filing system!

So, clear that cluttered desktop! Create that series of files in a logical way so that not only you can find everything you want but be prepared for when your arts business expands to include new staff members.  You don’t want to have to spend the first few weeks explaining the ins and outs of your computer filing which only you and your crazy brain understand!

 

7.       An Understanding of Social Media

I know I have a habit of repeating this, but social media is taking over the world!  It is becoming increasingly more integral to the running of businesses everywhere!  It is therefore important that everyone in your company knows how to use it.

The good news here is that over half of being good at Social Media Marketing relies on having excellent administration ability including the facility to schedule. 

Remember without your admin team (be it an actual team or be it just you) all the things we achieve in the exciting world of the creative industries wouldn’t be possible.  You could even post about them on Social Media!  They might be filtering through what appears to be the mundane but it makes the magic happen!

 

8.       Time Saving with Customer Service

I find often that email can be one of the biggest time drainers.  On occasion I have sat down in the morning to view my email accounts and quite often, before I know it, it’s midday and feel like I have achieved nothing because all I have done is sit and reply to messages!  So here is my advice:

If you have to email provide the customer with everything they could possibly need and then some extra stuff just in case.  So much time is wasted on toing and froing in emails.  If your business has been around for a while then chances are you have already equated a list of F.A.Qs (Frequently Asked Questions).  This is like the administrators’ bible: the copy and paste email dream.  It makes responses easy to find and, if properly produced, looks as though it is a completely personalised response! Save hours of your time from a cheeky bit of admin at the beginning creating an FAQ database.

If you still find a lot of email back and forth just pick up the phone and ring!  It is generally more effective than the constant and relentless email mountain!  It also means you’re less likely to misinterpret information.  Always remember emails are devoid of emotion.  That means that people inflict whatever feeling they want on them which can lead to a whole host of problems that simply wouldn’t have happened if you picked up the phone.

 

9.       Graphic Design

People in Arts Organisations often spend an obscene amount of money on outsourcing their graphic design.  Often enough there are employees in the office who are not only more than capable of designing your print and online content but also know the ethos of the business far better than any external designer will. 

This will also help to keep all your content consistent with your company brand.  Bare minimum if you are an outsourcer make sure that you keep a branding document so that the designer can get it spot on first time without having to ask too many questions.

If you are looking for administration work, having some photoshop skills under your belt will help you to stand out from the crowd.  If you find photoshop tricky then there are loads of cheaper alternatives out there nowadays! Give Canva a try or stay old school with Microsoft Publisher, just make sure you know the basics.

 

10.       Organisation, organisation, organisation

This links into all of the skills I have mentioned but basically, without some top notch organisational ability the whole of you admin system is almost certainly doomed to fail!  So get on top of it by getting organised.

 

 

And there you have it!  Now, away you go off into the world of administration and smash it!

APP OF THE MONTH: Doodle

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Administration, App of the Month, Business Skills

 

Name Doodle
Product Description An online voting app designed to make scheduling meetings and events super easy as well as create online surveys and questionnaires.
Availability Only Available through your browser at https://doodle.com/ on the Apple App Store and from the Google Play Store.
Key Features ·         Schedule events and meetings, big or small across any calendar and platform quickly and easily

·         Ask questions by creating polls to send to your team and get them to vote for the most popular option

·         Sync most calendar apps with Doodle in order to avoid double bookings

·         Create and share your own Doodle URL to try and avoid that emailing to and fro

·         Send out multiple times to enable users to vote on their preferred one

·         New Doodle Dashboard keeps all your doodles in one place and makes them really easy to access

·         Auto-arrange reminders to go out prior to the meeting

·         With premium you can customise Doodle to be in keeping with your own company branding and receive advanced security

Prices and Plans It starts completely free to develop a basic poll! But they also have different business options for Doodle ranging from €3.50 per month for one business user to €12.50 per month for five.  Are you an even bigger business? Get in touch with Doodle to receive a quote!
Biggest Pro It’s basically like next level organisation without all the faff! That endless email back and forth and the accidental reply alls are more or less completely eliminated.
Biggest Con It is kind of limited, but to be honest, it’s the simplicity that makes it so brilliant.

Whether or not you use it for big corporate meet and greets or to find a weekend for that school reunion it really is the perfect little bit of software!

 

10 Must Have Skills to Smash Your Admin: Part 1

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Administration, Business Skills

We all know the worst part of running any company in the creative industries is the boring paperwork.  Sometimes we get completely swamped with the ‘business’ side of activities that it leaves little or even no room for the fun parts!

 

It is therefore important to know the key skills necessary to smash out your admin tasks or (if you’re lucky enough) to hire the perfect administrative assistant to smash out your admin quickly and efficiently!

 

  1. Great Communication Skills

This seems pretty obvious, I know, but nowadays you need to be literate in all kinds of methods of communications: face to face, email to messenger, text to WhatsApp, phone to facetime… nowadays there are hundreds of different ways to approach customers, clients and colleagues.

Not only do you need to know how to use all of these platforms, but you also have to be able to deduce the appropriate manner for each different medium.  For example, Messenger, Text and Whatsapp generally have a more relaxed and casual tonality whereas email is generally more like a letter form.  These tend to be longer and full of more professional sounding vocab.

Great Communicators also tend to be great readers of people.  In a very short amount of time they can deduce how to speak to someone in an appropriate manner whether this is matey and approachable or professional.  There is often a fine line in the creative industries so be sure and, if in doubt, air on the side of professionality.

 

  1. Time Management

A good administrator is an excellent timekeeper.  I often find it useful to keep timetables which are designed so that I can use my time in the most efficient manner.

A great administrator also has the inherent ability to gauge the weight of certain tasks and prioritise them appropriately in order to get the most pressing tasks completed first.

An unbelievable administrator makes you think that they have all the time in the world even when they are the busiest ever.  That calmness can be infectious especially when there are lots of deadlines to meet.

 

  1. Microsoft Office (and their Apple Equivalents)

Every job you ever work in, whatever industry, wherever it is, will almost certainly require you using Microsoft Office (or the similar mac programmes like Pages, Numbers or Google Docs).

It never ceases to blow my mind how many job apps request this as a must have requirement in job application because I am of the opinion that if you don’t know the basics of Word, Excel and PowerPoint then where the hell have you been?! It’s been around since 1995! Have you been living in a box!

To give some clarity: that’s nearly a quarter of a century.  If you haven’t tried to learn how to copy and paste by now there is no hope for you!  It’s like living in France for 25 years without learning how to say ‘Bonjour’.

No more excuses!  If you don’t know how, ask Google and if you need visual guidance YouTube it!

 

  1. Problem Solving Abilities

I love problem solving!  Whether it’s that buzz of on the spot quick fix results or the longer term negotiating, searching for an answer until you find one that is just right, there is a real rush that runs alongside finding the perfect solution to a problem.

How can you be a great problem solver?  You need to be able to spot the problems, find solutions, pick the best one and most importantly apply your strategy then evaluate it to assess if it has worked.

Sometimes you have to perform all of these almost instinctively in a matter of seconds. I once, in a moment of genius and madness, played the part of the Magic Mirror in a pantomime of ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarves’ when we had a technical problem. I was the Deputy Stage Manager but safe to say I was an awesome Understudy.  Although in moments (especially like that) it is partially instinctive, it is definitely something that can be learnt and gets easier the more you do it.

 

  1. A ‘To Do’ List

Learn to love a list!

Lists have some real benefits in the admin world:

  • You don’t forget things – carry a notebook round, jot it down in your phone, whack it on a post it, whenever and wherever it pops into your head!  Then compile it into a list later! And never forget anything again.
  • Think of the happiness – every time you cross something off a list you get a tiny kick of dopamine.  That little burst of excitement drives you on to check off the next thing, so however big or small write it down so you can cross it off.
  • Reward yourself – whether this is something as minor as the satisfactory sound made by Swipes or the way that Trello turns green or the physical action of checking something off a handwritten list or ripping a page out your list book it is unbelievably satisfying.  And our brain finds them encouraging pushing us onto achieve even more!

How to Manage your Photos

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Administration, Business Skills

A dull as subject which I have jazzed up with this Snazzy Infographic:

 

 

Why bother?

 

  • I’m sure all of you freelancers have been into an office you don’t know and logged onto the desktop to find a completely random file management system in place (or none at all)! So overhaul your administration and filing starting with your photo management.
  • In the world of constantly producing social media content we want to have millions of photos of various events and everyday happenings of what’s going on at our company to add some variety! Wouldn’t it be great if they were super easy to find?
  • When all of your pictures are saved in ‘My Photos’ and have file names DSC000001-DSC999999 it is impossible to know what your looking for unless you spend a solid few hours of your life waiting for thumbnails to load and then flicking through them.
  • The above technique is a universal way to file your images which will only take you slightly longer to implement when uploading images and save you hours in the future.

 

For more information on making the file naming process even easier why not check out our APP OF THE WEEK this week: Adobe Bridge

 

I can’t promise anything, but if you love organisation, you mind even have fun!

 

Do you have any admin advice or queries, let us know in the comments below.

 

APP OF THE MONTH: ADOBE BRIDGE

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Administration, Business Skills
Name Adobe Bridge
Product Description A companion product to Adobe Photoshop designed for file management and cataloguing your digital photo collection
Availability Through Browser at https://creativecloud.adobe.com/apps/download/bridge
Key Features A Digital Assets Management (DAM) or Desktop Media Browser Programme allowing you store and sort your images professionally and easily on your desktop or laptop computer:

·         Highlight your favourite photos and hide the ones you don’t like as much

·         Add keywords to the metadata (basically background digital copy) of your photos to easily find the perfect image you need on search and improve your SEO if you upload your images online.

·         Upload your images directly through Bridge to have them automatically renamed to match your filing system.

·         Add Star ratings 1-5 to your images

·         Use the filter system to search through your images

·         Creating Collections (kind of like music playlists) to regroup your photos into different albums without creating doubles on your hard drive.

·         Preview your images without having to open them in another programme through numerous different ways.

·         Completely customisable workspace/dashboard so you can prioritise quick access to the features and files you use the most

Prices and Plans It is completely free regardless of whether you purchase the rest of the Creative Cloud from Adobe.
Biggest Pro It’s quick and easy freeing up a massive amount of time in the long run, making it easier to track your existing images.  It lowers the chance of losing or accidently deleting images.
Biggest Con At present they don’t have any ability to access the app from your phone which is where most people take majority of their pictures so their isn’t really an option to file your images on the go from your mobile.