The Eye of the Chicago Web Designer

I can’t help myself, it seems it is not enough for me to be creative during the day designing websites, logos and the like. My creativity spills over into my spare time too.  The outlet for my endeavors  is my personal blog “Creative in Chicago” which is just sky rocketing along.

Here is one of my latest creation, a piece of String Art where the negative space does the talking!
String Art

© 2012 Chicago Web Designer

Chicago web designer tip of the day: Check your Google Ad preferences

The Chicago web designers tip of the day.

Here is a little short and sweet thing for you to check out on this amazingly warm Chicago afternoon,  it’s 40 deg F and I have just been out WITHOUT a coat on!

If you have a Google account click HERE and  see if the profile Google has of you, is correct. They use information gathered from your web browsing history ( if you have that enabled) to show  ads more relevant to your interests.

But it seems not all profiles are correct.

Here are the categories and demographics of my profile.

google ads optout

Amazingly I only seem to have three interest categories which is a little odd as the very nature of my web and graphic design job, means I run a huge gamut of searches across a wide range of subjects and industries. Secondly they have me pegged in the 25-34 age range …which is sweet … but incorrect. Just about the only thing they got right was my gender.

Google allows you to remove or edit anything you like and also opt out of the tailored ad system completely.

Does Google have your profile correct?

© 2012 Chicago Web Designer

Looking for a Marketing Visual: Try Tagxedo

Here is a interesting application to quickly and easily generate tag cloud images, Tagxedo.

It grabs the most frequently used words from any web site or blog feed , search term or Twitter Id.

The fonts, color palette and shape can be easily customized.

tagxedo Chicago web designer

and you can even upload a custom shape …here I uploaded the icon of our logo.

tagxedo custom shape

The images it creates can be saved in a number of formats. A good idea for a really quick marketing idea.

©: 2011 Chicago Web Designer

Pinterest: Frequently asked questions

One of the hottest social media networks is Pinterest. You have questions we have answers.

What is Pinterest?

Pinterest  is  one of the fastest growing social networking sites. It is a virtual pin board enabling you to share  images  you find online.  You can organize your images onto separate boards according to your interests. For example within my collection I have a board of contemporary art work and a board of free printable.

pinterest boards

Who is using Pinterest and what are they using it for?

The majority of Pinterest users are women aged between 25 and 44. It is primarily used to share DIY, craft, beauty, art, design, home decor, food, fashion, photography and  garden imagery.  If for example a pinner is remodeling a home they may have boards for Kitchens, bathrooms, landscape design, painting techniques etc.

How do I get started?


Currently Pinterest is by invitation only but if you email I will send you an invite. You do need either a Facebook or Twitter account to activate your profile but you can unlink from these accounts at any time.

How do I configure a board?

A new Pinterst account come with five empty boards which can be configured however you like. It is also very easy to create new boards as you need them. You can set the title a description, a category, and who is able to pin to the board. New boards can be made during the act of pinning an item.

pinterst board

How do I pin an image to a board?

There are various ways to pin an image to a board but by far the easiest is to install the ” Pin it” button to your browser toolbar. Then whenever you come across something you’d like to share hit the “Pin It” button and follow the prompts. You will be able to add you pin to an existing board or even create a new one and your pin will automatically be added to your Pinterest profile without ever having to visit the site.

Pinterest pin it button

You can also repin images you see on other users boards to your own boards.

What type of things can I pin?

You can pin any image or video you like* but the most successful pins , the ones that get repinned onto other boards, liked, commented on and “go viral”,  are  those that are interesting, unique and well photographed. In essential “Eye Candy” images are the winners.

(* for a full disclosure on what is permissible see here)

Finding Friends

Because your Pinterest account is already linked to your Twitter or Facebook account it is easy to see which of your friend are already using Pinterest. You can also follow other pinners whose boards interst you…following all of their boards or just an individual board. The more active you are in the community the more followers you will get.

Can Pinterest drive traffic to my website?

When ever an image or video is pinned to a board it is automatically linked to the source site so there is definitely potential for traffic. My personal blog Creative in Chicago receives about 15% of it’s traffic from Pinterest.

Pinterest and seo links

The lastest figures show that Pinterst is used predominantly by women aged 25-44

Follow me on Pinterest!

Follow Me on Pinterest

©: 2012 Chicago web designer

Elements of a good email signature

The New Year often give pause to thought on how you are conducting your business. Are you making the most of your opportunities, using your time efficiently, attracting the right sort of clients? It is a time for reviewing and updating and I have a number of things I will be updating over the next few weeks for my own business.

On the agenda today was  my email signature and as much of my business communication is done via email, it is an important little snippet at the bottom of every email I send. It essentially acts as an electronic business card.

What are the elements of a good email signature?

  • Your name
  • Email address
  • Telephone number
  • Fax Number
  • A very brief statement on what you do and offer
  • Link to company web site
  • Links to social media profiles such as Twitter and Facebook
  • Keeping the signature short and sweet

In my signature I also have my logo and also the word “Thanks” so I don’t have to type it out every time.  The signature can also be edited on a per email basis, so if I need to have a more formal finish I can easily delete “Thanks” and replace with something more appropriate. The same goes for adding my surname.

Here is how it looks.

Elements of an effective email signatureSetting up an email  signature in Outlook is easy and there are great instruction on how to do so here.

© 2012 Chicago Web Designer