Style Guides That Get It Right

Style guides can be an invaluable tool for your business in both physical and digital spaces. For example, if you are working with anyone else to make a website, or design a business card, having a style guide can go a long way in making sure everything is done right the first time.

Without one, you are sure to face constant back and forth communication for this information and multiple redesigns and rewrites when something doesn’t come out the way you want it.

Wikipedia defines a style guide as:

[A] set of standards for the writing and design of documents, either for general use or for a specific publication, organization, or field. A style guide establishes and enforces style to improve communication. To do that, it ensures consistency (within a document and across multiple documents) and enforces best practice in usage and in language composition, visual composition, orthography (including spelling, capitalization, hyphenation, and other punctuation), and typography.

Source: Style guide – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

DC's 2015 Palette: Varying Shades of Gray

DC’s 2015 Palette: Various Shades of Gray

Style guides go back a long time. If you take a peek at http://thestandardsmanual.com/ you will find the very first edition of the style guide for the New York City Transit Authority, published in 1970. Signage for the subways in NYC have such a distinctive look because the city created a style guide to provide a consistent message that would not be confused.

Style guides don’t have to be dozens of pages or be specifically about branding, either. Especially for smaller businesses, a single page with the correct color palette and some high-quality (preferably vector eg. .ai or .eps) files containing your logo can suffice.

The web is a perfect platform to host your style guide, but many companies have been hesitant to embrace the medium. For example, Apple’s latest style guide is a sprawling 197-page PDF. Not exactly terrific bathroom reading.

Uber, the private-contractor based cab company on your phone, is a company that most definitely embraces the web with it’s branding guideline website. Everything you need to know about the brand is freely available, and the appropriate logos are available to download without any hoops to jump through. It’s even built on WordPress, so you know we’re excited about it.

What it really means is that you don’t have to be a huge tech company to put out your own style guide, the foundation is out there for anyone regardless of technical or design backgrounds.

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What’s your elevator pitch?

Ideally, you can describe your business in 15 seconds or less in a compelling way. If you cannot, then the Harvard Business School has an “Elevator Pitch Builder” to help you along:

I tried it… this is what I came up with:

The Next Wave is a leading edge, authoritative marketing/innovation resource that creates lust and evokes trust using all forms of media and PR opportunities in order to position our customers as leading experts in their field, transforming their business models and marketing methods for growth and success.

It’s not exactly automated, but it brings structure to your thoughts. It also gives some stats:

Mine was 44 words, 11 seconds and 2 repeated words.

The average was 231 words, 56 seconds and 4 repeated words. Obviously, a lot of people are a bit long winded.

Feel free to leave your pitch as a comment to this post when you do yours, or send it to [email protected]  I’d love to see it and promote it in the next newsletter.

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WordPress shopping carts with Magento features

The beauty of WordPress is that it brings traffic to your site if you post good content frequently- and if you want to sell stuff, traffic is good.

The problem with Shopping carts online- is they are only that – a shopping cart- a store, with no advertising- except what you pay for. Magento is an amazing open source shopping cart solution- but, it’s not a CMS- and it doesn’t give you the ease of posting that WordPress does- so- enter Visser labs– with their plugins that bring the WP e-Commerce plugin some of the cool functionality of Magento- without the the complexities.

The first is the ability to have 2 different price levels- one for wholesale- and one for retail:

Wholesale Pricing for WP e-Commerce uses custom User Roles to apply different pricing levels against preferred customers (e.g. Subscribers, Wholesalers, Staff, etc.).

via Wholesale Pricing | Visser Labs.

Another gives you the ability to do wish lists:

Add to Wishlist for WP e-Commerce also allows WordPress users to manage their Favourites entries and remove items they no longer desire. Easy integration to WP e-Commerce and comprehensive step by step instructions are included.

Or offline credit card processing- for those who don’t want to charge when ordered- but when shipped:

Offline Credit Card Processing allows store owners to process credit card orders offline by accepting the credit card information and spliting the card number into two parts; partial save to the database while the rest e-mailed to the store owner.

Check out their site for more plugins to this e-commerce solution for WordPress.

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