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Archive for May, 2012

Monday Blues: 5 Ways to Counter It

In studies conducted with US participants, results have shown that suicides are more likely to occur on Mondays than any other weekday, and not surprisingly, the amount of suicides are the least during weekends. It is also revealed that Monday depresses the most people compared to any other days of the week. Seems like there is a reason behind the term ‘Monday Blues’ after all.

It probably wouldn’t come as a shock to you that a UK research also found that most sick leaves are also taken on Mondays. As to why Monday is a particularly moody day, well, it’s pretty obvious that we’d end up a bit down when returning to work, especially after a fun and rested weekend. In reality though, the real reason may be more than meets the eye.

It turns out that Monday Blues could be a case of biological emotional cycles that determine our ‘biological’ moods. In other words, it’s not the negative feelings we have of going back to work that’s making us blue, but periodic mood shifts that go by the week. Fortunately for us, there are a few simple things we can do to help minimize the ill effects of Monday Blues.

1. Have Something to Look Forward to on Monday Nights

What is it that keeps you going from Monday ’til Friday? Weekends! You’d probably be thinking about the weekend getaway with your buddies, daydreaming about the sea breeze and the golden sandy beaches that awaits your arrival; no doubt these thoughts would help make the time pass faster.

The same theory thus, should also apply to your Mondays. Plan something for after work so that you have something to look forward to. Monday is probably just the start of a hard week ahead, so you deserve an exciting event at the end of the day to motivate you while you work.

If you feel that you’d be too exhausted for a night out, consider doing something at home; something relaxing. Taking a long bath while indulging in soothing music and a homemade aromatherapy session should lessen the stress you are facing at work or after a long weekend, partying.

If you make it a habit to go home to relax every Monday evening, sooner or later you’d not see each Monday as a taxing day. Rather, it will become the day that you’ll long for. Monday doesn’t have to be the most painful day of the week; it is only so, if you focus on it.

2. Prepare Monday’s Work on Friday

This one seems like common sense, but people don’t seem to heed it. It is a case of instant gratification versus delayed gratification. Yes, Friday is the day when we can finally say take a breather and count down to the weekend. But in reality, some of us have already ‘closed shop’ by midday, and simply thinking about plans for the weekends.

The result? We leave Friday’s work to pick up on Monday,and we face a double whammy when we return to work after the weekend.

I suggest that you bring the coming Monday’s work to this Friday. This will not only minimize the dread you’ll face on Monday mornings, but also keep your mind off work during the weekend. At the very least, if you plan out Monday’s workload on Friday, you’ll feel less overwhelmed come Monday. Planning ahead can help you cope with Mondays and maintain your productivity levels for the rest of the week.

3. Socialize

Humans are social animals. Even if you are an introvert and prefer to keep to yourself most of the time, you still need some social contact once in a while. Engaging in a conversation stimulates the mind enough to actually kick-start it for the day. If you dive straight into your work the moment you reach the office, chances are that your brain is still trying to ‘wake up’. Like a car engine, your brain needs to warm up before it can function optimally.

Other sources would suggest waking up earlier, getting some sunlight, or finding something to laugh about, etc. The idea is to freshen up your mind before you start work, so that you’ll get enough motivation and energy to face yet another demanding Monday.

socialize Monday Blues: 5 Ways to Counter It

I suggest socialization here because there’s nothing more invigorating than the exchange of ideas and opinions via conversations. The conversations need not be ‘deep’ in nature; even a simple chat about how the weekend was spent can wake up all your senses and your mind for the day ahead.

4. Reconceptualize Mondays

This one is a little tricky because it has a lot to do mind over matter. Ask yourself: why does Monday have to be blue? Just because everyone says so? Well, it doesn’t have to be. Yes, you should ‘reprogram’ the way you see Monday. Monday may be the day we have to drag our feet back to work after an awesome weekend but if you look at it as the beginning of a great week ahead, the thought can empower you and propel you to a great start.

As it is with other things in life, it is a matter of seeing the glass half empty or half full. You can be overwhelmed with all the duties and deadlines you are in charge of, or you can be enthusiastic about the responsibilities and goals thrown upon you.

If this doesn’t work for you, my fifth and final tip, the simplest and most counter-intuitive solution could just be the answer to your Monday woes.

5. Accept It

Monday blues is like a Chinese finger trap; the more you struggle, the tighter it gets. In other words, fighting the blues only makes it worse. The solution to both Monday blues and the finger trap is surprisingly very similar. For the finger trap, you just need to relax your fingers and push them further in. The trap will then loosen and you’ll get your fingers out. As for your Monday blues, just accept that it’s a dreadful day and that you’ll probably feel a bit tired and down.

Think about it: Monday is already a miserable day and you’re still thinking of ways to stop yourself feeling that way? It will only exhaust you further. Why not go with the flow and cope with the stress? Time passes by quickly when you don’t dwell on it.

After awhile you wouldn’t even remember that Mondays are supposed to be blue. It’s just the day after the weekend when we all have to return to work.

How do you cope with your Monday blues? Share your thoughts about the phenomenon and how you cope with the first-day blues in the comments section. Have a great week ahead and Cheers!

Beautiful Landing Pages: Tips

Tips for Designing a Landing Page

Some quick tips to start from when designing a landing page:

1. Use the AIDA principle

This is a chain of events that we desire to happen once a lead reaches the platform displaying the promoted product or service. Mainly, the steps are:

  1. Awareness – attract attention from the visitor
  2. Interest – which can be aroused by highlighting the benefits to the customer
  3. Desire – induce in customers the idea that they want the product or service
  4. Action – customers performing the purchase process

2. Not too many distractions; leave A way out

The idea is simple. If the landing page has virtually no navigation option except for the CTA button, visitors will force their exit. Don’t think that if you don’t provide any navigation, they won’t find a way to leave – they will, maybe even by shutting down the browser. And these visitors will not come back.

3. Make it pass the blink test

Typically, a landing page has to catch the visitor’s attention in the first 3 seconds of entry. If the guest blinks, and can’t see clearly what he should find on the page or isn’t interested with what he saw, he is most likely to bounce away empty-handed.

4. Don’t create false expectations

The landing page has to be consistent with the hints provided by the original ad, or vice versa. Visitors have to find on the landing page what they were first promised in the ad they clicked.

As we have promised, let’s tour some nicely designed and effective landing pages of B2B and B2C. We will explore their strengths and inevitable weaknesses. Watch out for the following in the gallery below: visual communication, branding and trust indicators, content effectiveness, calls-to-action.

Understanding the Lingo: Typography Glossary

Ascender, descender, tail, ligature. What do they all mean? A glossary of terms can help you understand the parts of type for your next project.

The art of typography is not always the easiest thing to understand. It almost has a language of its own. Understanding ascenders, descenders, ligatures, x-heights and stems will help you better make connections between type and the other features on your website.

The terms associated with typography can be broken into several categories based on use. This glossary contains common phrases, typography jargon, font identification, spacing and specialty lettering.

Commonly-used letter terminology

Understanding the most commonly-used names for the parts of letters can help you better speak the language of type. Many of these terms are used in common speech among designers.

Ascender: Any part of a letter that extends beyond the x-height of a character set.

Descender: Any part of a letter that drops below the baseline of a character set.

Stroke: The individual lines used to create a letterform. Strokes are measured by weight based on how thick or thin letters are. Some letters are created using multiple stokes, while others only use a single stroke. The term dates to when all type was created by hand and each stroke was created when the pen was lifted from paper.

Serif: Short strokes that extend from letters. Serifs generally appear on the bottom and top corners of letters and can range from small and square to large and rather elaborate. Serif fonts refer to type families that include serifs on each letter.

Sans serif: Typefaces without serifs. Sans serif typefaces are sometimes referred to as Gothics.

Stem: Vertical full-length strokes in characters are called stems. This main stroke can be perfectly vertical, such as in the letter “T,” or have a diagonal slant, like in “V.”

Tail: An end stroke that has more of a decorative feel. Some mix and match the terms tail and descender but a tail does not always have to fall below the baseline.

Jargon terms

When you really start talking about the specific parts of a letter, you will hear another set of lingo. While most of these words are common for typographers and font designers, they may be less common for web designers.

Counter: The open space inside letter strokes. Counter space can result from fully-closed or partially closed letter shapes.

Bowl: The fully-closed section of a letter created by single or adjoining strokes.

Arm: A vertical or horizontal stroke that only intersects another stroke at one point and is open on the other end.

Eye: An eye refers to a closed space inside a letter form, specifically the space inside the lowercase “e.”

Bar or Crossbar: The horizontal strokes between letters. Bars are commonly used to connect points on a single stroke, such as in a lowercase “e.” Crossbars connect separate strokes, such as in the uppercase “A.”

Link: A stroke that connects a letter containing two bowls, such as a “g” in certain typefaces.

Terminal: The endpoint of a descender. An actual terminal does not include a serif; a teardrop terminal is a rounded teardrop-shaped serif on a descender.

Fonts

Everyone understands what a font is. But do you really understand how they are measured or what constitutes bold or condensed type?

Point: A measurement of type. There are 72 points in one inch.

Condensed type: Any type style that is designed using narrow proportions. Condensed fonts can have thick or thin strokes.

Bold or boldface: Using a heavier weight for each stroke of a typeface so that each letter appears with more emphasis. Bolding refers to any weight in a typeface that is thicker than the standard or regular variant of the font.

Italic: The slanting or forward lean added to a typeface. Italics can add slant or a combination of slant and cursive details.

Display font: Typefaces used for large type in projects is called display type. These typefaces do not have to be different fonts than used elsewhere in the project but correspond to the size of text. Display fonts are typically used at 16 points or greater and are found in banners, headlines and headers.

Openface: Fonts with open areas included in each letter. Openface fonts will not include bowls.

Spacing and lines

Just as important to the actual letters is the spacing between each letter and between lines of type. Spacing can actually make or break the typography in your project and greatly affects readability.

Baseline: An invisible horizontal line on which upper-and lowercase letters rest. The baseline does not include the space occupied by descenders.

X-height: The height of a font family’s lowercase “x.” Most lowercase letters – minus ascenders and descenders — will rest between the baseline and x-height.

Cap height: The distance between the baseline and the top of a capital letter.

Kerning: Adjusted horizontal space between letters. Kerning adjustments can open of close gaps between letters and can be done based on a preset formula or manually when type is set.

Leading: Vertical space between lines of type. Leading can also be adjusted to bring lines of type closer together or separate them. Extremes in leading can greatly affect readability.

Specialty lettering

Some lettering has a life – and style – of its own. Specialty lettering comes in a variety of forms and tends to have a more artistic than typographic look.

Icon: Graphic symbol or rendering created from letterforms. Note how online magazine Modern Ink uses letting to create an icon that is used throughout the site for brand identification.

Initial cap: Also called a drop cap, the initial cap is a large or decorative letter used at the beginning of a text block. It can dip into multiple lines of text.

Cloistered initial: Most commonly appear as a single capital letter contained in an ornamental box, but multiple letters can be used. Cloistered initials are also called drop caps and are commonly used as the first letter in a block of text.

Small cap: The use of all capital letters in place of lowercase letters, where the height of each letter is no taller than the character set’s x-height.

Fleuron: Ornamental lettering in which the characters take on elements that look like flowers and leaves. This type of font is usually considered a glyph, although in some cases letters are identifiable.

Monogram: A grouping of letters that create a design based on initials. Note how Tow Arms Inc. combines the first letters from the company name in its logo.

Conclusion

Understanding the language of type is a tool that can help designers better communicate with other creative professionals. Try to get yourself familiar with type lingo, not only so you can talk the talk but so that you can also better understand the basics of typography.

Type is a key part of almost all website design. Understanding it will not only make you feel more confident in working with others but will also help you succeed in a variety of design projects.