Now that we're off off-the-high-street and back to trading mainly online it was strangely comforting to read a statement from John Lewis based on this Christmas trade where they state the obvious - there is a big shift in consumer spending where more and more people are shopping online.
Hence it's fairly self-explanatory that being nifty on social media and being able to update my website quickly and relatively easily is paramount. Time is money, money is tight - the main woe of most fellow small food and other similar creative businesses so it gets more and more important to work quicker, smarter and more importantly...cheaper!
So here they are:
My Top 5 apps for Small Creative Businesses
This genius web-based graphic design app is for creating web graphics, business stationary, infographics, leaflets, Facebook covers, Instagram posts etc. It's a doddle to use for the graphic-design-impaired like myself. While it would be awesome to have a graphic designer "on call" you'll find that most good experienced designers often have lead times longer than you'd wish for (if they're good, they're in demand!) and if you're in need of something quick that you can't queue for you're better off with a DIY jobby. That's where Canva steps in and saves us from the depths of the Photoshop-InDesign abyss. You can upload your own images and choose smart layouts, overlay text and graphics with various fonts (it even suggests font pairings - I love that!) and you can then download, save and use to your heart's content. I've used it for making sliding banners and our birthday cake catalogue too.
UPDATE 2019: Invest your time in learning Photoshop! There are tons of online tutorials and in the long run (but not too long) the rewards are huge.
One thing every SEO professional will always harp on about is page loading speeds. And for good reason! Other than Uncle Google not really rating slow pages, nobody wants to hang around these days waiting for a page to load. If my time equals money, so does my customer's, hence we want to get them their product info as fast as we can and hit them quick with photos of the most incredible birthday cakes they have ever seen before they change their mind and bounce off to a competitor's site. As our products are largely image-led we have heaps of photos on our site so to make sure it doesn't weigh down our page loading speed much I crunch them all to nothing using Photorazor. It's quick, it's easy, it's awesome and it has been around for ages. And it's FREEEE.
Mind the MEGA-BITES! (gettit, gettit?)
I was only recently introduced to this amazing free usertesting app by Karen of Smashingtheglass.com. What a cool find! Enter your website, a few other details and within a few hours you'll have a 5 minute video of someone random actually using your site and giving you their view and first impressions. It's a great way to gain constructive criticism and insight you may otherwise find difficult to get (friends n fam are generally too kind, or totes b!tchy, neither of which is very useful), and you can do three tests a month absolutely free. Have a go - It's addictive and can also be absolutely hilarious! Not convinced? Check out this funny review of our site :)
Another great photo app that makes lovely collages for your blog while also crunching pixels, ie image size - #winning. It's not free but it's worth every penny if you take some pride in your blog (which every small business should)
I've sung praises of this photo editing app before and I can't sing enough. Pretty much all our cake, macaron, marshmallow etc photography is now done on my humble iPhone and I can edit on the go, resize and upload into blog posts or product pages straight from my phone. I find the interface a bit easier than SnapSeed but it's just my personal preference. Both are excellent apps.
I hope these have helped and you get on swell with them. I'm always on the look out for a cool new app so if you have a favourite that should be my new favourite please do share in the comments!