When creating a feature image for your articles, there’s a lot to consider. It’s important that you make something that catches the eye of your audience and entices users to investigate further. Here is a rundown of the most important things to keep in mind.
Know your context.
The first and most critical thing you can do is to understand the content you’re working with and its mood. Without understanding the context you’re designing for, you may miss key conceptual details that will create a disconnect between the text and the image. Take time to read the article, and if you need clarification from the author, don’t be afraid to ask.
Mood is important in a feature image. This example is an image for a webinar hosted by Arc. We wanted to draw attention to the program’s being online, while still presenting in a sleek and serious tone through use of typography and color.
Stay up to date with trends.
Whether you’re creating images from scratch or using online resources, it’s important to keep in line with design trends. That’s why every week, I take just a bit of extra time to go online and look at what other designers are doing for inspiration. There are plenty of design blogs, and some do a great job of covering a wide variety of trends for the year. For instance, Behance has not only a vast array of portfolios, but also provides guidelines for keeping up with current trends.
This feature image for an article about playlists on YouTube integrates the YouTube color palette with one of 2017’s design trends.
Employ both consistency and variety.
Although it’s important that the image you end up with serves the story at hand, it’s also important that your feature images go together to some extent. As with any brand, consistency is key. When people go to your home page, they don’t want to be bombarded with chaotic, mismatched images.
The 30×30 Nature Challenge took place in several different USGBC communities, but we wanted all the branding content to be related. This was achieved through creating a work mark for the challenge and placing it on top of imagery from the state that was being highlighted in each article.
That said, users also don’t want to see too much of the same. Make sure you have a variety of colors, graphics and photos that look cohesive together, but also diverse enough to stand out from one another.
It’s important that your images are consistent with another in some capacity; otherwise, your main page will look too chaotic.
Use the web for inspiration and resources.
Still having trouble coming up with ideas? Luckily, there are a lot of great sources online that provide free photos for commercial use, such as Pixabay or Unsplash. You can also look at Flickr’s creative commons for more photos. Other websites, such as The Noun Project, provide infinite icons for use for practically no money at all.
Although much of our content is serious, we also want USGBC to be fun and dynamic. Using bright colors and simple iconic imagery, we’re able to create clean works that still pop.
There is no one right way to create a feature image, but with understanding of your content, along with access to tools and trends, you’ll be on track to generating cohesive, eye-catching feature images for your articles.
Wondering how well your content is doing? Just ask your customer.
Online surveys are an easy way to gather customer feedback and research that helps you make better-informed business decisions. At USGBC, we recently launched a global language survey to see how we could enhance our international audience’s LEED experience.
Here are several guidelines to follow when launching a survey, from writing the questions to sharing the final results with coworkers.
Define your survey’s purpose, and write a marketing plan.
Before you get started on drafting any survey questions, ask yourself: What do you want to know?
After determining what information you’re looking to collect, write it all down by creating a marketing plan, which should include target audience and promotion tactics, to share with your team.
Our survey aimed to capture key demographic information about our international audience, so we could sketch a customer profile in terms of industry, job level, age, location and primary language.
We opted to keep the survey open for three weeks and distributed it through an article, emails and USGBC’s social media channels. We also leveraged our staff’s international contacts to help promote the survey.
Draft your survey questions, and share them with your team for their feedback.
Keep your questions as simple, direct and short as possible, so there’s no confusion about what’s being asked. Avoid any leading questions.
Since we were looking for demographic information about our global audience, our questions centered on profession and industry, location and language. Some of our survey questions included:
- What is your primary language?
- What is your country of residence? How long have you lived in your country of residence?
- What is your primary language? Are you fluent in any other languages Is English the primary language you use at work?
- Which of the following most closely matches your job level?
SurveyMonkey has a great list of tips on writing effective survey questions.
After you’ve finished writing your questions, make sure to share the draft with your team for their input and pick a survey platform to use, such as GetFeedback or SurveyMonkey. Ask your team to do a beta test to get an average on how long the survey takes to complete and to determine if any questions need additional polishing.
Reporting the results: Make sure to include key takeaways and charts.
After your survey is over and you have all the data, build out several charts and graphics to share within your company. Make sure to include within your report your survey’s duration, number of responses, methodology and high-level observations.
Our survey results suggested our international audience is fairly young, fluent in English and mid-level in their industries, with the top three being in design, engineering and construction.
Spanish is the most popular native language, followed by Portuguese, English and Chinese. Interestingly, we found that the majority of our users preferred to use English resources in studying for a LEED professional exam or working on a LEED project.
High on my list of goals for the year was to take more time to recognize—and celebrate—our amazing creative services and marketing team at USGBC. If you’ve spent any time on USGBC Studio, you’ll have seen the caliber of talent stockpiled within the team, and you’ll understand why gratitude topped my to-do list.
My plan? Submit some of our favorite creative work from the past year into industry competitions. (Usually we’re too busy doing the work to take time to applaud the work).
SITES advertising creative piece
- Winner of 2017 American Inhouse Design Award
Screen-printed USGBC T-shirt
This limited-edition tee for Greenbuild 2016 honored industry champion Rick Fedrizzi and was featured previously on Studio.
- Winner of 2017 American Inhouse Design Award
- Winner of 2017 Hermes Creative Award
For communications professionals who work in sustainability, earning the LEED Green Associate credential is the best way to learn about green building principles—and in turn, to help you produce stronger, more engaging content.
That’s why I took the test, along with my colleagues, communications manager Ali Peterson and content specialist Amanda Sawit. As any marketing and public relations professional knows, the key to being an effective communicator is knowing your subject matter like the back of your hand.
Ali, Amanda and I recently gathered with moderator and content marketing specialist Heather Benjamin to discuss tips on studying for the test, why we decided to pursue our credential and how earning our LEED Green Associate credential improved our content strategy and workflow.
Listen to our conversation:
About the LEED Green Associate Exam
The test involves 100 multiple-choice questions that you have two hours to answer on a computer. There are no eligibility requirements to sit for the exam. The test costs $200 for USGBC members, $100 for students and $250 for all others. Check out our Beginner’s Guide to the LEED Green Associate Exam for more information.
Looking for additional resources? Here were our essential studying materials while gearing up for the test:
- LEED Green Associate Candidate Handbook
- LEED Core Concepts Guide
- LEED BD+C Reference Guide (Introductory and Overview Sections)
- LEED v4 Impact Category and Point Allocation Development Process
- LEED Green Associate exam: Two-week study plan
- Practice tests on Education @USGBC platform
The National Retail Federation projects that Americans will spend approximately $8.4 billion to celebrate Halloween this year, a record high in the annual survey’s history. Save a bit of green while being green, and make your home spooktacular with these seven eco-friendly DIY decorating projects.
1. Paper origami bats made with 100 percent recycled construction paper
Trick your guests into thinking there’s a flock of bats in your home by creating 10 or so paper versions to stick on a wall (instructions are at AGirlAndAGlueGun.com). You’ll need recycled black construction paper, which should cost $2–3. You also could create a paper bat mobile as Martha Stewart advises, by tying your winged creations to a tree branch.
2. Spooky terrarium jars
Decorate your windowsills with these DIY Network spooky terrarium jars, using recycled glass jars with spiders, cotton ghosts, moss and branches. Making these terrarium jars is fairly easy, and it’s a great project to get kids involved in. You can let them fill their jars with whatever tiny, terrifying toys they like.
If you have some old gauze tape lying around and extra glass jars, you also can make your own mummy luminaries from the blog “A Little Clairification.”
3. Dark paper flowers
Add a touch of shadowy glamour to your space by making a black flower arrangement using biodegradable crepe paper. If you have extra paper, you also can make a black paper wreath, as seen in “Country Living.”
4. Wooden pumpkins
Try something new this year, and make your own version of a pumpkin as Today’s Fabulous Finds suggests, by reusing old wooden blocks.
5. Spirit jugs
Light up the pathway to your home for trick-or-treaters with “Eighteen25″‘s spirit jugs. Take any old, used milk gallon jugs, and draw silly faces on them using a permanent marker. Make these ghost-like containers shine at night with low-wattage christmas lights.
6. Apple tea light holders
These apple tea light holders from “Woman’s Day” are an easy and quick way to illuminate a room during Halloween. After using the apples, you can give them to a local farm for animal food or add them to a compost bin.
7. Recycled K-cup garland of lights
Big coffee drinker? The “KimSixFix” shows you how to put those old K-cups to use by making a garland of lights to hang across your fireplace’s mantel for Halloween. Like the spirit jugs, you can draw a variety of scary faces on each cup.