Ocular Harmony http://www.ocularharmony.com Web Design Mon, 18 Mar 2013 16:44:37 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.5.1 Free Klout Icon Download http://www.ocularharmony.com/free-klout-icon-download/ http://www.ocularharmony.com/free-klout-icon-download/#comments Wed, 05 Sep 2012 08:43:39 +0000 Robin http://www.ocularharmony.com/?p=1567 I had a little bit of time on my hands so I decided I’d work on a +Klout icon. I have no idea if Klout has an embeddable +k button, but these icons can link to one’s Klout page, where another user can give you +K. Remember to give others Klout whenever you can, and the favor will be returned to you!

I’d also like to thank Dribbble for allowing PSD uploads. You can follow me on Dribbble and download the PSD below (Click the little “attachment” underneath the thumb).

Klout measures your social media influence online

About Klout

Klout is a service that measures your influence online. It focuses primarily on the two monsters – Twitter and Facebook, though seems to be adding new services quite regularly that can influence your score. Users can give one another “+K”, indicating that they’re people that influence you.

View my Klout Profile

Do you have Klout?

What’s your favourite part about Klout, and what do you use it for? Post your Klout URL in the comments below and I’ll Klout list you! You can view my Klout Profile here.

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Increase User Engagement while getting free targeted backlinks http://www.ocularharmony.com/increase-user-engagement-livefyre/ http://www.ocularharmony.com/increase-user-engagement-livefyre/#comments Mon, 09 Apr 2012 01:00:51 +0000 Robin http://www.ocularharmony.com/?p=1370 Its 8:00am and before the scent of coffee is in the air. Yesterday you published a post you put a ton of effort into and you excitedly check to see how many new comments you got overnight. 2. Thats right, two comments. Not only that, but they’re both spam. Sound familiar? In the following article I discuss how you can increase user engagement & blog comments with a slick plugin called LiveFyre.

As we all know, blogs are a great outlet to publish your ideas and thoughts to the world and receive feedback and discussion on the topic. People no longer have to rely on bias news stations in order to learn about the world. Instead, you get to choose who we get to follow for our news source with countless topics. You get to engage and provide our own opinions and talk to the writer. The two-way communication allows readers to explore the topic more and hear about exactly what they want to hear about. This article is about LiveFyre, and how it does a phenomenal job at maximizing your blog’s reader engagement.

First, lets examine two other powerful commenting systems which can add a lot of value to your blog.  I’ve examined many commenting systems in the past and looked out for the one that’s most ideal for clients and myself.

 


 

Disqus


Disqus was one of the neatest commenting plugins that came out, and it came out before the other big name commenting integrations. However, at the time when I discovered it, it was quite clunky and seemed very complex. As avant-garde as it was when it was released, it alienated readers and it was hard to simply send a comment in as a guest. Now it’s much more streamlined, easy to use, minimalistic, and provides stats. Another hot feature is it integrates with your social media profiles quite nicely. Another bonus is that you can customize how it looks. Have a look at the features. Unfortunately, the price is quite steep to fully take advantage of Disqus’ advanced features. $299/month. Ouch? Yes, Ouch.

Here’s what makes Disqus groovy:

  • Realtime Commenting
  • Social Media Login Integration
  • Has a “Most Active Members” box
  • In-depth analytics (for premium versions)
  • Easy Media Embedding
  • You can “Like” comments and have nested comments
  • Restrict certain words and blacklist users
  • Customizable theme
  • Integrates with many platforms – WordPress, Drupal, Tumblr, Blogger, and even non-CMS sites

…and what’s ungroovy about Disqus:

  • Advanced features requires a deep wallet – more targeted at companies than individuals
  • Doesn’t have the advanced social media features that LiveFyre has

 


 

CommentLuv

CommentLuv is a fabulous idea to encourage people to comment on your blog by rewarding them with DoFollow links. Commenters received a link back to their latest post too, which helps their traffic out. When I used CommentLuv, I found a lot of people only commented just to get a link out of it. However, the creator, Andy Bailey found a solution to that. With CommentLuv Premium, you receive control over who gets the dofollow links. You can setup rules to allow dofollow for users who do something such as tweet your post, share it on Facebook, or after adding X number of comments on your blog. This helps your Social Media immensely. The problem is that its target is only other bloggers. What about the general public and people that don’t have a blog? Rewarding your readers is a great thing indeed, but the motive of commenting on a blog to receive a link is something that won’t captivate people to comment because they’re genuinely engaged in your article. Maybe they are, but you will always get people that are doing it exclusively for their own promotion. On the flip side, the price is right for CommentLuv Premium. For $87 you get a multi-site license and get lifetime updates amongst other cool features.

What Makes CommentLuv Groovy:

  • Great, unique ways to reward readers with Dofollow links
  • Increase your Social Media “Likes”, “Shares”, etc by rewarding readers if they share your content
  • Trackback Validation
  • Free version available, and inexpensive, one-time payment for the Premium Version
  • Allows users to leave their Twitter profile link
  • Has a keyword field so users can leave their names as well as their keywords for their SEO strategy

What’s ungroovy about CommentLuv:

  • Benefits readers that are also bloggers…but not anyone else
  • Commentors should be able to share if they genuinely want to share, not have to compromise in order to win a dofollow link
  • Very basic features compared to Disqus and Lifefyre

 


 

LiveFyre


After trying the above plugins and continued to explore, I discovered LiveFyre. With Feedburner and now LiveFyre installed, my blog feels like an oven! Colleen Taylor (@loyalelectron) wrote about how LiveFyre  landed another 4.5 million dollars to take on Facebook’s commenting integration. Wow, I didn’t know commenting platforms even cost anywhere near that for development. But now every time I hear “LiveFyre” I put on my goofy geeky smile (one that I haven’t put on since the days I played D&D nearly a decade ago). LiveFyre burns up Disqus by offering most of their features for free plus their newest feature – SocialStream.

Imagine gathering discussions about your blog post from Twitter and Facebook and publishing it back into your blog. LiveFyre’s SocialStream lets you do this. On top of that, you can tag your facebook friends and twitter followers in the comment field itself. And then notify them that they were tagged. Cool? It’s hella cool in my books!

Building a community has never been better with this plugin. It targets any average user (whether blogger or not), as well as Facebook and Twitter users. It’s just so easy to use and super versatile.

Why you should consider getting LiveFyre:

  • Realtime Commenting
  • Sign in with Facebook, Twitter, Google, LinkedIn, and OpenID
  • SocialStream allows you to tag people from Facebook and Twitter, and then notify them they were tagged
  • SocialStream imports conversations about the post from Twitter & Facebook
  • Clean Interface
  • It’s free for now!
  • Nested Comments + Like buttons
  • Users get “points” to show how influential they are based on # of comments. Similar to Disqus’ “Ranks”
  • Ability to ban users
  • User-powered comment flagging

Drawbacks for LiveFyre?

  • Doesn’t have media-embedding capabilities that Disqus does

I’m excited to see how these evolve in the future and where it will go next. Dino Dogan suggests the future of 3rd party commenting will be a mix of Disqus and LiveFyre, while having an option to sort comments based on activity. Chronological isn’t the most logical way for comments to appear anyway – influence is. So I tend to agree with him!

But for now, LiveFyre surely takes the cake for the best commenting system.

 

What is your favorite commenting platform? Why?

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Tim Cook – Free PSD Download http://www.ocularharmony.com/tim-cook-free-psd-apple-granny-smith/ http://www.ocularharmony.com/tim-cook-free-psd-apple-granny-smith/#comments Fri, 23 Mar 2012 23:59:50 +0000 Robin http://www.ocularharmony.com/?p=1517

Holy snap. Yesterday I woke up and sipped my beloved coffee reading the Apple news for the first time in my life. It's never been something that interested me, but now I see how much news coverage they get, especially recently.

As most of you have probably noticed, Apple (AAPL) news is plentiful from the last few days, and the shareholders have big smiles on their faces with the recent announcement of their share buybacks. This is on top of the recent release of the iPad 3, revolutionizing the screens we dwell under every day with its retina display, causing designers and app developers to recreate their user interfaces with higher resolution graphics. Oh... and what else you may ask?

It's not only the shareholders that are happy, but it seems Mr. Cook is cooking up a new recipe to deal with the harsh criticisms they received toward the end of last year from the viral news about Foxconns working conditions. That goes along with the discovery of many of the claims about Foxconn's working conditions being false. Undoubtedly there are still severe problems with the way Foxconn runs their death houses - suicides, long hours, and repetitive tasks are something that's quite known about them. Apple's notion to guarantee better working conditions will be very interesting to see how it pans out and what will be done. Until then, it may be better to take with a grain of salt until action has been taking.

Either way, congrats to Apple on making these moves. My fingers are crossed that they hold to this promise.

CAUTION! Gossipy Rumors below!

Apple may buy out Corel or Photoshop? I sure hope they buy Corel. It's time a good hunk of money gets dropped into creating adequate competition for professional graphics programs. This could make Photoshop & Fireworks get the upgrades they really need and allow designers to actually have an alternative to Photoshop.

Read more at zdnet.com

The new iPhone may just be made mostly of glass. Imagine dropping one on a cement floor? Glass is quite a durable material, and it's more scratch-resistant than plastic and can't dent. Though there are concerns that if they go this route for the next iPhone, when dropped on hard surfaces - er.... you know the rest!

Read more at Mashable

Free Tim Cook PSD Download

As a result of all the latest apple hype, I created a PSD of Mr. Cook himself, with captions that you can add to it. Download it for free and share alike!

Download Tim Cook PSDTo ensure your PSD files are safe and secure, why not try some Rackspace file hosting?]]>
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Server Headers 101 [Infographic] http://www.ocularharmony.com/server-headers-101-infographic/ http://www.ocularharmony.com/server-headers-101-infographic/#comments Wed, 07 Mar 2012 15:27:39 +0000 Robin http://www.ocularharmony.com/?p=1494 SEOGadget provides Ocular Harmony an insight into what is a server response and a beautiful infographic to go along with it! Check it out!


Via SEOgadget – A London based digital marketing agency specialising in conversion optimisation.

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Is a Virtual Office Right for Your Business? http://www.ocularharmony.com/benefits-virtual-office/ http://www.ocularharmony.com/benefits-virtual-office/#comments Tue, 06 Mar 2012 07:36:06 +0000 paulescott http://www.ocularharmony.com/?p=1481 If you’ve decided to go global, or to set up a small, niche business that can reap the benefits of today’s world-wide, continuously expanding business environment, you know you’ve got a lot of pragmatic tasks to solve. For one thing, the issues of staffing and headquarters set up are bound to take up a lot of your time in the development stage. And since you’ve come to this stage, it is high time you asked yourself what the best solution for your type of business is. Would you really benefit from a long-term rental of office space, or should you rather establish a virtual office? What are the key differences between the two types of arrangements? What kind of business models are best suited for long-term rentals and which ones are better advised to set up a virtual place of business? Find out below.

The Cost of Renting and Staffing

Setting up offices in a foreign country for the long term involves very careful cost planning. When renting out a space for one or several years, you are essentially making a commitment to the letter, that you will be in business for a long enough span of time to honor the obligations stipulated in your contract. Of course, everyone wants to stay in business for as long a time as possible. On the other hand, the best way to stay on top of the business game under the current economic conditions is to be on your feet and, most importantly, to be able to fall on your feet, if push comes to shove. As such, if you are starting a globally-based business in a highly dynamic industry such as IT, marketing or advertising, in which the rules of the game are constantly changing, you might just profit more from establishing a virtual office.

Key Differences

When renting offices for the long term you usually receive a full-service pack, which includes the space per se, as well as maintenance and cleaning services, which the broker has contracted in your name. With virtual offices, the main advantage is that you don’t have to pay for utilities you never use. You and most of your staff are able to work from home or other remote locations, while your business contacts, prospects and clients stay in touch through a professional mailing address in a business center. You can use conference and meeting facilities on an occasional basis. Your call center and assistants redirect incoming requests via a complex communication system and, in a nutshell, your communication cost margin is driven down by eliminating everything that would be superfluous for doing business on the go. Relevance of Your Business Model Essentially, the decision on the type of office space you want to rent out is entirely up to you and is also inextricably linked to your business model, expansion strategy, mission, goals and vision for the future. If you plan to stay in one country for a longer time then, by all means, rent offices for a long time, keep an optimistic perspective on your success rate and hope for the best. If, on the other hand, you are a more adaptable kind of entrepreneur, then a virtual solution is probably more adequate for you.

Photo by Gabriel GM

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Want to Promote Your Products? Then Get Your Brochure Design Right http://www.ocularharmony.com/brochure-design-the-right-way/ http://www.ocularharmony.com/brochure-design-the-right-way/#comments Mon, 13 Feb 2012 06:47:52 +0000 cstevens http://www.ocularharmony.com/?p=1475 Brochures are powerful promotional tools that help in the sale of products and services. A professional graphic designer gets the design right to make a brochure sell. Designers should use limited colors, apt fonts and relevant images for making it pop. Size and paper quality equally matters.

Brochures are still considered one of the most powerful tools that help in the promotion of products or services. Be it a printed material or online, you should get the designs right. Designers who play safe go through a number of samples before designing one. Sometimes, it is also important to study the brochure design of your competitors.

In this age of tough competition, it is mandatory to promote your business and the products. As a graphic designer, you should do some amount of research to spice up your client’s brochure. Get inspired from seniors designers but do not directly copy their techniques. This way you will become a successful graphic design artist.

In this discussion, I will share with you some ideas to design powerful brochures.

Decide What You Want

First decide what your objective is. Do you want to start with the graphics or the content first? If you want the brochure to be content focused, then make sure to write content that is engaging and effective.

Highlight the primary selling points with bullets instead of writing lengthy content. On the other hand, if you wish to integrate attractive designs and images, then go for it. Whatever you do, ensure that the brochure looks smart and elegant. Avoid overdoing content or graphics as that will make it look messy.

1. Neat Layout

Having a neat and defined layout is very significant in brochure designing. It is a layout that determines the placing of content, images, or other design elements. Get your layout right before starting off with the design. It will help you modify the designs later, if there is a need.

2. Tell a Story

Try to tell a story about the business and its products. The content should have a succinct description of the business and its activities. Include points that build the credibility of the business. Be to the point.

After you are through with these details, start working on the images. Integrate images that support the story. Make sure that you target the right audience.

3. Use Limited Colors

Using colors is a good idea but using too many is not. You should use not more than two corporate colors to design your brochure. Colors should also match with the theme of the business.

There are some amateur designers who use multiple colors while creating a brochure. This makes the brochure look messy and unprofessional.

4. Font Selection

Correct choice of fonts also enhances the aesthetic appeal of a company brochure. Smart designers prefer to use fonts instead of images to make it more appealing. Fonts can be used as a substitute for images. This can be done by tweaking the font in a way to reinstate the functionality of a photo.

However, make sure not to use fonts that are illegible. There are several fonts online that look attractive, amusing or interesting. You can use such fonts provided they are easily readable.

A font that might appeal to you might not to someone else. Therefore, choose fonts that have a corporate look. Don’t spoil your design by opting for fonts that customers find difficulty in reading. Hope you do not want your readers to miss the information presented in the brochure.

5. Size Matters!

Decide on the size of the brochure before they are sent for printing. Even an insignificant difference might spoil what you have designed. As far as size is concerned, go for A4, A5 or A3, depending on the requirement.

6. Images

Bitmap and vector type images best support the design components of a brochure. Use images that are easy to audience eyes. You can create a contrast by placing smaller images next to a big one.

Make sure that the images used are related with the textual content of the brochure. Say for instance you are a florist; you should include images of vibrant and colorful roses, chrysanthemums, orchids, flower baskets or bouquets.

7. Paper Quality

The quality of paper used for the brochure can make or break a design. Its sale value will be enhanced if you use premium quality paper. Choose materials that have a smooth and glossy finish. This will make images look more attractive and livelier.

You can choose from art carton, paper mate, HVS or art paper. Remember it is the material that matters. It on the paper you integrate the images, design and fonts. If the brochure material looks shabby, then all your designing effort becomes futile.

Hope the above tips help you in making your brochure click!

Featured Photo by Criteron

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Your old content is collecting dust… add to it! http://www.ocularharmony.com/link-decay-blogging/ http://www.ocularharmony.com/link-decay-blogging/#comments Tue, 03 Jan 2012 08:41:15 +0000 Robin http://www.ocularharmony.com/?p=1398 It’s common for old blog posts (and even on pages of corporate sites) for content to sit there collecting dust and not be updated. Well, updating content older than a year or more will actually help you from a search engine perspective!

Many people ask the question: Why update old content when I can write new content? New content is seen as important because Google sees your site growing, so it’s a great question. Now, remember that that time you bought organic food and it went bad a kajillion times faster than food with preservatives? That’s just like old content… it goes bad at a faster rate than you’d like (not to diss organic food, I love the stuff – I’m just a pig and eat it quickly).

Old content can be updated and the more substantial you update it, the more it will revitalize its freshness factor. This includes better rankings and the links on the page will fill up with more link juice to pass on to linked pages.

For additional reading, this SEOmoz article does an excellent job of explaining the benefits of updating old content.

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Killer Websites: Homepage analysis of Problogdesign.com http://www.ocularharmony.com/homepage-analysis-conversions-problogdesign/ http://www.ocularharmony.com/homepage-analysis-conversions-problogdesign/#comments Tue, 20 Dec 2011 05:41:48 +0000 Robin http://www.ocularharmony.com/?p=1131 The homepage is your number one most important resource you have for your site to meet its goals. What are good things to have on your homepage? What is the user looking for? These are questions you need to ask. It all comes down to prioritizing what’s important.

The goal of your site should be obtainable from the homepage

If you’re selling a product, it would be a good idea to put products or ‘buy now’ buttons on the homepage, but also important not to dilute the consistency of the page by pushing too many products and telling your users that you want them to buy your stuff. That makes you look desperate. Put a few, perhaps a compelling ‘about us’ section, some social media update feeds like a ‘twitter feed’, and some ways the user can browse your site.

If you’re an informational site, you want the users to read your articles. Putting a feed with excerpts of your newest or featured content would be helpful. If you’re featuring some of your information, it’s beneficial to analyze using Analytics software like Google Analytics to see what type of content your viewers look at the most.

For example, lets say you’re a blog and have 4 categories:

  • Shoes
  • Brews
  • Snooze
  • Crews

If 70% of your users are interested in the “brews” section (for your fantastic beer knowledge), and 10% viewing each of the shoes, snooze, and crews articles, it would be wise to feature something about brews on the homepage, because it is an easy gateway for them to get to the info they’re looking for. This helps your user AND you, especially if you’re monetizing your information site.

In most cases, contact forms are very important. Putting a contact form on the homepage really helps with the number of people contact you. When I moved my contact form on the homepage, I got many more people that contacted me than I got previously.

For godsake, make sure the user knows who you are and what you do

I’ve seen too many times websites that doesn’t describe what their topic is. And in many cases, it’s not easy to identify just at a first glance of the page. This is especially true for generic-looking blog themes that are designed to work for any niche. I’ve also seen it for fancy image sites that want an artistic edge. There’s nothing wrong with either, but if you want traffic and for Search Engines to index more keywords, having a tagline helps immensely. And make it prominent. It doesn’t have to be huge like Mailchimp’s homepage, but let the user know so they have an idea of what they’re looking at. Have a look at this tagline showcase from feedGrids for some inspiration.
Mailchimp's effective large-text tagline

Using images and text…properly

It’s not absolutely required to use images since there’s effective text-only homepages out there, but an image can really compliment what you’re trying to do. Lets evaluate two things: writing and images.

Writing and text are a method of symbolically transferring information, ideas, imagery, etc through the use of characters. These characters form words, and when the brain sees a word, they can use it to translate into images, concepts, and what you’re trying to communicate. It’s effective for saying something in-depth and elaborate. I cannot possibly give you the information you’re reading in this article through an image, so I write it out and use images to compliment what I wrote.

Images are also symbols, but the mind takes one less step by not having to interpret characters into thoughts, because it’s right in front of you. It could still be thought-provoking like artwork, but doesn’t need to be. Images can be used for instantly letting the user know what you’re all about.

Link to your inner pages

You have just a single page to encourage the user to get to the other parts of your website. This is why call-to-action buttons are extremely important. They’ll decrease your bounce rate, while also helping the user find what they’re looking for easily.

An example of an effective homepage

As Pro Blog Design revamped their site recently, lets have a look and see what they’re doing. It shows what it needs to show, and nothing else. Users that visit the site for whatever reason will easily find what they’re looking for. This site uses the 3 most common ways of making money – ad revenue, product sales, and services and organizes that in a clear and concise manner by each of them being a column. I also won’t hide the fact that this was one of my biggest inspirations from a UI/UX perspective for my own homepage revamp (main block + 3-column style highlighting different goals).

At first glance, this is what I saw (numbered by order of prominence):

  1. Banner Images
  2. Tagline
  3. Feature Columns (Blog, Themes, Services)
  4. Call to action buttons
  5. Other Elements

The Header is visible, clean, and not bogged down with anything it doesn’t need like intrusive ads. It’s simply a logo and a navigation menu, so the user will put more emphasis on looking at what’s below and is not distracted by the header at all.

The Tagline is very easy to see – it was the 2nd thing that caught my eye when coming to this page after the main images. I understood the purpose of the site immediately.

The Banner Image is, in this case, featured websites. Since they create websites (as we learned in the tagline), this provides visual support and at the same time showcases some of their work.

The Blog is one of the better known of the web design blogs. They wouldn’t want to lose that on their homepage, and the previous design put far more emphasis on the blog and less on services. Since it has reversed and now the blog is an element within a services page, it’s a good choice to put it in an easy-to-access place… the left column and above the fold. It’s also listed as the first navigation item.

This column is also a feed of information, constantly changing so users can instantly see the new articles, which is also great for search engines since the homepage will constantly be re-indexed.

Their Themes are featured on the homepage, and go to their theme site, PliablePress. Since it’s another one of their three ways of monetizing, it’s justifiably prominent.

The Services offer solutions for what the tagline implies – blog and website design.

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6 LUSCIOUS seamless patterns for your web design needs http://www.ocularharmony.com/free-seamless-patterns-for-your-designs/ http://www.ocularharmony.com/free-seamless-patterns-for-your-designs/#comments Fri, 19 Aug 2011 12:34:02 +0000 Robin http://www.ocularharmony.com/?p=1149 Looking for that perfect seamless background pattern online? Here’s a few that may help. You can use them for all sorts of things, not just the obvious. Here’s some ideas:

  • The obvious: Web design backgrounds and graphic design
  • Perfect for your mother’s garage sale flyers!
  • Photoshop this pattern over George Bush’s head and see how he looks
  • Print out a few of them and make them into a halloween costume (Free Ocular Harmony shirt for whoever actually does this)

Here’s some examples of them being put to use after being regurgitated through photoshop:

Feel free to distribute, just keep it in the ZIP it came in with the credit document. It includes 6 seamless JPEG images.

Download Pattern Pack Now

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New logo, design, and features for Ocular Harmony http://www.ocularharmony.com/logo-design-features-new-oh/ http://www.ocularharmony.com/logo-design-features-new-oh/#comments Tue, 09 Aug 2011 19:35:18 +0000 Robin http://www.ocularharmony.com/?p=1141 Ocular Harmony has come a long way – countless overhauls, not-so consistent blog updates, and an interesting clover-looking logo. It’s taken a long time to get things together and very little time to focus on the development of what Ocular Harmony is. Lately, I’ve been able to put more focus on where to take this site and focus on its development and growth. Here’s what’s up and coming.

New Logo

A new logo will be revealed soon, created by one of our close partners at Une Banane. It will be sharp!

New Design

Though revamping many times, Ocular Harmony hasn’t had much of a very strong, permanent incarnation in terms of UI. As a web development company, this is certainly important. The new design will be aesthetically pleasing and make the blog much easier to read, as well as significant changes to the homepage.

New Services

With all the other workers partnered with Ocular Harmony, new services such as Motion Graphics, Audio/Sound, and Mobile Apps will be available for your company’s growth.

Massive Blog Changes

This one’s a biggie. The blog section will become one of the most prominent parts of Ocular Harmony. There will be video tutorials being offered showing some of the creative processes for your inspiration. On top of that, these will always remain free. There will also be new blog writers, and more frequent posts. If you’re interested in becoming a writer, don’t hesitate to contact me.

Graphic Tees

In the future, silk-screened graphic tees will likely be available for purchase (and for free giveaways!).

Have any ideas? Think there’s something about the current site that needs to be let go of when switching to the new design?

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