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Image: Insydium

The first ever Vertex conference took place in March, and it was a runaway success. Run by the makers of our sister magazines 3D World and 3D Artist, the event brought together experts of all kinds from the CG industry to offer insights and advice to help hone your 3D skills. Included in the lineup were talks from event partners Notch, Maxon and Insydium

Matt Swoboda, real-time graphics pioneer and founder of Notch, explored the history of real-time graphics and why now is the right time to dive in; Jonas Pilz from MAXON explained how to create eye-catching motion graphics setups inside Cinema 4D; and Bob Walmsley, a technical trainer at INSYDIUM LTD, demonstrated the latest X-Particles features and hyper-realistic rendering in Cycles 4D. Scroll down to watch videos of their talks. 

01. Adventures in real-time

Matt Swoboda is a pioneer of real-time graphics at companies such as Sony. His software, Notch, has been used to create visual experiences for some of the world’s most memorable events, including Beyoncé and U2 world tours.

In this talk, Swoboda explains why now is a really exciting time for motion graphics artists. Designing in real time, without a having to pause to wait for your work to render, brings you closer than ever before to the thing you’re creating. Watch now to discover how Notch can help you rediscover the joy of problem solving, experimenting and improvising on the fly.

02. Cinema 4D MoGraph

In this presentation, Jonas Pilz introduces the powerful MoGraph tools and explains how they can be used to quickly create eye-catching motion graphics in Cinema 4D. You’ll learn how easy it is to set up any kind of graphic 3D animation, from abstract animations to moving fonts and breaking objects. 

Pilz will also show you how to use MoGraph setups for VFX and visualisation purposes. In short, you might fall in love with Cinema 4D while watching this talk.

03. X-Particles and Cycles 4D

In this talk, Bob Walmsley demonstrates the latest versions of INSYDIUM LTD’s Cinema 4D plugins X-Particles and Cycles 4D. Using the major new features xpClothFX, xpExplosiaFX and xpFluidFX, Walmsley explains how designers can can switch effortlessly between motion graphics and VFX, within a unified system built on the intuitive particle software.

Discover how X-Particles and Cycles 4D integrates seamlessly into the Cinema 4D workflow, enabling artists to immerse themselves in design, rather than getting bogged down in the technical process.

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The Barcelona edition of OFFF kicks off later this week. If you can’t make it to sunny Spain for this three-day fiesta of creativity, fear not – you can follow all the action as it unfolds, right here on Creative Bloq via the Adobe livestream (running from 24-25 May from 11am CET). 

Now in its 18th year, OFFF offers creative inspiration and artistic innovation from world-class speakers. Adobe will be livesteaming the best bits of the festival across each of the three days, as well as offering exclusive interviews with speakers, pro portfolio advice, special product speak-previews, and one awesome competition – read on to find out more. 

This year’s lineup is stronger than ever, with industry-leading designers taking to the stage (or direct to your screens) to share their creative secrets. Adobe will be going live with the likes of French illustrator Malika Favre, motion designer Patrick Clair and the inimitable Stefan Sagmeister. Take a look at the full schedule here and make sure you get the livestream up and running so you don’t miss any of the action.

As well as presenting on-stage, Favre, Clair and Sagmeister will also be getting stuck in and offering portfolio advice as part of Adobe’s Behance portfolio review. These are available to OFFF attendees as well as the online audience – so if your Behance portfolio isn’t getting the attention it deserves (and you’re feeling brave!), register for a portfolio review now.

Here’s another session to set a reminder for: On May 24 at 10am CET, Adobe will host an exclusive Adobe Stock panel discussion explore the hottest new visual trends. This session will bring together futurologists, photographers and illustrators to put the spotlight on ‘multilocalism’, and how travel and technology are turning the world into one interconnected, global village. 

You might be missing out on visiting Barcelona, but how about a trip to Los Angeles? Adobe will be offering lucky creatives the chance to win a trip to Adobe MAX 2018 in LA in October. Special guests from the Visual Trends panel debate will each design an image inspired by the Top 30 Adobe Stock search terms for Barcelona. All you need to do to be entered into the Adobe MAX prize draw is vote for your favourite image via Twitter. The competition kicks off on 24 May.

Sure, you've got your laptop and monitor sorted, but that's only part of the picture, as you'll also need the best mouse for designers and creatives, and we've got you covered.

The humble computer mouse is probably one of the most important tools you use each day, so it's essential to find one that's both responsive and comfortable. 

We've spoken to many designers who still prefer to use a mouse when working on digital projects despite the continued improvement of tablets and styluses. But there are thousands of variations of computer mouse out there – including trackpads – so how do you know you're using the right one? Here we list six of the best mouse options out there to help you find the ideal device for your creative work.

Logitech produces some of the most responsive computer mice on the market, which is pretty handy when you need a tool with precision. Its cordless MX Master model is designed to fit comfortably in your hand over a long period of time, and includes a super responsive scroll wheel that lets you browse web pages or documents at your own speed, depending on how fast you flick the wheel.

Buttons located on the side of the mouse also let you flit between windows without having to use the usual Alt+Tab, and can easily program your shortcuts. The only downside to the MX Master is the pretty hefty RRP price tag of around £80 – but there are great deals to be had.

Prefer a new model? The Logitech MX Master 2S Wireless Bluetooth Mouse works with Mac and Windows. It boasts high-precision tracking, a rechargeable battery (that lasts  long time between charges) and customisable buttons. 

Apple was late to join the innovative mouse party then it created the Magic Mouse. Its replacement, the imaginitively-titles Magic Mouse 2, has a super light design and laser tracking capabilities which make it easy to flick between InDesign pages and make even the smallest changes on practically any surface.

However, the downside is that it’s perhaps a little too over-sensitive at times. The multi-touch area on the top of the mouse, which lets you scroll in any direction, can sometimes become frustrating when wanting to keep your finger in the same place for a long period of time. But for Magic Mouse evangelists, there is nothing to touch it.

Alternatively, a lot of designers prefer the Apple Magic Trackpad, which brings Force Touch pressure-sensitive technology (as seen in the screen of the Apple Watch) and the trackpad of the 2015 12-inch MacBook. Or for a cheaper option, try the older Apple Magic Trackpad. 

03. Anker Vertical Ergonomic Optical Mouse

Sure, the Anker Vertical Ergonomic Optical Mouse looks weird. It’s vertically aligned to encourage healthy neutral "handshake" wrist and arm. But once you get used to it, it’s a cheap and very comfortable way to avoid RSI. If you're a digital creative that spends a lot of time using a mouse for work, then having one that is comfortable to use is essential. After all, if you injure yourself and cannot work, it could mean you lose money. That makes this odd looking mouse a very wise investment, which is why we think it's the best ergonomic mouse for digital creatives.

The MX Ergo Wireless is a distinctly retro-looking mouse thanks to its trackball. While many mice makers have ditched trackballs in favour of optical laser mice, Logitech has been continued to release trackball mice, and for that we're thankful. For many people, the tactile trackball makes working on creative projects much more intuitive and comfortable, and the MX Ergo Wireless can be used flat or at a 20-degree angle.

Just like designers, gamers need a mouse that is sensitive and accurate, so it stands to reason that gaming mice are a good option for designers too. And the Razer range of gaming mice is one of the most responsive out there.

Razer mice have three types of sensors, dual, laser and optical, and its ergonomic shape is designed to support the flow of your hand. The Razer Deathadder mouse is the bestseller, as well as the cheapest, and features an optical sensor, rubber side grips and syncs all of your mouse settings stored in the Cloud.

Microsoft Bluetooth Mobile Mouse 3600

Microsoft's Bluetooth Mobile Mouse 3600 is in our view the best budget mouse money can buy these days. Although it has a rock bottom price, it has impressive build quality, and is very reliable. This is because Microsoft isn't just a software company – it also makes some very good peripherals, such as this mouse. It's small enough to easily carry around with you as well, which is handy if you do a lot of work on the road.

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Illustration is a beautifully expressive, versatile artform. It can add impact, style and personality to any graphic design project. But it's not always easy to get right.

Whether you're visualising an abstract concept, bringing some highly complex subject matter to life, telling a compelling story, or just adding a touch of stylistic beauty to a piece of work, the possibilities are endless with illustration.

Part of the beauty of working with an illustrator is they can be based literally anywhere, and with talented practitioners all over the world to choose from, it can be a challenge in itself choosing the right style for the job.

In an ideal world, everyone would commission and art direct something bespoke, but if you don't have the time or budget to do so, there are also thousands of quality illustrations to be found in stock libraries.

So read on for our essential guide to getting more from illustration in your design work. We will continue to add to this list in the coming months…

01. Inspiring illustrators to commission

02. Tips for using illustration in design

03. Illustration commissioning advice

Summer is finally on its way, and with it comes a whole load of great new web design tools. One of the most exciting of which is Lobe, a system that enables you to use machine learning in your apps to create powerful features. Perhaps you already have the idea for an app but don’t have the coding skills required to build it? Lobe could be the answer. 

We're also excited about Jeremy Keith’s new book on Service Workers. Read on for more details on these, plus our pick of eight more useful new tools and apps that have emerged this month.

01. Going Offline by Jeremy Keith

Make your app behave gracefully when it’s offline using Service Workers

When connectivity is poor, your users expect your app to still work – or at least deal with the situation gracefully. Service Workers are how you make that happen, and Jeremy Keith is one of the smartest writers on this topic.

In his new book he explains how Service Workers function and provides some great strategies for getting the best out of your app when the internet connection fails. This is a great resource, whether you're new to the topic or looking to improve your Service Worker game.

02. Lobe

Incorporate the power of deep-learning models into your apps

Lobe is very cool. It enables you to build and train deep-learning models, that can be easily incorporated into your app, without writing any code. 

The introductory video shows you some examples of what can be done – one model uses the camera to detect the angle at which someone is holding their hand, another reads handwriting, another detects what type of musical instrument is being played. In a further example, an artist scans in some flower petals and trains the model to generate new petals that look like natural variations of the originals. 

You could use Lobe to build the core functionality of a very interesting app. It's available now in beta form. 

03. Fugue

Link back to this site and use the music for free

Fugue is a great selection of royalty free music for your videos, websites and other projects, which you can use without payment if you set a link back to the site. The material is distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported licence. If you don’t want to link, you can pay $20 per month instead.

Overall quality is high, and the site has a sticky player that's always in place, ready for you to click through the tracks. Music is organised according to themes, genres and moods for easy browsing. 

04. Layoutit!

Get Grid code using a simple interface

The new CSS Grid generator tool at Layoutit! generates CSS Grid code for you based on your input to a graphical interface. Define your grid by adding rows, columns and the amount of gap you want and hit the button to get the code; it will also add IE10 and IE11 support if you want. 

If you're not up to speed with Grid this could be a useful stop-gap, or an aid to your learning. There's also a Bootstrap Builder tool to help you create Bootstrap UIs with a drag-and-drop interface. 

05. Unique

Create your own custom fonts and logotypes by choosing a template and tweaking it

Unique is a custom font generator that you can use to make a logotype or unique font for any purpose. It's from the people behind Prototypo, which is a more complex tool for doing the same thing – the difference is that Unique is simpler and faster to use for people who aren't designers. 

Creating your font or logotype is straightforward: just tell the app whether you're trying to create lettering for a logo or another purpose and you're presented with a selection of templates that you can adjust to design your own unique font.

06. Site Palette

Extract the main colours from a website and generate your own palette

This Chrome extension extracts the main colours from a website and generates a shareable palette. It's compatible with Google Art Palette and Coolors.co so you can export to either of those for editing and refining, and it also generates a shareable link to the palette so you can easily show it to collaborators. You can download a Sketch template, and there is also Adobe Swatch support. 

07. My Morning Routine

Morning lifehacks from successful entrepreneurs and creatives

My Morning Routine is an online magazine that publishes an interview every week with a successful person about how they start their day. It has just released a book of 283 interviews with a range of vibrant individuals, including tech entrepreneurs and creatives such as Julie Zhuo, vice president of product design at Facebook, and podcaster Lily Percy. 

These inspirational conversations are full of life hacks that will help you to get more out of your work days by starting better. The website also has an interesting section on statistics which gives a broader picture of people's routines.

08. GDPR Checker by Siftery Track

GDPR statements from over 1,100 SAAS vendors, plus other data privacy information

No doubt you've heard about the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR); it starts 25 May and affects any organisation that handles personal data. To ensure your organisation is compliant, you'll need to know how your SAAS vendors are handling privacy and security, which is where the GDPR Checker comes in. 

From this interface you can get easy access to GDPR compliance statements from over 1,100 SAAS vendors, as well as information about whether they have self-certified for EU-US Privacy Shield and offer a DPA.

09. CSS Blocks

High performance, maintainable stylesheets

CSS Blocks is a CSS authoring system that helps you create high-performance, maintainable stylesheets. Its creators tout its capability for static analysis as one of the most powerful features. 

According to the project's GitHub page, "static analysis means css-blocks can look at your project and know with certainty that any given CSS declaration will, will not, or might under certain conditions, be used on any given element in your templates". It’s component-based, and CSS errors are detected at build time so they're caught before they cause you any headaches. 

10. Spirit Studio

Create and manage web animations

Spirit Studio is a powerful, easy-to-use Mac app for designers and developers that enables you to create web animations without needing in-depth coding knowledge. You can animate SVG or HTML, and once you've connected the app to your site you can edit live animations directly. There is currently no way to try it out without subscribing, but a free trial is in the works, and Windows and Linux versions are also in the pipeline.

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If there's one piece of advice that all 3D artists, no matter which field they are in, should be given, it’s to learn how to work from references, preferably anatomical human references. This builds many skills, from learning about silhouette and form, to understanding light and shadow, as well as surfaces and materials. These are all key to a good skill set for 3D artists.

  • 30 top examples of 3D art

The problem is choosing which references to invest in. You could create your own, but selecting something pre-made is usually better. Here, there are many options available. One of the best is this multipart kit from 3dtotal which, although not cheap (at around the £200/$260 mark) is thoughtfully developed to account for certain tricky areas to master.

The kit, which stands at over a foot tall, is cast in smooth resin, which is well finished – even if there are a couple of lines that could do with a little trimming (an easy job with a craft knife). The sculpted details are captured well and the transfer to casting has kept a great definition of detail.

The real benefit of this kit is that it comes with multiple options to enable the artist to focus on a particular task, from muscle deformation to skeletal details. These are themed around arm and hand poses, which are often tricky to get right.

Different components of the adaptable male figure, including torso, arm and skull sculpts

This reference model is one of the most thoughtfully developed and covers many bases

There are also two torsos, which really complete the posing, as much of what happens when an arm is moved has an effect in other areas.

This in itself shows a good level of thought from the designers, as does the fact that the pieces connect via socket and peg, with magnets fitted to keep things from moving.

These small details are what make this an attractive option for anyone looking for references that cover écorché, skin, bone and particularly muscular details. A few minutes' clean up time after opening the model and you’ll be set.

If you often need anatomical references, then this is a fantastic resource that has been thoughtfully developed with the artist in mind.

This article was originally published in issue 233 of 3D World, the world's best-selling magazine for CG artists. Buy issue 233 here or subscribe to 3D World here.

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If you’ve got great ideas and a passion for design, this is your chance to work with Computer Arts and create a one-off cover, showcasing your talent to the creative industry.

In partnership with our friends at D&AD New Blood, this year’s competition is offering a £700 prize for the winner, and with the addition of a special decorative print finish from our pals at Celloglas, this will be a unique addition to the winner’s portfolio!

The brief

To enter you must be a current student or recent graduate (within the last two years). That includes mature students, and you can be based anywhere around the world.

The issue your cover will adorn is our annual New Talent issue. Inside we will be looking at the very best of this year’s UK creative graduates. As such, we’d like a cover design that speaks to the spirit of new talent. You can visualise that anyway you want – be abstract, funny, literal, whatever – but it must be at the core of your design/illustration.

The special print treatment from Celloglas will depend on what works best with the winning entry. Maybe it'll be six metallic colours, or scratch and sniff paper? Maybe, like last year's winning entry, we'll go for Mirri, or we might decide that glow in the dark works best. Take a look at what treatments Celloglas offer, and by all means tell us if you have a favourite!

Download the cover template, and make sure your idea works to the Computer Arts cover specification. Once you’re happy, you’re ready to enter!

How to enter

This competition is a little different to others, as it accepts mockups as well as finalised art. This is because entrants span designers, typographers and illustrators, so it may not be possible to provide the finished article straight away. Also, the winner will then need to work with CA’s art editor to make sure it works perfectly as a cover with a main hit and other coverlines.

Therefore, we need some information about you, including a link to your portfolio, and a short paragraph giving it a bit of context to your entry – maximum 100 words. Send all that to hello@computerarts.co.uk.

Entries will be judged by the CA team based on creativity of concept, its suitability for use as a magazine cover, and the quality of your existing portfolio – and the winner will receive a paid commission of £700 to develop it into a final cover with direction from CA's art editor.

Deadline for entries: Midnight (BST) Sunday 24 June 2018.

We will also showcase a selection of the best entries on Creative Bloq, including a paragraph about the artist and a portfolio link. Good luck!

Hi-res artwork (or any amends!) will only be requested from the chosen designer once the commission is set up. All IP remains with the creators, until a contract is set up with the winner.

I’m not a typographer. And if my shoddy handwriting is anything to go by, I’m not very good at creating letter shapes either. I am, however, lucky enough to write about design for a living, which means I get to meet all sorts of creative folk who help make people like me experience what it’s like to make something. That’s just what happened at this year’s TYPO Berlin as I got to dabble in a typography tutorial with a difference.

For the uninitiated, TYPO Berlin is an international conference where the biggest names in typography and design come together to share their stories, reveal how a project was made, and generally dish out inspirational advice for creatives to put into action. This year we learnt how some technical wizardry with OpenType features can help you design a handwriting font that isn’t boring.

Another amazing part of TYPO Berlin is the workshops. Hosted by big names in the design industry, these sessions are an invaluable opportunity to watch experts like logo designer Aaron Draplin in action. This year I dipped my toe into the world of type design first-hand as I attended a Tricotype workshop and created lettering out of a rarely used font medium: wool.

Sewing machine

Multiple strands of wool can be fed through the knitting machine

As well as being new to typography, I’m also an inexperienced knitter. (My portfolio consists of an unevenly knitted length of wool I generously call a scarf.) Thankfully, just as digital tools can take out some of the strenuous legwork of illustrating, there was a domestic 1970’s knitting machine hired from the Electronic and Textile Institute Berlin that made knitting idiot-proof.

That was the knitting process sorted, but what about the typography? In the workshop hosted by artist and videosmith Sam Meech and Jonathan Hitchen, even this became easy thanks to the use of punch cards.

Examples of punch cards

Simple punch card grids can create lots of different lettering styles

With the help of the grids on these punch cards, typographers (and me) can create lettering that looks like a piece of pixel art. All you have to do is pencil-in your letter shapes in the grid, punch out the marked squares with a hole punch, and you’re ready to feed the card into the machine.

If you’re familiar with a jacquard loom, you’ll know what happens next. Once the machine has cast on the wool, and you’ve created a few layers by moving the mechanism left to right and back again by hand with a satisfying shunk-shunk, it’s time to feed in the punch card and change the settings.

Thanks to a simple turn of a dial, the hooks on the knitting machine change position and start feeding a new strand of wool through the gaps in the punch card grid. A few more shunk-shunks later and the lettering starts to appear. It’s like a combination of ancient computer coding and traditional crafty materials.

Examples of knitted typography

Different colours of wool create dynamic combinations

It only took a few minutes for the punch card design to be knitted. And it turned out that the knitting machine did make the process idiot-proof. Mostly.

Occasionally, the wool slipped off one of the many sewing hooks, but luckily Sam was on hand to recast and easily fix these little mistakes. I think they give the finished pieces an extra level of character.

Like all of the workshops at TYPO Berlin, this one was incredibly popular. Each workshop walked six people through the process, with each person creating a letter for a knitted alphabet.

Examples of knitted typography

The workshops build up an entire knitted alphabet

The finished pieces showcase just how much flexibility there is for type design, even when you’re working with a standard grid. And thanks to the different colours of wool, no two designs looked the same. All of the finished designs will be compiled into a pattern zine so members of the type and knitting community will be able to recreate the letters.

Want to stay in the loop for when future workshops are on the horizon? Be sure to bookmark the Tricotype site and check in for updates.

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When Should You Use Yoast's Multiple Keyword Tool?

If one keyword is good, are more better?

Keywords are a critical factor for improving your search rankings. Knowing what word or phrase you want to target helps you craft your content in such a way that it appears in search results. A good keyword, when used appropriately, brings order and alignment to your pages. But sometimes, in your quest for the perfect keyword, you find more than one. What should you do?

If you’re using Yoast’s SEO analysis plugin, you’ve probably noticed an option to add more keywords (available in their premium edition). But before you jump onboard, it’s important to think about what your keywords are supposed to accomplish. Then you can decide whether adding more is going to be worthwhile.

Choose a unique focus keyword.

First of all, you can only ever have one focus keyword. This keyword directly relate to the prime thrust of your article. You should do this before you start writing, because sometimes your choice of keyword can influence your topic, or how you write about it.

For instance, let’s say you’re starting a website all about the tiny house movement. You want to write a long piece of cornerstone content for your site discussing what tiny houses are, the benefits of living in one, and some of the most important considerations for some interested in building their own.

After looking at keywords, you decide that “tiny house” is too broad and too difficult to rank for. Instead, you choose to target “tiny house movement” for your main information page. Your title might be something like “8 Reasons to Join the Tiny House Movement,” or “Tiny House Movement FAQs.” Then you’ll craft a post that provides those reasons or answers those questions.

However, having chosen this topic, you realize that, given the breadth and depth of your page content, it could stand to use some added optimization. This is where multiple keywords can be useful. The trick is knowing which ones you can successfully optimize for without turning your page into a disordered mess.

The easiest and most obvious choice for multiple keywords are synonyms. So, let’s start by looking there.

Does your focus keyword have synonyms?

As it so happens, the term “tiny house” has a pretty specific meaning. It doesn’t just mean “small house,” but more specifically “a house of less than 400 square feet,” and most commonly, one not built on a permanent foundation. This is important, because if you try to use “small house” as a secondary keyword, you’re likely to draw in the wrong audience.

But as it turns out, key phrases such as “micro dwellings,” “tiny apartments,” and “micro homes” are often used synonymously. This isn’t just good for your keywords—it’s good for your writing. Using the same phrase repeatedly eventually sounds boring or redundant. By using similar phrases, you not only cast a wider net, you also avoid repetition.

If you’re writing a short post, it’s likely you won’t have the space to include any keyword variations. But for a post of 1000 words or more, it’s not a bad idea to start looking for synonyms.

Are there meaningful alterations of your phrase?

Google is usually pretty good at understanding what you mean when you type searches into a box. It doesn’t care too much if you type in “tiny house building plans” or “building plans tiny house.” But it will care about “how to build a tiny home.” Small words make a big difference.

Similarly, it’s good to look for ways in which your key phrase could be confused with something else. In context, “tiny house movement” pretty obviously refers to a social movement. But by coincidence, tiny houses are often movable. Targeting other phrases such as “tiny house community” can help clarify your intent.

But what if, father down the road, you want to write a post about moving your tiny house. Now you might look at phrases such as “tiny house transportation” or “how to move a tiny house.”

Do you cover sub topics?

In our example page about the tiny house movement, it’s easy to see how this article would cover multiple topics. The ethos behind tiny house living is one topic, but so are practical concerns like where to buy a tiny house, how to build one yourself, and various zoning and building code regulations a tiny house dweller may have to follow.

With so much to cover, it may be wiser to write several pages, each focusing on a different aspect. But if you want to cover it all in one place, using multiple keywords to target some of these sub topics is a wise decision.

Is it worth upgrading to premium for the added analysis of multiple keywords?

The multiple keywords tool Yoast provides can provide a convenient check for your in-depth content pages. But most small websites only have a handful of cornerstone content pieces that might require this level of analysis. And in that case, you can probably work it out on your own by being intentional in your incorporation of extra keywords.

On the other hand, if you’re a major content source, and you regularly run in-depth pieces, the multiple keyword tool can help you improve your keyword use. Just remember that the analysis can provide some good guidelines, but it shouldn’t override your common sense.

Content before keywords.

I’m not sure if it’s possible to say this too many times, so I’ll go ahead and say it again. Your content matters more than your keywords. You can’t tell Google what your keywords are, you can only write content in such a way that it aligns with the keywords you hope to rank for.

If you have a page on your site devoted to tiny houses, there’s a lot you can do to help it rank for associated keywords. But if you try to also rank for phrases like “prefab subdivision home” in the hopes of luring in unsuspecting visitors and converting them to your tiny house utopia, you’re likely to just end up with a higher bounce rate.

The post When Should You Use Yoast’s Mutliple Keyword Tool? appeared first on build/create studios.

What's in a name? Everything. 

The name Terry Bollea probably doesn't strike fear in to your heart, but Hulk Hogan sure does; Eldrick Woods doesn't sound as sporty as Tiger Woods; and Stefani Germanotta doesn't have quite the same ring to it as Lady Gaga. These aliases undoubtedly helped these celebrities become household names. The world of app design is no different.

  • The best iPhone apps for designers

Sometimes, a first impression is all you have – and that's often the case in the overcrowded App Store, especially when there are so many free apps available,. If you've figured out how to make an app you've done the complicated bit, so make sure your efforts don't go unrewarded by giving your app a great name. In this article we'll share how to name your creation so people pick it over hundreds of seemingly similar products.

01. Hint at functionality

The phrase ‘Tweetbot’ effectively captures what this app does

Your app name should provide some indication of what it does. If you go for something totally obscure, you'll be relying a lot on your app icon to convey its function, which puts certain constraints on your creativity. 

One convention is to pair the basic function of the app with a word that enhances it and adds originality. Think of Evernote, Wunderlist and Tweetbot as prime examples. Since clarity and recognisability are so important, make sure they take the front seat when deciding on a name.

02. Don't be a copycat

Do we really need another ‘Insta’?

Your initial reaction may be to use a trendy convention to link your creation to other awesome apps – perhaps by adding the 'Insta' prefix or using the moniker of 'Angry' to describe your game that tosses animals at seemingly immovable objects (nobody steal that idea, by the way).

However, what you gain in recognition you sacrifice in legitimacy. Who wants to buy the 75th app named Insta-something? Isn't the original one the only one worth buying? There's something to be said for breaking the trends and starting a new one, even when it comes to naming.

03. Differentiate

Which ‘Calculator’ is the best one?

The number one reason why your app's name is important has nothing to do with your app. It has to do with everyone else's. With such a proliferation of apps, it's easy for yours to get lost in the mix. 

For instance, let's take an iPhone calculator app. As well as the one Apple makes (aptly entitled 'Calculator'), a quick search yields thousands of other results – there's everything from 'Calculator+' to 'iCalc4me'. If your app isn't very original from a function standpoint, what you call it really needs to be.

If you're really stuck for what to call your app, you might get a nudge in the right direction by using a name generator such as Nameboy or Dot-o-mator. The best way to use these is as kick-starters for new directions or ideas.

04. Use real words

How will people tell their friends about this app, so they can download it too?

For your app to gain momentum and popularity, people need to be able to talk about it in the real world. The trend of taking all the vowels out of a name has died out for a reason. And while 'Zombieeez' sounds cool, when it comes to telling others about it, you're going to need a pen and a good memory for spelling to get that name right.

While you have complete licence to make up new words, use caution when making words that are hard to say and be aware of the impact this will have on how easy the name is to remember. It's certainly possible to have your app reach legendary status without an easy to say name, but again, why take your chances in it becoming popular in spite of that?

05. Stick to sentence case

Why is 'SHOT NOTE' yelling at us? Looks like someone left their Caps Lock on

Why is ‘SHOT NOTE’ yelling at us?

If you notice your collection of apps, most use sentence-case (e.g. Candy Crush Saga) or camel-case (e.g. WhatsApp). It may sound like a good idea to differentiate by starting your app name with a lowercase letter or opting for all-caps, in reality, this can delegitimise your app quicker. People will buy what they trust, and breaking the upper/lower convention is a quick way to make your app look sketchy.

06. Check no one else is using it

The worst thing would be to spend countless hours developing an app, then submit it to the App Store and get it approved, only to then discover the name has been trademarked by someone else for their business.

Even if there are no legal ramifications, you'll want to set yourself apart from what could be a widely recognised name for an entirely different reason. Get on Google and research every last permutation of your name. It may be a bummer to have to go back to the drawing board, but it will save you some headaches later on.

07. Find the right length

The ‘Go’ suffix gives momentum to this app

Keep your name short and concise. Long names are arduous to read, difficult to remember, and won't look right in someone's collection of apps. However, with really short names you may struggle to find something that hasn't already been used.

Throw Twitter handles and domain names into the mix and the range of available names becomes even narrower. A smart way to differentiate your app name is by getting creative with prefixes and suffixes. An 'app' suffix makes it clear what your product does, while prefixes like 'go' or 'get' can invoke action.

08. Take your time

You learn WhatsApp is an app and get an idea of what it does through the ‘What’s up?’ pun, all from a few letters

While there isn't a magic formula for coming up with an app that will pocket you millions, if it's finished and in the App Store, a great name could be the thing that sets it apart and makes the difference between a download and a scroll-past.

Don't let your app's name be an afterthought – you've put time in to developing this thing, so take time in finding the right name. What you name it should shout from the mountain tops what it is and what it does, since you will most likely only have that first glance to make an impression. 

09. … but don't take too long

If you get your heart set on a name but the actual development of the app isn't very far along, remember that you can't squat on a name, according to Apple. You'll have 120 days total to submit your initial binary in order to hold that name. Otherwise, you run the risk of someone else nicking it.

Read more:

  • 10 creative free iPhone apps for designers
  • 18 of the best Android apps to download for creatives
  • How to pick the perfect app font