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The Little But Really Useful Guide to Creativity

“The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources.” – Albert Einstein

Post written by Leo Babauta. Follow me on Twitter

It’s easier than ever to be creative, to create, to imagine and make what’s imagined become reality.

It’s also tougher than ever, with distractions surrounding us in ways never before imagined.

No matter what kind of creative type you are — writer, painter, musician, marketer, blogger, photographer, designer, parent, business owner — you are likely always looking for inspirations, for ways to let loose your creative genius.

And while there are millions of creativity tips on the Internet, I thought I’d share the ones I’ve found most useful — the ones that I’ve tried and tested and found to be right.
Here they are, in no order at all:

  • Play.
  • Don’t consume and create at the same time — separate the processes.
  • Shut out the outside world.
  • Reflect on your life and work daily.
  • Look for inspiration all around you, in the smallest places.
  • Start small.
  • Just get it out, no matter how crappy that first draft.
  • Don’t try for perfect. Just get it out there, asap, and get feedback.
  • Constantly make it better.
  • Ignore the naysayers.
  • But let criticism help you grow.
  • Teach and you’ll learn.
  • Shake things up, see things in new ways.
  • Apply things in other fields to your field, in ways not done before.
  • Drink ridiculous amounts of coffee.
  • Write all ideas down immediately.
  • Turn your work into play.
  • Play with kids.
  • Get out, move, see new things, talk to new people.
  • Read wildly different things. Especially stuff you disagree with.
  • Get lots of rest. Overwork kills creativity.
  • Don’t force it. Relax, play, it will start to flow.
  • Allow your mind to wander. Allow distractions, when you’re looking for inspiration.
  • Then shut them off when you’re going to create.
  • Do it when you’re excited.
  • When you’re not, find something else to be excited about.
  • Don’t be afraid to be stupid and silly.
  • Small ideas are good. You don’t need to change the world — just change one thing.
  • When something is killing your creativity, kill it.
  • Stop reading creativity advice, clear away everything, and just create.
  • Most of all, have fun doing it.

“Sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” – Lewis Carroll

Enjoy your Creativity!

Heide Holtz
SmarterSites.net

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10 SEO Rules for Your Blog or Website

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is a vital component of any website.

As a web designer or blogger, it’s important you understand how SEO works. Here are ten easy rules that will immediately improve the SEO on all of your web sites.

You may also be interested in how to get free advertising on google.

Rule Zero: Do Not Cheat. Period.

If you walked into a room full of genius scientists with PHDs, do you think you could outsmart them all? No. Google has hundreds of rooms full of genius scientists with PHDs, and their job is to work 60 hours a week to make sure you can’t fool Google. You can’t outsmart them. Ever. Ignore any advice on trying to cheat the system and focus on making great web sites with great content, and your sites will show up fine in searches.

Rule One: Stick to Your Keywords

Pick a few keywords or phrases that describe your site. Use them, and words related to them, whenever it’s natural to do so. Repeating them uselessly is no good (rule Zero), use them in sentences, headlines, and links.

Rule Two: Content is King

Users don’t search for design, they search for content. If your site doesn’t have content people want, no one will look at it.

Every page on your site should follow the Inverted Pyramid. Each page should lead with a relevant H1 tag with one of your keywords, and the first paragraph of text should be a summary of the rest of the page.

Rule Three: Clean Code is Searchable Code

Build your sites in a text editor, and write clean, human-readable HTML. The HTML should follow the conceptual structure of the page, navigation first, followed by the H1 tag, then the first paragraph, etc. Try to use descriptive tags when possible. Use UL for lists, P for paragraphs, H tags for heads and subheads, and STRONG for bolded text. Don’t overuse Divs.

Your site can still be artistic and cool, that’s what CSS is for.

Rule Four: The Home Page is the Most Important Page

Your home page is the key to your site being found by search engines. It should summarize the rest of the site, and give a clear, compelling reason for a user to look at the other pages in the site.

Rule Five: Links Have Meaning

Search engines pay a lot of attention to the links on your site, and the words used in those links. Never use “click here” or “see more” for a link. The link text should describe where the link will take the user, such as “more examples of CSS web design” or “learn how we can improve your SEO.”

The more relevant the links on a page, the more findable the page becomes. Don’t go overboard, and don’t link to anything irrelevant. If your page is focused on minimalist web design, a link to the Design MeltDown page on minimalism will boost your SEO. A link to a hilarious picture of a cat will not.

Rule Six: Title Tags for the Win

Every page in your site should have a title with the site name and a short description of the page. About 60 letters total. Include a keyword. Remember that the page title is what appears in search results, it should give users a clear reason to click on it.

Your navigation links should have title attributes that match the titles of your pages. This looks like <a title=”name of page” href=”link”>. It’s a small thing, but it will give you a significant SEO improvement.

Rule Seven: Alt Tags Matter

Every image on your site should have an alt tag. Especially images that are relevant to the page. If your page is focused on CSS tricks, labelling a screenshot “example of rounded CSS corners” will improve your page’s findability. Labelling it “screenshot” or “image” will do the opposite.

Rule Eight: Ignore Most Meta Tags

A long time ago meta tags were the secret to SEO. Those days are gone. The only meta tag that really matters now is the description tag. Search engines may use it to provide the text under the link to your page in their results. Make sure it describes the page in a way that explains why a user searching for your content would want to look at your page.

Rule Nine: Have a Site Map

Make sure you have a site map. This is an xml file that describes the structure of your page. Make one, and give it to Google.

Rule Ten: Design for Humans

Search engines are designed to find what humans want. That means the best way to make your site findable is to design it for humans. Your job as a designer is to solve a problem, not make art, prove a point, serve your ego or break a boundry. In this case, your problem is to provide your users with a site that is easy to use and full of what they’re looking for. If you can do that, the search engines will find you.

Have you got any more tips for SEO tips? Feel free to share them here.

Heide Holtz

http://SmarterSites.net

http://SmarterSites.WordPress.com

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