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4405 East West Highway Suite 308
Bethesda, MD 20814
USA

301-312-6803

Washington Graphic Services is a Washington DC area Graphic Design Communications Company. We specialize in the design and development of marketing materials, brochures, annual reports, logos, customized graphics, web sites and website maintenance, ecommerce solutions, custom web applications, content management websites and branding.

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Does your website need an SSL certificate?

john mier

If you are looking to make your business’ website more secure, you may have come across SSL Certificates as a potential recommendation, but what exactly is an SSL Certificate, and how does it make your site more secure?

SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer - this technology is used to provide a layer of privacy and encryption between different communicating computer applications. You may have noticed when visiting a website, a green lock on the left side of your URL bar - this is SSL in action.

When an SSL certificate is installed on your domain, the information of your users is unreadable to anyone who attempts to steal it. The only people able to decipher it are the intended recipients at the other end of the connection.

The primary reason to use SSL is to protect sensitive information sent between computers and servers, such as credit card numbers, passwords, and other personal information. With an SSL certificate, your customers can do business with you with confidence that their information is going to be safe from identity thieves and potential hackers.

As a bonus, users are increasingly able to recognize when a site has an SSL certificate installed, and they feel more secure completing transactions. Also, an SSL certificate can even give you a boost with your search engine visibility, as Google recently announced that they will be more likely to show your site in search results if it has an active SSL certificate installed.

If you would like to step up your site’s security by installing an SSL, contact us today to learn more!

Does your site need a Content Management System?

john mier

You may have heard the term Content Management System, or CMS, in regards to you or your business’ website. But what is a CMS, and how do you know if one is right for your site?

First, a CMS is an application that allows you to create, edit, and publish content to your website. This includes blog posts, images, video, pages, etc. This allows you and your team to add and manage the content of your website with a user friendly interface, while including support for multiple users and collaboration.

There are several major reasons why a CMS might be right for your site: 1) You need blog functionality 2) You need to frequently update your site’s content 3) You need to add/remove pages from your site on a regular basis.

Alternatively, if your site is made up of information that is largely static, or that seldom needs changing, then a CMS is probably not necessary. It is important to consider your site’s specific needs, as there are tradeoffs associated with using a CMS, such as potential security issues and increased page load times.

Overall, the majority of our clients prefer the flexibility of a CMS. The ability to add a blog to your site if needed, or to quickly update content through a simple dashboard interface makes a CMS a better fit for most businesses.

If you or your business are interested in adding functionality to your site, or have further questions about what Washington Graphic Services can do to help you and your business get the most out of their website, contact us today!

Advertising a brand identity through a presentation folder

john mier

Advertising a brand identity through a presentation folder

Presentation folders are great printed materials that are used to present to the client to give an introduction about a company’s profile, services and other info. It is common that sales people are required to have this marketing collateral especially when dealing with clients. This folder can house customized proposals, letters, sales brochures, business cards and flash drives too.

Whatever a company decides on what to include in their presentation folder, it should always be clear and appealing to its target audience. It should also visually convey the message that your company would want to say. Be sure to include only important elements and useful content. Corporate folders are often printed on thick, sleek card stock to give an initial impression of the quality. Message-wise, it should also depict the company’s purpose and relevance.

Washington Graphic Services showcases premium and creative presentation folder designs for our clients to increase sales and stand apart from your competition. Call Washington Graphic Services to have our team design and build a folder for your business.

Retail, Building and Office Signs

john mier


Most businesses undergo a detailed signage review by a consultant when they first open or rebrand, but those aren't the only times you should evaluate your location's visual communications. There are many great reasons to conduct regular reviews or audits of your signage.

Statistics to consider:

  • 78 percent of customers have chosen to enter a store based only on its signage and graphics.
  • 68 percent of shoppers have specifically bought an item due to signage. Packaging is VERY important too.
  • Studies show that signage attractiveness directly correlates to how much time a visitor spends engaged with the subject of the signage!
  • 40 percent of consumers have decided not to shop at a store because the poor condition of its signage caused them to assume its goods or services were not of high quality.

Your signage also needs to adhere to laws, state and local. Municipal signage regulations change often, and many businesses are not compliant with their city's signage codes and don't know the rules for variances and exceptions. A regular review can help your visual communications remain within the law.

 
For expert assistance: Call our team!

We have 20 plus years experience in designing, creating and building signs for businesses and organizations in the Washington DC area. You can look to us for affordable, custom exterior signage, window graphics and other outdoor solutions that will help you attract more customers. To get started, contact us today!

iPhone 8 - X - Pro, Whatever they call it

john mier

When is it being released? What are the specs? What  features? What we know, and don’t.

The iPhone 7s — iPhone 8 — iPhone X — whatever Apple ends up calling the next and “ 10th Anniversary" iPhone, it's expected this fall, and with a new design and new set of features. But what will they be? There are countless Mac news and rumor sites that discuss this in detail. I’m giving you our hopes, wants and dreams on this blog posting.

We hope: All of iPhone 8's OLED have (organic light emitting diode) versions — the same type of display technology currently found on Apple Watch and Touch Bar displays — will be curved and seamless. "The upcoming iPhone may use new sensing technology, which enables the phone to respond when users touch any side of the device. But, Apple may not adopt this technology according to many news and rumor sites we have read..

Our Wants: And more powerful but also more energy efficient chip. Since Apple introduced the company's first branded system-on-a-chip (SoC) in 2010, every new iPhone has come with a new A-series chipset. If Apple sticks to that pattern, the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus will ship with Apple A11 processors. New SoC typically take advantage of better processes that let them be faster and more powerful but also more energy efficient.

HD/LCD displays. Apple hasn't updated the resolution on iPhone or iPhone Plus since 2014. It makes them less than desirable for application like VR, and less than competitive when it comes to spec comparisons. It does make them more energy efficient, though, given they still use LCD rather than OLED panels.

Our Dreams: Wireless Charging. Wireless Charging. Wireless Charging. Apple must come out with a TRUE wireless charging system. Not a “pad”, not a “station”, true wireless charging…and from a real world distance. Imagine a home, a business and your car having a remote wireless point where all your devices can be charged by up to 10'-20’ away. Your devices could almost always be fully charged/charging while in these zones. No more cords hanging everywhere. Our home is a tangles mess of chargers and cables everywhere. We have become a slave to constantly charging our iPads/tablets, phones etc. Apple: PLEASE use your billions on this. Thinner more elegant phones and tablets are fine, but don’t waste your manpower on these, give us wireless charging. And while you are it, invent far superior batteries. Imagine if you could do these two things how your stock would go through the roof AND you would be doing society a great favor. Far better batteries could change transportation and home energy usage as we know it.

Bring your Lobby to Life with a Wall Graphic

john mier

The new year is a great time to think about updating and personalizing your lobby in an exciting and brand effective way. Utilize your logo and branding visuals to create custom lobby wall graphics. Washington Graphic Services can come to your space, photograph the area, lobby, common spaces, exterior and design office graphics for walls, glass, elevators, doors, almost anywhere. Send a bold message with some graphics, showcase your ethos with some graphics related to what you do, or make a statement with a large graphic of your own company brand/logo. Whatever you choose, remember that when people come into your office, your lobby is their first chance to form an impression, so don’t let that opportunity pass you by.

Update your Building with New Signage

How long has it been since you updated the signage in your building? From your exterior signs, lobby signs, direction signs, directories, parking sign, wayewards signs, all this makes an impression on your current clients and on your prospective clients. Make an impression and send the message you need to convey. Update your building signage in 2017. Our team is available to show you what will work for you and your building inside and out.

Save Energy: Retrofit your Sign with LEDs

Electricity costs money ... especially in commercial buildings and facilities. What are the annual costs for you to illuminate your building or monument signs? Most older signs are illuminated with either fluorescent or neon lighting. Both of those options cost dramatically more in energy than LED lighting and have a larger carbon foot print. The savings are so significant that your upgrade will pay for itself in 5 years. Plus, if you factor in maintenance savings on your difficult-to-access signs, the LED retrofit will actually pay for itself in 2 or 3 years. Save money and energy in 2017 with an LED retrofit.

Monthly Webiste Maintenance - 50% off!

john mier

Update your current website and keep its content maintained by Washington Graphic Services (WGS). Our team of creative, marketing, content and IT professionals can update and maintain your business website FAST.

WGS offers monthly service agreements on all web and print projects and now we are offering for a limited time 50% off our hourly rate for new website maintenance clients. If you need just a few hours a month or 100, call us, we will do it.

WGS creates new content, designs, updates, custom codes, special projects, produces and edits databases AND keeps your websites up and running with the latest HTML5 and CSS3 standards.

Using Twitter, social media to drive traffic to your website

john mier

You write a great blog post but there's nobody there to read it, does it make a sale? You might have created a fantastic article filled with talking points related to your business. Your writer may have researched the most compelling topic, included loads of original insights and tied it all together with great graphics, but if that blog post isn't promoted properly, it simply won't be read. this mean it won't have any impact on your business.

1. Tweet your blog posts often and strategically.
Publish your blog post, then tweet it. Wait a few hours and re-tweet it. Wait two more days and tweet it again. Share your tweets, but be strategic: type different phrases, quotes and headlines each time you tweet the blog post, and time your tweets so that they can coincide with when your audience is online.

2. Write creative headlines and CTAs.
Want people to actually click over to your blog post? Don't be afraid to ask your audience to click for you. Include a call-to-action on your tweets so your audience knows what you need for them to do and how they can respond. Use a creative headline that will compel readers who sees it to click for more.

3. Always use great graphics/images.
Graphics/images/photos work well on social media, not just on Twitter. Make sure your blog post has at least one graphic or photo associated with it, and include this image every time you tweet it out. Your tweet will appear larger and more eye-catching in people's time-lines, making it more likely that they will click.

4. Tag people and businesses whom matter.
Are there specific people or businesses in your industry would be interested in your post? Tag them when you share it. If they like what they see, they'll retweet or share it, getting you even more eyeballs.
5. Use hash-tags ... but wisely.
Create industry-related hash-tags to promote your blog post beyond just your followers. This will increase the number of people and business that can and will see your posts. Remember people are visual, don't be afraid to use images but review them carefull ... you don't want to send out something thats embarrassing.

6. Thank you.
If you're getting lots of shares and interaction from key members of your Twitter community, be sure to thank them. This may make them more likely to continue to share, and increase your reach and exposure. Also come across as "geniune," people don't want to be used or feeling that these "thank-yous" are fake and manufactured.

7. We love ad campaigns (Google AdWords).
If you are business create a social media ad campaign such ad Google's AdWords. Budget this every year. You will get more traffic and business from it than you spend. TRUST ME. Google can boost your blog posts even further than you could reach organically. For a relatively small cost, you can pay to get your post in front of thousands of new, targeted audience members. WGS has been using Google for 10 years. It works.

Measuring the success of your content, optimizing how it is consumed ... these are all necessary steps in a great content strategy. But besides the actual content itself, the most important aspect of creating a blog post is how you promote it.

Washington Graphic Services can write, create and manage all your posts, tweets, listings, directory updates, ad campaigns and social media sites so you don't have to. We are much more affordable than an in house writer, programmer, graphics team. We can be your outsourced graphics and social media team for less than half of what you would pay one employee over the course of a year.

Website Maintenance Services Will Help Your Business

john mier

Website maintenance is a critical part of having a presence on the web today. Designing and deploying the site is just the start. Modern sites are complex collections of software that require regular attention and updates. Here are few ways that having website maintenance services available to your company will make your business more marketable online.

1. Software Updates and Security
Websites used to be pretty simple. At their base, they were simply a collection of static files that you would upload to a server. A modern site, however, is usually a database-driven software platform. Each site is, itself, an application. And, just like any application on your computer, your website’s software needs to be updated periodically. An update may make an improvement in how the site works, but in most cases, it is to keep your site operating securely. Just because you have a website does not mean you are listed on all/any of the search engine directories.

2. A Built-In Disaster Recovery Plan
If you’re currently managing your own website, I want you to think for a moment – what you would do if your site was suddenly lost? Maybe the server your website is hosted on crashed; maybe your site was hacked and replaced with something completely different. How would you recover? Let WGS maintain a backup of your site that is linked so whenever you make updates or changes both sites are current.
If your answer for this question didn’t come to you immediately, then you probably need help maintaining your website. Have peace of mind of knowing that your site is being routinely backed up is priceless. These backups are the key which will allow professionals to get your site back up and running quickly – with as little downtime as possible – in the event something ever goes wrong.  That is the difference between sleeping through a site disaster and begging your budget hosting provider for help (when they can’t).

3. Fresh, Updated Content
Do you understand the importance of keeping the information on your site current and up to date? Websites that are updated more frequently get crawled more frequently by search engines.  They show that the business is alive and flourishing. They show that the business owners are interested in what’s going on in their markets. If this is done improperly, however, the overall effect can be more negative than positive. Content should be properly formatted and presented in a way that is visually appealing and easy to read. Images should be applicable to the content and be integrated into the overall design. And links must work – broken links can have negative effects on your own SEO (Search Engine Optimization), as well as open you up to a whole host of issues.
Your website should validate and meet W3C standards. Validation is a way of “standardizing” the code that runs behind websites. Web crawlers pay attention to how “clean” your code is. Valid code is clean code and clean code makes web crawlers happy.
It is your website maintenance company that will make sure that your content is properly formatted, looks good on your site, and contains links that are functional while also working to improve your site’s rankings on search engines.

4. Tracking ROI with Solid Analytics
If you want to maximize the return on your website investment, you need to understand and interpret the data that your visitors leave behind for you. A website that exists on the web yet produces no visitors or revenue is a fairly useless website.
By using solid analytics and working in conjunction with your website maintenance company, you can make sure that you understand what is bringing visitors to your site and who they are. You can gain insight into what they are doing when they are there. And, ultimately, you can learn why they are, or are not, doing what you need them to do during their visits.

5. Focus on Your Business
So, allow us to put an idea out there for you: You run your business and we will run your website. You do what you do best; be it business development, sales, generation of new ideas, or anything else that gets you going. We will do what we do best – run and maintain your website. You grow your business and we’ll make sure that the web side of the business is taken care of.

Finally A New MacPro Arrives

john mier

The new MacBook Pro is here … finally, available for preorder at Apple.com now — and we are excited to buy it.  The best thing I can say about the New Mac Pro is simple: everything about it looks and feels so good I almost didn’t believe it.

Let’s look at the star feature: the Touch Bar. What you might not have gathered from the keynote is that it has a matte finish, which makes the buttons on it somehow feel a little more physical. It’s bright, but not so bright that it distracts — it seems to be about on par with the brightness of the backlit keyboard.

I wonder whether or not all these changing function buttons will be useful to the masses that want this computer, but they all seem to make sense to us. There’s no haptic feedback on them, unfortunately, but obviously they all worked perfectly. That included quickly applying filters in Photos and sorting emails in Mail.

You can rearranged buttons (you can find the option in a menu) and it worked, well, as Apple touts. What’s neat about dragging buttons down from the screen to the Touch Bar is that you can keep moving them with the mouse on the second screen.

The most important button when you've got music playing is the "Play/Pause" button. And when the Touch Bar is busy being used for application-specific stuff, it's stone-cold not there. But Apple added a more permanent music options button over on the right, so you can always tap it to get to your music transport controls.

One last neat thing on the Touch Bar: you can tap-and-hold on a bunch of buttons to get to functions faster. Long-press on Reply and you can slide over to Reply-All. Same for other buttons like volume control.

The TouchID feature worked well. I'm told the MacBook Pro now automatically powers on when you open it and that holding down the TouchID button will turn the computer off (the Apple rep here didn't want to show me that, though). 

Now Apple NEDS to give us a few more essential products:

Updated MacPro, New Monitors (Not these partnering with LG replacements) We need monitors up to 42”, not just 27”. There is a huge market for very large screens. These monitors need to be groundbreaking not just large with lots of pixels.

We need a wifi-router-airport extreme. Something awesome and bigger and better than anything out there. Incorporate this with the NEW Apple TV, get rid of so many devices.

Apple is the “core” is the creative-graphics-design-web industry. Apple needs to not only keep but innovate because this is the “halo-effect” strategy that keeps Apple cool.