INTERNATIONAL GREEN DESIGN GUIDELINES
BEST PRACTICE STANDARDS AND INNOVATION
GREEN DESIGN GALLERY requires all designer suppliers to comply and where possible exceed the Green Design requirements in this section.
GDG expects ongoing innovation from all designer suppliers and contractors that GDG engages. We understand that our suppliers are at the forefront of product innovation and we request suppliers present GDG with new contemporary designs that reduce at the same time, the environmental impact.
GREEN DESIGN GALLERY follows international Green Design Guidelines and prior to selection, all GDG products are examined along these principles.
Comprehensive information about special materials as well as full information about the production conditions are essential to all GREEN DESIGN GALLERY product retention.
All phases of the product’s lifecycle are considered: from conception, pre-production, production, distribution, usage, after usage. We also consider the designer’s capacity to build a sustainable business, by analyzing its eco-conception reporting activities and international certifications.
GREEN DESIGN PROCESS: THOUGHTFUL DESIGN FROM BEGINNING TO END
- Promote a sustainable design philosophy inherent to the product life cycle;
- Design for expandability: flexibility, disassembly, recyclability, and durability;
- Favor simple design with fewer components over complex systems;
- Use a palette of green ideas in harmony with good environmental design;
- Work with a design team and partners that shares the green design philosophy.
PRE-PRODUCTION - MATERIALS
- Products containing recycle content should be preferred;
- Products that reduce the use of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), Polyvinyl chloride (PVC),
formaldehyde should be preferred in the selection process, e.g. paints, sealants and adhesives;
- Carpets should be recycled content, low VOC, recyclable, Eco labelled or accredited under a relevant scheme;
- Procurement of materials should prioritize or prefer those with Eco labelling or sustainability credentials, those that demonstrate a reduction in embedded carbon and those that contain a high recycled content or have other recognized attributes;
- Materials including furniture, fixtures and equipment that carry Eco labels (verified under the Global Ecolabelling Network GEN) applicable to their asset class should be preferred;
- Timbers should be either recycled or accredited under international standards including Forest;
- GDG will not accept any products that are linked to destructive or illegal forestry practices - Suppliers must comply with timber policy legislation;
- Use materials that are readily available and technologies that are simple.
- Products and materials selection should also prefer products that:
- Reduce the consumption of energy and water during manufacturing,
- Manufacture products in low maintenance/ease of maintenance/maintenance friendly buildings;
- Encourage low energy consumption;
- Minimize material waste to landfill: Green Star recommends projects achieve less than 5kg of waste per square meter committed to landfill or 95% project diversion rate.
- Reduce the consumption of energy and water during transportation.
USAGE + AFTER USAGE
- Design is adaptable to the environment;
- Product is inherently intuitive to operate and maintain;
- Select materials, products, and equipment for their durability and maintenance characteristics;
- Products and materials selection should also prefer products that:
- Reduce emissions in their functionality when compared to similar purpose products
- Have a lower embedded carbon footprint
- Have been demonstrated to have a lower whole of life costing than similar purpose products
- Avoid materials and products with short expected life spans or products that require frequent maintenance procedures.
- A reporting framework is encouraged to track quantum in tons, waste stream and % recycled.
- GDG encourages adhesion to international recognized sustainability certifications, such as:
- Sustainable Furnishings Council (SFC)
- Cradle to Cradle
- Energy Star
- ReMade Italy
- Good Environment Choice Australia (GECA)
- NSF/ANSI 140: Sustainability Assessment for the Carpet Industry
- Carpet Institute of Australia Limited
- Sustainability Standard for Commercial Furniture - AFRDI Standard 150
- Furniture and Fitting Standards (v2)
- Stewardship Council (FSC)
GREEN DESIGN GALLERY Inc.
SIMPLE WAYS TO WRITE PRODUCT DESCRIPTIONS THAT SELL
It’s an easy mistake. Even professional copywriters make it sometimes: Writing product descriptions that simply describe your products. Why is it wrong? Because product descriptions need to sell your products.
According to Henneke Duistermaat, author of How to Write Seductive Web Copy: An Easy Guide to Picking Up More Customers, here are 8 simple ways to persuade our web visitors with product descriptions that sell:
- Focus on Your Ideal Buyer
When you write a product description with a huge crowd of buyers in mind, your descriptions become wishy-washy and you end up addressing no one at all.
The best product descriptions address your ideal buyer directly and personally. You ask and answer questions as if you’re having a conversation with them. You choose the words your ideal buyer uses. You use the word you.
Consider how you would speak to your ideal buyer if you were selling your product in store, face-to-face. Now try and incorporate that language into your website so you can have a similar conversation online that resonates more deeply.
- Entice with Benefits
When we sell our own products, we get excited about features and specifications. We live and breathe our company, our website, and our products.
The problem is our potential buyers are not as interested in mundane features and specs - they want to know what’s in it for them. That’s why you need to highlight the benefits of each feature.
Consider the benefit of each of your features. How does your product make your customers feel happier, healthier, or more productive? Which problems, glitches, and hassle does your product help solve?
Don’t sell just a product, sell an experience.
- Avoid Yeah, Yeah Phrases
When we’re stuck for words and don’t know what else to add to our product description, we often add something bland like "excellent product quality".
That’s a yeah, yeah phrase. As soon as a potential buyer reads excellent product quality he thinks, yeah, yeah, of course; that’s what everyone says. Ever heard someone describe their product quality as average, not-so-good, or even bad?
You become less persuasive when your potential buyer reads your product description and starts saying yeah, yeah to themselves. To avoid this reaction be as specific as possible.
Make sure each point gives an impression of quality. Each point should also follow an easy pattern of highlighting a feature plus a benefit: genuine hand-sewn construction (feature) >> durable comfort (benefit).
Product details add credibility. Product details sell your product. You can never include too many technical details in your product descriptions. Be specific.
- Justify Using Superlatives
Superlatives sound insincere unless you clearly prove why your product is the best, the easiest, or the most advanced.
If your product is really the best, provide specific proof why this is the case. Otherwise, tone your copy down or quote a customer who says your product is the most wonderful they’ve ever used.
- Appeal to Your Readers’ Imagination
Scientific research has proven that if people hold a product in their hands, their desire to own it increases.
You’re selling online, so your web visitors can’t hold your products. Large, crystal clear pictures or videos can help, but there’s also a copywriting trick to increase desire: let your reader imagine what it would be like to own your product.
To practice this copywriting technique, start a sentence with the word imagine, and finish your sentence (or paragraph) by explaining how your reader will feel when owning and using your product.
- Cut Through Rational Barriers with Mini-Stories
Including mini-stories in your product descriptions lowers rational barriers against persuasion techniques. In other words, we forget we’re being sold to.
When it comes to telling a story about your products, ask yourself:
Who is making the product?
What inspired creating the product?
What obstacles did you need to overcome to develop the product?
How was the product tested?
- Seduce with Sensory Words
Restaurants have known it for a long time: sensory words increase sales, because they engage more brain processing power.
Adjectives are tricky words. Often they don’t add meaning to your sentences, and you’re better off deleting them. However, sensory adjectives are power words because they make your reader experience your copy while reading.
Dazzle your readers with vivid product descriptions. Think about words like velvety, smooth, crisp, and bright.
- Tempt with Social Proof
When our web visitors are unsure about which product to purchase, they look for suggestions what to buy. They’re often swayed to buy a product with the highest number of positive reviews. But there are other ways to sneak social proof into your product descriptions.
Online furniture seller Made.com hints at the popularity of a product: Including an image of a person adds credibility to a quote; it also makes an online company more personal and approachable encouraging customers to call to get answers to their queries.
The above quote carries extra impact because it describes the product as popular. The popularity claim is further supported with a cutting from the press and the phrase press favorite.
Most buyers are attracted to buying something that's popular. When it comes to our website, highlight the products that are customer favorites.
Share your knowledge about your product. Tell stories and explain even the tiniest details. Make an effort not to be boring and instead delight your web visitors with seductive descriptions. Most of all, write with enthusiasm because your passion for your products is contagious.
GREEN DESIGN GALLERY Inc.
E-COMMERCE PRODUCT PHOTOGRAPHY: THE ESSENTIAL GUIDE
High quality product photography makes all the difference in e-commerce. Most sellers know that, but achieving it is not an easy task.
In this guide, we’ll cover all the essentials you need to know about e-commerce product photography. You don’t need to be a photography geek to get fantastic results, but you do need some crucial basics – and some practice.
We’ll also explain GREEN DESIGN GALLERY’s photo policy, and demonstrate special considerations for photographing difficult products and large items like furniture.
I hope this guide helps you get on the path to some really awesome product photos and – most importantly – increasing your online sales. Any questions? Please be sure co contact Us!
GENERAL PRODUCT PHOTOGRAPHY TIPS
- Shoot against a white backdrop
A white backdrop will make all the difference when you shoot your products. First up, it’ll reflect white light onto your product, which will help you produce a well-lit photo and really bring out the product’s color. Shooting on white will also help you avoid any color spills.
A white backdrop will also help ensure your camera’s white balance calibration is on point. Light sources have different color temperatures (measured in Kelvin) and while our brains can adjust to these temperatures automatically, a digital camera can only guess the true color of everything in the frame by using a white element as a reference point. By surrounding your product in white, you’ll be able to capture its true color and accurately represent your product.
The best kind of backdrop is a photography sweep, which is simply a backdrop that seamlessly transitions from the vertical to the horizontal surface. The sweep should be larger than your product and fill up the entire camera frame.
If you’re photographing smaller products, a shooting table is the best option because you’ll have more flexibility in terms of where you can set up. You can easily make your own by nailing two scrap pieces of wood to the back of a small table and clamping your sweep in place. White wrapping paper works really well because of its reflective quality, but anything clean and white will do.
If you’re shooting large products, investing in a professional sweep isn’t a bad idea, especially if you’re going to shoot frequently. It’ll come with a stand so you can easily set it up. Otherwise, you can improvise by attaching a sheet to a wall or draping it over something.
- Use sufficient lighting
Sufficient lighting is the secret to high-quality product photography. You can use professional artificial lighting, but it can take some time to master. You can use natural lighting as well - it’s free and easy, and it can produce great photos if you use it correctly.
You want to use the sun indirectly, so the best place to shoot is near a window. You might want to diffuse the light further by covering the window with a white sheet or taping white paper over the window pane. Note that using any other color to diffuse the light will change the temperature of your light source.
The window should be positioned to the left or right of the product — never behind or facing the camera. This means the light will only hit the product from one side so you might need to use a fill light, which is just something you place on the opposite side of the light source to prevent harsh shadows and evenly light up the product. If you look at the two photos below, the shadows in the left chair are much darker, particularly on the underside of the product.
You can also buy a reflector (a professional fill light) or make your own. Simply grab a white piece of cardboard and fold it in half — the shinier the surface the better. Alternatively, you can use a regular piece of cardboard and cover it in aluminum foil.
- Stabilize your camera
Stabilizing your camera will help you take clear, sharp images. The best way to stabilize your camera is to use a tripod (or a smartphone mount if you’re shooting on your phone). When it comes to tripods, you get what you pay for, but as you’re only shooting product images, you won’t need anything too fancy. There are many under $50 on the internet.
- Understand your camera
Photography is a very technical and complex field, and there’s a lot to learn when it comes to cameras. You don’t need to be a highly skilled photographer to take a product image that sells, but the first step in improving your product images is to learn how your camera works so you can make the necessary adjustments for better photos.
If you’ve invested in a DSLR, learn the basics of shooting manual. Your aperture is the hole within the lens that determines the amount of light that travels into the camera. It’s measured in f-stops and (this is the confusing part) the higher the f-stop number, the smaller the aperture. The aperture is also linked to your depth of field, which determines how much of the shot is in focus. A smaller aperture will capture everything in the frame, and a larger aperture (the larger the better!) will isolate the foreground from the background.
The shutter speed refers to how long the hole in the lens is open for, i.e., how long light has to travel through the lens. A smaller aperture lets in less light, so the shutter needs to be open for longer to produce a well-lit photo.
The ISO determines a camera’s sensitivity to light. The higher you go, the lower the quality of the photo. Never exceed 400 — you’ll see that the image starts to get grainy. This is called camera noise. If you can’t take a well-lit image with an ISO of 100 or 200, you need to increase the lighting, make the aperture larger or slow down the shutter speed.
Ultimately, the perfect aperture-ISO-shutter speed combo will depend on your setup and your product, but a basic understanding of each feature will help you figure out what to adjust.
You can also take high-quality product images on any new smartphone. Sure, you get what you pay for, and DSLRs definitely take much better photos, but there won’t be a huge difference in the end result unless you really know how to use a DSLR to its full potential.
The most important thing to remember when shooting on a smartphone is the phone camera adjusts to its environment. You can’t adjust the aperture, but you can choose a focal point by tapping on the screen. Smartphone cameras automatically adjust the ISO to the lighting conditions, so you’ll need a lot of lighting to keep it below 400. Alternatively, there are Android and iOS apps that give you control over this feature.
- Remove the background
Removing the background is an easy way to give your products a professional touch. A white background is the best option in most cases because it doesn’t clash with any other color and draws attention to the product.
There are a few ways to remove the background from a photo, some harder than others. Generally, the most difficult approaches yield the best results — the pen tool in image editing software like Photoshop works wonders and will give you a really accurate outline.
You can try using alternative tools like the magic wand, but more often than not it doesn’t cut away the background in the right places, and sometimes cuts into the product.
You may also want to try this free online tool that removes the picture background, it works very well, with some practice: www.pixc.com.
- Use a template
Consistency is key when it comes to product photography. Your products should all take up the same amount of canvas space, so when they’re displayed together, they are more or less aligned.
The best way to do this is to create a template.
Create a blank file in any kind of photo editing software that has this basic function, and choose the size you want for all of your product images.
The best size is anywhere between 1000 pixels to 1600 pixels on the longest side.
You’ll then need to paste all of your images into the template, resize them accordingly and save them as new files. Your products should take up the majority of the canvas; aim for 80-95% of the frame.
If you’re using a more advanced photo editing software like Adobe Photoshop, you can create guides that will help you align your products exactly, which is definitely more effective than eyeballing it.
Note that you can’t increase the size of a photo, and stretching it will only make it blurry and pixelated. If your original photos are too small for your template, you should reshoot the products or make the template smaller.
LARGE ITEMS AND FURNITURE
The biggest issue with shooting large products such as furniture is the amount of space they take up. You’re going to need a space that’s at least three times as large as the product, along with ample lighting.
A well-lit room is your best option; as direct sunlight will create harsh shadows.
As mentioned earlier, buying a sweep will make your life a lot easier, particularly for products this size. You should also get a friend or co-worker to help you to move the heavier and bulkier items around. If you’re using a DSLR, the trick is to stand far away from the product while zooming in as much as you can so your focal length is at its maximum.
Shooting with a smaller focal length when you’re closer to the product may leave you with a slightly distorted product in the resulting photo. To get the entire product in focus, make sure you use a small aperture.
Although it’s best to shoot from the front for most products, furniture can be a little different.
The best shot is usually one that captures the front, top and side of the product, so shooting from above and slightly to one side of the product is a good place to start.
This angle helps people better visualize the product and gives the product some dimension.
Now it’s up to YOU!
Nail your setup, grab your camera, and give DIY product photography a go.
Practice makes perfect, so don’t give up if your product images aren’t perfect the first time you shoot — it’ll take some time to figure out what works best for you given the equipment you have and the products you’re shooting.
GREEN DESIGN GALLERY Inc.
HOW TO WRITE A BIOGRAPHY
Whether you are an artist or a designer, a good bio is an important part of your promotional material.
According to Lori McNee, owner of FineArtTips.com, length and content are the 2 essential keys to writing a professional designer bio.
For a web page bio, a good short bio is the way to go. An efficient short bio needs to have all the relevant components of a long one, but only highlights the very best. Keep the short bio at 100 – 175 words or less – if it is too long, people won’t read it.
Decide on first-person or third-person: Popular opinion states that a bio is best when written in third-person (a narrative, using pronouns such as, he or she). If the bio is going to be used by others, third-person is definitely the best option. But, there are times when a first-person bio (speaking about yourself, I am) might come in handy.
Tell about yourself: State your business with confidence. Briefly highlight your achievements, awards and accomplishments and hook the reader. But be warned, don’t turn you’re your reader off with ego driven self-promotion.
Add a dash of personality: Personal branding is just that – your personal, virtual personality. The purpose of your bio is to sell yourself by building authenticity and trust. Share your point of view, a bit of your interests, or what you care about.
Keep it simple: Stay away from ‘flowery’ language that attempts to sound too sophisticated or grand. Make your paragraphs easy to read, and keep them short. Remember, most people are skimmers. The attention span of the average web surfer is only 9 seconds.
DESIGNER BIO EXAMPLE
"Marc Fish set-up making contemporary furniture over 15 years ago after a burning desire to create six dining chairs. With a background in metal fabrication the obvious choice was steel, and so it began.
Some years later after studying with some of the best fine furniture makers in the UK and receiving 2 distinctions in City & Guilds Furniture Making, his flair and natural ability clearly sets him apart as a designer/maker to look out for in the future.
Marc’s passion is for one-off pieces drawing on exquisite craftsmanship, a good design ethos and exceptional customer service. He takes his inspiration from natural forms, art, sculpture and architecture.
Marc’s use of the finest timbers and veneers, his understanding of metal fabrication and his attention to detail set him apart from a standard cabinet maker."
GREEN DESIGN GALLERY Inc.
 Henneke Duistermaat, Marketer and Copywriter. Author of How to Write Seductive Web Copy: An Easy Guide to Picking Up More Customers
 Lori McNee, fine art and marketing blogger for the aspiring and professional artist, owner of FineArtTips.com.