Categories vs tags

Categories vs tags

When working with my design clients, much of what we discuss is about the look and feel, understandable right? So much blogging advice on the web is about the design; the right banner, layout, font and spacing. One thing that seems to be misunderstood is when to use categories and tags. I want to try to explain the differences and how good use of categories and tags may assist in SEO and search. I work almost exclusively in WordPress and categories and tags are a feature of WordPress. Most CMS or blogging platforms handle categories and tags in a similar way, so you won’t be disadvantaged if WordPress is not your tool of choice.

“There is no task so great that it cannot be solved by categorisation. Small groups much join forces, larger masses broken down into component parts.”



A category was explained to me as being like the chapters of a book, but I never found this description very helpful – maybe it’s the books I read. I prefer to think of a category as a broad theme for the content you are writing (a blog post). Look over your blog and you’ll see there are topics and areas of interest that you consistently blog about. These are your categories.

My rule of thumb is one category per blog post and I try to have only 8-10 categories that I consistently use. You might find this difficult at first but your readers will thank you and I’ll explain why in the next paragraph. When I started out (in 2007) I went a bit crazy with categories, I think at last count there are about 26 categories in my previously used list. Most of these I no longer use and I stick to my 8-10 rule for a couple of reasons. One, my blog has become more focused over the years and two, I want to improve my blog navigation and SEO.

So how does this help with SEO and navigation? Categories are another way for your readers to navigate your blog. Selecting a category link under a blog post will direct them to a filtered list of every post in that category, searching for a category on your blog will have a similar result. This is really useful if your readers are interested in everything you have written in a category e.g. Design. A category is also metadata (data about data) which adds a descriptive element to your post content. Metadata is a favourite of search engines as it assists them to understand more about your content and therefore helps with search results.


Tags on the other hand, provide more description to your blog content so use as many as you think necessary to describe the post, just try not to go overboard. In the old days of web this was called keyword stuffing and search engines are not fond of this practice.

Tags will also assist in search and navigation but not to the same extent as categories, unless you are also very restrictive with your tagging. On this blog I like to write about design so I have a design category – makes sense. I have a varied interest in design so I need to be more specific and I might add a tag of ‘web design’ or ‘surface design’ or ‘furniture’ or ‘graphic’ – you get the idea. It is possible that you will use a tag once or twice in the lifetime of your blog and that’s OK. The 8-10 rule doesn’t apply to tags. If I’m sharing the work of someone who inspires me, like in this post,  I tag the post with their name or business name and unless I blog about them again I probably won’t use that tag again. From a navigation perspective this isn’t ideal as following a tag link may only produce one result but from a search perspective it’s still metadata and serves to describe your content.

One suggestion for tags is if you use the same tag then use it consistently and don’t create variations on a theme. For example I tag posts with external links with a tag of ‘links’, if I were to start using ‘web link’, ‘site link’ or ‘external link’ then I start to muddy the waters and my SEO and navigation will suffer. As someone once said – “a point in every direction is the same as no point at all’.

I hope this has helped to demystify categories and tags a little. If you have any questions or have made any discoveries that may help others, leave a comment.

Image by Damian Zaleski via Unsplash – free high resolution stock photos

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February 2, 2016 \ blogging \ 0 comments - be the first

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Colour palette :: texture #1

Texture colour palette #1

People who know me well, know that I’m a huge fan of colour palettes. Nothing is more lovely to me than a curated collection of well placed colours. I have a whole Pinterest Board devoted to colour palettes for inspiration.

Welcome to the first (of many I hope) post just for palettes – but with a little difference. My problem with most inspirational palettes I collect is that they have a small number of colours (5 usually) and sometimes the colours, while they look amazing, are tonally equivalent which makes them difficult to use in a lot of my design work when I’m looking for contrast. The other problem is that I like to include neutrals in my design work and am always searching for the perfect brown or grey. This quest combined with my obsessive pinning of rust and paint texture images has inspired me towards creating my own palettes, since much of my theme design work starts with an image for both colour and motif inspiration.

There are a few rules I’ve set for myself:

  • Each palette will have a minimum of eight colours all derived from the texture image
  • The complimentary brown and grey (at the bottom of the palette) are hand mixed using this very cool technique I learned in the Skillshare class Introduction to Surface Design: Creating and Mixing Patterns (affiliate link) by Jenna Frye, my current girl crush.
  • There is a good range of contrast in the colours.

It was easy to follow the rules with this amazing image. I’ll see how I go and I hope you keep me on task. Also let me know if you use any of these palettes for your projects.

Quick question though: do I include hex codes for each colour or leave them out? I’m undecided if they are useful or not.

Untitled image by Don Taylor via Flickr

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November 13, 2015 \ colour lover \ 2 comments

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Taking stock #3

pink trees

This is now my third taking stock post and seems to be my go to post for when I want to explain my silence. I think this is my year of being absent. Now I’m a little fired up towards changes for 2016.

Making : Many, many, many Tunisian crochet washcloths
Cooking : Asparagus on the BBQ
Drinking : Anti inflammatory toddy
Reading: After You by Jojo Moyes
Wanting: To take the entire summer holidays off work
Looking: At textures in rust and paint
Playing: Uno with my boys
Deciding: Colours for tiles
Wishing: The kitchen would be finished
Enjoying: The humour of my colleagues
Waiting: For my knee to feel better
Liking: Spring days
Wondering: Where else I can fit in all the plants I want to buy
Loving: That I have finally finished Uni
Pondering: A new pattern collection
Considering: Making this Ikea hack
Watching: Home renovation shows with my little one
Hoping: To finish all my crochet projects
Marvelling: At the blooms in my garden
Needing: A gardener
Smelling: Roses
Wearing: My new watch, a random wonderful present from my husband
Following: The adventures of my gorgeous friend at Sweet Divergence
Noticing: The days are getting longer
Knowing: That things happen for a reason and should stop second guessing events
Thinking: Way too much
Feeling: Old with my achy knee
Admiring: A fellow UXer – Ashlea Mackay
Sorting: Through the kitchen in preparation for the renovation
Buying: More pattern books and dresses
Getting: Enthused towards some changes
Bookmarking: 1950s patterns
Disliking: Some of the hype
Opening: My iPad to do some more doodling
Giggling: With my boys over dumb things people do
Feeling: Excited for things to come
Snacking: On mangoes even though they are still expensive
Coveting: A new dining room table from Eclipse Furniture
Wishing: The exchange rate was better so I could order some of my own fabric
Helping: My Dad to use his new iPhone
Hearing: Kookaburras

Image via Unsplash (wonderful free stock photo library) is by Gabriel Garcia Marengo

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November 4, 2015 \ sharing \ 0 comments - be the first

Inspired by :: Michaël Cailloux

Scarf design by Michaël Cailloux

In surface pattern design I sometimes get overwhelmed by florals. So when I spot something unusual that is not a floral I tend to sit up and take notice. I stumbled across Michaël Cailloux’s work, quite by accident and was immediately intrigued. Michaël is a French designer of ‘wall jewellery’, scarves (like the one above) and painted papers. I strongly recommend you visit his site (it’s in French and English) so you can really appreciate his work.

For me, I was struck by the unusual imagery he adds to his designs; gingko leaves with fish and eels. You’ll find frogs, pelicans, parrots and beetles and my personally I love that most of his designs include flies.

Scarf design by Michaël Cailloux

They are beautifully rendered and arranged and remind me somewhat of my fascination when I was at art school of trying to spot the beetles or flies in Renaissance paintings. In northern Renaissance religious art especially the fly was sometimes included as it was thought to repel real flies and in some Christian art the fly was symbol of evil, pestilence or sin.

Screen Shot 2015-07-12 at 12.37.17 pm

The fly is central to most of Michaël’s work as a symbol of life and death, he references 16th Century still life paintings as inspiration for his work. His graduating thesis was on the fly in 18th century art. I think that’s why his work is so appealing to me.

You can view all Michaël’s work on his website and get a glimpse of what he’s working on via twitter.

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July 12, 2015 \ inspiration \ 0 comments - be the first

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Taking stock #2

Mitten covered hands holding a coffee cup

This is only my second taking stock post but it’s such a great was to explain my silence of late. I think it’s okay to blog when you feel like it, wouldn’t you agree?

Making : My own variation of Bear’s Rainbow Quilt
Cooking : Bread with fresh yeast
Drinking : A lot of black tea
Reading: You Before Me by Jojo Moyes and Nicely Said by Nicole Fenton and Kate Kiefer Lee
Wanting: This crochet kit from Wool and the Gang
Looking: For inspiration
Playing: Blendoku on my iPad
Deciding: To renovate the kitchen
Wishing: I had more time or less interests
Enjoying: The cold mornings
Waiting: For the rest of my wool to arrive
Liking: Paleo Granola sprinkled over my morning oats
Wondering: How many more plants I should buy
Loving: Swimming without a program or coach
Pondering: A new direction for my business
Considering: Building a ‘portable’ screen printing table top
Watching: Too many things on Netflix
Hoping: To finish my nephew’s quilt
Marvelling: At how quickly time passes and that we are already enrolling the jolly monkey in high school
Needing: To go and pull more weeds
Smelling: Waffles
Wearing: This cowl that I made
Following: Pip Lincolne’s wonderful blog posts
Noticing: How much my boys are growing up
Knowing: That I am more capable that I often believe
Thinking: Of taking some long service leave
Feeling: So much better now that I am sleeping
Admiring: People who stay true to their own style
Sorting: Through so many books
Buying: Too many ebooks
Getting: Ready to start a new series of ‘how to’ posts on my blog
Bookmarking: Geometric and vintage patterns
Disliking: Websites that ignore accessibility
Opening: My latest Uppercase magazine (I love that smell)
Giggling: At the conversations between my boys (‘Why don’t you talk to him instead of picking his pockets?’)
Feeling: Less fatigued
Snacking: On mandarins
Coveting: This bag from Farrago Bags (now sold but I’m sure he’d make me one)
Wishing: My husband well in his new job
Helping: A friend with a site design
Hearing: Our very noisy cat, who always thinks he’s hungry

Image via Unsplash (wonderful free stock photo library) is by Padurariu Alexandru

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June 9, 2015 \ sharing \ 0 comments - be the first


An eye for :: tribal and native prints

A collection of native an tribal inspired products

Firstly I don’t want to give offence by using the words ‘tribal’ or ‘native’ but I am seriously stuck for words when it comes to a better description. I hope you understand my meaning when I say I have had a serious eye for patterns and products inspired by native American, Aztec and African motifs and patterns. To be honest I’m not sure if I would ever use these designs in my own work but right now I am so attracted to the colour and geometry and texture.

You can find all these gorgeous products on my Patterns and Motifs Pinterest board. They are:

  1. Pendleton Rainbow Blanket (sold out) from Urban Outfitters
  2. Pattern A4 Print from Sandra Dieckmann Etsy Store
  3. Tribal Feather Art Print from A Girl and Her Brush Etsy Store
  4. Classic Friendship Bracelets – Tutorial from Purl Bee
  5. iPhone 5 case from Field Trip Etsy Store
  6. Image via E Art Ekstrax blog – read this post on Tribal Art and Culture, it’s truly wonderful
  7. Image via The Beautiful Soup
  8. 8×10 art print – Native American / Navajo Inspired – Bright, Colorful & Graphic Art Pattern Poster Print from Fancy That Design House Etsy Store
  9. Going Hunting – Black and Cornstalk – Modern Hand Printed Pillow Cover from Simka Sol Etsy Store


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June 7, 2015 \ design \ 0 comments - be the first

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Working on :: crochet

That’s not what you expected from me, is it? I’m not exactly known for my amazing crochet skills but there you have it, I’ve been crocheting like mad, although I wouldn’t call my skills amazing. After being inspired by Bear’s rainbow blanket by The Purl Bee, I’ve been working away on many squares.

Crochet blanket from Purl Bee

Did you have the same reaction as I did to this blanket? Isn’t it amazing? I was determined to make one exactly the same and so excited to see that Purl Soho had a kit to do just that – BUT – at US$780 to make exactly this one, it was waaayyy out of my price range. So I moved to plan B, at least learn how to make that square. I was really taken with the circle that becomes a square and after many, many attempts I finally nailed it. Now I’m just waiting on wool from Nundle Woollen Mill so I can make my own colourful (but perhaps not so spectacular) variation.

In the meantime I discovered this wonderful ebook from Spincushions called More Than A Granny and made all 20 squares in the book using a weird assortment of wool that I inherited from my mother. Did you know that US and UK speak a different language in crochet? Well I didn’t, so being Australian of course I bought the UK version and then had to translate it back to US, cause that’s where my learning started. My brain is getting a work out and that can only be a good thing.

Then I bought some (truly terrible) wool and made my favourites out of the book.


What do you think? Don’t look too closely as you’ll see my mistakes and these squares haven’t been ‘blocked’, which apparently will give me the opportunity to make them flatter and more square. You can see I’m very drawn to those that start out round and end up square and the one in the bottom left has a neat stitch called a ‘popcorn’, which is fun to do and makes the centre 3D.

I’ve also been knitting, but I’ll save that story (read saga) for another time. So how have you been?

This images of Bear’s Rainbow Blanket are via The Purl Bee.

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May 7, 2015 \ projects \ 1 comment

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Illustrating in Illustrator :: not for the faint hearted

Book jacket design for Uni project

This is a book jacket cover for a project I did at Uni last year that I have been wanting to share this with you for a while now. The brief was to design a piece for a fictitious media franchise, which could have been a TV show, movie, animation or graphic novel. I thought it would be fun to tackle the graphic novel. My inspiration came about as my boys’ are obsessed with manga and was watching ‘Reign’, so my graphic novel was titled ‘Queen Bee’. I set out to see what it would take to illustrate in Illustrator. Oh my! I did not know what I had set myself up for and many many times I almost gave up but I am very glad I persisted.

There were two tutorials I used to get me started. The first one was Creating a Photo Inspired Vector Artwork in Illustrator from Digital Tutors. The tutorial was great but the detail in the illustration was way more than the style I was aiming for and that’s when I found Vector Portraits for Beginners on Tuts Plus. Sharon Milne, who leads this tutorial is so good at explaining the process and I learned many great tricks along the way. I did this tutorial from beginning to end before attempting my own illustration.


STEP 1 – I started with the image on the left which is a photo of Adelaide Kane from the TV series ‘Reign’, she had a nice intense gaze that I wanted to try and reproduce but also her hand position made it look like she had something to hide and I felt I could make use of that.

STEP 2 – at first I just drew the basic shapes of my figure. The torso, hands face, head, hair and the basic outline for the eyes and mouth. This was a good way to work as these outlines are used repeatedly as you progress with the illustration, especially the eyes and mouth.

STEP 3 – I created solid shapes for the eyes and mouth. I also drew in the nose and the creases on the hands. It was also the point at which I created the line art, which entailed drawing the same shapes as the basic shapes but slightly smaller and then using the Pathfinder Minus Front tool to create a single shape. Doing it this way meant the lines are more realistic than if I had just applied a paintbrush stroke. Once this was done I use the Shape Builder tool to remove any extraneous areas and join some shapes together.


STEP 4 – I then set to work on the eyes, this included extending the shape to make them more feminine, adding the eyeball and pupil, the reflection in the eye. It also meant creating the waterline and the crease of the eyelid as well the shadow that appears over the eyeball. These were drawn using the pen tool and applying a brush stroke that I created before I began. I also added the lines and details to the lips as well as the shadow at the bottom of the lips.

STEP 5 – The final detail for the face was the eyelashes and the eyebrows. These were done with the brush tool using the brushes I had created at the beginning of the process.


STEP 6 – The next step was the hair and this was done using the brush tool of varying stroke weights. The biggest challenge here was the fact that she had some hair behind her and some over her shoulder. My solution was a very strange clipping mask that somehow seemed to work. The highlights and shadows in the hair were achieved by adjusting the opacity and blending modes over using different colours.

STEP 7 – with most of the detail there I began to block in the base colour of the skin, dress and lips. For the neck used a slightly darker shade since it was already in shadow. Having already created outlines of the lips made this easier and only a few adjustment were necessary.

STEP 8 – then I used the pen tool to trace around the dark areas of the original image and filled this will a darker skin tone. Again the neck shadows are darker than the rest.


STEP 9 – next was adding the highlights and this was also done by tracing around the original image with the pen tool. There is a slight opacity applied here as my initial attempt made the light contrast too much and it became distracting. The highlights of the neck are the same colour as the base colour of the rest of the face.

STEP 10 – I then started adding the final refinement details to the face, which included highlights and shadows on the lips as well as two shades of eyeshadow that was achieved using the feather effect. I added some pink on her cheeks to give her some colour.

STEP 11 – the last step was adding the details, bringing in the bee, creating the crown and the jewels on it as well as the subtle details in her dress.

I estimate the whole process took about 35 hours – I’m not sure I’ll do it again but I did love the final outcome.

P.S. And you know what, I’ve just realised I left her fingernails off the final image – I guess I better go and fix that.

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March 7, 2015 \ design \ 2 comments

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Any eye for :: neon


Ever since half the players at the Australian Open burst onto the court sporting energetic neon (thanks Nike), I have not been able to get neon out of my head. To be honest I thought it was something that I had safely left behind in the 80’s and until recently I remained convinced that this is where it belonged. The modern use of neon are wonderful pops of colour that literally brighten your day. My neon research did not disappoint as you can see, but tell me, are you a fan or were you like me and hoped it was a trend that would never see the light of day once we ticked over to 1990?

I’ve been collecting all my favourites on my Colour Combos Pinterest board.

My neon finds are:

  1. Wooden Salad Bowl, 7″ Set of 2, Neon Pink, Neon Yellow from Willow & Willow Home Etsy store
  2. Black cross cushion with single pink cross – source unknown, let me know if you know where it is from.
  3. Diablo wall hooks from Lightly
  4. Triple Pack Neon Dip Dye Pillar Candles — Orange, Pink & Yellow from NEONLDN Etsy Store
  5. Neon print via Total Inspiration blog
  6. Cushion cover Messy Posey design. Fluro pink design on white Linen/Cotton with yellow piping 40cmx30cm from from Aqua Door Designs Etsy Store
  7. Neon Ombre Air Plant Planter Trio with Air Plants – Neon pink, neon orange and neon yellow from Thrifted & Made Etsy Store
  8. Ampersand Screen Print – Neon Yellow from Ampersand Shop Etsy Store

  9. Unique hand made bead necklace – Fluro Pink, Orange and Yellow by ViolentKittenShop – could not find the item or the shop again!
  10. Purse / Pouch – Original Design ‘Flame Forrest’ – Neon Yellow and Neon Pink from Paravent Etsy Store
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February 12, 2015 \ design \ 0 comments - be the first


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