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SEO – Should You Buy Or Build Your Own Website?

SEO – Should You Buy Or Build Your Own Website?

How high your web site is going to be in the page rankings may depend on high your standards are when it comes to 1) thinking big and 2) creating a sleek and functional site that really user friendly. This is because link partners (the kind that will trade a link with you so that you can rise in the search engine rankings) really do look for your potential to expand before they will consider trading with you. Functionality is important because they do not want their own success associated with a web site that may fail them by breaking down. Ultimately SEO is all about your personal credibility and that is expressed by the excellence of your website design.

Basically there are two types of sites that you can create, a simple ecommerce site or its monstrous sister on steroids – the ecommunity information based site. The problem with the latter is usually you have to find a place to park the enormous database that comes with the creation of a site that is both community and information based. This means purchasing a lot of software. If you are a complete newbie, I suggest you build a simple ecommerce site first and then investigate the wonderful world of databases a little later in your entrepreneurial career.

As you are just a newbie when it comes to making money on the Internet, it is probably not practical or viable for you to assign the design of your first e-commerce site out to an independent contractor who is reputable. The good news for newbies is that there are tons of cost effective s ways for you to build your own site even if you have little or no technical expertise. Many of the online site builders are so efficient that you don’t need any knowledge of HTML or graphic design to get it up and running. Even the most pathetic of technopeasants can have a site up and running within 72 hours using today’s site builders.

Buying Art on the Internet

Buying Art on the Internet

Financial Design. Flat Logo Design. Minimalist Logo.
Source: Flickr


Nowadays you don’t even have to leave your house if you want to see or buy artwork, because the best way of finding original and innovative art, and also classical art of course, is to perform a search on the Internet.

the Internet has changed the art market, because it can offer an extremely large number of options, and it introduces anyone to thousands of new artist and creations so it can be said that the Internet brings art at everyone’s fingertips.

This means that you can find and buy artwork from almost all over the world just with a few clicks. There are many good sites that are specialized is selling different types of artwork, and some of them also represent artists.At an online gallery you can browse all the artwork available, and buy whatever you desire to choose from the wide range of quality creations. Furthermore, some websites also offer the option of testing how a painting looks when it is placed on a wall that has the colour you desire, so that you can see how it fits in your home.

If you decide on buying artwork from an online store do not rush, first browse many categories until you find exactly what you desire, then find some informations about the site from where you wish to buy from, information that proves the site’s quality and credibility, and then you can buy the artwork you like. Payment is usually done through paypal or by credit card.

Some say that buying artwork is also an art, and that it has some steps that must be followed – defining, selecting, researching and buying.The art market is quite hard to understand for someone who is new, especially because of the low-value items that are sold as high-value ones, which may trick newcomers, but in fact buying artwork is just like buying any other thing – you have to search for the best deals. Do not forget that there are thousands of art dealers online so there also are fake products sold, too.

On the other hand, if you are an artist and you wish to submit your work to art galleries you can do that easily. Just find the virtual gallery that you want to submit to and contact the owners of the site. This is a great way of making yourself and your work known to many people.

In conclusion, the Internet is perfect for buying artwork, but you can also get fooled if you are not attentive, so try dealing with a serious art dealer.

Use Graphics Wisely to Improve Website Usability

Use Graphics Wisely to Improve Website Usability

There can be no argument about the importance of design in attracting Internet users to a particular web site. No one would bother to explore the contents of a site if it does not contain eye-catching graphics that can please the visual sense of the users. With so many kinds of web sites existing online, it is extremely challenging to attract users and keep them interested in the site.

But a web site developer does not simply apply graphics freely on a site. Graphics should be used in the correct manner, or else, users might get turned off because the graphics featured just overwhelmed or confused them.

While it is true that attractive design is important for reasons that need not be explained, the choice of design must be carefully considered against the fulfilling the needs of users. When done successfully, it could be safely said that the web site has achieved its goals.

Graphics used in the Internet is inextricably linked to multimedia. Multimedia is a combination of graphics, text, sound, and animation to express a message to users. The multimedia features that will be incorporated to a web site should be dependent on the content. In general, multimedia and graphics should serve as supports to content, and should have precise, instructional purpose.

According to research, animated images can facilitate the transfer of learning in a positive way if it is utilized to show a vital part of the concept that is being illustrated. On the other hand, animation can serve as a barrier to user recall and performance.

Here are the guidelines in incorporating graphics to web sites:

1. Justify the usage of the graphics
The most obvious problem that can be seen on web pages is the over-usage of graphics. The main downside of this is that complicated, unnecessary graphics can take a long time to download, and this, of course, will not sit well with users. The graphics to be applied should support the transfer of data and should also be in relation to the accompanying text.

2. The difference between graphics with text-redundant data and those containing information that is non-redundant is that the former facilitates and ushers in the learning process, while the latter does not either help or slow down learning.

3. Consistency should be a priority in graphic design

4. Web pages should be marked up so that text will be downloaded before the graphics. In this way, the users will know immediately if the page has the information that they are looking for, and if not, they will be able to save precious waiting time knowing that they do not need that certain page.

5. The loading of graphics should be controlled as such that loading will commence from top to bottom, and the users scrolling down the page will encounter said graphics.

6. The downloading of pages should be fast in order to save users waiting time, and in order to reduce the chances that they will get frustrated that they will abandon plans to download. Here are several ways to achieve fast download periods:

-Keep the physical size of the graphics to a minimum
-Images should be combined in order to minimize the number of server connections. Remember, the more connections that exists, the slower the download time will be
-Decrease image resolution
-Limit the colors that will be used for the images
-Limit the use of animation

Animation is very much a part of web graphic design. The primary difference between web text and graphics and contents that are print-based is the dynamics. Moving displays attract the attention of users as long as the frequency of the display is regulated. Too much animation display can irritate and distract users. An animation that is perpetually moving can destroy the readable quality of the web page.

The usage of blinking texts should be avoided. It has long been regarded as an overused feature and the latest browsers no longer support it.

In designing a web site, there always exists a conflict between the desire to have total control over the appearance of a page and the need to permit users to establish their own preferences. The general appearance of the page should be made by the designer, but there are certain elements that users should have control over, such as color and text background, and the option whether to display graphics or not.

It takes a considerable amount of effort to establish and maintain the attractiveness and efficiency of a web site. If the guidelines above will be followed, all the efforts of web designers will bear desirable results. They only have to remember that the benefit of the users will always be the basis for everything.

Web Design Elements You Should Avoid Having on Your Site

Web Design Elements You Should Avoid Having on Your Site


As a web designer, you should design your websites to give your visitors the greatest ease of use, the best impression and most important of all a welcoming experience.
It doesn’t matter if you had the greatest product in the whole world — if your website is poorly done you won’t be able to sell even one copy of it because visitors will be driven off your website by the lousy design.

When I’m talking about a “good design”, I’m not only talking about a good graphical design. A professional web design will be able to point out that there are many components which contribute to a good website design — accessibility design, interface or layout design, user experience design and of course the most straightforward, which is graphic design.

Hence, I have highlighted some features of the worst web designs I’ve come across. Hopefully, you will be able to compare that against your own site as a checklist and if anything on your site fits the criteria, you should know it’s high time to take serious action!

1) Background music

Unless you are running a site which promotes a band, a CD or anything related to music, I would really advise you to stay away from putting looping background music onto your site. It might sound pleasant to you at first, but imagine if you ran a big site with hundreds of pages and everytime a visitor browses to another page on your site, the background music starts playing again. If I were your visitor, I’d just turn off my speakers or leave your site. Moreover, they just add to the visitors burden when viewing your site — users on dial up connections will have to wait longer just to view your site as it is meant to be viewed.

2) Extra large/small text size

As I said, there is more to web design than purely graphics — user accessibility is one big part of it too! You should design the text on your site to be legible and reasonably sized to enable your visitors to read it without straining their eyes. No matter how good the content of your website or your sales copy is, if it’s illegible you won’t be selling anything!

3) Popup windows

Popup windows are so blatantly used to display advertisements that in my mind, 90% of popup windows are not worth my attention so I just close them on instinct everytime each one manages to pass through my popup blocker (yes, I do have one like many users out there!) and, well, pops up on my screen. Imagine if you had a very important message to convey and you put it in a popup window that gets killed most of the time it appears on a visitor’s screen. Your website loses its function immediately!

In concluding this article, let me remind you that as a webmaster your job is to make sure your website does what it’s meant to do effectively. Don’t let some minor mistakes stop your site from functioning optimally!

Simplify Your Web Site for Clarity and Ease of Use

Simplify Your Web Site for Clarity and Ease of Use

Avasallamiento
Source: Flickr

There are plenty of web sites out there in which basic elements of design are ignored. The viewer may experience overkill and frustration, instead of gently receiving the message or information. Here are some simple ways to help clarify your web site’s message for your company or organization. Use the web as a tool for sales, community contact, and to improve, rather than detract from a business entity’s image.
Choosing Your Images
Choose site images carefully. Collect simple illustrations or photographs that are in sync with company mission or philosophy. A few select images will have more impact than many images competing for the eye’s attention. Avoid images that are distracting or trendy. Don’t simply use graphics to be cool.
How many photos or images are appropriate? A good rule of thumb is one to two images per web page. Select photos and images as carefully as you select the text, and you’ll be on your way to a better site. The exception to the rule is for sites that market a large amount of products or contain many points of interest, where small thumbnail images may be more appropriate.
Placement of Images on the Page
Do you want the photo or graphic to be the centerpiece? The first thing the eye sees? If so, place it in the central position. If not, maybe the photo or graphic is related to some of the text, and it can be placed nearby this text to accentuate it. Remember, we read from left to right. Some say the left represents the past, the center the present, and the right the future. Content may be organized this way on the page intentionally, to heighten this resonance with the viewer.
Don’t let site images be a distraction or hindrance to understanding. Instead, they should blend well into site content and not be a contrast to the message on the page. Images should not compete with content, they should enhance it.
Image Quality
Images should look as nice and clear as possible. There is an important balance to keep between image file size and quality. Always keep in mind that the file size and dimensions of your images will ultimately control overall page loading time. A slow-loading site will be frustrating to any user. Generally, pages load from the top down, so it is an important point to remember not to design your pages with large image files that fill the top of each page.
Site Text
It’s important not to overdo the writing on a page. Consider how much the user will read and write site content to capture the typically short attention spans of the viewers. Be succinct, and most importantly: be clear. Write subheads and set them in bold, slightly larger type. Carefully placed subheads allow the casual viewer to scan the content of your site.
Write for Search Engines
Research your clientele, and your targeted audience, and always develop content that sells your products, services, or organization. If you or your organization are lacking the expertise to write good copy, hire a professional writer to do the job.
Some web specific writing techniques are important. Try to use select keywords on each page that will lead new users to consider your business or services. Write this text directly into your copy. The first 20 words of your web site text should be what you want people to see in search engine results as a summary of your site.
Site Organization
To simplify the user’s experience, set your site up so that he can get to the intended location easily with no more than three clicks.
The overall design of your site must be clear and intuitive so the user can navigate the content easily. If you must use symbols to direct the reader, always attach some explanatory text for the user, so they know where clicking the symbol will take them.
These are just a few of the basics of effective and clear web design. These tips provide ways to guide the user around your site, rather than frustrate them. With site clarity and ease of use, your clients and prospects are educated about your products and services, and have more reason to purchase them.

Choosing Stunning Wedding Graphics

Choosing Stunning Wedding Graphics

Drawing for Hausmann - 1330 100 St, Bay Harbor Island’s
Source: Flickr


Our modern technological age has changed the ways in which we do numerous things in our lives.
One thing that has changed drastically in the new millennium is how we present and preserve our weddings and the photographs, videos, and other memories from those events. Even just five years ago it was almost completely unheard of for people to create interactive and graphical web sites announcing their weddings, stating where they’re registered, and then uploading the photographs and videos to the site after the event so Great Aunt Agnes can see the wedding pictures without having to leave her trailer in Duluth. Today it is so common that everyone’s doing it and the practice is being popularized even further by celebrities like Star Jones. Additionally people are now using their computers to cut wedding costs by designing their own invitations and thank-you notes and printing them at home. It’s fun, cost effective, and allows a person to really let their creativity shine. It’s easy to jump on the do-it-yourself wedding bandwagon if you have a PC and a connection to the Internet. To do so one of the things you’ll definitely need to get a hold of are some impressive wedding graphics.

The Internet can be your best friend when searching for wedding graphics. There are many sites that specialize in low or no cost graphics. Most of these feature wedding graphics and include directions on downloading the images to your own PC, allowing you to get to work immediately being a computer wizard.

In order to start producing your web site or invitations you’ll need a decent graphics editing software. Adobe Photoshop is the application of choice for most digital artists and graphic designers, but if you’re not expecting to launch a graphic design company of your own you may find Photoshop’s cost a bit on the high end at approximately $800.00. There are many other graphics editing programs available, however, with price points ranging from about $50.00 to $100.00. Any of these will help you get started in editing and designing your wedding graphics without breaking your bank account.

Once you learn the ins & outs of your chosen application and have gathered some wedding graphics that you’re pleased with, you’re ready to get started. If you’re designing a web site about your wedding, it can be done without any knowledge of HTML (the computer language that web pages are written in) by choosing a web host that includes page design features. There are many of these on the Internet and once you’ve found one, designing your web site is as easy as uploading your graphics to your new host and designing the page using their tools. For invitations, flyers, thank you notes and other printable items, all you need to do is visit your nearest office supply or computer electronics store and pick up a set of the appropriate printable material for your printer. You’ll be making your own items with the beautiful wedding graphics you’ve chosen in no time.

Web Design: Give Me Bullets

Web Design: Give Me Bullets


Did you know there is an essential difference between the way web designers look at the way they design a web page and the way the consumer evaluates the effectiveness of a web design.

Comparisons

* Web Designer: Interested in every subtle nuance of color, graphic and texture.
* Consumer: Interested in how fast the page loads.

* Web Designer: Includes links throughout the design for a variety of locations within the web design.
* Consumer: Clicks on the first promising link and hopes it’s something interesting.

* Web Designer: Interested in the color coordination and presentation of design.
* Consumer: Searches for bullet points to help gauge whether the site will be useful.

Content over Creativity

In many web designs the site is built on the premise that the beauty of the site is what will win customers. The consumer, on the other hand, has seen hundreds of sites and is often only curious to know if your site is going to help them or not.

The average consumer will only read knowledge-based articles that catch their attention. Consumers often determine an article’s usefulness by scanning. If they lock in on material that connects they will stick around, if not they go back to ‘clicking for gold’.

Get to the Point

Unlike a television commercial, the consumer doesn’t have to wait to find out what they most want to know about your company. They can skip to the best parts, the end parts or they leave-whenever-they-want parts.

It may work to your advantage to use multiple bullet points as well as multiple sub headings in an effort to help the consumer gain a quick understanding of what is in the article or page content and to find out quickly what they want to know.

For many consumers if you can’t provide these bits of detail they will keep searching until they find it.

Hurry, We’re Losing Them

Obviously not all consumers are like this, but many have grown up in an MTV society where the attention span is used to quick bits of information. So, the reality of web design is you may need to work to provide quick, segmented bits of information that work as a quick index of page information that can help consumers connect with your website.

Solutions

You may find you can actually reach consumers through a template rich web design/hosting option that allows you to develop content that is geared more toward the consumer and less to the sensibilities of a web designer.

Whatever method you chose for web design make sure you attempt to gain an understanding of how consumers actually ‘view’ your site. This understanding may help you discover the best ways to really connect with those who want a reason to stick around.

Get Real About Business Card Design

Get Real About Business Card Design


Ever picked up a copy of one of those “Best of Business Card Design” books?
The ones filled with glossy photos of business cards made of “special materials” using “innovative printing techniques”? While I admit it can be fun – and occasionally instructive – to peruse these award-winning business card designs, I think these books often confuse more business owners than they help.

How?

By fostering the notion that a business card has to be radically different, trendy and expensive to be effective.

It’s time to get real!

“Cool” doesn’t sell your product. “Trendy” doesn’t pay the bills. And “Wow, what a great card!” is flattering, but hardly an income guarantee. Ever seen one of those expensive Super Bowl TV ads, where afterwards you can remember the commercial but haven’t the foggiest idea what product it was promoting?

Same principle. A business card can be a masterpiece of graphic design and do you absolutely no good as far as convincing someone you just met to give you a call, visit your website or drop by your store.

The truth is that a fairly ordinary business card can be an extraordinary marketing tool, if used wisely.

Now don’t get me wrong – I am not advocating the use of a generic, black-text-on-white-stock, flimsy card ordered from the local quick printer, or an attractive but ad-supported “free” business card ordered online. And splurging on a custom designed business card is definitely appropriate in certain industries and certain business situations.

What I’m saying is that an attractive, legible, customer-focused business card is good enough for most people in most circumstances. Even if it’s designed on a website that offers business card templates which can be used by an unlimited number of other business owners. Even if the graphics or clipart aren’t original.

Frankly, it’s more important to get a decent card circulating than it is to let customers slip by while you’re endlessly tweaking the “perfect” business card.

So what is “good enough”?

Your business card should be attractive. It should look professional, be of standard size and weight, use color well, catch the eye, and be different enough from your competitors to make your card stand out but not so different that you seem out of touch.

Your business card should be legible. No tiny text. No crazy mish-mash of fonts. No crossed-out phone numbers or dingy food stains. Each word should be there for a reason, carefully chosen to given recipients a reason to remember you and encourage them to use your product or service.

This means that business cards should also be customer-focused. Though a business card contains your company name and contact information, its purpose is less about you than it is about showing your prospective customer that you understand their needs and that your company can meet them.

A business card design that is “good enough” may look little different than those used by others in similar professions. But if it goes beyond the typical business card to include information that reassures or informs prospects (such as testimonials, store hours, special services or solutions to common problems), it will certainly out-perform a fancier but less customer-centered card.

And let’s also “get real” about what a business card is, and what it can do. Yes, it’s a powerful marketing weapon. But c’mon, it’s a 2.5” by 3.25” bit of paper. No piece of paper, no matter how innovative or elegant, can override a prospects’ instinctive distaste of a salesperson who’s arrogant, uncaring, or completely clueless. You may find that people love your card and that you just can’t seem to keep enough of them in your wallet – but if you never hear from the people you give them to, there’s something wrong.

After all, there are plenty of superstar performers using bland, impersonal company-generated business cards with outstanding results.

In the hands of a personable and articulate company representative who really listens to what a prospective client wants, a “good enough” business card will outperform a graphic designer’s dream card every time.

Writing For The Web: How Good Copy Becomes Bad Marketing

Writing For The Web: How Good Copy Becomes Bad Marketing


When it comes to writing websites, what is good for the search engines is often not good marketing.

Why? Because almost inevitably, when you write to please the search engines, you write about the features of your service. But you should be writing about the benefits for your customers.

This is a fundamental problem and one you have to take into account at every stage of creating the copy for your website. You have to achieve a balance between writing for people or writing for search engine robots. The balance will be subtly different for every business. You’ll probably have to keep experimenting. It all depends really on how important search engine traffic will be to your organisation. First a quick recap on the basic issue of search engine copy.

Search engine optimisation (often called SEO) basically means making sure your website ranks highly with Google and other search engines. Google wants to give people the right, relevant information. It does this by reading the copy on your website.

If certain words are used frequently, Google will calculate that the site is relevant for that “keyword”. When people search for that keyword, Google flags your site as one worthy of consideration.

So, when a copywriter creates his own website, he tries to use the word “copywriter” as frequently as possible.

It’s no good just listing the word either. It needs to be in real sentences. What’s more, it’s much better to use the keyword at or near the start of a sentence. You also need the keyword in the main headline, in the first paragraph, and as often as possible thereafter.
So, you end up writing about you, the copywriter, and the copywriting that you can offer. Features of your service.

Where are your customers in all this? Any good copywriter, in fact even a complete beginner, knows that you need to turn the features of your service into benefits for the customer. It’s just good marketing.

The copywriter should be explaining how he can increase sales, attract customers, save the client money, provide exceptional service and so on.

The same is likely to happen whatever business you’re in. If you’re a graphic designer, a client might come to you because they want you to create a professional image for their business.

But they don’t search for “professional image”, “design impact”, or “creativity”. They search for “graphic designer.” So your copy has to keep mentioning “graphic designer” this, “graphic designer” that.

What’s the solution? If you know an easy one, please share the secret. For most organisations and businesses, the answer is going to be a balance. You need to know how important Google searches are to you. If the answer is “not much” because visitors come from other sources – perhaps through a direct mail campaign, Internet advertising clicks, or because they are a regular customer and have you bookmarked – then your copy should weighted more towards good marketing, with less emphasis on search engine robots.

But if Google searches are everything to your organisation, then you’ll have to play the game by their rules.

Carefully written copy can at least try to play both games. You can keep using keywords, but always bear in mind that you need to bring the focus back onto benefits for your customer.

It’s not easy, and it can be a painstaking process. But that in essence, is what good web writing should be about: keeping one eye on the search engines and pleasing them when necessary, but always bringing it back to people, to customers, to benefits. Because that’s good marketing.

Save Big Money on Your Business Cards

Save Big Money on Your Business Cards

street boy
Source: Flickr


Less than one generation ago, if you needed a box of full color business cards you would have contacted your local graphic arts printing company, paid for expensive design and set up costs, and received your ordered cards one or two weeks later.
If you wanted your order completed quicker, you paid extra for that service too. Thanks to the internet, ordering business cards has gotten a lot easier…a lot cheaper too! You can save money on your next order of business cards; please read on for some tips to help bring big savings to you!

Shop Online. Why go to your local print shop when several of the big online sellers of business cards can do the same job for less and faster too? There are four or five companies who are literally mopping up the business card industry by selling high quality cards right online and at rock bottom prices.

Order Big. The larger your order, the more you save. Customarily, many people only order 250-500 business cards when placing an order. When you order 1000, 2000, or more business cards your cost per card will drop dramatically. An especially smart decision on your part if you regularly attend conventions and are distributing your business cards to everyone.

Use In House Styles. If you aren’t particular on the graphics, the big business card suppliers have a wide and varying selection of ready made styles for your choosing. Save a bundle on graphic artist charges by incorporating their styles into your new cards.

Shop the Specials. In addition to business cards, many online retailers also sell matching business card magnets, envelopes, letterhead, note paper, and more. Place all of your printing orders with a trusted online retailer to receive the best deals and maximum savings.

Yes, your local printing company now has some stiff competition in the form of several top notch online retailers. Your choices for high quality business cards have never been better, resulting in great savings and a terrific product for you!