Connect 2 the Net Web Talk

Articles and information for business owners on how to maintain and gain a successful web presence. This blog is sponsored by Patricia Smith, of Yellowbelly Web Design and Cynthia Mackey, of Winning Strategies.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Buying Stock Photography – What is the difference between Rights Managed and Royalty Free, and 72 dpi versus 300 dpi?

Buying Stock Photography
Stock photographs are images taken by either amateur or professional photographers of people, animals, business settings, etc. Sometimes the stock images are a little generic; however, while they may not be exactly what you want, they often may fill the bill at a much cheaper price. Examples of sites where you can find stock photography are listed below.

What is the Difference Between Rights Managed and Royalty Free
Be sure to read the details and purchase Royalty-Free images vs. Rights-Managed images. Rights-Managed images are protected under a license that stipulates specific terms of use (single purpose). Royalty-Free licenses allow you to purchase the image for use as long and as often as you need. The greatest difference between the two licenses is the price, and, undoubtedly, Royalty-Free is cheaper.

If you are going to purchase images from a stock photography web site, purchase images that are 72 dots per inch (dpi) in resolution if you are going to use them for the web site only. If you are going to use them for print as well as the web then purchase images at 300 dpi minimum.

What is the difference between 72 and 300 dpi?
DPI is a form of measurement that defines the clarity of an image being printed. It is measured by the number of dots that fit into one square inch. The higher the dpi, the smaller the dots, the sharper the image. The lower the dpi, the bigger the dots, and the less clear the image. The standard for web is 72 dpi; however, the standard for print is 300 dpi. In other words, if you were to print a 72 dpi web image, it would come out looking really poor, yet on the web it would look really good.

This is due to the fact that paper is measured in inches. Therefore, the number of dots per inch highly affects the quality of an image when it is being printed. On the other hand, monitors measure in pixels which makes very little difference in the quality of a digital image.

Stock Photography Web Sites

BigStockPhoto
http://www.bigstockphoto.com
Comstock Images
http://www.comstock.com
Corbis
http://www.corbis.com
ClipArt.com
http://www.clipart.com
Getty Images
http://www.gettyimages.com
InMagine
http:///www.inmagine.com
IstockPhoto
http://www.istockphoto.com
Jupiter Images
http://www.jupiterimages.com
Master File
http://www.masterfile.com
Photos.com
http://www.photos.com
Picture Quest
http://www.picturequest.com
Veer
http://www.veer.com

NOTE: If you are looking for a good deal check out http://www.istockphoto.com/ and http://www.bigstockphoto.com/. These stock photo web sites sell royalty free stock photos, video and graphics on a credit system. Some credits are as low as $1 each, with a minimum purchase of $12. You can buy as many credits as you need, the more credits you buy the less expensive the stock. Credits are valid for at least one full year from the date of purchase.

Friday, November 9, 2007

10 Good Reasons Why I Should Hire a Professional Designer

Your web site is the Internet face of your organization. You want to make it as professional and appealing to your target audience as possible. Given the option to create the site yourself or hire a designer raises the question, "give me 10 good reasons why I should hire a professional designer"?

  1. Saving you time - Hiring a professional gives you the benefit of hiring an expert who knows successful, efficient ways to create a web site quickly.
  2. Making it unique - There are about millions, even billions of web sites on Internet. How are you going to make yours stand out? A professional designer is able to create a web site that is unique to your business, pleasant on the eye, have clear and easy navigation, load efficiently, and work properly in all the major browsers.
  3. Making it easy to use - A professional web designer will keep your visitors in mind by making it easy for them to navigate and travel around the web site without getting confused.
  4. Getting ahead of your competition - Having a professionally designed web site gives visitor’s confidence in your products and services. Competition is fierce of the Internet and first impressions are very important, your web site should shake hands and smile at your site visitors.
  5. Communicating your message - A professional web designer is experienced in knowing how to communicate your message. Be it through the use of colors, fonts, graphics etc., a professional web site should convey a clear consistent, compelling message that represents your business.
  6. Making it Search Engine friendly - One of the most important factors about a web site is its presence in the search engines. A professional designer will know how to design your site so that it is Search Engine Friendly.
  7. The difference between home made and professional - There is a huge difference between a home made web site and a professional web site. Having a professional web site will provide you with a sense of security about your products and services that no home made web site can do. Who knows that extra sense of security will help you sleep better at night
  8. Making you the expert - A professional designer will know how to make you look like the expert in your field by suggesting resources, source material, news articles and content that will make your company look knowledgeable in its field of business.
  9. Making you trustworthy - A good web designer will be able to find ways to convey your trustworthiness through the use of images or text. This lets site visitors know there is a real human on the other side that is worth doing business with.
  10. Greater credibility - Having a professionally designed web site will enable your small business to compete with larger companies. A professional designer will be able to make a smaller company look like a larger company; therefore, giving small companies as much credibility as the large companies.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

How to Create Effective Landing Pages

A “landing page” these days is becoming more and more an effective marketing tool. It is a special page that visitors are directed to when they click on a link. The page usually highlights a product or service with the sole aim of getting visitors to either buy the product (right there and then) or take some action that will lead to a sale. Last week, while developing a “landing page” for one of my clients I started to wonder, how I could make the “landing page” more compelling from a selling point of view, as well as from a design point of view. I came across this article written by Bryan Eisenberg, as Bryan explains “landing pages are the most logical place to begin your solid commitment to better conversation rates”. In a nutshell what this means is turning your site visitor into a sale. If you are interested in converting a visitor into a sale read on…

ClickX Experts – Advice & Opinions, By & for Marketers
Create Landing Pages That Convert
By Bryan Eisenberg
http://www.clickz.com/showPage.html?page=3490481

Next time I shall be discussing "10 Good Reasons Why I Should Hire a Professional Designer"

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The Future of FrontPage

After nine years of being an award-winning Web authoring tool, FrontPage is being discontinue and has been replaced with some new web authoring tools, Microsoft Office SharePoint Designer and Microsoft Expression Web. Based on FrontPage technology these new tools are now available to the public.

To determine which tool is for you I highly recommend reading the following articles:

Microsoft - “The Future of FrontPage”
An article that explores the why, when, what and which questions related to these new authoring tools.

Harbet.net – “SharePoint Designer and Expression Web”
A weblog that discusses the difference between the two web authoring tools.

Next time I shall be discussing How to Create Effective Landing Pages?

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Building a Web Site Yourself Using Software or Online Tools

In creating a web site, you must determine whether you want to build it or not. If you like learning new things and feel that you are a creative person, then maybe creating the web site yourself is a great way to go.

Below are some questions to consider:
1) Do you have the time to learn and build your web site?
2) Do you have the desire?
3) Do you have the necessary skill set? If not, where can you get it?
Remember this is the Internet face of your organization, and you want to make it as appealing to your target audience as possible.

Creating a web site using software
There are software solutions available to create your own web site.

Popular ones include:
Microsoft Office SharePoint Designer™ for some is considered easier, but limiting in some features.
www.microsoft.com

Macromedia Dreamweaver™
Adobe GoLive! Macromedia Dreamweaver™
is the predominant web development tool for professional web designers, and Adobe GoLive!™ is a close second. http://www.macromedia.com/
http://www.adobe.com/

Software prices vary from $300 to $600+

Other options for purchasing include http://www.ebay.com/ where you may find cheaper versions of the same software, or if you are a student you may be able to purchase the software from you local college store.

Advantage – one time software fee (excluding software upgrades that are released)
Disadvantage – learning curve and time factor

The best way to experience these tools is either by downloading 60 day free trial copies from the vendor web sites, or taking a free or low cost class through a local community college, or similar. This way you can experience what tool might be the best for you to work with before making a purchase.

Creating a web site using online tools
More and more Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and Application Service Providers (ASPs) – companies that allow you to use an online application usually for a recurring fee – provide you with access to their tools to create your web site at nominal fees. These tools allow you to select a predetermined design, to change some basic elements of the design such as a central image or color, and enter text into the design. The drawback is that you do not own the design and they do have limitations in the amount of content you can add. However, these sites are excellent for designing a web site quickly, or when you need a web site for just one event.

The recurring fee is a form of “rent” for the use of the design template. This may not be desirable for the long term if you want to brand your company. We know of at least one client who found someone was using the same template as he. NOTE: It is possible, in some cases, to purchase the design, but the costs vary and vary from several hundred to several thousand dollars more depending upon the type of design.

These sites are quick to deploy and extremely affordable. You can often get a site launched with an hour – as low as $9.95/month in some cases. This is an excellent approach for a first phase solution, for those who must have a site right away.

Advantage – fast learning curve and quick to employ
Disadvantage – recurring monthly fees, you don’t own the web site and limitations in the amount of content you can add

Check with your Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to see if they have an online tool that you can use.

Other Online Options Include:
Network Solutions http://www.networksolutions.com/create-a-website/index.jsp
Homestead http://www.homestead.com
Template Monster http://www.templatemonster.com – a site where you can purchase pre-made HTML (Web) templates for those who know HTML
“Menu” pricing applies – the more features you add, the more you pay
You must create your own content (words and images that goes on the web page)

Next time I shall be discussing the future of FrontPage™ and Microsoft’s next generation web authoring tools SharePoint Designer™ and Expressions Web™.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Hiring a Professional Web Designer

Hiring a web site designer is a great option for the busy business or non-profit professional. This option allows you to gain the full benefit of an expert who can portray you business in a professional light. The key here is selecting the right person for what you want, and not wasting money or time in the process. Below are some suggestions to help:

Obtain Referrals From Trusted Friends, Family or Business Associates
A referral is always the best way to go. If you have relationships with someone such as a business partner who has a great web site, ask them who did it for them and would they hire the person/company again. If you are a member of a professional organization, consider asking them for referrals.

Check with Your Chamber of Commerce or Other Objective Party
Most chambers may supply a list of services when you are looking for something in particular. The fact that a web design firm is a registered member of a chamber may provide a sense of comfort with accessibility and reliability.

Google, Craig’s List and University Students
The Internet is an excellent way to find good designers and developers. However, be smart. Ask for references and portfolio of work they’ve actually completed. With students, you may be lucky enough to find someone is willing to give a price break just to break into the business.

Questions to ask when hiring a web designer:

  1. Ask to see samples of completed work – sometimes designers have different styles
  2. Ask for references – especially if you are working with someone from Craig’s List
  3. Ask about a timeline – so that you can establish an actual date to launch your web site
  4. Ask about pricing - gather realistic numbers so that you can define a budget

Should you need any help, or have any questions just write me a comment.

Please be sure to visit again, next time I will be talking about “Creating a Web Site Yourself” using online tools and software.

Pat Smith
Yellowbelly Web Design

Monday, April 23, 2007

How Much Does a Web Page Cost?

Ever been sticker shocked at the price of web design services?

The article below caught my attention. It caught my attention because I have talked with clients about the cost of designing a web site to hear silence on the other end of the phone. I know my clients are thinking "the price is pretty darn high". I then explain that I am a professional and all of my work is customized, I do not use templates, and their web site will be unique to their business. If you take a look at my portfolio you will not find two web sites that look the same.

Hiring a professional web designer can cost around two thousand dollars, or more, depending upon the web developer. In defense of the web designer, what looks really simple and uncomplicated on the front end can take many hours of work in the form of business meetings, project planning, not counting the design work. Many of us designers are perfectionists by nature and many projects often exceed that which we have been compensated for.

On the client end I understand that for small businesses/sole proprietors this is a lot of money we are talking about. This article written by Sean Carton, “breaks it down” to help the client understand where those $$’s are going, and what they account for.

ClickX Experts – Advice & Opinions, By & for Marketers
How Much Does a Web Page Cost?
By Sean Carton March 19, 2007

http://www.clickz.com/showPage.html?page=3625267

Please be sure to visit again, next time I will be talking about “What to look for when hiring a Web Designer”?

If you have comments on this column, or questions about web design, email me or visit my website.

Pat Smith
Yellowbelly Web Design