8-Bit John

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Stock Images Can Damage Business

Stock Images Can Damage Business

If I see another little 3d white man with a huge spherical head on a website or as a Twitter profile image I think my head will explode with creative madness ! This little man is soooo over used by small businesses that it shows a lack of understanding of just how important branding and graphic design plays in your potential customers decision making.

Why stock images are bad for business

This may sound like I am being extremely harsh on the little white man and please don’t suggest I am bullying him but your business is a unique entity, unlike this little fellow. By using common stock imagery you are : –

  1. saying that you are just the same as the next business.
  2. you don’t care about your company’s image and marketing message.
  3. and worst of all you are also saying that your service is cheap and untrustworthy!

Consistent brand message

Most medium sized to large corporations will have what is called a branding style guide and it must be adhered to at all times. Some of the elements in the guide can include what fonts should be used, their spacing & curning, the exact RGB, CMYK colours of the brand and the typical images and marketing message that should be considered as part of the overall look and feel of any marketing collateral whether digital or offline.

I realise by using stock images that look the same you think you are being consistent but if that image is seen again and again throughout the web on different websites that aren’t your own business then you are damaging the possibility of selling your product or image to the target market.

When I see people using unaltered stock images online it really disheartens me and puts me off using that business service or product, it makes me feel I can’t trust them and I will disregard them from my retail choices.

Alter the stock images

hills are alive

Don’t get me wrong stock images are great in helping graphic and digital designer gather elements you need to create unique graphics but if you use them as the sole way to “picturize” your website you will simply be putting your potential customers off doing business with you as although may you think the images you have chosen look good the majority of people will see an unprofessional website that shows lack of care, does that really reflect your business goal? I doubt it, your business has personality so show it off to the world!

Other stock images to avoid

The little white man doing various activities is my no.1 thing that makes my creative blood boil to see people using on their digital platforms, I mean, why!?!

But it also gets worse, pictures of random actors trying their hardest pretending to be business people standing in line are common place, avoid them or use sparingly and never use them for your main brand image that is simply a big no no!

Hire a designer

It is probably better to have no images at all if you are going to use unaltered stock images that are damaging your online reputation with potential customers. If you need unique images communicate your message verbally through correct use of heading styles, and contextual information and then hire a graphic/digital designer when your business budget can afford it.

It may seem like an extra expense your business doesn’t need and maybe the cost will seem heavy at first but if the graphics communicate your business message in a unique and imaginative way compared to your market rivals then when people are looking for your service/product they will remember you and see that you are indeed a very highly professional business worthy of doing business with as well as increasing the worth of your business.

I am JAWILSONDESIGN a branding, web and graphics specialist that can help you improve your company’s image in a unique and imaginative way if you should need any help updating, improving or creating a new brand image please don’t hesitate to contact me.

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JAWilsonDesign
JA Wilson is a designer and artist that has been professionally trained at Liverpool Community College as an artist, a part 1 architect and IT tutor at LJMU and now with his accumulated education is working as a professional graphic and web designer for the last subsequent 3 years. Also regularly blogging and sharing what he knows and what he learns with the world as often as he possibly can.

A lover of LFC, travel, art and videogaming.

The Colour Indigo And It’s Meaning

The Colour Indigo And It’s Meaning

Indigo and its meaning in the colour of the brow chakra – intuition & sincerity

Why am I talking about chakras and what is a chakra? A chakra is what is known as an energy wheel that help make up our spiritual aura ( that can be seen by the use of special cameras) of seven colours. Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, purple and gold/white. It is believed to relate to how we think and how we experience the world, how people see us, as well as our physical and mental health.

Each chakra has a purpose beyond its colour and the brow chakra is believed to be the chakra of the higher mind and our ability to read the future and receive non-verbal messages from other dimensions and connects the conscious mind to the unconscious mind. It has also been linked to our ability to have empathy for others whilst building trusting relationships.

When in balance it is believed to relate to how we demonstrate compassion, evokes a high mental ability and separates the imagination from reality, allowing us to combine emotion with more logical thinking.

This is the essence of indigo in our spiritual being which gives us an inclination of when we might want to choose to use the colour when communicating a brand message, one that relates to higher thought, spirituality and compassionate service.

If we consider a business that already uses indigo successfully in their branding we can see how the chakras purpose plays a part in the selection of the colour. Yahoo recently underwent a rebrand from the famous red yahoo! logo to indigo. Considering indigo is the colour of higher thinking and concentration perhaps the thinking behind this colour choice was to allow their users to find what they are looking for and stay focused on one particular search.

Hallmark, a greeting cards company chose indigo as one of their primary brand colours and this is likely due to the connection we are trying to ‘see the future’ whilst being compassionate and caring about our loved ones for whom we are buying a card for.

 The colour indigo in nature

The most famous use of indigo in nature is indigo dyes extracted from plants that are often seen in Africa and were always reserved for royalty because it was a very rare colour in dying. For this reason Indigo is not only seen as spiritual but also similar to gold, evokes wealth, power and luxury when we view it.

How the colour indigo can effect our mood

Like all things,Indigo, has both a positive and negative side. When the colour has positive effect on our mood we can be showing high senses of responsibility, obedient, intuitive, visionary, faithful and truthful with an understanding it won’t hurt another. But when Indigo is dulling our senses it  can have the effect of making us more judgemental, impractical, intolerant and inconsiderate as well having too much self-importance.

 The colour indigo and its cultural representation in different countries

Culturally speaking the colour indigo has always been portrayed as the essence of luxury and power due to the dye that was created thousands of years ago from plant extracts and only the very wealthy could afford the colour in their linen. For example, back in the Roman era it was always given the emperors because it was extremely expensive to produce and the emperors even went as far as banning anyone wearing it other than themselves! I guess this was the intolerant self indulging side of indigo coming out!

 Conclusion of Indigo

With the colour indigo you should use it for a brand’s primary colour if the product or service is luxurious, spiritual, empathetic or requires attentive focus and knowledge to help communicate your brand

 

I hope this brief article about the colour indigo has been useful, do you have any other points that you think may be useful to someone thinking about using indigo in their design work? Please comment below
How To Write A Blog Post That Has Longevity

How To Write A Blog Post That Has Longevity

Also, if you have any knowledge of SEO keywords have been prevalent in search rankings since the dawning of the search engine. A keyword is a word that clearly associates the content of your page or blog post with it so that users can find the exact content they are looking for. So what is a long-tail keyword? As wordstream.com explains : –

Long-tail keywords are longer and more specific keyword phrases that visitors are more likely to use when they’re closer to a point-of-purchase.

So for example if an artist was to try and advertise they have wrote a blog about painting they don’t just want to put a keyword ‘painting’ to hope they will be found. The competition for that keyword will be simply too massive to even be considered to land on page 1, instead key-phrases such as ‘painting by artist xxx’ if they are relatively famous, or ‘a painting about finding yourself’ if the topic is quite relevant or ‘a painting that describes what is like to live with mental health problems’. All these key-phrases are long tail keywords and stand a better chance of being found on the top pages of google.

write a blog post that has longevity by talking about popular problems

Longtail keywords have less search-ability but with almost 3 billion people actively using the internet it is possible to still attract the right audience to your blog posts but is what you are writing about really relevant and are enough people likely to be interested in the blog? You need to be a little bit self critical and analytical when it comes to the content you are going to try and push to your target market because once its published it may be that longer down the line it doesn’t have any pulling power.

You can find out if your topic you want to write about is on the rise through google trends here.

Write a blog post that has longevity by not talking about current events

As I started my profession as a web, graphics and brand designer I joined a company that had well established image in their industry and I suggested they should blog, use social media channels and add videos to push their digital marketing strategy to the next stage. The problem with the blogs that were posted on their site was, although very interesting they only talked about current events and news and how it affected the industry they are in.

Why is this a problem? Well the reason it is a problem is because although at first it generates a lot of traffic and readers to the site once the news has faded away the blog becomes quite deserted with only the occasional visitor.

Write a blog post that has longevity through education

My most successful blog posts are not ones that discuss current events they solve problems, FAQs and issues that people have when involved in my industry or looking for someone to help them with a particular issue. This in turn adds value to my users and is believed to help make you look a bit of a guru in your particular industry and a person who is willing to help others sometimes free of charge! People love free!

That is another useful blog type, anything that offers free things, free fonts, free graphics, free chocolate, free anything will always have a good return rate and also a good sharing capability.

I hope this brief article helps you understand a little clearer what blog articles can help generate more regular traffic to your website. Have I missed something? What else would you suggest to improve your blog’s performance? Please comment in the box below.

On the head son!

In widely used CMS WordPress you may notice a drop down list with Paragraph as the first option. When you click this box you will find various formats for your text from Heading 1 to Heading 6. You may be wondering why are there so many headings or you may even be thinking that you only need to use them for emphasising or increasing the size of font but that is not the true purpose of headings. In this post i explain how to use heading tags to full effect.

<h1> What are Heading tags for ?</h1>

Heading tags are not just to beautify your website or change the size of your font on a webpage ( actually that isn’t what you should use it for), header tags initial purpose has two meanings. One was to emphasis to readers what each section of the website content is about so they can skim over the page easily and find relevant information and the second reason was to create different importance of headings from <h1> all the way to <h6>…that was the initial reason for the <h> tag.

<h2>Find where your heading tag is at</h2>

As things progressed in the world of html and search engines, headings formed an integral part of the SEO strategy.

Including keywords you want to target in your heading tags will increase the search ranking power of the page to get ranked higher with major search engines.

Now when I say this don’t go writing all your content in headings, the bots will know you are cheating, no <p> paragraph </p> content is bad. That is like creating a title of a page and leaving the rest blank, not good, so you can see why it would be bad for your SEO.

Headings help robots to decipher what the content is about and how relevant it is for certain keywords; so, be clever with your heading tags that you choose to use and remember that they are to categorize your content AND NEVER to make your content pretty.

<h3>Search engine please search for my heading tags</h3>

heading tags, getting found on search engines, heading 1, heading 2, heading 3, heading 4,heading 5
You are pretty much guaranteed that Google’s search engine bots will look at your heading tags for identifying keywords and clues to the content of the webpage you have created. If you don’t include your chosen keyword in your heading tags you are loosing content value! I have warned you.

<h5>I’m the only heading tag in the village!</h5>

heading 1, heading tags, only heading tag in the village
Everyone has a wanting to be unique and stand out and guess what? Webpages are no different! If you use a heading tag like <h1>unique</h1> you must NEVER use <h1>unique</h1> EVER AGAIN ON THAT PAGE as search engines love fresh content like we love fresh coconuts.

<h5>Im also the only <h1>heading tag</h1> only one in the country!</h5>

Another words only use <h1>unique title</h1> tag ONCE  to a page. I repeat ONLY USE <h1>unique title</h1> tag ONCE to a webpage. Do your up most to never use the same heading tag on another page or blog post. Standard.

<h6>Control how your heading tags look</h6>

If you want to change how each heading tag looks in a consistent fashion throughout your website you can create what is called a CSS style sheet to specify the font, the size, the color & other special attributes. You can read more about CSS Styling here.

<h6> Oi! Heading tags ! Get in line! </h6>

Heading tags are not given numbers just for the sake of it, it is usually good practice to make sure they follow order. <h1> at the top , followed by sub headings with <h2> then <h3> and so on, decreasing in value as they get smaller.

<h1> is the big statement ( other than your title tag ) so pay careful attention to including your particular keyword in that area clearly so the robots can find it.

Note : All headings below <h1> are for subtitles/ subcategories.

<h6>Not everyone uses heading tags properly</h6>

Just visit a few websites and look for heading tags, you may notice few use heading tags as effectively as they could be. Heading tags aren’t really given the importance or consideration that they should by a lot of designers..even on my own posts I only tend to use <h1> and <h2> but after researching and studying the use of heading tags I will consistently be using the correct structures that search engines and users expect.

So remember, don’t just <p>talk the talk</p> put <h1> thought into</h1> your content and <h3>make heading tags work for you</h3>

How To Check For Broken Links

How To Check For Broken Links

Broken links can really effect the integrity of your website so it is vitally important you find them before your visitors and search engine bots do! Although it may seem like a minor point you would be mistaken because if you just leave them it makes your business look totally unreliable if you can’t even get the basics right. In this post I will tell you how to avoid the embarrassing broken links from effecting your users experience.

First things first 404 errors

When a website user cannot find a page they are looking for they arrive at what is called an error 404 page. These pages are not often designed well but can make the experience of reaching a broken link that slightly more forgiving if it is at least pretty. Here is one I designed for MigSolv Data Centre Specialists.

Think about the company’s brand, what would represent their identity in an imaginative way?

Redirect ALL 404 error pages to the homepage

As your website grows you may notice more and more link errors appearing, its natural so don’t worry, if you have over 1000 pages and blog posts there are naturally going to be broken links (i.e. if a visitor bookmarks a particular page they liked) but it still doesn’t look great for visitors.

A way to defuse arriving at an error page is to redirect the lost soul back to the homepage so they can navigate to the desired page they were looking for. To do this you will need to follow these instructions.

1. Log in to your WordPress dashboard and on the left hand side options select Appearance > editor.
2. Navigate to the 404.php file of your live theme.
404php
3. Replace the content with that below

Enter this code


You can download the file and replace it for your 404 file if you have access to your back end, or alternatively open it copy and paste the code into your 404.php section on the appearance editor dashboard.
Download 404 file here

How to check for broken links ?

integrity, broken link checker

If you are on a mac how to check for broken links

Integrity is a broken links checker for Mac OS and it is the one that I particularly use. It is straight forward and gives you heaps of broken link information.
Download it here : –
http://integrity.en.softonic.com/mac

If your are on a pc how to check for broken links

integrity, broken link checker
Link checker 6 is a broken links checker for PC, i’ve not actually used this one yet but the reviews on it look good.
Download it here : –
http://wummel.github.io/linkchecker/

And if you don’t want to download software

integrity, broken link checker
If you don’t want to download a program that is okay this Online broken link checker will help you find and correct all the links that aren’t working correctly.
Follow this link below :
http://www.brokenlinkcheck.com/

If you find any other broken link tools or you have your own tips please feel free to comment in the box below.

How To Create Gradients In CSS The Easy Way

How To Create Gradients In CSS The Easy Way

How to create gradients was always the domain of photo editing software and vector creating programs, but now with modern technology and css3 you can create gradients with some coding that is fairly easy to learn. This is a brief guide on what you need to know on how to create gradients in css.

Where might I use gradients?

Gradient code is most likely to be used in buttons and backgrounds of websites or navigational system but don’t restrict yourself to  just the common places that they are found, if you have a good idea for use of a gradient then go ahead and try it out, there are no limits to experimenting with code and creativity, the only limits to design is your imagination and maybe a bit of technical understanding.

Selecting colours in the Hex code for your gradient

When creating gradients it is useful to know the hex codes of colours. A hex code is short for hexadecimal numbers which are as follows : –

0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 A B C D E F

0 being obsolete of colour ( or we know it as black ) and F is white. Combining a set of these numbers together in how monitors display colour ( RGB, Red , Green & Blue ) we can create over 16 million colours. I have shown below how numbers choose the intensity of each colour, it does help if you have a little understanding of how colours mix.

#ffff00

I have shown above that two numbers given in a 6 digit hex code make up a screen colour, so for instance the first two digits, ff equals maximum intensity red followed by two more ff’s which equates to maximum intensity green but I have finished this code with 00 in the blue which means there will be no blue displayed in this code.

Do you know what colour this makes? If you are a painter you will think brown but actually we are not mixing paints here, we are mixing light together so the colour returned is in fact yellow! Watch this video below of RGB to see how light mixes, it’s quite insightful.

If you want to select a colour easily then w3schools have a color picker on their website here or if you want to understand computer colour theory further please visit this informative link from htmlgoodies.com.

how to create gradients in css

I’m more a visual person, I want to be able to see the gradient

The difference between coding a gradient and visually creating one via editing tools is great and sometimes a few numbers on a screen is a little hard to understand for the novice css coder or simply for the general human being, but there is a solution! Colorzilla.

Colorzilla this is how to create gradients in css

Colorzilla allows you to play with gradients till your blue in the face, pardon the pun, till you find the perfect visual combination. Just like major photo/illustration editing tools you have oodles of options like adding more colour stops, selecting preset designs, orientation of the gradient, opacity and other things you can find in major applications for editing visual elements.

What is even better about Colorzilla is that once you have created your gradient

the code is also generated so you can easily copy and paste the gradient code into your css style sheet for the relevant element of your site, it even applies webkits for browser compatibility! It’s a great tool but it also important to understand the code rather than simply cutting and pasting. You can find many reasonable tutorial websites and I recommend spending at least an hour a day on advancing your skills, the thing with our profession is that it is ALWAYS evolving so it’s important that you don’t decay when new technology comes about.

To play with the gradient website please follow the link below and secondly, please leave a link in the comment box below on how you have used gradients in your designs. Happy digital colouring in!

Create your gradients with Colorzilla today

Here is an alternative with less options

Linear Gradients