alexa rank cert Archive for February 2016
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SEO For Images

SEO for images
Screenshot from the Google search results page


If your web graphics are optimized for Image search engines like Google they will help to generate an alternate source of traffic to your website. But unlike regular web search where we are more familiar with how search engines rank content, the rules associated with Image search rankings are very different and often based on assumptions.

Why do I say this ? Try a search for "Google" on Google Image Search. None of the top results show images from the actual Google websites or even associated websites. Now if you repeat the search for Amazon, none of the top 5 images displayed are from the official Amazon website. So how do individuals and small companies manage to stay ahead of corporate giants in Image search results? It's to do with image optimization techniques like the ones discussed below.

Regarding optimization, here are 6 simple things that you should keep in mind for getting good rankings in Google Images Search:

1. Image File Name

Use a descriptive image file name which includes keywords related to the content of the image. If your webpage has pictures of an old country farm house - use file names like 'old-country-farm-house.jpg' instead of the default camera file name like IMG_401.jpg. In this way you are providing relevant information about the image to Google rather than just a string of meaningless numbers or letters.


2. Alt and Title

Attach a 7-8 word description with both the ALT and TITLE attributes of the IMG tag. Make it a habit to use these attributes. An example could be...

<img src="old-country-house.jpg" alt="dilapidated old county farmhouse in countryside" title="country style farm house ageing and run down">

3. Discuss The Image

A short two line description of the image just beneath the graphic is the best way to describe an image. It can work wonders for your image search rankings as well. For a live example, read any news story on the BBC websiteThe HTML tags enclosing the image descriptions will also matter. A description alongside a heading enclosed in H3 or Bold tag will have more weight than the one with just a description enclosed in the paragraph tag.

4. Wrapping Text

If possible, try to wrap text around your images using the CSS code of "float", like the old country farmhouse image above. If you site design won't allow wrapping text or if the image is large in size, try to place the images near text that describes the context of your image. Web Photo Galleries which have no text on the page can make use of the Title and Meta tags to insert information about the images.

5. Image Position On Page

From personal observation Web Images placed at the top of the page are more likely to appear in search results than the ones which are at the bottom. They do not have to be at the very top of the page but certainly 'above the fold' images tend to perform better than those below the fold.

6. Image Size

Another personal observation is that images which are very large or very small tend not to do very well in the search results. Try to keep images at sizes which will be useful to others who may be looking for them. In my experience images around 600px x 400px tend to do well.


If you do decide to use some or all of these tips, please keep an eye on your image performance and let us know how you get on.


Interior Design Styles at a Glance

Interior Design Styles

At the start of any interior design project, you wonder what style should I choose? what style do I like? what style will look good in that space? what style will I feel comfortable with? Whether you're decorating a single room or a whole house, a bungalow or a mansion the style will change dependent on the existing space and what is appropriate for it.

The above image of interior design styles is not a definitive list but rather a selection of some of the most common or popular interior design styles, more styles exist and more are being created all the time. If you want to learn more about any of the interior design styles shown above, read the full interior design styles article HERE.


Magazine Cover Design Features



Magazine Cover Design Features
Magazine Cover Design Layout

Designing a Magazine Cover? Then you need to be aware of these industry standard features, Both from a technical and a design point of view. First the Technical...

TECHNICAL

Size: 

Professional Magazine Covers (and therefore magazines themselves) are not A4 in size. This is a common misconception. The actual size is similar to A4 though; 8.5 inches x 11 inches is the standard.

Text: 

Your Magazine Cover should include the magazine name, tagline and selected article headings.

Main Image: 

You should ideally use just one main image. It should be a high quality image ideally on a plain background.

Little Details:  

Don't forget the Date, Price, Issue No. and Barcode

So with all those things in place you will technically have a magazine cover, but how do you make sure it is a good one...? Now lets look at the design.

DESIGN

Main Image:

Your image should be the dominant element on the cover, it should take up at least two thirds of the cover and should contrast with the background, keeping it centrally aligned it also best. It should also utilise at least one of the Attention Grabbing Technique. The most effective being Sexy or Iconic, if you use an attractive celebrity you will be achieving both at the same time, hence the reason they adorn the cover of most magazines. When using people use either head and shoulders or waist up photos for best impact.

Magazine Cover with Iconic Celebrity
Magazine Cover Using Iconic Celebrity On The Cover
The magazine title text is best large and bold old in a sans-serif font. The style of the font should also be appropriate to the style and topic of the magazine.  

Sub-Headings are best aligned to the sides, should include a variety of font styles, colours and sizes all still in sans-serif (see the sample below), contrast with the background and use buzz words or better still any of the 12 most powerful words


Magazine Cover
Magazine Cover utilising variety of sub heading styles, colours and sizes

And not forgetting the little details: They should be kept small, discreet and out of view (unless they are a feature of the sale – e.g. special discounted price)


So if you have taken all this on board are are still interested in creating your own magazine cover design then see our create a magazine cover tutorial. You may also be interested in reading about the most powerful words in the English language, which tend to feature regularly and prominently on magazine covers.




The Most Powerful Words In The English Language

Most Powerful Words In The English Language
Powerful Words Everywhere You Look In This Magazine Cover


They often say, it's always the ones you least suspect, but in the case of the most powerful words, that certainly isn't true. These words appear everywhere in graphic design, marketing, branding and promotional material, with magazine covers particularly guilty. Throughout this article, magazine covers are used to show the most powerful words in action. In each example the powerful word under discussion is circled, although you will notice numerous powerful words in some covers. The example above has 7 of them in the one cover! At any time click on an image to view it full size. And now to the most powerful words...

You 

'YOU' is the most powerful word in advertising for a reason - it's personal. "Let's talk about you", let's be honest, when it comes to you, you're all ears. If I make a promise to make people rich, you may be interested. If I promise to make 'YOU' rich, it becomes a different story. You is a word that must be used when talking to your customers, because that's who you're addressing. And when you do that, you're talking about a person's favourite subject. It's so powerful, many writers (especially in direct response) will not use a headline unless it has you in the title. Personally, I wouldn't go that far, but you is definitely something that 'YOU' should always consider. See examples below where the key word is circled.


Most Powerful Words - YouMost Powerful Words - You


Discover

This one is a prompt that advertisers use to say, "You're going to get something out of this, it's worth your time to keep reading." Or when it comes to product packaging, it indicates the product is worth checking out. Discover is a promise of something more to come. Like unwrapping a gift on your birthday, discoveries always bring a sense of excitement and adventure. And any time you evoke those fond childhood feelings, you're on to a winner. Personally I am nuts about adventure, excitement, new things. If the reader is too, the word Discover may work wonders. See examples below where the key word is circled.


Most Powerful Words - DiscoverMost Powerful Words - Discover



Results

Another word used in the headline of this piece, results is a word that also means success. And this word is powerful because it's a promise that helps you rationalise the purchase. "Oh, well if this gets results, it must be worth it." If you "guarantee results" you've just upped the ante. We all want results, whether it's from a household cleaner, our bank manager or the President of the USA. If they deliver, you feel satisfied. If they don't, well, don't expect re-election. I suppose this is powerful because everyone wants results. Perhaps this is better in a back-to-back context? See examples below where the key word is circled.


Most Powerful Words - ResultsMost Powerful Words - Results



Save          

'Save' or 'Saving' is an all time classic. And I think this one will work years after I have gone to my maker. Hands up if you don't want to save time or money... Exactly. Saving money is something that 99% of us want to do. Even the richest of the rich want deals, they just get them on more expensive purchases. If you can genuinely promise to save someone some money, you'd be foolish not to point this out. Of course, HOW you talk about it is just as important as what you're talking about. Do it wrong, and you will come across as either a pile-it-high-sell-it-cheap merchant, or untrustworthy. And as for saving time, well, time is money, which brings us right back to something we all want to save. See examples below where the key word is circled.





Health 

Especially powerful when it applies to a product. This is used a lot these days, and not just when talking about physical health. Perhaps the most commonly-used variation is "improve your financial health", and it works because we all know what good health is. If you can make a promise of good health, be it in a food, service or something else, you are doing well. But again, don't abuse the word. It is said to be especially powerful when it applies to a product or solution. Health is mostly effective against certain target markets. See examples below where the key word is circled.






New   

If I haven't heard about it before, never seen before, it's exciting! We all want new, even if it's not really all that new in reality. We want the next new phone model (which is why lines for the latest iPhone (see Trends in Mobile) span the block, despite having very few upgrades). We want new cars, new clothes, new shoes, new tastes, new smells, and we're willing to pay for it. Personally, I think NEW should be higher up on the list. It's a very powerful word that you will see in advertisements and promotions on a daily, if not hourly, basis from recipes to technology. See examples below where the key word is circled.




Proven

When selling anything, the word proven is a powerful one. It gives reassurance, nobody wants to be the guinea pig. Using the word proven in your marketing copy is proven to be effective! When you have a brand new product, not a new version of an existing product, there's a bump that you need to get over. It's basically "buyer beware," because the customer is dealing with an unknown. They can wait to see what the reviews on the product or service are, or they can ask friends and relatives. But one way to get over this bump is to provide the proof yourself. For instance, a famous cat food brand often used "8 out of 10 cat owners who expressed a preference said their cats preferred it". Wow, 8 out of 10. Must be good, it's proven. I'll try it. As Seen On TV products also do this well, with product demonstrations that prove a point. So, don't just say it. Prove it. See examples below where the key word is circled.




Easy  

Let's make this experience easy... Easy is better than hard. Who would choose a difficult option when an easier one is available? as long as the price/quality is just as good then easy is always better.




Love/Sex

This one has multiple meanings, you can be "in love" with something or you can "love" how well something works or performs. Either way, love is a strong word. But, be careful in its use. It's one thing to say "you're going to love the way it smells" when talking about a perfume. It's quite another to say "you will instantly fall in love with our toilet cleaner". Really? No one falls in love with a toilet cleaner. Remember, love may work well, but don't lay it on too thick. It can scare people away. 

There is another word starting with an S, three letters long, that I think is pretty powerful. Sex. But Sex can be come across as being a bit crude, however sexy is more acceptable and just as effective? Everyone wants to feel or be perceived as sexy. Play into that weakness and make it about them. See examples below where the key word is circled.






Now/Instant

Creating urgency is critical. We want things yesterday! The subject of delayed gratification is an important one among neuroscientists, as many famous studies showcase how being able to delay rewards to a later date is a skill needed to become successful. The reason this interests marketers is because it reveals an interesting aspect of human nature. This is an area where many business get too optimistic, and although it's smart to place an emphasis on these instant rewards, it's also always a good idea to under-promise and over-deliver, so be sure you can actually follow through on your promises or you may end up with a clan that hates your guts. See examples below where the key word is circled.





Free

The most powerful four letters in marketing. Nothing short of a conversion god, free never loses its power. Nothing free will be overlooked by anyone, what have they got to lose? When its free, nothing! So therefore they try it out. Simple. See examples below where the key word is circled.





Create a Cartoon Character

The completed cartoon character will look something like this
1. To create this cartoon character we will be using vector graphics created by the shape tool, pen tool and associated Photoshop tools and techniques. First create a new A4 canvas in Photoshop by going to File-> New and choosing international paper and then A4. You could choose any other size but if you wish to follow this tutorial exactly then you need to choose an A4 canvas size.

2. The first part of the character we will create is the body, represented by a simple circle. Use the elliptical shape tool to click and drag out an ellipse and then hold on the shift key (while still clicking and dragging) to get a perfect circle. You can resize the circle once you have released the mouse using Edit-> Transform-> Scale. Try to create a circle approximately half the width, and one third the height of the overall canvas. To change the colour of the circle double click on the Finally, in the layers window, right click on the layer, select layer properties and name the layer 'body'.

3. Next, while still on your 'body' layer, go to Layer-> Layer Styles-> Blending Options. In the window which opens select inner shadow and stroke and set the options to those shown in the image below.





4. Next we will create the eyes of our little character. Again we will use the ellipse shape tool to create two ellipses for the eyes. Set the colour to white, add a stroke of between 10pt and 20pt and name each layer 'right eye' and 'left eye'. Now to reshape the eyes into the shapes shown below; First use the add anchor point tool (within the pen tool) to add two anchor points either side of the bottom anchor point on the left eye. Next use the direct selection tool to move that bottom anchor point upwards slightly. For the right eye add two anchor points either side of the top anchor point and two either side of the bottom anchor point and , once again, use the direct selection tool to move the anchor points to obtain the desired shape. Don't be too particular though as the eyes or eyebrows may cover any wobbly looking lines.


5. Now to add the eyeballs; once again start by using the elliptical shape tool to create two ellipses for the eyes, colour these layers blue and name them 'left eyeball' and 'right eyeball'. Next add an inner shadow to the eyeballs using the options shown in the image below. If the eyeball appears below the eye just drag and drop its layer above the eye layer in the layers window.


6. The pupils of the eyes will once again be started by using the elliptical shape tool to create the shapes. Next colour the shapes layers black and name them 'left pupil' and 'right pupil'. To complete the pupils add a bevel and emboss as shown in the image below.


7. We will now complete the eyes by rotating the eyeballs and pupils slightly and positioning and resizing them as necessary to match the image below. Don’t worry that the right eyeball is out of the eye as the eyebrow will cover this.


8. To create the eyebrows we will be using the pen tool. Click and drag to create the curved line anchor points used to create the shape of the eyebrow. Don't be too particular about the shape to start just be sure to join the last anchor point to the initial anchor point to complete the shape. You can then use the direct selection tool to move the anchor points around to achieve a better shape. Finally colour the eyebrows orange.


9. To complete the face of our character we will use the pen tool to create a quizzical smirk and for a little detail use the elliptical shape tool to create cheeks. Colour the cheeks either one tone darker or lighter than the yellow of the face and colour the mouth the same orange as the eyebrows.


10. The last parts of our little cartoon character are the arm and hand. To keep the quizzical look going we want to have the arm and hand scratching the chin (if he had one!) of our character. Similar to the eyebrows, we will use the pen tool to create the arm and hand in three separate shapes. First the arm. Use the pen tool to click and drag creating curved line anchor points and complete the shape by joining the final anchor point to the initial anchor point. Tip: The fewer anchor points you can use the smoother the curve on the arm will be, 6 anchor points would be enough if you can manage it!



11. Finally the hand is made up of 2 shapes, a simple warped ellipse for the wrist and then a detailed shape representing a hand with thumb and fore finger stretched out with the other fingers closed; only showing knuckles. Take your time to create these shapes and remember to complete the shape by joining the final anchor point to the initial anchor point. Don't be too particular about getting the shape perfect the first time around as you can always use the direct selection tool to move the anchor points around or even add or remove anchor points using the appropriate tools.

12. For added detail add an inner shadow to the hand and wrist shape using the options show in the image below.

The completed emoticon style cartoon character should now look something like this. Hope you enjoyed the tutorial, now how about trying to create different emoticon cartoons.


Top Advertising Techniques In Graphic Design

Good Graphic Design Is A Key Aspect Of Advertising
Today every company needs to advertise its product to inform the customers about the product, make sales, acquire market value and gain reputation and stature in the industry. Every business spends lot of money to advertise their products but the money spent will lead to success only when the best techniques of advertising are used as part of a well designed image. So here are some very common techniques used by the advertisers in web and graphic design to get their desired results. These techniques can be used regardless of the design style but some techniques do work best when matched up with a particular design style.

Avant Garde

This ad on the official apple website used the avant garde technique to promote the iPad


Avant Garde is a French phrase used to refer to people or works that are experimental or innovative, particularly with respect to art and culture. In graphic design advertising it is the suggestion that using this product puts the user ahead of the times. Phrases like "revolutionary" or "cutting edge" are often used too but overall a general sense of the product/service being futuristic is the key aspect. Apple are the masters of this technique with all their recent product launches using this technique.

Weasel Words

"Bang and the dirt is gone" - an example of weasel words in an advert

“Weasel words" are used to suggest a positive meaning without actually really making any guarantee. A classic example being the Cillit Bang catchphrase "Bang and the dirt is gone!". IT sounds simple, has impact and is memorable but what does it really mean?

Magic Ingredients

Actimel advertise their magic ingredient in their advertisemnts

The suggestion that some almost miraculous discovery makes the product exceptionally effective such as the "L. Casei Immunitas" in Actimel. They constantly mention this ingredient in ads despite the fact that very few people outside of micro-biologists knows what it is! It sounds impressive though and "if we haven't heard of it then it must be very special",  that's what they want us to think.

Patriotism

An example of an advert using the patriotism advertising technique

The suggestion that purchasing this product shows your love of your country or supports your country through your purchase. In these ads there is often no effort to talk about the superiority of the product/service or it's attributes, the emphasis is solely on the fact it is a local or national product/service.

Diversion

Katy Perry is used as the diversion in this advertisement for .... chips! Sorry I got distracted.

Diversion seems to discuss a product or service or tackle a problem, but then throws in an unrelated topic or distraction. What distracted you in this above ad...?

Snob Appeal

The imagery and the text in this advertisement portray an elegant, sophisticated service through the snob appeal technique 

Snob appeal is the suggestion that the use of the product or service makes the customer part of an elite group with a luxurious and glamorous life style. We all aspire for a better life, that is human nature, and this type of ad appeals to that desire.

Bribery


This one is very simple and is therefore very common. The bribery advertising technique seems to give a desirable extra something when we use/buy a service/product. We humans tend to be greedy so getting something for free or for a reduced cost is very appealing, sometimes even if we didn't need or want the product in the first place!

Testimonial



Another simple one that advertisers use is to get a famous personality to endorse the product. In this way they can grab our attention using the iconic attention grabbing technique as well as adding a sense of the products appeal by associating it with the right type of person. In the above example the young, beautiful, talented and successful Taylor Swift adds a lot of positives to the Diet Coke brand.


Humour



Customers are attracted to products that give them a reason to laugh or to be entertained by clever use of visuals or language. Ads using humour also give a brand a fun factor which can make a customer "like" the brand's approach to doing things and thus favour them over competitors. The above ad uses humour but also a hint of the sexy attention grabbing technique as well.

Simple Solutions


Avoid complexities, and attack many problems to one solutions. Seems good, doesn't it! Thats what the advertisers are relying on of course. Phrases like "all in one" and "multi-purpose" are commonly used in these types of ads. We can tend to be lazy and is offered an easy, all in one solution to multiple issues then why wouldn't we take it?

Bandwagon


Bandwagon is a form of propaganda that exploits the desire of most people to join the crowd or be on the winning side, and avoid winding up the losing side. It's a popularity contest with these type of ads which often compare their customer base to competitors or suggest that "everyone" is with them so why aren't you. "Join us", "be part of it" or "get on board" are commonly used phrases in these type of ads.

Sexy...?

If you are thinking that surely sex is an advertising technique seen as beautiful people are commonly used in ads and of course we've all heard the phrase "sex sells". So why is it not in the list? Actually is it an attention grabbing technique as opposed to an actual advertising technique.