This information has moved to http://www.fastf.com/knowledge/keyword-research.htm
This information has moved to http://www.fastf.com/knowledge/keyword-research.htm
Commercial Art serves (unlike Fine Art, what you find in museums), you might say, a lower purpose:
Whether you think this is a good thing or not, if you are working in the commercial arena, there are rules. Everything you do should serve the commercial purpose, or at least not detract from it.
Of course that is often violated, as so ably dramatized by The Onion:
That doesn't mean it can't be superb, aesthetic, or uplifting.
It means don't do things just because they are cool.
A great sign for the economy. Online holiday sales were up 15% over last year.
Good News indeed.
A major limitation of the web has been the small number of text fonts that could be safely used.
This is because display of text fonts depends on them being installed on the computer they are being viewed on. And there are only a few fonts that are universal enough that you can count on their being available. Like Times New Roman and Arial (or Helvetica, its near cousin on Apple machines).
Inevitably, someone would come up with a workable solution.
First several companies, including Typekit and Google developed online font depositories which could be easily referenced and used on people's website.
Now you can add your own, even custom fonts to Typekit:
Sky's the limit folks.
Photoshop is a very powerful tool for manipulating imagery.
With great power comes great responsibility... not to do something silly.
Anyone interested in freedom and/or the Internet (which should be everyone), needs to be aware of a rising tide of efforts on the part of governments to censor websites and the dissemination of information via the Internet.
Even the Land of the Free.
The U.S. government has shut down a number of websites - some of which were owned by foreigners and hosted outside of the U.S. Because their domain registrars were U.S. based, this was possible.
These were NOT shut down because they violated international laws or the laws of the countries in which they were based. In some cases they may have been violating U.S. law (relating to Cuba), but no civil or criminal due process was involved in the shut-downs.
Having a Constitution that guarantees Freedom of Speech is only half the battle. Then the rule of law must still prevail. Read the Constitution of the old Soviet Union some time. It sounds great! Guaranteed freedom of speech, assembly and religion.
Efforts to shut down Wikileaks sites have been ongoing for months. Not with a lot of success. It's a game of Whack-a-Mole since setting up mirror sites is so easy.
What's the future hold? Governments are fighting a losing battle in this. The structure of the Internet makes censorship difficult. And whatever they try, clever people will develop ways around it. Here's one proposal (it gets a bit technical): Building a Censorship Resistant Web.
Another illustrated rant every graphic artist will agree with.
I know I've commented on this before, but I think I maybe have a better way to communicate it.
Branding visual elements, such as your logo and color scheme, have one purpose and one purpose only.
So that viewers recognize it is YOUR marketing.
If they can recognize your marketing, that helps in several ways:
1. Every time they see an ad, package or whatever, it increases confidence. Just the fact that they see you over and over again makes people accept that you are real, trustworthy and here to stay.
2. As they see your message over and over, or use your products or services, they connect it with your brand so come to know what you stand for (or at least what you say you do) and associate it with the visuals.
So that when someone sees the Starbucks logo hanging outside a storefront, they know they can walk in there and order a double-decaf-soy-latte-machiatto, that they'll like the way it tastes, that it will cost them $4.73, and that there will be comfortable chairs they can sit in while they consume their drink.
All the other things people try to do with branding visuals are a wasted effort. Sure, a logo or color scheme does have connotations to it. But that is more about avoiding a potential negative than creating a valuable positive.
Don't use a skull and crossbones in your food logo (unless you're selling hot sauce).
Stylized illustrations of happy people hugging each other are not going to sell more health insurance.
An employee of a company that sells remanufactured ink cartridges, stuck writing boring copy for their website, got tired and just said what he thought.
The result went viral, generated so much traffic it overwhelmed their server.
Don't be boring.
There are a lot of developments going on to bring us a richer, more capable Internet experience.
Amongst these is a new graphics format Google has developed, WebGL. This is being showcased in Google Labs in their "Body Browser" which is a fabulous education and exploration tool.
Ever injured yourself exercising and wondered what exactly was that muscle?
Typically, the new format is at this point in time only supported in Chrome and in Firefox version 4.0 browsers.
That's the problem in every case with developments such as this. The ordinary website can't use them until the vast majority of visitors have browsers in which they will work. Or your website will have to detect what browser is being used and serve up an alternate version.
Internet Explorer is the main issue. Because of its huge market share, Microsoft's slowness in implementation, and IE users' slowness to upgrade, this currently means about a 3 year lag on new technologies.
Hopefully that will speed up.
One issue designers have to deal with constantly is readability of text.
Black text on white background is the most readable. But unless you are designing a book, you probably don't have the chance to make it that simple.
Generally, dark text on a light background is more readable than the equivalent light colored text on a dark background.
Size of text of course is a factor. Either too small or - surprise - too large reduces readability.
Font matters (type style). Generally, surprisingly, serif fonts (with the little lines running off the ends, like Times New Roman) are more readable than sans serif (like Arial).
But a huge, often neglected factor is contrast. How much difference is there, light versus dark, between the text and background. The less contrast, regardless of color, the harder it will be to read.
We test this by printing a design in black and white to subtract the color out of the picture. Then you can see.
This becomes an issue especially with a non-uniform background, such as a photo or painting. It's one of the biggest problems in layout. Where do you then put the text and how do you make it readable? There are several solutions, but it has to be dealt with.
By the way, the older your typical target market, the more of an issue this is. Young eyes are sharper.
As Internet Marketing continues to grow, Yellow Pages continue to shrink.
An amazing number of marketers don't realize the degree to which PEOPLE are important in effective marketing design.
Putting people in the picture - literally - makes all the difference.
This is so true that an image of a receptionist on the phone, next to your phone number, will increase the response rate.
Imagine if the DeBeers commercials ("Diamonds Are Forever") did NOT show photos of women thrilled with their diamond engagement rings or Christmas presents.
People, it is about People.
One reason that twitter isn't a good fit for many companies: only 8% of American Internet users, use Twitter.
A new survey finds 46% of small businesses still don't have a website.
Every website designer will look at this and nod their head.
I'm not sure what clients will think....
The most used browsers are Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari and Chrome. Opera is under 2% and others (hello Netscape) less than 1/2%.
The actual percentages for visitors vary greatly depending on the type of business you are in.
Here are numbers for November, from Hitslink:
Internet Explorer, all versions: 58%. For FastF.com, the total is only 38%. 6% are still on IE6 (2% for our visitors).
Firefox, 21%. For our visitors, 31%
Safari, 8%, for FastF, 16%.
Chrome, 7%, for FastF, 10%
Clearly the big loser continues to be Internet Explorer, which once completely dominated. The big visitor this year is really Chrome, which has tripled market share and no sign of slowing down.
That also does not bode well for Bing, since a lot of their market share of Search comes from the fact that it is the default search engine (of course) for Internet Explorer.
I predict this trend will continue, that by end of 2011, IE will have less than 50% market share. But since I don't see any of the three Safari, Chrome, or Firefox dominating the others, there's no clear path to any new winner in the browser wars, not anytime soon.
If you are wondering whether Social Media is a useful tool for your marketing efforts, there are two angles to look at.
First of all, the primary thing Social Networking is about is to make sharing information easier. At the top of the scale this is what makes it easy for something to "go viral" - to spread rapidly to a point where a YouTube video can get millions of views within days of its being posted.
The main point is that if you don't have a product or service subject to a buzz - being talked up or talked about - then Social is just not going to happen. Unless the hygienists are going topless, a dental office blog, video, Facebook page or tweet are not going to get a lot of action.
If you do have something people are going to want to talk about or share, then all these media can be a huge assist.
The only other way these channels are going to make a big difference is exposure. You can run Facebook ads targeted at a carefully identified target market and increase awareness of your product, service or company at a very low cost.
Otherwise these channels have very narrow application - as in the fishing boat captain who tweets fishing conditions.
There really is a fifth major element to the Internet Marketing Universe that we might call Big Sites.
Websites such as Amazon.com, the big weather, news and sports sites, and others, don't depend on Search, YouTube, Social or Mobile. People know the sites and have them bookmarked or use mobile apps to reach them. So these sites DRIVE traffic to other sites in significant quantities.
They are especially relevant for websites selling consumer products or related to what is called "trending" topics - what is hot in the news. If that is the territory you are in, they can't be ignored as they have the potential of driving a huge amount of traffic to your site - or deep sixing it.
People have been so focused for so long on Search, that many have missed where the battle is.
The battle for search is over. Google has around 70% of all searches, Bing/Yahoo about 25%. Everyone else is down in the weeds. These percentages are not likely to change greatly in the next few years - no matter what anyone says, predicts or does (hello Blekko). I won't try and predict farther than that. I am not insane. But it remains a highly dynamic area because Google continues to roll out improvements at a mad rate.
As has happened many times in the past, the face of the Internet continues to change. Once directories dominated and Yahoo was king. Once something called Usenet was where the action was.
There's a lot of talk of Social Networking (Facebook, Twitter and the like). They are huge and getting more so. Facebook gets a significant percentage of the total page views on the entire Internet!
There are more searches on YouTube than on Bing/Yahoo.
And mobile - everything mobile - is growing by leaps and bounds as smart phones become the norm in the world of cellular and iPads and their imitators sell at the rate of millions per month.
Right now, these four areas are where the action is. They are likely to remain the focus for the next few years. Within each area, I doubt anyone can predict where it is all going to go. One thing's for sure: Fasten your seat belts. It's going to be a wild ride.
No surprise that Google would role out their integration of Search and Place Pages (what Google calls "Place Search") into Mobile Search.
That is launched and officially announced.
It's nicely done. Besides the integration you see on regular (non-mobile) search, you have buttons to click on immediately to phone, bring up a map, or get directions to.
One question that comes up regularly is what is the best TIMING for Internet Marketing actions including email broadcasts, blog and Facebook postings and tweets (posts to Twitter).
Emails broadcasts are most likely to be read if they go out on a Tuesday or Wednesday morning. For other channels, here's a great article:
Here's a good example of how Google is continually making small adjustments to fight abuses and "black hat" optimizers. Being Bad to Your Customers is Bad for Business:
A recent article by the New York Times related a disturbing story. By treating your customers badly, one merchant told the paper, you can generate complaints and negative reviews that translate to more links to your site; which, in turn, make it more prominent in search engines.
The main danger in email broadcasting is getting labeled as a spammer.
Now there's no world-wide list of spammers that everyone agrees on.
There are dozens of "blacklists" used to a greater or lesser degree. You can check your domain using the "MX Toolbox", put in your domain name ("fastf.com"), click on "MX Lookup" then click on "Blacklist Check." ("MX" refers to how the Internet knows on what server and how, email is handled for a particular domain).
But if you aren't on a list, that doesn't mean you are in the clear.
Many Internet Service Providers (ISPs) such as Comcast, Verizon, will have their own internal blacklists.
It's a pretty sure sign you are in bad with someone if your emails just don't arrive. They don't bounce, they just never arrive, say, at any Yahoo email address.
Getting back on their good side is another story. It isn't necessarily quick or easy.
That's even worse than having your account suspended by your own ISP. At least in that case you have someone to talk to.
Best not to get in trouble in the first place, by following best practices on list compilation and maintenance (see my earlier posts on this).
Three quarters of our hosting clients had 100% uptime for the month of November. Of the remainder, none had more than 5 minutes downtime.
Two of our clients had problems with their "DNS" which is not under our control (and not set up per our recommendations). The websites weren't down, but they couldn't be found for longer periods of time.
We also monitor our Internet Marketing clients, whose websites we don't host. All but one of them had outages during the month ranging from 10 minutes to one hour in duration.
Do we offer quality hosting or what.
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