web design http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/12684/all en-US The 5 Best Free Stock Photo Sites http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/the-5-best-free-stock-photo-sites <div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">Link:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://www.openforum.com/articles/the-5-best-free-stock-photo-sites" target="_blank">http://www.openforum.com/articles/the-5-best-free-stock-photo-sites</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/small-business/the-5-best-free-stock-photo-sites" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000005193486Small.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Redesigning <a target="_blank" href="http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/technology/article/5-ways-that-your-small-business-site-might-be-failing-1">a website</a>? Publishing a company newsletter? Unless you want to guarantee that no one reads what you have to say, pretty pictures are your friend. Millions of professional-quality stock photos are now available online for free, despite mounting complaints from all the other photographers trying to make a decent living. But navigating an individual image&rsquo;s licensing restrictions, (particularly for commercial use), can be daunting. For instance, while some sites allow you to use their photos in promotional materials, adapting an image for a logo is usually off limits.</p> <p>To make things interesting, I searched for photos of sheep on the most popular free stock photo sites. I then whittled down the list based on a few criteria:</p> <ul> <li>A large selection of free, high-resolution photos for commercial use;</li> <li>No subscription requirement;</li> <li>Easy to understand copyright and intellectual property rights;</li> <li>No lengthy email exchanges with photographers or rights-holders.</li> </ul> <p>Several sites made the cut.</p> <p><a target="_blank" href="http://www.everystockphoto.com/">EveryStockPhoto</a> and <a target="_blank" href="http://search.creativecommons.org/">Creative Commons Search</a> both serve as aggregators and return a staggering number of results. They are helpful for exploring the universe of images possibilities, but neither one can guarantee that all images displayed allow for unrestricted commercial use.</p> <p>Creative Commons hunts for images from Google and Yahoo, Flickr, Wikimedia Commons and more, while EveryStockPhoto relies on Flickr, Stock.xchng, Free Range and others. It is necessary to view and download photos directly from the participating sites to note any special usage or attribution requirements.</p> <p><a target="_blank" href="http://www.morguefile.com/">MorgueFile</a> returned fewer results (only 360 for &ldquo;sheep&rdquo;), but it is incredibly easy to use with no registration required and the photos are mostly high quality. In many cases, attribution is not required but encouraged.</p> <p><a target="_blank" href="http://www.flickr.com/">Flickr</a> is among the largest online sharing sites, Yahoo!-owned Flickr boasts a wide range of amateur and professional photos. Use the advanced search and check the &ldquo;creative commons&rdquo; and &ldquo;commercial use&rdquo; boxes to filter accordingly. The search term &ldquo;sheep&rdquo; delivered nearly 30,000 results. Many photos require attribution and don&rsquo;t allow you to change or build on the photo.</p> <p><a target="_blank" href="http://www.sxc.hu/">Stock.xchng</a> offers a huge gallery of more than 350,000 stock photos by 30,000+ photographers, including more than 400 sheep photos with no added restrictions. Skip the iStockphoto entries at the top of the search unless you want to pay. Use the advanced search function to weed out unnecessary restrictions. Standard restrictions work for most purposes. The only downfall of this site is that you must register before you can download photos.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/margie-fishman">Margie Fishman</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/the-5-best-free-stock-photo-sites">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/250-tips-for-small-business-owners">250+ Tips for Small Business Owners</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-credit-cards-for-small-businesses">The 5 Best Credit Cards for Small Businesses</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/best-business-travel-credit-cards">Best Business Travel Credit Cards</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-smart-ways-to-get-a-small-business-loan">10+ Smart Ways to Get a Small Business Loan</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/lessons-we-can-learn-from-blockbusters-demise">Lessons We Can Learn From Blockbuster&#039;s Demise</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Small Business Resource Center collateral marketing design resources graphic design small business stock photos web design Sun, 25 Sep 2011 20:37:04 +0000 Margie Fishman 687232 at http://www.wisebread.com Smart Web Design Will Boost Your Brand Building http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/smart-web-design-will-boost-your-brand-building <div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">Link:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/technology/article/smart-web-design-will-boost-your-brand-building-chris-birk" target="_blank">http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/technology/article/smart-web-design-wil...</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/small-business/smart-web-design-will-boost-your-brand-building" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000012961401XSmall.jpg" alt="website design" title="website design" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="212" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The web isn't the only avenue for developing and building a successful brand, but it's increasingly becoming the most important for an array of businesses big and small.</p> <p>Consumers considering a purchase now turn to the Internet like they would to a trusted confidante. Separate surveys this spring suggest that anywhere from 75 percent (Deloitte) to 97 percent (BIA/Kelsey Group) of consumers go online for product or company information before pulling the trigger. More than ever, cultivating a powerful, credible and authoritative brand online is a critical element of long-term competition, no matter the field &mdash; and that's why the look, the feel and the focus of your website is so important.</p> <p>How couldn't it be? Scores of prospective consumers are streaming online in search of information, of reassurance, about your products and services. A shoddy, ill-conceived or simply unappealing website is one of the quickest ways to scare off potential customers.</p> <p>Consumers and the search engines alike reward strong branding. Entrepreneurs and business leaders who fail to reconcile the critical role website design plays in establishing and then reinforcing a business brand flout common sense at their own peril.&nbsp;Here are four considerations in the pursuit of better branding.</p> <h3>Win the First Impression War</h3> <p>Content may be king but appearance is still everything. Perception is reality when it comes to credibility online, and a site that looks unprofessional or still stuck in 1998 broadcasts all the wrong things to prospective consumers.</p> <p>A site visitor who couldn't tell a U/I from a UFO can spot a stale, cluttered or otherwise problematic website in fractions of a second. Compounding the peril, usability studies have showed that those snap judgments can affect all future perceptions of your site. Science folks refer to the concept as <a href="http://www.sciencedaily.com/articles/c/confirmation_bias.htm">confirmation bias</a> and it basically means this: If you think a site is bad, you'll look for evidence that confirms your first impression and ignore the good stuff that contradicts it.</p> <p>Here's the bottom line for business owners: Don't lose the first impression battle, because it's really a one-battle war. Hire a web designer. At the very least, shell out some cash for a more specialized template like the <a href="http://diythemes.com/">Thesis Theme framework</a>.</p> <h3>Develop and Strategically Display a Logo</h3> <p>&quot;A first-time visitor to your site should be able to make an immediate connection to your logo, understand what your company is about and remember it,&quot; says Adam Strong, co-founder of Logo.com, an online service that provides <a href="http://logo.com/">custom logo design</a>. &quot;Color, fonts, placement, scale &mdash; all of these play a role in conveying that message.&quot;</p> <p>So, first, invest in a quality logo, whether it's done in-house or beyond. Second, recognize the reality that where and how you place that logo on your site is almost as important as its appearance and potency.</p> <p>Consumers don't read web pages; they scan them, like a highway driver reading billboards at 60 mph. Multiple eye-tracking studies have borne out a general pattern of eye movement, known as the <a href="http://www.useit.com/alertbox/reading_pattern.html">F-pattern</a>. Keep your logo in that field of view. Make it <a href="http://www.mint.com/023b/">large enough to clearly identify</a> but not overpowering to viewers. Use it to draw viewers to your pertinent content or calls to action.</p> <h3>Color and the Call to Action</h3> <p>In short, color matters, from the dominant ones that enliven your site to the shade of your &quot;Buy Now&quot; button. Colors affect emotion. Does the <a href="http://www.fuelyourcreativity.com/files/Facebook.jpg">Facebook logo swathed in red</a> connote a different feeling than its standard blue? How about a <a href="http://www.fuelyourcreativity.com/files/Target.jpg">green Target logo</a> instead of the ubiquitous red?</p> <p>Consider the meaning and potential effects behind your color choices. At the same time, color can also prove a key tool in the fight to maximize conversions. Test different colors on buttons and calls to action (bright colors often work best). Use color strategically, consistently and with an eye toward provoking a specific response.</p> <h3>Consistency Across Media</h3> <p>Strive for uniformity, from your color scheme and fonts to page organization and image sizes. Visitors find comfort in the familiar and can quickly orient themselves if moving among multiple pages. Repetition also aids memory, and that consistency exudes a sense of order and authority.</p> <p>Make sure those core design elements make the leap from the web to traditional print materials like brochures and business cards. The last thing you need is a logo or color discrepancy between business cards and your website.</p> <p>&quot;A lot of businesses begin as web-only and designing a logo with that in mind gives them a greater amount of freedom,&quot; Strong says. &quot;They may soon discover that logo doesn't work too well offline.&quot;</p> <h3>Landing Pages</h3> <p>Your home page doesn't have to be all things to all people. In fact, it shouldn't be. Create uniquely tailored landing pages that retain the core design and branding elements running throughout your site. Test and tweak these like crazy, playing with the size and types of images, fonts and colors (as well as their absence). Keep a similar sense of continuity between your advertisements and your landing pages.</p> <p>These targeted destinations are crucial in terms of both branding and the bottom line.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/chris-birk">Chris Birk</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/smart-web-design-will-boost-your-brand-building">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-5"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/250-tips-for-small-business-owners">250+ Tips for Small Business Owners</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-find-freelance-clients-part-two">How to Find Freelance Clients: Part Two</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-credit-cards-for-small-businesses">The 5 Best Credit Cards for Small Businesses</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-biggest-mistakes-freelancers-make">The 5 Biggest Mistakes Freelancers Make</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-innovative-but-obscure-sites-that-put-money-in-your-pocket">10 Innovative But Obscure Sites That Put Money In Your Pocket</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Entrepreneurship Small Business Resource Center Technology branding marketing small business web design website Thu, 18 Nov 2010 00:01:17 +0000 Chris Birk 281106 at http://www.wisebread.com 6 Reasons a Website Can Suck and How To Fix It http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/6-reasons-a-website-can-suck-and-how-to-fix-it <div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">Link:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/technology/article/6-reasons-a-website-can-suck-and-how-to-fix-it-tom-harnish" target="_blank">http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/technology/article/6-reasons-a-website-...</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/small-business/6-reasons-a-website-can-suck-and-how-to-fix-it" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000002510177XSmall.jpg" alt="people gathered" title="people gathered" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Never, ever, tell someone their baby is ugly &mdash; or worse, their website.</p> <p>Granted, there are a lot of <em>really</em> bad websites out there. As a writer and poster-child for ADD, I spend a lot of time online and have seen them myself.</p> <p>I'd be rich if I had ten bucks for every writer's website that had spelling and grammar errors. I'd be even richer if I had ten bucks for every SEO website that wasn't even on Google's radar, but brags how it'll get you at the top of search results.&nbsp;</p> <p>For some reason, people just don't want to know their website sucks, but what <em>were</em> they thinking? Here are six red flags that <em>your</em>&nbsp;website isn't doing so well and what you can do to fix it.</p> <h3>No Contact Information</h3> <p>Put contact information on every page. There are a lot of sites that, apparently, just don't want people to contact them. &quot;ADD TO CART and don't bother&quot; me seems to be the message, but sales are based on product knowledge and trust. (OK, and price.) When your customer can't see you or a real, live representative, how are they going to learn to trust you?</p> <p>It shouldn't have to be pointed out, but for crying out loud, put your area code on your phone number! Are we supposed to guess where you're located, especially if you don't give us an address?</p> <h3>No Place for Feedback</h3> <p>One of the reasons Amazon became so successful selling books was readers were able to see what other book buyers thought before they bought a book. That's been an important component of Netflix's success, too.</p> <p>Social media sites include &quot;I Like&quot; buttons. Wordpress makes it easy for web developers to allow site visitors to leave comments. Shopping cart software usually has a &quot;star rating&quot; feature so buyers can leave feedback. Use these tools.</p> <p>Make sure there's a way you can quickly fix unhappy customers. It's true no one can hear you scream in space, but everyone <em>can</em> hear people scream in cyberspace. If you don't have a way to communicate with dissatisfied customers and make sure whatever their problem is is solved, they <em>will</em> let the world know about it. See <a href="http://untied.com/">Untied.com</a>, for example. Not United Airlines &mdash; Un-tied Airlines.</p> <h3>Out-of-date Information</h3> <p>The world's a rapidly changing place, and the web is accelerating the process. A yellow pages ad might have been OK for six months or a year because all it really was designed to do was say, &quot;We're here!&quot; People could also visit your store, read your newspaper ads, and maybe see your trucks drive past.</p> <p>However, your website may be the only store, advertising, and signs you have. So your site <em>must</em> tell your customers everything they need to know to buy from you today. If you've added a new product or service, how will they know if it's not on the site? If you've discontinued a line, it's perhaps even more important that your website makes that clear and offers an alternative. If you don't, you may end up having to handle refunds <em>and</em> lose a sale.</p> <h3>Unprofessional</h3> <p>Business owners will eagerly find a professional to design a business card, brochure, or ad for them; but apparently, they are perfectly willing to try to design and build their website themselves. The result is not pretty.</p> <p>They use flashing logos, marching ants, blaring music, and IM-style writing such as ROFLMAO and OMG. It's jarring at best and obnoxious at worst.&nbsp;You shouldn't even use acronyms such as ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder), SEO (Search Engine Optimization) or DIY (Do It Yourself), or IM (Instant Messaging), for that matter. Some people won't know what they mean. Research shows that people spend less than 10 seconds scanning a page. If they don't find what they want or they don't understand, you've lost them.</p> <p>You're supposed to be running a business, not building websites. Go to <a href="http://vworker.com/">vWorker.com</a>&nbsp;or <a href="https://www.upwork.com/">Upwork.com</a>&nbsp;and find someone who can design a good website and someone who can build a good website. They may be two different people, but they know a lot of things you don't &mdash; and don't need to.</p> <h3>Doesn't Meet Variety of Needs</h3> <p>Some people will visit looking for products, some for price, some for location, some for a phone number or email address &mdash; but how about reporters? Wouldn't you be delighted to be in a spot on the evening news about innovative new companies or the best service in town? Make it easy for reporters, too, when they visit your site. Include a media page with an electronic press kit, and offer some story ideas.</p> <p>My wife and I used to run an aviation sightseeing business, and we dreamed up funny names for our flights such as the Dapper Duffer Aerial Golf Tour and The Red Baron Thrill Ride. We wrote descriptions of them in press release format and put them on our website along with about 20 story ideas. In a matter days magazines, newspapers, TV shows across the country (all over the world, actually), and even the <a href="http://www.sandiego.org/article/Visitors/385">local tourist bureau</a> were running stories based on them. All at no cost to us.</p> <h3>Sends the Wrong Brand Message</h3> <p>No, by brand we don't mean the hot iron poker you use to mark your cattle, cowboy. We don't mean the logo or graphics you use, either. We're talking about the whole experience: What people picture when they think about your company.</p> <p>Our flying business was flying but our brand was fun. So when someone called, on the rare occasion we had to make them wait on hold, we told them, &quot;We're busier than a one armed wing walker with a wedgie, but hang on, and we'll be right with you.&quot;</p> <p>Our website reflected the same sense of fun with a disclaimer at the bottom that said, &quot;We're not responsible for kids who fidget, fuzzy directions, blatant localism, ants, crabby spouses, slow traffic, bad hair days, or earthquakes greater than 2.0 magnitude.&quot; The website added to the flavor of our business, and it produced 40% of our revenue.</p> <p>There are lots of reasons a website can suck, but yours doesn't have to. Find a professional to help make sure your site communicates, is easy to use, and reflects the spirit &mdash; the brand &mdash; of your company. Button-down professional, silly fun, or interesting science, your website is who you are. You don't suck, or you wouldn't be here reading this. Don't let your website make folks think you do.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tom-harnish">Tom Harnish</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/6-reasons-a-website-can-suck-and-how-to-fix-it">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-find-freelance-clients-part-two">How to Find Freelance Clients: Part Two</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/250-tips-for-small-business-owners">250+ Tips for Small Business Owners</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-credit-cards-for-small-businesses">The 5 Best Credit Cards for Small Businesses</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-biggest-mistakes-freelancers-make">The 5 Biggest Mistakes Freelancers Make</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-smart-ways-to-get-a-small-business-loan">10+ Smart Ways to Get a Small Business Loan</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Entrepreneurship Small Business Resource Center Technology branding marketing small business web design website Sun, 14 Nov 2010 19:14:11 +0000 Tom Harnish 283249 at http://www.wisebread.com