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Perfect Content Images in 5 Easy Steps

Perfect Content Images in 5 Easy Steps

Perfect Content Images in 5 Easy Steps

From showcasing products, to providing visual support to the text on the page, images can maketh or breaketh a website*. As Andy Warhol famously said - "I never read, I just look at pictures", and we all know "a picture says a thousand words".

When it comes to selling products on-line, there are countless studies proving the benefit of images in relation to conversion rates and as a provider of platforms that have processed millions of on-line transactions dating back to the 1990's, we've learned that quality images are often the difference between making sales and not.

We actively encourage all clients using our iASP™ platform, which provides full control over all content published (text, images, movies, files etc.), to invest in production of quality, original images, which can then be adjusted to suit the layout of the area they are publishing.

Providing your photographer or designer with the final image specifications you require is always the perfect option, but if you have images that still need further manipulation we've put together our simple 5-step process to creating perfect content images.

Before you start you'll need image editing software. You can pay for professional level applications such as Adobe Photoshop (like we do), but there's cheaper and even free options available. Today we're going to use a free image editor that is available on-line called Pixlr Editor. It's similar to Adobe Photoshop, and it is very easy to use.


Step #1: Find the recommended image dimensions.
Your images will need to be made a specific width and height, depending on how/where you want to use them. For example, an image used in the banner of your website will need to be a lot wider than an image that is used on an inner page.

For iASP™ Clients:

  • Navigate to the page you plan to use the image on, and edit the record.
  • The image field should have a recommended width and height either under the image label, or in a tool-tip alongside the image picker tool. If not, please just copy the address of the page you want to add the image into and e-mail it to us asking for optimum image dimensions
  • If you are creating a new image for the banner of your website, then you can find the recommended dimensions in the Banner module of the CMS Control Panel.

Step #2: Open the original image.
Next you want to load the image into your image editing application.

  • Open Pixlr Editor in your web browser (or you can use your usual image editing software).
  • Click File in the menu at the top of the application, and then select Open Image
  • Find the image on your computer and select it, press Open.

Step #3: Crop the Image
Now you want to crop out the part of the image that you want to use:

  • Select the Crop tool
  • In the tool options that appear under the menu, select Aspect Ratio from the Constraint options.
  • Enter the recommended image width from Step 1 in the Width box
  • Enter the recommended image height from Step 1 in the Height box.
  • In the image window, drag the mouse to create a crop box over the image. Then use the mouse to drag the edges of the crop box to cover the part of the image you want to keep.
    • This is usually as large as you can make it, or enough to cover the subject of the image.
  • When you are happy with your crop selection, crop the image by hitting enter, or double clicking inside of the crop box. The parts of the original image that were outside of the crop box should disappear.

Step #4: Resize the Image
If you are starting with a high resolution image, in most cases, your newly cropped image will still be larger than the recommended image size in step 1, so you need to resize the image down to the correct width and height.

  • Select Image from the top menu, and then select Image Size
  • Tick the Constrain Proportions box.
  • Enter the recommended image width from Step 1 in the Width box
  • Enter the recommended image height from Step 1 in the Height box.
  • Press Ok.

Step #5: Save the Image

  • Select File from the top menu, and then select Save
  • Select My Computer from the options in the left column
  • Enter a name for the image file
  • Select the Format
    • For photographs, always select JPEG
    • For images that are graphics, or that require transparent areas, select PNG
  • For JPEG, adjust the quality slider until the size is around 100Kb, increase the quality if the image looks pixelated or boxy.
    • The smaller the file size, the faster the image will load.
  • Select the location on your computer to save the image into and press Save.

And Viola (that's her name, don't wear it out), you now have an image perfect for your website.



Pro Tip: Before saving the image, have a look in the Adjustment menu at the top. Experiment with Colour Vibrance or Curves to change the colour balance of your images. You can also apply some automatic filters like Sepia or Old Photo to create different effects.



Resources:



How do you create your images? Got any little tips or tricks that you'd like to share? Let us know on our iASP Central Facebook Page, or Get in Touch.

*A statement supported by this website: Be Seen In 2015.


10 Ways To Satisfy Your Customer's Privacy Concerns

10 Ways To Satisfy Your Customer's Privacy Concerns

10 Ways To Satisfy Your Customer's Privacy Concerns

In case you missed it, last week was Privacy Awareness Week.

With over 700,000 Australians becoming victim to on-line identity theft in just the past year, protecting customers on-line privacy is one of the most critical issues website publishers must consider.

Under Australian Law, the privacy rights of Australians are protected by the Privacy Act 1988 (Privacy Act), which relates to the protection of personal information about an individual that does or could identify them.

According to the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner, the Privacy Act outlines the "standards, rights and obligations for the handling, holding, accessing and correction of personal information" which privacy law aims to protect.

It may surprise you to know that most Australian small-businesses are not covered by the Privacy Act, meaning they have no responsibility to ensure the privacy of their customer information.

There are however moral and commercial pressures: online privacy is already so important to some customers that it is a determining factor when choosing one eStore over another.

So what can eStores do to allay the fears of increasingly privacy-conscious customers?

We've put together 10 simple but powerful tactics that website owners can use to reduce the fears of customers that are concerned about their on-line privacy:

  1. Ensure that areas of the website that collect personal information (such as the registration form, or the checkout payment page) are secured using HTTPS - Consumers are now learning to "look for the lock" and discriminate if they don't see it. (Pro Tip: Make the whole website HTTPS secure).

  2. Only collect personal details that are absolutely necessary to conduct business - If you don't need it to conduct your business, don't collect it. The more personal information a customer needs to fill into a form, the more wary they become. (Pro Tip: Never collect a customers Date of Birth unless it is a legal requirement for your industry)

  3. Have a clear and easy to understand Privacy Policy, that is easily accessible and visible - Don't just put your Privacy Policy in a small link at the bottom of your website, link to it where ever you are collecting personal information and make it very clear that privacy is important to you.

  4. Clearly state the personal information that you will AND will not collect and what you will do with this information - This allows customers to know exactly what personal information and why they need to provide it. 

  5. Give visitors access to view the information that has been collected about them, and allow them to update it easily. 

  6. Don't use sensitive personal information which could identify a customer in e-Mail or newsletters - e-Mail is an insecure medium. Not only is a bad idea to include sensitive personal information in e-Mail, it also decreases customer confidence when they see their personal details being sent over an insecure medium. (Pro Tip: Never send a clear password in an e-mail: instead send a partially masked password hint or preferably, allow the customer to re-set their password securely)     

  7. Encourage your customers to protect their personal information by using strong passwords, and to change them regularly - Protecting privacy is as much a responsibility of the customer as it is of the business

  8. Where appropriate, allow visitors to interact with your website anonymously - It isn't always necessary to collect personal information to conduct business. This may just be a case of allowing the customer to browse without needing to register first, or allowing them to post comments anonymously.

  9. Opt-In to the Australian Privacy Act, and advertise this fact - Show your commitment to good privacy practice by opting into the Australian Privacy Act. Doing so will have your business name added to the public Opt-In Register, which can increase consumer confidence and trust.

  10. Have a data breach response plan - as some organisations such as eBay have learned, honesty and open communications are the best policies to keep customers informed. A response plan will not only serve to decrease the impact on the affected individuals, having such a plan can also improve customer confidence.


Personal privacy is a very important part of everyday life, and this extends to using the Internet including sending and receiving e-mail, browsing the Web, using social media and especially shopping on-line.

Anything website and eStore operators do to improve customer confidence, including addressing increasingly important privacy concerns, should improve customer experience and satisfaction, and a happy customer is much more likely to be a returning customer.



If you are unsure whether your business needs to comply with the Australian Privacy Act, you can use the OAIC Privacy Checklist for Small Business .



Resources:


The Shocking Truth: Are Tablets a "Mobile Device"?

The Shocking Truth: Are Tablets a "Mobile Device"?

The Shocking Truth: Are Tablets a Mobile Device?

As we addressed in our last blog article, there's confusion over what Google considers to be a "mobile-friendly" format (as we highlighted, it's not just limited to "responsive design", as some so called experts would have you believe). Likewise, we've discovered debate and confusion over what is considered to be a "mobile" device.

There are now so many gadgets that allow us to browse the Internet - not only personal computers, laptops and notebooks; but also tablets, phablets, smart-phones, e-Readers, Personal Digital Assistants (PDA's), gaming consoles, hand-held gaming devices, televisions, even fridges - but which of these devices fall under the category of a mobile device?

Wikipedia defines a mobile device as "a small computing device, typically small enough to be hand-held... having a display screen with touch input and/or miniature keyboard and weighing less than 1kg".

W3Schools, a trusted industry reference, simplifies the definition even further, stating: "A mobile device is a pocket-sized computing device."

Therefore we can agree that to be classified as "mobile" device, the device must be small and light. This clearly rules out personal computers, gaming consoles, televisions and fridges.

And it seems that being "portable" is not the same as being "mobile". Laptop / notebook computers are certainly portable, but not small enough to be pocket-sized, or light enough to fall into the mobile device category.

We can also conclude, that to be a true mobile device, it must be hand-held with a touch-screen (to use fingers or a tool such as a stylus) or mini-keyboard so the device can be used effectively while moving about.

So smart-phones, e-Readers and PDA's can confidently be added to the list of "mobile" devices (and let's be clear that we are only referring to the e-Readers and PDA's that allow you to connect to and browse the World Wide Web.

But what about tablets and phablets?.

On the one hand, tablets/phablets are small and light enough to be hand-held, they have a display screen with touch input, and a miniature keyboard.

On the other hand, they are used very differently to a smart-phone or an e-Reader.

In fact, research shows that the majority of tablet use is at home, workplace or other fixed location, which gives a clear distinction from a smart-phone or PDA, and also a clear distinction between "mobile" and "portable".

A "mobile" device is used while you are mobile, on the go, and needs to be convenient to use while you are moving about.

A tablet isn't convenient to use while on the go (as anyone who has tried would attest). A tablet is just a smaller, compact version of a laptop computer. So from an industry point of view, tablets in fact fall into the desktop category.

Phablets on the other hand - well they're just inconveniently big smart-phones. Too small to be useful as a laptop computer, and some would say too big to be useful as a phone. But, because of the way that they are used - on the go - these technological anomalies fall into the mobile category.

Wow! So the term "mobile" doesn't relate to the device being wireless, or being physically connected to anything, the term "mobile" refers to the mobility of the user when using the device - or to put it another way, the classification depends on user context.

This is an important distinction, because it now changes the way we should think about "mobile" device, and also the way we think about the term "mobile-friendly".

"Mobile-friendly" isn't just making a website display well on a mobile-device, it's about making the end-goal of the mobile user far simpler on a mobile device, taking into account the facts that mobile users are mobile - moving about, time-poor, often with distractions about and lacking the same tools that desktop devices available to use.

The iASP™ platform has been publishing simultaneously desktop "mobile" device friendly websites since 2006 and the majority of our clients will benefit from Google's changes as their non-mobile-friendly competition pay the price for their lack of foresight.

The good news is it's not too late to invest in a mobile friendly website so if you would like to know more please contact us for a confidential discussion.

Resources:



Thinking of making your website more mobile-friendly? What do you think it involves? Let us know on the iASP Central Facebook Page, or Get in Touch.


Google to Penalise non-mobile websites from next week!

Google to Penalise non-mobile websites from next week!

Google to Penalise non-mobile websites from next week!

For as long as Google has been the dominant authority in on-line search, there's been an entire industry dedicated to improving Google rankings: Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) specialists.

The gold rush saw countless businesses and individuals stepping up to the task of getting websites to the top of Google search results, and for many website owners, the call of an SEO specialist was an attractive one, after all, who wants to be anything but #1 in Google search results?

Alas, the SEO industry never enjoyed the best of reputations, as some "specialists" relied on fear tactics, and resorted to black-hat techniques and strategies to deliver their results.

One popular strategy was link farming, where websites filled with nothing but links pointing to one another popped up all over the Internet. Keyword stuffing was another popular technique, resulting in web pages repeating the same word or phrase over and over again, but not really providing any useful information to the searcher.

The consequence of such tactics was of course to lower the quality of search results.

A search for "Accountant Melbourne" for example, could return a website for an Accountant in Sydney that had taken on the services of an SEO specialist that was targeting (hi-jacking) the search phrases "Accountant Sydney", "Accountant Melbourne", "Accountant Brisbane", etc. Not very useful for someone in Melbourne searching for a local accountant.

So the eternal struggle between Google and SEO specialists began and has raged ever since. Google continuously modify and update their search algorithms to ensure that their search results return the most meaningful or useful websites being searched for.

Google's efforts have made it increasingly difficult for SEO specialists to make a living so perhaps it isn't surprising to see that the use of misleading information is sometimes used by SEO practitioners in an attempt to scare website owners into paying for SEO services that they don't fully understand.

One of our many valued clients, a Sydney based professional service provider, asked our opinion of some e-Mail marketing material they had received from a Melbourne based Internet Marketing company.

The e-Mail informed our client that "Google is on the cusp of changing its algorithm to favour responsive sites!" and went on to state that "On April the 21st, Google will change its algorithm to focus on mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal.".

The e-Mail then went as far to say "If your website is NOT responsive, you WILL get left behind." (bold and emphasis not added, it is exactly as it was in the original e-Mail).

The e-Mail then briefly explained what a responsive website is, and ended with "Get in touch with us before the algorithm changes on April 21st to find out how we can help you create a responsive site. The investment is worth considering if you want to be found online and generate optimum conversion rates!".

The e-Mail contained a link to back up it's claim that "Google will change its algorithm to focus on mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal", which pointed to Google's Webmaster Central Blog, an article titled "Finding more mobile-friendly search results".

The article does discuss how Google will be expanding their use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal which will affect mobile searches, making it easier for users to find mobile-friendly web pages. The article then offers steps what website owners can follow to make their website mobile-friendly.

Strangely though, the article does not once mention the word "responsive", or mention anything about the explicit need for a responsive website to meet their mobile-friendly requirements.

We tested several of our non-responsive websites in Google's Mobile-Friendly Test, and all passed with flying colours.

We contacted the Internet Marketing to query their statement that a website MUST be responsive to ensure that it is mobile-friendly, and their response was that it was only an opinion that a website does not need to be responsive to pass the mobile-friendly test, and they did not wish to discuss this opinion with us.

It was also recommended that we do some more research into the topic. So we did.

A Google search for "does google favour responsive websites?" returns many recent blog articles with titles stating that Google does indeed favour responsive websites. Upon reading such articles however, you find that the term "responsive" is quickly replaced with the term "mobile-friendly".

Not one article showed any evidence that a website that isn't using a responsive design would be affected, let alone penalised by Google's algorithm change.

To say that "Google favours responsive websites" gives the impression that having a responsive website will provide an SEO boost, and deliver you a higher ranking in their search results, which just isn't true.

The statement is misleading, unlike the statement "Google favours mobile-friendly websites", which is completely true.

While a responsive website design is Google's recommended design pattern (because it reduces the workload for their googlebots), it is important to note that, in regards to Google search results, there is zero gain in having a responsive design website over alternative types of mobile-friendly websites.

There are many different ways to have a mobile-friendly website, and a responsive design website is just one of those ways. You could also have an adaptive website, or a completely separate mobile website.

The simple fact is, you DO NOT NEED a responsive design website to have a mobile-friendly website, but YOU DO need a mobile-friendly website to ensure that your website will be included in Google search results on mobile devices. Desktop search results will remain unaffected.

Google does not care what type of mobile-friendly website you have. As long as your website is mobile-friendly, you do not need to rush out and upgrade to a responsive design website before the April 21st deadline.

The iASP™ system has been providing single-solution, mobile-friendly websites to our clients since 2006 that don't require content to be duplicated or for two separate websites to be managed.

So before rushing off to pay top dollar rebuilding your website unnecessarily, why not get an honest opinion from an honest company about the best web solution for your business needs.

Not sure if your website is mobile-friendly? Try Google's own Mobile-Friendly Test or Get in Touch.


Further Reading:

Note: * denotes source of misleading information.



Got your own opinion about responsive vs. mobile-friendly? Do both terms mean the same thing? Let us know on the iASP Central Facebook Page, or Get in Touch.


5 Steps to Creating Google Friendly URLs

5 Steps to Creating Google Friendly URLs

5 Steps to Creating Google Friendly URLs
What is a URL?

A URL (Uniform Resource Locator), is the web address of resources such as web pages, images and files on the Internet.

For example, the URL of the home page of the iASP Central website is http://www.iaspcentral.com while the URL of the Blog section of the iASP Central website is: http://www.iaspcentral.com/Home/blog.aspx.

Search Engines like Google "crawl" the Internet and index all of the URLs they can find in a directory, that we then use to search for things on the Internet.

Like any listing in a phone book or an address book, the easier the number or address is to use, the more favourable the number/address is. Search engine indexes are no different.

So what steps can you take to create better URLs for your website?

  1. Make URLs Meaningful

    The more meaningful a URL is, the more useful it is around the Internet, and you create meaning by using keywords.

    For example - the URL http://www.example.com.au/shop.html?pid=123&catid=456&anid=789 versus the URL http://www.example.com.au/shop.html?pid=cotton-tee-red&catid=t-shirts&anid=discounted-items.

    Even though the two URLs are almost identical, the second URL uses keywords related to the page content instead of ID numbers.

    The use of keywords is an advantage for two reasons:

    1. It gives people a better idea of what to expect at the end of a link after reading the URL, which also makes the URL better for sharing.
    2. It adds weight to search engine rankings.

    Avoid "stuffing" your URLs with keywords however, as not only does it unnecessarily increase the length of your URLs, the practice of keyword stuffing is frowned upon.


  2. Keep them Short

    Like addresses and phone numbers, the shorter you can make a URL, the better.

    While the URL www.example.com.au/shop/products/electronics/remote-controlled/helicopters/commando-copter-2.html is a meaningful URL, and includes useful keywords, the length of the URL will become a burden.

    Just like the benefits of using keywords, shorter URLs make for easier reading and easier sharing, particularly on social media platforms with character limits such as Twitter.

    Furthermore, tests by some SEO specialists have shown that shorter URLs also improve the direct traffic to a website1.


  3. Use Hyphens Between Words

    There are many ways to handle multiple words in a URL. YouCouldJoinThemAltogether, but that just makes it look like one long word, which is not useful for search engines.

    Or_you_could_use_underscores, but best practice is to-use-hyphens-to-separate-words.

    The reason for this is Google. Actually, the real reason is the use of the underscore in programming, but Google (and now most search engines) have made this part of the way they index numbers and punctuation.

    Whatever the reason is, it has become universally accepted that hyphens should be used to separate words in URLs.


  4. Make URLs Lower Case

    Consider the URL www.example.com.au/about-us.html versus the URL www.example.com.au/ABOUT-US.html.

    Both URLs should point to the same page, but there is a very good reason for using lower case URLs - some web servers are case sensitive, meaning that about-us.html and ABOUT-US.html are interpreted as two different addresses.

    When a search engine crawls a URL, it will try both versions of the address and dependent on the type of web server hosting the website, it will index the results differently.

    You could either end up with a search engine resolving the two versions of the same URL as being two different pages, or, the search engine will resolve one version and see the other version as a dead page.

    In either case, the result is poorer Search Engine rankings that what could otherwise be achieved by using lower case URLs.


  5. Use HTTPS URLs

    In mid-2014, Google announced that a small Search Ranking boost would be given to HTTPS URLs. HTTPS is the secure version of HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol). Using HTTPS rather than HTTP allows web browsers and web servers to communicate to each other with an added layer of security and encryption.

    While recent tests by various Search Ranking professionals are showing that, at present, the benefit received by migrating to HTTPS URLS is so low as to barely be worth the effort, small differences can have a big impact so it is still worth considering the switch if you are able to - at the very least you will be providing extra security for your website visitors, and your website will already be in line to receive the ranking boost if and when Google does decide to give HTTPS URLs more weight in their rankings.


Conclusion

After almost 20 years providing content management systems we understand that website administrators generally don't know the first thing about page URL's, and that's why the iASP™ content management system takes care of most of the considerations above automatically.

If your current solution does not support this level of control please contact us to arrange a no obligation demonstration of the  iASP™ platform.

While your page URLs may not be the number one priority when working on your website, a few simple considerations can make a huge difference to Search Rankings.



Resources:

  1. Does URL Structure Even Matter? A Data Driven Answer
  2. 15 SEO Best Practices for Structuring URLs
  3. HOW://DOES.YOUR.URL/AFFECT-SEO?
  4. Keep a simple URL structure
  5. Dashes vs. underscores
  6. Never Use Capital Letters in URLs
  7. Report: HTTPS URLs Have No Discernible Ranking Benefit In Google Currently


How do you structure your website URLs? Discuss your URL strategy with us on the iASP Central Facebook Page, or Get in Touch.