Raster (or Bitmap) vs Vector images

A simple way to differentiate raster and vector images is to think of photos as raster images and type and logos as vectors.

Raster (or bitmap) images are fixed-resolution images, made of a grid of pixels. If enlarged they will be blurry and pixelated, with a “stair-stepped” edge.
Common raster file formats are jpg, gif, tiff, bmp and png.

bitmap-raster-image

Vector images can be enlarged to any size with no loss of resolution.
Vector images are created by a series of points that are joined using a mathematical formula that determines the vector between points.
A purely vector file format would be svg (scalable vector graphic). Adobe Illustrator files are typically vector, but Illustrator supports placed raster images, just as Adobe Photoshop files now support vector layers. Pdf and eps files also support both vector and raster images, so asking for an Illustrator, pdf or eps file does not guarantee that you’ll end up with vectors. If you need vectors, ask for a vector file. It may be delivered as an eps, pdf, svg or ai file.

vector-scalable-image

You should have your logo in a vector format, so that it can be reproduced at any size. Ask your designer for a vector pdf with type converted to paths to guarantee excellent reproduction at any size.

 

Add likes to your Facebook page

add likes to your Facebook page

When you get likes on a Facebook post on your page, be sure to invite those who have liked your post to like the page. The two easy steps in the illustration take only a few seconds to complete. Do this especially if you create a sponsored post, to maximize the value of your Facebook campaign.

 

 

Is yellow pages advertising worth it?

Is yellow pages advertising worth it?

Yellow pages advertising is expensive, especially considering its ever diminishing value, and in most markets there are multiple books, each taking some value from the others. The Blackbook is probably the best one here in Humboldt County—the YP has no white pages, and it’s hard to read, even though it’s a larger format, and the “Local Pages” is not local, and it’s out of date.

The job of the ad sales reps is to get you to spend money in every applicable category, but categories are everything in yellow pages — a full page for a plumber under “electricians” would be useless. The category could sound right, but still be useless: the Blackbook has a category for “internet—web design services,” but nobody looks for a web developer under “i”—and few people would even look for a web developer in the yellow pages. Try to think like your potential clients: would they look under this category? You should also ask, would they refer to the yellow pages rather than simply search online? Some businesses simply don’t benefit from yellow pages advertising — what benefit could a convenience store get from the yellow pages, for example.

There’s some value in all of these books for some business types, but if you are not a criminal attorney or an emergency plumber, you may not need the yellow pages.

 

 

Formatting Facebook profile images

Formatting Facebook profile images

Profile images on Facebook are automatically cropped into a 160 pixel square and reduced to a 32 pixel thumbnail that shows up next to your comments. When you create your profile image, use a larger square. Facebook will automatically reduce it to 160 pixels. Leave a bit of a margin, since Facebook snips a few pixels off all the way around.

Most logos are not ideally presented in a square (and worse, a 32 pixel thumbnail) but there are workarounds. For many logos, simply using an initial(s) from the logo in the recognizable branded colors is an excellent alternative (remember, the name of your company is written in large letters on your Facebook page next to your profile picture, so your profile image does not have to be fully legible).

Here’s an example of a horizontal logo we want to set up a Facebook page for, so we’ll need to create a square profile image that looks good at thumbnail size.

facebook-profile-too-small
The problem with a horizontal logo is that in order to make it fit in a square it has to be reduced. As a thumbnail (the smaller image to the right), it’s impossible to read and starts to lose the branding.

better-profile-image
In this case, we used the monogram in the logo, which retains legibility in the 32 pixel thumbnail.

You need a profile image for most social media, and though this post is about Facebook specifically, the same concept applies elsewhere.

 

 

Favicons: tiny branding

Favicons: tiny branding

Favicons are the 16 pixel square images that precede the website title in browser window tabs. When it comes to branding thumbnail images (of which, favicons are the smallest), few logos can be represented in their entirety, so we recommend a piece of the logo, or simply, the branded color(s).

To make a favicon, create a simple square image that incorporates some aspect of the brand. Import the image into an online favicon generator. Choose the multiple sizes for the .ico, which includes 16, 32 and 48 pixel images which will be included in the file. It may take a few tries to get a look you like. Place the favicon.ico file in the top level (root directory) of your website, and you’re done.

Favicons are hilariously complicated, and new devices are beginning to demand a variety of icon sizes, but for now, this method works in most cases.

Two plus zero makes three

Two plus zero makes three

Old fashioned two and three color printing often overprinted spot colors (colors generated by a single press run) to create a third color. Both Hungarian matchbooks (below) are two-color press runs of the same red and turquoise green. The print on the left makes use of a third, “black” color by running the red on top of the green (overprinting).

Four color process printing practically makes two or three color printing obsolete, and we know the reasons for this, but there’s a charm to two and three color printing. Skill and imagination were required to make use of overprints that created new colors without additional press runs.

 

Spot color trompe l’oeil…

Spot color trompe l’oeil…

With the loss of so many letterpress job printing shops in the ’70s and the explosion of inexpensive four-color offset printing in the late ’90s, graphic designers have reacted by creating four-color jobs that mimic the appearance of two or three-color jobs. It’s considerably more expensive now to print two spot colors than to print in full color, because presses are now set up to run full-color (four-color or process color) with minimal press adjustments between jobs.

We came across this example of the phenomenon in a vector tutorial by Rype (Ryan Putnam) on his Vectips site. To complete the illusion, he has given the piece an off-register look, as if the colors had not been perfectly aligned by the pressman. Color registration was a common problem in the past with web presses and large sheet-fed printing in which several jobs were run simultaneously (newspapers, the yellow pages, matchbooks, etc). Who could have imagined that someday we’d be nostalgic for low-quality printing?

 

Optimizing images for the web using Facebook…

Optimizing images for the web using Facebook…

Facebook automatically optimizes images. We posted a 410k image on Facebook and then we downloaded the image. The original was almost 10 times the size of the Facebook-optimized version with little loss of resolution when viewed at 100%. Images for websites should always be optimized so they’ll load faster, but not everyone owns image editing software like Photoshop.

How to optimize images for the web without Photoshop:

First: Post the images to Facebook
Second: Download the photos from your Facebook post to your computer
Voilà—the images are now optimized for the web and can be uploaded to your website or blog.

Be sure to re-name the image, because it will now have a Facebook designation, like 11890922_464771667027316_n.jpg.
Search engines like names that mean something, like gardening-with-wheelbarrow.jpg

Email signatures: best practices

Email signatures: best practices

Guidelines for email signatures:

  • Text only works best
  • Avoid images (logos, social media links, photographs, etc)
  • Avoid HTML formatting — some recipients will see a text-only version
  • Avoid wise sayings and witty aphorisms

The email signature in the illustration shows how confusing images (logos, social media links, etc) can be. The sender, in the illustration below, believes that he is sending a message with no attachments, but the receiver sees five attachments. If there were an attachment, how would he know which of the (now six) attachments is the one he needs? In addition, attachments in emails may be viewed with suspicion by spam filters and security software.

One thing that this sender did correctly was to make the contact portions of the signature live text. If that information is part of a logo image, it can’t be copied and pasted. He also used web-safe typefaces (Georgia and Tahoma). There is simply no guarantee that the recipient will see your message in the type you specified, but the chances are increased with web-safe fonts.

Aphorisms and wise sayings have no place in business correspondence. It may seem innocuous or well-intentioned, but you risk offending people, and there is nothing to be gained.

Keep the signature on your professional emails attachment-free and text only.