As someone who does not always have the time to write content for my website, I have recently discovered a new trend that might be helpful to us all.

User Generated Content, which as defined by Webopedia is:

UGC is the term used to describe any form of content such as video, blogs, discussion form posts, digital images, audio files, and other forms of media that was created by consumers or end-users of an online system or service and is publically available to others consumers and end-users.

So it is something that the users of your website create for you, which means you have to worry less about creating content. Which is great, right?

Well how do we do it then?

Examples of Successful UGC

When it comes to finding successful examples of user generated content, there are a lot of options on the web. This is one article I found on such successful UGC campaigns. One of the most outstanding was about two guys who were huge fans of Coke and made videos which were posted no Coke’s Facebook page. The result was close to something viral. Here is one of the videos they posted in case you want to see what they did.

The Best Job In the World, produced by Tourism Australia has also been incredibly successful, with millions of people following what other people are doing in Australia. What better way to generate content than to get users to do it themselves. And this resulted in people sharing the content like nothing else I have ever seen.

And there are lots of other examples of things that have exploded when produced by users.

But what kinds of things can we as website owners produce that will get our readers writing on our websites?

Kinds of User Generated Content

There are lots of different kinds of UGC around, but first before deciding on what worlds for your needs and website, you need to know what the options are.

Photos

One easy way to get users to send you content today is by allowing photos. Everyone has a camera on their phone now, so everyone is a photographer and loves to share photos of themselves and their friends. So consider allowing photo uploads on your website.

Video

More or less the same as photos, videos are also been shot all the time with smart phones and users are more than happy to share their videos with you. Even ones involving your product. Which can be a great form of advertising on your website.

Reviews

An oldie but a goodie. Amazon has almost made itself based on this kind of model. Half of their content or more is reviews. And you can use this kind of feedback not only for your products (or those that you sell) but also to generate unique content on your site.

Forums

Another idea from the early days of the web is the user forum. If you want to generate a community on your website, and have people share their thoughts and knowledge with your visitors, then this is a great way to go. It can even thrive without much effort from you. The only thing to watch is that you have at least one moderator. As sometimes forums can get out of control.

Blog Comments

A more minor version of the forum is the good old blog comment. If you get your users engaging with your content, then you will get lots of comments. And this is a great way to at least start building community on your site.

Social Media

Again if you are interacting a lot with your community on social media, you can embed some of these discussion in a blog post and bring the discussion to your site. What better way of leveraging some great content you already have.

So will you use UGC?

I am still not sure if I am going to go for a forum model, because it is still a lot of work, or perhaps have some competitions where people submit graphics that I can use in the future. That is always one interesting option for me. UGC and things I can leverage in the future.

What about you?

I can never get enough of fonts I have to admit. And sometimes my wife complains when I talk about them too much. Can I blame her?

But when you are always working on graphic design projects, like I am, there is a focus on the written word. And words have to be represented with fonts, right?

So I am always on the lookout for stunning fonts. Hopefully free ones, that I can use with my designs both online and offline, to impress my customers.

That is why I was so impressed to find this infographic which has a huge array of fonts that you should be trying out in your next design project. Tell me what you think of them, or where you use them, or even where you think they can or cannot be used in graphics. I am always open to new graphics ideas, even those coming from comments on my blog.

So without further ado, here is the amazing list of fonts you should be checking out.

fonts infographic

Infographic courtesy of http://simpleasthatblog.com/2014/09/14-fancy-fonts-fall.html

Here are the links to all of the fonts mentioned above, in case you want to download them yourself and try them out.

montserrat | brassie | playball | lemon drop | frontage | voluptate | sedona | hoedown | old photograph |amperzand | sevillana | i’m fell english | slaberlin | antrokas

Let me know what you think.

Web hosting is an often forgotten part of any graphics project or website design. From the outset, you need to have all of the fundamentals in mind, which includes where you are going to put things. And that my friend is your web hosting.

Great Web Hosting

One place where you really need to be careful which kind of hosting you use is with your website. Even if we are not talking about graphics, you still need to have the best possible infrastructure in place to support your website. After all, it is the heart of any modern internet business.

siteground reviews

One overall amazing web hosting company that we have often worked with is SiteGround. If you would like to read one of the most comprehensive SiteGround Reviews, then that is definitely worth a read.

Other examples of fantastic web hosting include companies like WPEngine, if you are up for an expensive all inclusive web hosting for your next WordPress based website.

Then there are some of the standard web hosting companies, that use cheap shared hosting. Although not terrible, these web hosting companies are not offering you top service.

What kinds of hosting companies are we talking about here? Well, there are companies like:

  • DreamHost
  • Hostgator
  • Bluehost
  • InMotion Hosting
  • iPage
  • FastCow
  • Arvixe

and many many more of course.

Hosting Options

When taking a closer look at the hosting companies mentioned above, you want to consider all of the options that you need for your website or graphics hosting.

Some of the options you will want to consider include:

  • Overall space allocated (this includes bandwidth, disk space, CPU space etc)
  • Backup options (do they backup your website, and how often)
  • Service options (do they only respond to email, phone, twitter, and when? 24 hours a day, even on weekends?)
  • Support (if you are not tech savvy, do they help you fix any issues with your site or moving to their hosting?
  • Website Builders (do they offer one click website builders like WordPress?)
  • Do they have specific space assigned for graphics hosting?

Graphics, Image and Video Hosting

If you are specifically interested in graphics hosting then it is something you might want to investigate separately.

It might be that you are loading the graphics directly onto a server, where you only have FTP access to a specific amount of disk space with a backup. Then it is possible to just use your website hosting and a separate directory.

You could also consider something like Flickr where you have 1 Terabyte of data available for free.

Another option you might want to think about is PhotoBucket, as they offer substantial hosting to you as well. They are willing to store all of your images and videos for free. Up to a point of course.

So it is not always necessary to have specific hosting as a graphic designer or print specialist. It just depends on how much space you need. What features, and availability and backup.

With the existing photo storage services they are always backed up, but then you have security issues at stake. As everything is available on the cloud of course.

Final Thoughts

Hosting of any kind in today’s world of so many options is not an easy thing to choose. But if you do the right research and know what you need, you should be able to come up with the right choice!

 

video production and graphic design

Today I am going to talk about how graphic design is used and influences video production and creation.

It used to be quite difficult to incorporate graphics into video, before computers got more powerful and cameras cheaper.

But today with so many awesome video programs available, and running on cheaper computers, this is in the hands of almost anyone.

I was even discussing this with my buddies at Incite Video, who do great video production in Brisbane.

How is Graphic Design Influencing Video

Intros and Outros

One of the first places you will come across graphics in video is as soon as it starts. The intro.

Intros are a great place to make an impact on your viewer. It is also a place to show who you are ­ through your logo primarily.

So invest in some great graphics for an intro so that you can make a great impact with every video you make.

The same is true of the outro, although in some cases these can be tailored to include specific calls to action.

If you want to learn how to make an amazing video intro on Youtube, check out this video below

Graphics within video

With so many tools available today for working on video it is now very simple to include graphical elements in the video.

We already talked about the intro and outro, but you can also add graphic elements  anywhere in the video.

It could just be some text, skillfully included in the video, or it could be some specific  graphics.

Video Animation

Some videos today have no actors what so ever, and that means that they use graphics intensively to create animation.

Animation is a great way to creating a video without all of the overhead of a full video production crew.

Animation is also a very special way of conveying a message to your audience. And in some cases, it stays fresh longer because there are no elements that can be dated.

Here is a great example of how graphic design can really make videos pop So I hope you got some great ideas from this post and I would love to hear from you in the comments.

And if you have absolutely no money to get involved in animation you can use free tools online like PowToon to make a simple video animation.

Video Covers

If you have hosted a video on a place like Youtube you know that you video gets a lot of traction if the cover image is awesome.

So some standard graphic design is very helpful here. Make sure you video is well represented and catches attention with a great cover image.

It can help to promote your video on Youtube, but also anywhere else that it is hosted.

Instead of a random image from inside the video itself, these kinds of images are really important.

So don’t forget that once your video is done and published, that graphic design can still help you with it’s promotion in many different ways. Even on Pinterest!

Summary

Graphic design and video are now working very much hand in hand. So please take some time to leverage your next video production and use some amazing graphics to boost it.

From the cover image, to the animation or even just some text overlays.  There are so many options and you should be making use of it.

Web design would be nothing today without the support and stunning possibilities of graphic design.

From color and style, to font and imagery, graphic design is everywhere you look on the web today, that is for sure.

I have a colleague who does web design in Baden, and he says that:

The power of graphic design on the web today has taken the web to new heights!

So how do graphics and web design truly work together?

web design

Fonts in Web Design

As the browsers have developed, it has become easier and easier to load external fonts onto websites.

Whereas before, it was only possible to use Helvetica, Arial and Times Roman, today the font world is your oyster.

You can go to websites like Font Squirrel and download free fonts, or if you want to do it an even simpler way, you can use Google Web fonts which provide more than enough variety for most web developers to use.

There is no excuse today for having the standard, not so easy to read fonts in play, you also have to get creative and the websites help you do that with creative font paring available too.

Strong Use of Images in Web Design

With new social media websites like Pinterest and Instagram, it is now no longer possible to ignore the visual web revolution.

If you had not noticed before, than you probably have now. Visual is in, and you have to have awesome and well shot photos and video on your website.

That combined with the use of new and easy to use tools like Canva, enable you to create visuals even if you are not a graphic designer like me.

So before you start saying it is all too hard, just give tools like that a try and see what stunning imagery you can create for your website in minutes.

You will be amazed.

Flat and Spacious Design

All things that are happening in the graphic design and advertising world gradually make their way onto the web as well.

And that is why we are starting to see more stylish, well spaced and flat designs coming into the web world.

With the redesign (not always liked) of the recent iPhone release being one of the most notable versions of this.

But such designs are now taking over the web.

No more rounded corners and shadows. Everything is simple, with a lot of white space and no frills.

Simplicity has won the day.

Hover Effects Come Into Play

One area where simplicity is perhaps is the new css driven hover effects.

With such things be very easy to accomplish now, with the modern CSS3 and HTML5, you will see many websites having very stunning hover effects.

Such simple things as color changes or button changes, with small amounts of animation are all in trend now.

Beware the Graphic Trends

Although it is great to see all of these trends making their way into web design, you always have to keep the end user in mind.

Unlike print, web is an interface driven medium and the users interact with the product.

So always keep that in mind, and keep it simple!

difference rgb cmyk

As a graphic designer, especially working with print it pays to have a great foundation. And that means understanding not only the tools but the basics of the things you are working with like color.

With graphic design and printing today you have two main choices and you need to make the right one in each case.

So in this post we are going to look at the main differences between the two most often used color schemes.

What is RGB?

RGB quite simply stands for the colors red, green, and blue.

These colors are also known as the primary colors in design. And one of the first things you need to understand about RGB is that it is an additive model of color manipulation.

What does that mean? Well basically that the colors add up to create other colors.

This is done in most cases with light and in digital format. So various intensities of Red Green and Blue are used to construct (add) colors from these basic three colors.

This is quite fundamental to how all colors are constructed for digital media and worth understanding. It is also a difference range to what is possible with CMYK, so you need to choose the right one from the beginning.

What is CMYK?

CMYK is quite a bit different to RGB. The letters stand for the colors cyan, magenta, yellow, and black.

Unlike RGB’s additive model, CMYK is a subtractive model. Which is a little more complex to explain, but let’s give it a try.

Because we are talking about physical colors, like pigments and dyes, the light that falls onto them are actually absorbed, hence the “subtractive” idea.

When you print something, these colors are sprayed in dots onto the paper in various concentrations which has the effect of creating colors of varying intensities.

So What is the Difference?

Although both of these colors systems are not “perfect” the difference to us is almost undetectable, and you could say that it is realistic to the human eye.

One thing you do need to know though is that when you are working on digital products, that is ones that are not going to be printed, then you should be using the RGB settings in tools like photoshop.

However, if you are intending on printing something in any way shape or form, then you definitely need to choose CMYK otherwise the printed colors will be way off what you expected.

So make sure you choose the right one when you start any new project.

Hopefully this has given you an idea of the difference between the two color formats so that you can use the right one and understand what you are doing with graphics and printing.

niccone

Graphic Design is all about fonts these days, and I have discovered quite a few cools fonts I want to share with you.

In the following post I will list the fonts I think are best and give you some examples of their use.

Take a look and see what you think of all of these cool fonts for you next print design project

Fonts To Impress

Let’s get started with my favorite cursive fonts.

Allura

A very curvy and formal font.

allura

Berkshire Swash

A more rounded yet still very handy font

berkshire swash

 

Grand Hotel

What a great font for all purposes. Very readable too!

grand-hotel

 

Lobster

Used quite often, as it is found in a lot of online tools, this font is great for your next print!

lobster

Niccone

 

One of my favorites. Thin yet stylish. Go nuts with this font.

niccone

 

 

So there you have 5 great cursive fonts for your next print design project!

designing for print

When doing graphic design, one of the biggest issues people face is deciding what tools to use and how to set them up for print in an ideal fashion.

As such, I decided to put together this small guide to show you how to do that without making the mistakes that most seem to make.

designing for print

What Program To Use For Design

There are in my opinion three main options when you are creating graphic designs for print. They are of course the Adobe suite of products:

  • Adobe Photoshop
  • Adobe Illustrator
  • Adobe InDesign

Each application has it’s pluses and minuses, and sometimes it is just a matter of taste. But I recommend that you get to know each to a certain extent so that you can chop and change and also know what each is capable of when you need to create a specific design.

Photoshop

Photoshop is the ideal tool when it comes to raster based images.

It is great for manipulating photos or creating very visual and strong backgrounds for your graphics.

Illustrator

Illustrator is all about vectors. That means lines and curves. So it is perfect for creating logos and other very defined shapes in your artwork.

It can easily be used in combination with Photoshop, so if you create something in one, you can easily import it into the other program.

InDesign

InDesign is all about publishing. That is what it was created for. It is perfect for laying out designs that have multiple pages, like a book or brochure.

Again you can use a combination of tools to create the item that is more easily done in each tool, and then move around between them all to leverage the power in each.

Working Document Size

One of the most fundamental decisions you need to make when working on any print project is the size of the resulting print. Before you get started with anything, make sure you know what it is going to be printed on and what exact size that will be. That could mean contacting the printer themselves to check (in cases where it varies) or knowing what kind of paper you are going to use exactly.

Although there is some room for flexibility, you are better of knowing in advance instead of messing with your design when it is too late.

Set The Right Color System

As you probably know, for print design you need to use CMYK instead of the commonly used RGB found in digital products. Be sure that you design in the right format or you could be in for some surprises when you get the final result at the printers.

What Format To Export Into

This depends in many cases on the printing company. It is best to ask them upfront what they requrie.

Sometimes it is safe to go with a CMYK Jpeg file, as that will give the best results for a print job. Other times they will ask for a PDF output, which helps keep the exact quality of the original.

Final Words

When it comes to print, it is best to plan ahead and know what kinds of articles you will be producing. Then find out what the printer expects and what formats you should be working with. This will save you a lot of headaches in the long run, I can tell you from experience.

Physical Design Portfolio

Many young designers come to us with ideas and examples, but what many of them fail to realize is that they really need a printed portfolio of their own to present to schools, future employers or even customers.

So I decided to whip up a few ideas and examples to show these young whipper snappers what they need to do in order to impress. After all, first impressions count and having actual printed media is one of the best ways to do this.

Physical Design Portfolio

1. Physical Portfolios Last

Unlike online media portfolios, physical portfolios endure for a long time. They can be touched and played with. Looked at in different light. Put away and taken out again.

There are so many benefits to a physical portfolio, but that will do for starters.

2. You Are A Brand

These days with the online world presenting us with so many opportunities to shine, globally, you have to realize that you are a brand.
So the focal point of your portfolio should be physical examples of your work and a demonstration of the results you are able to create.

2. Physical Examples Show Your Best

Printed graphic design materials are a great way to make a bold impression. Although online media can pop, physical portfolios give the ability to you to create a big and varied impression on your customer. It even pays to use some of the latest design fonts as well.

3. Don’t Forget The Story

Story telling is far more powerful than people imagine. Just think back to a time when you were a child, and how you immersed yourself in bedtime stories or even books you were reading. That is not lost, but deep inside all of us.

So by using your printed portfolio as a way to tell your story, you can take advantage of the physical media and lay it out for the person in front of you.

4. But Don’t Forget Digital

Although we are focusing on the physical here, you should also have the ability to present some of your digital media too. Why not. Today a lot of media is in digital form, so people want to be able to see that you can do it all.

One way to do this is to bring along an iPad and show what you have done in a fluid and visual way on that device. You will be amazed at the results.

5. Share Your Work

When you are presenting your design work to someone, it pays to get hands on. It really does give an extra dimension to the work and the relationship that someone has with it. But if you want to take that to the next level, you can make sure that they can easily keep some of your work. This could be something as simple as a postcard or other item that is not too expensive for you to give away.

6. Do You Have Many Talents

While you are on track to share your graphic design work in a physical form, why not integrate any other amazing offline skills that you have. If you can sew or produce items with your hands, find ways to incorporate your graphics into that and shine in front of someone. This does not mean that they will employ you for this skill, but it shows how creative you are and how multi-talented you can be.

Final Words

Presenting a graphic design portfolio does not have to be just online and boring. Try to stand out from the competition and take it to the person in physical form and you will not be disappointed.

Digital vs Standard Offset Printing

You spend hours on your latest design, the one that is going to take your brand, or perhaps your customer’s brand to the next level, and you have all your assets ready to go to the printer. Then next steps should be very easy indeed, right? Just send it all to the printer and you are done. You just have to pick it all up!

Well, that would be awesome, if that was the case. But there are unfortunately printing methods and then… there are printing methods. And if you as the designer do not know the different between the choices you have for your final product, then you may have failed before you even send it out to print.

Digital vs Standard Offset Printing

Volume Printing and Offset Printing

It may seem a little old school for many people, but offset printing still has it’s place when volume is concerned. So if you project requires large volumes of material from one template, then this may be your best bet.

What are we talking about here? Well things like newspapers obviously, but also things your customer might need like brochures, stationary and other things that they will be using in large amounts.

This kind of technology is quite old because we are really talking about metal plates that are used to transfer the ink onto the paper rather than a laser or ink jet, as many of us are used to today.

The quality and product efficiency of such a method of printing is unsurpassable. But you have to ask yourself the question – do I need volume for my customer. If not, then digital is probably the way to go. Otherwise, offset will be very expensive. Small runs on such a machine are just not worth it.

Because of printing in such a high volume bulk, offset printing has its financial benefits which can be availed only with massive orders. The more you print, the cheaper its price gets per piece.

If you want to see what a large Offset Printing operation in the USA looks like, watch the video below:

Lower Quantities – Digital Printing

Digital printing is something we are all familiar with today, because we pretty much use them everywhere from home to work. They basically work from a file, hopefully high resolution, that is then sent to a machine. This machine then does the printing either via a laser printing machine or an inkjet.

Such machines can also be highly accurate and many of the results can rival those of offset printing. Up to a point. But when it comes to volume they cannot compete for sure.

Digital is also really useful for jobs where you need to change each print or produce them as single items. The results are usually more than good enough.

The New Printing World

These days you have choices and value when it comes to printing and all you have to do is evaluate your specific requirements with regards to your customer, timeline and cost.

Offset printing still has it’s place for high volume and premium print runs, but digital is making it’s mark for flexibility and cost effectiveness.

So the next time you have a print job to take care of, at least you know what the options are.