Ditch the stock photography and use your smart phone!

By Scott Wilson

January 20, 2016

With all of the iPhones, Android and devices out there you can make your site look impressive and not use stock photography. Not only does using your own photos make your site look more friendly and personal, it also saves you time and money. There are even some really powerful free and relatively cheap apps to help your smartphone photos pop.

Instead of scouring around the internet for a photo that fits your website best and at the same doesn’t cost a fortune, try breaking out your iPhone or Android device. Millions of us have them in our pockets or in front of our faces right now. Cameras on iPhones and Android devices right now rival even the best of stand alone point and shoot digital cameras out there. The newest iPhones and Android devices have 4K video that even beats most DSLR cameras’ video today.

If you are taking photos with your smartphone be sure to shoot in landscape mode to grab the most of the subject as you can. Since the web is wide and responsive, the wider the shot, the more use you can get out of any photo. Now let’s talk about filters which are great. Filters can always be added after the fact but not always removed. So shoot those photos in your phones native camera app and save those filters for later. You may want to keep a copy of the original photo as well, adding the filter to a copy.

Some of those camera apps that also take photos are slow, don’t use the full quality of the cameras ability and add their on filters. If you are sending your a designer to put on your website be sure to send them the original shot unedited, this way they will have the largest format and best quality possible.

Editing Tools for iPhone and Android

The iPhone Photos app and Google Photos app already have some excellent options for touching up your photos, but here are some cool apps for iOS and Android that go even further.

VSCO Cam iOS and Android
http://vsco.co/store/vscocam

AfterLight iOS, Android, Windows Phone and Windows
http://afterlight.us

Camera+ iOS only
http://campl.us

Adobe Lightroom iOS and Android 
https://helpx.adobe.com/lightroom/how-to/lightroom-mobile.html

Not really an in depth photo editing tool for everyday use, but one of my favorite apps lately is Waterlogue. Waterlogged makes your photos look like water color paintings.
http://www.waterlogueapp.com/madewith/

7 New Year’s Resolutions for Your Virtual World

By Mia Levesque

December 26, 2013

Happy New Year! Could there be a better time to review your online presence and get organized? We don’t think so. Here is a handy list of New Year’s Resolutions to get you started.

1. Change Your Passwords

There have been a lot of security breaches in the news these past years. From Yahoo! to Gmail to Twitter. When was the last time you changed any of your passwords? Current guidelines suggest a password of at least 12 characters with a combination of the following:

  • Lower case letters
  • Upper case letters
  • Numbers
  • Special Characters

Maybe go a step beyond and start using a password manager.

2. Make a Social Media Plan

  • What Social Media do you currently use? (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Instagram)
  • Do you think you are using Social Media in the best ways for your company or organization?
  • Do you have a schedule for updating your Social Media? Are trusted people in charge?
  • Is your branding consistent across you Social Media profiles (updated images and backgrounds)?

3. Review Design and Usability

  • Are you using old technology? For example, is your WordPress up-to-date?
  • Does your site look contemporary?  Do you need a redesign or a site make-over?
  • Do you have a dynamic sitemap?
  • Have you reviewed your site for SEO (Search Engine Optimization)?
  • Is your site viewable on mobile devices like smartphones and tablets?

4. Update Security and Maintenance

  • When was the last time you backed-up your databases and content? Is this done automatically?
  • Is your site secure by today’s web standards and have you scanned your site for vulnerabilities?
  • Do you use any security features or plugins?

5. Check Domain Name(s) (e.g., yikesinc.com)

  • When does it expire?
  • Who is your domain name registrar? This is the company that registers your domain name(s) (e.g., Hover.com, Network Solutions, Register.com).
  • Do you have the account login information?
  • Who controls it? Check to see who is listed as the owner, administrative and technical contacts.

You can find helpful information at whois.domaintools.com.

6. Verify Hosting

  • Who hosts your website? This is the company stores and serves you website (e.g., WPengine,  Dreamhost, Rackspace, CanvasDreams).
  • Do you have all login/account information?
  • What hosting package are you using? Do you need an upgrade?
  • When is your hosting renewal date?
  • Do you have an active credit card on file for automatic renewals?

7.  Take a Technology Inventory

  • For example, does your site use WordPress? Custom PHP? ColdFusion?
  • Are you using PayPal, Salesforce, an eCommerce solution?
  • Do you send out an enewsletter (Mailchimp, Vertical Response, Constant Contact)?
  • Do you use Google Analytics or Webmaster Tools?
  • Are your listings up-to-date: Google Places for Business, Bing Local, etc.

Need help getting organized?