Website Design, Are You Easy To Read?

Website design is fairly easy these days with hosting packages like Pure Leverage but are you sure everyone can read your writing?

Website Design

First, consider the design of the page. I use Pure Leverage and my site is driven by WordPress. There are many great templates available but you need to be careful. Be sure you choose a template that is mobile friendly. In the graphic below, you can see that one of my social media posts was mostly clicked on mobile. In this case, 86.5% of hits were on Facebook Mobile. Just as an aside, I love goo.gl for the insights you can get about who is clicking your links!

website hits by platform

 

Take the time to visit sites that are similar to your business and see what works. How do you feel when you visit those sites. But, be careful not to fall into the trap of just what you like to see. Have friends you can trust to be hones give you some feedback.

  • What is “above the fold”?
  • What is the message?
  • Are there too many or not enough graphics?
  • Can it be read by an electronic reader?
  • Are fonts and their colours friendly?

If you want to see what your page looks like on mobile, visit http://mobiletest.me/ and test it out. Visit http://aoda.ca/wcag to learn more about making sites more accessible and there are some links to useful tools to help you.

The Message

Who is your message aimed at? Now you have to think about your target. Who do you want to be reading your blog or website? If you take a look at the graphic above, you will see that there were hits outside of North America. Is it written in language they understand? I’m not referring to English/German/French etc. I’m referring to the ability to understand your words.

InternationalHaving taken in international students who have come to Canada to learn English, I have learned that we often use very confusing words. For example, I was talking to a person who speaks Spanish first, French second and English third. It was a beautiful day and I said “it’s days like this that I want to play hooky”. You should have seen the look I got! Total confusion.

Try your best to use plain language that is easy to understand. Plain language is not necessarily simple words. We often use unnecessary words or use slang when communicating. When you use slang language, understand that the message may be different than the one you intended to convey.

K.I.S.S. Keep it simple. Make sure your website is easy to read and understand.

Make it a great day!

Barry

P.S. What am I thankful for today? I’m thankful for all of my international students, new foods and Pure Leverage. What are you thankful for today?

 

You would never intentionally infringe on copyright. Where do your graphics come from?

Copyright isn’t always clear. We all have honest intentions when we add pictures to our blog or social media posts. Here are some things you can do to minimize your risk.

Copyright

Image representing Canadian justice.

Source: https://goo.gl/Ptw1TD

Copyright isn’t always clear. How can you be sure you aren’t using someone else’s work legitimately? Be honest with yourself! Did you just grab a picture from a friend’s post and re-use it? There is nothing wrong with this if you have their permission and they have the right to give it to you. The problem is, they may not even remember where they got it from. When a photo was taken by your friend and shared, they have rights to that picture. Ask them where they got the graphic and if you can use it. If they aren’t sure of the source and if it’s legitimate to share, don’t do it!

Tineye

Is there a way to check copyright on pictures? Look at it with a tin eye! I know it sounds odd but Tineye is a great way to find out where a picture comes from. You upload a graphic image and Tineye searches it’s database to see if that image has appeared elsewhere. You can then check the links to see who produced and/or posted the image. Check the links for copyright references. For example, an image may have come from Pixabay and not even require attribution. Or, it may show up in Wikimedia with copyright information very evident. Just remember that tools like Tineye aren’t 100% and you are still liable if the picture wasn’t in that database. When in doubt, don’t. Your best option is to use pictures you create yourself. Carry a camera with you! When in doubt, don’t use an image you don’t know.

Make Your Own Images

One of your best options is to produce original graphics. There are companies out there just waiting to catch you using their graphics. That’s a profit centre for them.  When you use copyright material, make sure you acknowledge them according to their license. When you make use of your camera and a product like Canva or PowerPoint, you own the end product provided you were free to use the source files. Making your own graphics can be a lot of fun! Just make sure you use royalty free images. I created the image below using a graphic from Pixabay, the logo I created and a quote. If I can do it, anybody can! Do you have the stones to succeed?! Now, have some fun and do it safely! Make it a great day, Barry P.S. What am I thankful for today? I’m thankful for Tineye. I’m thankful for great graphic tools. I’m thankful for the time you took to read this! What are you thankful for today?

Collaborating With Google Docs

Collaborating with colleagues or students can be expensive and technologically challenging. Google makes collaboration affordable, accessible worldwide and cross platform.

Affordable and Accessible Collaboration

Collaboration with Google Docs is Free!

CollaborationNot only is collaborating with Google Docs free, it’s accessible in most of the world and works cross platform. Whether you are using an Apple, Windows or Linux computer, Google Docs will work for you as long as you are in a more recent version of most web browsers. I personally tested in Windows 7 using Internet Explorer, Google Chrome and FireFox. All of the browsers are free to download and use. I have used those browsers in Ubuntu as well but haven’t personally tested Google Docs in that environment. I admit an assumption that there wouldn’t be any issues collaborating with Ubuntu and iOS users.

Collaboration: Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Google tools are free and accessible to anyone with an up to date internet browser
  • Tools easily convert most Microsoft Office, rtf and Open Office (odt) files.
  • Changes can happen in real time.
  • Participants can make comments that become part of the file history.
  • Participants can communicate with each other in real time chat.
  • Documents can be stored in the Google drive and remain available.
  • Anyone with access to the document may be able to share with others via print; emailing a direct link to the file or downloading a copy and emailing.

Cons

  • Participants must have a Google account to make changes to documents.
  • File conversion occasionally requires fixing some formatting.
  • Anyone can make changes if given editor status.
  • Anyone with a Google account that was invited to participate will have access to the comments.
  • Real time chat may require moderation and could potentially require removing individual access.
  • There are limits to the Google drive storage space. (15GB)
  • Access rights may need to be modified once the collaboration is finished, to prevent changes to the document. This won’t limit what can be done with files that may already be downloaded.

Share Documents

Document Types

  • Word Processing
  • Slide Shows
  • Spread Sheets

Documents can be created from scratch and saved in multiple formats. ODT, XLSX, PPTX, DOCX can all be created or uploaded from existing documents. (Caveat: There may be a need to make minor formatting corrections after uploading. When importing video in Google Docs, it has to be from Youtube.)

New documents may be created from scratch with similar functionality to the Microsoft Office or Open Office programs. All documents can be shared at any point either by invitation, limiting access to specific individuals or they can be left wide open to the public. The document creator makes those choices.

Once a document is shared, multiple people can participate at the same time, in real time. Changes are tracked and visible. Participants can leave comments for response or can open a real time chat window where ideas can be shared but these chats are not saved unless manually copied into a new document.

movie projectorWhen you want to share a finished document with people outside of your group, you can email directly from the document and it will be converted to PDF and attached to a Gmail. Alternatively, you can save the document into an appropriate format. For example, a slide show can be saved as PPTX and then downloaded to your computer to send using another email system as an attachment. Alternatively, you can just make a copy of the Google Doc to share publicly and email a link to the people you want to see the finished product without them being able to download or modify.

Learning Curve

Learning curves are different for everyone. It’s easy to say it’s easy when you have experience with productivity software on a regular basis. I can only say it’s easier than most programs are to learn and it’s likely that someone in your group will be able to help figure out how to take advantage of Google Docs for collaboration.

If you have an open mind and are willing to learn, Google Docs may be the answer to your collaboration tool needs. There is no cost but your time and efforts to try.

Have fun!

Barry

P.S. What am I thankful for today? I’m thankful for technology. I’m thankful for open minds. I’m thankful for God given talents.

What are you thankful for today?

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Microsoft Office: Are you using the right tool for the right job?

Many of us love to hate #Microsoft.  The reality is they dominate the office productivity software market and we need to figure out how to get along.  Once you understand what each component does, the relationship improves drastically.  You can then apply most of the concepts to other suites like Open Office or Corel Office Suite if that’s your druther.

Using the right component for the right job saves time and, in the end, saves you money.  Learn to get along!

Man holding his head surrounded by question marks.Tools Covered Today

  • Outlook
  • Word
  • Excel
  • Access
  • PowerPoint

Microsoft has created a complete suite of tools to meet the needs of most office environments.  There are versions available for home and student use that have become more affordable today.  Check with your local software retailer.

Outlook

Man with list of check marks in a column beside him.Managing Email can be quite a chore.  Whether the problem is multiple accounts or just volume in one account, #Outlook can be your friend.  We need to remember that Outlook is only a tool.  You still need to put best practices in place to make it effective.

Outlook can poll all of your email accounts but better still, there are functions within Outlook that help you to stay more organized.  For example, you can create multiple calendars to organize different areas of your life or you can work in one calendar and use colours and flags to prioritize.  

For email, I like to set up separate folders and then create rules to sort the mail.  First into a folder for the account it comes from and then into a file structure just like you would have used paper files in your cabinet or on your desk in the “old days”.

word

Microsoft Word is very powerful and very tempting to use when other programs may be more appropriate.  Stick to Word for letters.  Conveniently, Word 2010 has great accessibility checking tools and will save as an Adobe Acrobat file.

Don’t get too fancy.  Not everyone has 20/20 eyesight.  There are issues with colour, size and more to consider.  In many cases, there may be a legal requirement to ensure your documents are accessible.  I recommend Verdana, in a high contrast colour, because the font is native in most devices including the iPhone and iPad.  Even Unix understands Verdana.  Because it is a sans serif font, Verdana is one of the easiest for most people to see.

Tables are difficult for electronic readers and don’t calculate nearly as well as Excel.  Make sure you apply headings and fonts appropriately.

When you are creating something for publication, like an advertisement or flyer, use Microsoft Publisher.  I’ll cover that one another day.

Excel

Cartoon man holding percentage sign.Although Excel can be used to manipulate data, it’s primary function is mathematical.  You can use Excel to gather data and then create fancy equations to tell a story.  Excel also does a great job of creating graphs and charts that can then be inserted into Word documents.  Remember to take the time to understand things like your local Accessibility Acts.

One of the issues with using Excel for data is that the sheets can become so wide, it’s difficult to print on one sheet.  You may have to hide columns or rows and find other creative ways to change how the sheet looks on paper.  By all means, use Excel to collect your data if that’s easier because of the calculations. Once that’s done, it’s time for Access!

Access

I have a bias.  This is one of my favourite programs for mining and presenting data.

Access has the ability to make of an Excel spreadsheet as a source for data.  You can either link to or import the sheet.  I recommend importing the data into a new table.  This way, you can have multiple users in the database working simultaneously using forms and filters.  If you link to the Excel sheet, only one person can manipulate the data and it has to be done on the sheet itself.

powerpoint

Picture asking why does it matter?This one is a lot of fun for people with creative minds!  Infographics are all the rage on social media these days.  Powerpoint is a great way to create infographics!  Powerpoint is really meant for creating visual presentations.  Be careful to avoid too much text, it’s distracting.  Make effective use of bullets with graphic support on the slides and put your words into the notes.

It’s tempting to make slides very busy and full of  pictures.  Remember, the focus is supposed to be on you and your message.  The slides are just prompts and a way to satisfy the “visuals” in the group.   You can print the slides with notes for handouts.

Powerpoint comes with some pre-formatted backgrounds for templates but allows you to change them and use your own images.  Once on a slide, you will see there are options for headers, inserting graphics etc.

For accessibility purposes, the same rules for documents in Word apply.  Colour, font, alt descriptions and so on.  Accessibility is a whole separate topic and I recommend you take the time to learn.

summary

Most office suites have similar functions to the components in Microsoft Office.  The reality is that if you understand the Microsoft tools, you will be way ahead of most applicants for positions in an office environment.  It’s time well spent.

Understanding the different tools and their appropriate applications will make you the star in your office.  You will be more productive and time efficient.  To a manager, that means time and money.

 

Make it a great day!

Barry

P.S.  What am I thankful for today?  I’m thankful for the time I spent working in a computer sales and service company.  I’m thankful for the time I ran my own business and learned the marketing side of things.  I’m thankful for my time as an administrative assistant where I am able to apply all of these skills.

What are you thankful for today?

Online marketing made easy?

Online marketing is hyped as being so easy that anyone can do it.  The reality is there is no such thing as marketing made easy but the right training and tools can certainly help!

Be Willing To Learn

Marketing is like any other life skill.  With hard work, time and determination, it can become easy.  I heard a quote on a Pure Leverage webinar last night that applies to most endeavors:  “The only way to fail is to give up!” – Lynn Huber.  How much are you willing to invest in yourself?  If you are willing to learn, there are all kinds of resources available.

Anyone can learn how to market if they can find the right resources and tools.  You can spend all kinds of time surfing the Internet trying to figure how to market your business online.  There are thousands of resources or, you can find all the tools and training in one package like Pure Leverage.

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