Use Your Cell Phone to Take Photos for the Web

If you want to keep folks coming back to your website, I suggest you use your cell phone to take photos for the web. Smart phones are taking clearer and clearer photos because competition is driving manufacturers to produce ever better equipment. You don’t have to own an expensive camera to take good web photos. You’ll do fine with your smart phone if you follow a few tips:

1. Hold your phone steady.

This is best done with two hands. The steadier you hold your phone, the clearer your photos will be. Practice pressing the take-a-photo spot on your phone gently, so that you don’t move the phone much.

2. Move up close.

Fill image frame with the subject matter of your photo. Particularly if you’re showing a group of people you need to move in close, because if you don’t their faces will be too small to recognize.

3. Avoid photographing directly toward a bright light.

For instance, the sun, or an open window. Instead, if possible, place persons in front of a dark background. Your subjects’ faces will be better exposed this way.

4. Don’t place a subject of interest smack dab in the middle of your photo.

In general, too much symmetry makes for a boring image. It’s better to place your subject a little to the left or right of center. This off-balance approach helps make a more lively image. And, for the same reason, sometimes it’s good to tilt your phone a little when you take a picture. This can make it more interesting.

Sizing cell phone photos for the web:

Many phones make photos that are 640 pixels wide. This is ideal for web pagess. The height of your photos should not exceed 960 pixels, because this is the dimension of many smart phone screens, and smart phone users viewing a web page would rather not scroll down to see the bottom of an image. The good news is that smart phones generally do not produce images higher than 960 pixels. So, you’re pretty safe uploading your smart phone pictures directly to your website’s media library without editing them first for size.

As soon as I get some cell phone images from a friend I’ll decorate this post with them. (My cell phone is dumb. It doesn’t take photos.)

Formatting Tips to Increase Your Website’s Traffic

There are many ways to increase your website’s traffic. This CyberkenBlog post covers a few of those with regard to formatting.

Use blog posts rather than static pages to display your educational material

As much as possible you want to present educational material in blog posts. Blog posts are easy to tag, which makes them more discoverable by Googlers, and blog posts are easy to organize on your site using categories and tags, on-site search tools for keeping your visitors on site.

Use .pdf files sparingly, for printing, not online consumption

If you want to provide printable material to viewers, then it’s good to provide that in .pdf files. Many people do not realize that web pages look different according to the devices they are displayed on, but .pdf pages always look the same and print the same for all users.

smartphone2Adapt your modes of presentation for a diversity of devices

If you want to reach younger people on the internet, a mobile responsive website is a must (that is, one which can be viewed on both large and small screens). Increasingly, younger people are using smart phones exclusively for their internet viewing, partly for convenience but especially for economy, because computers are relatively expensive, and so is broadband service. Many newer WordPress themes are “mobile responsive,” which means that they adapt to various screen sizes, moving content around as necessary. On small screens convenience of viewing trumps aesthetics. Smart phone viewers want their information briefly presented in an easily navigable way. On websites designed for cell phones aesthetic enjoyment of photographs suffers. Photos still have an important purpose, however: to communicate impressions, emotions, and symbolic content quickly. Text on mobile devices is small and hard to read, so you’ll want to edit your Web text for brevity. IMHO, the dominance of phones for internet viewing harms both the fluidity and depth of writing and the aesthetic enjoyment of graphics, but for the moment there’s little we can do about that. When roll-up screens that one can pin on a wall get really good, all this could change quickly. But for now we have to adapt to the dominant technology and get our stories across the best way we can.

— TCDavis

Speechnotes: An Excellent, Free Dictation App

speechnotesIf you do a lot of writing, you might prefer to dictate your first drafts.  If so,  read here about Speechnotes:  an excellent, free dictation app.

A while ago a friend introducted me to Dragon, Naturally Speaking, an amazingly accurate offline dictation app that one installs on one’s own computer.  “The Dragon” really is great, but since then I bought a chromebook, a small, light, and inexpensive computer that runs nothing more than a browser for an operating system. Most applications on a chromebook are accessed from a Google server (in “the cloud”), so a rather code-heavy app that one installs on one’s own computer, like Dragon Naturally Speaking, wouldn’t run on my chromebook.

Chromebook in hand, I went looking for an online dictation app, and I found a five-star one, called Speechnotes. I discovered that Speechnotes is free, and can be used by anyone, no matter what device you use.

Speechnotes is accessed by opening a Chromium web browser –(If you don’t have the Chromium browser installed, go here to download it:– and then visit the following address:

Speechnotes is really easy to use, and I found that I didn’t need to train it to my voice, which is the case with Dragon Naturally Speaking. Just visit the page above, make sure your own computer microphone is on, then click the red icon of the microphone at the top right of the page and begin speaking. You will be amazed to see your spoken words appear in print very quickly. If you want to pause, just click the microphone icon again, then click it again to resume. You can edit the dictated words with your keyboard (in case there are mistakes) anytime you wish. When you are finished dictating look to the left of the page where you will find several links for saving the dictation as a .txt file, or emailing it, or uploading it to your Google drive. If you use Gmail and the mail-to link in Speechnotes doesn’t work, here is the fix: See “making Gmail your default client in  Chrome”:

On the Speechnotes home page, at the right bottom is a link to “About & More”. You might want to read that, where the authors concede that Dragon Naturally Speaking can do much more. However, Speechnotes is very accurate, and FREE. I find that hard to beat!