One Fast and Easy Trick to Gorgeous Digital Content

My content is missing that pop/pizzaz yours has, why?

I can’t tell you how many clients have asked me this. Companies big and small struggle with text heavy, long form content which drowns out their design elements, ultimately making the text feel flat. This is particularly noticeable when you compare a living, breathing, documentation to the samples and templates that are carefully curated by a designer to look their best.

There’s a lot you can do to cure the dry as a bone corporate, instructional, whatever text. You could add interactive components (effective but costly), drastically cut or break up the amount of content on a page (effective but often impractical), consult a designer for some text TLC, or the easiest – add some gorgeous images.

Tips for adding imagery:

Not all Imagery is created equal: There is such a thing as a bad photo (I’m sure we’ve all taken a few) here are some pro tips to follow:

  1. Check the Lighting: Adding a photo that’s taken in poor light (think your dim food snaps in a restaurant) can ruin the professional feel of content. Instead look for images full of natural or soft light, everything should be visible (unless artistically, you’re playing with Shadow). You’ll know a great image when you see it, look at websites/instagrams like Starbucks and Nest to see some examples of spectacular images.
  2. Too Small: Images that are very small (200px or less) will have less of an overall impact. Icons are great, but an icon sized image will hardly register with your readers, let alone effect the overall look of your content.
  3. Full-Bleed for the win: It’s currently popular to use full-bleed (to the edge of the page) images. These are great for visual impact. Just make sure that the images don’t take up more than a full-screen height in a web browser! 1200px x 600px images frequently work well here!
  4. Pixelization: No one likes a fuzzy image right? In the age of high-definition, pinch and zoom devices it’s a pretty gross oversight to include grainy or pixelized images in your content. Err on the side of images that are bigger than you need. Then ask your developer (or DIY) to limit the width in the css/styles (image {max-width:100%} is frequently helpful!).
  5. Relates to Content: Don’t pop an image into your content for the sake of a pretty image. Make sure that the photos or illustrations you chose relate to the content. A picture of your corgi frolicking in a field of wheat should not appear on an article about the stock market… talk about mixed messages!
  6. Avoid “Stacking”: Stacked (one on top of the other) images are perfect for informal content (blog posts, forums) but become tiresome quickly in professional content. Interspersing images throughout the content will help break up text heavy pages and give the eye a rest without inundating readers.
  7. Stock imagery is Okay: Most content creators don’t have the time/money to spare to generate enough imagery for their work. That’s okay, it’s also okay to acknowledge that your photography skills aren’t quite ready yet. Stock imagery can be great if chosen carefully – I love Unsplash (used here) for free and totally gorgeous stock photography. Just make sure you follow attribution guidelines specified.

Got questions? I’d love to answer them! Or share your favorite photo tips!

What’s your Fancy? A New Social Network

Early last June a new social networking and retail website called The Fancy got a great deal of attention. when Facebook’s own Mark Zuckerberg opened an account and “fancy’d” exactly one item, a bookshelf, speculation of Facebook’s interest in The Fancy and what it might mean immediately picked up. Zuckerberg now has over 131,521 followers and a “rank” of 10.

But what is the Fancy? Fancy describes itself as “part store, blog, magazine and wishlist. It’s a place to discover great stuff, to curate a collection of things you love, to get updates on your favorite brands and stores and to share your discoveries.” Personally, I see it as a Etsy meets Pinterest. The layout  is photo heavy but many of the postings come with a price tag and an option to buy.

Screen capture: An interesting product can be a quick purchase

The social media aspect of the website is still a little underdeveloped. Though you follow others, you’ll still see the overall stream of fancy updates unless you customize your timeline contents. The most perplexing thing is your “rank” a supposed real-time popularity score. It’s slow to change and extends to some unknown number. The self-expressed blog aspect I have yet to witness, but the photos are of high quality and easy to share with followers. To fancy something is the same process as pinning. You can install a “fancy it” button on your toolbar and seconds later you have a posting.

So will fancy take off? Only time will tell. The one complaint that I hear over and over again is the price tag. That “Retro Clip lamp” up above? That’s $920. A short scroll down and you’ll find a leather biker jacket for a cool $5,000 and a pair of $105 Vans. So The Fancy may be operating more as a wish list than a shopping cart for the common man. Still, if they can continue to add lower price point products who knows, we may find we “fancy” sites other than Pinterest.

365: Sunny Day Pomegranate Iced Tea

5/12/2012- Nothing beats a little iced tea on a sunny day. To prepare for the return of the sun here in Boston I made a little pomegranate green tea iced tea using my nifty Weck Jars (think two big servings per jar).

It was really simple, I found a pomegranate tea (think of all the flavor possibilities) and poured boiling water over it and a green tea bag in the jar I was storing it in. I like my tea sweetened just a little too, so I added a heaping tablespoon of sugar to each jar (if you like sweeter iced tea go with 2 Tbs) and let it steep until it’s cool. Add just a dash of Pom Pomegranate juice (or some other type–a little goes a long way) and pop into the fridge. Don’t forget to leave the tea bags in! Here’s the hard part, the longer you leave it the better the sugar takes to the tea. I found that left overnight it was perfect for me but I bet that if you left it longer it’d be fine, maybe even better.

Here’s a fun idea, if you want to dress up your tea for guests, you could freeze pomegranate seeds to drop in as “ice cubes” and serve it in a wine or martini glass. It looks gorgeous and tastes delicious!