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Monthly Archives: August 2016

Protect Design Work on the Internet

Are you worried about people stealing your designs after you publish them on the web?

Web designers are faced with a “catch 22” situation. To attract new clients, they must showcase their work and put it on display on the internet. Yet, by doing so, they aremore vulnerable to thievery. The possibility of people taking their work and re-publishing it or using it for their own gain without giving the author attribution is a grim reality.

It’s all too easy for internet users to click and save a graphic and insert it into a blog or website without the creator even knowing it is happening.

Inspiration vs. Stealing

Have you ever been told your work “inspired” someone when you know they stole it?

There is a fine line between inspiration and stealing. On one hand, your design can inspire someone to create a completely unique piece. Yet, in other cases, a fellow web designer may borrow elements of your design and “change it up” into a different graphic. The offender may cite inspiration as the main reason and defend the fact that it is different from the original. Regardless of what the person says, you will know the truth.

This is a common occurrence with designers who are not skilled enough to complete a job. They swipe elements from existing designs hoping the client won’t notice.

You know this is stealing even though it can be misconstrued as inspiration.

With so many loopholes it is difficult to keep track of your designs and keep them protected.

Good Intentions

Many people who re-post graphics are not aware of the illegal nature of their actions. People think that the internet and its images are available to anyone who wants them.

I have witnessed many people who run high-performing blogs take images from a random Google search and use them on their websites. Many were not even aware it was a legal issue.

In other cases, people will “steal” designs that don’t have any copyright information stated. They do not realize that an image is copyrighted material once it is published, regardless of the lack of statements surrounding it.

The Problem

As a web/graphic designer, it can be disheartening and frustrating to see your work published without ever receiving the notoriety from it. Those images and designs are your babies and they deserve proper respect and attribution, not to mention stealing them is a direct violation of copyright law.

What do you do when you notice someone stealing your work?

Fighting copyright issues can turn into a huge mess. Thankfully, simple communication can thwart a potential battle, especially if the offender was unaware of copyright laws. However, in other more serious cases, designers will simply throw in the towel due to a lack of money and resources to fight.

Protect Your Work

Do you have a team of legal experts ready to prosecute people who steal your work? Unless you have the budget of Amazon.com, this is not a likely scenario. Most freelance web designers do not have thousands of dollars to spend on legal assistance should anyone steal their content, so they must devise ways to protect their work and prevent it from misuse.

There are many actions you can take to protect your work online. While not all will be 100% successful, they will definitely tip the scales in your favor.

Copyright disclaimers – Consider posting a notice of copyright or “all rights reserved” on your website where visitors can see it along with a statement describing the illegal nature of stealing your work. It may not stop every perpetrator, but it will notify those who are unaware of copyright laws about stealing content and also scare others into submission. It’s similar to posting an alarm sign in front of your house to deter thieves from entering. Even if you don’t have an actual alarm system, the thought of possibly getting caught is enough to deter them.

Watermarks – Watermarks are a good deterrent and can prevent people from stealing your images. Designers typically do not like changing the look of their designs with watermarks, but many feel they are the best deterrent to theft. Some resort to a small signature and website logo on the bottom of the design as well.

Copyscape – Use Copyscape to search for duplicate content online. I use the service regularly to assess whether my writers’ content is unique, and also to check the duplication of my personal content.

Take Charge With Licensing

When you post your creative work online, copyright laws help to prevent the copying of your work and control its distribution.

If an individual steals your design and uses it for an ad, it is a direct violation of copyright law. The action is also in question if the individual incorporates the copyrighted work to create a derivative without your permission.

Even though these actions are against the law, people continue to steal, and creative professionals find it taxing to run after thieves whenever they suspect foul play. So, instead of hiding their creative designs, they solve this problem by allowing the public to use their work under the terms they set forth. This is what we refer to as licensing.

Licensing makes your creative work available to the public so you can control its distribution. Licensing also deters copyright infringement and sends thieves off to steal other images not protected by a license.

As the copyright holder, you can control the use of your design work. Certain licenses allow widespread use as long as the person credits the author. Other licenses exert tighter controls on copying and derivative works.

Creative Commons is one of the most popular open source licenses for creative professionals. It offers three layers of licenses that anyone using the internet can understand.

When you use licenses to protect your work, you still own all the copyrights, but you allow people to use your work as you deem acceptable.

The Licenses

1. Attribution

Attribution is the most lenient of the licenses. It allows others to use and distribute your work and create derivatives as long as they give you credit.

2. Attribution NonCommercial

Under this license, people can use and tweak your work and copy it only for non-commercial use provided they give you credit.

3. Attribution-ShareAlike

This license is similar to the open source software license in that any new work created from your original work must be licensed in the same manner. People who use or revamp your work for commercial purposes must credit you and all derivatives will carry the identical license. Wikipedia uses this license.

4. Attribution-NoDerivs

When you opt for the “no derivatives” license, you permit people to redistribute your work as long as they do not change it or modify it in any way. The graphics and images must remain unchanged and the publisher must give you credit.

5. Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike

This license is similar to the Attribution-ShareAlike; however; it prohibits the use of your work for commercial purposes.

6. Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs

For those web designers seeking the most restrictive license, this one is ideal for you. It prohibits the use of your work for commercial purposes. People can download and share your images if they credit you, but they cannot alter them.

The Licensing Decision

Before you decide which license to use, you must answer two questions…

1. Do you want to allow people to use your work for commercial purposes?

The definitions for commercial vs. non-commercial are still somewhat confusing. The technical term for “commercial” involves using images for the purpose of selling or to gain profit. Non-commercial refers to using images for personal use and not to gain profit.

The definition becomes ambiguous when a publisher wants to use an image for his blog that includes advertisements. Is the image used to draw in revenue? Some would say “yes” since it is part of the blog and the blog contains advertisements, which relates to commercial usage. Others would argue that the image isn’t directly involved in any for-profit activity and is therefore non-commercial usage. The jury is still out on this one and Creative Commons is actively taking surveys on the subject to further define the terms.

If you do not want your images used by companies seeking to gain profit from them, stick to the non-commercial licenses.

2. Do you want to allow people to create derivative works?

The United States Copyright Act defines “derivative work” as:

A “derivative work” is a work based upon one or more pre-existing works, such as a translation, musical arrangement, dramatization, fictionalization, motion picture version, sound recording, art reproduction, abridgment, condensation, or any other form in which a work may be recast, transformed, or adapted. A work consisting of editorial revisions, annotations, elaborations, or other modifications which, as a whole, represent an original work of authorship, is a “derivative work”.

The derivative work is a piece created from the original. If you want to maintain your original graphic and keep the image unchanged as it is copied, choose the NoDerivs licenses.

Creative Commons has this helpful License Chooser which will also supply you with code to put on your website. Here are some tips you should know before licensing your work.

About Mobile Pattern

mobile-patternMobile Patterns or Mobile Templates are, as the name clearly states, layouts to use for facilitating our work when outlining a site for convenient gadgets. As portable web plan implies increasingly these days, creators frequently have issues achieving due dates in light of a high workload.

In web outline we have network frameworks we expand on with a specific end goal to help us keep up a clean visual example, additionally to help us manufacture a website page speedier. Large portions of us even purchase WordPress subjects and modify them to our utilization. What’s more, it merits specifying that 10 years back HTML layouts were generally utilized as a part of the business.

Truly architects dependably hoped to facilitate their work and proceed onward to the following venture, thusly versatile examples are something the specialists begin to investigate increasingly.

Mobile patterns are structured, organized and well researched before going online. These patterns are suited for use when the designer understands how they work properly and the reason behind it. As WordPress themes, many of them come already designed and ready to use. This is, however, something I do not recommend you to do. You should always customize a pattern to your needs in order to better fit the audience you target. Design is not only a way of looking good anymore; it became so important that it often makes the difference between failure and success.

# Mobile Environment

It is very important not to forget you design for mobile devices and not for the web. There are so many things to keep track of. The screens are smaller than the ones of a computer, information needs to get across much faster, the font choice needs to be perfect and fit the small screen and it needs to load fast.

With so many things to keep in mind, it is surely not easy to design for mobile interfaces. And even if you will get a pattern from the internet, your task of customizing it for your needs will definitely take some time to finish.

Maybe the most important thing to remember is that while designing for different mobile platforms is done using the same concepts, the result is always going to be different because of the different screen sizes, mobile browsers and operating systems.

When designing for mobile it is important to keep in mind and consider the device or sets of devices you will provide for. Not even the best developers were able to deliver a Facebook app for both iOS and Android – as a matter of fact, they didn’t even try to, as they knew it is impossible – they designed two different onces. So although designing for mobile devices is based on similar concepts, the results will always be different and it is something you should expect when starting such a project.

# How To Use Patterns

In case you want to design your own template, there are some things you should consider.

  • You shouldn’t go into mobile web design if you don’t plan on using a grid system. It is simply too messy for such a small device. As screen size is different from a device to another, the grid system will more or less help you keep everything organized and in place on all of them.
  • Using classes in mobile design is a good practice. Because IDs can’t be used more than once, using classes is the only way you can apply the same style to different containers.
  • You need to have a strategy and create some standards for your template. You will obviously have multiple pages (unless it is a single page site – which happens rarely) and all of them need to have the same style. Don’t think that if the screen size is small people will not notice these details.
  • You need to make an important decision in the beginning and think if you go for tabs or buttons in the header. And this is just one small part. You need to take such important decisions for every small piece of your website.

# Know some history

If you want to be a complete designer, then you need to know something about design and technology history. This is the only way to predict the future and to know which things work today – and more important: why do they work.

A good example is the Palm IIIc – a very old Personal Digital Assistant which would still be a decent device if released today. It has wireless connection capabilities and integrated browser for internet surfing. Or remember the first MP3 phones released many years ago. They had almost no memory and uploading music onto them was quite difficult – not very different than the way iPhones sync music with iTunes many years later.

 If you have some knowledge of what happened in the past in the design industry and closely follow the results and reactions, you will definitely find out why some things worked and why some others failed miserably. You need to know what happened before in order to know what will work for you.

# Similarities

As mentioned earlier, many portable devices have similarities which not only need to be learned, but also need to be taken advantage of. In case you are a designer, it might be a good idea to stick your hands into your pockets and continue experimenting with other devices. Sticking to your favorite one will not make you a perfect cross-platform mobile designer.

If all your friends and relatives have an iPhone, then buy an Android device. You can always borrow, use and observe different behaviors on your father’s iPhone…

Knowing the advantages and disadvantages of many smartphones will turn you into a better designer by default. And another good part is that if you don’t always want to design, you can also work as a mobile design consultant.

By looking at general patterns in mobile design you will notice how they actually look quite the same. There are many similarities between different designs, only they are not easy to notice if you do not know how a website is built.

Trying as many new things as possible will help you develop a vast knowledge of how patterns work on different platforms, operating systems and devices.

Help your users

When coming on a new website for the first time, everything is unknown. You have no idea where and what to look at first. The same happens to your users, but the difference between you and them is that you can do something about it.

What I mean is that when you design a mobile user interface, using illustrations or general patterns in order to help them navigate will help you a lot. To be more specific, these things are doable through hierarchy and priority.

Increase Conversion Rates with Multivariate Testing

Making, overseeing, and running sites used to be a mess easier – yet unrefined. The past procedure would include having a programming and plan group meet up, toss a few thoughts around, set up the site together, measure the outcomes, and afterward apply changes and changes to the outline and format in light of what the guests needed or favored.

In any case, these days, more than only an “experimentation” strategy is required so as to think of a truly useful, engaging, and, in particular, effective site.

Initiate the Conversion: Catching Visitor’s Attention

Engaging text, hooks, and bright graphics just don’t cut it. There’s a whole lot more that contributes to the overall feel and look to a web site than just those elements, and it’s something that can either draw in or drive away a site visitor in mere seconds.

So if you’ve just got a small fraction of a minute to convince a visitor to check out your site, browse through your products or services, or read through your content, then it makes perfect sense to do what you can to make sure that you grab their attention (in a good way) and make them stay on your site. You can do just that by testing out various elements and combinations of your web site even before you go live, or even while you’ve already launched.

Site Testing: Split Testing versus Multivariate Testing

Manufacturing firms test out new products and potential new variations or formulations on a controlled group first before going for large-scale production to make sure that it’s what most of the public would want, so why not do the same for your web site?

There are two ways to conduct such tests for a website: A/B testing, which is commonly called “split” testing, and multivariate testing. A/B testing will try out different content for one section or element of the web page and determine which one was most preferred by the site visitors by evaluating which of the options was able to reel in the user, this is done by sending half the traffic to version A and half to version B and measuring the difference in conversion rate.

On the other hand, multivariate testing involves trying out various combinations of different content and elements on a single web page at a time to see which would be able to garner the most success. This method can be thought of as several A/B tests being performed simultaneously on a single page or multiple pages.

Why Go For Multivariate Testing?

Both types of testing have their own specific advantages and benefits. Split testing is suitable for testing established sites or web pages that are already quite successful at the outset to introduce minor changes and updates in order to make the site even better. This type of testing is also preferred for simpler applications such as in email copies or newsletters, where fewer elements will be involved.

Split testing is also more suitable for sites with low traffic as it requires less conversion to take place to generate accurate results than multivariate testing. Multivariate tests are much more complicated in nature and will generally require more time than the A/B testing method. However, since they can make changes to multiple elements over multiple pages, it’s possible to learn more and make bigger advancements.

# Benefits of Multivariate Testing

There are a lot of steps that go into the creation of a web site. There are also many tools that can be used to help ensure its success, such as Google’s Website Optimizer and other related applications that can point out which elements need to be changed and what sections are already acceptable.

With multivariate testing, you will be working at an accelerated learning curve. This means that you will be able to test out as many different combinations of various elements, modify the content based on user feedback, and test it out again.

 The combinations that you can work with are basically limitless, since you can keep trying them out and gathering results as you go. Of course, you can also expect the testing to go on for a longer period of time, but you will be able to rest easy knowing that most combinations were exhausted and that the final design or layout that you will be using for your web site is the best possible combination available.

Another benefit to using multivariate testing is breakthrough thinking. Using a testing method such as split testing only allows you to modify one element at a time, so it’s more likely that the changes or options to be tested will be thought out excessively and become a product of cautious thinking. Since you can test an unlimited amount of concepts and changes with multivariate testing, you can accommodate and welcome changes and breakthrough ideas that might help put your site at the top.

Multivariate Testing and the Taguchi Method

Multivariate testing is often conducted while the Taguchi Method is also applied. The Taguchi Method is used to reduce the amount of necessary traffic in order to come up with a meaningful market research study.

The method makes use of fractional factorial testing that is able to minimize and lower the number of variations needed in order to determine the values of variables. By applying this method, the number of pages that must be analyzed and tested is greatly reduced.

Multivariate Testing: Increasing Conversion Rates

Site visitors will stay longer on sites that are optimized with a design and layout that has been previously tried and tested. The longer that users stay and browse on a web page, the higher the probability that a purchase or sale will be made. This is the reason why ecommerce sites and online retailers spend a considerable amount of time working on finding the right balance between aesthetics, functionality, and design on their online store shelves.

Conversion rates don’t just mean sales or purchases; they can also translate to the amount of ads clicked that also translates to revenue for the site owner. Moreover, coming up with really good web pages will help build a larger following to the site in a shorter period of time, increasing the site’s reach, influence, and audience that will make it a more valuable domain in the process.

If you’ve not tried any form of conversion testing you’re missing a huge part of the formula for online sales, remember that visitors X conversion rate = sales so if you are only worried about driving traffic to your site you could be throwing away thousands of dollars or more in sales every month.