How to: automatically create featured image for a post in WordPress in the right size

featured image wordpressWe’ve all been there: you want to create a simple but pretty featured image on each blog post, but the images you have on your site have the wrong dimensions; or you don’t have the Photoshop-skills to create something with the correct dimensions that works for your WordPress theme. Well; we had the exact same issue on our hair restoration & rejuvination site Union of Barbers. The product photos we used had the exact wrong dimensions; making the featured image look silly and the site look completely unprofessional. We went looking for a nice solution; and actually found a little gem of a WordPress plugin called “Featured Image Generator”.

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What is the best strategy: One big site, or many small sites?

Without doubt, there is much controversy or debate regarding whether you should devote your efforts to one big site or many small sites. And the truth is that both sides of the discussion have valid points to make. For a webmaster earning a significant income with a specific business model, that is the side of the debate that she will choose. For her, that has been her success and she will vouch for that method.

Since this article is not going to say one side is right and one is wrong, let’s examine the advantages and the best strategy of maintaining one big site versus creating a network or portfolio of many small sites.

Web Development

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How to Choose a Web Design Company

Choosing a web design company is not easy as you reckon. You must consider several aspects before bestowing orders to a design company. You must also have a clear notion of your requirements – creating a corporate website is extremely different from setting up a blogging platform for everyday use. Therefore, what are the factors that one must acknowledge? The answer to that simple query lies in the succeeding sections of this composition!

webdesign businessYou have to understand that the options are unlimited when it comes to selecting the best web design company. For instance, diligent freelance programmers are available who will set up a professional looking (and functioning) websites within hours. They have access to countless kinds of web technologies and by utilizing them in an appropriate manner, they can come up with revolutionary web designs that can challenge the very existence of some of the reputed players in this niche. On the other hand, you will have to be very meticulous while selecting the right candidate. Certain freelance programmers might be incompetent to design the website according to your requirements. Anyway, you can always try your luck in that particular niche before venturing out to seek assistance from established web design companies, but beware: don’t go for the cheap web design service companies – 90% of them suck!

It is understood that you require a fully functioning website. However, it does not necessarily mean that building a website should make a significant chink on your bank account. Several web design companies might hold brilliant in-house website designers. Nevertheless, the charges imposed by them might not be feasible. Discard the feeling that premium productivity always comes with a price tag. Unbelievably if you are willing to spend some time with the countless CMS platforms that are on existence on this day, then you too can start creating and designing websites. The fact is that we do not have ample free time for such activities and hence, we seek the help of web design outsourcing companies.

Any average internet user will be fully aware of the importance of search engine friendly design of websites, such as optimizing the alt tag for search engine optimization. These companies use bots to “crawl” the entire internet. The bots look out for friendly web pages and depending upon the average traffic to that website (along with various other web design factors), it will place the web page at a higher ranking. The towering the ranking of your website, the better it will turn out to be. Increased page ranking of your website will augment the possibility of meeting newer prospective clients.

Avoid the web design companies that display arrogant customer service. Yes, success goes into the heads of certain companies, and they will start treating their customers shabbily. You must never submit website orders to these companies. In fact, some of the lesser-known companies might sport helpful service agents who will be willing to answer any kind of queries put forward to them. Ask around and you will be able to find some of them. The design company must also keep you informed about the estimated time of completion of the project.

The Importance of a Sitemap

Web marketing professionals always look out for additional strategies to optimize the page rankings of their websites. These days, they spend considerable time trying to find out tips to tweak the website’s sitemap. The grandness of a portal’s sitemap along with fresh advice on how to optimize a website to make it search engine friendly will be discussed in the following sections. SEO or search engine optimization of a website is all about experimentation. Experts spend hours trying out various newer strategies because of the volatility of the market. Hence, it is mandatory that you must have a good understanding about the sitemap of a website.

SitemapWebmasters place the sitemap on the homepage of the website. There is a specific reason for doing so. A search engine gives priority to rate the homepage instead of the auxiliary pages. By placing the sitemap on the homepage, you are literally inviting the search engine bots to look into the other sub-sections of the website. In order to display your website in the search results, the web search engines will analyze your web page using specialized bots. In the absence of sitemap, the search engine bots will index the homepage only.

A sitemap can be beneficial to the website’s visitors also. By accessing this section, they will get a preview of the links present in the website. Instead of spending extra time and bandwidth seeking for specific information, they just need to access the sitemap and click on the right links. The search engine companies are working on newer algorithms that simplify the entire website indexing process. They are incorporating supplementary features, which helps in rating a website according to its “human friendly” nature. SEO professionals are already aware of these changes. They are including suitable modifications to the sitemap of the website to make it friendly to search engines and cyber citizens.

Various search engines reckon the sitemap of a website in diverse manners. For instance, when Yahoo still follows the conventional HTML formats, Google employs a modified sitemap structure (which is in XML format). I could go on and on depicting the importance of sitemaps. The bottom line remains the same, though. If you wish to increase the page rankings of a website while embracing an organized outlook then you must begin to consider sitemaps with reverence. When the famous Las Vegas SEO Experts give on-site SEO tips, a sitemap is often their first pointer!

Creating sitemap for a website is easy thanks to the presence of automated software solutions. One can easily create a Google sitemap online within minutes. HTML and XML sitemap generators are also available for the respective search engines. Cyber citizens are becoming tech savvy – they wish to learn in depth about your website swiftly. In other terms, by optimizing the sitemap, you are merely augmenting the ability to communicate easily with the visitors. They need to know the theme or motif of the website. Only a sitemap can help in conveying the same to them. An organized sitemap will find favor in the eyes of search engines too. Please keep us posted with your findings!

Starting Your Own Web Design Company

webdesign businessThe lucrative nature of web designing companies might tempt you to switch jobs. If you are planning to start your own web design company, you will have to keep a tab on numerous factors. You might have seen people making handsome figures sitting at the comfort of their homes by designing websites for their clients. You can follow their footsteps or set up a fully-fledged startup business as a web designer! The second option seems more viable because of the greater profits involved. Besides, if you are able to flourish in this business, you can team up with others and set up subsidiary companies.

a) The knowledge of existing web designing practices – This is one of the most important factors, which you must consider as an aspiring web designer. Plenty of freeware and open source CMS platforms are available, which might reduce your workload significantly. The clients might ask you to design the website in compliancy with numerous factors. You must have ample exposure to designing techniques and tools in order to excel in this niche. Even if you do not have any working knowledge about the requirements of the clients, you must hire diligent professionals for your web design company.

b) The layout of the website – Look and ponder over the works of professional web design companies. They will strive hard to create simplistic websites. The widespread availability of various kinds of web technologies will tempt the designers to experiment with unknown arenas. It can lead to overall failure of the design. Certain plug-ins and widgets might also induce additional vulnerabilities into the website. Follow the age-old tradition “keep it simple”. Enhanced levels of eye-candy might incorporate additional expenditure of precious bandwidth. The clients could even reject the work – this could turn out to be highly disadvantageous to your business.

c) Make the website search engine friendly – The best web designing companies will also design the website so that the search engine bots can index it properly, and do the needed on-site Search Engine Optimization. The layout of the website along with the content included in every page plays a pivotal role in determining the search engine ranking of a website. The clients might realize this simple factor and could award you with more work. It is a win-win situation. News can pass around and within months, your web design company will get the attention it was lacking.

Designing and implementing a website might seem like an easy method to make extra dough. However, appearances can be deceptive, and it takes a lot of hard work to rise to a dominating posture in this industry. Perhaps you can concentrate on specific paradigms such as e-commerce web design. That would help you to maintain a distinct position in the niche. Furthermore, outsourcing of web designing works is also on the rise these days. Creative web designers reside in some of the third world countries – they take regular work from trusted clients. Maybe you could try setting up an online business venture to utilize their services.

Drupal Review

drupal logoIf you are a novice web developer, you will be confused about the content management system (CMS) that must be implemented on your website. Plenty of software packages (free and proprietary) are available and only the adept web administrators can identify the vantages of a suitable CMS. In the succeeding sections, I will be explaining the advantages of Drupal. Examples of notable websites developed using Drupal include the official website of the Whitehouse and this car theft website. In fact, many other portals maintained by the federal government make good use of the same CMS platform. Despite humble beginnings as a blogging platform, this web publishing package could conquer heights (and minds) effortlessly.

If you plan to make your website search engine friendly, then you must develop the portal using Drupal. Increasing the page ranking of a website will play out to be highly feasible to the web administrator. Another term that you might come across is “modules”. Modules are nothing but plug-ins meant to augment the overall functionality of a website. Innumerable modules are available for Drupal. Hence, you can customize the portal according to your necessities – swiftly, easily and effectively. Conflicts between modules might arise sometimes; you must be wary of such consequences before implementing them on your website.

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The Importance of keeping file sizes of your images small

weight loss imagesPhotos, images and graphics are great additions to any website. A graphic helps people to understand the topic and gives them an instant frame of reference. Graphics also make beautiful headers or logos which instantly define your website. The funny part about images is – people usually think the site with graphics is better. Even if a plain site has better content and more information, visitors automatically gravitate to images.

Despite the fact that images are beneficial, there are rules in their use, and ignoring internet protocol could be a disadvantage to your website. After all, web browsers give users the option of turning graphics off which means there is a valid reason for not loading images.

Unfortunately, many webmasters get carried away with their perceptions of what visitors need. They either think big is good or they do not think at all, and just upload all kinds of massive file sizes to the server. But, the bottom line is if you use a large photo, expect there to be negative consequences.

Following is a list of reasons why you must limit your images and understand the importance of keeping file sizes of your images small.

  1. Big graphics make your pages load too slowly. This in turn forces your visitors to leave and no-one sees your website anyway. You have now lost your chance to make money!
  2. Search engines are seriously thinking about adding “load time” equations to their algorithms. Specifically, this means that a site that takes too long to load for whatever reason (server, large file sizes, viruses), will be penalized because the pages are not useful to internet users. And if you think about this, it makes sense because there are simple ways to avoid these issues.
  3. Probably the most important reason why your image file sizes should be smaller is how people connect to the internet. Although broadband is popular, dial-up on telephones is still the predominant way to access the internet for most users. You have effectively removed yourself from the market if you post large photos!
  4. Also, although you may think that people should get better computers, the truth is many people still use older computer hardware, older browsers, and older operating systems. No-one cares how good your photos are if they take twenty minutes to load.

Here are a few pointers about making the right size image files.

  1. Do not resize your photos in the html. I am not exactly sure why but there was a period years ago when it seemed to be acceptable to upload any size photo to the server, and within the html code, where the image was called upon, to give it smaller width and height attributes. Now, it just doesn’t make any sense to do this. You are creating more work for the server, and are still causing the page to load slowly because the photo has to be crunched before the person sees it.
  2. Use a compression software or utility to make the file size smaller. There are many free ones available and programs like Photoshop have the feature.
  3. Just make the image smaller yourself. This can be done in so many programs and one may already be on your computer.
  4. For the internet, photos should really not be any higher then 72 dpi. And if your digital camera shoots at 300 dpi, make sure to compress those photos for your website.
  5. Photo quality images are usually given the extension (.jpg) whereas clipart is (.gif). If your photos look good as GIFs, then go ahead and do that, otherwise keep as JPGs but follow one of the methods to resize the images.