Advanced Image Optimization in Web Development

Web-quality imagery is always a balancing act between using the smallest possible file size while providing good image quality. Embedding a photo straight off your DSLR may look nice, but it will slow your website’s load to a crawl, while an over-compressed image may improve the speed of your site yet discredit the design and overall aesthetic.
For the two types of image assets we predominantly deal with – photos and icons/illustrations – we perform a mixture of image quality checks and compression techniques that work well in most case scenarios.

File Types and When to Use Them
There are three image file types we use when building websites: .jpg .png and .svg.
JPGs are best used for photos such as landscapes, scenery or people. For imagery in content, such as a blog article image, we aim for 20-70kb. Larger background photos can get up to 500kb, but 200kb is a good average.

JPGs are lossy (they recompress and degrade the image quality each time you export), and they don’t manage gradients very well. If you have a gradient in an image, sometimes you can separate the image into two cuts so that you can render the gradient in a separate background using CSS gradients instead.
PNGs are best for assets such as logos and icons because they support transparency and because logo and icons often use a more limited color palette – since PNGs achieve compression through a reduction in the number of colors.

A PNG can be lossy, but we typically use lossless, meaning every pixel is saved exactly without degrading the color palette, resulting in a higher-quality image.
SVGs have the best quality of all and are used for vector art due to their scalability. We often use them with logos, however, SVGs do create more work for the browser to render and can create sluggishness as the page loads, so the quality of your image should always be balanced against its complexity.

As an example of when we use PNGs and SVGs, compare the logos for Silver Screen Insider and Bozeman Websites. For the former, we used an SVG. For Bozeman Websites, because of the complexity introduced with CSS animation when a user scrolls down, we chose to use PNGs instead so as not to compromise browser performance.

Sometimes the best solution is a combination of both: for the logo on Techypros website, the “JT” component is a PNG, but the “Celebrating 20 Years” is an SVG in order for it to retain its quality in all viewport sizes.

Optimization Techniques

In order to get the best possible results, it is important to optimize your images. To do so, we utilize three programs: Image Optimization (for JPGs and PNGs), Image Alpha (for PNGs) and Scour (for SVGs).

Image Optimization reduces the file size of JPGs and PNGs. For large images, such as the ones we use for background panels, we cap dimensions at 1600x1200px. For content photos such as an image inserted in a blog article, we cap dimensions between 200-800px wide.
After resizing to its final resolution, the image is output in Photoshop using the best quality available. Each time we compress the image it loses some fidelity, so we prefer to rely solely on Image Optimization for compression rather than having Photoshop do a pass. Photoshop is noticeably less efficient: its “save for web” at quality 65 produces an image of equal file size but poorer fidelity than Image Optimization’s quality 85.

Retina JPGs

When targeting retina or other high-density displays, we’ve found it works best to save a single JPG at twice the resolution, but use higher compression, around 50-60 in Image Optimization, which can produce a high-quality image that looks good on both retina and standard, lower-density displays. This technique allows us to use a single asset for retina and standard displays rather than cutting and loading multiple versions and without quadrupling the size of our images.
For PNGs, we output from Photoshop using PNG 24 in their “save for web” option, then run it through Image Optimization. If it detects that the image is using fewer than 256 colors, Image Optimization will losslessly convert the image to a PNG 8, a simpler file format that can produce very light-weight files.

With Image Optimization, our final output of an image without too many complexities (minimal color, simple shapes, and resolution less than 200x200px) can range in size from 15kb down to under 1kb.
Optimizing Larger PNGs
For more complex images, if we can’t produce a file between 15kb and 50kb with Image Optimization, we use ImageAlpha. ImageAlpha is used to process PNGs from a PNG 24 (millions of colors) to a PNG 8 (256 colors maximum), changing the image from lossless to lossy, ultimately aiming for the one with the smallest number of colors.

Lossiness in this format primarily means strategic refinement of the color palette, eliminating the least-noticeable colors to produce an image that still looks great while reducing its complexity.
After exporting from ImageAlpha, we run it through Image Optimization so it can be optimized further.
When it comes to SVGs, we reduce as much complexity as possible before we export the image from Illustrator. An often tedious process due to their size, we first try to reduce the number of layers to a minimum while still accurately displaying the artwork. It is then saved as an SVG in Illustrator and optimized with a program called Scour.

We use this automator script to make it a bit easier to use in macOS, allowing you to right-click an SVG file in the Finder and optimize the SVG through the Services menu. We often use font files for vector graphics that are single-color with a program called Glyphs.

10 Mistakes Not To Make A Second Time – Re Branding Design

Are you considering brand revitalization or re-branding your product, service or business? Is your brand under-performing? Or is your brand just not hitting your target audience appropriately anymore? If you feel the need to revitalize your brand, it should not be overlooked and serious steps should be taken to re-launch your business, in this digital era. Having said that though, all brands need to adopt a new skin and synchronize their vision and mission with the changing marketing trends.
“You will never get a second chance to make a first impression” – Will Rogers

What is Re-Branding?

Re-branding is the process of giving a whole new feel to your established product or business. It is a strategy to retain your core competencies and differentiating yourself from your competitors. Your ‘brand identity’ is the rich and dynamic combination of visual, verbal and sentimental attributes that speak for who you are and what you do and precisely what activities you are engaged in. The way your branding influences your target audience and the way an individual feels and reacts towards a brand establishes a strong ‘brand perception’.
Starting from the basic asset like letter head to the way your product is packaged and marketed, websites, print material (brochures, fliers), business cards and social media presence all of it come together to build up your branding strategy and giving a holistic view to the consumer.

What is the need for re-branding?

Re-branding concepts should revolve around and do justice to your marketing goals and should be a surefire way to carve out a viable way for higher audience engagement.
• A company’s website and brand identity should connect with the customers on an emotional level and help improve brand recall. You know you need to re-brand your product or service when your consumers cannot connect your product with the firm.

• To recover from vanishing prominence, reduced ROI and deteriorating sales, it’s high time you re-visit your branding strategies and fix the loopholes. Rebranding ideas that rejuvenate your online presence gets the user entranced.

• Inconsistent patterns in the way different clients perceive your company calls for a new revamped identity that clarifies perceptions and portrays a unified message about the company’s vision and mission. If your brand message does not articulate your offer clearly enough you probably need to revitalize your branding.

• With rebranding, when developed and positioned strategically offers a way of making progress which is sustained, giving the company the upper hand to charge a premium of your choice.
• Competitor attacks also fail to cause you any harm when your brand positioning and branding is on spot.

Brand evolution is a smart marketing tool that helps your branding stay relevant with your product or service. While some pull it off quite effortlessly, others have to face criticism and re-visit their branding strategies. To make sure your next rebrand meets success; avoid these common pitfalls and notorious re-branding errors that can cost you a great deal of effort and money in the long run.
1. Re-branding without the research element

When considering re-launching your brand you need to assess why the rebrand is needed? What does your brand portray about your company? Your brand image should be in close harmony with your company motto and for that you need to carry out a thorough and comprehensive market research.
An apt example of a re-branding failure from which we can learn a lesson is one of GAP. When GAP tried to re-design its logo, it turned out to be a huge disappointment for the target market as the company image was greatly compromised by the drastic change in the logo design. Trying to stay abreast with current times is always desirable but one definite lesson to learn from the unfortunate GAP incident is thatre-branding is a serious game and there are definitely no shortcuts to it. The company’s essence should undergo a revolution rather than just the company image itself.

Customers are constantly on the driving seat and both current and potential customers should be the inspiration when formulating solutions. Their needs, wants, preferences and consumer behavior should be the basis of your branding strategy. Your customer can make or break your brand.

2. Brutally ignoring existing brand equity and goodwill

Re-branding certainly does not mean that your existing brand equity is of no importance or is useless. You need to precisely gauge whether you need a total revamp or just a slight tweaking in your branding campaign. Not taking into consideration the existing brand equity can be quite damaging to the way a brand is viewed and perceived. You do not need to go overboard and just follow the herd when a small change will do the needful. Before you undertake the highly important task of revitalizing your brand image it is important that you carry out the necessary investigation and background checks to assess the needs of the target market.

Your pre-existing customers are a combination of loyal and disloyal customers. If you do not retain the core attractiveness of the brand you might end up losing your valuable market share to your competitors.

3. The brand is a lot more than just a mere piece of logo or color combination

The logo is representative of your company image and processes. However, very often a brand is confused with its physical symbols: the logo, company name, the physical presence of a website introducing the company to the customers or the company culture for that matter. Re-doing the company symbol is not the ideal solution to alleviate your problems-it could possibly aggravate them as well.
Brands are an amalgamation of both the material and immaterial elements. Target audience, customer preference and perception, their experience to the corporeal nature of the website, the visual effect and feel to the customer service provided, retailing services and web environments and the way the company motto is communicated to the customer.

Before rebranding your company, for example changing the brand name from ‘Ciplex’ to ‘Coplex’ was a logical decision for the respective company. A lot of brainstorming went in to decide what the brand name would actually stand out and add meaning to the business. The prefix ‘co’ was purposefully added to highlight the co-creating with their clients and foster teamwork and partnership.

4. The re-brand tells a story in itself

Re-branding is not a random process but lays its foundation on a well-knit logical story that penetrates both the internal and external environment. The rebrand’s story must be practical and sketch a scenario that does justice to the prevailing situation and established brand experience and customer perception.
The biggest achievement lies in the fact that it is deeply engraved in the minds of the internal employees. When they will embrace the brand identity, they will automatically perpetuate it ahead and walk and talk brand everyday which will pass on to the target audience. The more credible the story the more effortlessly it will trickle down the hierarchy and consolidate the brand image both in the eyes of the customer and the employee. The promise that you make to the customers should be deliverable from the HR to finance department.

5. In-house branding V/s Hiring a branding consultant

Some company’s or creative agencies prefer that their in-house creative teams set to work on re-creating and developing a logo and brand name that will do justice to their company vision and mission. This makes the process fast and cost-effective. However, come to think of it developing a brand internally will be a reflection of internal plans and perceptions rather than how the target audience views your brand.
Hiring external brand consultants helps your company to add an external element into their branding. It will give you valuable insight into how your company is viewed by a third party and what your potential clients think. Hence, you should always think of outsourcing rather than making the process personal and centralized.

6. Being limited to your own industry

Yes! You need to give tough competition to your competitor operating in the same niche, but you can always drive inspiration from various markets, that have even a tad bit of similarity. Marketing techniques is all about creativity and that can be learnt from any good marketer, irrespective of the field they are operating in.
Religiously following just your industry trends may limit your vision and hinder your growth not allowing you to explore new avenues. When rebranding, it is highly recommended that you mingle with other market leaders and gain feedback on what other industries are implementing regarding customer experience and care. Innovation and creativity from diverse areas can do wonders to your branding strategy.

7. The misconception that you are too small to re-brand

You’re never too small to re-brand. You might be e a start-up firm or an entrepreneur but that certainly does not deem you unqualified for the need to redesign your branding strategy. As markets evolve and shifts in consumer preferences take place, brands need to stay abreast of the competition and maintain the appeal and customer interest and engagement. For this very purpose, they have to plan their brand positioning so that their efforts are directed in the right direction. A firm no matter how small eventually grows into something substantial. Taking your brand to a whole new level and redefining your existence is what will differentiate you from the rest.

8. Mismanagement and culpable negligence

By-passing the basics of branding can be a major blunder as the way you add the finishing touches to your website, marketing tools and the physical environment in which you operate is of utmost importance. Brand experience is bound to reach a low ebb if all customer touch points are not kept in mind while designing your re-branding strategy.
You team should be responsible and well versed with market knowledge and project management skills. The person responsible for effectively pulling of the branding strategy should have the necessary skillset and intellect to make the project reach its destination.

Follow up is of utmost importance after implementation, as customer service increase customer engagement, satisfaction and loyalty.

9. A good idea does not necessarily come with a multi-million dollar project

Obviously an initial investment is required to accomplish any challenging task but it certainly does not mean that it cannot be accomplished economically. There’s always a less expensive alternative for every strategy which is a product of small but highly talented branding agencies, professionals and extremely talented in-house people. Sometimes highly motivated university students or basic start-ups can yield worthwhile results.

10. Inauthenticity is the largest branding mistake

You need to place yourself in your customer’s shoes and make it a point to see your brand from their perspective. Simply put, authenticity is the act of being true to who you are. Your die-hard loyal customers might also switch to another brand if you fail to deliver your promise. Never over-exaggerate what you do and make practical promises that are easier to accomplish and have an element of humanity in it. Trust me you will see how your customers place unwavering trust in your brand and will enable people to relate to your business. What’s better than being called a reliable, trustworthy company who might even deliver more than expected? Turning audiences into advocates by this strategy wouldn’t be a surprise.

Best Ways To Boost Your Child’s Creativity

Children are born with a desire to create. They are curious to know and are not bound by the limitations of work load and time management. Your child is unique, every child is unique. Each one has its own desires and inclinations in terms of creating new things. As parents we should foster this creative desire and should try to create an environment where our children can indulge themselves in their artistic pursuits. Giving that all important boost your child’s desire to be out of the box and creative is your responsibility as what you do now will definitely help the child as it goes through its life. Parents taking part in the activities of their kids increase confidence in them and makes them create a positive image of themselves in their mind. Here we take you through 3 ways where your child’s creativity can be bolstered:

There is no definite shape:

There is not a bigger dampener to a child’s creativity than telling or informing them about how something should be. This is like restricting a wild horse with a rope. For a child, there should be no limitations when building things in terms of shape and the best way to foster that attitude is to provide your child with website design building materials through which this can be possible.

Sand and clay are the best materials to start off building things. They can be put or molded into any shape possible and there is a lot of experimentation which is possible. Start off by putting a sand box or some clay in the house and build things yourself at first. Don’t force the child into it. Children don’t like someone forcing them to do so but they are great imitators with an innate sense of curiosity. When they’ll see you building things out of sand and clay and see you having fun doing it, they will definitely join you very soon. Your child will have a lot fun indulging in this brilliant activity and gain the fundamental processes of building through the modelling of structures out of these materials.

Playing with Colors:

Hey, who doesn’t love colors? Colors are the most beautiful things of the lot. Endless possibilities await your child if it gets a hang of how wonderful colors are. Painting is the start towards this activity which has the ability to transform the child into a person who believes in a bigger palate for everything.

Bring everything that initiates this love towards colors like color pencils, paints, beautiful drawings among others in the house and like all times, start off by first immersing yourself in colors like a child yourself. If it joins in the fun, ask them to use their bare hands to start coloring and painting first. Developing the feel towards the thing which is so wonderful to see is like being one step ahead. Coming together of senses to undertake something is just like magic which normally cannot be understood but the feeling is always great.

Clothes are not off the Radar:

The first thing through which we inculcate structure or tell the child that some things are out of bounds in terms of creativity are clothes. Clothes are normally not given too much attention but if they are presented as canvases onto which anything they can conceive has the possibility of becoming true, the mesmerizing effect on the child will be unexplainable.

Start off by bringing some old clothes and start cutting patterns out of them or sticking things onto them to give them a feel of making something new out of the old. When your child gets involved, start off by cutting sleeves of shirts and cutting the pant on one side up to the knee. Kids love this unusual style where their hands now protrude out naked where once there were sleeves. Stick off things onto the clothes and make them do exactly the same. Kids love their names and if you can get a name patch made for your child, it will perfectly serve as both a gift and a tool for creativity which he/she will then happily show off to his/her friends in the neighborhood or run around the house in excitement.

Your child needs your attention in everything and more so it needs you by its side to appreciate its efforts and comfort it when something doesn’t pan out as planned. Kids are very creative, I say this for the umpteenth time, but it is love and care that will make that creativity take roots and flourish.