Selling online can be a cost-effective way to launch a new business or grow an existing one. With the potential to be considerably cheaper than a bricks-and-mortar store, an eCommerce web site offers the possibility to sell your products or services twenty four hours a day, seven days a week without needing to worry about business and building rates or managing staff. So how much will it all cost? This month we take a look at costs involved in launching and running an eCommerce web site.
ICANN have released the time table for the launch of the new gTLDs and it looks like they’ll be publicly available by the end of the year.
Generic Top Level Domains (gTLD) are a new range of domain extensions that aim to fix the issue with the declining availability of .com and .co.uk domain names. Due to speculative domain name purchases (for the purpose of reselling for large profits), it is becoming very difficult for new businesses to find suitable .com and .co.uk domains. ICANN will be making many new gTLDs available, including the following extensions;
We first noticed this antique gothic typeface in 2005 – sadly we are yet to find a commercial application for it. There is a marked contrast between the extravagant uppercase and the more reserved lowercase – the double strokes add a historical and almost nautical feel to the letters.
Primitive can freely be used in commercial projects and can be downloaded from Font/Need.
In the world of web design and search engine optimisation there is one adage that always rings true – content is king. A website needs to impress with the information it displays and a failure to provide original and relevant content will have an impact on its appeal to both visitors and search engines.
So what exactly is content? The term content can be broken down into two categories – textual and multimedia.
This month we take a look at Clementine Sketch – a cursive typeface with a difference. While there are literally thousands of handwritten fonts available online (our favourite is Hand of Sean), finding a stylish ‘inline’ example is a rarity. Clementine Sketch ticks all of the right boxes and is suitable for both header text and graphic work.
Clementine Sketch avoids potential issues with gaps/incomplete outlines by providing an innovative combination of both ‘closed’ and ‘unclosed letters’. There are no upper-case letters included in the set of characters – words need to be started with a capital letter and finished with a ^ symbol. The only other irregularities are with W and V (W needs to be preceded with a ^ and V has to be preceded with a ‘v’ and followed with a capital letter).
The^ Quick^ Bro^wn^ Fox^ Jumps^ O^vEr^ The^ Lazy^ Dog^
Clementine Sketch can be downloaded for free from dafont.com.
Having a great logo is not only important for making a strong first impression, it also forms the foundation of your brand and image building campaigns. It doesn’t take a degree in marketing to realise that a well designed logo will provide your business with a professional image, but a problem we often face when creating new web sites for clients is that of the presentation of the logo, or simply put, its file quality.
Rasters and Vectors – a Brief Overview
Images can be stored on computers in two different ways, either as raster images or vectors. The vast majority of images you come across will be rasters – these include JPGs, PNGs and BMPs. When you save an image as a raster, the picture is converted into a grid of tiny pixels (or points). The colour of each pixel is recorded and it is this information that is saved in the digital file.
The alternative method of creating images is a lot more complex – instead of creating a picture using individual pixels, vector images store information about the mathematical relationship between the different elements of a picture.
To use the French flag as an example, a vector image file would contain a list of instructions that could be used recreate it – place a white rectangle (with a height twice its width) in between a blue rectangle and a red rectangle of the same size. A raster image file of the same flag would contain information about the pixels used – 100 blue pixels, 100 white pixels, then 100 red pixels, repeated two hundred times.
The Disadvantages of RastersWhile raster formats are very efficient at storing images (it would be an horrendous task to describe the mathematical relationships between the different elements in a photograph of your cat) they are not suited for work in the design industry. When you resize a raster image you are effectively increasing the size of the pixels. While this wouldn’t be a problem for the French flag raster image (there are only horizontal and vertical lines used), a more complex picture will lose all sharpness and definition. What was originally a smooth diagonal line will become a jagged staircase as the pixels increase in size. If the image contains text, the loss of quality will be noticed immediately.
It is here that vector images shine – they can be resized without any loss of quality as the relationship between the elements of the image will always remain in proportion regardless of the image size.
It is possible to create a very large raster logo and save different sizes of it for use on your stationary and website, but you will need to ensure that the size of the original logo is big enough to cover all eventualities (including signage and livery).
The better solution is to create your logo as a vector image. Once you have a ‘master’ vector file, you can create raster copies at whatever size you require. It is not possible to directly convert a raster logo into a vector logo – if you only have a vector version of your logo it will need to be recreated using an SVG graphics package such as Adobe Illustrator or Inkscape.
Lost your original vector file? Not a disaster
If you have lost the original vector files for your logo, Ardant offer a conversion service where the logo will be recreated from scratch using the raster versions you still have – typical conversion prices start from £35 for a standard logo. Get in touch to find out more.
You may recognise this month’s free font – Hanford is a beautiful script that is heavily influenced by the widely used Vivaldi™ typeface. Unlike Vivaldi, Hanford is free for both commercial and non-commercial use. A mixture of calligraphic strokes (made with a flat nibbed pen) and copperplate strokes (made with a round nibbed pen) are combined to create elegant letters ideally suited to work which requires a formal but graphically exciting tone.
This iconic typeface is available for download from FontSpace.com.
We were recently asked to create French and German versions of a website for a client who had found that their national business had suddenly become international. Each site needed to run with its own country specific domain name, but utilise the same eCommerce database.
Converting a site from one language into another is not as daunting a task as it may sound. As long as you’re aware of four key points, there is no reason why the process shouldn’t run smoothly.
Use experienced translators
Unless you or your client are fully fluent in the language you are writing, it’s important that you use an experienced translator for the content conversion. While free services such as Google Translate are more than adequate for quick translations for personal purposes, the translations it produces are often inaccurate, comical or dangerously misleading.
For this project we approached Midlands Technical Translations, who offered a comprehensive translation service and were able to provide the content in a two column layout. Having the English and French translations side by side in the same document dramatically speeded up the conversion process.
To fully optimise your website for foreign audiences and search engines, all of the text will need to be translated. This will include;
- Page names
- Contact forms (titles and error/success messages)
- Site generated emails
- ‘Alt’ text for images
- Captions and labels within images
- Meta descriptions for pages
As your page names will be changing, you will need to ensure that all of the links on your site are updated to point to the new page name. You can double check that all of the links on your site work by using a Broken Link Checker.
Be prepared to adjust page layouts
The biggest surprise we had when creating the French site was the difference in the length of words. With hindsight this might seem fairly obvious, but words which are short in one language may be quite lengthy in others. This isn’t generally a problem for body content, but headings and navigation menus may suddenly become too large for the allocated area.
Translating from English into French, “Wide ” became “Grande Largeur” – extra characters in the French title caused the header text on several pages to span onto two lines instead of one, affecting the layout of the page.
Be aware of character sets
Most languages feature more than the 26 characters used in English – some add accents and umlauts, others add new letters such as ø and ϑ. What you may find is that when you attempt to use these characters on your pages, your website displays a instead. This is caused by a character encoding mismatch – if possible you should change the Content-Type header of your web pages to match the language you are using. There is a brilliant article on Sitepoint.com that describes this problem in detail and explains how to fix issues you may be having with character sets. If it’s not possible to implement these fixes, you can use Ampersand codes to produce the required characters.
The French site we created has now launched and analytics data is showing that 97% of the traffic it receives is originating from French speaking countries. The majority is naturally from France, with a small percentage of visitors coming from Canada, Belgium and French speaking parts of Africa. The site is ranking very competitively in the search-engine results pages, with a top #4 position for our targeted French keywords.
If you are planning to market your website abroad, we recommend you read our previous article on purchasing non-UK domain names – Sellling Abroad.
Over the years we’ve worked with clients in many different sectors – meeting different people and learning about their unique businesses is both an enjoyable and eye-opening experience. We have recently launched a new website for the William Reynolds Primary and Nursery School, who are based in Telford Shropshire. This has been our first venture into the world of education.
Due to new legislation, schools are now expected to display detailed policy and curriculum information on their websites. The staff at William Reynolds contacted Ardant and asked us to design a new content-rich website that was both easy to use and easy for them to update themselves.
The brief for the design was to create a layout that was colourful, friendly and uncluttered. A competition was organized for the school children to draw characters from their favorite stories. The winners from each year group had their artwork featured throughout the site along with pictures they had drawn of staff members. While ‘never work with children or animals’ is a well known adage, we found the experience to be both fun and highly beneficial to the project!
We will be working closely with William Reynolds Primary School throughout the year and will be added exciting new features to the site. Watch this space!