Recently I attended a luncheon for the Health Care Public Relations & Marketing Society on effective print advertising. A segment of the session was devoted to the best ways to submit content and images to your graphic designer. While many in the audience were surprised to learn that Microsoft Word often hinders quick print production, I couldn’t help but smile. Many of the do’s and don’ts in the print world also apply to websites.
At OnYourMark, LLC, we ask for website content in a digital format. Why? When we receive a digital document (Word documents, text files, PDFs), we can easily extract the text and format it for the web. When we receive a hard copy, we have to add additional time to type the content, proof for typos and then format it. We would much rather spend our time and your money making fantastic websites, not typing!
If you have existing printed literature, first seek the original electronic files. If you can’t get those, have a staff member type the content before submitting it. We can accept many formats, but plain text or rich text files (mycontent.txt, mycontent.rtf) are the easiest to work with. Microsoft Word documents (mycontent.doc) have many default text formatting features that often mangle text when it is extracted from the Word document. While we have both Macs and Windows machines in our shop, a shop with Macs only will not even be able to open a Word file. Plain text, rich text and PDFs are friendly to both Macs and Windows workstations.
PDFs usually work well for submitting content, but we are not always able to extract text from a PDF file. If a PDF was saved as one large image, the text in the file will be flattened and behave just as a photo would. If the PDF was saved to preserve the content as text, we can easily remove it. For extensive PDF documents, such as technical manuals, it may be best to put them online as a PDF instead of a traditional HTML webpage. When the PDF document changes, uploading the latest version is faster than updating HTML pages by hand.
If you do not have digital content available, or the time to type it, please submit your content anyway! One of the biggest hold-ups on websites going live is the webmaster waiting for content. We will work with you to get the content web-ready.
Whenever possible, digital versions of logos and photos are best. If you only have prints of your logo or photos, we can scan them but quality may be affected. When a page is scanned, we have to take the resulting scan and crop it to grab the logo or photos we need. In the case of a logo or an image that shows a background behind it, tedious hand-editing in Photoshop is often needed to remove the background. One of my favorite areas of graphic design is photo or logo restoration, but it is definitely time consuming!
If you do not have a digital version of your logo or have an outdated version that was done years ago in MS Paint, it is worth investing in logo recreation. A version of your logo done as a vector graphic can be reused in print, on the web, as vehicle graphics and more. Vector graphics are made up of points that define lines and curves, allowing them to be resized without losing proportion or detail. Having a vector graphic available for all of your vendors also aides in the consistent use of your logo and branding.
For digital images, we can work with high resolution and low resolution photos, though higher resolution images are preferred. Having descriptive file names on your images is also handy. Digital cameras usually name photos with numbers (000_012.jpg, 000_013.jpg). Renaming the files with descriptive text helps you (and us) know what the photos are about (blue_widget_628a.jpg). We have a tutorial online to help you with creating filenames (onyourmark.com/tutorials). If you have a handful of small photos, emailing them to us will be fine. For a large catalog of digital photos, mailing a CD is best. It is also best to submit the individual photo files, not to insert them in a Word document and submit that!
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