Archive | September, 2014

VIA Idea #34

8 Sep

Choose passwords wisely and consider password software

Many (most?) of us select the same password on all our accounts because it’s easier to remember, but that’s not wise, especially if you’re also guilty of using one that’s easily guessed by third-graders and Russian hackers. According to Splashdata, the five worst passwords in 2013 were:

• 123456

• password

• 12345678

• qwerty

• abc123

A simple way to make your passwords more secure is to make them longer. Most sites require passwords that are at least eight characters long; some require a combination of letters, numbers and printable characters. By using all the printable characters and increasing the password length, possible combinations increase exponentially:

8 characters = more than 645 trillion (645,753,531,245,761)
9 characters = more than 45 quadrillion (45,848,500,718,449,031)
10 characters = more than 3 quintillion (3,255,243,551,009,881,201)


While doing the research to write this article, I found all kinds of advice on how to make your passwords difficult to hack. Those lists include:

• Choosing a combination of two unrelated words (rootcandy)

• Creating an acronym of an easy to remember phrase (I want it all and I want it now= iwiaaiwin)

• Mixing the letter case (IwiaaIwin)

• Replacing a letter of a word or phrase with a different letter, number or symbol (Iwantitall+Iwantitnow)

• Adding one or more special symbols (iwitaaiwin!!!)

While these tricks might work if you have only one or two passwords to manage, how can you possibly remember which clever password goes with each credit card, bank account, online magazine subscription, LinkedIn, email, and dozens of other accounts? If you only access those accounts from your home computer, you aren’t as vulnerable as if you use your work computer, home computer, smart phone, and tablet.

Subscribing to password management software is a solution that’s been around for a while but is becoming more popular as major security breaches are made public. A friend of mine swears by RoboForm; it also got high marks in a recent article on the website Top Ten Reviews. This article rates features, security, supported accounts and help and support. Prices for annual subscriptions range from $9.99 to $29.99.

My advice, in a nutshell, is to do your homework and choose the password management software that best fits your needs. Then email to let me know which option you chose and how it’s working for you.

Contact Julie to discuss assessing the effectiveness of your website’s user experience and in thinking through how to make improvements.

VIA Idea #33

8 Sep

Tips for Designing Better Websites from the User Experience Point of View

However it’s delivered (print or electronic), every strong marketing piece presents information from a “what’s in it for me” point of view. A website presents you with the opportunity to personalize the experience by allowing your customers and potential customers to learn as much (or little) about your company and products as they desire.

Your website’s design needs to function well for many people. Each of us comes to a particular website with our own expectations and with individual goals. The more you know your target audience, the better you can predict their expectations and guide them into the sales funnel.


Tips to improve user experience include:

    1. Placing your phone number at the top and make it a “click to call”.


    1. Including a form that will make it simple to contact you without asking for too much information.


    1. Utilizing caching (see the sidebar article for details).


    1. Making sure that Responsive Web Design (RWD*) has simple layouts and fluid grids. Avoid complicated navigation.


  1. Examining Analytics data and tweaking the layout over time. For example, by moving a navigation tab on a client’s site, the hits to that page immediately increased.

Contact Julie to discuss assessing the effectiveness of your website’s user experience and in thinking through how to make improvements.

*RWD is a website design that resizes itself in order to work well across various screen sizes from mobile to desktop and everything in between.

VIa Idea #32

8 Sep

What’s the difference between CMYK and RGB colors and which one is better?

A client recently asked this question during a discussion about updating her company’s marketing pieces. But it’s not a question of better; it’s a question of when to use which. Let me clarify—if the finished product will be printed, then CMYK colors will be specified. But if the finished product will be electronic, then RGB is the color mix.

CMYK refers to cyan (blue), magenta (red), yellow and black inks. A printing press applies each color to paper separately to build up the image into the full-color photo or graphic image that you see in a newspaper, magazine, or brochure.

RGB, as you might guess, refers to red, green and blue, the primary colors of light that your computer monitor and iPhone use to display screen images. Software allows you to view the images by mixing these three colors. The color capability of your device determines how well the colors will display. SuperVGA (SVGA) mode can display up to 16,777,216 (16.8 million) colors; a 16-bit display is only capable of producing 65,536 colors. Although you would think that more than 65,000 colors would be more than enough, we need as many colors as we can get to display that logo just right.

Graphic designers work first in RGB mode, as that’s what they’re seeing on their monitors as they work. If the finished piece will be printed, they’ll convert the files before sending them to the printer. We often send a client a work in progress via email in pdf or jpg format. When getting the color just right is critical, we’ll sometimes suggest a press proof.

I’ve way oversimplified the printing process, and haven’t even yet addressed when to use a vector file and when a raster format is needed. Take a look at the sidebar and see the infographic for a quick lesson. Want more information? Contact me and I’ll share more technical explanations.