Iconico's Screen Calipers Tool for Website Design

written by
Friday, April 21, 2006

Iconico's Screen Calipers Tool for Website DesignHave you ever found yourself in need of an onscreen tape measure-like tool? For most graphic and website designers, this is an all too common occurrence. Designers need tools that can measure spaces and/or graphic elements directly from their screens. If you've yet to find such a tool, I'm happy to introduce you to Screen Calipers.

Iconico's Screen Calipers Tool for Website Design

When designing a website, or a graphic for a website, have you ever found yourself in need of an onscreen tape measure-like tool? For most graphic and website designers, this is an all too common occurrence. Designers need tools that can measure spaces and/or graphic elements directly from their screens, and report back in points, pixels, and other degrees of measurement. If you've yet to find such a tool, I'm happy to introduce you to Screen Calipers.

Screen Calipers is a screen-sizing tool that was created for graphic and website design use. This tool was developed by Iconico - an online design company known for their ability to create premium tools and services - and can size up spaces and graphics that appear on screen, similar to that of a tape-measure in the real world.

Iconico's Screen Calipers Tool for Website Design

My Thoughts

I absolutely love this tool! I've personally tested many screen-sizing tools in the past, but have yet to find one that offers as much Screen Calipers, with regards to design, usability, and accuracy. Screen Calipers can be used with any program - Internet browser, WYSIWYG graphics editor, etc. - as it is programmed to float over all applications allowing for quick and easy measurements.

Most of the time, I use this tool to measure how long or wide a specific section is on a website so that when I go to place a graphic I know exactly which size to scale it to. For example, if I wanted to embed a graphic into this blog's right navigation scheme, I could use Screen Calipers to determine that the maximum width allowed without breaking my design is 330 pixels. Therefore, I can plan accordingly.

My absolute favorite element that Screen Calipers offers is the ability to measure not just in inches or centimeters, but in pixels, points, picas, and twips. In fact, another feature is the option to create a custom unit of measurement. For example, let's say that your company measures onscreen elements using a paper click - holding and moving a paper clip across the screen. While I would argue that this isn't the best approach for measuring onscreen graphics, who am I to judge. Screen Calipers would allow you to program your settings so that the tool measures distance in "paper clips". No more holding a paper click up to you computer screen.

I 100% endorse this tool. Give it a try!

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Can You Guarantee #1 in Google?

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Thursday, April 13, 2006

Can You Guarantee #1 in Google?The one question that seems to always bother me most when speaking with leads, as well as clients, is when I'm asked "can you guarantee me the #1 position in Google?" The problem is that there are several uncontrollable factors that come into play when trying to rank a website, and that such guarantees should not be made. Granted, there is much we can do to influence search rankings, but the decision of which websites rank and where will always be up to the search engines.

Can You Guarantee #1 in Google?

The one question that seems to always bother me most when speaking with leads, as well as clients, is when I'm asked "can you guarantee me the #1 position in Google?" I hate this question for 2 simple reasons. First of all, asking this question informs me that the company is unaware of the complexities involved with ranking websites. This usually means bursting their bubble, and having to spend several hours helping them to understand the true nature of the SEO process.

Second, asking this question likely means that another "SEO company" has already made such a promise - I use the term "SEO company" loosely. This usually means me having to explain that the other company was wrong in making such a claim, and now it becomes a "he said, she said" issue for the client. While I do understand that neither of these reasons result in the lead/client being at fault, it still becomes an issue in which I dread dealing with.

For those not familiar with the SEO process, the problem is that there are several uncontrollable factors that come into play when trying to rank a website, and that such guarantees should not be made. Granted, there is much we can do to influence search rankings, but the decision of which websites rank and where will always be up to the search engines. In this case, we're left up to the discrepancy of Google.

Having explained this to many clients previously, I've become pretty good at doing so. However, I have also come pretty good at knowing when my explanation is going to fall on deaf ears. Leads/Clients get their heads filled with the notion that SEO is cheap, quick, and easy, and sometimes I can't bring them down from that. This means losing the sale to a company that sold them a false idea of the SEO process.

In fact, sometimes the client is so far gone that I simply say "I'm sorry. Our company does not make such guarantees. I understand that another company has, but they were wrong to do so. While I do not recommend it, if you'd like to risk your search engine reputation and visibility by choosing 'Company A', that's your right. I will be here to help when your website is either banned from the search results, or when your pockets are near empty and you've yet to accomplish your marketing goals.

This might seem a little bold, but I'm in favor of being a straight-shooter. I believe if companies are going to work together, such honesty will be needed and very much appreciated.

How would you handle such claims?

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Google Maps Adds Advertising

written by
Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Google Maps Adds AdvertisingGoogle put advertising on the map. I don't mean this in the sense that Google was the first to make Internet advertising mainstream, rather I mean it in a literal sense. Google has created and recently launched a feature that will allow web-marketers the ability to place photos, logos, and possibly other advertising inside the balloons that pop up on Google maps.

Google Maps Adds Advertising

Google put advertising on the map. I don't mean this in the sense that Google was the first to make Internet advertising mainstream (actually they were probably hugely responsible for that as well), rather I mean it in a literal sense. Google is literally putting advertising on the map.

As I had anticipated for some time now, Google has created and recently launched a feature that will allow web-marketers the ability to place photos, logos, and possibly other advertising inside the balloons that pop up on Google maps. These balloons mark exactly where specific merchants are located, according to each relevant search, and will now allow businesses the chance to target customers based on geography.

A handful of advertisers, including Barnes & Noble and Ralph Lauren, have been testing this new Local Business Advertising system for a few weeks now. According to Google, these companies purchased several keywords such as "New York books" and "Ralph Lauren New York" which when searched allowed them an opportunity to plug a logo, website, and detailed store information, such as store hours and payment options.

With Local Business Ads, merchants bid on keywords and pay per click as they do for ads associated with Google AdWords, Google's primary advertising network. The ads show up on the maps as well as on Google's main search results page as regular text ads.

I did a quick search for "Barnes and Noble Books New York" and came across the following listing:

Google Maps Adds Advertising

Notice that this search, and many others, brought up a few icons on the map. In this case I clicked on the "shopping cart" icon which generated specific information about the merchant. A given icon might be a coffee cup, a shopping bag, a car or, in the case of Ralph Lauren, a flower. When someone clicks the icon, a balloon pops up containing more information about the merchant, including a logo or photo and maybe a link to the merchant's Web site.

My Thoughts

I spent some time messing around with this new feature and I absolutely love the fact that merchants can effectively and literally "brand" themselves on Google's mapping service. Let's face it, there's no bigger selling tool for large corporations than their own brand, whether it be their slogan or logo. The closest thing I can think of at this moment that maybe even comes close to being as big of a selling point as brand would be price, but even so there are a lot of people who'll gladly pay tons more to own a piece of the brand. We're all guilty of it.

It is for that reason I believe this new feature will succeed in building up the local search markets. Not only will merchants love the ability to plug their brand, but users will too. Users will be able to quickly scan the map and find exactly what it is they are looking for in matter of seconds. All in all, this is a great new feature.

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