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Digital Signage – How Sticky is Your Content? Part I

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Congratulations. You’ve completed your first digital signage playlist. Lots of interesting pages with attractive graphics, easy-to-read text, and a neatly placed logo.

You sit at your desk marveling for a moment, considering what you’ve accomplished. Sipping your hot coffee as you review each page one last time, you reach into the sack you grabbed earlier in the morning at the corner bakery for your favorite pastry -a freshly baked cinnamon bun drizzled with delectable sugary glazing.

Inspecting your pages, you bring the bun to your mouth. Right before sinking your teeth into it, you see the glazing has affixed the bakery tissue used to remove the treat from the bakery display case to your pastry. Without a second thought, you peel the sticky, thin paper away, take your bite and imagine your boss’s delight at seeing the product of your digital signage labor.

As you reach down to click through to the next page in the playlist, the tissue -stuck to your finger by the sweet bun glazing- tags along for the ride. You notice the unwelcome passenger, but not before clicking your mouse and smearing the sticky substance from your finger and bakery tissue onto the mouse button. Agitated, you grab the tissue with your other, clean hand, peel the bakery tissue from your mouse and finger and throw it down on your desk.

Calming down, you grab a cleaning wipe, pick up your mouse, rest your elbows on your desk and carefully clean up the minor mess before noticing the time and racing off to your boss’s office for a meeting to review the new digital signage content.

Upon entering her office, she catches you off guard with her observation. “I’ve reviewed your digital signage presentation,” she says in a tone signaling her dissatisfaction. “Tell me, why on earth would a customer ever give our digital signs a second look?” Before you can answer, she instructs you to give it another try. “Build in a reason to keep them coming back for another look,” she advises.

As you acknowledge her request and turn to leave, you hear her say. “By the way, what’s that stuck to your elbow? It looks like a piece of tissue paper.” As you close her office door, you see the bakery tissue glued to your sleeve and realize the only thing sticky about the content you dealt with today was the glazing of the cinnamon bun you removed from the bakery bag.

What are the things that can make your digital signage content sticky? Like Web developers looking to attract repeated visits to their sites, digital signage content developers must remember the importance of earning a second, third and even fourth look from their audiences.

What content can you develop or tap into that sticks in your viewers’ minds, not unlike the pesky bakery tissue did to everything it touched? What steps can you take to create or tap into existing desire on the part of your viewers to glance at your signs whenever they walk into your shop, sit in your service area or traverse the aisles of your store?

Those are the types of questions you should be asking yourself as you contemplate creating your digital content. Please stick around, because I’ll address some of them and give you a few concrete suggestions about making your digital signage content sticky.

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Source by David Little


"Pimp Your Site" Bling Bling Baby! Web Design Basics

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INTRODUCTION

Choosing a web design sometimes can be tedious if you don’t have the right resources or you simply don’t know how. First off you need to differentiate what theme you’re going to have. Is it going to be for personal use or for business.

Of course you don’t want to put stuff about the stock market on your personal site or Sponge Bob square pants on your business site. The layout, image, navigation and the overall look and feel should be appropriate to what your trying to accomplish. I remember when I first built my web site

Man! It looked really bad and every time I looked at it it gave me a headache. It took a lot of tweaking before it finally looked decent.

One thing I noticed though was that people liked a good web design with quality content and easy navigation.

These two factors are very important (Good Web Design + Quality Content) you need to balance your site where your visitors get comfortable using your site.

Below are some of the guidelines I followed while building my website:

LOOK AND FEEL – First impressions count! Now if your site is ugly people might not even read your content and could just simply click the back button or close the window. It’s like what I said, you need to balance your site with quality content and good graphics. Avoid using duplicate web sites or templates that everybody has. Keep your site unique, clean and don’t include too much advertising.

GRAPHICS AND COLORS – OK! folks this is very important! Many webmasters fail on this one. Your graphics should relate to your subject. If your talking about power tools in your topic you can’t just use a bunch of purse and shoe images right?

What you want to do is find an image of power tools or an image that relates to your topic and put it on right or left hand side of your content. Now using colors is very important too, but be very careful on this one. Personally I would only used two or three combinations of colors and it needs to match the overall look and feel.

Let’s say that your website’s company logo or your top image is blue. You might want to stick with the colors that will match your overall look and feel. You can use red arrows or red check mark images as your bullet points and use light gray on your main navigation image.

This is just an example, of course, use your own judgment. You could also use a third eye. You might want to ask your mother-in-law to take a look at your site. Oh! boy…Well that’s a different story…

What I’m trying to say is if you use multiple colors your web site will end up looking like a clown. Just imagine your self wearing a red blazer, purple pants, green tie, polka dots socks and blue shoes. Everything would be off right? Not a good sight. Also you’ll want to avoid using bright or loud colors that might hurt your visitors eyes or could even give them a migraine.

CLEAN LAYOUT DESIGN – The background of your web site is also a big part of your overall layout. As you may notice most big companies on the internet use white backgrounds. Google, Yahoo, and eBay these companies are multi-Billion Dollars companies and they all use white backgrounds and there’s a reason for that.

White backgrounds are pretty standard in web design, because it’s clear, clean and easy to read. Make sure you check your site for browser compatibility like Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Netscape, Opera and so on..

EASY NAVIGATION – Navigation links on your site play a big role in determining the main menu of your site. You should keep your main menu together as much as possible so that your visitors know what the next page will contain..

Many well known web sites on the internet keep their major links so that they appear on the top navigation bar. They are all in related section links and are listed on the right hand side menu. Make sure that your site has footers (links at the bottom of your site) so your visitors can easily go back up or go to the next page for other related links.

MINIMUM LOAD TIME – Make sure your web site load time is minimum considering many people are still using dial-up (especially outside the US). By minimizing your graphics, flash, video, and MP3 it will help your site to load faster. If necessary use some kind of compression software.

CONTENT IS KING – You’ve probably heard this over and over again but it’s true. Good content attracts visitors and your visitors will come back again and again. After all, the internet is all about INFORMATION, INFORMATION, INFORMATION.

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Source by Albert Hallado


10 Benefits of Graphic Recording

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Graphic recording is a tool for turning the intangible into the tangible it is a process and a product.

The process part is due to the graphic recorder transforming the spoken word into the visual. A graphic recorder listens intently to the conversation pen in hand and illustrates what they hear using pictures, words and color. This helps people collaborate and feel listened to creating a safe environment for new ideas.

The product part comes from the colorful output that is created. A complete digital capture of the illustrations created by the graphic recorder are compiled into a pdf that all participants receive after the event.

This process is hugely beneficial to any meeting of the minds and some of these benefits are outlined below.

1. Promotes Clear Thinking

Graphic records promote the clear thinking and good decision making that come when people can really ‘see what you mean’, and also see what they mean.

2. Provides Group Memory

A record of graphics captures the contents of a meeting in an engaging fashion and serves as an effective touchstone for recalling accomplishments and educating others.

3. Help Group Focus and Track

A graphic record provides a clear indication of what is being addressed by the group at any given moment, which aids participants to know where they are at and stay focused on the task at hand.

4. Increased Creativity

Recording graphics increases the ability to manifest ideas within an environment that unleashes the unlimited potential of the mind. As it uses both sides of the brain it opens up a relationship with the subconscious and allows thoughts and intuitions to flow freely. Visual Thinking builds connections with mnemonics and imagery eliciting the responses necessary to access these reservoirs.

5. Greater Efficiency and Productivity

Information discussed within a graphically recorded environment is more clearly understood, maximizing the time and efficiency of the “group mind.” With a greater grasp on individual roles and tasks, participants leave with a far better ability to reach goals and objectives. Graphic recording enables you to collect complex data in an integrated form on a single sheet of paper, increasing the opportunity to make informed decisions.

6. Greater Memory Retention and Comprehension – Scientifically proven studies show that simultaneous visuals increase participation and information comprehension. Add dimensions of real-time performance, radiant thinking (the brains natural process of thinking), metaphor, and mnemonics and comprehension is off the scale.

7. Documentation/ Product Creation

Recording graphics creates a real-time digital capture of the conversation. Clients receive an accurate recording of all the information harvested during programs that can be referred to at any time thereafter. These tools act as great memory tool that allow our clients to receive a cohesive understanding of what has been achieved.

8. Pattern recognition and understanding

Graphic recording is key in tapping the under utilized areas of the brain, boosting the creative IQ, the emotional IQ, assimilation of information, habit patterns and overall intelligence and mental performance.

9. Plays to your audience

Above 80% of us are visual learners. When we see it, we “get it.” Graphic recording provides critical information in an easy to understand format, predictable to the eye and organized for the brain. The faster participants understand your messages, the quicker and easier the agenda proceeds.

10. Seeing the Big Picture

A large graphical view of the discussion allows the group to notice relationships, identify themes, and spot gaps, all resulting in new insights. With more information on the page than could be held in the mind, people engage in higher level thinking and debate focused on solutions that truly consider the big picture.

As you can SEE the benefits of graphic recording are phenomenal no wonder the use of a graphic recorder or graphic facilitator is starting to become the norm in the top fortune 500 companies globally. In this new age of communication and community a tool like this is vital to ensuring you get the most out of your people’s time and effort.

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Source by Paul Telling


Building a Membership-Based Website

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There are two types of websites you can build to make money instantly.One is a membership-based website and the other one is a mini-website. They both do the same thing, the difference is the size and way it is developed.

Setting up a membership-based website does not have to be hard to do. It does take work initially, but once everything is done and in place, you just need to maintain it, which won’t take all that much time setting it up did. There are really two ways to set up a membership-based website. One way is for sites that have a small number of users, while the other way deals with sites that cater to the general public.

A website that is set up for a select few members is often times for personal reasons, like for sharing info. Family and friends get to log in and read content that you have prepared for them. For this type of site you may want to establish password protection. This way only those you want the accessibility of seeing your content can do so.

If setting up a password protected section is what you wish to do, you need to know how to do it.

Check with your web hosting company. They usually have a system in place to password-protect certain directories. They normally provide a control panel where you can go in and establish what directory you want protected. The best choice is to call your web host and request their assistance in setting up your website for password protection.

There is another way to password-protect your website. And that is to use a content management system or CMS. If you are setting up a website that will cater to a large amount of people, you will want to purchase a CMS like Joomla, WordPress, CMS Builder, or Article Manager.

Before getting into how to prosper with a mini-website, it is a great idea to learn what they are and how to build one. Once this has been clarified, you can learn the ways to use them to make lots of money.

A mini-site is a small website that is targeted to a specific market niche. This website tends to sell a single product to that niche market.

Most mini-sites are made with about three pages. There is the front or sales page, the payment page, and the thank you page. The thank you page is where the user is directed after the payment has been processed. Some mini-sites include a squeeze page. This page requests the user to enter his name and email address so this info can be collected right up front. Then once that info has been entered, the user is sent to the sales page.

In order to get your mini-site set up, you will need some kind of HTML editor. The choice of editor will depend on your likes and dislikes. You may like one type over another. Whatever you choose, make sure it is one that is comfortable to use, user-friendly, and not complicated. The next tool you will need is a graphics program. This is because you will need to create a logo for your website and perhaps your e-book, if you sell one at your site. If you know how to design graphics, you are one step ahead. If not, but you know someone who does, even better.

However, there are programs on the market that create mini-sites for you. This means the program already has an extensive amount of templates set up for you to use for your site. You might want to look into these programs.

The next tool you will need is an auto responder. Now, I cannot recommend any type of system. There are so many. What I would suggest is that you look up in Google and use the keyword “autoresponder,” and see what comes up. Then go to each site and do some research. You are bound to find one that will fit your budget and your needs.

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Source by William Yee


Parker Pens

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For over 100 years, Parker have been producing some of the best pens in the world. The ‘Jotter’ is by far best selling parker pen, it features classic, functional design with a stainless steel trim and a full life-time warranty. It is available in four barrel colours, blue, red, white or black. The Parker Pen brand is world renowned and as a gift, an opportunity to show how much you value your clients. The Parker Jotters are the best selling from the Parker range whilst the Frontier set offers a more contemporary style and higher perceived value. When you’re looking for a pen to showcase your company, you’ll want a brand that your customers’ know and value. Parker brand combine quality, innovation and style, along with great value. It’s not surprising that one in every five pens used in Europe is a Parker pen.

Do you want to impress your potential customers and workforce through promotional parker pens? Are you searching for a company that has a whole array of promotional parker pens that you can choose from? If your answer is yes then your search ends here. Here at EMC Advertising Gifts we have a wide range of promotional parker pens that act as great give a ways or part of a marketing drive. The promotional parker pens that we offer are making fantastic aids to a specific product or marketing drive. They can also act as great incentives to your workforce. Our catalogue contains a vast range of promotional parker pens, including: Parker Jotter, Parker Vector Rollerball, Parker Jotter Stainless Steel, Parker Vector XL, Parker Frontier Ballpen and a whole lot more.

Many companies within the UK use Promotional Parker pens as little incentives to customers of old and new. At exhibitions it’s common place to see many of the exhibitors giving out Promotional Gifts as part of the event. The idea of giving out Promotional Parker is to provide customers with something that they can use that has your company logo upon it. A range of parker pens can be given out to clients. Popular parket pens include parker jotter and parker vector with messages printed upon them. Give your regular customers parker printed pens and they`ll have an object they can use on a daily basis that has your name emblazoned upon it.

Moreover, give parker pens to prospective new clients and they`ll be able to read your company brand inside their business premises. Every time they use a parker pen that`s been given to them by you, your products will be floating through their minds and your company will be foremost in their thoughts. The parker pens that are given out at corporate events can vary from the cheapest of biros to the most expensive types of quills. Customers appreciate being looked after and they come to expect Promotional parker pens as part of the business process. Giving parker pens to them shows that they are valued and you want to continue doing business with them in the future. By providing them with Parker pens you are giving them something useful whilst reminding them of who you are and what you do.

Promotional Parker Pens and Business Gift Supplier http://www.atpenworld.co.uk

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Source by Munir Timol


Country Music Awards

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Each year, the Country Music Association, composed of country music industry professionals, presents the County Music Association Awards – more succinctly known as Country Music Awards or CMAs – to recognize excellence among the latest in country music. In 1958, the Country Music Association formed and became the first trade association for a single musical genre, with the mission to provide professional and educational resources that would contribute to advancements within the country music industry. Their first Country Music Awards banquet took place in 1967, introduced as a vehicle for furthering the organization’s mission and providing honor and recognition to outstanding contributions to the genre and the industry during the past year.

The first ceremony took place in Nashville, Tennessee, at the Municipal Auditorium, with Eddy Arnold taking home the CMA’s very first honor for Entertainer of the Year. The first two years’ banquets were not televised; 1969 was the first year that the awards ceremony was broadcast live on television for all the viewing public to see. Beginning in 1978, the awards have been broadcast live nationwide on both television and radio stations.

The twelve awards distributed each year include:

• Entertainer of the Year

• Single of the Year

• Album of the Year

• Song of the Year

• Female Vocalist of the Year

• Male Vocalist of the Year

• Vocal Group of the Year

• Vocal Duo of the Year

• Musical Event of the Year

• Musician of the Year

• Music Video of the Year

• New Artist of the Year

In order to qualify as a nominee, Music singles, albums, and videos must have been released during the given year’s eligibility period, usually from the 1st of July of the previous year through the 30th of June of the ceremony year. Country music charts harts used to determine eligibility for certain categories include Billboard’s Hot Country Singles & Tracks Chart, Music Row Country Breakout Chart, and Country Aircheck Chart.

The voting process that determines each year’s winners involves all Country Music Association industry professional members and consists of three rounds, all supervised by Deloitte and Touche, an international accounting firm. During the first round, members may nominate a single act in each category. From those selections, the top twenty qualifiers are compiled as official nominees for the next round of voting. During the second round, members may select up to five nominees in each category – and the top five nominees selected in each category after the votes have been tabulated become the official nominees for the final ballot. During the third and final round of voting, members choose one nominee in each category as their picks for the winners.

The trophy that Country Music Award winners receive was designed in 1967, made of walnut and marble, signifying the genre’s warmth, strength, and durability, constructed to resemble a chart bullet, and decorated with a music note labeled by the caption, “Best Liked World Wide.” Since 1982, fine Italian crystal has been used in place of walnut due to the wood’s limited supply. Constructed of hand-blown crystal in Florence, Italy, then assembled in Nashville, TN by Francis & Lusky, the trophy in its finished form is now a crystal obelisk award that stands at fifteen inches tall and weighs seven and a half pounds, with the Country Music Association logo engraved on a die-struck medallion with three levels in polished bronze. After winners are announced, a satin brass nameplate displaying the name of the winner and category is added to each winner’s trophy.

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Source by Andy McCarthy


Web Design – You Get What You Pay For – Cheap vs Quality

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Have you ever seen one of those advertisements stating that you could get a website designed for $199, or some company will create your web design for some outlandishly low sum of money? The adage “you get what you pay for” is very true, especially when it comes to web design! A cheap website is just that – a cheap website. Website design is exceedingly vital, particularly when you are advocating your company or association. Your web design will introduce your company or association to the world and I don’t believe a $199 effort would be a wonderful and effective testimony. It will have greater exposure than print would ever have an opportunity of doing and I doubt you would get far with that little sum of money in print! Web design can be and frequently is a lot less pricey than print in the end, but it is the most gainful way to promote your association in the long run.

Web design is a skill and a science that is gained over time. Not just anyone can do it and do it correctly; so it is critical that you approach your website designer and become acquainted with him or her. Some web designers are great artists, others are brilliant at code, a small amount are decent at SEO (search engine optimization) and even fewer are competent at each and every one of these areas. Most of the bigger web design companies maintain teams of individuals to make up for what each of their different designers may be deficient in. Certainly, common sense implies that the more people that are working on a web design, then the higher the cost will be. Now, just because a web design costs more than another doesn’t automatically suggest that the web design is better. This is where you want to talk to the actual designer who is designing your website and get to know them. Trusting your own wisdom and your own intuition goes a long way! You must like and have faith in your designer especially since you may be working with them for a long time. Website design is not a “fire and forget” business and it shouldn’t be; although quite a few designers these days are likely to function in that fashion unfortunately. For the majority of businesses the perfect scenario is when you have a web designer that can be close at hand anytime you need to make adjustments to your website.

The days of a stagnant website are over. In the ever-changing world of the web, a dynamic website is where the focus is. Website designs now require content that is ever-changing and continually updated. Events, inventory, images, news, blogs and several other features of your web design will need to be altered or updated frequently. The best situation is one where you have a content management system (CMS) and a website designer. The CMS will allow you to update important content without knowing any code and your web designer will be there if you need them to bail you out of something you broke or wrongly modified.

So what should all of this cost? It depends on several different factors. Several things affect this such as how many pages are needed, how much content will the customer provide and how much content will the web designer have to make and develop, how many images and graphics will have to be designed or manipulated, whether Flash and JavaScript are used or not, how many forms need to be designed and how complex will they be, and the list can go on endlessly. I would express that a decent web design will cost at least $1,000 and up. If you get a web design below $1,000 then you in all probability are not acquiring much if anything. For the most part, websites that are under $1,000 will more times than not be one page or a few pages at the most and be an extremely simple design. These extremely basic websites are what many would call a brochure site and you usually don’t attract much business from a brochure website. The majority of decent business websites will in all probability be approximately $2,000 to $3,000 and ecommerce would begin at approximately $3,000 to $5,000 and up. Larger company sites would begin at $5,000 to $10,000 and up. Thus if you spend $199, look forward to a $199 performance, if you spend $1,000 look forward to a $1,000 performance, and if you spend $3,000+ look forward to your site to appear, function and turn out like a high quality website design.

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Source by Michael LaHatte


Using the Bone Tool in Adobe Flash CS4

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If you’re a Flash animator like me, the inclusion of the Bone Tool is Flash CS4 is like a dream come true. While this tool can be used for a variety of things, it really comes in handy when doing character animations such as walking. But before I get too in depth with this, let’s talk about the basics of this tool.

First of all, what does this new feature do exactly? Simply put, its a tool that allows you to connect virtual joints to an object. Then when you grab one of these joints and move it, the object will move or animate in conjunction with the other joints you have placed down. So, let’s say you draw an arm. Then, using bones, you attach a joint at the top of the arm, then the elbow and finally the hand. By using the Selection Tool you can then grab the hand joint and move it. As you do this the elbow joint will bend naturally along with the hand. What used to take a considerable amount of time with frame by frame animation can now be done in minutes with The Bone Tool.

The example I cited above is a very basic use of this tool. Let’s talk about some more uses. Maybe you have a character using a rope. Apply some joints to the rope and now you can bend and animate it realistically. Perhaps you are animating a logo for your website and would like to apply some unique movements to it. Try using some bones! Or maybe you’re looking to do something subtle, like leaves moving on a tree. Again, the Bone Tool would be prefect for this. There are so many uses for it, the only limitation is your imagination.

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Source by Chad Troftgruben


Adobe After Effects CS5 – Let’s Pre-Compose

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After Effects has a lot of tools that make your job easier. Taking advantage of the ‘pre-comp option’ is a great time saver, a great management tool.

The ‘pre-comp’ tool is quite easy to access and apply and a very easy concept to grasp. Using ‘Pre-Compose’, the last option under your Layer pull down menu lets you group multiple layers together as one and treat them as one. Perhaps you have an animation of a cartoon monkey swinging from the trees. The monkey with his body, arms, and legs is actually made of multiple layers, and these layers have their own animation and relationships. He grabs the vines, swings from one tree to the next; his body sways as he flies through the air.

Once you have that set of relationships established it would be much easier to manipulate the group as a whole and this is one attribute of pre-composing. You reduce all these layers… to a single layer, a composition. Now you can adjust the position or scale or any transfer attribute of this composition, with a single change, and affect them all. Now, just like we use compositions inside other compositions, as soon as you pre-compose this set of layers, they appear in your timeline sources as a single composition, just what you wanted.

However, if you look at your project resources, just below the composition you are working on, you will see this new one, the ‘pre-composed’ composition you just created. What this means is that you can now use this composition with any of your projects, by simply dragging the new composition to your new one.

Having this new composition, what was formerly a set of layers available to all others in your project is great. You saved time; you saved ‘busy work’. In your original composition you were able to manipulate many as one and be able to place this set with a single position change.

An even greater application is building groups. Now you have a single object that has the detail you devoted to creating, in our case, a monkey swinging from the trees. Tomorrow you are asked to do a Tarzan movie and you need literally hundreds of monkeys swinging from trees. No problem. Now that your monkey is a composition, you can scale him, rotate him, flip him around so you can easily get many variations of your monkey swinging and while that seems funny, animations with hundreds of flowers, with grass growing all over the plain, and flocks of birds flying by, use this same technique and concept, to get many, from one. And that’s no monkeying around.

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Source by Tom Womack


Design Tips for Large Format Printing

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Large format printing is something that is required by most people who needs to advertise themselves on banners or in tradeshows. It is therefore important to ensure that everything is done perfectly and in the shortest time. However, it is not easy to find a designer who can do this job perfectly in a short time and one requires a few tips in order to ensure that their job is well done and it satisfies their customers.

The first thing that you need to do as a designer in order to do a great job is to use the available vector resources as much as you can. This is mainly because the vector images usually scale up and down in a perfect way and they also have a file size which is relatively smaller and it ensures that the slowdown of your computer is reduced so that they job can be done much faster. It also takes a short time to spool to the printer when it is being printed.

Ensure that you are working at a smaller scale using the same vector program. It is advisable to work at half to a quarter scales and have the printer be the one to scale it up so that you do not encounter problems when in the middle of the design. The other thing that you can do is to ensure that you calculate the resolution that is required especially if there is a need of using raster images in the designs that you are making. The resolution should be based on the full size of the design and linking externally to them rather than embedding them. It is important to let the printer know by programming it.

Large format printing are usually designed in a way that requires them to viewed from a distance and this means that one needs to use large text sizes that are easily readable. Ensure that you plan ahead about the colors that you are going to use since most of the large format printers are ink jets. As a designer, you should take a look at the design that you have made from a distance to see how it looks like. You should also print a small scale sample first to see how it comes out before doing it large.

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Source by Ali Raza