Getting On-Line

On this page i want to post a directory of links that will take you to sites that can get you and your work on-line.

We can all get to grips with this technology and learn about it really quite quickly, OK we might never be able to master it but we can all learn the basic grammar. We can develop an appreciation of the various forms and what they can do.

This page aims to bring you all up to speed and to give you a broad understanding of how on-line technology works for the individual. I’d like you to be up there yourselves, to have a presence of some kind that you can control, post to and use to network yourselves and create an identity on the web.

SOCIAL NETWORKS

Increasingly social networks are the main way people link up with each other, there are many social networks out there. The largest ones globally are, Badoo , Bebo , BlackPlanet , Broadcaster.com , Cyworld , Facebook , Flickr , Flixster , Fotolog , Friends Reunited , Friendster , Habbo , hi5 , LinkedIn , Multiply , MySpace , Nasza-klasa.pl , Netlog (used to be facebox) , Nexopia , Odnoklassniki.ru , Plaxo , Reunion.com , Soundpedia , Tagged.com , WAYN , Windows Live Spaces (msn), Xanga , XING . Social networks often include blogs and the boundaries between blogs and social sites are quite blurred. The number one social site by the way is MYSPACE with &&&&&&0217000000.&&&&&0217,000,000 million users it is about 150 million users ahead of the rest !
But social networks are a bit of an odd place to post your scamps and thoughts on advertising, because they are a bit limited design wise, also they are plugged into a wider network and feel a bit too socially oriented to use as a career tool. Though maybe i am just not thinking laterally enough about them?

BLOGS

The quickest way to get on-line and create a real individual identity is to build yourself a blog, blog is a shortening of ‘weblog’ and it is in essence a digital journal, though perhaps digital scrapbook is a more accurate description, given that you can post lots of other content up there by copying and pasting from other sites/blogs.

The main providers of blogs are,

LiveJournal is one of the oldest and most popular free blog providers on the web, and is great for personal blogs. You can set up a blog for free, and customise its look and feel using predefined templates or your own HTML. You can also choose to upgrade your account with paid features which allow you to edit a few more aspects of your journal’s look and feel; upload more user icons; and create voice posts and user polls. LiveJournal’s unique selling point is its focus on social networking; users can add others to their Friends List (sometimes called a flist)

Blogger had been around for a few years before it was bought out by Google in 2003. Blogger is another good option for personal blogs, with the added advantage of the ability to set up Google AdSense advertisements on your site, meaning that you can earn some pocket money from site visitors. A major benefit of a Blogger account is that users can choose to use their own domain name for their blog, and can also host their blog externally if they wish. The Google toolbar features a button that says BlogThis!, which, when clicked, allows the user to post a blog entry about the page they are viewing. However, unlike LiveJournal, Bloggerblogs are not always properly indexed by search engines.

Bravenet is a web services site which offers a multitude of tools to users of all abilities. The blogging service has improved greatly of late, with more and better customisation options available. The other integrated features offered, such as web hosting, statistics, counters and site builders, may be useful. Again, some of these features require a small fee to be activated.

WordPress.com is another free blogging service which is popular with businesses and personal users alike. WordPress boasts the ability to import journal entries from other blogs, meaning that moving over to WordPress is not too complicated a task. Some of the more recent features of WordPress, such as CSS editing, domain mapping, and increased storage space, are only available for a fee, but the free service is more than adequate for most users.

WordPress (as opposed to WordPress.com) is a blogging software package which gives users much more flexibility with regard to the management of their blog. The software is free to download, and is open source. You will need to have your own web host and domain name to use WordPress software, but it is a highly powerful and professionalway of running a blog. The technical support offered is also excellent.

TypePad is a paid blogging service which gives users a lot of flexibility and powerful features without the need for much technical knowledge. Multimedia such as video or music are easily added to TypePad blogs, and users can also embed functionality from various websites including Amazon and Skype, as well as choosing whether and how advertising should be included. Detailed site statistics are also available to some users.

By Brian Jackson – thanks Brian : )

Ok. so lets explore blogs in more detail.

http://johnkstuff.blogspot.com/ John Kricfalusi used to make the cartoon Ren & Stimpy now among other things, he runs a great blog on animation, character design, and drawing. Look at the network of other great sites he has put on the sidebar, this kind of generosity will always be repaid, the people you link to link back to you. But more importantly it connects you with a specific network of people that you choose, not someone you went to school with 10 years ago that you hated anyway or some random band that wants to send you flyers about their gig in Australia.

So a blog isn’t an open house like many social networks but in other ways it is very similar in that it is a reflection of your personality, though unlike social networking pages it tends to represent one aspect of your personality, Chihuahua’s, Cooking , or even advertising. In fact advertising seems to of embraced blogs massively. On one level i think this is because they are new and agencies want to appear fresh etc BUT i would like to suggest that there are also other reasons.

1. They allow individuals a voice – within the agency that belongs just to them. an Agency is such a team of players, it needs to be that in order to work effectively, so a blog works a little bit like a pressure valve allowing individuals to have a space in which to think individually.

2. Idea Storage – At a busy agency it must be frustrating to have to stay on target all the time, other ideas will inevitably creep in and a blog is good place to stash them.

3.Diversity – The number one advertising blog is adrants full of gossip and bad adverts a chance for the industry to let off steam. If we look at some of the other blogs in the chart we can see that there are plenty of other functions. advertising design goodness celebrates great work , Adliterate posts ideas about radical thinking in advertising ideas that are perhaps inappropriate in the Day Job. W+K has a nice blog written by newbies and placements called welcome to optimism it talks more about the day to day life of the agency.

4.Overtime – Within this variety of styles and purposes i can see one common factor, the blog exists outside of their ‘Day job’. No one is being paid to write blogs, OK i’m sure somebody is, but many many almost all the blogs i have seen are written, because the urge to be heard is stifled in the real world.

5.Reflection – Sometimes i think, who the hell has the time to read these things i’m too busy doing my blog to read yours today, but then i’m not even sure that that matters because a blog also operates as a diary, as somewhere to dump your brains excess baggage, like a note book that you can come back to weeks later when you have more time and reflect on.

6. Collating stuff – But a blog is a marriage of the personal and the universal, its easy to post content from other sights onto your blog by copying and pasting the embed code from a site onto your own blog. Or adding a link, or copying and pasting text over into your blog. This process of cherry picking the digital universe of collecting seperate elements and bringing them all together gives the blog an identity of its own that is PLUGGED in to the rest of the internet.

7.Association – By posting an advert you like that you have an interesting comment to make about you are associating yourself with good work, with talented people in the industry, this becomes part of your ad industry identity, in the same way that posting a great bit of music on your myspace associates you with that band.

8.Joining the Dots – With a blog you can string several elements together, an ad a comment by someone on an ad your comment on their comment, once its up there its easier to direct someone to that series of posts and links all in one place then it is to just e-mail them a bunch of links and expect them to work it out for themselves.

9.RSS feeds – you can subscribe to other bogs/sites with rss feeds, this means that their content come straight to your site and updates in real time.

I am sure there are other benefits of blogging but for now i have run out of steam.

A website doesn’t work like this at all, its not as plugged in as editable, it stands isolated from the rest of the net . Thats great if you are an agency or a global brand you are big you have done a lot of things BUT for you guys just starting out, clever use of blogging combined with other media both new and old can create a fresh identity that is integrated and more to the point interesting.

1 (1) AdRants
2 (2) Advertising/Design Goodness
3 (3) Duncan’s TV Ad Land
4 (6) Bannerblog
5 (8) Adland
6 (4) AdFreak
7 (4) Adverblog
8 (8) Adverbox
9 (11) Coloribus
10 (9) Copyranter
11 (new) 10ad
12 (10) Logic + Emotion
13 (12) AdPulp
14 (13) Jaffe Juice
15 (14) Ad Punch
16 (15) Experience Curve
17 (20) AdScam
18 (17) Agency Spy
19 (23) BrandFlakes for Breakfast
20 (18) Adliterate
21 (16) Twenty Four
22 (22) Crackunit
23 (24) Scamp
24 (21) How Advertising Spoiled Me
25 (19) Behind The Buzz

here’s the top 25 advertising blogs. i copied and pasted them from scampblog
there appears to be statistical analysis in every aspect of advertising even blogs !

WEBSITES

In design terms blogs and social networks are adaptable templates, you can put original content into them but you can’t decide exactly how you want your identity online to look they are not brandable. To do that you need to build or have built for you a website. Websites are created using HTML , and CSS click on the CSS link to go to a great site called CSS zen garden and follow the instructions and you will soon understand exactly what CSS ( Cascading Style Sheets ) are all about. They are important and you need to know about them. This site is good too http://htmldog.com

With a bit of organisation but no real knowledge of how to code ( to use html & CSS jave etc) it is possible to build a website using an HTML editor there are quite a few out there but UCF uses Adobe Dreamweaver on its machines. What an HTML editor does is creates websites using HTML code and CSS that is hidden, it is a WYSIWYG programme, WYSIWYG stand for What you see is what you get, in dreamweaver this means that for much of the time you never really look at any code and as the site is built, you are able to preview it in browsers and see what your site will look like.

TEMPLATES – Many companies sell website templates that you can use with dreamweaver to create a very professional looking website. Allwebco do some nice ones here and this will give you an idea of whats

achievable. But as with any purchase shop around to find something different and that suits you. The advantages of working in this way are enormous, it saves you weeks of work AND allows you to focus on the content of your site and not get snarled up in dreamweaver hell. The basic template is done in html and is easily editable the flash if there is any is put into the site as a separate element. What this means is that its very easy to update your site and add to it. A site template can be purchased for as little as £25 extra element can bump it up to £60 but i think thats pretty good compared to say getting business cards printed.

FLASH

You can add elements to the site from other software like FLASH to add interactive or animated content to your site

Adobe Flash, variously also called Shockwave Flash, Macromedia Flash or simply Flash, is a set of multimedia technologies developed and distributed by Adobe Systems, and previously Macromedia. Since its introduction in 1996, Flash technology has become a popular method for adding animation and interactivity to web pages; Flash is commonly used to create animation, advertisements, various web page components, to integrate video into web pages, and more recently, to develop rich Internet applications.

Flash can manipulate vector and raster graphics and supports bi-directional streaming of audio and video. It contains a scripting language called ActionScript. It is available in most common web browsers and some mobile phones and other electronic devices. Several software products, systems, and devices are able to create or display Flash, including the Adobe Flash Player. The Adobe Flash Professional multimedia authoring program used to create content for the Adobe Engagement Platform, such as web applications, games and movies, and content for mobile phones and other embedded devices.

The best way to understand what flash can do is to check out some sites.

http://www.wktokyolab.com/#

http://www.alexandermcqueen.com/flash.html

http://unlimited.orange.co.uk/flash/go

http://www.yugop.com/

http://www.sswoss.com/vesak06/vesak06.html

http://websitedesignawards.com/category/flash-awards/

http://websitedesignawards.com/tag/advertising

as you can see FLASH is . . . well it’s flashy, its slick, its smooth if ‘the medium is the massage’ then Flash is the ultimate digital massage.

If you were going to work at a digital agency you could consider doing a site using flash to demonstrate how skillful your team are. Creative teams with this kind of skill are certainly in demand and digital agencies are recruiting advertising people just as keenly as traditional agencies are recruiting digital people.

One final element of webdesign is JAVA the core concept of Java is that the coding creates a virtual machine on any hardware with any operating system, the code is the ‘machine’ – Java allows you to play online games, chat with people around the world, calculate your mortgage interest, and view images in 3D. These applications, written in the Java programming language and accessible from your browser, are called “applets”. Corporations also use Java applets for intranet applications and other e-business solutions. Java is owned by Sun microsystems.

BUT – Often a site is a combination of HTML, Flash, Java and CSS that has been assembled in an html editing program like Dreamweaver . So its important to do some research and make sure you know which part does what. there are some great blogs about web design. Here are a couple to get you started.

http://www.killersites.com/blog/
http://www.smileycat.com/index.php

Dont forget to explain about save for web to compress images before posting !

learn CSS

A PRACTICAL GUIDE

There are several online portfolio services which require little to no technical knowledge to quickly set up and get going. Most I’ve listed here are free but have a ‘premium’ paid option. They’re loosely listed in suitability order.

http://www.carbonmade.com/

http://portfolio.deviantart.com/
Probably all of you know deviantArt and, rightly so, wouldn’t want to link a potential client to a deviantArt account! However, their new portfolio service looks promising, lightweight and ad-free.

http://www.behance.net/
Just add ‘/frame’ after your profile URL to get just your portfolio, without all the other behance website navigation etc.

http://www.coroflot.com/

http://www.weefolio.com/

http://www.krop.com/creativedatabase/

http://www.shownd.com/

http://www.bigblackbag.com/

http://www.viewbook.com/

http://www.flickr.com/
Mainly a photography community, but some people use it as an illustration portfolio.

For several reasons, perhaps you don’t want a URL such as ‘http://yourname.carbonmade.com’ as your website address. Maybe you’ll decide to change to a different web portfolio service in the future or possibly the service you choose to use will start charging too much or close down altogether – resulting in peoples bookmarks and links to your website no longer being correct. Aside from that, a http://www.yourname.co.uk domain looks more professional printed on your business cards or other promotional material.

You can buy .co.uk domains for around £3.00 per year and ‘mask’ it to your portfolio URL. It’s easy to set up so when a visitor visits http://www.yourname.co.uk it instantly forwards them through to your portfolio URL. You can either have it so the URL in the address bar changes (to the actual portfolio URL) when the visitor is (re)directed or you can choose to keep http://www.yourname.co.uk in the address bar of the browser. The latter is referred to as ‘domain masking’.

If you prefer a .com (maybe you plan on working in different countries, or just like that international esteem to a .com) the same thing can be set up. Two registrars I recommend are 123-reg (http://www.123-reg.co.uk/)or 1&1 (http://www.oneandone.co.uk/). Their prices are competitive, ranging from £2.49 – £2.99 per year for a .co.uk depending on various offers etc. and a .com is typically around £10.00 per year.

I use 123-reg, so here is instructions on setting up domain masking: Once logging in to the control panel, select your domain from the drop-down and click ‘manage’. From here click on ‘web-forwarding’ then check the radio button next to ‘non-framed web-forwarding’ (this is effectively domain masking). Then just paste or type the full URL of your domain, including the ‘http://’ prefix, in the text field below. From this page you also have some basic control over meta tag information for your domain, so you can enter keyword(s) for search engines to pick up on.

The principle will be similar in other control panels and shouldn’t be difficult to figure out.

http://www.123-reg.co.uk/

http://www.oneandone.co.uk/

Additionally, it gives an air of professionalism to have a matching email with your domain, both for the ‘contact’ section of your portfolio site and printed (self)promotional material. E.G. ‘info@yourname.co.uk’ or ‘forename@yourname.co.uk’ rather than ‘dancing_fairy2588@hotmail.com’ or whatever other strange personal email you thought of when you were 14.

You don’t have to fuss about with POP3 mailboxes & a software mailclient. You can do a similar thing to domain masking with your emails and even have it catch ‘anything_and_everything@yourname.co.uk’ and skip it straight on to your webmail or student email, or whatever you like.

Again, instructions for 123-reg are as follows: Once logging in to the control panel, select your domain from the drop-down and click ‘manage’. From here click on ‘e-mail management’ then click on ‘create your email addresses’. In the first field input an asterisk wildcard (*) to setup a CATCHALL. Select ‘forward to another address’ from the drop-down then paste or type your personal email address in the final field (double check it’s correct, else you may end up never seeing the emails). Lastly click ‘save’.

For all of the above you do not need a web hosting package. There are disadvantages to domain masking: as http://www.yourname.co.uk stays in the address bar, it’s difficult for your visitors to bookmark or copy&paste an individual page or a permalink to an image of yours. So you may decide on domain forwarding instead. Some of the portfolio services or website builders (see below) allow you to use your own domains instead of their regular subdomain (‘yourname.thierdomain.com’). Though often, but not always, this is only feature of the premium packages.

Another option, if you want a little more control over your website design, but you don’t want to be wading knee-high in markup is to use ‘drag & drop’ website builders.

http://www.mrsite.com/

http://www.weebly.com/

http://www.moonfruit.com/

Alternatively, there are frameworks you can design upon. However, you’ll need a hosting package.

http://www.wordpress.org/
is well-known, with thousands of themes available. Arguably overkill for a simple portfolio website and if you want to start customising themes or building one from scratch for WordPress, it gets a bit more complicated. But WordPress is powerful and can make a great CMS (content management system).

http://www.indexhibit.org/
is another option – lightweight, straightforward with plenty of simple instructions on how to set it up.

Lastly, I highly recommend Google Analytics (it’s free). It will enable you to find out all kinds of information about your traffic. Things like: what search terms people use to find your website, where your visitors come from (referring sites as well as geographical location), the browser they use, their connection speed, how long they spend on your website, etc. and of course, a hitcounter. A lot of these portfolio services and website builders mentioned above will have an html edit where you can paste in the Analytics code snippet or sometimes they’ll have a specific function to incorporate Google Analitics.

http://www.google.com/analytics/

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