Author: Nifty

Installing and Running WordPress

Congratulations on your new WP website!  Now it is time to take advantage of the exclusive features offered to you.  The following is a very basic tutorial on how to install and run WordPress.

WordPress.com or WordPress.org?

This is basically the first decision you will face.  WordPress.com is absolutely free whereas WordPress.org has a paid subscription. The first one is great for a starting website.  WP takes care of pretty much everything and all you have to do is find the best design that fits your needs.  You can select from many templates and customize it for your business, blog, or portfolio.

The WordPress.org site provides hosting through BlueHost.com and basically gives you more freedom design.  You basically get a frame to work upon through coding and web designing.  This is the version that allows you to install plugins to maximize the power of WordPress.

Installing WordPress

Installing WordPress is actually super easy. When you install WordPress on your computer, your device becomes a local server environment or host.  Besides this, the installed version allows you to take a preview of new content or design before it affects your audience.

To install WordPress as a website, use Bluehost or another good hosting service that knows WordPress very well.  But first, you will need a domain name.

Now, it is not within our scope to give you details on which installer to use.  We will briefly mention the following.

  • Mojo provides a simple 1-click installation.
  • You can also install it manually but you will need an FTP client to do so.
  • QuickInstall is a pretty popular auto-installer.
  • Fantastico is also a pretty common auto-installer. It is used by some WordPress hosting providers and is an easy way to install WordPress.
  • Softaculous offers a pretty easy installation of WordPress with only a few clicks.  Some hosting companies such as inMotion hosting and SiteGround use it.

What comes next?

Once you get your WordPress installed, you can start customizing it. Do this before you launch so that you offer your visitor a fully formed site instead of one “under construction”.  The basic things that you should do before you get your WP site up and running are:

  • Choose a theme.  There are thousands of themes for you to choose from.  There are so many that selecting the best one can be a bit daunting.  Deciding what it is that you want to showcase and what your business is about is usually a good first step.
  • Install plugins to take advantage of all the power WP has to offer. The massive amount of plugins provide new and exciting features and functionalities to your site.  The WordPress directory alone offers over 40,000 free plugins. There are more available from third-party providers.

With so many features, there is always something new to learn in WordPress.  Start creating content and deliver to your audience the content and frame they deserve.

How to Add Cinemagraphs in WordPress

This time we will go through the process of not only adding a cinemagraph to your WordPress website but how to create one.

The Basics

Let’s begin with what is a cinemagraph is and how it can help your site.  A cinemagraph is an image with one part of this picture moving, as in a video, while the rest of the pictures stays still.  The most common use for this technique is for advertising.

The great thing about these images is that they can be pretty engaging.  Your articles are enriched with content that sometimes inadvertently bring in more visitors.

The name “cinemagraph” obeys to the fact that the photo looks like watching a movie at the cinema.

It might seem as if they were similar, but cinemagraph and GIF are not the same thing.  All you need is practice until it comes naturally.

Creating Cinemagraphs from Video

You will be amazed at the little number of materials needed to create cinemagraphs from videos.   Here’s what you will need to get started:

  1. A short video clip that you will be turning into a cinemagraph.
  2. Adobe Photoshop

Add some time and patience to those two and you are on the path of success.  Let’s split the process into steps:

  1. You will first need to make some edition on the video.  Use any video editor to trim the video into the small bit that you will be transforming into a cinemagraph.
  2. Import your trimmed video to Photoshop.  Click on the File » Import » Video Frames to Layers menu to, in fact, place the video in layers.  You will be prompted to your files, select your video and click OK.  Depending on the size of your video, it might take some time for it to load into Photoshop.
  3. Once the video has been completely imported, click on the Labels tab.  You will see video layers as frames.  Select all the layers except for the first one (Layer 1). Put the selected layers into a group like this: Layer » New » Group From Layers.
  4. Next, you need to mask the selected layers.  Go to Layer » Layer Mask » Reveal All to do this.
  5. Invert the color of the mask by pressing Ctrl+I (Command+I on a Mac).
  6. Now you have to set the foreground color to white and click on the brush.  Use the tool brush to highlight the area that you want to show in the loop.
  7. Go to Window » Timeline and open all the layers in animation format.  You will notice that all frames appear transparent except for the first one.  To change this, select this first layer (Layer 1) and click on the Unify Layer Visibility icon and press the Match button.
  8. Click on the toggle button icon of the Timeline and select all the frames.  Next, click on the toggle button again and choose Copy Frames.
  9. Click on the toggle button and select “Paste Frames”, select “Paste After Selection” and then OK.
  10. You will need to click on the Timeline toggle again and select the Reverse Frames option.
  11. Save it on your computer as a GIF by clicking on File » Save for Web.

Your cinemagraph is now ready to use.  To add it to your WordPress, just click on the Add Media button to add it to your post.

Using Photoshop’s Image Resizing Correctly

Cameras are so advanced and offer so powerful resolution that one might ask why would you want to resize photos.  Such an impressive amount of megapixels deserve all the glory of being used at its fool.   True that but only if we are talking about framing those pictures in a 40 x 60 on a big wall.

Why Resizing Photos?

As explained above, the thousands of megapixels your camera has to offer are great for printing those pictures.  But if you are planning on sharing those pictures online, then you should resize them to make them fit.  Most websites will not allow you to upload such heavy pictures and others like Facebook will downsize them for you, affecting its quality and looks.

This process is not recommended since it could even affect colors in a photo.  It is best if you do this resizing yourself in such a way that you are in control of what stays and what goes.

Preparing for Resizing

The first thing you need to do before photoshopping the size of your image is to actually know what is this size.  You can do this by going to Image>Image Size in the Menu bar.

Now, remember that resizing is an art.  Actually, the process before resizing is the one that takes time and dedication.  The following are some simple steps that you can take to properly edit a photo before down-sampling it.

  • Open the image in PhotoShop.
  • Use spot healing and other tools to remove unwanted objects or specks of dust.
  • Play around with some image adjustments such as contrast, curves, and levels.
  • Make one single pass of noise reduction but only if there is noise at 100%.
  • Sharpening it once; somewhere between 50-75%.
  • Downsample the image to the desired resolution.
  • If necessary, you can pass another sharpening here.
  • Export the image.

Resizing your Image

We can now safely go to the resizing process with our photos going through an appropriate sharpening and noise reduction.  Here are the basic steps to properly resizing our image:

  • Open the image you have already touched in Photoshop.
  • After you have edited the final photograph, run one pass of noise reduction.  Photoshop has its own noise reduction tools but you can use other tools such as the Nik Software Dfine which gives you better results.
  • Sharpen the image but only if you are planning on printing it.  It does not really make much sense to sharpen an image to share online.
  • Go to Image>Image Size and you will get the Image Size dialog.  Decide what is the target resolution you want.  For online pictures, I would go with 1024 pixel.  When you change this in width part of the dialog box, notice how the height gets adjusted accordingly.  Check on “Constrain Proportions” at the bottom.
  • A big step will be to resample the image.  You notice that at the bottom of the dialogue box there is a section that reads, “Resample Image”. Check that one and make a choice.  I invite you to test the option and decide which one suits you best.
  • Sharpen up the picture before extracting it.  You may use Photoshop’s “Unsharp Mask” to do that.
  • Extract the image. Don’t just go with the Save action because it will save it as a huge file.  Instead of that,  go to File>Save for Web and Devices.

After all these steps, you should have a beautiful resized image appropriate for Facebook or the gram.

WordPress is the Perfect Choice for Your Small Business Site

WordPress is the Perfect Choice for Your Small Business Site

Maintaining an online presence is one key way to score business points. Unfortunately, most small businesses still find it hard to set up business websites. It is also understandable why. The cost of setting up and maintaining customized websites can be quite high. However, if you run a small business and wish to start on your path to online visibility, there is an easy way in. You should consider beginning with WordPress, more so for the reasons below.

1. Ease of setup

WordPress has been and still remains the premier blog and small business website provider due to its ease of setting up an account. To begin with, setting up an account on WordPress is free. Also, the setup process is quite fast. In less than 15 minutes you can have an account fully set up and ready to go. All it takes is a little research on the internet.  Here is a look at how easy WordPress is to set up.

2. Management

For management purposes, WordPress offers its users two different account options. The first option is the WordPress hosted choice. This option will only require you to carry out minor theme customizations on the website. The self-hosted option is the second alternative offered on WordPress. With this choice, you will be expected to manage more aspects of the website functionality. This will range from choosing the host to managing the system analytics. Needless to add, both options are still less demanding than using a bespoke website.

3. Online support community

Due to its widespread use, WordPress boasts of a large online community. This offers a major advantage when it comes to resource and help topic search for new users. As such, you are not likely to get stuck whenever you encounter challenges while maintaining your business website.

4. Ready SEO optimization

If you truly wish to make headway online you need to understand how to integrate search engine optimization into your website. By default, WordPress offers you the simplest and most casual way of integrating SEO optimization to your website even with limited technical skills. Thus, WordPress makes it easy for customers to find you on search pages, even as you learn how to personally optimize your web pages. Additionally, there are numerous WordPress associated plugins aimed at enriching your website’s SEO capabilities.

5. Wide and rich variety of designs

WordPress grants you a sure way to create a lasting impression. It has so many attractive and customizable themes. In addition to the themes, you also get the opportunity to use handy plugins to give your website heightened features. So whether it is stats analysis or a uniquely modified contact form, WordPress has got you covered.

As a small business owner, most of your effort should be channeled towards growing your business. Online presence is just but one of the paths to growing your customer base. Still, your website should not take a lot of your time and effort. What’s more, it needs not dent your bank balance and pocket. If you fear wasting time, effort or money on a website, it is worth trying out WordPress first.

Make Your Images Web Perfect with Photoshop

Make Your Images Web Perfect with Photoshop

They say a picture paints a thousand words: thus, the better the picture, the better story it tells.  You may have come across a beautifully written article but with a picture that doesn’t seem to complement what has been written. If it were a picture of a tourist spot that you had on your bucket list, you might have second thoughts about going ahead with the trip.

Conversely, if you were the one to do the post, you would want to have an image that can elicit a positive reaction.  So how do you make your images web perfect? After doing your general make-over, let me help you make your images alive with the following easy steps:

1. Make the colors come out. Select the image you want to enhance and open it in Adobe Photoshop. With your image in the background, right click on the “Layer Window” and click on ‘Duplicate Layer’. Click on the newly created layer and then select ‘Multiply’ from the ‘Blend Mode’ located on the drop down box at the upper left corner of the “Layer Window”. The resulting image will be one of darker, more striking colors.

You may now go to Image>Adjustments>Shadows/Highlights and drag the Shadow slider all the way back to the right: after doing this, hit OK. Notice that the only the darker parts of the duplicated image are reduced. If the resulting image is still too dark, you can remedy this by reducing the opacity to your preference: try experimenting between 50-60% opacity to see what would look better.

2. Boost colors by area. You might feel that some parts of the image may look pale and some parts too colorful to look normal. To boost a color, you may press ctrl+alt+shift+e to combine the 2 layers of images you are working on (creating a third image) without necessarily “erasing” the other 2 you were working on originally.

You will then have to go to Image>Adjustment>Color Balance. To boost your colors, you have to determine the specific color you want to boost and move the slider to the desired hue. Click on Midtones if you want just a color boost; otherwise, click on highlights to add more pomp.

When you boost a color in an image, the color you are boosting will affect all parts of the picture so that there will be portions that will be darker than needed. To remedy this, you may use the eraser tool to erase the portion of the image that you would want retained in its original color. Do as many tweaks on the image as you wish to attain the “correct” color you wish. Then, adjust the brightness of the image.

3. Flatten, Resize and Sharpen. With the many layers you have, you would want to create that one “perfect” image. Thus, you need to flatten your layers into one picture. Layer>Flatten Image. After you have your “Image”, select the size by going to Image>Image Size. Standard dpi for web images is 72. Select your width and this would automatically adjust the height. Lastly, do your final touch by clicking Filter>Sharpen>Unsharp Mask tool! Picture perfect!