Friday, April 24, 2009

FE FI FO...File Format?

Hi all. I apologize for the delay in posts, I've been dealing with a dance performance and a lingering sickness the past two weeks. But, I am just starting to feel like I'm back into the regular routine today and I wanted to be sure to get a new post up.

I've compiled a list and brief description of the file formats most commonly used for graphic designers. I often provide clients a disk of their logos in various file formats for future usage. However, there is often confusion as to which file should be used where and how and when. Hence, the Kalico Design File Format Tips list:

1. eps
Encapsulated PostScript File. This is a vector-based file. You may not be able to open this file, as it is intended for a designer or printer’s usage. However, you may be able to place this file format in an image box when using a word processing program, such as Microsoft Word. To be used on promotional materials such as t-shirts, signs or brochures, if sending off to a printer.

2. jpg
Joint Photographic Electronic Group. A common compression method that shrinks a file’s storage size by discarding non-important picture detail. You should be able to open a jpg file and/or place it in an image box when using a word processing program, such as Microsoft Word. To be used on any printed material, especially anything printed in-house.

JPGs are commonly also used for web graphics. Please check the resolution and file size in order to determine your particular jpg's intended usage. You will not want to use a web jpg on a printed piece as the file was scaled down and optimized for web-usage, so it will not print clearly. When in doubt, feel free to ask your graphic designer whether your jpg file is safe for printing or not.

3. tif
Tagged Image File Format. A common graphic file format used for saving bitmapped images such as scans, photographs, illustrations and logos. You should be able to open a tif file and/or place it in an image box when using a word processing program, such as Microsoft Word. To be used on any printed material.

4. pdf
Portable Document Format. This file is a self-contained cross-platform document. In plain language, it is a file that will look the same on the screen and in print, regardless of what kind of computer or printer someone is using and regardless of what software package was originally used to create it. You should be able to open a pdf file, and use it on mostly all printed materials, provided the pdf was distilled correctly.

5. gif
Graphics Interchange Format. GIF images display up to 256 colors. GIF images generally have very small file sizes and are the most widely used graphic format on the web. The low quality resulting from compression makes them unsuitable for professional printing. Kalico Design provides gif files that are ideal for web usage, and will have a translucent background. DO NOT USE THE GIF FILE FOR PRINTING! It has been optimized for web-usage, and the file size has been scaled down, so it will not print clearly.

While there are several more file formats used in graphic design and printing, these are the most common and basic. Please feel free to contact me should you have any questions regarding a particular file format or to see if your file is safe for print or web usage.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

You Send It (no, really, you can do it!)

By now, you have probably heard of the term "FTP" when talking about file transfers. FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol, and is a way to exchange and manipulate files over a computer network, such as the Internet. Basically, it is a way to send or transfer files that are too large to email. While you may not know it, chances are you've used FTP many times before. It is most commonly used to download content, such as music MP3 files.

But, what happens when you want to send a large file to one or multiple recipients? Usually, you would need to have an FTP Client, such as Fetch, SmartFTP or FileZilla, installed on your computer. An FTP Client is software that is designed to transfer files back-and-forth between computers over an Internet connection, .

I've ran into this problem with many clients: I want to send them a large file, but they are unable to download the file b/c they do not have an FTP Client installed, have problems with their FTP client, or have forgotten their user name and password, etc. In reverse, I've also had many clients unable to send me large files via FTP, which, ultimately, results in burning files to a disk and sending them the old fashioned way, courtesy of USPS, UPS or FedEx. The only problem with this solution is the time lost during shipment.

No more, my friends! I'd like to introduce you to YouSendIt acts as a buffer between the sender and the recipients. It is an online application that allows anyone to send large files to, well, anyone. Oh, and did I mention it's free!

At YouSendIt, you upload a file and input your recipients' email addresses. YouSendIt will then send an email message to all your recipients, with a direct link to download files. It's fast, easy, and also notifies you when your files have been sent. Check it out and let me know how works for you!

Hint: You must first archive or stuff your files to combine multiple files into one single file before sending. Examples of archiving programs include WinZip and WinRar on Windows, and Stuffit on Macs. If you'd like more information on Archiving programs, feel free to shoot me an email.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Rethink Your Marketing During this Darn Recession

I was recently interviewed by a local business magazine, Smart Company (if you're in the Western Maryland region, please be sure to get a FREE subscription, it is a great local business resource). The interview was about "rethinking your business strategy in a recession". I gave input from a design, advertising and marketing perspective and I wanted to relay some of the topics that came up.

First and foremost, even though we are facing an economic crisis, now is not the time to cut back on your marketing! But, it can be a time to rethink your marketing. Consumers are still spending, they are just being more selective and careful about their spending. Reassess your advertising efforts. Make sure all your advertising materials have reason and meaning, get across your message effectively and successfully, look professional, and are geared towards your target audience.

Approach this "downtime" as a chance to really think about how you want to be perceived by your customers. If you haven't already done so, focus on your identity and branding. Is your logo professional, clean and creative? Does it visually represent what your company does and who your company is? Do you have current business cards that are professionally printed? Is your website easy to navigate, clean and concise, up-to-date and visually eye-catching? During this economic recession, make sure your company's identity will be remembered and recognized by your clients. Make sure it is cohesive and representative of your business ethics and practice. Be positive and use this downtime to work on all the things you didn't have time to focus on before. Your company will only better from it!

My April eNewsletter will be coming out soon, and the focus is "Marketing and Design on a Budget". It will include tips and tools for cost-effective marketing, including some free resources. Don't miss out! Be sure to subscribe to Kalico's eNewsletter. (it's free and we will never share or sell your contact information, cross my heart!)