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Enhance your blog posts with free high quality images

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Photo by Bob Lee

Photo by Bob Lee

One of the easiest ways to enhance your blog posts is using high quality images. This breaks up long sections of text and adds interest to your articles, especially when you can find relevant images which complement your written content.

There are many premium photo sites, such as Dreamstime and Fotolia from which you can purchase high quality photographs to use in your blog posts. But if you are just starting out or are working to a tight budget, it’s extremely useful to source out free images instead.

In this post, I’ll offer a guide to some of the best sites from which you can source free high quality images to enhance your blog posts and website content. The images found on these sites are all royalty-free and you will not be charged to use these, though depending on the terms of each site there may be restrictions on usage and attribution.

Stock Xchng

Here you will find a huge variety of royalty-free images which you can use for personal projects at no cost. You will need to register in order to download images (which takes a few minutes at most), then you will have access to full-size photographs from a massive range of categories.

It’s simplest to perform a search using keywords which are relevant to your post content than wade through the categories as there is simply so much on offer!

Be sure to read the terms of use for any images you would like to use. Some contributors require that you ask permission before using their images publicly, while others restrict the use of images on commercial websites. If in doubt, it’s best to email the contributor before using to ensure you do not break the licensing terms and conditions. However, most images are offered with the general restrictions of the site.

Visit Stock Xchng

Picfindr

This image search engine sources royalty-free, stock quality images which you can use for any purpose (even for commercial use!).

The site is still under development, so occasionally you may experience isssues with the site and unusual results when searching. Overall though, this proves a useful site for sourcing “copy-left” licensed images for unrestricted use in your blog posts and online articles.

Visit PicFindr

Stockvault

This photo-sharing site offers a wonderful selection of images which you are free to use in blog posts and online articles (though not for commercial purposes).

You do not need to register to download images from Stockvault, however in doing so you can benefit from exclusive member-only features.

Find images by browsing categories or performing a site-search. And be sure to check out the competition results on the home page for articles which showcase the best imagery found on the site 🙂

Visit StockVault

Every Stock Photo

Here is an excellent resource for searching through (literally!) millions of royalty-free images for your blogging projects. If you can’t find something suitable from Every Stock Photo for your latest blog post, it’s probably not available for free on the web 😉

The licensing for each photo is clearly displayed and explained below each image, which helps you to understand at a glance whether the license will be suitable for your web projects. Most images require only attribution, though you should check to be sure.

Many of these images are sourced from Flickr’s collection of Creative Commons licensed photographs, while others are resourced form other sites which offer royalty-free, no-fee usage.

Visit Every Stock Photo

PicApp

Picapp offers a fast and easy way to embed licensed stock images into your posts. Using this free service you can use high quality images under license from Getty Images, Jupiter Images, Corbis and more with no cost to yourself. Instead, ads are displayed which help contribute towards royalty payments for the image contributors.

I haven’t personally used Picapp though you can read a review of this service by Kevin to learn more.

Visit Picapp

DeviantART

DeviantART is arguably the largest community of artists on the web. Here artists and graphic designers share their works publicly, and many offer their designs for others to use with varying licenses and restrictions.

If you are searching for stock quality images in particular, you can find these by browsing through the menus on the left hand side. Alternatively search through the vast collections using keywords which are relevant for your post content.

Be sure to check licensing restrictions and ask permission for use when required!

Visit DeviantART

Free Stock Photos

This is a relatively old but useful collection of stock-quality photos from around the world which can be used for both commercial and personal use.

Browse through the categories to find your ideal photo which are organized by international location near the top of the home page.

Visit Free Stock Photos

Free Foto

This well-organized site offers smaller-sized photos for free non-commercial use. Larger images can be purchased for a small fee if required.

The organization of Free Foto makes it easy to search for your ideal post image by browsing through tree-like categories of your required genre. Alternatively you can perform a site search to find results based on keywords for your post content.

Visit Free Foto

I hope this article has provided you with some useful and interesting resources for sourcing high-quality photos to enhance your blog posts. Please feel free to add your own suggestions by leaving a comment below.

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Amanda is a freelance blogger and web/blog designer. She writes about Blogger at www.BloggerBuster.com and maintains several other blogs on various subjects.

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4 Uncommon Design Tricks That Improve User Experience 100%

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Everyone’s concerned about improving conversion rates. The general consensus is that user experience is the place to start.

There are several ways to improve user experience on your blog. Most strategies center on tweaking the design of your website, but sometimes it’s how you organize your navigation. You’ve probably made basic changes like switching to WordPress or alphabetizing your drop-down menu’s items.

Here are some strategies you may not have tried:

1 – Color-code your menus with matching page color schemes

If you’re like most bloggers, you probably created a workable color scheme for your site and called it a day. If you want to improve user experience, that’s not enough. Consider coordinating the colors between your main menu links and each of your pages.

In an article describing why color-coded, hand-written notes improve efficiency of thought, blogger Kevin Purdy reveals that “color improves recall time for graphs and charts, and can be a very effective performance factor if not overdone.” The article also summarizes the work of Michael Tipper, a speaker and consultant on mind mapping and organizational software. Tipper says that color-coding the branches of a mind map stimulates the creative side of your brain, and visually separates distinct themes (which improves recall).

This same idea can be applied to your website for optimal results. Improve user experience by color-coding your main menu with a matching color scheme for each page you link. For instance, Pioneer Seeds implements color coordination extremely well. From one side to the other, all mega menu drop-downs have a unique background color that matches the color scheme of the pages listed within that particular section. There are no complicated color schemes. Each page presents one solid color.

The continuity of matching colors feels good, it’s easy on the eyes, and it helps people keep track of what section they’re viewing.

2 – Hire a design agency to create a custom design from scratch

The era of templates is here to stay, but not without consequence. Templates are easy and cheap (sometimes free), but they lack the flexibility you need to create an impactful and smooth user experience.

For example, most templates feature a gigantic header that encourages you to create an enormous header you don’t need. The most popular templates today force users to scroll endlessly through horizontal sections containing nothing but large icons with a few words underneath. You can change a template, but not without effort and the frustration of having to settle for “good enough.” This is especially useful for anyone trying to making their mobile site look similar to their desktop experience. This is best accomplished when having a fully responsive theme in place for all platforms.

A design agency can give you exactly what you want from the beginning. When your website design is created from scratch, you don’t have to spend hours tweaking a template only to find out your final tweak – the one that matters most – isn’t going to work.

Men With Pens is a well-known design agency that has created custom WordPress themes for years. They specialize in design, and know exactly how to create a better user experience. Their website embodies their expertise in user experience.

Check out their tips for bloggers and see if you notice anything unique about the page design. The design fills the entire page, and the graphics extend outside the lines and boxes. When you land on the page, you’re engaged right away. Capturing a visitor’s attention is your first priority to improve user experience. If you don’t have a user’s attention, they won’t have an experience at all.

3 – Simplicity

Simplicity never goes out of style. Simplicity in design embraces the approach that “less is more.” It’s a cliché, but it’s true.

Nobody knows simplicity better than Steve Pavlina. He’s been publishing articles on his personal blog for over a decade, and until recently, his site was as plain as plain can be. He recently switched to WordPress, but managed to maintain the simplicity responsible for his success.

Simple designs are easier to read, navigate, and interact with. Less menu items, less distractions on the home page, and minimal or no sidebars is what simplicity is all about. A simple design draws attention to what’s important.

4 – Create a unique design for mobile

Don’t just optimize your website for mobile users. Create a custom design for mobile users based on your original design. When you optimize your existing design for mobile, you often sacrifice important aspects of your desktop design. Using code, you can program your site to display a different design based on a user’s device.

Statistics show that 83% of people say a seamless experience across all devices is important. By creating a custom mobile theme based on your existing theme, you give mobile users that seamless experience. It’s the best of both worlds. Just be sure to include all of your navigation links. Some people suggest limiting selections for mobile users, but that will crush the seamless experience.

How to Best Prepare Your Site for Design Success!

User experience can be improved not just by tweaking your design, but by applying principles of color, navigation, and organization. Instead of chasing the latest revelation in conversion gimmicks, invest your time and money in fact-based strategies that improve user experience. Shift your focus away from the minutia of testing every tiny design element, and toward creating a psychologically-sound foundation for your users.

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Fotor Photo Editor – The Perfect Graphic Design Tool for Bloggers

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As bloggers and content creators, it’s important to always have visual content built within our best articles and site designs. Infographics, clip art, stock photos and more… but customized and original images will always grab the most attention.

When it comes to actually creating such visuals, you will have many different options to choose from. Whether you are looking for a free application, one that is browser-based, or even if it’s a premium software you need to download and pay for — it’s important to know what’s out there.

Today we are going to be looking at Fotor photo editor which is a free and powerful tool that lets anyone get started with their own graphic design in just a few short minutes.

This tool allows anyone to start using it through a web browser or even with their mobile application. Whether you need to edit a photo, make a collage, or create a custom and original design, it can all be done through the power of Fotor.

The most popular features of this tool are it’s one click filters and fixes that allowed anyone to make their images pop and stand out like never before.

Let’s take a look at some of the many benefits to using Fotor photo editor for your website, blog, or just everyday life.

With most people looking to customize their mobile screenshots on photos with a few simple click of a button, and this is exactly what fotor photo editor will allow you to do. It will also allow you to create custom YouTube banners that can be used to liven up your channel as well.

You can see a few of these examples in the screenshot below.

When comparing Fotor to other graphic design applications like Photoshop, you are going to find many similarities, but it’s also important to note that premium applications like Photoshop are much more advanced, but also more costly in the process. The software is free to use, you can upgrade to Fotor Pro and find even more upgrade and options available.

What makes this design application and tool great for site owners and bloggers, is that it has a unique set of design tools and features — which are what most content creators are looking. In short, it provides users with what they need, while not overwhelming them in the process.

Fotor also offers a nice selection of design templates to choose from, which makes the process of creating new and original content even easier. These template designs scale across the many different design themes, sizes, and concepts on the site.

In addition to everything else mentioned, there is also a nice collection of resources, guides, and tutorials that can be found on their site blog. Such resources will provide users what the information and walk-through processes to get the most out of Fotor.

If you are currently looking for a new design editor to improve the look and feel of visual content on your site, be sure to give Fotor a try.

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4 Essential Elements of Web Design (No.3 Will Shock You!)

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If you’re a small business owner take note of these four elements of web design. They’re essential for boosting your online presence. Click here for more info!

Have you ever wondered why most business websites tend to look the same? It’s like you’ve seen one and you’ve seen them all.

The truth is a lot of business owners prefer the easy route. That means going for a website builder, which offers templated designs.

If you want something different, you’ll have to go custom. But that takes a lot of time. Plus, you’ll have to look for a skilled designer/developer.

Whatever route you choose, you need to understand the elements of web design. After all, it’s your website. If you choose to hire a pro, you need to know what to ask for.

And if you opt to DIY it, then you can steer clear of cringe-worthy web design. That said, here are 4 web design elements that will help boost your online presence.

1. User Journey

You can scroll through countless website design guides and you’ll never see one that says, “ignore what users think.”

Consider mobile apps. Would you download something that’s hard to use and has a lot of annoying ads?

When you design your website, put yourself in your visitors’ shoes. Is your website hard to navigate? Does it load fast?

But how do you know if your user interface is good? Aside from consistency, it has to be simple, intuitive, responsive, and flexible.

This is why it’s good to test different designs first before committing to one. It saves time and eliminates the need for major changes later on.

2. Content

Designing for the web doesn’t stop when you have a “pretty” website. Sure, your target customers will appreciate nifty graphics and all. But if your content doesn’t offer value, users will leave your website.

Now, this doesn’t mean huge blocks of text that will drown your visitors with information. Opt for conciseness. Give your target audience content that’s easy to digest so they can process it better.

Depending on what CMS you are using, content creation is usually the easy part. This is especially the case when using platforms like Weebly, WordPress or Wix. Since most of these platforms are drag and drop, it’s simply a matter of getting familiar with each platform, and knowing how to create great content. There are no programming or design skills required.

3. Accessibility

Did you just check the title again? If yes, you may be wondering why this would be shocking. Shouldn’t this be part of any website designing guide?

The thing is there are plenty of websites that use low contrast for text because it’s trendy. But you have to take into account users who have vision problems.

There has to be enough contrast between text and background. And you also need to choose your colors well. You don’t want to alienate color-blind and blind users who use assistive technologies.

4. SEO

Some people approach website design as a separate entity from search engine optimization. But there’s a way to be strategic about the process so that design elements improve the SEO of your site.

The easiest way would be to outsource to an all-in-one design company such as https://www.databerry.com/. When they build your site, they also take care of the backend coding stuff. This ensures your title tags, meta tags, etc work for better search ranking.

Want to Know More About the Elements of Web Design?

Knowing the elements of web design is your first step to a website that looks and functions well. But getting them all right takes a bit of trial and error.

For more web design tips, don’t forget to check out our other blog posts.

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