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Picasa Widgets and Plugins for your Blog

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Second to Flickr, Google owned Picasa is probably the most used photo-sharing service online. Blogger users in particular make great use of Picasa since all image uploads are hosted on their Picasa accounts.

When researching the possibilities of developing a Picasa photostream widget, I realized that widgets to display Picasa photos are actually few and far between (especially when compared to the huge variety of widgets and plugins available for Flickr).

For those who use Picasa to host their photos online, I have collected some of the most useful Picasa widgets and plugins which enable you to display your Picasa album images in your blog.

The Official Picasa Slideshow

Picasa offers a flash based slideshow for you to embed the contents of a single web album in your blog, website or MySpace profile page.

To embed a Slideshow widget, log into Picasa and click on the album you would like to embed. On the right-hand side of your page, you will see the option to “Link to this album”.

When you click this option, several menu options will appear beneath. Here you need to click on the “Embed slideshow” option which will cause a pop-up screen to appear:

screen-shot07-mar-23-1114

Choose the size of widget you prefer and any other options to configure for your needs. A preview of how your widget will appear is on the right-hand side of the options.

Once you’re done, the code to embed the widget in your blog is displayed in the pale yellow area. Simply copy this code and paste in your blog where you would like the slideshow to appear.

Roy Tanck’s Flash Photostream Widget

Originally intended to display Flickr images in a cloud-style flash embed, Roy Tanck’s stunning widget now also supports images from your Picasa photostream:

Get this widget at roytanck.com

This widget is beautiful and yet very easy to add to your blog/website in just a few clicks!

First of all, you’re going to need the URL of the Picasa RSS feed for the album you would like to embed. Log in to Picasa Web Albums and choose the album you would like to use. You will find the RSS feed for your album on the right-hand menu. Copy this URL to your clipboard, then head on over to Roy Tanck’s Photostream Widget page.

Paste your URL into the Feed URL section and adjust the other settings (width, height, color, etc) to your tastes. Then click the Generate Code button. You will now be offered a preview of your widget and the code to embed which you should copy and paste into your site.

Get Roy Tanck’s Photostream Widget

Shashin: A WordPress Plugin for Displaying Picasa Photos

Mike Toppa’s plugin for WordPress is a robust and reliable method of embedding Picasa photos in your blog. It can be used to add individual photos and videos; albums of thumbnails; random photos/videos; album covers and much more.

For full details and to download this plugin, head over to Mike Toppa’s blog

Kivela Picasa Web Album Widget (WP-Plugin)

Kivela’s answer to a Picasa photostream widget is a simple interface to display images in the WordPress sidebar.

Once you have installed the plugin in your WordPress blog, you need to add your Picasa username and configure other parameters to suit your requirements. You can choose to display photos only from a single album, or random images from across all your public albums:

kivela-plugin

To learn more and download this WordPress plugin, pop over to the Kivela Picasa Widget page.

Picasa Web Album Widget for Blogger

Beautiful Beta has developed a Picasa Web Album plugin for Blogger users. This widget will display the album covers of all your Picasa albums in the sidebar of your Blogger blog.

You will need your Picasa username to configure this widget for your needs, and can style the widget by adding CSS declarations to the &ltb:skin> section of your template.

Learn more and install Beautiful Beta’s Web Albums widget in your Blogger blog

A Simple Javascript-based Picasa Photostream Widget for all blog types

I personally find the photostream widgets which display thumbnails of photos and images to be the most appealing (and least obtrusive) when placed in blog sidebars, so I decided to create my own JavaScript-based widget which can be used to display public Picasa photos in any website or blog:

screen-shot08-mar-23-1215

This widget displays thumbnail sized images of your latest public uploads to your Picasa account (from across all public albums). You can configure the style properties according to your needs by editing the style section included in the code.

To add this widget to your blog, copy the following code and paste into a sidebar widget (or directly in your template) where you would like this widget to be displayed. Be sure to replace “YOUR_USERNAME” with your own Picasa username!

<style>
#picasaStream img {border: 1px solid #000; margin: 0 5px 5px 0;}
</style>
<script src="http://bloggerbuster-tools.googlecode.com/files/jquery.min.js" type="text/javascript"></script>    

    <script type="text/javascript">
        $j = jQuery.noConflict();
        $j(document).ready(function(){
        $j.getJSON("http://picasaweb.google.com/data/feed/base/user/YOUR_USERNAME?kind=photo&thumbsize=72c&access=public&alt=json&callback=?",
                function(data){
                  var thumbCount = 9;
                  var smallThumb = 0;
                  var mediumThumb = 1;
                  var largeThumb = 2;
                  var picsCount = data.feed.entry.length - 1;
                  for (var i = picsCount; i > picsCount - thumbCount; i--) {
                        var pic = data.feed.entry[i];
                        $j("<img/>").attr("src", pic.media$group.media$thumbnail[smallThumb].url).attr("alt", pic.summary.$t).appendTo("#picasaStream");
                  }
                  });
                });
      </script>

    <div id="picasaStream"></div>

By default, this widget is set to display the 9 most recent images from your Picasa photostream. If you prefer to display a different number of thumbnails, find this line:

                  var thumbCount = 9;

And change “9” to the number you prefer to display.

You can also alter the style of how thumbnails are displayed by altering this section to suit your requirements:

<style>
#picasaStream img {border: 1px solid #000; margin: 0 5px 5px 0;}
</style>

This enables you to add a border, background and alter the margins between each thumbnail image as required.

Final thoughts

I hope you have found this article offers some useful widgets to display your Picasa uploads on your blog. If you know of any other functioning and useful alternatives, please let us know by leaving your comments 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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Design & Coding

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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Defining the Best Colors, Style and Design for Your Brand Logo

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Have you ever thought about why some companies and brands are more successful and well-known than others? In many cases, it comes down to the products or services they offer, but the actual look and feel of the company brand can play a huge part in this as well.

A great example of this would be every brand that currently has a well-known logo design or identity, even though it doesn’t have the actual name of the company within the logo. Names like Nike, Target, Apple, Microsoft, and Starbucks come to mind. Billions of people from around the world can recognize these brands simply by seeing their logo… and they don’t even need to see a name associated with it. You can see some of the most popular brand logo designs and changes they’ve made over the years in this famous logos reference guide.

With all of that in mind, it’s important to create a logo design for your business that not only represents what you do but also one that resonates with your audience as well. To give another example of the many different ways an industry can influence the way logo are created to relate and brand with an audience, let’s take a look at some of the top online survey sites from a site like SurveyClarity.

What do you notice about each of the popular survey logo designs below? Not only are they mostly text-based, they are all different variations of GREEN! WebPageFX.com says the following about the color green in logo design:

Green is Youthful and Earth-Friendly: Health – Tranquility – Freshness. Green represents growth, and evokes a feeling of relaxation and healing. It is the color of healthy vegetation, so it reminds viewers of nature and health. It is also associated with money and wealth.

This is something you will see in many different markets. Another great example is the banking or make money space. Many of the banks will have a green or blue feeling to them — which both represent calm, financial, and fresh feelings and emotions. However, many other brands like Twitter and Dell are using BLUE to represent their compani\y logo and brand as well.

Now that you likely have a better understanding of what different colors are being used in logo designs today, you might be thinking about the different styles, variations, and colors you can use within your own company or site design and branding.

Thanks to the “What Type of Logo is Right for You?” infographic below (provided by Designhill), we are going to break down the many components and choices of logo design, and how to best represent your brand.

To get started with the process, you should first decide on if you want a font-based logo or a graphic design. No matter which option you choose, you can tweak both design types to work with whatever style you’d like to go with.

A “Word Mark” logo design is one that is made up of a stylized type font, yet is also original in design. A few good examples of this would be the HBO, NASA and CNN logo. At their core, they are text fonts — but also with a unique and custom design in the process.

After you’ve given some thought to the different colors, design types, and styles of logos you can create, we recommend you take a look at the new AI-powered logo maker from Designhill. Not only is the tool free to use, it can create an unlimited number of logo designs for you to choose from. Keep scrolling through the designs until you find one that you like, then complete the process by purchasing the fulicensednced version of your logo design, which also comes in a wide range of file types.

How to Find the Right Logo Design for Your Band

As shown in the infographic below, we can answer a few simple questions to see what type of logo you might want to focus your efforts on for your brand. Depending on how you answer each of these questions, you will find a different result for your brand identity.

  • Is your business well established?
  • Is your business internationally known?
  • Do you plan to remain a small business?
  • Does your company have a long name?
  • Do your company contain a unique word?
Of the many different types of logos you can choose from, the most popular are emblems. However, you will also see a popular occurrence of word marks, pictorial marks, abstract marks and letter marks.
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11 Homepage Design Features That Will Boost Traffic

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It’s never been easier to create a website — and it’s never been harder to get people to stay there. With mere seconds to capture a visitor’s attention, your homepage needs to clearly and concisely state your value, and convince the visitor that your business is worth their time.

One of the biggest website-related challenges for businesses is increasing traffic, whether that comes from organic search, a referral or a marketing campaign. Sometimes encouraging more people to visit your site is as simple as incorporating appealing design elements.

To boost traffic, 11 members of Young Entrepreneur Council share key design features to include on your homepage.

1. Information on the Solution to a User’s Problems

Visitors come to your site in search of solutions to a problem. Information about where they’ll find that solution should be the first thing they see. Too many businesses fill their homepage with irrelevant information that doesn’t help the visitor solve their immediate problem. Evernote’s homepage is a great example of this done well: clear copy, clean design and a signup form above the fold.

Vik Patel, Future Hosting

2. A Mailing List Sign-Up Form

It’s no secret that a mailing list is one of the best ways to attract regular visitors and customers online. Having a clear link to a contact form on your front page can be the most effective means of increasing traffic. It’s even more effective if you find a way to incentivize visitors to sign up through exclusive offers or opportunities.

Bryce Welker, CPA Exam Guy

3. Your Target Keyword in the Page Title Tag

Whenever I see a website with the word “Home” or “Welcome” in its page title tag, I see a missed opportunity to drive more website traffic. Why? Because the page title tag is an important (and easy) thing to address to optimize a website for SEO. Avoid making this mistake by identifying your most valuable, descriptive keyword, and include that in your homepage title tag.

Brett Farmiloe, Markitors Website Development

4. Easy Navigation

If someone is visiting your website, they don’t want to have to search for the content they came there for. Make it easy on them, and you’ll find them coming back for more.

Ben Landis, Fanbase

5. Blog Content

People share relevant, interesting content, not homepages. Your homepage is rarely going to be the main traffic source for your website. What brings in traffic is quality content, so you should be funneling people into that. Content will get shared and drive traffic to your website, which will inevitably spill over to your homepage as people seek to learn more about your company.

Justin Faerman, Conscious Lifestyle Magazine

6. Google Tag Manager

You can’t increase traffic if you don’t know what traffic sources are best. Google Tag Manager is going to give you a much more simplified tagging and management process for your analytics.

Nicole Munoz, Start Ranking Now

7. A ‘Contact Us’ Form

If you’re not getting any leads from your website, then what is the purpose of having one? Implementing a call-to-action form is critical for turning a prospect into a hot lead. If they’re visiting your website, that means they’re interested. Make it easy for them to contact you with a “contact us” form so that you can add them to your mailing list.

Codie Sanchez, Www.CodieSanchez.com

8. Client Testimonials

Studies have shown that consumers trust online reviews and testimonials, so showing your social proof is a powerful way to get new customers to trust and believe in you. Rotate new client testimonials often and, if possible, get reviews from known influencers in your niche. These testimonials can improve user engagement signals, which in turn improves traffic and rankings

Marcela De Vivo, Mulligan Funding

9. Calls to Action on Every Important Page

Your homepage should be all about funneling people to the rest of your site. Think of your homepage like the lobby of a hotel — a series of well-lit and clearly labeled paths to the things that matter. As a result, your homepage should feature calls to action to every important page or subpage on your site to help people find what matters to them.

Matthew Manos, verynice

10. ‘As Seen In’ Media Logos and Copy

If you’ve been featured in the business section of your local paper or had a profile done on your company in an industry trade journal, consider including an “As Seen In…” section on your homepage that includes a brief excerpt from the story and the logo of the media outlet. By including these proof points, you’re establishing credibility with current and prospective customers.

David Ciccarelli, Voices.com

11. Social Media Buttons

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media sites are fantastic channels for traffic. Make it super easy for your existing traffic to share articles or your homepage. Simply add a text widget and format social media buttons on a sidebar or footer as well as various content articles on the homepage.

Eddie Lou, Shiftgig

How to Create the Best Content and Site Design Possible

When creating any type of content on the internet these days, it needs to be about user engagement and providing your audience with the value they are looking for. The same can be said about your site design and how users can navigate it. With more than a billion active websites on the internet today, there is no longer a need to push content out there just to simply to ‘put something out there’. At the same time, you also need to consider the different ways users might be visiting your site, such as through mobile, tablets, and desktops. Follow this advice and all of the actionable tips above to find more ROI with your content creation and marketing efforts.

If you enjoyed this expert round up, be sure to read our previous ones on top SEO methods for 2018 and also 7 low-cost site builders to consider when creating your next site.

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