15 Years of Rapid Change for the World of Print

Today ImageSmith surprised me with a little celebration for my 15th anniversary with the company and a very generous gift of a brand new iPad. Our discussion at the gathering centered around the changes in our business over the past 15 years and the vast differences technology has created in that relatively brief span of time. Back in 1997, hardly anyone at work had a mobile phone; few used the internet or even had a home computer.

Oddly enough, I had been reading online this very morning about the new issue of Newsweek that highlights the return of the show “Mad Men” with a retro 60s issue and an amazing recreation of retro print advertising from that era. The rate of change in this industry from then to now has exponentially increased. Print quickly adapted to new computer technology in the ’80s, drastically altering the way graphics are created, business is done and ultimately the very heart of what the printing industry is today. From my own experience here at ImageSmith, I could see the major ways technology has created this rapid change:


In the 90s, the art department was completely a Mac platform (Mac certainly led the way with graphics software and innovation) and the only other computers were PCs used for the front office and accounting. Files were transferred on floppy disks or zip disks. Proofs were faxed or hand delivered. The idea of communication or doing business via the internet seemed fanciful.

TODAY: communication inside and beyond the company is via the internet. Computers network through a wifi connection and a central server. Orders are placed online, files transferred, deliveries scheduled and tracked… to do otherwise would seem painfully slow and unprofitable.


The change in graphics software is always rapid and amazing. In 1997, we were using Adobe PageMaker for our layout (it had only recently been acquired by Adobe from Aldus). PhotoShop and Illustrator were used for photo and graphics manipulation, but only minimally integrated with the actual desktop layout duties of PageMaker. Many clients created their jobs in QuarkXpress, Microsoft Word, Corel Draw – and the confusing task of the art department was to try to handle and image these files cross platform from PC to Mac without disastrous font conflicts and software glitches. The idea of a “portable document format” or pdf was on the horizon.

TODAY: Adobe Creative Suite provides virtually flawless integration of PhotoShop, Illustrator, Acrobat and InDesign. A totally pdf workflow moves client jobs seamlessly from desktop to press or web. Print design can be cross-purposed to web pages, mobile apps, e-books, etc.


Many jobs were still created physically on paper and then photographed. “Paste-up” was the means of gluing into position different page elements. It all seems very primitive now. The process of making plates for offset printing also relied on photography. Negatives were imaged, stripped into position, manually color separated, and burned onto plates.

TODAY: Computer-to-plate and computer-to-press techonology completely removes the photographic element in printing. Digital layouts are rasterized and imaged onto plates for the press in exact position. Increasingly, digital presses are replacing the offset process to meet the growing demand for short run, full color print.


In 1997, a typical print job would fit easily onto a standard 3.5 inch, 1.44MB floppy disk. Artwork and client jobs were archived onto floppies. These were replaced by SyQuests – able to hold 44 or 88 MB or data, and then Zip Disks from iOmega with the amazing capacity to hold 100 MB. In the late 90s, most all computers, PC and Mac, came with a built-in floppy and Zip drive. Over the years, the Zip yielded to the CD and then the DVD for removable storage options.

TODAY: File sizes for some print jobs today dwarf the capacity of all of these removable data storage devices. High capacity servers and cloud-based storage solutions manage files and the process of archiving data.

With all of these changes has come a core redefinition of what small and mid-sized print operations are about. Printers have expanded to become multi-media specialists, marketing consultants and e-commerce solution providers to meet the equally drastic changing needs of their clients. Integrated marketing techniques combine the realms of print with mobile, email, wide format printing, signage, printwear, branded merchandise and social media. Looking ahead to the landscape of the NEXT fifteen years is exciting and daunting. Mobile and cloud-based technology will continue to drive the marketing into the world of augmented reality, 3-D printing, conductive ink and other as-yet unknown innovations.


ImageSmith is a full-service print and marketing provider located in Arden, North Carolina. Contact us at ImageSmith for quotes on all your marketing projects, and more useful tips on how to create custom, effective, high impact marketing solutions.

There’s Something About Paper. Or, about that pdf diploma…

We love technology, but paper is still important

We love technology – the instantaneous flow of information and data, the interconnectedness of people who would never otherwise meet, the crowd-sourcing of digital solutions. In our line of work, we have marveled at the seismic shift in the ease and innovation of creating graphics and images, the global opportunities that opened when file transfers and commerce moved online, and the digital transition from plates and darkroom photo processing to computerized pdf workflows. It all makes for an exciting age in which to live. Technology has quickly, and not always painlessly, transformed the print industry from one about ink and paper into one of interactive communication, new media and data interpretation. And yet…. there’s just something about paper.

At the heart of this human love for paper is the physical, solid, stackable nature of the thing. It is organic. It has weight. You can hold it in your hand and point to the truth – “See? It’s right there in black and white.” Or color. Whether it is centuries of reliance on the physicality of having the “written word” in your hand, or whether it is something more primal, paper and printing hold a powerful place in our psyche. Think about it: your birth certificate, your child’s first crayon drawings from school, report cards, your ticket stub from a favorite concert, a treasured valentine or love letter, a “welcome home” sign, a sketch of a great idea, an autograph of your hero. At all the important, memorable moments of your life, paper has played a central role. It is usually the means by which you remember and treasure those events – unplugged.

Today, technology is clearly altering some of that relationship. The recent bankruptcy of Kodak seems to many of us who grew up in the last half of the twentieth century to be unthinkable. Yet they have announced they are going out of the film business. The woes of the USPS are a result of email and digital communications usurping the role of snail mail. Newpapers and magazines are struggling with the transition from paper to online versions. But paper still carries the word and image of our culture in ways that electronic media is not yet able to – by its very physical nature and our historic appreciation for its reliable, tactile properties. It is still capable of putting your message right into someone’s hands regardless of internet providers or the accessibility of a wifi signal.

Still not convinced? Watch this great video from Domtar’s “Paper because…” initiative that spotlights the contradiction between students who at first say they want to live in a paperless world – until they are told their diplomas will be handed out in pdf format.

An electronic diploma would convince most all students that paper has a clear place in our lives and futures. Maybe the tech future will gradually change this romantic attachment we have to the beauty and functionality of paper, but I doubt it will erase it anytime soon.

ImageSmith is a full-service print and marketing provider located in Arden, North Carolina. Contact us at ImageSmith for quotes on all your marketing projects, and more useful tips on how to create custom, effective, high impact marketing solutions.

Your ROI from Social Media Marketing

At the end of the day, the bottom line with any form of marketing is ROI – what return do we expect for the time, money and resources spent on the investment. In the realm of social media, the ROI payoff comes through interactive conversation with potential clients and the creation of a postive impression in the public’s mind of your expertise and credibility. Just like buying commercial time on television or any other marketing, you use social media outlets to perpetuate a consistent impression in the public’s mind of what you do and how well you do it. Top Social Media Sites of 2011 and your ROI from Marketing

The landscape of social media is changing rapidly. Today’s Twitter and Facebook might be tomorrow’s MySpace or AmericaOnline. So be open to change and innovation when you plan your approach. You might decide to concentrate on one or two sites to begin building up a following or circle of ‘friends.’ Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are the obvious most popular choices now. Each site has a different focus as well – and you can find many resources online to compare the top social media sites and their features.

But one step at a time is the best way to build any marketing campaign, and social media is no different. Use both graphics and content to put forth a consistent brand image across all the platforms, anchored in your company’s home website and blog. Your Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn accounts should all work in tandem to be recognizable and to drive traffic and interest to your website for both information, further contact and, of course, sales. Your blog should prove to be your most effective tool for establishing your credibility and resourcefulness. Again, use the social media platforms to draw interest to your blogposts, and in turn, to your e-commerce website. Provide links to both current and past blog content. Consider offering special deals or printable coupons by visiting your webpage. Keep in mind your goal of creating interest in and driving traffic to your site.

SEO or Search Engine Optimization is an inexact and ever-changing terrain. Familiarizing yourself with some of the basics is helpful in both writing content for your blog or website and understanding the overall structure of the web. But it can also prove daunting. Don’t let the technicalities of SEO prevent you from getting your content up and out there. A consistent presence is important, and fine-tuning SEO considerations can come with time.

An overall philosophy to keep in mind for blogging and social media is the most obvious one: be social. Avoid bragging, heavyhanded salesmanship, confusing data or being too opinionated – in other words, any potentially obnoxious social behavior that would drive people away. And remember to provide value to those who visit your blog or site – free of charge. Establishing yourself as a good source of helpful, freely given information will go a long way in winning loyalty and interest from the public. Be there to help – it is the best way to get noticed and a great public service. Also, another important component of being social, is to participate. Interact with other blogs, post comments and updates on Facebook and LinkedIn, be sure and tell others when their information was useful or their commentary especially enlightened. Avoid undue criticism or argumentativeness. Being a good virtual friend is a reward in itself, but will also shine a nice light on your brand and all your marketing efforts.

The ROI of a good social media strategy is ultimately quantifiable in sales figures, but a more immediate return will be seen in strengthening your brand image, bolstering your credibility and market knowledge, and generating positive public opinion. Being social should be enjoyable… take a holistic approach and see what you can create through the interaction!

Contact us at ImageSmith for quotes on all your marketing projects, and more useful tips on how to create custom, effective, high impact marketing solutions.


What is DotNetNuke or DNN?

DNN logo
DNN is the leading Open Source Web Content Management Platform for Microsoft ASP.NET programming framework

DotNetNuke – now DNN – is free software that is installed on an internet hosting account which is used to develop and maintain web applications and websites. A properly configured DNN website provides companies a way to manage their website with ease and confidence while maintaining the company brand and style. ImageSmith Communications has been developing DNN websites for clients for over 6 years, and members of the Web Development Team are experts on installing, configuring, skinning, and upgrading DNN applications.

DNN is a full-featured, web Content Management System (CMS) which allows your company to easily create or update content, while maintaining a fully customized and branded website. DNN has a very active community and is supported by a vast community of talented developers and is one of the easiest, most cost effective solutions for managing your company’s website.

Why is DNN Right For Your Company?

There are four main reasons DNN is very attractive to businesses that are seeking a way to manage the company website:

  • Usability – The framework is easy to learn and become second nature after a short amount of use for folks at any technical skill level.
  • Extensibility – the DNN framework is changeable, you can alter the way it behaves, you can extend it…
  • Scalability – No website is to small or too large for DNN, it will always suit your needs!
  • Affordability/Price – DNN is open source software… that’s right it’s free!

Usability — Administering DNN is User Friendly

DotNetNuke is user friendly and can be mastered by oneone that has basic computer skills
DotNetNuke is user friendly and can be mastered by oneone that has basic computer skills

DNN is very easy to use. Non-technical content contributors can be trained to add and maintain web pages in minutes and make changes to the site with absolutely no IT support. Training is required for content editors and administrative users of the site and instruction on the proper procedures are taught.

Adding pages, changing page layouts, and adding new features to a page are all easily accomplished with this minimal training. Your content contributors will not require IT support for most web site changes so your ongoing operational costs are significantly less. If you hire a new employee you can schedule a DNN training session at ImageSmith in South Asheville.


Snowcovered Logo
Snowcovered provides online services to enable people to post, sell, and support their DotNetNuke software creations

A thriving market exists for DNN modules with more than 8,000 available online at www.snowcovered.com, at highly affordable prices. Free modules are also available on the DNN Forge and a variety of core apps are included in the standard DNN installation package.

Because the code is open to anyone, your organization can also develop its own apps to customize the appearance and functionality of your site. Thousands of free and low cost apps provide you with nearly limitless possibilities to create the perfect site for your needs.

Extreme Scalability — You are Never too Small and You Will Never Outgrow DNN

DotNetNuke has extremely scalability
DotNetNuke is an excellent solution for small business as well as large corporations

Your web site can be large or small and can grow as much as needed over time without requiring a migration to a new content management system. The DNN platform can support an unlimited number of pages per web site and an unlimited number of web sites per DNN instance.

Essentially, there are no limits on how big a DNN website can be.


Save money by using DotNetNuke
DotNetNuke is open source software and is free to everyone, making it an ideal solution for your company’s website

Since DNN is open source software, your company will spend zero dollars on internet software to run your website (that’s right it’s free). What is more attractive than an enterprise technology solution at such an affordable price!

If you have an existing website that needs an overhaul, or if you are a new business, call us at 828-684-4512 or email us via our contact form and let’s talk about how we can provide your company with a professionally designed website.

Using HTML Entities for Special Characters

At ImageSmith, we develop for a Content Management System (CMS) called DotNetNuke. This allows our clients to easily make text and image changes with a simple login. Usually the only type of content that needs to be added or updated is plain text, but sometimes you will run into the need of a special character like the copyright symbol (©) or a fraction (½). In HTML, an entity was can render pretty much any symbol imaginable using the combination of a few characters.

Using the Correct Syntax For HTML Entities

To make an HTML entity you have to follow a format. You type an ampersand, then the entity name, and you finish with a semicolon. If you type “©” in the source code of an HTML document you will get the copyright symbol like this: Copyright © 2011 by ImageSmith.

Pretty neat huh? There are many entities you can use on your website. For example, say you want to write content for the Romans in ancient Greece? There are entities for that:

α β γ δ ε ζ η θ ι κ λ μ ν ξ ο π ρ ς σ τ υ φ χ ψ ω ϑ ϒ ϖ

To see a complete list of HTML entities, visit W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) for a current list of Character Entity References.

Do you need a website makeover or a completely new internet presence for your company? If so don’t hesitate to contact us for a free estimate and evaluation for your internet needs.

Web Safe Fonts and the Current State of Internet Typography

Traditionally, when designing a website only certain fonts were available for use. These fonts earned the title “web safe fonts” because these fonts were installed on almost everyone’s computer. So back in the day, web designers and developers were limited to a list of boring, standard fonts. Some of these fonts included classics such as:

Arial Verdana Helvetica Comic Sans
New York Times
Impact Lucida Console
Palatino Linotype
Georgia Courier New

As you can imagine, this made for quite a dull user experience and was somewhat depressing for website designers as there was little room for typographical creativity.

Out With the Old, In With the New

But as all things go in life, things have changed and the state of website typography is quite different and very exciting! With font-serving applications such as Google Web Fonts and Typekit, the race is on to give a little bit of life to your website copy.

TypekitGoogle Web FontsBy utilizing such these font-serving applications, which are free to use with a few limitations, creating a beautiful website that uses rich typography is not in the distant future anymore… the time to incorporate beautiful web typography is now!

If you would like to get with the times and integrate beautiful typography into your existing website, contact ImageSmith at 828.684.4512 or fill out our contact form to get started. As always, we earn our stripes by helping you earn yours!

How to Handle Spam and Email Scams

There is nothing more frustrating than a full inbox, especially when most of the emails are unsolicited spam from shysters overseas. Often times they will send professional looking emails, acting as a professional representative of a reputable company.

For instance, a company called Domain Registry of America (DROA) has been scamming for years. In 2003 the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) filed a complaint on DROA for deceptive practices. Yet DROA and others are still at it, sending spam to the masses trying to gain control over domain names.

How Do I Combat Spam?

Mark as Spam in Your Email Program/Client

Unfortunately, there is not much you can do to stop these emails from appearing in your inbox. The best way to handle these emails is to simply ignore them, mark them as spam in your email client, and delete them from your email completely. If you ever have doubt or feel you need help figuring out if the email is legitimate, don’t hesitate to ask a person who is more savvy than you are. Also, try a Google search for the company or the “from” email address and look for other people posting about the scam and their experiance with that particular company or email address.

File a Complaint to the FTC

If you wish to take action you can file an official complaint the FTC on their website. To file a complaint with the FTC, visit https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov.

How To Optimize Pictures For Your Website

What Is Image Optimization?

When you take a digital picture, the file size of the picture depends on the camera. Most cameras and smart phones produce high quality pictures and the file size tends to exceed 2 megabytes (Mb), and this size is to large for the web. So, in order to make the picture suitable for the web, you must use image editing software, such as Adobe Photoshop, to optimize the image. When you optimize an image, you are compressing the image and making it smaller in file-size, but keeping the overall quality of the image.

Nowadays companies have more control over the content on their company website. Here at ImageSmith we develop DotNetNuke websites for our clients and teach them how to log in and make changes to the copy, create additional pages, and upload images. One problem that our clients run into is that they tend to upload very large images which take a long time to load.

Free Image Optimization Solutions

There are a few places on the internet that provide image optimization for free. The objective is to keep the image file-size under 100 kilobytes (k). Images under 100k will render fast enough for all connection speeds. Here are a few of my favorite sites for free image optimization applications:

  • Image Optimzer – Using this free online service, you can re-size, compress and optimize your image files.
  • Smush.It – Uses techniques specific to image format to remove unnecessary bytes from images.
  • Web Resizer – This free online image Web Resizer helps you optimize photos for web or email easily.

As always, if you feel like this is way over your head, give us a call at 828-684-4512 and we will be happy to provide image optimization for your website.

Embedding Videos In Your DotNetNuke Website

Adding Video to Your Website

Adding a YouTube video to your website is unbelievably easy. In fact, all the big players in the internet video market provide embed code so that website owners and bloggers can add video to their webpages. Most video websites like YouTube, Veoh, Break.com, and Hulu provide a snippet of HTML code and allow your to embed the video into your webpage. Here is how you embed a video on your DotNetNuke website:

Copy The Embed Code

Copy the video embed code
Copy the video embed code

Let’s say you have found a video on YouTube and you want to embed the video on your website. Simply locate the embed code on the page and copy the code to your clipboard by selecting text and pressing Control+C. The image below shows where the embed code is located on YouTube. Other video websites have different layouts, but just peek around until you find the code.

Paste the Code

Next, log in to your DotNetNuke website and go to the page you wish to embed the video. In order to paste the code in correctly without messing up any existing content you should add a new Text/HTML module to the page. Once you have added the Text/HTML module to the page, click on the link for the module labeled “Edit Content”. This will bring you into the HTML editor for the Text/HTML module.

Now remember, we have copied HTML code, and when you go to paste the embed code into your website, you need to be in “Code View”. So, click on the the link to go into code view. Once you are in code view simply paste the code you copied from YouTube in the module and click UPDATE at the bottom of the page. That’s, it your done! I have embedded a video tutorial from Chris Hammond on how to add pages to your DotNetNuke website:

QR Codes: Your Vital Link Between Print & Web

If you haven’t heard of or seen them yet, you must be trying to ignore them! QR – or Quick Response – codes have begun popping up everywhere (I’ve noticed them on package labeling in Wal-Mart so they have definitely gone mainstream). Easy to create and use, you could be missing a powerful and low cost opportunity to connect people with your business or your multimedia online content.

The Basics

Business Cards with a QR Code
QR Codes connect your print marketing materials to web content

Think of QR Codes like a barcode you see on all product packaging. The main difference is that QR Codes are 2D matrix codes that are capable of holding MUCH more information. Consumers “scan” the codes with their camera-enabled smartphone – in other words that just snap a picture. (the software is free online – but most smartphones come preloaded with a QR Code reader.) What happens? Depending on the type of code, their phone will automatically link via web browser to specific online content or activate any one of a number of smartphone functions (such as email, IM, SMS, contact info, etc.). Probably the most basic application is on business cards – take a picture of my business card and it will add my contact info directly into your smartphone’s address book.

How Can You Use These QR Codes?

The possibilities are endless… but the bottom line is QR codes should be a part of any promotions or marketing campaigns you begin. You can print them on virtually anything (all printed materials and signage, as well as anything from t-shirts to car wraps, billboards, etc.) and drive traffic to your website or online content of your choice. What information could you supply via QR Code:

  • Directions to your business
  • Coupons or special offers
  • Free downloads
  • Feedback forms
  • Product information
  • Instructions for product use
  • Event promotions or announcements
  • Sign ups for giveaways or mailing lists
  • Price lists
  • … you get the idea – any information you want people to access

A Case Study: Putting QR Codes to Work

Check out this link to read about how CENTRAL PARK IN NYC incorporated QR Codes into the heart of their events for Arbor Day this year. This example really got my mind working about the many ways these codes could be used to promote any event or marketing campaign. Very soon, consumers will begin expecting to find these codes as a way to get the information and opportunities on any purchases they make, or any places they visit.

We have more information on QR Codes at our website… check it out! Talk to us at ImageSmith for great ideas and practical help in getting started with QR Codes in all your promotions.