Career Path Tips for Creative Designers


Creative Paths for Web Designers

As technology continues to advance and people use the internet more and more for everything from shopping and research to staying in touch with friends and family, careers in graphic design – and especially web design – seem certain to remain in high demand for the foreseeable future and beyond. For highly creative people who dream of designing eye-catching, successful marketing and web pages for businesses and individuals, the following tips can help them achieve the career of their dreams.

Learn all you can… and learn how to code

Yes, you are brimming with creative ideas, but you also have to know how to properly create them on the back end. Employers are often wary of the learning gap between the creative skills gained in school and the practical, industry-savvy skills needed to successfully perform many jobs in the graphics and web design marketplace. Learn all you can about the software and technical procedures of graphic design, printing, mobile apps, SEO, direct mail and integrated marketing. Strive to continually familiarize yourself with the latest news and developments through creative, cutting-edge blogs, publications and relevant trade associations. More specifically, for all designers with an eye on the future, learn as much about coding as you can, including CSS, JavaScript, HTML, WordPress and more. As Rasmussen College says, web designers need to learn how to create sites that are universally device-friendly, so educate yourself by taking classes or spending time to research how to design a site that will look just as good on a smartphone screen as it will on a mid-sized tablet or laptop.

Create an amazing portfolio

Before you even think about applying for a job or even an internship, you need an incredible portfolio that shows off your skills. Besides including your best projects from college, you should also add examples of design that you’re interested in. For example, if you dream of designing web pages that are full of emotion-evoking graphics and videos, look into stock video websites that feature all kinds of footage from clouds moving across the sky to kids running through idyllic fields. In addition to supplying potential employers a printed out portfolio of screen shots and other projects, make a digital version of the portfolio that features links to your design work as well as your resume and contact information.

Get an internship

Although you might feel ready to start working for a major company right away, one of the best ways to get a feel of what to expect is to nail down an internship. If possible, find an internship while you’re still in school–or you can apply for one after graduation. While the concept of an unpaid internship might sound unappealing to you and your pile of monthly bills, remember that the professional, in-house experience will provide you with priceless real world know-how that most new designers don’t have.

Start out as a freelancer

Consider freelancing before going for a permanent position. This will give you the opportunity to work for a bunch of clients at once, rather than just one. You can also start out slow with one or two projects and—as the word gets out about your skills in design—you can take on more and more. If you decide to go the freelance route, hire an experienced accountant who knows how to handle 1099 info and other specialized tax forms; working from home can be difficult, but freelancing has a ton of benefits when it comes to tax write-offs.


Rely on your local printer for support whether you direct a company’s marketing budget or freelance. They should be able to provide you with the latest information, inspiration, technical advice, and innovative ideas for communicating your message through print, design and typography, signage, apparel, variable data printing and direct mail, integrated marketing and environmental responsible printing. If they can’t, you have the wrong printer! The best advice, always, is to ASK YOUR PRINTER!

Call us at 828.684.4512. ImageSmith is a full-service print and marketing provider located in Arden, North Carolina. Contact us at ImageSmith for quotes on all your print and marketing projects, and more useful tips on how to create custom, effective, high impact marketing solutions.

An Easy Buy Now / Donate Button: Securely Accept Credit Card Orders on your Website

Small businesses face so many challenges in moving their sales and marketing efforts into the digital age. Watching the big dogs incorporate the latest techonology and software into their online sites, distribution networks, marketing or production can be as inspiring as it is intimidating. You want to take advantage of the latest advances, but how do you find the time and money to learn which is right for you? For a small business with limited capital and time to explore these options, it is great to find a simple, low cost solution to a problem. PayPal has a great one: a way to accept credit card payments on your website with no setup charge and no hidden fees. You can truly be up and running with a fully functional “BUY NOW” or “DONATE” button in fifteen minutes.

Easy creation of pay now buttons

This blog has no connection to PayPal – we simply want to pass along a great idea for the small business owner. We know that to create a large e-commerce website for your business is expensive. Until you are ready to invest in that sort of structure and have the time and manpower to administrate it, PayPal has created a secure and easy to install way to turn your basic website into an ecommerce portal right now. It’s called Website Payments Standard. You of course need a PayPal account into which payments from credit card customers will be deposited. PayPal gives you a choice of buttons that allow customers to select products from a drop down menu and pay by credit card. They do not need to have a PayPal account themselves. PayPal assesses a fee (see fee schedule by clicking here) and the payment is credited to your account. It really could not be simpler. You create the button you want, copy and paste the code to your website, and you are ready to go. New to html coding? No problem – they have a short demo video on the website to help. Demo Video for creating Buy Now or Donate Buttons

If you want a more advanced system of payment, Website Payments Pro is available for a monthly $30 fee. It allows credit applications, monthly payments and other advanced features that will probably require the assitance of a web developer to fully integrate into your site. It is a step up from managing your own content fully. If you are new to managing your own website, read about DotNetNuke as a content management system. In fifteen minutes your web page just became an online storefront.


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.

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, 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 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,, 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:

How to Change Your DotNetNuke Website Copyright Date

As a website owner it is important to keep up with certain tasks to ensure your site is up-to-date. One of these tasks is changing your copyright date, which is traditionally at the bottom of your webpage. There are a few methods you can employ when it comes to your putting a copyright statement on your webpage. Here’s how to manually change the copyright date in DotNetNuke. 
Manually Change the Copyright Statement
Log in as Administrator and navigate to your “Site Settings” page, which is the first child page under the “Admin” tab. The “Site Settings” page is viewable by Administrators only and is where you set some critical settings for your DotNetNuke website. On this page your will find the Copyright form field, which is a simple text box. What ever change you make in this field will show up on every page of your website. After you make a change remember to click “Update” at the bottom of the page. That’s it, your done! Easy right? 
Automatically Change the Copyright Statement
I’ll admit, changing the copyright is simple using the steps above, but you can have DotNetNuke automatically change your copyright statement when the New Year comes in. All you have to do is simply delete the statement all together. DotNetNuke will insert the following text as your copyright statement: “Copyright (c) 2011 [PortalName]” (the [PORTALNAME] token will be replaced with the portal name from the first setting labeled “Portal Name”.)

Check out the video of Chris Hammond, DotNetNuke Corporation’s Director of Training. It is an in-depth demenstration on how to configure this feature of DotNetNuke.