GO GREEN – Conservation Stamps Promote Sustainability

At Imagesmith, we work toward sustainability in our business every day. As a provider of mailing services, we are happy to see that the U.S. Postal Service shares that commitment and is promoting social awareness with their latest stamps: “Go Green.”

Energy & Resource Conservation


USA Go Green Postage Stamp
Use 'green' stamps to highlight your commitment to the environment.

The sheet of 16 Forever stamps was issued on April 14, 2011 and highlights simple messages for energy conservation: sharing rides, using public transportation, turning off lights and leaky faucets, recycling, use of energy-efficient lightbulbs, and other easy practices everyone can implement. When you use these stamps on your personal mail or business communications, you both show your interest in sustainability and help promote awareness of the things everyone can do to help.

A History of Conservation

The press release from the USPS about these stamps and the first-day-of-issue ceremony, explains how the organization has a long history of conservation and sustainability. Their first electric vehicle? 1899! The USPS operates over 44,000 alternative fuel capable delivery vehicles today and are the only mailing/shipping company in the world whose stamp and shipping supplies earned “Cradle to Cradle” Certification, meeting standards for human and environmental health and recyclability.

The “Go Green” stamps can be ordered online at usps.com/green.

ImageSmith offers complete business mailing services – give us a call at 828.684.4512 or contact us online for great information on ways to save money on your next marketing/mail campaign.

USPS Postage Rate Increase

April 17, 2011 saw a postage rate increase from the U.S. Postal Service for a number of mail classes. Here is a quick overview of changes that might affect you:

Postage Rate Increases

Direct Mail Art
Direct Mail, a vital part of cross-media marketing campaigns
  • While First Class Letters (single piece, one ounce) remain at $0.44, the cost of additional ounces increased from $0.17 to $0.20.
  • Postcard rates rose by one cent from $0.28 to $0.29.
  • Charges increased for special services like Signature Confirmation, Certified Mail and Registered Mail.
  • Business Mailers will see increases and changes to Standard Mail, Periodicals and Package Services.

Express Mail and Priority Mail prices remained the same (they were increased just this past January). Increases, by law, are limited to the Consumer Price Index cap of 1.7 percent, and come in response to decreased mail volumes and reported losses of $8.5 billion in the fiscal year 2010 for the USPS. A current price schedule can be found at the USPS website – or for a fast estimate of your mail costs check out the Postage Calculator on our website.

Mailing rules and pricing from the USPS are complex and intricate. Call on ImageSmith at 828.684.4512 for any advice or questions you may have about our mailing services and how we can save you time, hassle and money! It’s one of the ways we earn our stripes!

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:

Creative Suite 5.5 Debuts

For the first time in years, Adobe has released an upgrade to Creative Suite “between versions”… version 5.5. In looking over the reviews and information from both Adobe and unconnected sources, it appears that the developments have been in response to the rapid proliferation of change in the world of mobile devices, apps, HTML5, CSS3 and ePUBs.

As you may know, Creative Suite comes in 5 different “flavors”, each specialized with a specific focus. This release contains a new 5.5 version of each. At ImageSmith in the PrePress department, we rely on Creative Suite Design Premium, tuned for print content as well as web design, e-books and other digital content. However the other flavors may be more perfectly suited for your line of work and creative output: Design Standard: excellent for print production, typography, image manipulation and eBooks; Web Premium: for websites, mobile apps and tablets; Production Premium: focusing on video production; and Master Collection: the best of all for “delivery of design across media.”

From what I can read online, the improvements and changes deal specifically with HTML5, CSS3, and affect mostly the production of eBooks and web content. For example, jQuery and PhoneGap are now supported – frameworks widely used in the mobile phone app development world. You can read a nice review of the changes at Bob Levine’s InDesign blog.

For the first time, Adobe now offers a SUBSCRIPTION method of payment for its software – apparently in an attempt to entice users who have been scared off by the high pricetag of the Creative Suite and its individual programs. You can still purchase as in the past or pay for the programs in a monthly fee. For an article about this see Dave Girard’s post at ARS TECHNICA.

Word is that the new CS6 will be released in 2012. You can follow up to the minute details and read questions and answers about Creative Suite by clicking this link for their Twitter timeline.

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.

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.

Let it Bleed: Designing With Bleed Area in Mind

Planning bleed in your print layout
One of the most common issues we encounter daily in our ImageSmith prepress department with incoming files concerns bleeds – or rather, a lack of bleeds! When designing and proofing, it is easy and tempting to ignore bleed allowances as we concentrate on the look of a finished piece. However, additional unexpected costs can be incurred when a bleed area has to be “created” from your digital files, or when printing on a larger paper size that exceeds your quoted specs is required to accommodate a bleed area. It is, however, very simple to avoid these costs and confusions when creating PDF files for your print provider.

Basics about bleeds
A “bleed” is any image (including text, color, etc) that extends off the edge of the printed piece. No press can print exactly to the edge of a piece of paper, especially over the course of a run of hundreds or thousands of sheets. Therefore if you have designed a bleed, your piece must be printed on a larger size of paper and then cut down to your finished size. This may or may not incur greater costs for the production of your piece, so you should be aware of this before printing begins and your printer should know in order to accurately quote your job. Good communication with your print provider from the beginning of your project, as always, can save you lots of time and money.
Design: Bleed vs. Bleed Area
When designing your bleeds, your artwork or text must physically extend over the edge of your document size, onto the surrounding pasteboard. When first setting up your document, provide a bleed area of .5 inches on all sides. This will give more than enough room for the elements to bleed. The “bleed” itself is the part of the picture, text or design that actually extends past the finished edge. As for the distance the artwork needs to extend over this edge, ImageSmith suggests .25 inches as adequate. So the actual bleed does not completely fill up the bleed area.

Exporting to PDF
Even though you design a bleed correctly in your document, exporting a pdf that does not include the bleed area will defeat the purpose!. Choose the PDF/X-1a:2001 preset in your PDF dialog box, and under the “Marks and Bleeds” tab, be sure to click “Crop Marks” and “Page Information” and to enter .5″ in the Bleed section, as seen in the accompanying diagram. If your Document Size is 8.5 x 11, you will be creating a pdf that is 9.5 x 12 – including 1/2 inch on all four sides to accommodate your bleed.
Keep in mind that your pdf will always be larger than your finished document size if you have accommodated for bleed area.
Call on ImageSmith for any advice or questions you may have about desktop publishing or digital file submission tips. It’s one of the ways we earn our stripes!

Installing Your Own Window Graphic

Many of our customers prefer to install their own window graphics onto their vehicle or entrance doors, so we would like to give you a few brief tips to make your project easier. We will print your window graphic on an over-sized media to make your installation easier. We recommend using two people when installing. Make sure you are in a warm place, between 45 and 90 degrees F, so that the adhesive can bond properly. Also make sure you completely clean and dry the glass surface before installation.

Clean the glass surface

  • Use soapy water to remove any residue
  • Rinse the glass thoroughly, making sure there is no soap residue
  • Make you do not use any chemical based cleaning solution during this process


  • Unroll the graphic carefully
  • Position the graphic on the glass using masking tape to hold it up on the glass
  • Carefully remove the backing material starting from the middle, either top to bottom or left to right
  • Be careful not to stretch the material as you apply pressure to the film with a squeegee
  • To smooth out any air bubbles, gently peel the film off the glass and reapply as in the previous step

Finishing Up

  • Working from the center out, gently rub the entire surface with a soft cloth
  • Cautiously, trim all of the excess material around the window with a sharp razor blade

If you prefer not to go it alone, you can always call ImageSmith at 828-684-4512 or Contact Us via our website. We will be happy to perform the graphic installation for you.