All Posts By

Michael Johnson

Creative Videos, Creative Media and White Board Video Trends

The development of creative videos is currently an ongoing trend for today’s marketers since the evolution break out of mobile apps for iPods and smartphones. What this means is that an individual’s (i.e., teacher, marketer, consumer or people in general) thoughts, ideas, and expressions through visualization can be developed on creative videos. Creative videos are actually attracting mobile users because videos tend to be convenient and eye-catching than reading just content.

In fact, more and more people are actually watching videos on their smartphones and other mobile devices, like laptops and tablets. With social media sites like Twitter and Linkedin, streaming videos is a smarter way for people to present products and services, and to send their message (e.g., resumes and curriculum vitae) in a much more professional manner. Therefore, it’s no wonder that creative videos for education have become a growing trend for students and teachers with the use of advancing technologies, software programs and mobile apps in both online and traditional classrooms.

For people who own businesses, creative videos for mobile apps brings in more traffic than content ads because consumers prefer visualization rather reading just content, says Jane Wakefield of the Technology Reporter, Feb. 2, 2015.

Whiteboard videos (i.e., explainer video or sketched video), for example, are developed as creative videos for educational purposes to help students learn and comprehend subjects in a more creative, innovative and fun way. In addition, these types of sketched videos are being developed for employee training in today’s learning organizations. Because video presentations are effective, organizations are developing videos to explain their mission and vision (business plan) to stakeholders. Other reasons businesses create cartoon animation and design whiteboard videos are to able to explain new product development using easy understandable sketches and illustrations to educate employees and stakeholders.
Photo by Jonathan Velasquez on Unsplash

Teachers, therefore, can create a whiteboard video to help motivate students to want to learn subjects in school in a more smarter and cooler way. Audio is a great feature as well when developing explainer/sketch videos for learning, explaining and presenting any type of subjects step-by-step. Below are just nine simple steps in developing a whiteboard video effectively to meet the intended objective and purpose for presenting a subject matter:

  • You first need a well-written script to define the message that you want your audience to take away.
  • Hire a professional voice-over artist, especially if the explainer video is being presented to top executives and stakeholders in organizations and educational institutions.
  • Define and sketching the imagery.
  • Revise and arrange the imagery into an impressive and fun illustration to keep the audience’s attention to want to watch the video to the end.
  • Draw and create guidelines for eye-catching contrast effects throughout your sketch video.
  • Record the video by drawing illustrations on camera.
  • Sync the audio and video after shooting after the audio is complete.
  • Add music, but be sure to seek proper licensing of music if developing your explainer video for commercial purposes.
  • Test, and then export, present and share your whiteboard video to your audience.

“Universities, schools, other educational establishments, and even museums are realizing the potential of whiteboard animation as a teaching aid,” says Paul Lewis of eLearning Industry online, May 2, 2017. He states that most people enjoy the visualization in explainer/sketch videos because it gets the message across effectively and because visuals are entertaining. “Viewers will retain your message – which is paramount,” says Lewis.

Creative media, on the other hand, involves being able to have creative writing, game media (i.e., game design) and/or interaction design (e.g., digital sounds, images and motion, and involves people interacting and working together) skills. Other creative media skills include film and video or even art and design competencies to build and share creative works on social media sites like Facebook and Instagram. With continuous trends of creative videos and creative media, e-marketers are drawing the attention of consumers through video ads.

Featured image: By rawpixel.com on Unsplash

Southern California’s Signature Architectural Styles

Southern California is the epitome of architectural variation. Consisting of a heavily urbanized environment, the southern cities have attracted people of various backgrounds and heritages throughout history and continues to do so. From its car, architectural fusion with Jet futurism to many other forms of Googie styles, it has presumably made this modern form of art its signature style. Googie designs first appeared in California’s architectural style after WWII, when car transportation became the dominant mode of transport. Influences from the vehicle industry led entrepreneurs to incorporate such designs as a marketing gimmick to entice customers to walk into their food franchises, cafes, gas stations etc.

But this isn’t all there is to SoCal’s art of construction. In this article, we explore the residential home decor and the combination of various cultures, which is the reason behind such enormous architectural practices and progress in this state. California’s frequently changing landscape is a result of its growing diversity, just checking out Laguna Beach real estate will prove the wild diversity of the architecture even in one of the state’s most crowded areas. Apart from the commercial designs and ultra development, a traveler will find residential architecture ranging from adobe homes of Spaniards to glitzy homes of Hollywood celebs to breakthrough modernist architecture to stunning amusement park buildings to Googie structures aforementioned to historic bridges. These interesting and eye-catching sights are found in the following dominant areas of SoCal: Orange County, Los Angeles, Riverside-San Bernardino and San Diego.

Various Types of Architecture that manifests itself in SoCal Cities

Suffice to say is that these designs reflect the region’s development that spans well over 100s of years. It is the rich history from which these cities get most of their art marvel. Of course, the famous Hollywood’s influence and expansion is another major factor that shapes the increasingly modern constructive development.

Adobe Homes

Adobe homes are spread throughout Cali. made from organic materials like brick, it is also known as mud-brick homes. The structure basically resembles cob and rammed-earth buildings, even though adobe homes appear in varied fashion across the region. Adobe building material can be dated back to thousands of years when it was used by the locals of America.

Ranch

Ranch homes go by several names. One of the popular names is Californian Ranch. Originated in the US, Ranch homes are unique for their lengthy and dense ground structure with minimum interior and exterior decor. It is a simple style that first became popular during the war period and later at some point lost popularity to neo-eclectic house styles.

Bungalow

The year 1880 marked the popularity of bungalows in America which have Indian origins. They were originally found during the English colonial period in India. After they found its way into America, it was Southern Cali that made it the most renowned in the history of American housing styles with its large detached housing structure, a triangular roof with dormer windows, and a front porch. Today, bungalows have been innovated to reflect one of the finest art exhibitions.

Spaniard

The Spaniard architectural construction is completely reminiscent of their culture. Despite the south being a British colony in the 17th century, most of the inhabitants there were Spaniards; hence they built buildings and homes the way they were built in their motherland. The Spaniard home design has been adopted and innovated many times over and is popular across SoCal.

Colonial

The colonial housing style evolving from European influences began in the 1600s with the arrival of European immigrants. Colonial homes were originally two stories and resembled wider building structures but would have only one room on each floor. Today, these houses exist with multiple stories and several rooms on each floor.

Contemporary

Contemporary styled homes saw their rise between the 1960s and 1970 era. These houses have large plate glass windows. They use wood and stones in form of geometrical shapes and incorporate style into them. Contemporary designs are asymmetrical and designed to allow sunlight slip through the large windows and sliding doors. It has large doors with a plain interior. The style is a classic modern design which is added to from time to time but still remains an ever-changing one.

These are just a handful of the many housing decors found in these cities. Southern Cali’s climate is hot, droughty and sunny. It is a typical Mediterranean climate and this is why you’ll see many balconies and outdoor pool facilities in the front and backyards. There’s also a great deal of ultra-modern development in pool designs in residential settings. In summary, Cali is home to tremendous styles and trends in all capacities.

Getting The House Ready For The Holidays

The fall is upon the calendar and the holidays are nearly here. From the home decorators perspective, Halloween is nearly here followed by Thanksgiving in November, with Christmas and New Year’s Eve right around the corner. It’s a time where most homes transcend into holiday spirit before hosting a gathering after gathering with friends and family. The fall can also be a busy time for remodelling and DIY projects as school is back in session and the holiday’s fast approach. Many homeowners put off housework and preparation all year until the fall hits and its time to finish the basement for your cousins to stay in during Christmas. Finding inspiration isn’t hard after all, you can search online for kitchen remodel ideas, check out different home and living blogs for ways to transform your living space into more functional rooms, or see the annual issues of craft magazines for all the holiday decoration trends. Here are some ideas for each holiday as you enter the crazy season at home! 

Halloween

Halloween seems to be a real feast of famine situation when it comes to enthusiasm and decoration. Some homes turn into borderline theme parks with bones, pumpkins, witches, and ghosts where many just light a candle or maybe change nothing at all. If you get a little creative you can join the ranks of the Halloween diehards without much work. If you are going for terrifying, a simple way to show your guts is to take old clothes, rags, and bedding to a pair of scissors and get them all tattered and dirty. Next, you can add some red dye or food coloring all over them in a splatter to give the scary sense of Freddy or Jason running through the neighborhood. Spreading out some of these ragged clothes on Halloween night will surely bring an element of gore to your yard. 

Photo by Drew Hays on Unsplash

Thanksgiving

In early November Thanksgiving is on everybody’s mind, one of the most popular holidays in America and a source of great inspiration. One of the hallmarks of Thanksgiving is the colors of red, yellow, and orange. When the weather is turning towards winter and all the leaves are changing colors outside you only see these colors so this year invite them into your home. Shopping for anything these colors is a great way to bring the season into your home. Just finding online shops with sales and deals on shipping can have new decor at your home weeks before the holiday without forcing you to leave home at all. Finding towels, blankets, and even cheap comforters can be super easy and affordable. Embrace the color because a few weeks after you will look out the window and see nothing but snow! 

Photo by Simon Maage on Unsplash

Christmas

The 25th of December is one of the most celebrated holidays in the world and traditionally the one which gets the largest decorating budget in time and money. A Christmas decor hallmark is the tree, which can be covered in ornaments and lights any way you see fit. A newer trend has actually become planting a tree outside your home, decorating with the family, and letting it live long beyond that one Christmas season. It is a way to celebrate the holiday without cutting down a fresh tree to do so and year after year your family will have that tree as a memory of a past Christmas. 

Photo by Arun Kuchibhotla on Unsplash

New Year’s Eve

The turning over of the calendar is best celebrated by opulence and luxury. If you happen to find yourself throwing a New Year’s Eve party, this is the time to go big! If you are a woman get a sparkly dress and a man can match in a white tuxedo. As for the decorator, think Great Gatsby! Getting your home dressed up in glitz and glamour is the perfect setting for New Year’s Eve. Champagne and loud music are sure to bring a crowd to your home for fun long after the ball drops. 

Photo by Josh Boot on Unsplash

Featured image by Denise Johnson on Unsplash

How to Improve Your Online Casino Customer Experience

The days of keeping your mouth shut, nodding politely and never complaining are well and truly, and thankfully, behind us. In recent decades Brits have become more assertive and are not afraid to complain. They also expect a much greater emphasis on customer service and user experience. Online casinos are no exception to this, yet it is something often ignored by the industry at large.

User Experience vs Online Content

A recent article in Forbes Magazineon written by a member of their technology council expressed shock at the lack of, ostensibly, great businesses lacking a UX strategy. It’s not difficult to see how relevant this strategy is to the online casino industry.

Businesses often find that customer retention is low. Many argue that the answer to solving the problem is the customer experience. Or as it’s known in the business world, UX. Research has shown that casino managers tend to focus on luring people in and forget to focus on how to keep them once they have them on the platform. A business can only make money once the cost per lead is outstripped by the money spent by the consumer.

When you’re designing your online casino or looking to revamp a current offering, it’s useful to contemplate and draw from their real-life counterparts. Casinos don’t just offer good games, they have sumptuous recreational areas, people to assist with financial transactions and luxury food and drink facilities. Naturally, not all of these facets are transferable to the online world. However, in the same manner, that a casino owner would consider decor an online casino should think about smooth navigation and comfortable color tones which encourage users to spend more time on the website. The quality of games being offered is becoming increasingly extensive – a cursory glance at the popular online casino like Casino Euro aptly demonstrates this. Not only that, more and more casinos offer endless promotions to new and existing customers

Writer Hank McKinsey has highlighted several features which website developers and designers should consider when they’re making a casino site to generate the ideal UX. These include making the website mobile responsive, nobody wants to wait 10 seconds for a web page to load, and always attempting to achieve a minimalist appeal while ensuring that you’ve included all necessary information and navigation functions. UX has become much more important as online casinos gain traction not only with the traditional online gambler but also those who are opting for the straightforward experience.


Photo by Michal Parzuchowski on Unsplash

Be the Best on the Market

There are multiple resources which should assist your straightforward ideal user experience. Some features are fairly simple and straightforward, bigger icons increase engagement, others are more nuanced – keeping the navigation to content ratio no greater than 20% to 80%.

A key issue in retaining a customer, and why the experience is so important, is the vast number of alternatives which are available on the market. You might have fantastic games and seductive deals but so do many other companies – to stand out and keep customers coming back you need to capture their imagination and think about the consumer journey from beginning to end. If the UX isn’t suitable to the customer, or they find it frustrating, they will migrate to another outlet where they can play the same game and have a superior customer journey.

Mobile technologies are playing a significant role in generating premium UX. Many cite Uber as the ultimate user-friendly, customer-orientated experience. Not only is the product what the public want but they can access it in a few simple clicks. Features like an automatic log in functions, connecting your Pay Pal to your casino account and algorithms which understand the customer and only show them things of interest are all examples of where technology could play a role in advancing the mobile casino experience.

Making the industry mobile-friendly is in itself is a huge leap forward. Significant amounts of money are generated by users playing ‘on the go’ Mobile access is now incredibly important to most people. Falling behind in this area is simply not an option for those looking to peruse a viable business model in today’s digital age.

Small but Simple Steps

While ensuring that your website is optimized for UX can be a time consuming and costly process there are some quick and easy steps you can take instantly to improve without blowing your business budget. Consider switching your web host to improve speed, remove unnecessary visual noise from your pages and make sure your site is mobile responsive.

With a recent research from the National Business Research Institute showing that UX is a lucrative way to grow your casino business, developing your customer experience should be a priority for all and not just considered an additional luxury feature.

Featured image by John Schnobrich on Unsplash

A Huge Directory of Free Fonts that You Can Download

Typically, if you’re looking for a free font, the choices many websites offer tend to be somewhat limited. On the other hand, when a website offers thousands of free fonts, it sounds almost too good to be true.

You can also be excused for wondering how you could ever find a free font that meets your needs if you have to sift through thousands of potential candidates.

FFonts Can Help You Build Your Personal Font Library

FFonts.net offers more than just a few thousand free fonts. This website has in fact compiled tens of thousands of free fonts; somewhere between 40,000 and 50,000 to be more exact; all neatly placed in 87 different categories.

Whenever you come across a free font that appeals to you, you can preview it, add it to your wish list, download it, or continue your search if it’s not exactly to your liking.

FFonts makes it all sound easy, and it is.

Categories

FFonts’ categories are listed on the left side of their web page. As you scroll down, you’ll find categories containing just a few fonts, many that contain several hundred different fonts, and a few that have several thousand to offer.

There’s an 88th category that contains roughly 25,000 fonts that have yet to be categorized or can’t easily be placed in a specific category.

Are you looking for fonts that were popular in the 50s, 60s, or 80s? What about Art Deco, Art Nouveau, Classic, or Calligraphic fonts? There are selections of Formal fonts, Industrial fonts, Corporate fonts, and Professional fonts that could fit in with the appropriate website designs.

Plenty of wild and weird font styles are available and ready for you to browse through in the Quirky fonts, Wild fonts, Messy Fonts, and Funky fonts categories.

If you’re in need of a high-tech font style, there’s a Hi-Tech category, a Computer category, and a Sci-Fi category; and the list goes on. Serif and Sans Serif fonts haven’t been forgotten either.

Finding the Font You Want

You can zero in on the font you’re looking for, or one that’s close enough, by entering a name or keyword in the search box, browsing through a given category, or searching alphabetically.

Bear in mind that browsing through such a large collection of fonts can easily become addictive, and succumbing to impulse shopping when looking through such a large collection is not unheard of.

Fortunately, FFonts provides a wish list you can add to for eventual downloading.

Once you’ve found the font you want, click on it for a preview. You’ll be provided with a list of characters the font supports and upper and lower-case examples. There’s also a box where you can enter a string of text to get a better picture of how the font will appear in actual use.

The preview page also includes download, web download, wish list, and share buttons.

Downloading

There’s no need to register to download one or more free fonts. You’re limited to 50 per day; more than enough for most purposes. After you hit the download button, you’ll receive an exec file. When you run the exec file, a zip file will be placed on your computer. When you open it, you’ll be presented with several boxes. You’ll probably want to uncheck most or all of them and select “Custom Installation” to avoid having programs you probably don’t want or need installed on your computer.

The FFonts website’s FAQ page provides details on how to install a font under Windows, Mac OS, and Linux. It also contains a cautionary note that suggests installing1,000 fonts or more could slow your computer’s operation.

If you plan to download multiple fonts at once, simply add them to your wish list. All you have to do is hold down the CTRL key and click on each font on your wish list you want to download.

Is FFonts Safe to Use?

FFonts has been on the web for more than 8 years. There were some complaints in years past regarding malware and spanning, but they appear to have been addressed. You’ll still want to make use of the custom installation option to avoid having extras added to your computer (a different browser for example); or, you can opt for the Premium Version to avoid the issue entirely.

Neither Norton Safe Web or McAfee findings reported any security issues, and Scam Advisor gives FFonts a highly trusted rating. The bottom line is that FFonts is safe to use.

When the Premium Version Makes Sense

The FFonts Premium Version is ideal for heavy users. This version enables you to download up to 200 font files and/or 200 web font files per day (versus the standard 50). You also have the option to download the FFonts’ 14,000 font collection.

A premium feature that both heavy and occasional users will like is the absence of ads, allowing you to avoid the possibility of mistakenly downloading a program you don’t want. Priced at $29 per year, the Premium Version is quite affordable.

Summing Up – A Valuable Resource for Designers

Thousands of fonts may sound like a huge number, but having a resource like FFonts to tap into all but guarantees you’ll find the font you need. So many cool and unusual fonts can also inspire you to try new and different design approaches.

As far as pros and cons are concerned, the only real negative about this website are the ads that accompany the standard version downloads. These can, however, be avoided by using custom search, or by selecting the premium version. The preview pages are a definite plus, as is the well thought out font categorization scheme, and the wish list feature that allows you to save fonts and download them later.