This article’s main purpose isn’t a “How to,” but when I first posted an article similar to this about ten years ago, it was. Today’s main idea is to show how far technology has progressed in ten years, and today, the rate of change caused by technology is even faster.
For you mathematicians, speed is the calculated as the change in distance divided by the change in time. So, if you start at a particular point, and travel 60 miles, and do it in 1 hour, your speed is 60 miles per hour. If however, in the next hour you travel 70 miles, your speed has increased, and comparing the change in speed results in acceleration. Therefore, when someone mentions the “rate of change” is “accelerating,” things, processes and other constructs aren’t just changing faster, but the time between change points is also decreasing, which increases the rate of acceleration.
About ten years ago, a photo of a screenshot of what SchoolAdvancement.com’s new Web design could look like was included within an article. Since schools at that time were moving toward a more graphic-rich Web site rather than text-rich ones, some questions were received as to how that screenshot was turned into a photo. There was a program available at the time called Snagit, but another quick way was to save the photo with Microsoft WORD. By saving a screenshot (Ctrl+PrtSc) to a WORD document, then right clicking to “Save as a Web Page (.htm or .html)” on the Desktop, a document and a folder of the file were created. The folder held a .png and a .jpg copy of the screenshot, which could then be renamed and imported into other documents.
Five years ago, one could still do that, but the easier way was to right-click the photo and choose “Save Image As.” Today, the computer you’re using might have a “clipping tool” that will allow you to outline an area of a computer screen you wish to save for use in other documents.
However, while it’s much easier to “get” photos, you need to be sure you’re able to “use” them. Here’s what’s happened regarding the use of photographs and videos in marketing materials:
- You may need permission to use them;
- They need to be appropriate in order to convey the message you want to convey; and
- They need to be large enough to be clear, but small enough to load quickly.
Permission – Today, you can simply put a topic of what you’re looking for into a search engine’s “Search” bar, click “Images” rather than “Web,” and find photos from all across the Internet that show the particular topic you’re looking for. Many of them are watermarked with copyright indicators, so you may want to use a service like iStock or Shutterstock for stock photos. There are also services that will give you stock photos for free, but you could send a contribution to the photographer regarding their use. www.pexels.com is one of those sites.
If you’re looking to use photos of children at your school, that will require permission from their parents so that their images can be posted as part of the school’s marketing efforts. If a parent withholds that permission, their wishes must be respected. Further, with today’s emphasis on safety, don’t post their first and last names to associate them with their photo. Internally protected documents, such as a school directory, also must have the parent’s permission for their child’s photo to be used.
Appropriate – Of course there are many interpretations of what “appropriate” means today, but for the purposes of this article, it means to use imagery to convey the message you’re trying to convey. For instance, a common practice in the past was to post a photo of the school to the school’s Web site. One like this was not uncommon:
Looking at this picture, does it convey the message that your school is a vibrant place where parents want to enroll their child for the next 9 years or so, or does it look like the school is closed, and, perhaps, for sale?
Photos must be chosen carefully so the message you want to convey to parents and guardians of prospective students is the message they’ll receive. Today, the old adage still holds true: a picture is worth a thousand words.
Size – It’s important to use photos with file sizes that are large enough to be clear, yet small enough to load quickly. Everyone that has used the Internet since its inception can remember the time when boxes with a red “x” would appear where a picture was supposed to be. Text could load quickly (which was why most initial Web sites were text-rich), but it took photo data a while to travel in bits across the Internet and then be reassembled appropriately. If one “bit” lost its way along the information superhighway, the image could not be displayed, resulting in that red x in a box.
Today, knowing which file types (like .gif, .jpg and .png files) to use can help, but photo sizes can be huge, since the larger the dimensions of the photo, the more it can be increased in physical size and still retain its clarity. These photos are great for printing as well as for printed enlargements (such as an 8×10, or an 11×15), but, while outstandingly clear, may take a significant amount of time (such as 5 seconds or more) to load in a Web viewer’s browser. Conversely, small file-sized photos will load quickly, but will look “pixellated” if they’re increased in size to fill a particular need by a Web site program that has certain specifications for photos to display properly.
Is 5 seconds a “long time?” Absolutely! You may still log on to photo-rich sites and notice that until all the pictures and ads load, the screen bounces around…which is incredibly annoying. If you log on to a Web page, your expectation is that “all of it” will be there once your browser opens the page, which is why browsers today store a site’s information in a “cookie” that’s placed on your computer. When you visit the Web page again, the browser pulls the site from the cookie, rather than the server, then looks for any updated information to display. However, there are some browsers, that will display what it “thinks” should be displayed in order to improve the technical experience…to the detriment of what the Web designer had intended. This is why sites can look different if viewed in different browsers. For example, SchooAdvancement.com looks “correct” if I view it in any browser…except Chrome. Chrome chooses the fastest loading font (Times New Roman) over-riding the designed font without serifs. Can it be corrected? Sure! Clear all cookies and history! But then, anything I’ve wanted to save is gone too.
If it takes longer than 5 seconds for something to load today, the usual comment heard is, “The Internet must be slow today.” It’s never considered that a new photo with information about an important development relative to the COVID pandemic was just inserted into the school Web site’s, and the picture may not have been optimized for clear viewing and fast loading because the information needed to be input as soon as it could.
© Michael V. Ziemski, SchoolAdvancement, 2011-2021 (Original Publication Date: 20110124)