Using Copyrighted Images: Don’t Risk It! - mjcpk web design and development

Archive for February, 2011

Using Copyrighted Images: Don’t Risk It!

Monday, February 28th, 2011

Using copyrighted images that you don’t have permission for can cause you serious trouble. What seems like and easy way to avoid paying for images can end up costing you a lot more.
Using Copyrighted Images
Every image is copyrighted by default. The copyright is owned by the person who produced that image. They can sell the rights to that image in many different ways or they could license it for use for free. Just because a website doesn’t have a copyright statement doesn’t mean that you can use their images for free.

I found this image on a website…

Clients often come to us with images that they want to put on their website that they have found on other peoples websites. Sometimes they find them by using Google’s Image Search.

These images all belong to someone else and if we were to use them we would be stealing them and passing them off as our own.
Don't Hotlink Images

Hotlinking

It is possible to show an image from another website without actually having it on your web server. This is called hotlinking. Your web page displays the image directly from they other website’s server. This isn’t an infringement of copyright but it is still a very bad idea.

Using images like this uses bandwidth from the other person’s website. It may actually be costing them money to show images on your website. This is known as bandwidth theft and is considered a very rude thing to do on the Internet.

The other problem with this is that you are always at the mercy of the website that is hosting the image. If they remove the image or block your site the image will disappear from your website without notice. Sometimes website owners like to get their own back when you hotlink to them. Some do this by changing the image to a notice that says something like ‘Don’t Hotlink!’ but others have been known to be more extreme and swap them for offensive images and pornography. Do you want that on your website?

Penalties for Copyright theft

If you are using someone’s images without permission they can send a takedown letter to your ISP. Internet Service Providers like to avoid the legal complications of copyright and often comply immediately with takedown notices without contacting you. The first time you realise there is a problem is when people start complaining that they can’t get to your site anymore. The ISP has probably pulled your entire site due to breaching the terms and conditions of their hosting agreement.

Beyond this you could be sued for your use of copyrighted images depending on whether doing so made you money or caused the copyright owner to lose money. However the potential loss of your site (even if for a short time) should be enough to make you avoid stealing images.

Alternatives to using copyrighted images

There are a number of sites on the web that will let you use their images for free. Some of them will do so on the understanding that you link back to them but they don’t often have very many or very good images in their collections.

Another option is images that have been licensed as Creative Commons (CC) by their creators. These can be found on both Flickr and Wikimedia Commons. There are different types of Creative Commons license that allow you to do different things with them. Make sure you check the details of the license before you use an image.

Royalty Free Images

Royalty Free Images are not free. You have to pay an initial fee to use the image but you don’t have to pay a royalty every time the image is used. The good thing about royalty free images is that you don’t have to include an attribution to the image creator on the web page.

Lately we have been getting Stock Photos from 123rf.com who have a large catalogue of images that are available in different sizes and very reasonable prices. This is a much quicker option than having to trawl through free images sites and Creative Commons sites for the image you want.

Never, ever, ever

So there you have it. There is never a reason to use copyrighted images. It is illegal, can cause you loads of problems and there are much better alternatives available.

Keywords and Keeping Track of Them

Friday, February 18th, 2011

Keyword Monitoring Service - Sevenoaks Web DesignKeywords are an essential part of websites and how they rank on search engines. The only way to really gauge the success of a site is to monitor where it ranks in the major search engines for certain keywords. Here at mjcpk we offer a Search Engine Rank monitoring service that tracks your main keywords and where your site ranks for them.

There’s more than one important keyword

You may be a cleaning business but ‘cleaning’ is not the only keyword you want to rank for. ‘cleaning ’ is one your shouldn’t ignore as this is often more important than ‘cleaning’ on its own. In addition there will be any number of other keywords you’ll want to rank for: cleaners, floor cleaning, house cleaning, domestic cleaning, office cleaning, professional cleaning, affordable cleaning, industrial cleaning etc. may all be applicable to your site too. A small site should have a list of at least 20+ keywords that they are targeting.

This is important because you may find that it is too expensive or difficult to compete for your main keyword and it would be better to spend time and money on other keywords.

Monitoring keyword rankings

The only way to know which keywords are worth spending time on is by knowing where you rank for them. If you rank 23rd for a keyword on Google it may not take much effort to get onto the first page. However, if you rank 479th then things are going to be a lot harder and not always worth the effort.

The more information you have the better you will be able to choose an effective strategy for your site. Once you have begun work to improve your rankings then the only way you can be sure it is working is by tracking your keywords rankings.

Making it easy

If all you want to do is get on with your business and don’t want have to spend your time gathering statistics about your website then mjcpk can help. For only £25 per month we will prepare a report detailing your rankings in all the major search engines. We will monitor up to 100 keywords (or key phrases) for you.
We will begin by establishing the keywords that people use to get to your site now and where they rank. If you can improve the rank of these keywords you will definitely increase traffic to your site. We will then prepare a more complete list of keywords (incorporating any that you would like to rank for) and will monitor their rankings.

We will point out suitable candidates for easy improvement and can also offer advice, when required, on how best to improve the ranking of your site.

Contact Us now to start tracking your keywords and making your site more successful

If you have any questions or would like to discuss things further then please feel free to Contact Us.

Psychology in web design

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011

Design is all about psychology. We must understand how people are going to respond to what we show them. We know that a website for a daycare centre that uses only the colours red and black and is covered with pictures of skulls is not going be received well. This is quite obvious but there are more subtle things that we shouldn’t overlook.

A simple mistake that I used to make when I first started designing websites was to not use photographs. I used graphical images to add gradients, curved edges and any number of nice looking touches but I often left out photographs.

So why is this a problem? Any design without photographic images tends to look quite impersonal and as a result some of my designs ended up looking like sites for soulless corporations rather than the small businesses they were actually for. Something as simple as a photograph of the building the business is in or some of the products they provide can counter this.

The next step is to add some photos of real people. Showing the visitor a picture of a person engenders trust. We are a very visual species and we like to look at the person we a dealing with. A smiling face is even better because that keys into our natural psychological responses. A smiling person means they are our friend and mean us no harm. We also respond to smiles with one of our own (or at least a relaxing of our frown). This causes us to release some of our happy brain chemicals and makes us even more likely to trust the site.

You will tend to see that the photos of people displayed on websites tend to match their target audience. A site for teenagers will show pictures of teenagers rather than old people, a Chinese site is most likely going to show those of Chinese ethnic groups and a site for new mothers is going to show women rather than men. When we see an image of someone that we feel is like us then we identify with them and, again, are more likely to trust them.

This can present a problem for sites that have general and/or worldwide appeal. It isn’t possible to show photos that equate to everyone who is likely to visit a site and often those that try to be too PC and multicultural end up looking totally contrived. We all have our own preconceptions, likes and dislikes when it comes to gender, race, ethnicity and age. However much we’d like to be able to treat all groups the same (especially when it comes to generalities and stereotypes) we don’t. Remember this is occurring mostly on a subconscious level and is not something we are always directly aware of.

To get around this problem of bias towards and against certain groups there is a surprising solution. Cartoon images can achieve all of the positive aspects of smiling faced photos without the problems of bias. The reason for this is that a cartoon image is very simple and lacking in detail. We supply the detail in our minds and superimpose our expectations onto the cartoon. This could be a simple stick figure or even an animal or bird.

Twitter is a prime example. A smiling anthropomorphised bird works as well as a human face. It also has the benefit of being cute and non-threatening. The choice of animal can also be used as statement about the company. A bird may be fast, a dog dependable and so on.

the psychology of smiling faces

Even a stickman can trigger our automatic responses to smiling faces

So photos are essential to key into our natural preference for seeing who and what we are dealing with. Smiling faces set us at our ease and engender trust. A single happy cartoon character can be more use than a slew of varied human images. We are programmed at the deepest levels to look for faces and we see them everywhere.