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Named to "Writer's Digest 101 Best Websites," this #SharingwithWriters blog is a way to connect with my readers and fellow writers, a way to give the teaching genes that populate my DNA free rein. Please feel free to add to the conversation using the very tiny "comment" link. For those interested in editing and grammar, go to http://thefrugaleditor.blogspot.com.

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Thursday, April 19, 2012

To Favicon or Not To Favicon. Chaz DeSimone Gives You the Skinny!

I haven't used a favicon yet, but it is a fantastic idea. Because I have no personal experience, I asked my fantastic (I kid you not!) designer of the cover of my The Frugal Book Promoter (see it at www.budurl.com/FrugalBkPromo) to address the issue. I knew he could do a lot better than I.  I'm just here to tell you that even though I haven't used one, I can see how valuable they are.

By Chaz DeSimone

I read this article on how many folks weren't maximizing their branding with Title Tags, those little tabs at the top of your screen that label the sites you've visited: 
http://publishingcentral.com/blog/publishing/what-publishers-are-doing-wrong-with-their-websites). I asked my fave graphic designer Chaz DeSimone about them because it was certainly nothing I could possibly do myself and here's what he said:  

Using title tags, also called Favicons, is probably one of the easiest things to do to improve search engine ranking and user-friendliness on a Web site, and yet so many publishing sites that I’ve visited have completely failed to capitalize on their title tags.

A surprising number of sites I’ve visited over the past few weeks had nothing at all in the title tag. An even greater number of sites had completely unhelpful and unrelated text as their title tag. This is a huge problem, since search engines use the title of a site as the link in search engine results, and Google in particular still uses the title tag as a ranking factor in their results.

But even if Google can compensate for your unhelpful tags, in an Internet where tabbed browsing is the norm, it is extremely important to use good title tags because that is what identifies your site in a browser’s tab.

In one my browser windows right now, I see three tabs. One has a descriptive text. The middle one just says "Home." The third has a favicon (logo) and descriptive text.

It’s obvious what two of these tags are, but what is that middle one? It’s somebody’s home page, but it’s not mine. If I were a customer who tabbed away to check something else then got distracted, this certainly wouldn’t remind me to come back and finish my purchase.

The tiny icon or logo in the third browser tab or URL field is called a Favicon (favorites icon). Since they are only 16 x 16 pixels (or 32x32 but ignore that option), you're either in luck or you're not, depending on your logo. If it fits into a square and is rather simple or at least recognizable that small, you're in luck. Carolyn, if you chose to use a coin from the book cover I designed for you as your Favicon, you're most definitely in luck.

Just for fun, type in several major brand urls to see their Favicons. Target.com is superb. Ford is really forced with wasted space but at least the oval and script suggest Ford. Panasonic's Favicon fails totally. Their logo is the entire word Panasonic, so their Favicon "P" is practically useless as it is totally unrecognizable as Panasonic.

According to the author of the article you sent me, the Favicon is inexpensive and easy to implement. Not so! The image must be massaged through various stages in Photoshop until it is most recognizable and most pleasing at 16 pixels square. Note that you can't really read the Ford Favicon; it is merely suggested and is successful thanks to familiarity.

Once the Favicon is designed, it must be uploaded by getting into the Web site's source code. If you're using WordPress there's a plugin to make the process simpler.

Designing a Favicon takes a couple hours; I would ask around to see if there's someone at crowdspring.com or even Craigslist who can do that inexpensively. It definitely is a good marketing tool. There are free favicon generators here:

A fair price for turning a logo or imprint into a decent favicon is $50 to $300, depending on the amount of redesign involved and the designer’s level of sophistication and talent. My fee is typically $125 and up, although I always include the favicon in a brand identity project. The problem with that route is similar to how anyone with a computer can “design” a book cover. A good favicon requires all sorts of adjustments in Photoshop (and sometimes other programs) to appear striking and professional. Still, someone on a severe budget can get a favicon for free, and something in that URL bar is better than nothing.

~Chaz DeSimone (www.chazdesimone.com) is a graphic designer. Reach him at 310-902-3913 or at 12228 Venice Blvd #156, Los Angeles, CA 90066

PS: This article originally appeared in my Sharing with Writers newsletter. I don't republish all the tips and articles that appear there, so if you'd like to see them all and participate in some of the interactive promoting that goes on there, I guess you'll need to subscribe. (-: Just send an e-mail with SUBSCRIBE in the subject line to HoJoNews (at) AOL (dot) com.
Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of This Is the Place; Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered; Tracings, a chapbook of poetry; and how to books for writers including the award-winning second ediction of, The Frugal Book Promoter: How to get nearly free publicity on your own or by partnering with your publisher; The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success; and Great Little Last Minute Editing Tips for Writers . The Great First Impression Book Proposal is her newest booklet for writers. She has three FRUGAL books for retailers including A Retailer’s Guide to Frugal In-Store Promotions: How To Increase Profits and Spit in the Eyes of Economic Downturns with Thrifty Events and Sales Techniques. Some of her other blogs are TheNewBookReview.blogspot.com, a blog where authors can recycle their favorite reviews. She also blogs at all things editing, grammar, formatting and more at The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor . If your followers at Twitter would benefit from this blog post, please use the little Green widget to let them know about this blog:

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