Month: March 2014
Microsites: the good, the bad, and the effective
Marketers are always looking for creative ways to focus efforts, reach specific audiences, or convert web traffic to leads. Many are finding that microsites fit the bill. A microsite is a web page (or small set of pages) that’s a distinctive offshoot of an existing website – often with its own unique domain name. While such projects can inject more creativity and visibility into a marketing effort, they can also be confusing to users and pricey to develop and maintain. Let’s explore the pros and cons of microsites – and how to determine if a microsite is right for your next initiative.
The good: Microsite advantages
Microsites deviate from their parent websites by design, using images, animations, and other features to make a visual splash. Think of microsites as stylized, emotional representations of your brand or a specific facet of your brand.
Take a look at how Merck showcases its corporate responsibility with a standout microsite. This example highlights the most important benefits of a microsite:
- Closer integration with a campaign. You’re not tied to corporate templates, so you can create a microsite that matches the marketing material for the campaign, in design and content.
- Decreased distractions. Great campaigns usually drive traffic straight to a microsite. With the main site navigation and irrelevant elements removed, visitors can fully focus on your campaign and calls to action.
The bad: Microsite downsides
There are also convincing reasons to avoid microsites.
- They can be confusing. Users browsing a corporate website may find themselves unexpectedly sent to a microsite. Everything looks different and they may not understand its intended purpose – or know how to get back to where they were headed.
- They can be costly. Deciding to use a microsite means taking on added costs and complexities in design and backend maintenance – above and beyond those of the parent site.
Know that microsites can be the perfect solution if you need to:
- Reach a target audience or market – they’re visually interesting, direct, and customizable to a specific need or group.
- Track a short-lived campaign – they’re quicker to develop and launch, with no need for a full website.
- Launch a new product – they take advantage of creative freedom and make a big impact.
- Tell a story – images and animations take the stage and are better at telling a story than corporate copy.
- Experiment – microsites are great for selective market testing.
Did we miss anything? Want to share a good or bad microsite experience? We’d love to hear from you in the comments section.
The Client’s Guide to Images Part 1: Image Resolution [Infographic]
From time to time, clients will send us a tiny 40K JPEG image for a print layout, or ask us to “just grab it off the web.” We have to explain that such moves won’t work because the image resolution is too low. Let’s take a closer look at why that is.
The resolution of an image refers to the density of the pixels (or printed dots) that constitute it. At high resolutions, the image is crisp and vividly detailed. If the resolution is decreased or the image is “blown up” too much, it loses detail and the blocky squares of the pixels become noticeable. Think of how big-screen projection TVs from the ’80s used to look so washed-out and fuzzy before HD and Blu-ray came along. Resolution makes all the difference!
Web Resolution vs. Print Resolution
Screen resolution is measured in PPI (pixels per inch) and print resolution is measured in DPI (dots per inch), though the terms are often used interchangeably. Because the entire viewing area on a computer monitor is made up of pixels of a fixed resolution – typically 72 to 100 ppi – any image optimized for that resolution looks fully detailed and natural to the human eye.
But if that same image is printed at full size, its inherent pixel blockiness becomes readily apparent. Another consideration is that the side effects of image compression for smaller web image file sizes (like distortion around edges) can become unsightly.
For professional print graphics, 300 dpi is standard. If you want to use a web image in print, you run into problems. Really the only way to make it work is if you want to print a 72 ppi web image as a tiny inset, which can look fine. But there’s no way to magically generate extra pixels and make a beautiful brochure cover image out of your Facebook cover image.
When you have a choice of image sizes at your disposal, such as from an in-house image library or stock photo site, it’s best to go for the largest image you can get. Any image can be made smaller as needed, but it can’t be sized up without losing quality. When it comes to resolution, bigger really is better.