It has been known for sometime that images enhance social media the way the talkies transformed the film industry. It was a long time coming but visual design finally caught up to social media. Or did social media finally wake up to visual design? That does not matter. What does matter is that they finally got together and their marriage is one that was made in heaven, for the most part.

@MariSmith twitter page © Mari Smith

@MariSmith twitter page © Mari Smith

@JoyLynskey twitter page © Joy Lynskey

@JoyLynskey twitter page © Joy Lynskey

Social media has embraced the visual and has been benefitting from it ever since. Facebook posts that contain images get a greater percentage of Likes and comments.

Statistic Number 1: “…photos on Facebook Pages received 53% more Likes than the average post.”
Statistic Number 2: “…photo posts attracted 104% more comments than the average post…”

Source: Hubspot Blog

Twitter page of @LamourSupreme

@LamourSupreme  twitter page © Lamour Supreme

@WildmanSteveBrill twitter page © Wildman Steve Brill

@WildmanBrill twitter page © Wildman Steve Brill

Every major social media tool has a visual component:
• Facebook bought Instagram
• Google owns YouTube
• Yahoo flaunts flickr

Pinterest is social media’s grand dame having risen to fame and fortune faster than any other unit of the social media toolkit to date. So far it seems to have no desire to take a mate. It is doing quite well without one.

@FindandConvert twitter page © Find and Convert

@FindandConvert twitter page © Find and Convert

@CraigEYaris twitter page © Craig Yaris

@CraigEYaris twitter page © Craig Yaris

Well, Twitter has joined in. Twitter has the ability to connect Instagram images through tweeted URLs. Even better, it has developed a method for some serious customization of its pages. Twitter now allows its members to say, ‘Hey, this page is mine and no one else’s. I am cool. I am serious. I am funny. I am creative. I am unique.’

@ManOneLA twitter page © Man One

@ManOneLA twitter page © Man One

@AmyPorterfield twitter page © Amy Porterfield

@AmyPorterfield twitter page © Amy Porterfield

It does not take very long to figure out how to create a completely customized page or one that is a combo of twitter template and original design. There are three components involved:
• the image
• the header
• the background

@BasilPuglisi twitter page © Basil C. Puglisi

@BasilPuglisi twitter page © Basil C. Puglisi

@MktngBytesMaven twitter page © Alison D Gilbert

@MktngBytesMaven twitter page © Alison D Gilbert

Twitter offers all kinds of templates, choices of color and pattern making for the background. In addition, one can take a custom image and tile or repeat it on the screen. In front of that, appears a vertical band containing one’s tweets and other information.

At the top of the band is the header. Twitter allows a very large image to be imported for this area but reduces it quite a bit when uploaded. In front of the header, appear one’s image, name, twitter name, a URL and mini-bio. A 180×180 facebook icon works fine for the image.

@TheEarthDiet twitter page © Liana Werner-Gray

@The EarthDiet twitter page © Liana Werner-Gray

@AlisonsArt twitter page © Alison Gilbert

@AlisonsArt twitter page © Alison Gilbert

The results can be very creative and unique as witnessed by the samples displayed throughout this post. What do you think of them? I am eager to hear your thoughts:
• Do you think these samples are creative and unique?
• Do you think they are too much?
• Which one(s) do you like the most and the least?
• Do you have any other thoughts or comments about this post?

The Power of Images on Facebook
Five Reasons Why Twitter Background Is Really Important
Warning: Your Visual Message Is Just As Important
Visual Marketing Book
Twitter Headers and Covers






Form versus Function in the History of the World Wide Web

According to an article in the Atlantic Monthly, the World Wide Web had its beginnings in 1945. Another documented source credits the invention of the web to much earlier times and attributes it to having its roots in the telephone and telegraph industry.

History of the Web

History of the Web ©

But the consensus is that the official year is 1989 when its inventor, Tim Berners-Lee wrote a proposal for managing the communication and sharing of information. That is credited for being the beginning of the World Wide Web.

History of the Web 2

History of the Web 2 ©

The beginnings of the World Wide Web as we know it became a reality with the invention of the four necessary building blocks: HTML, the Web protocol HTTP, a Web server and a basic browser.

History of the Web 3

History of the Web 3 ©

Out of the necessity for establishing some sort of guidelines and protocols, a volunteer organization called the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) was established in 1994. It made its home at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and had the responsibility for developing and maintaining common standards.

History of the Web 4

History of the Web 4 ©

“They set HTML as the standard for marking up web pages. This discouraged any single company from building a proprietary browser and programming language, which could have had a detrimental effect on the web as a whole. The W3C continues to set standards for open web markup and programming languages (such as JavaScript).”1

The first web page

The first web page ©

This type of protocol was not new to the design industries. They had long histories of standards that went back centuries. But design had not come on the scene yet. That was to take a bit more time.

W3C (1998)

W3C (1998) ©

The changes that have taken place in the 20-year history of the World Wide Web are staggering. The original database was composed of huge amounts of information and its success was based upon that information being accessible to others. At that point, the web belonged to the scientists, academia and industry.

W3C (2009)

W3C (2009) ©

Design, designers and developers had no part in it, as its function required no visual information only listings and sharing of data. Additionally, even to this day there are still those who feel that design, visual imagery, and typography are superfluous to the Web.

Yahoo! (1996)

Yahoo! (1996) ©

But that was all to change when it became apparent that much more could be done with the web than simply storing and sharing data. “Perhaps the single most important technological development in the history of the web, besides the creation of the web itself, was the development of graphical browsers in the early 90s.”

Yahoo! (2002)

Yahoo! (2002) ©

“Beginning with NCSA’s Mosaic and its evolution into Netscape’s Navigator and Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, these programs allowed users to browse the resources on the web in an extremely user friendly environment. This made the web a “fun” place and marked the beginning of the true web revolution.”2

“Soon the Web took on a commercial flavor, as cybermalls opened and closed, Yahoo became the major directory of Web sites and Inc. started selling books and music CDs.”3

With the evolution of the web and its growing functions, it became essential to create systems of organization or tables that allowed for visual material as well as all the additional technology that had become part of the mainstream of the web. Table-based designs grew in complexity, incorporating sliced-up background images, often giving the illusion of a simpler structure than the actual table layout.

Design over Structure

Design over Structure ©

“This era of web layouts paid little attention to semantics and web accessibility, often opting for aesthetics over good markup structure. This was the same era where Spacer GIFs were popularized to control whitespace of web layouts. Some major companies even educated designers about the Spacer GIF; see Introducing the spacer GIF for use in HTML tables on”4

Yahoo! (2009)

Yahoo! (2009) ©

“The development of the first WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) web design applications, all of which used table-based layouts, increased the use of tables. In addition, some of those programs created tables so complex that many designers would never have created them from scratch (such as tables with rows only 1-pixel high and hundreds of cells). Designers had to rely on tables if they wanted to create designs that were even mildly complex (such as multi-column designs).”5

HTML5 & CSS3 Readiness

HTML5 & CSS3 Readiness ©

But as time went on, the technical aspects of a site’s development started to take a front seat again. The requirements that web design and web development had filled again needed to include programming. Features like search engine optimization, shopping carts, and a myriad of other tools that required the use of complex coding began to overshadow the reign of the web design and returned the focus to the web’s internal wiring.

Design Perfectionism

Design Perfectionism ©

Web designers, who had primarily been graphic designers before the advent of the web, found that much of what web developers, the coders and computer programmers were doing was unappealing visually and was lacking in what they understood to be good design.  Just as the W3C set standards for web language, standards in graphic design had long and deep traditions for the protocols of good design.

Not Web Design

Not Web Design™ ©

The web changed all that. Good design alone could not stand on its own when it came to the web. If a site did not do the job it was intended to do, it did and does not matter how visually attractive it is. As one firm puts it, “ Web design is not good web design if the visitor has to ‘think’ about it.”6

A site needs to flow; it needs to be navigated without having to ‘think’ about it. It is like riding a bicycle. Once you learn how, you just do it. You do not ‘think’ about doing it.

Michael Graves, teakettle by Alessi for Target

Michael Graves, teakettle by Alessi for Target © MIA

There can and needs to be a reasonable meeting ground where form and function co-habitate. This has been the challenge with many other fields of design, to create something functional that is also a thing of beauty. This point can be clearly illustrated by the increasing numbers of extremely successful designers who have carried over their individual brand to everyday products in superstores frequented by everyday folks rather than the wealthy for exclusivity.

Missoni for Target

Missoni for Target ©

Architects like Michael Graves, fashion designers like Vera Wang and Jaclyn Smith, furniture designer, Cindy Crawford, textile/fashion designers like the Missoni Family, and the queen of home making herself, Martha Stewart have all lent their talents to create usable, tasteful, sometimes even works of art that are sold at affordable prices in the American Heartland’s superstores such as Target, Kmart, Wal-Mart and even Kohl’s.

The Battle between Apple and Adobe

The Battle between Apple and Adobe ©

The web is the next frontier where form and function initially collided but have learned to coexist. Although it is not always a happy marriage, it is just another day in the world where designers and programmers battle it out to see who has the upper hand for the moment. On some days, it is a standoff and in certain cases, a balance is struck. It is then that the music of the World Wide Web can be heard.

Web Awards ©

1. The Evolution of Web Design
2. History of the Web
3. The Story So Far: History of Web Sites
5. The Spacer GIF
6. Web Design vs. Web Development

Web Design & Development Guide: Spacer GIF
History of the Web and HTML

Things That Shaped the Web Design Industry in 2010
Several Articles about the Web
Practicing Perfectionism as a Web and Graphic Designer
Top fashion designers go down-market
Missoni for Target
From Towers to Teakettles: Michael Graves Architecture and Design
Target’s Newest Designer: Justin Timberlake!

A Casual Glance at Social Media


Social Media ©

Social Media ©

By now, just about everyone is at least aware of social media. Whether one participates in it, likes it or dislikes it, favors certain venues over others, social media has become part of our everyday culture and part of our technology in its brief 30 year history. It is also inarguably here to stay and will continue to morph into more and more amazing forms.

For those less knowledgeable about the most popular social media venues, the differences between them may seem to blur and have little distinction, if any. Therefore, it is the purpose of this post to clarify some of the distinctions for the technically challenged (which is most of us over a certain age).

Alexa logo

Alexa logo ©

ALEXA RANKINGS is a website that was founded in 1996 and is now owned by It rates the frequency of visits to 5 million sites on the Internet. Although reports indicate that Alexa’s ranking results are biased, it is still a technically accepted system by much of the social media world. Let’s look at a few of the most popular and top rated Alexa rated sites.

Google logo

Google logo ™

Google is ranked #1 by It is the ‘big engine’ that could. It has gone from being the master program for global (URL universe) SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION, commonly known as SEO to its brainchild, LOCAL BUSINESS SEO with Google Places and Google Maps. It has also created Google + which includes Google Circles, a connecting venue based on many types of groups of possible connections and interests between members.

Google’s Challenges
From my perspective, Google has two major challenges at this time:
• Staying #1, as #2 Facebook continually seeks ways to come up with new features to overtake #1. It is reminiscent of Avis when it ‘tried harder’ as #2 in car rentals ranked behind #1 competitor, Hertz.
• Their second major job is to continually change the algorithms for top ranking so that companies do not have a permanent grip on the secret formula to Google’s SEO based rankings.

Google, King of Social Media
To me, Google is King, the royalty of social media. The word has even become a verb. If you need to know something, just Google it!

facebook logo

facebook logo ™

Ranked # 02 on is Facebook. It is probably the most popular interactive means of socializing with family, friends and acquaintances. Someone who was alive when a certain outmoded technology existed, told me that Facebook reminded her of telephone party lines. It is a sharing experience, not so much a private means of communication although it can be using the message mode.

It qualifies as the 21st century’s #1 grape vine for news and gossip. For the purposes of this article, the fan page business feature or what is now referred to, as the LIKE page will not be discussed here. The Perfect Tools for Your Facebook Marketing Campaign was just published yesterday on the DBME blog by a fellow contributing writer, Joy Lynskey.

About Facebook
“Founded in February 2004, Facebook is a social utility that helps people communicate more efficiently with their friends, family and coworkers. The company develops technologies that facilitate the sharing of information through the social graph, the digital mapping of people’s real-world social connections. Anyone can sign up for Facebook and interact with the people they know in a trusted environment.”***

YouTube logo

YouTube logo ™

Ranked # 03 on, YouTube’s popularity clearly indicates how people love to watch and make videos. It is also often suggested that when you need to know something, do a search on to find out.

YouTube is like the best of the old time Saturday movie theater experience that allowed folks to be entertained for a nickel for hours viewed on the giant silver screen. YouTube is without the live music that sometimes emanated from a gargantuan organ, but as a compensation is available 24/7 from the comfort of your own private entertainment environment using your desktop computer, laptop, hand held device, etc.

Twitter logo

Twitter logo ™

Before we jump to twitter, ranked # 9 on, I would like to simply quote the information from about the sites that are ranked numbers 4-8. They include:
“#4 Yahoo!
A major Internet portal and service provider-offering search results, customizable content, chats . . . free e-mail, clubs, and pager.”
The leading Chinese language search engine, provides ‘simple and reliable”’ search exp. More experience, strong in Chinese language and multi-media content including MP3 music and movies, the first to offer WAP and PDA-based mobile search in China.”
Free, automated weblog publishing tool that sends updates to a site via FTP.”
“#7 Wikipedia,
A free encyclopedia built collaboratively using wiki software.”
“#8 Windows Live,
Search engine from Microsoft.”

About Twitter
The twitter website itself states it purpose best as an information network, “Twitter is a real-time information network that connects you to the latest information about what you find interesting. Simply find the public streams you find most compelling and follow the conversations.”****

Twitter’s function and activities, called tweets, have become headline news of late between being part of Presidential town halls, communication lifelines during emergencies and the modern day equivalent of the telegraph, succinct, precise and immediate.

According to Internet guru, John Perry Barlow, the telegraph was the first step towards globalization of communication and set the precedent for social media as well as our entire world wide web communication system.

LinkedIn logo ™

LinkedIn logo ™

Although it is ranked # 13 on, LinkedIn is another top rated, indispensable site. For consistency’s sake, here are the sites in between Twitter and LinkedIn quoted from
“#10 QQ.COM,
China’s largest and most used Internet service portal owned by Tencent, Inc founded in November 1998.”
“#11 MSN,
Portal for shopping, news and money, e-mail, search, and chat.”
#12 Yahoo! Japan
This is the Japanese version of Yahoo.

About LinkedIn
The fascinating thing about LinkedIn is that as somewhat of a dark horse, it is gaining speed as an excellent business networking tool. Colleagues with similar interests and background can connect. Professionals can seek jobs and promote their pedigrees. Employers can research for prospects. It has become the world’s largest professional network.

There are endless numbers of networking groups specifically tailored to industries and topics in those industries. Here is some company background about LinkedIn, founded in 2002. In my opinion, LinkedIn is the one to watch. It is a real up and comer as a business marketing tool.

In conclusion, new social media venues continue to be invented on a daily basis. They do not all make it into the big time. But every once in a while, as its very brief history has shown, someone creates a winner. In addition, top ones which may have been highly ranked a few years ago are no longer front runners but may have found a niche audience like MySpace has in the arts.

I am not a betting person, and this Blog post is meant to be a casual glimpse at Social Media. I consider my job done. Now it is up to my readers to decide for themselves what they think about the present line up and what the future holds. Let me know what you think. For an extra ‘treat’ click here to view an amazing infographic of the history of social media.


The History of Social Media According to

Social Media on Mashable

Alexa Internet Wiki Ask

Alexa Internet Wiki

Alexa Website Rankings

Alexa Ranking for Websites

Alexa SEO Book

How Many Websites Does Alexa Track – Quora

John Perry Barlow Wiki

B2B Video

Alexa Top Sites

About LinkedIn

Facebook Fact Sheet

Digital Media Monthly

Text - DIGITALETHOS to 22828 to sign up!