Some of the Worst Optimized Websites Are in the Automotive Industry

I have seen the future of the automotive industry. And it is not pretty. Sure, you can send me hate mail or you can take a big look for yourself. I don’t spend a lot of time paying lip service to middle management drones or trying to flirt with half informed office hacks. I have seen many of these automotive sites from the inside out. We have literally popped the lid on these sites and checked out the guts and I got to tell ya. It’s no wonder our cars aren’t selling in this country. Nobody can find these sites in the first place. Many of our automotive dealerships are next to impossible to find on Google, Bing and Yahoo.

A lot of these sites share the same challenges of Yamaha ATV parts sites. These sites also have the same problems that Kawasaki and Honda sites share as well. These websites are created to dazzle with lots of flashing graphics, whirling colors, and slicked up graphics that masks important information like keywords, and readable text. You see no matter how sexed up the graphics are search engine spider bots still have to read the text in your sites.

The two things you don’t want to do is put a lot of Flash in your sites. The search engines will look at that page as one big black box. All of the great animation and text information in your web site will get swallowed up and never really get picked up and archived in the search engines. The second worse thing you can do is put a lot of javascript in your websites. This is a great way to ensure that you will never rank well in the search engines. So if you want to rank well I would listen to guys who actually do this for a living instead of someone who logs into an automotive Ning site from time to time.

Its relatively simple. Search engine bots have a hard time archiving sites that are loaded down with Flash animations, javascript programming language and tons of flashy artwork. Also be careful of sites that insist and burying its readable text on JPEG’s. Heavy art work sites are a problem because they need more content. There are certain things in the HTML programming language that needs to go into the sites. Some of these elements can actually help propel your site above others in the search engine ranks. If nothing else go get a Dummies book on HTML and search engine optimization and start with the basics. There are little things you can do with your automotive sites that will help them get ranked on the web.

Copyright (c) 2010 Ted Cantu

Designing A Cover For Your Book – A Guide for Self Publishers


In these days of computers, the internet, digital cameras, and on-line publishing companies, individuals can more easily express their creativity through writing and publishing their own written works. Whether it is a novel, a short story, or a how to guide, having a creative cover is important to help capture the attention of your audience. There is that old saying, “You can’t tell a book by its cover” is so true, but your job as an author is to make sure that the cover best reflects your written works. With the growth of E-books and on-line books, having a well designed cover is even more important. The web surfer can quickly have tens if not hundreds of books at their fingertips, but why should they select your book over another? Without spending many dollars in marketing, one of the best tools at your disposal is a cover that will get their attention and hopefully pique their interest to make a purchase. If you are writing on a topic that already has many similar topics, such as “Vegetable Gardening”, you have to compete even more for the consumers dollars.

You could purchase the different graphics tools of go off to a company to design your cover for you. Most of the covers that you are familiar with in a book store cost hundreds of dollars to design, and in some cases thousands. Now whether you are writing 10 pages or 5000 pages, this article will give you some basic ideas that will help you design your next book cover into one that is different, unique and personal. Remember that a well done book cover will boost your sales.

Designing A Cover For Your Book

– A guide for self publishers –

You have already expressed your creative side by writing a book, now lets express your artistic side. By using a collection of clip art, or a low cost digital camera coupled with some imagination can open the door for you to create unique cover that portrays your writings. Even with that saying, “You can’t tell a book by its cover”, the cover definitely gets attention. Think of the book cover as a marketing tool that promotes not only your book, but you as the author.

Software packages like Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator have many capabilities that allow you to customize your pictures and illustrations. The question often asked is; “What should I do?” The intent of this article is to give you a few ideas to spark your creativity and see what fits your personality. Our focus has been on pet and automotive art, so we will use an automotive car show judging guide as an example, although these ideas can be applied to many other topics.

With E-Books and on-line publications, having an elaborate cover is a one time upfront cost since there is no printing involved, so it is worth it to do it right since the book revenue in part will be dependent upon the cover.

Publishers for hard copied books have the ability to use different papers, and cover media such as foil, and other eye catching materials. On-line publishing has to leverage the graphics appeal to grab the readers eye and entice them to read further. A brief list of tips to consider when designing your book cover is as follows:

1. Always try to use high resolution images (clear and crisp) for any initial artwork. You can always lower the resolution later on.

2. As an author, if you expect to have multiple books you may wish to have a common theme where there may be a similar layout or border between books. Define your own brand identity.

3. Design your a layout with layers giving a three dimensional effect. For example the palm tree in the background of the “Pet Photography Book Example”.

4. Some customers will also print out their book, so you want a design that is printable, and will still look good. Make sure that what ever resolution you use is sufficient for printing. Typically 150 DPI will work unless there is intricate details that may require higher resolution.

5. For best versatility and color representation use RGB color specifications versus CMYK.

6. Hard copied books use different cover effects to catch the readers eyes, such as fabrics, and embossing. You want to obtain a similar visual effect, so use different background textures to give a feel like cloth, diamond plate, fabric with out them being too pronounced. Select something that relates to the content. One example we used was a diamond plate border for an automotive engine book. The rugged diamond plate linked nicely to the bold metal engines.

7. Remember your target audience. If it is children, select clip art that they can relate to. For hobbyist, try to incorporate some aspect of the hobby on the cover.

8. Do not clutter the cover too much with images or text. It can make it difficult to read on line.

Use visual effects that reflect the contents and the value it brings to the reader. A consumer is more likely to purchase a book f they perceive the value more than the cost. Your cover needs to reflect the value, but it is equally important that the contents justify the cover. Do not mislead the reader. A judging book we have done has a trophy in the background implying if you follow the advice in the book, you could have a trophy on your shelf. Or the pet photography cover where it tells he reader it will help them create a picture like the one on the cover. These are things that have a tangible feel to them that reflects value. Many of the books we sold were purchased as a gift. The giver wants to make the receiver happy, and wants confirmation that it’s a great gift and often looks for a smile. When someone sees your cover you want them to smile.

This value in a cover that gets attention is dependent upon how well the design is done, and what message it gets across.

Marketing studies have show that having a catchy box or cover for a product sells more products, so take the ideas presented here and sell some books.

7. Final Remarks On Designing Your Book Cover

Even though we are only presenting a few examples and ideas, you should realize that like the words you have written on the pages, the book cover is an extension of the writers personality. As long as basic principles are adhered to, there is no right or wrong way, as long as the message gets across. Accurate representation of the books contents along with a cover that is memorable are two of the keys to make your book stand out.

Competition for consumers will continue to increase as more titles compete with yours. Look at what other authors have done and open your imagination and embark on the first step to create yours. By utilizing the tips here you are one step closer.

So to get started, take what you have learned here, finish your book and get a cover designed.

For additional information and ideas on how to designing book covers, visit There are many examples that have helped authors like you have a great cover.

Top 10 Winston-Salem Attractions

Located in North Carolina, United States, Winston-Salem is the second largest municipality in the Piedmont Triad region. This city is full of natural beauty attractions and offers its visitors and locals with many fun activities and places to explore. It is also a great destination from where you can see various parts of Raleigh, Durham and Charlotte tourism. Are you thinking about what to do and where to visit in Winston-Salem, NC? Well, there are endless things to do and places to visit in Winston-Salem making it a great place to visit it with anyone may it be your friends, family or your loved one. Various attractions in Winston-Salem attract thousands of tourists every year. Let’s have a look at the top 10 attractions in Winston-Salem.

Attractions in Winston-Salem

Winston Cup Museum

Winston Cup Museum in Winston-Salem, NC, presented by JKS Motorsports INC. is well known for its authentic race cars from different eras of the 33 years of NASCAR Winston Cup history. This museum was designed to preserve NASCAR history and Winston-Salem’s ties to America’s No. 1 spectator sport. Along with authentic cars, it also houses items such as trophies, driver uniforms, helmets, winner’s checks, autographed pictures, etc. If you are a race lover, you will have the opportunity to see cars driven by racers such as Dale Earnhardt and Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Jeff Gordon.

The display in this museum highlights stories from the Winston Cup era. Some of the major displays in this museum are as follows:

Authentic Winston Cup Race Cars

1971-2003 History Wall Mural

Authentic Winston Cup Trophies

Authentic Driver Uniforms

Winston Cup Era Timeline

The Winston Cup Souvenir Store

Authentic Winston Cup Displays

Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art

Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art (SECCA) is a very famous multimedia contemporary art gallery in Winston-Salem, NC. Here you can have great experience with contemporary artists and their work. This Center was established with the mission to bridge art, technology and engagement to enhance perspectives, inspire community and ignite new ideas. You can enjoy the art displays in its three exhibition rooms and a 300-seat auditorium. The Center arranges for special tours for people with special needs.

On your visit to Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art, you can also visit Reynolda House Museum of American Art. It is just fifteen minutes from the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art. Here you can enjoy antiques such as paintings, sculpture, drawings, etc by the artists from the eighteenth through the twentieth century.

Hours of Operation:

Tuesday – Saturday: 10am – 5pm

Thursday – 10am – 8pm

Sunday – 1pm – 5pm

Paul J. Ciener Botanical Garden

In this garden, you can discover, learn and support various gardening and landscaping activities. The main attractions in this garden includes 15 gardens showcasing 1300 different kinds of plants, largest spring-flowering bulb display in the Piedmont, a kitchen garden producing 3 seasons of fruits and vegetables, and many more attractions. Also, if you are interested, you can enjoy volunteering in activities like gardening/landscaping, green house/nursery, retail sales, etc.

This garden is open for the public from dawn to dusk, 365 days a year and the admission is free of charge. It provides guided tours for the visitors but you need to call them in advance if the group consists of more than 8 people. You can get the information regarding self-guided tour in their Welcome Center, Monday through Friday, from 9am to 5pm.

Elkin Creek Vineyard

This vineyard was created as a labor of love from Mark Greene’s vision. He and his wife established this vineyard in 2001 after purchasing the century old mill and afterwards, they built the winery/restaurant with the help of few friends and his five children. On your visit, you can enjoy wine tasting from a wide range of wine selections. It also includes four private cabins and you can also host your wedding or other special events in the Elkin Creek Vineyard.

The kitchen here can also be rented for your special events. You can conduct your special events such as weddings, receptions ceremony, private parties, birthdays, etc. Some of their handcrafted wines are Chardonnay, Soft White, Sangiovese, Adequate Red, etc. You are also free to join their wine club.

Winston-Salem Northside Bowling Lanes

This is the one and only alcohol and smoke free, family owned and operated bowling center in Forsyth County. Here, you can enjoy great food and specials with unlimited bowling opportunity. It has 24 lane houses for leagues, tournaments and open play with the capacity of housing over 200 people. This place is made in such a way that it can also be accessed by handicapped.

You can also reserve the area for corporate events, birthday parties and group events by calling 336-725-7566.

Hours of Operation:

Monday – Friday: Opens at 9am

Saturday: Opens at 10am

Sunday: Opens at 1pm.

Tanglewood Park

The Tanglewood Park is located in Clemmons Road, Clemmons, NC. With the total area of 1,100 acres, this public park offers you the opportunity to enjoy activities like fishing on its two stocked lakes, pedal boats, tennis courts, an Aquatic Center, picnic shelters, walking, biking, biking trail system, horse stables and golf.

Artworks Gallery, Inc.

This Artworks gallery in North Carolina is an artist-run cooperative gallery. It was established in 1984. The gallery presents a three-person exhibit of ceramics by Mary Beth Blackwell-Chapman, paintings by Wendell Myers and charcoal drawings by Ben Perini. It aims to provide a creative and responsive environment to the local artists where they can exhibit and sell their work. Similarly, it also provides increased exposure for the artist member’s work allowing networking with other artists.

Hours of Operation:

Wednesday – Saturday: 11am – 5pm

Sunday: 1pm – 5pm

First Friday: 7pm – 10pm

Stony Knoll Vineyards

This is a family owned vineyard and winery in the renowned Yadkin Valley. It is lifted high on the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountain against a Carolina sun. The main attraction here is the wine tasting room and lodge. You can enjoy wines from varieties of grapes such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, etc. Stony knoll Vineyards is also used for wedding ceremonies and reception.

Wine Tasting Room Hours:

From March to December

Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Monday: 10am to 6pm

From January to February

Fridays: 12pm – 5pm and Saturday: 10am – 6pm

Long Creek Golf Club

This golf club in Winston-Salem, located in historic Bethania, NC, is famous for its 18-hole championship golf course. It is ideal for golfers of all levels because it is designed in such a way that it’ll help you improve your game. The club also has a Pro Shop which has all the essential elements and if you feel on hungry on you visit there, you can stop in for a delicious bite at the grill.

This club is well equipped with a short iron range where golfers who has to work late can sharpen their skills. The club and their staffs work with the primary goal of ensuring that you have the best golf experience ever.

Reynolda Village Farmers Market

Reynolda Village Farmers Market offers you the opportunity to shop on the lawn for fresh and locally grown vegetables, meat, fruits, etc. This market opens every Friday morning from April, 26 to October, 5. The shops here are housed in historic buildings and they are full of treasures.

The restaurant here is ideal for refreshments or a full meal. You can enjoy everything from coffee and sandwiches to fresh salads and filet mignon.

These are some of the top attractions in Winston-Salem, NC. Winston-Salem keeps you busy with its natural beauty as well as many attractions but on your visit there, make sure that you don’t miss to visit one or more of these places. Already excited about visiting these places in NC? Visiting these beautiful and relaxing places will make your holiday a wonderful experience. For touring Winston-Salem, it would be best to take a limousine service because they are the most reliable and safest means of transportation in the area.

Designing Fast Food Retail Interiors

There was a time when fast food was all about being fast and cheap. It was a new enough concept and so convenient. So convenient in fact that fast food retailers built their entire outlet, buying experience, service levels and food standards to satisfy the ‘fast’ and ‘cheap’ needs of customers. And it worked! Fast forward a few years and improved education about nutrition, the need to eat healthy meals and also the vast amount of competition in the market has meant that fast food chains have to completely change their approach to adapt to the new needs of the 21st century consumer.

The focus is now on delivering a stronger brand to reach a broader base of customers that they want to linger around and make the outlet part of their weekly or daily routine. So, what does the new brand focus require? Well it needs to demonstrate freshness, good quality ingredients, an improved buying experience, a nicer seating ambience, better comfort, more visibility of food preparation areas and improved conveniences.

While the ingredients and the quality of food are obviously a key and vital component of the brand, this article focuses on the architectural and interior design of the outlet and how the various elements of the interior design impact the brand and therefore elevate the customer experience for modern fast food chains.

Before we consider the design of fast food chains, it is worth looking at how luxury goods retailers and vehicle showrooms have approached outlet or store design to deliver their brand. Luxury brands for example have always designed stores to captivate distinct segments of the market, yet maintained a sense of delivering individuality. Luxury stores almost distinctly appear to be lacking in the amount of merchandise that is displayed and in some cases maintain plain colours and simple soft furnishings to make customers feel at ease. Vehicle showrooms are an established example for retailing as they have mastered the buying and ongoing servicing needs of customers in a single outlet. The way that showrooms are designed, allows vehicle manufacturers to provide an environment which allows them to manage the flow or ‘journey’ from buying a new car, arranging finance, servicing and shopping for parts, while having pleasant and well stocked waiting areas. Both are examples of building outlets that manage distinct needs, encourage loyalty and provide a smooth journey from the initial desire to purchase to sealing the deal.

For architects and interior retail designers, fast food retail design poses a number of challenges that need to be addressed in order to reinforce the new brand challenges that retailers are faced with.

The following provides a summary of some of those challenges:

Food Preparation – Providing more visibility of food preparation areas, including open plan kitchen areas. This requires a practical but also visibly more pleasant food area which is well lit, well organised and efficient. Specialist kitchen design that takes into account the food cooking and preparation process is called for, requiring designers and architects to work closely with a retailer to create kitchen layout plans that allow the food preparation process to remain efficient while remaining visibly pleasing and pleasant for customer to see.

The Eating in Experience – The need to provide an efficient seating arrangement, with comfortable seats, while also paying close attention to retail lighting plans and retail flooring plans is so important as it allows customers to feel that they can stay for while, this is in sharp contrast to early fast food restaurants where seating was designed to become uncomfortable after fifteen minutes, encouraging people to leave the outlet.

Fixture and Fitting Selection – Interior retail designers also need to focus on other consumer needs such as power points, interactive devices for children and adding artwork that reinforces the message about the ‘fresh food element’ – all important elements that the brand is trying to deliver.

Interactive Ordering Solutions – Retailers are also incorporating electronic ordering stations into their layouts to allow customers to select and pay for their order without speaking to a member of staff. This requires less staff of course but it also calls for the need to design a retail layout that allows for interactive kiosks that are strategically located within the design of the outlet.

Improved Washroom Facilities – Retail designs and architects have to design washroom facilities that meet brand expectations. The facilities that they specify have to reinforce the brand while maintaining a high degree of cleanliness or even ‘self-cleaning’ facilities. The retail design drawings that they create for plumbing and waste have to take into account today’s environmentally.

Back of House and Waste – Customers are not happy enough with the experience that they can see and feel, they also want to know how fast food chains are managing their staff facilities, their food storage and their waste, including the customer’s own packaging waste. A store design is not complete without attention to how these aspects are added to the design of the outlet and how they are managed efficiently and fairly and therefore they are also an important part of the design team’s responsibilities.

The designers challenge is therefore vast and rather than allowing for the production of the design using traditional 2D plans and elevations. The only way to manage and communicate the design process as well as manage changes requested by stakeholders throughout the process, is to use modern design tools such as Revit Architecture to create retail BIM models so that they can create a design that is easily changeable and manageable. Retail BIM modelling also allows for the use and re-usability of Revit families and models that can be used for subsequent stores and therefore ensure some brand consistency as well as design efficiency. Once created, these retail BIM models will also allow the creation of 3d retail images and 3d rendered perspective for retail interiors as well as retail exteriors. These are an important and effective way of communicating the store or outlet design during the various design stages that a designer is responsible for.

Whilst the challenge for fast food retail is to provide food quicker and cheaper than other options, there is good reason to elevate the importance of the store design and how that will affect and ultimately promote the overall brand experience for fast food retail now and well into the future. Managing that design process and the multitude of design inputs is a collaborative and involved process and is one that is served by a designer that is prepared to use CAD and BIM technology as the backbone for delivering a design solution that is easy to create, manage, share and communicate.