Best Practices for Giving Attribution & Proper Credit

Best Practices for Giving Attribution & Proper Credit

As a creative and in general, a person who is extremely detail oriented, I noticed the smallest things all the time. This is especially true when it comes to design, especially web design. It’s really funny how some of the things I notice now, as a graphic and web designer, I never noticed as just someone who was browsing.

A while back, I wrote a post discussing authenticity and originality, because I kept seeing over and over many of my friends and counterparts dealing with people copying or stealing their material. I think its something that will continue to plague the creative community, unfortunately, because many people don’t even realize they’re doing it. The same goes for not giving proper attribution or credit when you have either used, modified, or customized someone’s idea or design.

Best Practices for Giving Attribution & Proper Credit | BlissandFaith.com

All too often I see individual’s who will think they are giving the proper credit to the original creator of an idea, but they’re not.

Sometime’s, however, I see a blatant disregard or complete stealing of credit. For example, back in the day, I was browsing through my Bloglovin’, only to land on a site that was using a theme from a very well known blog theme builder and designer, and when I got to the footer of the site, I saw no credit given to the original theme builder.  Instead, the site footer actually said “Site Design by [Said Owner of Site]”.

It didn’t help that this individual does custom site design and that visitors of their site would assume that they did the actual design, development, and customization of the site themselves. This is extremely misleading and untruthful and violates the copyright of the original theme developer.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with using a premade theme and customizing it.

For instance, my site runs on the Genesis Framework and I use one of Studiopress’ premade child themes which I have customized to fit the needs of my site, branding, and style. In this sense, I have designed my site, yet I did not develop it which is why I did not include the word “develop” or the phrase “site design” in my site footer as you can see below.Best Practices for Giving Attribution & Proper Credit | BlissandFaith.com

It may seem like semantics, but it really does matter, because when most people think of the term “site design” or “develop”, they have in mind the actual person who coded and developed the site, not the designer.

What exactly is a Developer?

A developer is someone who actually builds the theme, they code it from scratch or may even take a preexisting theme and build on to it (still doing extensive coding) and designs it.

The Solution

It’s something that can be so easily avoided, but I think that people want to make sure so bad that they’re included in the attribution for their site that they end up inadvertently (or purposely) comprising their integrity.

As with anything that you may modify or adapt from, whether it be a recipe or tutorial you should always give credit or note that it was adapted.  By not doing so, you risk copyright infringement and that’s not good at all.  This also goes for coding, for my fellow designers out there.  If you come across a code that someone is sharing, ensure you leave their attribution in the coding.  There’s absolutely no reason to remove it, even if you modified it..it’ss still an adaptation and their code.

There is a major difference between a web developer and a web designer, and in giving the benefit of the doubt, a lot of people use them (incorrectly) interchangeably.

We’ve already covered what a developer does, so I’ll clarify what a designer does so that you’ll be one less person using the term incorrectly. First things first, a web designer can actually be the person that does the site design, in the sense that they may be the ones to create a mockup of it in Photoshop or Illustrator and then take it to a developer to code.

On the other hand, a web designer can be someone who customizes the website with your brand colors, icons, and sometimes content. They will work within the realm of code, but it’s usually in the capacity of making here and there changes, not overhauling the entire theme. This means that the individual made little to no changes to the coding, with the exception of the hex codes for colors. You haven’t added to or taken away from the theme, but have made it match your branding perfectly, i.e. customized.  – Catch my drift here?

A web designer may be the one that has the creative aesthetic, while a web developer is less concerned with aesthetics and more with UX (user experience).

Alright now that we cleared that up, let’s get back on subject. As I digress…

If you’ve purchased a premade theme and customized it yourself or had someone to do it, you don’t necessarily have to keep a backlink to their site in your footer. Although, some designers and developers do have it as a part of their terms of use that you do. If they don’t, great, but if you’re going to take away their attribution, don’t add your own to make it appear as if you designed the site. If having a backlink doesn’t bother you, you can customize the footer to say whatever you want it to say, but still, include a link to the original designer.


How to Give Proper Attribution & Credit

Here’s an example of good ways to do both of the aforementioned:

Without attribution:

“Copyright © 2015 Your Site Name

With attribution:

“Copyright © 2015 Your Site Name” “Site Design by Original Theme Developer” “Customized by You (or Whoever Did The Customization)


It’s as easy and simple as that. With the examples above, there’s no misleading as to who designed the site and both ways still protect your content on the site. I honestly don’t understand why someone would take credit for something that they didn’t create. Customizing is one thing, but development is another.

As a previous theme developer (don’t develop anymore, but I do still design), I can tell you that to build a theme from scratch or even do heavy customization of a premade theme takes a lot of work.

For instance, with the Genesis Framework, the themes that Studiopress builds and sells are meant to be heavily customized and built upon. This is one reason why their themes have such awesome clean coding and aren’t bloated with unnecessary code. The themes being coded that way also protect the security of them, so sites that run

The themes being coded that way also protect the security of them, so sites that run Genesis themes have a little extra security than sites built by other developers. Additionally, Studiopress themes come with a license to develop, so this means that once you do purchase a theme from them directly (not a third party one, whether sold through them or not), you can make it your own and claim attribution. This is perfectly okay in most circumstances.

However, what is not okay is to purchase a theme from a third party developer of Genesis Framework themes, customize it, meaning change some colors and add your header (to be surface level about it) and claim that you designed that theme. Unless you’ve purchased a developer license from that third party developer, it is wrong to add your name to the attribution using the term “site design”, because you did not design the site.

So whether you’ve done this or not, or didn’t realize it was wrong, it is definitely something that must be kept in mind.  It’s especially important if you’re a fellow designer and happen to do custom site design for others.  Even more so, it’s important for them to know whether you are a developer/designer/builder,  or just someone that does theme customization.  There is a huge difference, and I think a lot of people don’t realize it.


I hope this gives you a bit more insight on the topic of attribution and how to properly give it.  It’s one of those things that’s so simple to mess up, but so simple to do or fix.  Think of it like when you didn’t cite your sources properly or at all in school, and your teacher took off for it.  People deserve to know the true source of where you got something and it’s also giving respect to the individual that created it.

Designers, developers, and those alike work hard, and to have someone claim my work as their own is not only hurtful but disrespectful.  Make sure you’re never in this position by crossing your “T’s” and dotting your “I‘s” when it comes to attribution.

Also, if you don’t know whether a designer requires attribution, ask!  Better safe than sorry and they will appreciate you for it.  Many won’t care if you don’t attribute as long as you don’t claim their work as your own, but of course, it’s always nice to attribute and link back as a courtesy.

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My Top Blogging Pet Peeves & How Not to Make These Mistakes {Pt. 1}

We’ve all been there, landed on a site that drives us absolutely crazy. At times it can be our very own site. As a blogger and business owner I tend to focus on content most of the time, however as a designer I can never ignore the visual aspects of a site I visit. If you’ve been following me for any amount of time, then you’ve seen my site go through many changes. At one point I probably had half if not more of my own pet peeves going on with my site. I believe most of them came from my own frustration with not having a site I was in love with and having a site with no real focus.

When I rebranded in March, it was much easier for me to develop a cohesive brand, on both design and content fronts. In rebranding, I took a deep into what my businesses mission was, my own personal design aesthetic, and the type of content I felt I could best share and educate people on. Its the one reason I’m so passionate about branding and helping others with theirs. All too often we wonder why we our readership isn’t growing, stats are low, and why no one is sharing or engaging our content, many of these times its due to a lot of the things I’ll be sharing with you in today’s post. These are things that again I’ve either had to correct on my own site or that I’ve observed throughout my many years of blogging, that I feel really have a negative impact on growth.

My Top Blogging Pet Peeves & How Not to Make These Mistakes | BlissandFaith.com

Of course you know I never identify a problem without providing a solution for it. My intent with this post is to help you identify those problem areas with your content or design, in hopes that it won’t take you multiple revisions like it took me to get things right. So here’s some things that you don’t want on your site or in the content you produce:

1. Low resolution, unclear images

You may can guess why this one is number one, and its pretty easy; the visual catches the eye. When it comes to the images you have on your site, you never (and I rarely use the word never) want to use fuzzy or low resolution images or graphics. For one, many of the devices people use these days are built with retina ready technology, so low resolution images can appear extremely fuzzy or unclear on screens.

The fix:  To be on the safe side, save your images optimized for the web, at twice the normal file size. Once you’re in your post editor, you can custom set the dimensions to display at the normal size.

My Top Blogging Pet Peeves & How Not to Make These Mistakes | BlissandFaith.com

2. Slow loading pages

Let’s just be honest here, no one likes to wait…especially online. Your site having optimal speed is crucial to the visitor and reader experience that you provide. You never want to have people waiting a long time to view your content. We live in a fast moving world and the online world moves even faster.

“…nearly half of web users expect a site to load in 2 seconds or less, and they tend to abandon a site that isn’t loaded within 3 seconds.” – source

Keep in mind that many who have a poor visiting experience on your site due to slow page load won’t return. If you sell things on your site, this can have a huge negative impact on your success. You’re setting yourself up to loose conversions and referrals with this one little thing that can be corrected very easily.

The fix:  Using tools like Pingdom and Google’s PageSpeed Insight can give you insight about your page speed, as well as offer potential fixes for the slow load time. A few of the things I do for my site on a weekly and monthly basis to help with page speed is clean up old media files, such a graphics that I’m not using, and run the WP Optimize plugin to clean up my database. I also use a plugin called EWWW Image Optimizer to reduce the file size of the images I upload, since large images can slow down page load time.

My Top Blogging Pet Peeves & How Not to Make These Mistakes | BlissandFaith.com

My Top Blogging Pet Peeves & How Not to Make These Mistakes | BlissandFaith.com

3. Not being able to find an email sign up box or social media icons

You can’t expect people to follow you or sign up for your email list if you make it hard for them to do so. I can’t count how many times I’ve come across an amazing blogger that I want to follow and wasn’t able to find a single, sole social media link on their site. At times, when I did find the links they were either super small, at the bottom of the site (I have one caveat!), didn’t stand out, or were broken. The same thing goes for the email list, so there that goes…one missed follower or subscriber!

The fix: Position your social media buttons or links and your email sign ups boxes near the top of your site, in very noticeable, yet non detracting from your content, areas. Its also a great idea to post these icons and sign up boxes at the bottom of your posts and on other pages on your site. *My one caveat to having your social media icons or links at the bottom of your site is that you must have them at the top, and in other places as well.

You want to make it extremely easy for people to follow you, so by having them in multiple places, you leave people with little work to do other than a simple click to become part of your community.

4. Logos and headers that are too big or small

Disproportionate graphics are never good, but especially when they are the main focal point of your site, like a logo or header. This makes your site look unprofessional, and can really make a beautiful web design look horrible. I’ve seen this time and time again, and it never fails that other design elements of the site tend to follow suite, either not being proportionate to the overall design and inconsistent as well.

The fix: Your logo or header should be noticeable such that when visitors visit your site it stands out and is easily identifiable. However, it should be so big that it takes up a fourth of your page, unless you have a site that is using a photo background as a header or has a parallax effect like Bliss & Faith. The size of your logo or header really depends on your sites design and dimensions, but here are best practices that you can go by or keep in mind when creating or having your logo created:

  • Don’t have your logo be so large that its overwhelming to the eye.
  • Don’t have your logo be so small that its not noticeable.
  • Consider what position your logo will be aligned on your site. – A center logo will typically be larger than a left or right aligned one.
  • Too much white space or not enough around the logo is a no-go. – Balance amongst all design elements on your site must be considered.
  • If your logo is a part of your navigation menu, it should be larger than the text links of the menu. *Note: I’m not referring to your site title being a sticky part of your navigation menu, i.e like on Bliss & Faith. I’m referring to the placement of your actual logo at the top of your site with no scrolling occurring.
5. No breaks between text in posts

Large blocks of text with no breaks in between can be overwhelming to readers. When you break up your content it makes it easier to reader and more appealing. Using large blocks of text can also make your content difficult to follow, because its easy for someone to loose their space while reading so much text.

The fix: Organize your content in a hierarchical fashion. Break up large blocks of text with spaces, subheadings, graphics, or call to actions.

My Top Blogging Pet Peeves & How Not to Make These Mistakes | BlissandFaith.com

Another thing to keep in mind, is to take note of the spacing between words. You don’t want your text to appear squished, nor do you want it to be too spaced out. Adjusting the letter-spacing can be edited via the CSS Stylesheet for your theme. I recommend using a plugin to edit your stylesheet, and not overwriting your original theme’s stylesheet. WordPress’ Jetpack plugin includes a CSS Editor, making it very easy to make these small changes.

My Top Blogging Pet Peeves & How Not to Make These Mistakes | BlissandFaith.com

6. Content without images

Unless you’re reading the dictionary or a novel, most things that people read have some form of visual stimulation included in them. One mistake I see bloggers make all too often is not including images in their posts. When you post a bunch of words your content can appear boring and vanilla, as well as having a lack of effort put forth in creating it.

The fix: When you include images in your posts, you’re letting readers know that you’re making the extra effort to make the post resonate with them. Including at least one image within your post can do just this. You can use your own photos, stock photography, or programs like Photoshop, Illustrator, PicMonkey, and Canva to create post graphics. PicMonkey (aff link) and Canva are free by the way!

My Top Blogging Pet Peeves & How Not to Make These Mistakes | BlissandFaith.com

My Top Blogging Pet Peeves & How Not to Make These Mistakes | BlissandFaith.com

7. Unorganized content

Clean, organized, easy to navigate content that is appealing to your reader should be at the forefront of how you set up your site. Messy content denotes that you either are an amateur or that you don’t care about the flow of your content. The human brain likes order, so when content is unorganized, it send the message that it makes no sense.

The fix: All of your content, including text and graphic elements should have a clean and organized look. If your site has a sidebar, don’t clutter it up with too many things, especially ads. Utilize the space on your site in smart ways, to draw visitors in and make your best content standout. You don’t want the usefulness of your content to be overshadowed by a lack of organization. The same thing goes for the header and footer areas of your site, in that you want to keep them clutter-free.

8. Too many ads – in between posts, at the top of posts, at the bottom of posts all at once.

Ads should not be in places that call-to-actions should be in.  In addition, they are slowly but surely becoming a thing of the past. There are much better and effective ways to make money online or as a blogger than displaying ads. In displaying ads, many have way too many of their site, all over the place and they’re detracting from the content. Also, displaying too many ads can send the wrong message to your visitors, denoting that you only care about making money and not really helping your readers.

The fix: Select one or two prime locations on your site to display your ads. Include no more than one or two in a row if your site utilizes a sidebar, place an ad before your header so that its easily recognizable and one of the first things that people see, or include a ad at the bottom of your site. Stay away from pop-up or auto-play ads, as this is a sure-fire way to loose visitors, because they can be seen as annoying.

My Top Blogging Pet Peeves & How Not to Make These Mistakes | BlissandFaith.com
Ads I include in my sidebar.
9. Posts that don’t come through on the promise of the headline.

My Top Blogging Pet Peeves & How Not to Make These Mistakes | BlissandFaith.comThere is a clear reason I saved on of my top (most peeved) mistakes for second to last! One of the mistakes that irks me the most is a post with a headline that doesn’t come through on the promise of it. This is especially frustrating when I go to a post and think I’m going to learn something amazing, and it ends up being a complete let down. Many times its due to there being a lack of information or detail within the post or the post being completely off subject from the headline.

The fix: I discussed long-form blogging a while back and how I preferred to blog this way, because I’m a huge proponent of giving readers as much information as possible. Landing on a post that lacks detail is one of the ways that posts don’t come through on the promise of their headlines. Of course its just as bad to have a really long post that does the same thing. Brainstorming ahead of time, creating an outline, and clearly thinking through the point of your headline are all ways in which you can stay on subject, and don’t forget to add as much detail as possible.

Related: HOW TO WRITE POWERFUL POST HEADLINES THAT INCREASE YOUR TRAFFIC

10. Bait and switch posts

These kinds of posts should seriously be outlawed. They plain out lie to and disappoint readers. Many times people publish these kinds of posts, because of ulterior motives. They think that the compelling headline is going to overshadow the fact that they are trying to trick readers into buying, agreeing, or supporting whatever they are writing about. It rarely works, because people are very quick to point out the main subject of a post, since its the one thing we look as soon as we land on it.

My Top Blogging Pet Peeves & How Not to Make These Mistakes | BlissandFaith.comThe fix: Its simple, be honest with readers on why you’re writing the post. If you’re selling something let them tactfully know upfront, and preferably in the headline. Don’t have a headline that leads people to believe you are helping them or providing them with information, only to turn it into a sales pitch. You will quickly loose the trust of your readership by constantly pitching to them. Use the 90/10 rule when it comes to promoting yourself, give 90% and promote 10%. When you are promoting be clear about it, so that readers know upfront the purpose of your post.

Its one thing to casually mention your products and services at the end of a post to inform or remind readers about it. However, to have a headline that denotes you’re providing free, unadulterated tips in the post, only for your readers to find out that they have to pay for the information is just plain cruel. The free information you put out builds trust, and in doing so, by the time you launch or promote a product your readership ill be ready to support you.

 


 Do you have any blogging pet peeves? – What are some of the things you do to keep from committing blogging mistakes?

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What Does Your About Page Say About You?

What Does Your About Page Say About You?

Your About Page is everything!  Outside of your home page (if your site has one), its the only other page where visitors can get an idea of what you offer and who you are.  If you don’t have a home page (i.e. a page before you get to the rest of your site), then you most definitely need to have a stellar about page.  If all visitors see when they land on your site are your blog posts or items from your shop, and no place to get to know you, then odds are that they subscribe or purchase your items.  People want the five W’s when they land on your site.  They want to know who you are, why you’re in business (or write), what you sell or write about, typically where you’re from (this can be by country, state, city or whatever your comfortable with, but give them some idea where you reign from), when you started doing whatever you’re doing on your site.  So I pose the question, what does your About Page say about you?  Is it accurate?  Could it be better?  Here’s a few things to keep in mind as you may be reviewing, drafting, or updating your About Page.

What Does Your About Page Say About You? | BlissandFaith.com

1. Make It Easy to Find

Link to your About Page in your navigation bar and sidebar.  Insure its super visible for visitors to locate and click through to.  The last you want is for your visitors to have to search all over your site just to learn about you or your business.  When visitors land on your site, you want them to immediately want to get to know you.  Make it easy for them to do so.

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2. Can Your Site Visitors See Who You Are?

Do you have a good quality photograph of yourself on your About Page?  You don’t necessarily need professional grade photos (although highly recommended) if you’re just starting out or don’t quite have the budget to hire a professional photographer to take headshots of your quite yet.  Having a good quality photo makes you appear more professional, which in turn tells visitors that you’re serious about what you’re doing.  When people can see that you invest in your business, they are more likely to trust and work with you.  Getting professional headshots is definitely something that’s on my to-do list, because it will really add that professional quality to my business.

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Julie from Julie Harris Design has amazing headshots.  They capture her personable personality, are uber professional, and are great quality.  They are also consistent throughout her site, which adds to her very recognizable and memorable branding.

3. Are You Telling Potential Clients the 5 W’s About You or Your Business?

Readers and clients need to know the who, what, when , where, and why about you and/or your business.  By hitting these five wickets you can create a succinct and detailed blurb about yourself or business.  Using this method also helps when you don’t know where to start when it comes to talking about yourself.  They give you an excellent jumpstart to telling visitors exactly what they should know.  From there, you can choose to add additional details that will add to the value of your About Page content.

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Maya from Maya Elious has done a great job of telling you about her and her business.  She tells us what does, why she does it, and the reason for it.  She also has great headshots that show her personality, in a professional way and fun way.

4. Make It About the Visitor

Tell the visitors exactly how and why you want to help them as soon as they land on your page.  This is great if you have a service based business, because visitors immediately learn about what you do in regards to helping them.  When you make it about the visitor, it provides a way to mitigate excessive questions about what you offer, because it gives them a clear idea from the get-go.  Once they do actually contact you, visitors will be more informed and able to ask you more specific questions about your services.  In this case, you inquiries will be more serious and have a higher potential to convert into buyers.

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Kiezra from VidaLuxe Studio has done a superb job of making her About Page completely about the client.  Although she discusses her core values, she discusses them in the sense of how they can help you…how she can help you.  She gives you every reason why you should work with her by being detailed, witty, and thorough.

5. Add Some Fun Facts

Tell your visitors something about you that you feel would help garner a more personal connection.  You don’t have to get into the nitty-gritty, but allow them to learn a few things to get to know you better.  Its important that your visitors see you as a real person, so giving them a few fun or interesting facts about you accomplishes just that.  The important thing is to think through the appropriateness of what you choose to share and if it adds value to the page.

My fun things on my About Page:

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6. Put The Ball In Their Court

Open up the lines of communication on your About Page by leaving visitors with the option to reach out to you.  You want them to know that you want to connect, and that you welcome any communication that they may initiate.  This makes you appear approachable, open, and helps build relationships and community with your visitors.  If they know you’re open to communicating with them, they will be more likely to trust you and want to get to know you.

Here how I’ve done it on my About Page:

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I’ve created an easy hyperlink to my contact form at the bottom of my About Page to make it easy for visitors to reach out.  I’m letting them know that I look forward to hearing from them and why.

I also really love Erika Madden’s verbiage, from Olyvia Media, on her About Page where she invites the visitor to share their story:

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She also has a nifty and well placed CTA opt-in area at the bottom of her page, making it easy for visitors to join her mailing list.  This is where I personally signed up for it myself. I haven’t seen many people do this, and I think its an absolutely brilliant idea for where to place an opt-in on your site.


About Pages are always works in progress, because they evolve as you and your brand does.  Personally, my About Page is the one area of my site that I’m always looking to improve.  The important things to consider when it comes to your page is it being professional, telling visitors what you do, letting them know how you can help them, and opening the door for connecting.  Keeping your page updated and fresh is also very important.  As things change with your blog, brand, or business insure your About Page reflects that.  Your About Page is just as important as the front page of your site, if not more.  Use this quality area of real estate on your site to benefit show the benefit you can provide to visitors while allowing them to get to know you.


Listen to more about this topic on the Branded Bliss Podcast!

What does your About Page say about you? – Do you feel like it accurately depicts you or your business?