Are you using too many images on your Web site? Too few? Face it: Photos and illustrations are critical in constructing a snappy Web site. But a big frustration for Web authors is choosing images that are rich enough to be eye-catching but small enough to be easily viewed by visitors. What's the secret?
Specialty software tools get the job done--and software-makers are rushing to provide user-friendly applications aimed at the small-business market. From Adobe's Photo Deluxe Business Edition ($79 street, http://www.adobe.com) to Microsoft's Picture It! ($54.95 street, http://www.microsoft.com), plentiful tools are hitting the shelves.
One program in particular, though, jump-starts Web image creation: Ulead System's PhotoImpact 4.2, an economy application ($49.95 street) that packs in the tools you need to crop, edit and apply special effects (warping, smoke and more) to any image you can scan into your computer. It handles both photos and illustrations, and it easily renders output in Web-optimized formats. Another plus: Built into PhotoImpact is SmartSaver 3.0, a utility that lets you try out various file sizes until you find the ideal combination of small size and high visibility.
Even tidy Java applets are within reach with Ulead's Button.Applet, a freebie packaged with PhotoImpact. With a few mouse clicks, Button.Applet will guide you through creating buttons that glow, change color or do other visual tricks. To test PhotoImpact, download a trial version from http://www.ulead.com.
Get other free tools at Ulead's Image Mechanic (http://126.96.36.199/effect/index1.htm), including SmartSaver, Particle Engine (for adding special effects such as fog or rain) and an image resizer. Ulead plans to add more tools in the coming months, so keep checking in.