3 Things Everyone Should Know by Now

That technology is changing at a break-neck pace is old news. We’ve become used to hearing about new and disruptive technologies almost every day. Sometimes we don’t even realize that they’re already available. Keeping up with internet trends and fads is a whole other matter altogether. But there are a few things that have stood the test of time. And if your techy nephew rebuffed you for not knowing some of this stuff then his reaction wasn’t hyperbole.

1. High/Low Resolution

Now, there’s actually a lot about this on the internet so it’s time for some Real Talk: if you’re not aware of the difference then you’re fifteen years behind the curve. But don’t worry! You don’t have to memorize weird aspect ratios or do a whole lot of math. Here are the differences and some some simple rules to follow so you don’t make your designer pull their hair out:

Hi-res is for things made in the physical world. Things that are printed, embroidered, silk-screened, etc. require hi-res images. Low-res is meant for on-screen display on computers, most tablets (Apple’s retina displays are actually much closer to hi-res than lo, others are chasing this standard), cell phone screens, etc.

What we’re really talking about in discussing this distinction is how many tiny dots or pixels it takes to fill up the same amount of space on screen as opposed to on paper. 8.5×11” of paper requires a little more than three times the number of dots compared to the same amount of screen space.

So now some general rules:

  • If you pulled an image off of a search engine’s image search then it’s probably too small to print well.
  • Images embedded in Word documents are lo-res, they won’t print well.
  • Images downloaded from a Facebook album are lo-res, they won’t print well.
  • An 8×10” hi-res JPG should be about 6meg. Aim for this and you’ll make lots of people very happy.

Curve ball: Vector. Vector images are technically always hi-res. They’re used for things like logo files that need to look perfect at any size. Instead of dots, vector files use bezier curves which store the image’s appearance in math (perhaps we’ll talk about this some other time). Because vector images are always crisp no matter the size, the best way to make sure that an image is truly vector (in the event that someone asks you for a logo file) is to print it out as large as possible. If it looks pixelated then it’s not a vector file.

2. Self-Branding

Pretty much everyone knows a thing or two about branding these days whether it’s as basic as knowing when to put both the tagline and the logo on some brochure or as complex as planning for a brand’s evolution over growth. And now there are even people whose sole responsibility is to protect and manage brands. What’s interesting about these people is that—just like most politicians, celebrities, or creative-types—they tend to maintain a cohesive personal brand throughout their online presence. Now, you’re probably thinking, “Yeah, you’re talking about creating a persona, a facade.” Well, yeah, sort of. What we’re talking about here isn’t not being yourself, but actually being yourself well.

Here are a few things you can do to establish a personal brand:

  • Use the same profile picture for all of your online accounts. Don’t leave people guessing, “Uh, is this picture of a cat the same John Smith I’m thinking about?”
  • The same idea applies when you’re able to customize other details like colors, background image, or personal metadata. Be consistent.
  • Link your various online accounts. Put a link to your Twitter feed on your Facebook page and vice-versa. Make it easy for people to navigate all of the information that you want share online.
  • Be the person you want to be. A lot of folks who interact with people for a living like doctors, teachers, or social workers create separate online profiles—one for public use and one for personal/private/family-only use. And since the internet is both your living room and the universe, that sort of approach is totally legitimate.

3. Making Digital Communication Personal

We’re all surrounded by and accessing a dizzying array of options for communicating with each other every day. While it’s never respectable to shoot the messenger, those messengers still imply something about how the message should be received. It’s one thing to say ‘I love you.’ It’s another thing entirely to say it in skywriting.

So what do all of those various communication options say about how to receive our messages? Chart time:


This chart illustrates the perceived differences in the personal or professional nature of a particular type of digital communication.

Basically, the more people that can hear your message, the less personal it is (and the less important it will make your message seem).

But these aren’t written in stone. You also have to consider the person that you want to communicate with and how they might receive certain messages. Some people prefer to use in-app messaging (such as in the popular letter-play game Words With Friends) because their text message plan is restrictive. Most people today would rather get a text message or an email than a phone call. So until you know your audience well enough, the chart above is a decent guide for creating the perceived value of your thoughts that you really want to communicate.