UPDATED 2023: Your Guide to FREE Stock Images – Part 1/3

You’ve seen websites, magazines and ads, and there was a part of you that connected to it. There was a big beautiful crisp image that caught your attention, followed by the text that got you thinking about what the business wanted you to focus on. Simply put, the correct image can be a captivating and powerful tool in your marketing arsenal.

If you’re anything like our clients (or any business owner for that matter), you’ve wanted to emote the same response in your marketing. To Google you go, but where to start? It can be easy to get lost in the online ocean. Don’t worry, we’re going to let you in on a few of our secrets.

Read more

5 Easy Steps to Gutenberg

Categories: Oracast News, Web Design

What is Gutenberg?

Unless you are a WordPress developer you may not have heard of Gutenberg or possibly you have seen the download Gutenberg message on your WordPress Dashboard. Unless you’re a nerd or enjoy dry reading, you probably have no idea what it is.

WordPress is completely overhauling their content editor and the new editor is called Gutenberg. The editing experience has been rebuilt for rich media pages and posts with the flexibility of blocks. If none of this makes sense that is okay. In simple terms, the way you created pages and posts in WordPress in the past is changing to be more flexible but there is a learning curve.

When and will my site break?

As of the time of this writing Gutenberg is not a core part of WordPress but available to try through a downloadable plugin and will be released as a core element in WordPress 5.0 (current WordPress version is 4.9.8). The date is still not set but we are expecting this to be late 2018.

Upon the release of WordPress 5.0 and Gutenberg, you may have to install and activate the optional “Classic Editor” plugin to disable the new Gutenberg interface so your website can remain the same and will not need any adjustments to continue working correctly.

Ideally, this will be a worst-case scenario but it will be a tool we have in our back-pocket to address issues that are found after the major change occurs.

How can I Prepare?

With the release of WordPress 5.0 and Gutenberg, your best option is caution. Although most sites will migrate to the new interface with little to no problems there is a concern when thinking about plugin compatibility. If your website has a lot of plugins there is a larger chance that you could have issues with your website.

  1. Test Out the Gutenberg Editor Plugin BEFORE WordPress 5.0.

    Once you update to WordPress 5.0, your post editor automatically updates to Gutenberg.

    Talk to your hosting provider about setting up a staging development or staging site (Costs may apply here) and install the Gutenberg plugin. This will not only allow you to see any issues that could be caused by the update to Gutenberg but will also give you time to get familiar with the new content editor and WordPress interface. Test and play as much as you can.

  2. Backup Your Website

    Creating backups of your website on a regular basis is always a good idea. It allows you to protect your website if anything goes wrong. You are able to restore to a backup and only lose content created between the time of the error and the backup. Before updating to WordPress 5 we recommend having a complete backup of your site and database.

  3. Keep your WordPress Plugins and core up to date

    By updating your plugins regularly you decrease the likelihood that a plugin will be incompatible with WordPress 5.0.
    Best Practice:
    Always update plugins before updating the WordPress Core.

  4. Make sure your server is running at least PHP 5.6+, MySQL 5.6+. If you are not using the latest version this could be the reason why your plugins are not working correctly. If you are hosted on our servers you are likely already running PHP 7+.

  5. Audit your site. A regular audit of your website is always a good idea but in preparation for WordPress Gutenberg, it is a great idea. Review plugins and remove any that are not being used or offer similar functionality to other plugins being used. Popular plugins tend to be updated more regularly and are more likely to be Gutenberg compatible. Once you have removed all of the plugins you do not need look at the plugins that are left. Check the plugin to see when it was last updated, what version of WordPress it was last tested with. If the plugin isn’t updated regularly look for an alternative plugin that can accomplish the same functionality that is more current.

We are here to help. If you have questions or concerns please contact our team at support@oracast.com.

You Guide to FREE Stock Images – Part 3/3

What would a FREE Stock Image Guide be without giving you a list of our favorite websites?! No guide at all, that’s why we’ve done the legwork and have listed out Top 10 FREE Stock Image Websites.

But before you read on, if you haven’t seen the first two parts of this guide make sure you check them out too:

  1. Licensing Rights: what you need to know to make sure your images are used within their legal allowances
  2. Sizing: What are you going to use this image for, and what size should you buy?


Oracast’s Top 10 FREE Stock Image Websites

1. Pixabay – pixabay.com 

a.  Pixabay is a vibrant community of creatives, sharing copyright free images and videos. All contents are released under Creative Commons CC0, which makes them safe to use without asking for permission or giving credit to the artist – even for commercial purposes.

b.  Over 4100 high quality vector graphics & images

2. Pexels – www.pexels.com

a. Pexels provides high quality and completely free stock photos licensed under the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license. All photos are conveniently tagged, searchable and also easy to discover through their discover pages.

b. Over 30,000 free stock photos

c. 3,000+ new images added every month

3. StockSnap – stocksnap.io

a. All photos uploaded on StockSnap are released for free under CC0 and do not require attribution.

4. Unsplash – unsplash.com

b. Over 200,000 free (do whatever you want) high-resolution photos brought to you by the world’s most generous community of photographers.

5. Kaboompics – kaboompics.com

a. Photos from Kaboompics appear on sites like BBC, CNN, Forbes, Cosmopolitan, Yahoo, iSpot, BuzzFeed, Hubspot, The Huffington Post, Lifehacker (Polish: Onet, WP, Eska, Polskie Radio, Antyweb) and even PornHub (thankfully that was an April Fools’ joke).

Kaboompics is one of the most popular source of free images for lifestyle, interior design and specialized bloggers in World.

b. Not allowed to sell images without consent.

6. Gratisography – Gratisography.com

a. Images created by experimental visual artist Ryan.

i. Model Releases

ii. Commercial and personal use

iii. Ability to adapt and modify.

iv. Cannot sell the images.

v. Cannot redistribute, claim ownership or imply endorsement.

7. ISO Republic – isorepublic.com

a. ISO Republic provides free stock photos for creative professionals. This website was founded in 2014 by Tom Eversley, a designer and photographer from England. Since their launch, ISO Republic has published over 3,000 free images, with more being added on a daily basis.

b. Free for commercial and personal use

c. No attribution required but appreciated

d. Model release not provided

8. Pic Jumbo – picjumbo.com

a. In 2013 Viktor Hanacek created this stock photo site called Pic Jumbo with free pictures that are today used by millions of bloggers, designers and marketers all around the world

i. Free for personal and commercial use

ii. Redistribution not allowed

9.  Burst – burst.shopify.com

a. Burst is a free stock photo site that is powered by Shopify. They have 1000s of high quality and royalty-free images available and free to download. This includes a wide variety of images ready for you to choose from and create with. They built this site to empower designers, developers, bloggers and entrepreneurs to create stunning websites and marketing campaigns. You can use these pictures for just about anything — hero images on your blog or online store, backgrounds for school projects, shots for social media campaigns, client work, and beyond.

i. Free for personal and commercial use

ii. Attribution not required but encouraged

10. Negative Space – negativespace.co

a. Each of the high-quality photographs you find here has been taken by a photographer from the Negative Space community. They have something for everybody, so be sure to check out our categories: Abstract, Animals, Architecture, Business, Black & White, Food, Landscapes, Nature, People, Sport, Street, Technology, Transport, and Work.

b. CC0 License

Other honorable mentions:







<Read Part 1>
<Read Part 2>

You Guide to FREE Stock Images – Part 2/3

Welcome back to the second section of our 3-part FREE Stock Image Guide. In our previous article, click here, we discussed understanding licensing requirements. Did you miss it? Make sure you have all your bases covered before you choose an image.

Now that you have chosen your image and you’ve double checked the licensing rights, you’re probably wondering “what size am I supposed to download?”

The short answer: the LARGEST file

But there’s more to it than that. Read on…
<Read part 3 now>

Business Advertising Budgets and DIY Tips

If you own a small to medium sized business, you may wonder how much to spend on advertising. What return on investment can you expect from hiring professionals with years of experience in the game? You may also be considering what aspects of marketing may be worth pursuing “in-house”?

First of all, depending on which industry your business is in, companies should spend approximately 5% of total revenues on marketing to maintain their current position.

If you would like to grow your business, the marketing budget needs to increase, usually to at least 10% of revenues.

Highly competitive markets such as retail and consumer products will need to fork out many more dollars to keep and grow their market shares – more like 20-50%.

Using this general rule of thumb, you can calculate a reasonable marketing and advertising budget for your business that fits with your business plan and goals.

Advertising Budgets

This is the equation from frog-dog.com:

  • Total Revenue x 5% = Marketing budget required to maintain current awareness and visibility
  • Total Revenue x 10% = Marketing budget required to grow and gain market share

Implementing a solid online marketing strategy that includes components such as PPC advertising, search engine optimization, mobile apps and a responsive website, can yield massive market gains.

Take this testimonial from Oracast clients Shell Canada for example:

“The web application that Oracast built us has paid for itself hundreds of times over, and we continue to add features each year to improve our operations.”

Or this testimonial from Snowvalley:

“The build of our new website better reflects our company and is much more helpful to our customer base, as seen by the growth in the number of website viewers increasing by 20%!”

There is no doubt getting experts to work on your business for you can produce profitable results, but what if you have a very limited budget? What can realistically be done in-house?

We recommend that if you do have the time and in-house resources, some aspects of marketing can be achieved successfully. These include an email marketing campaign, social media marketing, such as regularly posting on your Facebook and Twitter pages, and regularly posting on your blog.

No one knows your business better than you do, and positioning yourself as an expert in the field via content marketing can go a long way. If you need to find or create graphics or video to go with the content marketing, we recommend tapping into the endless resources and advice online. A word of caution: do your research and get some basic skills down before going ahead on your own. Take a copywriting class. Learn how to handle graphics, file formats and file transfer protocols if you haven’t had a lot of experience with that already.

Creating a great website or mobile app, doing SEO well, running a PPC ad campaign all involve steep learning curves that usually require a whole team of diverse and skilled individuals that have years of experience to execute well. These aspects of marketing are better left to a well-rounded team.

Good luck! And if you do need a little help along the way, Oracast has the years of experience and diverse team you may just be looking for.

Why Information Architecture and User Experience Is Important

Information Architecture (IA)

What is information architecture (IA)? As per Wikipedia, it’s “the art and science of organizing and labeling data including: websites, intranets, online communities, software, books and other mediums of information, to support usability”.

IA is an important part of website development. It will impact the user experience, the conversion rates and search engine optimization. Understanding keywords and how people search for information online will help when organizing website content. The goal is to create a website people will want to revisit.

User Experience (UX)

UX is how a person feels when visiting a site. How easy the site is to use, the value the site offers visitors, visual appeal and interactive elements all play a role. Search engines take user-friendliness into consideration when ranking a website.

Website Development Phases

The first phase of website development is the planning phase. During this stage we collaborate in gathering information about your ideal clients, create SMART goals, develop a marketing strategy and establish calls to action. This information will be the foundation upon which we build the website.

It’s important we have a clear understanding of who your user’s are and what needs they have when visiting your website so we can meet their needs and develop a great user experience for them.

Once this information is gathered we create the website structure. This may include the keywords, sitemap, and a wireframe which is a simplified sketch of the website navigation and layout. All the content and photos will also be collected in this phase so that it can be organized into the appropriate spaces.

The next phase of the website development is the design phase. The designs are submitted for review to our team and the clients, and all necessary changes and updates are made.

Once the designs are approved the programming phase is complete, more testing and reviews are conducted to ensure each element of the site is working to plan and that it meets the goals and objectives set out in the planning phase. End users are kept top of mind through-out each phase of development to ensure an amazing user experience for all.

Content: The Minimum Your Business Website Needs

With all the hype surrounding content marketing, it can feel like an uphill battle for many small business owners. Content marketing is an online strategy to attract new customers through producing quality content on a continual basis and publishing that content online. This strategy is an effective approach to search engine optimization and utilizing platforms such as social media.

Many business websites however, are lacking even basic website content. A website is the primary face of your business online and content is a preeminent part of your online presence.

It’s crucial for business websites to have at least the bare minimum in website content to build a foundation. What basic content does your website need? We’ve put together a list:
Read more

Your Holiday Marketing Campaign Guide

The holiday season is quickly approaching, and if you haven’t already created your marketing plan for the season, it’s not too late to get your campaign up and running.

From Black Friday to Christmas Eve and into the New Year, spending ramps up, which is why it’s important to get in front of your customers and map out your marketing plans to tap into that holiday buzz.

Here’s your quick guide to creating your own successful holiday marketing campaign:

1. Establish Your Goals

First, decide on the time frame your campaign will run. Some businesses start early and others continue into the New Year depending on your goals and target audience.

Now is a great time to fill in your SMART Goals worksheet to help you define what you want to accomplish and how you will achieve that in a measurable manner. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Relevant and Time-based.

2. Create Your Message

What offer would you like to put in front of your target audience? Your message should be consistent and focused. Your offer can take many forms and needs to fit the best with your specific business and audience. Keep in mind making your customers feel special. Your offer may be an exclusive discount, a bonus present, gift cards a special event or even a free download or ebook.

3. Landing Page

You will want to drive traffic to a special landing page designed around your message and offer. This page will have the benefits of your offer, a captivating image, an interesting headline and a clear call to action. The call to action could be anything from “View Today’s Offer”, to “Buy Now” or even an email submit form. Your online marketing efforts and emails will drive traffic back to this page.

4. Blog

Write about your offer and post it to your blog. Keep it personable and think about your target audience as you write. The blog could include a call to action and link to your new landing page.

5. Social Media

Start promoting your offer on your social media platforms. Hootsuite is a great website to use to plan and distribute your posts from one simple spot. You can add a Christmas flair to your social media branding to increase awareness of your promotion. Include links to your blog post and landing page in a few of your posts, but switch it up to keep things interesting and don’t repost the exact same thing too many times. Don’t have a social media plan already in place? Check out our Social Media Marketing services which will help your business build authority and better online visibility.

6. Email

Using the main message and offer you’ve created, build an email based on who your recipients are. It’s best to keep emails short and sweet, and to include interesting visuals or captivating headlines. Add a compelling subject line and share buttons to your email so recipients can pass the message on. Keep the visuals and main message of your holiday campaign congruent so visitors to your website, social media pages and blog recognize the offer and don’t feel confused. It’s best to be consistent.

7. Pay Per Click Advertising

You may want to look into paid advertising to boost your campaign on search engines or on Facebook to drive more traffic to your offer. Put a budget in place and run a few numbers to see if it would be a profitable move for your holiday campaign. Need a hand getting this set-up? Oracast can help. Check out our PPC advertising services to generate holiday leads quickly.

8. Track the Results

Now that everything is in place, track the results! Use Google Analytics and your email marketing software to view hits to your landing page and track your sales. Review social media interaction and hits to your blog. Make notes of your results and file them away to revisit next year as you plan your next holiday campaign.

Customizing Your WordPress Website

Categories: Web Design

With today’s ever growing reliance on social media and the internet, having a company website is a must. For business owners that wish to manage and maintain their own content, WordPress and other CMS (Content Management System) platforms come into play. These CMS platforms allow the company to have a website designed to their specifications while obtaining the ability to add, edit or remove content without any coding knowledge.


WordPress uses a visual interface that allows users to add, edit and remove pages or other elements to their website with the click of a button. The content editor works similar to a standard word processor such as Microsoft Word or Mac Pages; allowing the user to type the content into the page with the ability to bold or italicize text, add lists, links and pictures.


Custom WordPress Themes provide the ability to take this process one step further, allowing us to create multiple content areas on a single page, and/or separate different content types into different sections of the website. For example, the following image shows the integration of a custom post type called “Events”. The Events section allows the user to keep events separate from the other content areas and allows us to have different editable fields that are specific to this content type.










The image below shows an example of a content area that is created specifically for the “Events” section. We are able to have fields such as Date & Time or any other required fields.



The next image shows another content type created through a custom WordPress Template. This content type is set up to allow the user to create slider images and captions that will cycle on the home page of there website. As this image shows we are able to create content areas with multiple field types. In this image we see demonstrations of a simple text field used for the Slider Caption and an upload field for the Slider Image that allows the user to upload the image to the field from their computer or the media library that’s built-in to WordPress.



By seperating these content types into different sections of the website it allows us to accomplish numerous things.

  • Edit screen fields dependent on the content type
  • Allows content to be organized / sorted easier
  • Allows the creation of different content types such as:
    • Events
    • Slider Images
    • etc.


These are just a few examples of how you can customize your WordPress website. If you’re looking for a new content management system or need to customize your existing website please don’t hesitate to contact us. We’re happy to help and ready to serve!