Portage Bay
Portage Bay

Creating Word Clouds

Not that long ago, we were looking for a quick and easy image to put on a postcard mailer. None of the stock photos that we could find seemed just right, and it’s hard to find a compelling picture of a database, anyway! I had seen some images recently on Facebook, where an algorithm looked at the words you used in your status over the course of a year and made an image out of them. So I started fiddling with the idea of creating a word cloud like that for Portage Bay Solutions.

It seemed like a hard thing to do in Photoshop, so I did what I usually do when confronted with a hard problem – I Googled it! Turns out there are lots of places you can generate a free word cloud.

I tried a bunch of them, like Word It Out, Tagxedo, TagCrowd, and Tagul before finally settling on Wordle. It seemed to have the best documentation, along with the best functionality, without being overly complicated. (I think you might be able to do amazing things with Tagul, but the learning curve seemed pretty steep.) Note: You must have Java for Wordle, so using a browser other than Chrome on a Mac may be the way to go with that.

I wanted to make sure that the colors I used in the word cloud were the same ones in use on our website, and there’s an easy way to do that, too. If you go to Web Colour you can enter any website, and it will analyze the colors it finds there and return them to you with the hexadecimal codes. I picked some nice contrasting ones from our site and used those in Wordle.

I recently found another cloud generator, called Wordaizer, that is a standalone app for Windows. Some of the clouds others have created with this tool look incredible, and I think if we need to create another in the future, I might try this one.
~Alanna Clare