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September 02 2013

06:30

February 20 2012

08:00

February 07 2012

17:18

Valentine's Day Wedding Inspiration &Trends

Though Valentine's Day falls on a Tuesday this year, some couples choose this day as a special time to tie the knot, often with small elopements or intimate affairs. Whether you choose a Valentine's Day wedding or one that falls the weekend after, you can add in some special details to keep the feeling of Valentine's Day alive.

If you are dying to add a few special details and crafts to your big day, here are some great ideas to add into your Valentine's Day wedding (or any other wedding for that matter!) Get ready for a little red and pink madness that will make your big day awesome.


Source: Once Wed

A girl has got to look her best on her wedding day, and to do so, a girl needs a few fabulous details to make her look great from head to toe. A sparkle Bando heart or a pair of fabulous Vivian Westwood plastic shoes will do just the trick. These details just scream sophisticated Valentine's accessories.


Source: Bando, Vivian Westwood, Ruffled

Though they are a details often forgotten, favors are a fun way to thank guests for coming and give them something personal to remember the day by. Boxes of small candies, a CD with music from the big day. or something else special is often times a very personal way to say thanks.


Source: Favors, Heart, Programs

If you are planning to have a Valentine's Day affair next year, here are a few unique Save The Date ideas to get your guests excited about your big day. A simple paint job (see the rest of this red paint shoot, it's awesome) or kraft paper save the date's with fingerprints from the happy couple.


Source: Save the date, Save the date

Sweet treats and fabulous florals are a necessity for any fabulous event. A color palette of vintage pinks and soft red's are a way to add Valentine's touches into a mid-February color palette.  A dessert bar full of macaroons are a great addition to any Valentine's dessert table.


Source: Flowers, Macaroons

A heart cake is one of my favorite ideas ever, but for a Valentine's Day wedding, it is even better! When the couple cuts the cake open there will be a nice surprise for all he guests with a big heart down the center. You can get even more creative adding in different colors, or adding a heart in the center of cupcakes. So awesome right?


Source:  Cake


Source: Shoes, Cupcakes

Looks like we can't get enough of fabulous cake ideas when it comes to Valentine's. Truth of the matter is, that no matter when your wedding is, a heart cake topper is always a detail that will be well-received.


Source

It can be fun to play up the Valentine's theme at your special day if you add in certain details to make the look complete. Of course, feel free to add in many other elements that you feel make the day totally unique to you. Red, pink and a slew of hearts will never go out of style, so play it up and have fun crafting the perfect details for your big day.

Want more Valentine's Day inspiration? Check out our Pinterest board filled with lots of pink, red and an insane amount of hearts!

January 30 2012

15:28

COLOURlovers Interview & Giveaway with Jessica Sprague on The Art of Poster Design

Poster design is a really fun, inexpensive and unique way to explore your creative side. From the 1,000's of fonts, variety of poster sizes, and layouts, sometimes, it's difficult to know where to start!


Once you master your design techniques visit Next Day Flyers for fast poster printing at great prices.

Today we are interviewing Jessica Sprague, design guru and owner of JessicaSprague.com. In February, Jessica is heading off a four week Poster Design course. She is also giving away not one, but TWO seats to this really awesome class! I couldn't be more excited about the class after taking Jessica's Subway Art class. I'm a busy mom, so I don't have a whole lot of time to join in a live class, which is why I love Jessica's classes- they are self-paced and available forever!

Follow Jessica: Twitter & Facebook

Can you tell us about yourself, how long have you been designing? Teaching? Do you have a job outside of JS.com?

In my former life I was a web & user interface designer for a software company, so I've been designing in some form or another for about 14 years. I started teaching digital scrapbooking, Photoshop, and graphic design in 2007 when I opened  JessicaSprague.com. Since then it is my full-time job, and I love it!

What three (or less) singular colors do you most identify with, why?

My favorite color is green - I love it in almost all of its shades from lime to olive. It's the color of growth and regeneration, of calm energy, of prosperity, learning, balance, and harmony.

If you had to describe yourself [currently] as a five color palette, what colors would they be? Could you provide me with HEX codes so I can create a JS palette for you? :)

I feel like I am a blue, two greens, and a red, coupled with a dark grey. Hex: aed835, d9ea65, 81c9c0, a90c19, a90c19

The greens I've already described. The blue is an ocean representing responsibility, stability, trustworthiness. The red represents fire and emotion, and the dark grey brings some gravity, but also represents the dark that balances the lighter, fresher colors.

Jessica_Sprague

If you could be a shape, what shape would you be? (i.e. a polygon = triangle, hexagon etc...)

I would be a 5-pointed star. :)

 

How do you approach incorporating color combinations in poster design? Where do you start on this process?

As with any design process, I always start with a theme or a concept. What is it that we're saying? What emotion do we want to evoke in the reader or viewer of this piece? Having a solid design concept, I move in to blocking shapes and choosing colors - usually designed to play on the overall theme.

Source: Jessica Bills

Personally I'm a font junkie, I'm sure you have a large collection of fonts yourself, how do you organize your collection?

I love fonts. LOVE. I collect them, drool over them, dream about them, find excuses to buy new ones. I have a lot of fonts - probably 1700 - and I use a program called Font Expert to organize my fonts. I need to get even better at organizing, when there's time! But right now I have them divided into categories. My categories include: 3d, Block, Calligraphic, Circus, Condensed, Cute, Decorative, Destroyed, Dingbats, Display, Distressed, Gothic, Handwritten, Modern, Monospaced, Ornaments, Outline, Quirky, Retro, Sans Serif, Script, Serif, Skinny, Stencil, Symbol, Typewriter, Wide, Worn.

How do you approach using fonts in poster design?

The typeface choices make a critical part of the design process - this typically comes as the style and theme of the poster is being fleshed out. I think the typography - especially in a poster where the message tends to be very brief and very LOUD, is especially important, and one of the hallmarks of a really good design vs. a less-effective one. Fonts say things in addition to the actual words they spell - they have personality and that personality needs to be respected and taken advantage of in a design.

Heavily using fonts seems quite trendy, where do you recommend a base knowledge or quick reference about font types and usage?

Mixing fonts is an art and a skill that takes time to develop - I recommend beginning to steep yourself in really good typography, such as the samples over at veer.com as a really good resource for getting a feel for the subtleties.

Source: Jessica Sprague The Art of Poster Design

How do you feel about using patterns in poster design? Something busy, but in the background? Or something simple like a chevron- those seem to be rather popular right now. What are some basic rules you follow when incorporating patterns into poster design?

I think patterns are great in limited ways in a poster - most posters rely on a one-or-two color press that doesn't allow for much multi-color pattern; but this is changing as the price for laser printing in large-scale formats continues to come down.

How would you describe your style when creating posters? Do you like to use big fonts? Do you tend to use the same fonts over and over?

The style of a poster is always dictated by the message and the style called for - but in general I like big bold fonts, large graphics, brushwork, and great details.

Source: Janet Carr, a student from Jessica Sprague's Subway Art class.

What do you think are the most common mistakes people make when designing a poster?

I think the most common mistake is that people are afraid to really fill the space in a poster - I see things centered with plenty of whitespace around the text, no color (even black on white can be a color if used well!), and just general blandness. A poster's purpose is to deliver a message in 10 seconds or less - boldness is the name of the game.

Where are you most likely to find inspiration when you're stuck in the mud?

I have Pinterest. I also have a few books, including The New Masters of Poster Design, which is excellent eye candy for all styles of posters.

How long is the filming process for the poster class from start to finish, including editing?

There will be about 12 hours of finished video for this class, which takes about three weeks to record and edit.

Since I've taken several of your classes, I know throughout the videos you give direction for both Photoshop and Elements users, do you prefer one program over the other?

Great question! In my own work I use Photoshop CS5, but I prefer teaching Photoshop Elements, because I love and adore the Project Bin! LOL. 

Source: Sunday Grennan of itsmesunday.

The Giveaway: Two Lucky COLOURlovers Will Win!

As mentioned above, Jessica has generously offered two seats in the class, a value of $63.99 per class! The giveaway starts today, January 30th, 2012 and ends next Monday, February 6th, 2012.

To Enter: 

Leave a comment telling us what your favorite font is and what theme you would use the font for when creating a poster or project.

The Art of Poster Design starts February 13th and ends March 11th. Jessica Sprague will be leading the class with step-by-step video instruction. This is considered an intermediate class. You can sign-up or get more detailed information here.

I've recently created a digital crafting group on COLOURlovers, feel free to join, and share your works of art, palettes, patterns, and chat with people who have the same interests! 

January 17 2012

16:50

December 29 2011

01:13

Dressing Festive For New Year's Eve

The time has come to ring in the new year, so why not do it in style. This occasion definitely calls for some fancy, yet stylish outfits with which to celebrate the night in.

Holiday parties with the boss are over and done with, so pull out some of your favorite accessories of the season and go big this year.

Source: Dress, Clutch, Bracelet, Shoes

For the men, getting fancy means putting on that favorite suit you own and adding some pieces to spruce up the look. A watch is sure to make a statement no matter which style you choose. Adding a vest to your suit livens up the look a little bit more and is worthy of any sort of plans you have to ring in the new year.


Source: Watch, Shoes, Suit

If you are in a colder area, short skirts or dresses might not be as appealing, but that doesn't mean you don't have fabulous options at your fingertips. A sparkle top with some skinny jeans and a pair of pumps will fit right in. Adding a statement piece such as a bold clutch or some statement bracelets are a great way to complete the outfit.

Source: One Shoulder Shirt,  NordstromBlack PumpsTory BurchNordstrom,

One of my favorite trends this season is the obsession with textures, patterns and layers. Ruffles are a wonderful way to achieve this trend and give any (even a regular v-neck t-shirt) look that little extra something to make it pop. In this case, we chose a textured shirt with a belt, a pair of sleek black pants, and a few awesome statement pieces to add a bit of color and complete your overall look.


Source: Shirt, PantsBelt, Clutch, Bracelet

This is a great time for men to wear their best threads and accessorize with some sleek details such as a pair of glasses, and a black bow tie. For the formals, this is a great look to pull off.


Source: Glasses, Suit, Watch

Going out for a nice dinner or to a fancy party? Adding a bold necklace to a nice dress will make all the difference. Add some great shoes and a few bangles and you have yourself a complete outfit for your night out on the town. Source: Nordstrom, J Crew, Kate Spade 

We talked a bit earlier about vests, and the vital part they play in dressing up your look. Another tip is getting a thicker and more interesting fabric such as tweed or wool. The fabric takes care of the texture itself to give you a few extra brownie points with your look. Adding a bold print shirt and some rocking shoes will complete the look without too much effort at all.


Source: Vest, Vest, Cuff Links

Sparkles are a great way to go if you are looking for a great way to spruce up your look. Some people love the sophisticated sparkle, while others just can't stand it. If you are a sparkle-lover, these pieces are definitely for you. A sparkle dress with a black coat allow you to show off a little, without looking like Time Square at midnight. And a statement bracelet will never do any harm.


Source: Sequin Dress, Skirt, Bracelet 

Oh bow ties, how we love thee! This is a great little accessory, that you will definitely be able to wear again. And even better, this collection is reversible meaning double the wear! If you are a bow tie lover, this is definitely a shop you should check out so you can get double the fun for your money. Add these bow ties to any of the suits below and you will definitely give that traditional style a whole new look.
Source: Bow Ties


Source: Suit, Suit, Watch

Sparkles can be adding a variety of ways to complete your look. Jackets, skirts, and dresses are three of the most common. While it is important not to combine all your sparkle goodness on one outfit. you can still play with less sparkly but still as bold accessories like cocktail rings or a great pair of earrings.


Source: DressesEarrings, Ring, Earrings

For a less dressed up look, a vest and cardigan combo might just be the way to go. You still look sharp, but definitely not as formal as some of the other looks. A great tie with a pattern will also give your look a little something interesting that will fit the look quick well.


Source: Cardigan, Pants, Tie

Saving my personal favorite for last, let's talk about this awesome dress and a few great details that you are pair with the look. Stripes are a perfect example of bold patterns that are currently in style. With a flowing dress, this is a perfect piece to go out to dinner or go out dancing. Stacked bracelets are coming up in the world as one of the newest trends, and boy is this one fun! Pair many different textures, and sizes together to create the perfect combo of pieces to pair with your dress. In the spirit of New Year's, sparkle nail polish is a great little addition to your look.


Source: Watch, Clutch, Nails, Dress

We hope you have enjoyed the fabulous holiday season and are getting ready to celebrate the New Year in style! No matter what your plans are, there are a variety of outfits you can pull together. Pieces from the various looks above can be mixed and matched to create that perfect outfit for the occasion.

Tags: Guides Holiday

December 14 2011

21:29

Seasonal Looks For Holiday Parties

Holiday parties are an exciting part of the holiday season as is finding the perfect outfit for the occasion. Whether you are heading to a work or a family function, it's time to look your best and celebrate the holiday cheer with those around you. No matter what price range you are looking to stay in, we have some holiday picks that are perfect for any parties you are attending this season.

The ladies are in luck, as bright pants in bold colors are a current trend of the fall. This is an easy way to stay casual but still make a statement with the outfit. Pairing something like this with simple pieces including a black jacket and white shirt are a great way to complete the look. Pair fun accessories with bold prints or some sparkle and you have yourself a casual yet incredibly fun look for any party.

OutfitReversible Clutch, RingBraceletsBlack Flats

Men have far less choices when it comes to fashion. That definitely isn't a bad thing, but all the more reason why the men have to look sharp using the few accessories they have. This red flannel shirt (created from a COLOURlovers palette) goes well with a few leather details and offer a casual look for a friendly gathering with friends. Bracelets or a watch are a great way to offer a little statement piece to the outfit.

SweatersShoesFlannel, Watch, Bracelet

Sweaters over patterned button up shirts are a fantastic way to dress up for a work function. This is a great way to look professional but still keep things casual for this sort of a party. Here is a little trick: cardigans with skinny belts is a cute way to dress up an outfit and look a little different than your friends.

Belt + CardiganPlaid Shirt + Sweater

Sweaters are as great of an accessory for men as they are for women. Pairing a patterned shirt with a solid sweater is a great way to stay casual but look great. A pair of cords or colored pants complete the look quite well. If the weather isn't too warm, consider throwing a peacoat over the look.

Red SweaterBlue Sweater, Shirt, Tie, Shirt, Outfit, Outfit

Here is a look that is perfect for either a work function or a fun party with friends and family. Create a classic outfit with by pairing a blazer with some dark denim and a simple sweater. The secret for creating the wow-factor in this look is to heavily accessorize with some bold pieces. Statement necklaces, large bangles, and a colorful clutch accessorize this classic look very well. And don't forget some funky shoes to go with it!

 Pants,  NecklaceClutchBraceletNail PolishShoeBlazer

Cardigans are a nice way to dress up and stay comfortable at the same time. A wool scarf can accessorize the outfit quite well. Adding some colored socks and a plaid bow tie is a fun way to add to the overall outfit. And that watch is a great way to tie everything together.

ScarfCardiganWatch, Bow Tie, Socks, Shoes, Cardigan, Cardigan

For a classy gathering choose the perfect little black dress and complete the look with some fun gold details. To add a little color into the look, choose shoes that offer a pop. Anything goes good with black, and you can get as bold and creative as you would like when it comes to shoe choices.

Bracelet, Necklace, Clutch, Dress, Shoes

A bow tie makes an outfit look instantly stylish. Pairing your favorite patterned bow tie with a tweed jacket will keep you both warm and looking great throughout the night. A braided bracelet, a watch and some leather shoes can complete the look in a wonderful way. The look is simple and classic and is perfect for a work function or a gathering with your favorite family and friends.

Glasses, Tweed, Bracelets, Shoes, Watch

Pairing patterns, bold color and some bling can be a challenge. Creating a cohesive look without over-doing yourself is an important thing to remember for any occasion. Consider a polka dot clutch or a striped shirt for a little pop in your outfit. Adding a bold color gives your outfit the statement it deserves.

Stacked Bracelets, Outfit, Clutch, Blazer, Scarf

The blazer is a great addition to any outfit and will instantly dress up any look that you have together. Pairing a button down shirt with a blazer keeps the look classy.

Blazer, Tie, Shirt, Look

Heading to a fancy affair? A dress, some stockings and a statement necklace is all you need to look your best and create the perfect fancy-party outfit. These selections are by Kate Spade to offer some inspiration.

Dress

Scarves for men are a great addition for an outfit. For a fancy look add a blazer, pair of nice fitting dark pants and a few accessories to complete the look. This wooden watch and patterned scarf add a little statement to the outfit. And if you are a glasses wearer, this is a great pair!

OutfitWatchTie, Glasses

The work function deserves a well-put-together outfit. After all, you see these people on a daily basis, and sometimes maybe you aren't always dressed to impress. Now is the time to pull out the stops and look your best. A layered shirt with a cardigan is a great dressed-up look. Some gray pants and black pumps offer a very professional approach for a work function. As for accessories, knot bracelets and a clutch is all your need to spruce up this look.

Clutch, head piece, Outfit, Bracelets

If you are like most, you won't be buying an all new outfit just for one party. So consider these tips when shopping for a piece or two to go with your current wardrobe. You can easily liven up what you already have by adding a bold color, a preppy pattern or some awesome accessories that are sure to make a statement. Same things goes for the men, an accessory or two will go a long way in your collection of jeans and button-ups.

So what kind of parties are you headed to and what are you wearing?

November 17 2011

00:39

November 09 2011

09:43

Writing WordPress Guides For The Advanced Beginner





 



 


Creating WordPress tutorials is a fantastic way to help build the WordPress community and to increase your Web traffic. That’s no secret. Just Google “wordpress tutorial” and you’ll see hundreds of results. The complete novice will find scores of well-written tutorials clearly demonstrating the basics of the WordPress dashboard and of activating the default template, in simple jargon-free language.

howtosplash550

Unfortunately, after the first few “Hello World!” tutorials, they are in for a bit of a learning curve. Suddenly, the guides start to skip a lot of details, assuming that the reader “already knows this stuff.” Others are simply written exclusively for advanced WordPress users.

So, where does a new developer go after square one?

In this article, we’ll explore how to create clear easy-to-navigate tutorials, and tailor them to the underserved “advanced beginner” Web developer. The entire goal of this article is to make sure we see many more tutorials written for budding new coders who are ready to jump to the next level.

Who Exactly Is An “Advanced Beginner”?

Advanced beginners are people who generally understand how WordPress works but don’t fully understand how to implement its concepts. They are stuck in that awkward stage where a “For Dummies” book has nothing new to offer but raw code is still vaguely confusing. In your tutorials, you should strive to eliminate this common “tough it out” phase.

For our purposes, let’s assume that we are writing for someone who has a reasonably good grasp on the following:

  • Can read and write XHTML and CSS, but probably sits with a cheat sheet open to get through those tricky spots;
  • Knows little to nothing about PHP;
  • Can navigate the WordPress dashboard and has basic knowledge of image resizing and editing;
  • Understands the basic idea and principles of WordPress, but not necessarily how to execute them;
  • Appreciates the simplicity of WordPress templates but wants to learn how to create or tweak their own.

Admitting That WordPress Can Be Tough

We all need to stop pretending that WordPress is this magical dirt-simple Web development solution. Yes, using it is much easier than designing a custom CMS, but for new users looking to get under the hood, the tool can still be daunting and complicated.

For the average coder who is still just getting a grip on fundamental CSS, even the strange-looking batch of official WordPress folders that come in the installation ZIP file can be intimidating.


This is way more confusing for a beginner than seeing a simple HTML file, a CSS file and some images.

When you refer to a file such as style.css or an image, be sure to tell readers exactly where to look and where to save these files.

Basic Guide-Writing Principles

Before we delve into WordPress-specific tips, let’s go over some basic principles for any tutorial.

Keep It Tidy

Readers have sought your advice because they are confused. Don’t add to their troubles with a cluttered how-to article. Use plenty of bullet points, and keep paragraphs short. If you’re tackling a complex idea, split it up into sections.

Take the format of Smashing Magazine’s articles. Articles are broken up so that each sub-topic has its own section. This simplifies the navigation, makes the content more visually appealing and clearly guides the reader through the process.

Make Sure Readers Are Fully Prepared

Any good tutorial includes all of the resources it recommends. Don’t just say “make a blue image” — give it to them. Otherwise you risk over-complicating things for the reader. Provide sample files, and explain that your lesson will deal exclusively with these readily available resources. You wouldn’t want them to suddenly have to read a Photoshop tutorial when they’re only interested in learning how to customize their header.


This tutorial includes everything a reader needs to get started, including a visual demo and easily accessible sample files.

Define Your Goal

The best tutorials focus on a single topic. Plan the article before writing it. You shouldn’t explain every aspect of CSS and WordPress on every page of your website. What will readers get from this particular tutorial? A nice neat list at the top of the article should clearly define its parameters.

List the Prerequisite Skills

A tutorial should always list any skills that the reader will be expected to have. Instead of cluttering an otherwise focused guide with extraneous detail, provide links that direct readers to where they should go to learn about particular topics. This will help new developers who are nearly clueless, while keeping the article clearly focused for more advanced readers.

Tips Specifically For WordPress Guides

Now that we’ve discussed some fundamental organizational skills that will make any tutorial clear and easy to follow, let’s delve into some WordPress-related areas that many guides seem to miss.

Taming the Codex

The WordPress Codex is a powerful tool that can give your tutorial a much-needed jolt of clarification. Just be aware that to newbie designers, the Codex can seem like a massive labyrinth of articles, with each topic requiring that you read several earlier lessons in order to fully grasp. As the experienced coder, you need to show that, when used properly, the Codex presents the cleanest example of a concept.


The Codex is one of the most useful tools available to a WordPress developer.

Don’t just say “Check the Codex” and drop in a link. Your readers need context. Your main goal in writing a tutorial that refers to the Codex should be to eliminate the reader’s need to plunge into its depths. Tell them what they can expect to read on the page, illustrating exactly how they can use the particular lesson you’re linking to.

It might even be to your benefit to point readers to a “beginner’s guide” to understanding the codex. Here is my favorite.

Keep Them On Target, Visually

The most important thing to do to keep readers on track is to provide constant updates throughout the article on what they should be seeing in their own implementation. For example, if your tutorial is multiple pages, always start with an illustration of the finished product. After each milestone, provide a “Here’s what you should be seeing right now” example. Whenever possible, include working samples of the project or its parts for the reader to experiment with. (These functional samples might have to be run from the author’s server or a third-party website.)

A WordPress project could very easily require coding between a few files. If someone isn’t following closely enough, they could miss something simple that wildly alters their results. Your milestone examples will give readers up-to-the-minute feedback on where they are going wrong. It’s the best way to make sure you aren’t losing anyone.

Make Your Code Selectable

This is crucial to any WordPress tutorial. If you are explaining a concept in code, allow the reader to copy and paste the examples whenever possible. For curious readers, nothing is worse than wanting to test a sample line of code, only to realize that they have to fully type it out. This principle seems self-evident, but many guides simply explain an idea and say, “Add this code,” alongside a screenshot of the finished style sheet. If the reader misses one semicolon, all their work will be worthless. That’s infuriating.

While there may be some merit to having the reader actually write out the code, most people probably won’t see it that way. They are much more likely to seek out another tutorial, one that doesn’t force them to constantly rewrite code that they don’t yet understand.

Be Wary of PHP

While it’s a necessary part of WordPress, remember that to someone just getting their footing with something as relatively basic as CSS, PHP code can look like someone fell asleep at the keyboard. Too many tutorial providers assume that their readers understand even the first thing about PHP. This is often not the case.

In the likely event that you are explaining low-level PHP to readers, be mindful that they might be confused. Give a short description of exactly what is happening in the code. As always, provide a link to a relevant PHP tutorial.

Clarifying Custom Widgets

Admittedly, this recommendation is pretty specific, but bear with me. When I was getting started, one of the most infuriating things about WordPress tutorials was when they said, “Write a quick widget with this code…”

Now, once a reader has created their first widget, it becomes completely obvious that most of the time all they’ll need to do is drag the “Text Widget” and add some basic HTML code to it. But first they need to get past this initial step. Remember that to someone looking with fresh eyes, they may not understand your shorthand.


The blank text widget is a simple yet potentially deceptive name for a powerful tool.

So, I always like to see a description such as, “Use the ‘Text’ widget to create this option. You can simply add raw HTML into the blank box and drag it to your sidebars. This will then work just like any other widget.”

Always Provide Documentation for Video Tutorials

Without a doubt, video is a massive help for confused developers. It provides detail-rich, play-by-play instruction that carefully guides the viewer through the concepts in the tutorial. Just be sure to accompany the video with detailed textual documentation. Otherwise, people will repeatedly have to rewind and squint at the screen just to copy your instructions. That’s an easy way to lose fans.

Treat the video as an aid, not as the main event. This tutorial on Lifehacker, though not specifically for WordPress, illustrates this principle perfectly.

Update Your Tutorial As Needed

Keep your guides relevant and dynamic. Too often, tutorial writers will clarify major points in the comments section of their page, while the tutorial itself remains static. Or they just ignore the page entirely, leaving now-irrelevant guides to linger on the Internet.

Keeping in touch with your audience is wonderful, but giving new readers the best possible experience is also important. Don’t expect people to comb through two years’ worth of comments to find your changes.

Make sure your supplemental links remain relevant. Nothing is worse than reading a tutorial from 2007 and seeing the words “With a simple change, it should look like this!” Surely in 2007 that link was perfect, but if it leads to an unrelated page in 2011, it will undermine your entire article.

Tell Them Where to Code

Make sure that newbies are tweaking code in the right place. Point out that, in general, they shouldn’t edit files from within the WordPress dashboard. That leaves little room for error, and if the coder isn’t careful, they could lose hours of progress.


A brief glimpse at the SFTP- and FTP-enabled one-stop code editor, Coda.

Instead, teach them to use an SFTP- or FTP-enabled editor, such as Coda or Dreamweaver. It’s a safer, fixable way to correct any mistakes that arise.

Teach Them How to Test

This last point is just a personal preference that I wish more people would do. One of the best things about basic HTML and CSS is that you can easily test them locally by simply reloading the browser. When you jump into WordPress, this testing process becomes significantly more complicated. Advanced beginners will likely be lost once they realize that they can’t test by simply dragging their WordPress creations into a browser. This leads many new coders to test their unfinished creations on production websites.

Tutorial writers should stress the importance of not testing WordPress changes on a live website. Explain the myriad benefits of designing on a risk-free local server. Just point the reader to one of the many existing server guides, and briefly mention the pitfalls of testing code on a live website. Michael Doig’s article “Installing WordPress Locally Using MAMP” is one of the most useful set-up guides.

Conclusion

Whether you’re writing a tutorial about WordPress or anything else, clarity is paramount. Put yourself in the reader’s shoes. WordPress is built on the efforts of a wonderfully helpful community that is full of excellent tutorials and experts. But, as in any community, this has resulted in some confusing jargon and common shortcuts.

These can overwhelm new developers. Tutorial writers should avoid unnecessary jargon and always explain any references and functions that they use, no matter how basic they seem. Remember that, as the guide, your knowledge is likely far beyond that of your readers. What is obvious to you could be brand new to them.

By making your tutorials easier to understand, you’ll greatly increase your own Web traffic and enrich the greater WordPress community.

Other Resources

Here are a few tutorials that are easy to follow and that adhere to many of the points mentioned here.

(al)


© Scott Meaney for Smashing Magazine, 2011.

September 29 2011

23:40

September 26 2011

15:18

September 22 2011

00:09

Seamless Lite New Features: Custom Shapes & Shape Galleries (How-To)

COLOURlovers spend countless hours creating amazing Patten Templates using Seamless Lite. Today, we are happy to announce some amazing new feature updates to the in-site seamless pattern design process.

 

Along with the new features, Seamless Lite has been given some big love and a smoother, speedier designing experience should be noticeable.

"Save as Shape" Tool

You can now save individual elements using the newly installed “Save as Shape” tool. This will allow you to keep those wonderfully complicated design elements you have been creating for a single Pattern Template. Only NOW, you can re-use those awesome pieces in any number of Pattern Template variation by using, “My Shapes” located in your Shapes Library on Seamless Lite (when you are logged in).

 

 How To Use "Save as Shape"

In Seamless Lite, create a shape from multiple shapes using the preexisting shapes in the Shape Library. Select all layers that make up this custom shape. No need to group these either, when you save the shape as a single element it will automatically group it and give it the name you give your shape upon saving,

Select your shape layers and click, Save as Shape" in the layer tools area. 

Preview your shape element, give it a title, description if you want, tags and then Save Shape.

That simple! At this point, shapes cannot be shared with one another (unless you do that privately - it's your choice).

Shape Galleries: A Place to Show Off  Your Abilities!

A new gallery for all of your custom shapes, will be added to your profile page the moment you create and save your first shape with the "Save as Shape" tool.

 

Gallery element for your Shapes (above)

Gallery view of your shapes allows the same filter-view options as other creations on the site.

Each shape has its own information page just like the other creations on CLCOLOURlover.com. Everyone has the ability to LOVE, FAVE and SHARE this shape made by you! Additionally, you have the ability to download the .SVG file, located under the, made "with Seamless Lite" link and DELETE or EDIT the shape profile under the OPTIONS drop-down.

Shapes will also stream on to the homepage of COLOURlovers.com as they are being created. So let's see what you got?!

August 24 2011

19:16

August 19 2011

18:32

Printing with Patterns: Three Key Points + $75 Giveaway from Next Day Flyers

Using patterns in print design can really punch up a project. It's nothing new, but I'd like to point out a few different variations you might see as key benefits.

Single Use Design Pieces

Simplify a project by using patterns. In this design, the abstract pattern with the perfect color palette, truly resembles a feel for the arts. It doesn't restrict the design to a certain type of art where the festival might cover anything from painting, sculpting, fiber arts and more. Using an artistically geared pattern keeps that visual open.

Print Magazine's, Color in Design Awards (2011) / Poster Design by Dave Whitley

Coordinating Design Pieces

Using patterns in coordinating print projects can easily lend a hand in matching sets of items such as wedding invitations which usually contain a main element, the invitation - plus response cards, enclosure cards, save the date cards and thank you cards. Not to mention possibly following through with the design on wedding day programs, seat placement cards, etc.

autumn textile by weddingpaperdivas.com

Reusable & Customizable Design Pieces

When working with products you want buyers to customize, simple two-color patterns make it easy to do so. This makes it a snap for you to go in and adjust the pattern palette before shipping a digital file or physical product off to a client.

Tea Invitation by FLIPAWOO (customizable pattern invitations)

No matter what type of print project you have, these are a few benefits to using patterns to speed up your design or business process, not to mention a great way to add a ton of interest in your work.

Using COLOURlovers Patterns in your designs...

Here at COLOURlovers you can download an .SVG file of your pattern designs as long as you were the original Pattern Template creator. Additionally, if you have Seamless Studio, you can export designs as: .SVG, .JPG or .PNG to be able to use in other graphics software for design.

The Giveaway - How to Earn Your $75

This is a random giveaway picked from those who leave a comment. You have two choices:

Link to and place an image of a project you have designed with patterns. This can be from a yesterday or today, real or fake and must be a complete looking project. Does it fall under one of the three examples above?

OR

Link to and place an image of a print piece or pieces (such as a wedding invitation set) you adore and think is a prime example of one of the above three examples.

In addition, I'd love to know why you like using patterns in your design or why you like seeing patterns in design.

Entries will be collected through Sunday, August 28th, 2011 (by midnight PST). 

Next Day Flyers, the postcard printing specialists will be providing gift a credit of $75 to the randomly selected winner!

<div align="center" style="width:140px;border:1px solid #ccc; background: #; color: #0081C1;font-weight:bold;font-size:12px;"> <a style="text-decoration: none; color:#0081C1;" href="http://mycountdown.org/My_Countdown/My_Countdown/">My Countdown </a></div> <p>

 


header credit:
citricnonsense_colors

August 12 2011

20:40

August 09 2011

17:46

August 06 2011

14:15

Copyrights: Are they always Black and White?

Hello COLOURlovers!

Copyrights are well known topics that continually float around the community. So I've snagged someone in the business of creating and selling vector artwork to explain in laymen's terms the crazy in's and out's of copyright (with digital art). I'd like to introduce to the blog authorship, Ray Dombroski, founder of The Vector Lab (thevectorlab.com) and a COLOURlover himself.

Enjoy the post ~ Molly Bermea / Blog Editor


source

Copyrights

Intellectual Property and Copyrights

Whenever an artist creates a new original work in the United States as well as in many other countries, it is automatically covered under copyright protection.  With the use of licensing, that artist can grant certain additional rights to others. A license can be written to give someone else the right to resell the art or create derivative works (remix or change the art), for example. These licenses are important when it comes to using stock art or clip art for your own designs.

Stock Art: Know Your Source

In a COLOURloving world where we are trying to keep our karma points high, it’s important to pay attention to what our fellow artists’ intentions were when they created the stock art we are using. The number one rule is to know your source. Whether you purchased the art from a reputable website, copied it off a friend’s CD, or scanned in some 18th century ornaments from the pages of a clip art book, it’s wise to read their usage license. If you don’t know who the artist is or the company that owns the copyright to the art, it’s best to move on and find another source.

How to Decipher a License

Most stock art websites have mind-numbing license contracts that cover permitted uses and restricted uses of their licensed art. In addition, most have lengthy standard and extended licenses. Thankfully some stock art websites are nice enough to offer a quick reference guide for their permitted/restricted uses and standard/extended license options. As an example, iStock.com's quick reference guide is located here.  Each company has a different contract, but below I’ve called out the most common provisions.

Typical Stock Art Permitted Uses - Standard License

  • - Small Print Runs
  • - Advertising and promotional products
  • - Books, Magazines, Newspapers
  • - Internet Banners, Video
  • - Promotional Prints and Posters not intended for resale
  • - Individual (or one-seat) license. Not to be installed on multiple computers.

Typical Stock Art Permitted Uses – Extended License

  • - Large print runs
  • - Use of the licensed material in products for sale
  • - Multi-seat license

Typical Stock Art Prohibited Uses (For Either Standard or Extended License)

  • - Use the licensed material as part of a trade mark or logo.
  • - Post the licensed material in any format that enables it to be downloaded or distributed.
  • - Distribute, resell, lend, or gift the licensed material.

The Big Question

So can I sell my patterns if they contain stock art covered under this sort of license? What if I purchase an extended license that covers items for resale or electronic items for resale? What if I take multiple vector files such as a floral pack of flowers and swirls and recolor them and create my own combination?

If the re-sold pattern is a vector file (such as an SVG, EPS, AI, PDF) then the answer to these questions is generally a “no.” This is because the two prohibited uses (posting & distributing the vector file) mentioned above would be violated. The reason for this is that the vector line work in these kinds of files stays intact and the stock art can easily be extracted and re-used for a different purpose by the new purchaser.

But the answer can be "yes," if the re-sold pattern is a pixel image or another flattened format such as a JPG, PNG, GIF, PSD, or TIF. If you are reselling the pattern you may be required to purchase an extended license that covers “items for resale” or “electronic items for resale.” Also check to see if the licensing contract has a pixel or DPI resolution limit on the items you are reselling.

Creative Commons

Some artists and designers offer their art under what is known as a Creative Commons License. Wikipedia has a really good breakdown of how this licensing system works – From that website I have called out the main points that are relevant to this article:

Original Licenses:

  • - Attribution: Licensees may copy, distribute, display and perform the work and make derivative works based on it only if they attribute the work to the author or licensor.
  • - Noncommercial: Licensees may copy, distribute, display, and perform the work and make derivative works based on it only for noncommercial purposes.
  • - No Derivative Works: Licensees may copy, distribute, display and perform only verbatim copies of the work, not derivative works based on it.
  • - Share-alike: Licensees may distribute derivative works only under a license identical to the license that governs the original work.

Selling Patterns made with Creative Commons Art

Back to our previous questions about reselling vector patterns that contain Creative Commons art, you are allowed to do so if the license is Attribution alone or Attribution + ShareAlike. If you are not reselling the pattern, but just giving it away, then you can also do this if it’s Attribution + Noncommercial + ShareAlike.

All Creative Commons Licenses require attribution of the original creator. So be sure to include the following:

  • - Include any copyright notices (if applicable)
  • - Cite the author's name, screen name, or user ID
  • - Cite the work's title or name (if applicable)
  • - Cite the specific CC license the work is under
  • - Mention if the work is a derivative work or adaptation

For us COLOURlovers, the world of intellectual property is not always completely black and white. But I hope it brings some understanding and discussion to the subject. Let's get out there and create!


Get Some FREE SVG Pattern Elements

Ray was kind enough to give the community some artwork to make their own patterns in different variations. Use them together, mix 'em up with the COLOURlovers shapes or your own custom shapes! Since Seamless Studio came out, he opened up a section of his site literally to help COLOURlovers who may not have access to vector software. This is the Pattern Elements Section.

These coupons are available until Aug 31, 2011:

Coupon: CL-TVL-PE (Free - Pattern Elements #01)

Coupon: CL-TVL-20 (20% off orders on TVL.com)

There is also an additional FREE SVG Pattern Download that has been available in the Pattern Elements section of TheVectorLab.com.

Direct SVG Files: You Don't Need a Vector Program!

These vector pieces are not only super cool to grab up this month (for FREE), but they come as SVG's! This means that you don't have to have any vector editing software to use them. Simply download them and import the SVG files straight in to Seamless Studio. How cool is that?!

Imported SVG shapes will go straight to your My Shapes  in the collections library in Seamless Studio.

The Vector Lab's, Pattern Elements are automatically offered at no complicated extra charge a, FULL EXTENDED LICENSE - which allows you to re-sell your patterns you create with them.

Now go create!!

Demonstration / How-To Video:

Creating Seamless Vector Patterns from TheVectorLab on Vimeo.

August 03 2011

15:31

July 26 2011

17:45

Using the Power of Subtext for Your Website

If you’re a big film, tv, or theatre buff, you’ve probably witnessed a fair amount of subtext. This principle can be applied to more than just those mediums though! Today, we explore how you use the lens of subtext to look at your website and improve your digital presence by uniting your color scheme with your actual text.

First though, what is subtext? Think about it as the underlying theme or message in a conversation. In film, it can be seen with lighting choices, costumes, a character’s body language and really anything that isn’t apart of the actual dialog. I’ll use the movie Jurassic Park as an example.


A_day_at_the_park

In this scene, John Hammond, the billionaire philanthropist and creator of Jurassic park, has already given the guests a tour of the park and talked about how the dinosaurs are created.He’s trying to convince them that the park is ready to be opened to the public and as you remember, the invited guests are experts brought in to verify that the park is safe for visitors. So far, we haven’t seen anything scary in the park - just cute baby dinosaurs.

During the dinner scene, John argues that the park should be open but Dr. Ian Malcolm is against it.

As you can see, while John is making his argument to open the park through his dialog, everything outside of his language is also backing up his point of view. He is dressed in white and outlined in a halo, looking angelic, even god-like, and unquestionably good.

When the camera is on Dr. Malcolm, we not only hear his words countering John’s, but the director has set him up to be the “bad guy” through his black hair, black glasses, black clothes, and even a reddish light behind him. It’s very ominous.

Back again to John and he again looks like a good and benevolent creator. Still haloed with light, he now has his hands outstretched a la compassionate holy man.

When Malcolm counters John’s argument with an irrefutable observation, we see the surroundings echo his despondence - John is no longer haloed, no longer god-like or all-knowing.

In the end, we see Ian come out the winner, wise, thoughtful, ringed with white light.

All of the above are an excellent example of when subtext is used to support the words being spoken in a scene and influencing or heightening our perception of the conversation.

Subtext can also be used to imply a meaning that is the opposite of the words spoken in a scene. An example of this is when a young boy must give up his pet to be free in the wild and yells at the pet, saying he doesn’t love it in order to get it to go be free. His words say, “I hate you” but everything else about the scene says, “I love you.” Make sense?

From Film to the Web

So, how does this apply to a website or color for that matter? I want to take a look at a couple of different websites and look at their text - the written copy on the site - and their background - the colors - and see if the two match up.

After all, if your website’s subtext, through color and design, are subverting the message you’re sending through your written copy, that’s going to leave visitors to your site confused and less likely to find what they’re looking for, which is never what you want as a businessperson.

Subtext Case Study #1

Let’s take a look at a site that gets it right and why.


Hill
First, what does the text of this site say, what tone does it portray?

When designing GrantHill.com, we needed to convey the professionalism and excellence of Grant’s career combined with the warmth and dedication of his family life. So, every word centered around those things.

Clearly, we wanted the subtext of the site to match the literal text. So, the design and layout of the site suggests the clean, smooth organization of a man in charge of his affairs. The color palette of rich browns, soft creams, and warm, golden honeys speaks to the assured gentle calm of a father who cares not only for his family but his community and his responsibility in making the world a better place.

With text and subtext in alignment, GrantHill.com successfully puts across the message we want.

Subtext Case Study #2

Your website should, from first glance to detailed inspection, speak to your core audience. Once you know who that audience is, you can make smart, targeted choices for the text and subtext of your site. By doing that, your site will be more successful at generating the leads that are the lifeblood of small business.

That is precisely the plan of action we implemented for our client Jackson Therapy Partners.


Action_Jackson
By focusing on Jackson Therapy’s target audience - job-seeking physical therapists - we were able to easily target all text at highlighting the benefits of working through Jackson Therapy.

We then align all that targeted text with the color choices that provide equally important subtext. The text showcased medical benefits, matching 401ks, and retirement planning - and the subtextual color choices shored that up.

Dark blues back up the stability of working with a company as trusted as Jackson Therapy as white signifies clean, professionalism. Lighter blues and blue-greens suggest the fun, energy, and opportunity for travel provided by Jackson Therapy while pale yellow, with its happy tone, complements that message.

Lessons Learned

Whether you’re watching a great film or choosing your company’s website colors, subtext is a powerful tool that can either support or subvert the straightforward surface message that you’re aiming for.

With smart color choices you can be sure your website’s subtext is sending a message that backs up the other content available to your target audience. When all messages are aligned, you can bet your site will be more effective at delivering your message and results.

Rise Above,
Stephan

July 19 2011

19:56
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