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February 26 2014

14:00
05:50

February 14 2014

15:24

Connect With Creative Minds At Upcoming World Class Web Design Conferences 2014

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Conferences are a great place to elevate your talent and creativity, and web design conferences are a great opportunity for developers, programmers, ecommerce experts and other businesses to meet each other and share their unique expertise. The snowball of web design conferences which was rolled out soon after the boom of internet has transformed into an incessant stream of events. The tradition of web design conferences in the IT sector does not seem to come to an end, and it has brought with it some of the most exciting events for the year 2014 as well.

Following is the list of most anticipated web design conferences in 2014:

JQuery

Connect With Creative Minds At Upcoming World Class Web Design Conferences 2014

jQuery is bringing another happening web design conference in the month of February in San Diego. Experts in this conference will be addressing about latest open web technologies. Moreover, by attending this event, attendees can get insight into jQuery and related projects, code architecture, design n implementation and much more.

Interaction’14

Connect With Creative Minds At Upcoming World Class Web Design Conferences 2014

Are you interested in learning and exploring about Interaction design practices? Are you looking forward to catch some inspiration from related disciplines? Well the long wait is about to end. Interaction’14 brings you 4 days of workshops and presentations to learn about its design practices and get insights in the relevant disciplines. Catch this inspirational web design conference from Feb 5th to 8th, 2014 in Amsterdam.

MinneWeb Con

This two day event will comprise of useful knowledge sharing sessions, from speakers belonging to different backgrounds and work environments. MinneWeb Con will take place in Minneapolis from April 14th to 15th, 2014.

Industry Conference

Taking place in Newcastle on April 23rd, this conference will be a carefully curated selection of talks by 8 speakers from Foursquare, Etsy, Happy Cog, Charity:Water and The Washington Post. Industry Conference will be a chance to learn about in design in organizations, metrics, UX, CSS, business and web performance.

Next Web

Connect With Creative Minds At Upcoming World Class Web Design Conferences 2014

More than 2500 attendees will explore the insights on what is next big thing for the web with recognized speakers from around the world, at Next Web conference at Europe, Apr 24-25 2014.

IRCE Focus

This conference is one powerful place where you have to be! IRCE Focus, taking place in Orlando from 10th Feb to 12th Feb, 2014, is focusing on bringing a combination of incredible strategies, experts and unparalleled resources in the world so that you get insight on ways to tackle rising customers’ expectations and learn latest ecommerce strategies.

CrossTrain Morning

CrossTrain Morning has been scheduled for 24th January, 2014, by Dallas Users Experience Group. It will include six killer presentations by UX enthusiasts, developers and programmers. This event will definitely fill your morning with quite interesting and useful learning sessions.

Mobile +Web DevCon

Connect With Creative Minds At Upcoming World Class Web Design Conferences 2014

The conference is all about smart generation mobile apps, tools app optimization with JavaScript and HTML5 technologies and cross platform app development tools. Mobile +Web DevCon is a chance to get inspiration from the leading IT industrialists and web enthusiasts will from around the world. The conference is being hosted in San Francisco from 28th to 30th January 2014.

Respond

Yet another exciting web design conference, organized in Sydney from 4th February to 5th February, 2014. Respond will be your chance to meet the experts of Responsive Web Designs, and to catch an insight into the first mobile responsive design. You can also catch inspiration from Respond’s dedicated sessions on data driven interactive content and state of responsive images.

ConFoo

This conference is going to be a smart language learning experience for those who want to gain competence in Ruby on Rails, jQuery, Java, Asp.Net and many more. So don’t forget to attend ConFoo from Feb 24 to 28 in Montreal.

Meet Magento Spain

Meet Magento conference, for the first time in Spain, will take place in Madrid at Convencion Hotel. The event will start at 3rd March and will last till 5th March, 2014. This conference will be an opportunity to bring Magento designers and extensions developers and whole local ecosystem together. Moreover Meet Magento Spain aims at showcasing breakthrough Magento developments and displaying the wide range of ecommerce opportunities for Magento merchants, online businesses and agencies.

O’Reilly Fluent

Fluent is the web design conference where, every year, UX and UI developers gather and share their experiences regarding HTML5 and Node.js. They also provide insight into the future of the web. This interesting conference is expected to take place in San Francisco from 11th to 13th March, 2014.

Smashing Conference

Connect With Creative Minds At Upcoming World Class Web Design Conferences 2014

Keeping its tradition of choosing unique avenues for conferences, this time Smashing Conference is organized in Oxford Town Hall from Mar 18 to 19, 2014. Smashing will be bringing useful and informative sessions on real life projects, workflows and such practical strategies that can be deployed as soon as they are learnt.

Micro Soft Build

This conference is all about tutoring developers and programmers on enhancing user experience on millions of Microsoft devices. Micro Soft Build is taking place in San Francisco Apr 2 to Apr 4, 2014.

Web Visions

Connect With Creative Minds At Upcoming World Class Web Design Conferences 2014

Taking place in New York, from 3rd to 4th April, 2014, Web Visions is a golden opportunity to catch insight on the future of web and mobile technology. You can catch inspiration from brilliant minds at this conference and eventually triumph your paths with Web Visions.

Meta Fresh

Meta Fresh is basically a trade show like event, expected to take place in Bangalore from 12th February to 15th February, 2014. In this event we designers and web developers from around the world will get a chance to showcase their original work to the world and display the contributions they have made so far in the advancement of the Web. Theme of the event however is front end workflow processes.

In Control

An exciting web design conference where twelve world certified educators and leaders of the IT and ecommerce industry will speak to you. The speakers will share at In Control their professional schemes of handling web and mobile designs, from 17th to 19th Feb, 2014 in Orlando.

An Event Apart Atlanta

Connect With Creative Minds At Upcoming World Class Web Design Conferences 2014

This is a golden opportunity for web developers who constantly strive to get every corner of their web design right; who want to perfect the code, content and usability of their websites. 12 renowned speakers will be educating web developers in Atlanta from 17th Feb to 19th Feb, 2014…taking their web designing skills to next level.

Web Expo

This conference aims at creating a win win situation for both developers and users. At Web Expo’14 aims at harmoniously sharing some of the best practices for web development. Don’t miss out Web Expo at Prague, taking place from Apr 11th to 12th, 2014.

ConvergeSe

This web design conference will for sure entertain and inspire the attendees with tips on web design, gaming, front end workflows, mobile development and marketing techniques. Moreover, ConvergeSe is an opportunity to network with some of the brilliant minds and peers in Columbia from May 1-3, 2014.

Future of Web Design

Connect With Creative Minds At Upcoming World Class Web Design Conferences 2014

FOWD will be the place where leading web designers and developers from around the world will discuss about the latest technologies and strategies to revolutionize the web. The topics to be covered in this conference, taking place in London from 7th to 9th Apr, 2014, include zero interface, future of interaction, digital agency revolution, responsive web typography etc.

UX Immersion Mobile

Connect With Creative Minds At Upcoming World Class Web Design Conferences 2014

UX Immersion is taking place in Denver, from Apr 7 to Apr 9, 2014. The slogan of the conference this year is ‘Design for the user, not the device’. This web design conference will include sessions about workflows, design patterns, usability study and other UX related topic.

NAGW

The man who introduced the latest techniques to design for multiple screens, who coined the term “responsive web design” is coming to NAGW to speak to you. Yes you heard us right; Ethan Marcotte will be speaking to the participants on Sep 9-12, 2014 at St. Paul Minnesota, along with other inspiring speakers.

Adobe Max

Adobe Max will bring another exciting event this year where you can meet more than 5000 participants and make long lasting contacts. At Adobe Max creative minds from all around the world will help you develop skills to improve your development knowledge, techniques and strategies to come up with an epic product. So don’t miss this event hosted in Los Angeles from 4th to 8th October, 2014.

Artifact

Artifact, will be held in Austin from 5th to 7th May, 2014, aims at helping web developers and designers to cope up with ever changing mobile specs and features and solve tool adaptation’s development challenges.

Meet Magento Germany

Organizing its eighth round of conferences in Germany, Meet Magento aims at providing an opportunity to Magento designers and enthusiasts and other participants from Germany and neighboring countries to network with each other, share brilliant ideas and showcase their exuberant work, and Magento developments at Leipzig, Germany from 12th to 13th May, 2014.

Design Conference

Connect With Creative Minds At Upcoming World Class Web Design Conferences 2014

Taking place in Dubrovnik on May 19-22, 2014, Design Conference will hold informative and practical sessions about design theory and research methods. Besides that brilliant minds and enthusiasts will also be explaining about design processes, tools, education and socio-technical issues so that you develop a profound understanding of your web designs.

PHP Conference’14

If PHP developers want to improve their knowledge about understanding on not only PHP development, but also database, methodologies, web API and security then they should not miss the international PHP Conference’14, organized in Berlin from June 1-4 2014.

Future Insights

This web conference is famous for bringing inspiration and insights on the future of the web for explorers and web pioneers. Future Insight is organized in Las Vegas this year from June 16-20.

Tags: Tips

February 12 2014

14:00

Why Being a Web Designer Who Codes Is Way Cooler

Is it important that web designers need to know how to code?What are the advantages of the web designer who codes?  The term “web designer” is a subjective matter. Many believe this person is responsible for doing web layouts in Photoshop while others think of him or her as the one who does the HTML markup.

In the field of web development, there are arguments and opinions whether a web designer should know how to code or this person should just focus on his/her craft by creating quality web design layouts.

Everyone has his or her opinion about it and there are probably a million different scenarios and experiences that might make each theory or opinion true.

When I first started in web design, I really don’t know how to code. I was clueless about HTML or CSS. All I knew was to create web page layouts and align elements in Photoshop. Then one day, it hit me: I realized my curiosity had grown stronger as I had seen a lot of articles and blog posts written about how to really get into the code. I began wondering how these geek guys do these beautiful websites.

webdeisgner-vs-webdeveloper

So I jumped in front of my computer and searched for good tutorials to get started on how to code. To my disappointment, most of the articles I found only offered the basic knowledge such as how to use H1, H2, anchor tags and so on. Then one year later, I found one guy who trained me and turned me into at least a newbie web designer and the rest is history.

This is my own experience; yours might be similar or entirely different. But, admit it, what you don’t know is bound to hold you back from learning.

Yes! You heard it right. I know my statement might cause more than a few good and bad reactions. Some of you might look at me now frustrated and angry. Before you pass your judgement, I encourage you to read this and understand as I talk about why I think that web designers should learn how to code.

What’s holding web designers back in learning how to code?

Before we dig into the reasons why web designers should learn how to code, let’s check first what are the reasons why some web designers just want to focus on designing. Below are the main reasons that hinder a web designer from learning to code.

1. They enjoy graphics more than codes. Some web designers tend to focus on their artwork and illustrations and have more passion on the creative aspect of the website. They love to create stunning web layouts by choosing the right fonts, color, images and icons, but don’t want to deal with the coding aspect to make their graphics alive and real.

2. No time to spend for learning. Several web designers find it difficult to learn coding while others can’t keep up with a fast pace of development. They think that if they spend time to learn coding, they might be left behind when trending design concepts are being talked about. They believe will not be able to improve their creative skills.

3. They think it’s hard. Some web designers think that they would suck at it that’s why they became afraid to try. Learning to code is a process just like a flower takes time to bloom.

Why web designers should learn how to code

Now that we know what hinders a web designer from learning to code, let’s now jump on why a web designer should learn coding.

1. Flexible roles for each project. If a designer knows how to code, he can easily change roles with a web developer. Developers can be web designers too and if a web designer knows how to code, he can also work on the coding aspect too. Since the two can switch roles, both are making the process more flexible and efficient.

2. Fast and efficient delivery of projects. It would make a lot faster to finish a project if a web designer knows how to code it. For instance, when a web designer creates a mock-up in Photoshop, he can easily cut the images and code the markup. The web developer then can focus more on the complex issues.

3. Efficient technical communication. If a designer knows how to code, he can easily interact with the web developer and talk about codes. In that case, the designer will be able to help the developer with minor bugs and updates on the codes of the site.This will make the team more efficient, saving more time, thus, delivering the projects on time.

4. It’s not a rocket science- it can be learned. When I started learning how to code, I was thinking that I was not born for it but later, I found it exciting and enjoying. Learning to code is really not easy but it’s also not that hard. Everyone can learn it.

5. The key to the next level. When you’re learning how to code, you begin to think logically. This would lead you to learn more coding languages and techniques since you already have an experience on how to code. Eventually, you may learn the skills the web developer has.

Curiosity: Key to Learning

Based on my experience, it all started when I got curious on how to code. Being curious made me search and look for tutorials that led me to learning. I love what Walt Disney once said: “When you’re curious, you find lots of interesting things to do.” Exactly true!

The power of curiosity makes everything more enjoyable to learn. Start being curious before it’s too late.

February 11 2014

14:13

Defining Awesome Web Design: Is It only About the Visuals?

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Do looks matter always? That’s a debatable question. Historically good-looking people have always had it easy. This applies to websites too; at least it did for a while. Until, it didn’t.

While most designers focus on building websites for the sake of designing websites. The norm is to handover the completed website to businesses. Once a project is completed, it’s up to the business to figure out how to make the website work. That’s really not doing justice to businesses that pay top dollar for website design. If “awesome design” was just about visuals, website design would have been art. It isn’t.

Website design is 1/3rd art, 1/3rd science, and 1/3rd business — the demands for websites that work stretch into all the three components and that makes it really challenging to develop effective, result-oriented, and profitable websites.

Defining Awesome Web Design: Is It only About the Visuals?Image via Shutterstock

That’s not to say that looks don’t matter. Website design is still 1/3rds art and Roger Black – the guy behind the designs of Rolling Stone, Newsweek, and Esquire – does admit that websites that look great work for businesses. He shares a few rules on Web Design for Fast Company. He insists that “larger is better”, “use colors judiciously”, and “build ridiculous fast websites”. He adds that content still reigns supreme but it makes sense to feed content in little doses and finally, make it all one big positive impression.

So, why isn’t website design all about just the way it looks? What’s missing? Here’s what’s missing:

It always was, is, and will be about money

The traditional business rule goes: “if I put X money into this, how much do I earn out of it?”

So, if you were to spend $3000 on a website design, do you get to make more than that? If you had to pin point and ask this hard question after splurging on a web design, you’d either have to bite your tongue with buyers guilt or look for ways to make sure that your website works after all (which will cost you even more).

That’s why, it’s not always about the looks; it’s about business. Starting from ground up, your website has to get to work. It has to ensure that it feeds your objectives. The website you need could be to communicate brand stories, to generate leads, or for a cause. Whatever it is, your online assets (it all starts with the website) have to work.

Defining Awesome Web Design: Is It only About the Visuals?Image via Shutterstock

It’s never the same, ever.

What’s beautiful today is common, trite, and mundane tomorrow. The web design industry is full of stories that flash, crash, and burn. You’d only have to sit on the WayBackMachine and look at some of the most beautiful websites in the 90s and wonder if they’d ever work today. Now, you don’t even have to wait for a decade. A few months will do.

Sliders used to be cool; now they aren’t. Sidebars on blogs were thought of as utilitarian, now they seem to squat on precious real estate. Stock photos were a blessing then, but they look too cheesy now.

CSS3 can almost do half the job that required graphic designers earlier. DIY web design tools now exist that can spew out better looking websites than what amateur designers can ever come up with. Technology almost threatens the very existence of the web design industry.

Web design industry suffers from the “too much, too soon, too fast” syndrome and nothing that seems to work now will work tomorrow.

If it’s just about looks, website sure age fast. You’ll need a lot more than just “design skills” to exist.

Existence turned into utility. Then came UX/UI/user experience

If visuals were thought of as important, there was a long time in passing when utility was thought of as crucial. The early websites had nothing going for them when it came to visuals (really, who thought about it then? The fact that there was a website was exciting enough).

Then came the need for navigational ease, utility, and practicality. Today, all of that is already taken for granted. What most websites need to worry about is user experience and results. Further, websites also have to render across multiple devices and still do the job well.

That would make you think that things are better today. Unfortunately, it isn’t. Landing pages suck and mobile pages don’t work as well as they should.

Ruben D’Oliveira of 1stWebDesigner points to at least 20 reasons why you website sucks right now. He includes reasons such as balance; distracting backgrounds; lack of detail; white space (or the lack of it); anything that remotely resembles flash; auto playing podcasts, music, or videos; colors; and overflow.

There are a few other things that you thought were cool but can completely ruin user experience: animations; confusing navigation; too much or too little information; and images that aren’t optimized to devices.

The lack of testing culture hurts

Defining Awesome Web Design: Is It only About the Visuals?Image via Shutterstock

For businesses that pay and for designers who deliver, the lack of testing culture – you know, the feverish need to test everything that goes live on the web – sometimes hurts businesses. Sure, you’ll need an appropriate sample size to test your marketing assets such as websites, emails, and landing pages. You’ll also need to expend resources to do this on a consistent basis.

Yet, not doing testing isn’t an excuse anymore when conversions mean so much for businesses. There’s just no way to know how a page performs unless you test it.

If you don’t test, any page will perform (just not up to your expectations). Success comes with measurements, and testing websites for conversions is a great way to measure effectiveness of web design.

We do need great looking websites but we don’t need websites that look so good that they can’t deliver on business results. Businesses have nothing to do with a designers’ trophy website; they have everything to do with a website that converts.

What do you think is the worst obsession designers have about their designs? Do you think looks are all that matter when it comes to web design? Does your website look awesome or does it get you results you want or both?

Show your designs. Share what you think of them.

Tags: Tips

February 10 2014

14:00

CSS Best Practices to Follow and Bad Habits to Avoid

Creating a well-managed set of CSS codes can be a challenge. As technology evolves, it’s not really easy to say if you’re doing the right CSS practices or you’re just messing up the code and compromising the quality of your website on different browsers.

Through practice, you should be able to avoid CSS errors. So, to give you a guide on the dos and dont’s when writing CSS codes, we listed below the CSS best practices to follow as well as the bad habits to avoid. So, get ready and let’s get started.

css-best-practices-and-bad-habits-to-avoid

CSS Best Practices 

Use CSS Reset

Browser inconsistencies are one of the biggest problems of front-end development nowadays. Styles like margins, paddings, line heights, headings, font sizes and so on may look different on different browsers. The goal of a reset style sheet is to reduce browser inconsistencies by providing general styles that can be edited and extended.

One of the great examples for a reset CSS stylesheet is normalize.css, a modern HTML5 CSS reset. All you have to do is include it before your own style definitions in your HTML file under the Head section. Otherwise, these styles will override your own style definitions.

Provide Style Sheet Information

Put a Title, Author, Tags, Description, URL  information and so on on your stylesheet. This will give the user/developer a reference person to contact whenever they need support regarding your creation.

/*
Theme Name: Simple Parallax Website
Description: Simple Parallax Scrolling Effect
Author: Samuel Norton
Author URI: http://www.1stwebdesigner.com/
Tags: Parallax, Website
*/

Organize Elements on the Stylesheet from Top to Bottom

Usually for beginners, they put the elements on the stylesheet according to what they want to put first. But this is not a good practice for CSS code structure as it will give you a hard time finding CSS code elements on the stylesheet. Ordering them from inclusive styles (such as body, H1, p, a and the likes) followed by a header to a footer will make a lot of sense.

As an example consider the code structure below.


/****** General Styles *********/

body {...}
h1, h2, h3 {..}
p {...}
a {...}

/****** Header Style *********/
#header {...}

/****** Navigation Style *********/
#nav {...}

/****** Footer Style *********/
#footer {...}

Shrink CSS file size with CSS Compressors

It’s really a great idea to shrink the CSS file size as it will remove white spaces, line breaks and remove redundant CSS styles. Through this, you can help browsers to speed up the loading of your CSS codes. Using tools like CSS Compressor and CSS Compressor & Minifier can make this happen.

css-compressor

css-minifier

Group IDs and Classes That Fall under the Same Element

If you have an element that contains different IDs and classes, you might want to group them to make them look organized and easy to find so looking for errors would not take time.

As an example, you have a class container that contains a div tag that has an ID of logo and another div tag that has an ID of icons.

</pre>
<div>
<div id="logo"></div>
<div id="tagline">< /div></div>

You can group them on your CSS code like this:

.
container {width: 960px; margin: 0;  padding: 0;}.
container #logo {font-family: Arial, sans-serif;  font-size: 30px;  color: red;}.
container #tagline {font-family: Verdana; font-size: 10px;}

Use Annotations/Comments to Identify a Set of CSS

Another best practice for CSS coding is putting a comment on each group of CSS. This will make it easy for you to look for specific groups of CSS once you got in to some CSS errors.


/****** General Styles *********/

body{
	margin: 0;
	padding: 0;
	width: 100%;
}

h1, h2, h3 {
    font-family: Arial, sans-serif;
	font-weight:normal;
	font-size: 55px;
	text-align: center;
	color: #fff;
	margin: 0;
	padding: 0;
}

Structure Naming Convention

Using proper naming conventions on IDs and classes will make a lot of sense to your work. This will help your work easier and faster in case you need to add elements or redesign a website.

For instance, putting a class of title-red will not make sense when you change the color of the title so why not just put title instead. Always name your elements properly based on their use not on their properties such as what color or font size the element have.

Use Hex Code instead of Name Color

According to a performance test run by Sean Connon, Senior Web Developer at Alien Creations, Inc, hex codes seems to be just barely faster on 4/5 runs. Check out the test performance here. Therefore, we recommend using hex codes rather than name colors.

hex-vs-colorname

Use CSS Vendor Prefixed

If you are aware of the new features of CSS3, you must also know that each browser has its own specification when it comes to a specific style. That’s why browser prefixes are being used to make sure that the browser supports the specific features/style you want to use.

Many designers and developers are having an error with this simple matter because they forgot to add vendor prefixes to target specific browsers.

The CSS browser prefixes are:

  • Chrome: -webkit-
  • Firefox: -moz-
  • iOS: -webkit-
  • Opera: -o-
  • Safari: -webkit-

For instance, you want to add a CSS3 transition to your CSS code, you will just use transition property along with a vendor prefix. Check out the code below.

-webkit-transition: all 1s ease;
-moz-transition: all 1s ease;
-ms-transition: all 1s ease;
-o-transition: all 1s ease;
transition: all 1s ease;

Validate Your CSS

Using W3C free CSS Validator will let you know if your CSS code was properly structured. Another benefit of using it is it can point you the error on your stylesheet, thus, saving you more time on troubleshooting it manually.

Bad Habits to Avoid

Creating Redundant CSS

Using styles again and again for specific elements is not a good practice. It’s very important that you clean your code and remove redundant styles. For example, if you have a paragraph tag and span tag that has the same font size and color, you might just group them using a comma.

Take a look at the code below.

BAD PRACTICE

span {font-size: 12px; color: red;}
p {font-size: 12px; color: red;}

BEST PRACTICE

span, p {font-size: 12px; color: red;}

Mixing Tag Names with ID or Class Name

Adding tag name to an ID or Class Name is not a good practice since it would slow down the matching process unnecessarily.

Check out the code below.

BAD PRACTICE

p#container {color: red; font-size: 8px;}

BEST PRACTICE

#container {color: red; font-size: 8px;}

Targetting Margin and Padding Positions Separately

Using separate CSS codes to target margin or padding either on top, left, right or bottom is not a good idea. Shrinking your code and combining it in one line will make your code more readable and makes the loading of the browsers faster.

BAD PRACTICE

For example, you have a div id of container and you target all the positions’ margin separately. See the code below.

#container {
margin-top: 10px;
margin-right: 2px;
margin-left: 5px;
margin-bottom: 14px;
}

BEST PRACTICE

You can just combine all these styles in one line. Check out the code below.

#container {margin: 10px 2px 5px 14px;}

Using Underscores on ID or Class Name

Using underscores might give you unnecessary results on old browsers. It is highly recommended to use hyphens.

Take a look at the example below.

BAD PRACTICE

.
left_col {margin: 0; padding: 0;}

BEST PRACTICE

.
left-col {margin: 0; padding: 0;}

Final Words

Throughout this article, I provided you some tricks and guidelines on how to write a better CSS code and what mistakes to avoid. Keeping these rules while you’re coding will help you implement clean codes and prevent you from having errors in the future. Make sure you validate your CSS code using W3C CSS Validator for a quality and error-free CSS code.

07:30

February 07 2014

14:00

15 Smartphone Apps You Should Have

With smartphones now enabling more mobile Internet accessibility, you are given limitless opportunities- and smartphone apps you should have on your smartphone. The mobilization of the Internet access has provided people with unlimited opportunities.

Imagine these scenarios: You’re in café and you suddenly wanted to check an e-mail? Pick your iPad or tablet PC, and voila, you could read what the e-mail is. You’re on a bus trip to the other side of the States and your best friend told you to check out his new Facebook photo. You pick your iOS7 phone and start browsing. You want to tweet in a conference, your Android phone is yours for the taking. With a readily available Internet connection, it has become easier to browse the Web.

Live View (iOS) – A great graphic designing and prototyping tool that allows a remote screen view.

IOS-APPS-for-designers-01
What the Font (iOS)  – Want to know what font your favorite brand is using? Take a picture of it and let this tool do the magic.

IOS-APPS-for-designers-02
Palletes (iOS)  – Create charming color schemes anywhere, anytime. You can also determine the color of a particular image and use it on your website. Just open the app,  pick a color from a photo or website that you like and add it to your color palettes for future use.

IOS-APPS-for-designers-04IOS-APPS-for-designers-03
HTTP Status Codes Free  (iOS) – Troubleshoot your webpages by identifying the HTTP error codes.

IOS-APPS-for-designers-06IOS-APPS-for-designers-05

Coffee Script at Once (iOS)  – Develop HTML, CSS and JS languages using your phone or tablet.

IOS-APPS-for-designers-10 IOS-APPS-for-designers-11
Free WiFi Finder (iOS)  – Use it to locate WiFi hotspots closer to you. Great for outdoor browsing!

IOS-APPS-for-designers-08IOS-APPS-for-designers-07
iFreelancer (iOS)– Are you a freelancer? This app will help you search, save and apply for freelancing opportunities out there!

IOS-APPS-for-designers-09
HTML5 & CSS Quick Look Guide (Android) – This will provide you with the basic training you need in CSS and HTML5!

android-apps-for-web-deisngers02 android-apps-for-web-deisngers01
920 Text Editor (Android) – Want a text editor that is e-reader enabled, multilingual, particularly easy to use? 920 Text Editor is the one for you. You’ll never know when that coding itch bugs you.

android-apps-for-web-deisngers03
Sketcher (Android) – Do your page layout or simple graphics anytime, anywhere. With Sketcher now saved on your phone’s memory, you will easily sleep at night and not worry if the computer has a virus or something. And, you can sketch all you want!

android-apps-for-web-deisngers10

WordPress for Android (Android) – Love WordPress? This is the best app for you. You can blog anytime or anywhere. Perfect for travel bloggers!

android-apps-for-web-deisngers06
VT View Source  (Android) –  A fully functional app, compatible with all browsers, that allows you to view the underlying HTML code of the website

android-apps-for-web-deisngers11
Magic Color Picker (Android) – Sometimes we are too engrossed in designing and we find it necessary to look for the color hexes of things. This one is made to do it. So in case you want to know what kind of orange does an orange have, this one is perfect.

android-apps-for-web-deisngers07 android-apps-for-web-deisngers08
Fontroid (Android) – So, I heard you like fonts? Maybe you’ll want to make one right? Try this!

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Adobe Photoshop Express (Android) – Edit photos wherever you are using your mobile phone. Experience the power of Adobe Photoshop right at your fingertips. Editing your selfies has never been better with this app!

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Conclusion

With all these apps available over the Internet, I’m pretty sure web designers can never be happier. It’s possible that, someday, we’ll even be able to actually design a website using our mobile devices. And that is not a far shot. But for now, let’s indulge ourselves with these. Easy to access, mobile and equally powerful applications that will make our good lives, better.

February 04 2014

14:10

How to Improve Your Web Design Workflow

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Everyone aims for a high rate of productivity, especially when it comes to web design. In reality, however, projects tend to take a lot longer than you at first planned thanks to unexpected coding issues and poorly set up workspaces (not to mention changing customer demands). While you can’t predict what whims of fancy your client may follow, you can make the most of your time and earn more money, and faster, by improving your web design workflow. Using these few simple tips you may find some of them actually take longer to learn at the outset, but once you have a handle on them you’ll see your progress increase dramatically. Practice makes productive.

Invest in New Skills

Again, developing new talents and learning new skills will initially slow you down as you navigate foreign software or practice currently unnatural methods, but once you’ve nailed the new technique your output should increase exponentially. Think about where your talents lag; are you terrible at planning or outlining? Do you stick with one type of program because it’s easier even if it’s not the best one? Do you try and make every element unique when you could streamline with an organized folder of tools or icons? Think about where you can improve, and work to do it.

How to Improve Your Web Design WorkflowImage by Taly Emmanuela

Plan Ahead

Easily the most important part of any web design project is planning. Diving into the process can be invigorating, but it may also take twice as long to finish as you lose sight of the end goal in favor of playing around with a few separate ideas. Before you even open your laptop make sure you’ve done the following: defined success, defined the content, defined the features, defined the ideal customer, done the research and organized and prioritized the layout. Now you not only know where to start, you know where to be every step of the way.

Customize Your Workspace and Tools

It should go without saying that having an organized workspace customized to your needs will help speed up your progress on every piece of design you make, but plenty of people still don’t bother. Programs like Photoshop come with basic templates, but it’s a few minutes work to adapt these to individual needs based on a single project or an ongoing or repeating one. Take a few minutes or an hour to create tool palettes, folders and panels so they have everything you need in an easy to find location. While this may only reduce your work time by a few minutes each day, those minutes add up to hours in a week surprisingly quickly.

How to Improve Your Web Design WorkflowImage by SoftFacade

Learn or Make Shortcuts

Most programs have built in shortcuts, and if you’re not using them you’re missing out a fantastic way to increase productivity. Again, this may seem like arguing over a few second or minutes of extra work, but they add up. Plus, once you have a rhythm when working, using keyboard shortcuts can allow a smooth experience from start to finish, while constantly stopping to click or use a mouse may jar you out of your routine. If there isn’t a shortcut already available, try and make one for any process you use repeatedly.

How to Improve Your Web Design WorkflowImage by SoftFacade

While there are tons of more specific tips and tricks for increasing productivity with regards to web design depending on the task at hand, including using pre-made graphics or templates, these beginner’s steps are often overlooked as unnecessary to even the best designers. Don’t forget the basics when looking for ways to speed up your work. You may find the best solutions are the ones you learned first in school (or never bothered to if you’re self-taught).

January 30 2014

16:19

How to Find the Best Design Deals on the Web

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Internet commerce is emerging very quickly and helps people to save more money. According to eMarketer eCommerce sales will grow from $225.5 billion in 2012 to $434.billion in 2017. As most of the products being sold online are digital it’s very easy to get decent discounts and save up some cash. In this article I’ll share some of the hacks for getting best design deals on the Web.

Cheap domain names

Every website, would it be a blog, shop, app page or social network needs a domain name. The so called “dot com boom” is bigger than ever but the problem is that most of the best .com names are taken and if you want to re-buy them from owners for you or your startup it can cost from $100 to $1 million (fb.com domain name was sold for $8.5 million).

Use Domai.nr to hack domain name and see which ones are available.
Get a cheap .co domain name which is getting more and more accepted by the world as .com domains are taken.

Check for discount codes for GoDaddy and you’ll get a domain for as little as $0.99/year.
You’ll surely need a hosting to host your website so check for hosting that offers free domain name. To name a few: Bluehost, WPWebhost, Squarespace.

Join an affiliate program of GoDaddy or alternative company to get special discounts and use them for yourself or your clients.

Join programs for startups

As startups are getting more popular globally there are many websites providing special discounts or even free products and services for startups. To apply for these programs you might have to buy a domain or prove that you are working in a startup area.

F6S Deals

How to Find the Best Design Deals on the Web

Rewardli

How to Find the Best Design Deals on the Web

Go.CO

How to Find the Best Design Deals on the Web

Special design deals for designers & developers

There are numerous of deal websites specifically created for designers and developers. Get new software, design templates, learning resources and tons of design resources like brushes, fonts, mockups, textures, stock photos and more. Prices vary from as little as $1 to $97 but the value you get is amazing time and money saver in the long run.

BundleHunt

How to Find the Best Design Deals on the Web

Software, tools and design resources.

Dealotto

How to Find the Best Design Deals on the Web

Get discounted software, learning materials and design resources with a chance to win everything for free.

My Design Deals

How to Find the Best Design Deals on the Web

Generally design resources including fonts, textures, stock photos and ready to use templates.

Mighty Deals

How to Find the Best Design Deals on the Web

Courses, ebooks, design resources, software and templates.

Design TNT

How to Find the Best Design Deals on the Web

Design resources including vector graphics, templates, Photoshop brushes and tutorials.

InkyDeals

How to Find the Best Design Deals on the Web

Templates, ebooks and design resources like mockups, vector graphics and icons.

DealFuel

How to Find the Best Design Deals on the Web

Design resources, WordPress theme, software and learning materials.

Design Cuts

How to Find the Best Design Deals on the Web

Design resources including textures, fonts, templates, mockups, icons and more.

Summary

As you can see now, it is possible to save a lot of money up to 95% of the price if you spend some time for research. Hopefully these resources listed here will help you save time and money working on your projects whether for yourself or your clients. Happy shopping.

Tags: Tips

January 28 2014

15:29

Top Gadgets for Designers

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Designers are very creative people and always strive for unique experiences, services and products that deliver high quality and remarkable experience. There are dozens of gadgets available in the world but only the best ones end up on the desks or pockets of creatives.

I have collected some top-notch gadgets that are delivering extreme quality, solving problems, entertaining you and simply making your more efficient. Check out these outstanding gadgets for yourself or get one for your friend or colleague.

Draw iPhone Case & Stand

Top Gadgets for Designers

Classy looking leather case for your iPhone from Hard Graft. This iPhone case also transforms into the perfect stand so you can use your iPhone as a bedside alarm clock, music or movie player.

Wellograph

Top Gadgets for Designers

Wellograph is an extremely beautifully designed activity tracker, a heart rate monitor and a running watch in one that delivers live, insightful information about the wearer’s activity through simple infographic interface.

Coin

Top Gadgets for Designers

Coin simplifies your life by solving a very common problem – bulky wallet filled with too many credit cards. Using Coin you’ll be able to put all your cards into one.

Canon Lens Mug

Top Gadgets for Designers

Most of designers like photography and coffee. This creative cup design is a 1:1 simulation to the Canon Lens. When you get this creative cup, you will love it so much.

Intuos Pro

Top Gadgets for Designers

Intuos Pro Large Professional Pen Tablet is a top-clas “toy” for any digital designer. This innovative pen tablet combines Wacom’s finest pen capabilities with intuitive multi-touch gestures and much more.

Nexus 7

Top Gadgets for Designers

Mobile devices are getting better, faster and more powerful. Nexus 7 tablet is a very powerful tablet which allows you to enjoy full HD movies, read books or even design.

Beloit 12 Speakers

Top Gadgets for Designers

Beloit 12 Speakers from Bang & Olufsen is wireless and portable music system for your digital devices. Timeless design and amazing features.

Pebble Smartwatch

Top Gadgets for Designers

Wearable tech is one of these words you are hearing more often these days. Pebble smartwatch is one of the most popular gadgets with smart apps, personal customization and more.

Transporter Sync Private Cloud

Top Gadgets for Designers

Your very own private cloud. Just like Dropbox but 100%. Automatically sync all the files you choose between your computers.

Fitbit

Top Gadgets for Designers

Flex wireless activity & sleep wristband is another great gadget that will improve the quality of your life. Designers tend to work a lot in front of a computer what is not very healthy. Fitbit will help you exercise by making it a gamified process.

Cable Fondler

Top Gadgets for Designers

Very simple and beautiful solution for managing your cables easily and effectively. Keep the cables you want on your desk at all times. Suits many common cable types.

iPad Air

Top Gadgets for Designers

Apple iPad Air is one of the most advanced tablets in the world. Extremely powerful entertainment and work gadget with and ability to extend its features by millions of apps.

Digital stylus for Paper iPad app

Top Gadgets for Designers

Elegant digital stylus pen with a natural look exclusively designed for an award-winning iPad App Paper will give you freedom for expressing yourself on digital screens. Compatible with other tablets too.

iBamboo

Top Gadgets for Designers

iBamboo is an electricity-free speaker made from a single piece of bamboo. The natural resonance of the bamboo amplifies the sound produced by the built-in speaker in the iPhone 4/4S and the iPhone 5.

Slate Mobile AirDesk

Top Gadgets for Designers

Slate Mobile AirDesk is cut from a block of pure, premium bamboo. Simply create your portable work desk by putting a laptop, mouse, mobile phone or tablet on this ultra lightweight, super strong desk.

Tags: Tips design

January 22 2014

16:14

Not Using CSS Preprocessors? You Should Be.

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CSS was both a wonderful innovation and a missed opportunity. Being able to separate the form and the content of a webpage massively improves the process of web design. But, CSS has a number of limitations. As anyone who has ever written CSS knows, for all but the most simple of sites, the CSS can become a tangled mess of repetitions, overrides of previous CSS, and overrides of overrides. CSS does not conform to coding best practices, and its simplicity steps over the line from simple to simplistic, frequently hindering the design and development process.

Thankfully, CSS preprocessors provide us many of the features that would ideally have been included in CSS from the beginning. There are a number of different CSS preprocessors, with the most popular being SASS and LESS. There are significant differences between the two, but rather than looking closely at particular preprocessors, we’re going to have a look at how CSS preprocessors in general can change the way you think about writing CSS.

Not Using CSS Preprocessors? You Should Be.Image by Naiara Abaroa

What Is A CSS Preprocessor?

Put simply, CSS preprocessor languages are more feature-rich than CSS alone and can be processed into CSS that works as normal.

As the name suggests, CSS preprocessors take a text file, process it, and output correct CSS. Exactly what that text file contains depends on the individual preprocessor, but both SASS and LESS are a superset of CSS. They include everything already in the CSS specification plus additional features. A major benefit of which is that if you know CSS, you can already write valid LESS and SASS, and just need to learn a few extra tricks.

Variables, Mixins, and Functions

CSS does not include variables. Anyone familiar with coding understands how useful variables can be. Variables allow web developers to assign a value to a name, which can then be used throughout the stylesheet. If you need to change the value, you only have to change it in one place, rather than hunting through all of the CSS files for every instance.

Not Using CSS Preprocessors? You Should Be.Image by Chris Michel

Mixins are slightly more complex. They allow for the properties of a class to be embedded in another class, which can then be used throughout the stylesheet, in much the same way as a variable. Functions are much as you would expect to find in any other programming language, although with some limitations.

It Will Make Your CSS DRY

“Don’t Repeat Yourself” is one of the foundational best practices of modern coding. With CSS alone it’s almost impossible to adhere to, but with SASS, LESS and the others, variables, mixins, and functions allow developers to write their styles in one place, and use them throughout their stylesheets.

CSS Preprocessors Will Save You Time

Not Using CSS Preprocessors? You Should Be.Image by Mario Bieh

All of the inefficiencies in the way CSS is written and maintained take up a lot of developer time. Using a CSS preprocessor drastically simplifies the task of writing readable, maintainable CSS, which means developers and designers have more time to work on the really important stuff, like making the site look good.

If you’ve been avoiding CSS preprocessors, perhaps it’s time you gave them a look. They will save you time and they are very easy to learn for anyone already familiar with CSS.

Tags: Tips Tools

January 10 2014

14:00

10 Things Web Designers Should Know to Become a Master

It is truly a nice feeling to be called a ‘Master’ at something. It gives value to your name, talent and  skills. In addition to that, people will begin respecting you because of what you know about the field that you are an expert in. Truly, being called a master adds weight to your name, but there is more to value than just the name. What things web designers should know is vital here.

As a master, you are afforded the respect you want because of WHAT YOU KNOW. No one is ever called a master without superior knowledge and experience in the field he is a master in. He should be knowledgeable, well-versed and well-bruised in battle.

It is in that sense that we have compiled this list of things a master should know. Now for those budding web designers out there, here’s your chance to guide yourself towards achieving the master status. At the very least, because of this list, you will know where to go and which path to take. Meanwhile, for experienced web designers, this is your chance to assess yourself and ask, “Am I really a master?” So without much ado, let’s start the list.

A Master Should Know What the Web is and How It Works

Url address

Photo from Motherboard.vice.com

The Web is the primary reason why you are a web designer. In fact, it is the main explanation why there is a web designing profession in the first place. Without the Web, you have nothing to stand, develop and do. The whole existence of your work lies in the existence of this vast collection of data. Without it, you’re nothing.

That is why, as a master web designer, you should understand how the Web works. He needs to know how it moves and changes, where it came from and where will it go. For it is only through this understanding that you will learn and predict how the trends will go in the future. Mastering what the changes to the Web are each year will at least give you a hint where will it go.

Master this and you will find the world of web design easier to navigate.

Amylove32 of WikiAnswers gives a very good point:

A designer needs to understand the Web from an accessibility standpoint. The designer needs to know what needs to be implemented and design accordingly to enable various accessibility features for things such as screen readers and text to speech software. A designer wouldn’t want to design an entire site in Flash for a website whose audience is the blind folks, because Flash is not that readily accessible by various software. Granted, there are ways to make Flash accessible with smaller Flash components embedded into an already existing website, but it’s not really possible to do so when the entire site is in a Flash file. A designer also needs to understand how the web works in regards to advertising, where appropriate, so that they will understand where it is appropriate and where it is best to put one. Also, it will help with determining how to design space for ads when you know how it will work on the Web through rotation, sizing, popups, or other various methods for ads. Also, when a designer understands much more past the face value of a website (the design), it can open up a whole new set of creative ideas to implement into the website. A designer would have base knowledge of what is possible in terms of design vs.programming.

Now if you’re wondering where to learn how the Web works? Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered. Just click and read the following links:

A Master Web Designer Should Learn HTML by Heart

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Photo from pubpages.unh.edu

Despite the continuing debate on whether web designers should learn how to code, I still believe that web designers need to learn basic HTML at the very least.

HTML is the framework of all web pages. It is the basic language a web designer should learn. Learning HTML will allow you to understand basic web page elements and make you design with more usability and purpose. Knowing that this particular HTML element can make the following design will help you reach places!

Imagine the comfort when you know the basic codes:

  • You will be empowered to do a lot of things you haven’t done before, thus, improving your productivity.
  • You can easily handcraft demo websites that you yourself designed.
  • You will understand the limitations and scope of your design, making you more knowledgeable of the things that you could put or remove from your designs
  • You have an edge over other designers who just know designing.

Here’s what you should read:

A Master Web Designer Should Know the Design Process

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Photo from hayneedle.com

Web designing also encompasses a little bit of graphic design. With these design schools being very close cousins, a master web designer should also learn the basics of the designing process.

There are basic things you need to know about the design process. As a designer you should understand the following core elements

  • Spacing – It is the distance of each element to another. A good website is well spaced. The spacing should be wide enough for the elements to ‘breath’ and narrow enough to facilitate easy reading and appreciation.

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Photo from shutterfly.com

Regarding this, you could read:

Proportion and Balance –This refers to visual equilibrium, our physical homeostasis. A balanced design, though difficult to master, suggests visual stability. Often achieved in two ways, symmetrically and asymmetrically, proportion can be applied in a web design to highlight elements that are deemed to be important, thus, improving the flow of information. Knowing how to facilitate and control the proportions will help the reader in understanding your website content easily.

master-web-designer-03b

photo from www.gatlineducation.com

For further reading, try these:

Color – Colors are essential elements in web design. It determines the theme or the motif of the whole website. Applying the perfect color will allow your user to relate a certain need or usage to your website. It also helps in the psychological aspect of web design, where a designer uses the colors to influence the website visitor.

master-web-designer-03c

Photo from www.gamblincolors.com

For further reading, try these:

Flow – Refers to the visual movement that guides the viewer through the piece. Flow refers to the correct usage of lines, shapes, colors, depth and hierarchy to achieve a process while viewing the masterpiece. It may sound simple, but flow is very difficult to achieve and could be detrimental or beneficial to the design. As a designer, you can use a lot of tools to ensure correct flow: arrows, facial directions, spacing and perspective.

master-web-designer-03d

Photo from episcopalart

For further reading, look at:

Understanding these graphic design-related stuff will lead you to full awareness of the functions of each graphical element of your design. This will help you facilitate information, attract attention and sustain the number of viewers in your work of art.

In Times of Great Difficulty, a Master Web Designer Must Know Where to Look and What to Do

Let’s admit it, it’s pretty rare that any of our works smoothly run without any bugs during our first tests. Believe it or not, only a few web designers get it with just one try. To cut the story short, a master web designer knows troubleshooting. He knows where to look when something doesn’t work. He knows what to do with basic errors and mistakes other designers commit. Be it in the code, with the design itself or with the logistics of how it’s done, a master web designer knows the solution for almost every problem he encounters.

master-web-designer-03

Photo from Pace.edu

But all these never came in one day. Over time, a master designer developed great skills and patience with web designing. He becomes aware and used to the daily potholes of life and knows how to avoid them. So, when your code doesn’t work, try to troubleshoot it first so that you learn.

For further readings, visit:

A Master Web Designer Should Type Well

master-web-designer-4

Photo from Monsters23

Yes, you read this one right. If you can type really fast, you could save a lot of time and effort because you will be able to encode easily. This makes typing a master skill you should learn. You need not be fast like lightning; you just need to be as accurate as you can be. Imagine having to write codes faster, giving you more time to write other projects and troubleshoot them.

A Master Web Designer Should Know How to Write

master-web-designer-05

Photo from www.g2msolutions.com.au

Writing is one of the more undermined skills developed by web designers. It is completely understandable because it is hardly used by many. However, if used properly, it can attract more clients and ensure a lasting and good-ending client-to-designer relationship. Also, it could improve your branding. Copywriting becomes a must-have skill, especially for those starters who want to kick-start their freelancing careers. They can easily sell their services through a well-crafted statement or email.

For further reading, try

A Master Web Designer Should Have Knowledge about SEO

master-web-designer-06

Photo from JRSwab.com

Search Engine Optimization is a key element in web designing. Mastering SEO will be advantageous to your website because you will be able to attract more visitors if your website appears in search engines. More traffic equals more people communicating equals more people being affected by the content and could mean more earnings.

To learn SEO, try reading these:

A Master Web Designer Should Have Business Sensibilities

master-web-designer-07

Photo from www.pubcentral.com

If you take web design seriously, that would only mean that you need to be paid for it. Yes, you might be working under a company or all by your freelance-self. Either way, you should have business sense. Knowing how a business works will benefit you, for sure. You know when to make decisions, which decisions to make and which risks to take. This will give you independence with your project because you will be fully aware of the consequences present in your line of work. Having business sense will also teach you marketing, advertising and public relations, the tools you will surely need to increase your income!

A Master Web Designer Should Know How to Listen

master-web-designer-08

Photo from customersrock.wordpress.com

You work with clients. Some of those are very stubborn and can cause you a thousand facepalms. Some are so timid to the point where you can’t talk to them. Some are just okay. (And those ‘just okay’ ones don’t come often)

So you want to earn money from your clients? Well, I have a simple secret. It’s LISTENING. Yes, you just need to listen to them. They want something changed in the design? Listen to them first, and humbly suggest input. They want you to do something you think is stupid? Ask them for the rationale first and then you tell them how you really feel.

See? The simplest thing you would ever do is listen. Remember, people want to talk. We all want to be heard, but nobody loves listening. If you, as a web designer, listen carefully to your client, then you’ll teach him to value you more than just an employee. He might even give you bonuses, we can’t tell!

For further reading:

A Master Web Designer Should Always Learn

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Photo from www.home-school.com

Last year, flat design just came out of nowhere. We are all keeping up with the trend. But what if we stopped studying? Well, for one thing, we won’t have much flat design web designs today. You see, with web designing being inclined in technology, which is ever changing and changing fast so we need to adapt. Learning is forever in web design. If you stop now, you stop forever. So continue learning from tutorials, inspiration sites and of course, 1webdesigner!

For further reading, try on:

Conclusion

Being a master web designer is never easy. It never was and it will never be. But that doesn’t mean you’ll never dream of becoming one. You could be a master. Yes, you will be. That is after you acquire a lot of knowledge and experience. With patience and proper guidance from 1stwebdesigner.com, you’ll surely have no problem with that!

January 09 2014

14:44

Should a Web Designer Know How to Code?

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I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it. – Pablo Picasso.

Absolutely – building websites with at least some knowledge of HTML is far more productive than simply drawing them with Photoshop. While web-designers who know how to code still often end up sending their PSDs to the “real” developers, the truth is that most award-winning websites are designed by code-savvy web designers. You wonder why?

It’s because both HTML and CSS are very visual languages in themselves. Also, websites become increasingly interactive. User interactions though are very difficult to foresee using only Photoshop. Whereas having code in mind always helps creating designs that have interactions in mind.

Let alone cash. If you are a freelance designer such as I previously was, knowing how to code will definitely broaden your range of customers as you will become a one-stop-shop (trust me, learning how to design takes a developer much longer than vice versa). And if you are a corporate designer such as I currently am (working at ImpressPages, a user-friendly content management system), knowing at least the basics of coding will help you deliver designs that are both interaction-oriented and easier to work with as they subconsciously take developers into account. Simply speaking, you earn karma points that often translate into a better pay.

As New Year’s resolution time is looming, learning how to code could be just the right one :)

Is it difficult?

Contrary to the popular belief, learning how to code is very easy at the beginning, even to an extent where it becomes addictive. However, if you’re not getting addicted at the beginning or if you don’t like self-learning, most possibly programming isn’t something you should pursue…
However, if you’re already into web design, odds are that programming is for you.

Should you pick a programming language?

At first, you should decide what you want to do. In you are into web solutions, HTML5 and PHP are the most popular languages in this area. However, it becomes increasingly popular to hire developers regardless of the programming languages they are good at. Great developers always play with new technologies once they come out. Most importantly, if someone’s good at one language, they can learn new ones very fast. So you shouldn’t stick to a particular language, yet play with ones that are related to web technologies.

Also, odds are that there are plenty of web developers working (or even living) around web designers. Take one for a beer! He’ll be more than happy to tell you what languages are worth playing with in your environment and what is important to keep in mind. Let alone he’ll tell you why he would love seeing you knowing how to code.

Where should you start?

There are plenty of useful online resources that teach the basics of web development. Sadly though, there’s no single tutorial that is good for everyone at once. I have selected a couple of websites that I have been using during my pursuit of becoming familiar with coding.

Dash

Should a web designer know how to code?

Dash teaches HTML, CSS, and Javascript through fun projects you can do in your browser. The good thing about Dash is that is teaches the basics trough real-life scenarios, such as “Anna’s friend Jeff needing a custom theme for his poetry blog”. The code is written in the browser and the lessons are leved-based. Is indeed is a fun way to learn the basics for a web designer, sadly however, only four projects (lessons) are available.

Codeacademy

Should a web designer know how to code?

Codeacademy is also great when it comes to the basics of web design. It also offers interactive lessons and it has more programming languages on the table than Dash. Codeacademy starts with HTML and CSS lessons (they call them Fundamentals), which is truly the right selection for the beginners. After the Fundamentals are completed, you can choose to learn jQuery, JavaScript, PHP, Python or Ruby.

I also like Codeacademy because of two separate parts it has while teaching coding: theory and practice which is devided into web projects or APIs. This means it works both for complete newbies and for ones that want to go dig deeper.

Treehouse

Should a web designer know how to code?

While Treehouse is paid, this learning platform has a huge selection of both programming languages and systems (such as development tools or design) to choose from. Treehouse also features videos. It also has Tracks – different goals that you may set for your lessons such as Becoming a Web Developer, Becoming a Web Designer or Learning HTML and CSS. It is very useful if you’ve got a spare buck.

W3schools

This set of tutorials is a very popular one. w3schools features both tutorials and references – the latter are often being explored even by experienced web developers. The website features lessons for popular languages and technologies such as HTML, CSS, JavaScript, SQL, PHP and jQuery. It also teaches servers, databases and other vital stuff, it has more than a thousand of code examples. It’s free. While Dash is somewhat better for newbies, W3S is very handy even for the professionals.

LEARN JS

While JavaScript is somewhat advanced and I would not recommend it for you as the first technology to learn, it is very good to learn if you want to work on making web plugins or mobile apps. This is very much in demand right now, so it’s a handy programming language to know.

Learn-js.com is your first port of call should you decide to go JavaScript. It features an interactive board that allows to try the code you just wrote. The lessons are both basic and advanced.

What else?

Every developer knows stackoverflow that has millions of questions and a similar amount of answers, plus a vibrant community. It has saved billions of man-hours and it will definitely save some of your time.

Speaking of communities, Mozilla also has a great one with lessons and tutorials widely available.

And of course, you should check net tut+ with thousands of tutorials for most of issues and challenges beginners may come across.

Tags: Tips

December 31 2013

18:42

How to Walk On the Road Towards Web Design Excellence

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You could be a newbie in web design or you could be a veteran. Either way, it’s an exciting time to be in the web design business.

As the Internet reach spreads across the world, the wheels of entrepreneurship take traction on the web. The Internet, as a medium, has a lot to offer entrepreneurs who decide to embrace the web. Today, the demands on web designers are not just technical skills as the days of putting together HTML code with CSS tied in are long gone. Designers are stepping into the toes of developers. That super combination of skill has to align with marketing and business.

It’s almost foolish to think that a basic skillset of HTML5, CSS3, PHP, MySQL, JavaScript and jQuery can fill in for the industry’s demands that are more aligned towards business results with an equal emphasis on utility, aesthetics, and on design that really works.

How to Walk On the Road Towards Web Design ExcellenceImage by Kyle Gallant

Here’s how to walk on the road that leads to web design excellence:

Measure up

Are you a good designer or a great one? Rob Bowen asks that question on Myinkblog.com and that’s a good starting point for designers. Good designers know basics of web design and can do a job “well enough”. If they were to be rated on a typical corporate-style rating on performance, you’d give them a “met expectations” rating. Great web designers might get the “exceptional, and went beyond the call of duty”.

How does a designer go from good to great? For great web designers, the pursuit of knowledge is never ending. The itch to apply design principles that far exceed business objectives is habitual. Great designers always dig deeper into the complexities of web design. They try new things. They aren’t afraid of making mistakes. They put in the hours. They take up challenging work.

How to Walk On the Road Towards Web Design ExcellenceImage by Sean McCabe

“Learning” must be on your “to-do” list

As the web evolves, so will the technology driving it. With an industry like web design or development, it’s a never-ending call for change. With change comes the need to learn, adapt, and apply. It’s easy to get stuck in the rut of finding projects, delivering before deadlines, chasing invoices, and collaborating with clients or with teams.

The deeper you get into the maze of business management, the farther you get away from “keeping up with the changes”. It’s not even hard to find courses and lessons on skills – from mundane to technical aspects; from business side of web design to inspiration.

Excellence doesn’t come with routine work. It comes from the sides. It seeps in from the extra hours you spend learning in a day.

Set trends and lead

If you haven’t done anything new yet, you haven’t done anything at all.

As long as you stick to basic principles of web design and your designs are in sync with user experience, utility, and practicality, you have the license to try anything.

If you can, then why stick to the norm?

If success comes to those who dare, when was the last time you deviated from the norm and did something new? Even if it were ridiculous, it’d still work for your publicity, wouldn’t it?

Avoid being a slave to what’s out there. Instead, try something new. If it works, you’ve set a new trend.

Collaborate and grow

You can’t succeed alone. You’d only know so much at any given point of time. Collaborating with others gives you juicy insights. It also helps you leverage your work, share your learning, get more business, network better, and learn faster. With others in your immediate ecosystem, you have to constantly push yourself to do better. If you aren’t exhausted or dead yet, you’d emerge successful.

If you have a team, you can collaborate with them to grow faster and leverage your business. If you are networking with fellow designers, you’ll learn a lot and gain inspiration. If you are collaborating with designers more experienced and established than you are, you can find mentors.

Collaboration works. There’s history to prove its efficacy.

How to Walk On the Road Towards Web Design ExcellenceImage by Trent Walton

Challenge yourself, for the fun of it

We won’t suggest pushing yourself until you break. We’d, however, implore you to challenge yourself nonetheless. Use technology, experiment with grids, explore different palettes, and try to design to tell a story (great brands are great storytellers, right?). If you’ve never used the good old pen and paper, start your workflow with that. If you have an iPad, use touch apps to begin your workflow. Take multiple approaches to a single idea. Work on different ideas and don’t settle for one.

There’s power in having options – whether you are showcasing them to a client for approval or working for yourself. Learn what you don’t know yet.

Move into more domains, just for the sake of it

Everything changes, so will web design. We already have responsive design as a major trend. Mobile is everywhere. New technologies emerge and older technologies will see the grave sooner or later.

As for most things in life, you need a diversification strategy inbuilt into your path for web design excellence. Strive to reach out to other domains. If you’ve only designed websites, embrace responsive design. If you just design for now, get into programming and code. Attempt graphic design, content development, copywriting, and marketing in general. Open that window to learn how to make videos or podcasts.

If none of this seems exciting enough for you, get into data analytics, application development, mobile apps, and even building new operating systems.
If you are business-inclined, develop new web-based apps. You see where we are going with this?

Diversify, and then diversify some more.

How to Walk On the Road Towards Web Design ExcellenceImage by Creativedash

Gain inspiration, from everywhere

We are boxed into thinking that we can gain inspiration from a running display at sites like Dribbble and Behance.

They are certainly great places to start but inspiration from design can come from anywhere. Does the coke bottle look inspiring enough to design a car? Ferrari’s design seems to match the outline of the bottle, anyway. Did you know that Aria “Swanwing” is inspired by a woman’s body?

Your inspiration could come from everything around you. That includes animals, cars, other objects that most people don’t even give much thought.

Well, most people aren’t designers, are they? Fill your mind up with so much inspiration that ideas come to you by the dozen.

How inspired are you? What do want to make of your career in web design? What are the steps you are taking to get ahead and make a mark for yourself?

Tags: Tips

December 26 2013

18:47

The Benefits & Drawbacks to CSS Resets

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CSS is a well-known language used for styling a website layout and various elements on the page. The specifications have evolved throughout CSS2 and into CSS3, creating a much simpler development process. Resets are used to clear out default browser settings so that each project will be rendered with the same baseline interface.

css code resets paper featured photo

However these resets will sometimes create problems you never thought about. Removing default properties like padding and borders may lead to adverse effects on input fields and other similar page items. In this article I want to share my own perceptions about the benefits and drawbacks of creating web projects with CSS resets.

Why Reset?

The primary goal of resetting elements is to remove discrepancies between different web browsers. Font sizes and line heights are two great examples which tend to differ between browsers and Operating Systems. You will save time debugging and it grants you more control to manipulate the standard HTML elements.

With absolutely no margins or padding you will have elements stacked right up against each other. This means you’ll also be required to define your own values, but I see this as a higher form of control over the layout(rather than a nuisance).

Simply stated, I get more value out of resetting the document than not. So this is my particular reasoning for sticking with it. Plus I get to learn first-hand about browser bugs and how to fix them accurately. Resets can be a blessing or a curse, and sometimes both. But in my opinion they are worth the effort when you’re consistently building new web projects from scratch.

Why Ignore Resets?

I’d say the first reason to ignore CSS resets would be larger file sizes. Granted the modern web can handle large bandwidth limits so this really shouldn’t be a deterrent. CSS resets can range anywhere from 1-10KB extra into your stylesheet. I feel it’s worthwhile because you now have a tightly-knit page that should appear identical in almost every browser.

Another reason not to use CSS resets would be the obfuscated design of generic page elements. By removing all the standard properties you are left with a very basic starting point. Some developers thrive in this simplicity, while others would rather keep everything in its natural state.

If you prefer a homogeneous design without stripping out the basic CSS properties I would recommend a more detailed framework such as Normalize or Twitter Bootstrap. Normalize is meant to be a reset which provides simple formatting instead of bare bones whitespace – Bootstrap takes this to another level with predefined CSS classes and JS components.

bootstrap v3 library getting started page

I want to state that using any simple browser unification CSS will save you a lot of development time. If you’re hesitant just try out samples on a new web project to see how it works. Bootstrap is perfect for beginners and comes with some easy-to-read documentation. Once you have a framework that you enjoy using it gradually becomes apart of your daily workflow.

Sample CSS Codes

There are so many libraries to mention for CSS resets. If you’re nervous to get started I must highly recommend Twitter Bootstrap – even though it isn’t a true reset library you can learn more about the benefits of consistent page elements.

Many developers will create their own CSS resets built from a template of existing code snippets. I created my own resets from Eric Meyer’s sample and have been updating the snippet every-so-often. If you want something easier try removing the default margin/padding properties from all elements with this code:

* { margin: 0; padding: 0; }

There are more efficient ways to handle resets, but when just getting started you should play around as much as possible. Try to understand the purpose behind each declaration and how this affects various web browsers.

Another sample you might try is the HTML5 reset stylesheet on HTML5 Doctor. It goes more into detail regarding specific page elements. For example if we wanted to support the old deprecated italic/bold tags I would append these lines into my stylesheet:

b,strong { font-weight: bold; }
i,em { font-style: italic; }

This is just a small example but it demonstrates my point accurately. The more time you spend building websites, the more you’ll run into these problems such as font styling and layout positioning. If you save code snippets in your development IDE it’ll be easier to generate your own CSS resets and customize them for each new project.

Advancing Trends

SASS and other similar technologies allow developers to create templates and variables within CSS. You compile resets and stylesheets for individual projects at will, based on what you need for the layout design. I feel we are nearing the dawn of a new age for the web design industry. Powerful innovation coupled with newer technologies may provide a more uniform method for building superb websites.

css resets library open source webpage webapp 2013

Please take a look at CSS Reset whenever you get the chance. It contains a small compilation of the most popular CSS resets and libraries for getting started. You can also read through their helpful CSS tutorials to learn about resets and other web design techniques.

Beyond this point you may find yourself captivated with CSS libraries. Open source code has become very popular amongst developers because we all learn & share together as a community. Take this opportunity to read through some other posts and familiarize yourself with CSS resets, CSS UI libraries, and prototypical browser resets for a cleaner default layout.

Related Articles

Closing

There is no absolute right or wrong answer when it comes to browser resets. Each developer will have his or her own procedure which gets the job done. CSS resets can save you a lot of time matching a duplicate experience for each web browser. Just keep in mind these resets may not be necessary for every website and you should begin to understand the purpose of individual CSS libraries over repeated use.


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December 19 2013

12:30

How to use Keywords for SEO and Web Sustainability

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Keyword optimization is a well-known strategy for helping people find your content, both through search engines and when searching within a website. But did you know that by following SEO best practices you could also be making your website greener? That’s because web servers and devices that consumers use to browse the internet both use electricity. A lot of electricity. And most electricity is generated by sources that are not renewable or clean.

The more findable content is, the less irrelevant content a person needs to go through to find what they are looking for. Fewer pages loaded means fewer server requests are being made, and that fewer photos and videos are being loaded. In some cases, the customer may also end up spending a little less time on their phone, tablet or computer. All of that results in tiny energy savings, and those savings add up.

Now that you understand the connection between findability and sustainability, let’s take a detailed look at how to improve the findability of content through page level keyword optimization, a popular SEO technique.

Keyword Optimization: Where to Place Focus Keywords

In order to optimize a page for a focus keyword, you need to place it in a number of different places on a page. With the exception of your homepage or landing pages where you may need to optimize for several keywords related to your products and service offerings, in general, you want to optimize a page for a single keyword or keyword phrase.

After you’ve selected a focus keyword for a page, here is where you need to place it:

In the Title Tag of Each Page

The first place that you want to put your focus keyword or keywords is in the title tag of each page.

Examples of an optimized title for a homepage:

  • Electronics, Cars, Fashion, Collectibles, Coupons and More Online Shopping | eBay
  • Shoes, Clothing, and More | Zappos.com
  • Shop clothes for women, men, maternity, baby, and kids | Gap

Examples of an optimized title for a subpage:

  • Electronics | eBay
  • Popular Men’s Shoe Styles | Zappos.com
  • Womens Clothes: jeans, tops, skirts, dresses, pants | Gap

Optimized title tags have certain characteristics:

  • Avoid the use of duplicate title tags: Every page should have a unique title so that your pages are not competing with each
    other for relevance.
  • Optimized titles should be 70 characters or less.
  • Put company name at the end of your title tag to help build brand awareness.
  • Use consistent punctuation across all page titles in between your keyword and company name.
  • Balance keyword usage with usability, considering what language would be most compelling to the reader.

In the Description Tag of Each Page

The next place that you want to put your focus keyword(s) is in the description tag of each page. This is the brief description that shows up in search results, or when you share a page on Facebook or LinkedIn. While this description should be written for humans and not for search engines, you should include your keyword at least once. Write your descriptions in plain English, using compelling language that would make a customer want to click on a link. Optimized page descriptions should be 150 characters or less. Longer descriptions will be truncated in Google with an ellipses (…).

In the Main Body of your Content

Include your focus keyword 2-3 times, including once in the first paragraph of the page. In general, search engines are going to read things that appear in order first and they may or may not get around to reading things that appear lower on a page. It’s recommended that copy on each page be a minimum of 300 words for SEO purposes.

In a Heading within the Article

Headings, which are often labeled “Heading 1, Heading 2, Heading 3″, etc. or “H1, H2, H3″ in a content management system, help summarize a page’s contents.

Headings should be written to both include focus keywords, and to summarize what comes next. This helps people, and spiders, scan a page quickly to see what’s most relevant to them. It’s also an accessibility best practice, because screen readers enable visually impaired people to jump from heading to heading so that they can quickly get to the section that’s most relevant to them. When you think about it, the spiders that crawl websites also can’t see: they can’t see photos, multimedia content, or fancy font styles on a page. So it makes a lot of sense that SEO best practices are also often accessibility best practices.

How to use Keywords for SEO and Web Sustainability

This example from the Gap shows headings that help customers navigate to the style of jeans that they’re looking for.

Within your Page URL

Another place that you should put your focus keyword is within the URL of your page. Here’s an example from this post:

How to use Keywords for SEO and Web Sustainability

In this example, we’ve optimized the URL for the terms “SEO,” “keywords,” and “sustainability.”
Sometimes it’s not practical to include your keyword in the URL of each page. That’s okay. Your URLs should be short, descriptive and human-friendly, helping the reader (and spider) accurately predict what’s on that page. I recommend using hyphens to separate words instead of underscores. Avoid special characters (such as smart quotes or ampersands), which can break URLs. For that reason, whenever possible, try to configure your content management system so that you can manually edit your URLs instead of having them generated automatically from the headline of the page.

Within Image ALT Tags

As I mentioned above, search engines cannot “see” photos or multimedia content, so a number of accessibility best practices are also SEO best practices. When writing an alt tag for an image you should write a short sentence that describes the content of the photo, both for people and for spiders. Whenever it is practical and appropriate to your human readers, you should also include focus keywords in your alt text.

Note that when an image contains text, the alt tag should include a copy of that text so that visually impaired individuals and spiders can read the text. Put your keyword phrase as close to the beginning of your alt tag as possible. Similarly, videos should also be labeled with appropriate meta information such as a clearly written title and description (if not a transcript of the video) in order to be understood by a search engine.

Keyword Optimization: Put it into Practice

I hope that this article has given you a practical understanding of how to do page level keyword optimization. By following these best practices you will yield a number of benefits: driving traffic to your site, making your content more findable, improving accessibility and reducing your website’s carbon footprint.

Tags: Tips

December 12 2013

06:43

10 Resources To Help You Become More Active in the Web Design Community

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Designers as well as developers have always been a close-knit group (there always seems to be a problem you need help with, right?), but online interaction and presence amongst this industry has just recently started growing over the last few years. While social media and forums became a necessity quickly for many professions—marketers, writers, sales representatives, etc.—it wasn’t something the development and design community jumped on right away. Now that this is changing, it’s more important than ever to get involved. The question then becomes easy: If I’m a developer and/or designer and want to be more active in the online community, where do I even start?

10 Resources To Help You Become More Active in the Web Design and Development CommunityImage by Christopher Lee

Top 3 Best Forums for Developers and Designers (and How to Get Involved)

Visiting a forum and interacting with others is a great way to hear about new ideas and share your knowledge. You can make connections with those who understand something you might not, which could come in handy in the future. It’s easy to do and forums are often moderated so you know you’re talking to real people with real answers.

Below are a few of the best forums specifically for web developers and designers:

  • Forrst. This isn’t a traditional or overly popular forum, but once you really get to reading you’re realize there are a lot of quality people participating. The focus is on design (split up into categories like interaction and visual) and code review, and the discussions are some of the liveliest I’ve seen.
  • Stack Overflow. I think this forum is great because it allows readers to interact without having to answer or ask a question. In other words, users can vote the answer that you thought was best to the top, so when you’re reading through the forum questions you are reading the best answers first. Anybody can ask, anybody can answer, and anybody can vote. There is also no registration required, which is quite unique.
  • Web Developer. This is one of the more popular forums (you’ll surely find it at the top of your SERP) and therefore has a huge amount of information. You have to register before you can start posting, but you can be sure that your answer is going to get a lot of visibility on this site.

Top 3 Developers to Follow on Social Media and Why They Matter

If you don’t want to be overly consumed with social media you don’t need to be, but there are some industry experts you might want to consider following so that you can learn more information quickly. A few of these experts and their Twitter accounts are listed below:

  • John Resig. John Resig is the creator of jquery, a JavaScript programmer, and author, so it’s safe to say he knows his stuff. His Twitter is great because he doesn’t over-do it with posting but he’s consistent enough that you know he’s putting out the most relevant information. What’s cool about his social accounts is that he often posts questions and answers and let’s us know where we can find him speaking or answering questions.
  • Gina Trapani. Although she might have 300,000 followers on Twitter, she keeps it together and posts a lot of her own content on the social network. She’s the cofounder and CTO of ThinkUp and is definitely one of the more influential women developers out there today.
  • Eric A. Meyer. I love this profile because he really answers questions and responds to those who have comments about HTML or CSS. He’s maybe not one of the top people in the industry (he didn’t start any major company, although meyerweb.com is reputable, or create any major program), but he knows his stuff. He’s incredibly knowledgeable and accessible, and with 22,000 tweets you could say he’s very active.

Top 3 Development and Design Blogs to be Reading

This is one area where developers usually find time, but it’s important to also engage and interact with different blog posts. Below includes a list of popular company blogs, but also international and personal blogs:

  • Smashing Magazine. One of my favorites and one of the most popular. With a really easy to read layout and content from some of the top developers in the industry, you really can’t go wrong.
  • Scott Hanselman. This wasn’t a blog that I was overly familiar with, but turns out he puts out great content. He talks with you as if he knows what you’re going through and knows what it’s like to be an actual programmer and not just a company who hired writers to talk about programming.
  • OXP (One Xtra Pixel). This blog puts a focus on design as well as development and reads more like a fun blog than a super information blog. It covers topics ranging from working from home to more technical subjects, but always with a cool graphic to match.

10 Resources To Help You Become More Active in the Web Design and Development CommunityImage by Neway Lau

Bonus: Community News Blog for Developers

A community news blog allows you to offer your own content to the blog. In other words, you can visit the blog and read some of the best content from around the web on a community news blog. If you want to submit your own news (in the form of an article, of course), you can. One of the most popular options includes:

  • CSS Drive. This is a huge site that is layed out just like a news site, so you have a lot going on at once. Nonetheless, the site does a good job of making it easy to navigate and only publishes the most newsworthy content. It does have a negative reputation amongst some, but it’s worth checking out for yourself to see where you stand.

10 Resources To Help You Become More Active in the Web Design and Development CommunityImage by Dmitriy Igoshin

In the end, getting active in your community is a great way to not only make connections, but also draw inspiration. Design particularly is a field where you can be creative and bounce ideas off others, and the community knows that and wants to help. Make it a part of your morning routine or take a look around just before you’re about to head to lunch.

Do you know of a great way to get more involved in the developer community? Let us know your story and your thoughts in the comments below.

Tags: Resources Tips

December 03 2013

13:49

Branding Faux Pas You Won’t Make Twice

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The importance of a brand cannot be over-stated, it is the face of a company and the only way to communicate to the wider world exactly who you are and what you do.

From the colours used in your logo to the type face and your company name, all of it is representative of who you are and must be carefully considered when you take your company public.

Some companies have this whole branding thing down to a fine art; we can see a colour, the shape of a font or hear a slogan and immediately associate it with a much loved brand. The McDonald’s arches are an excellent example, as is the Coca Cola font and that ever so vivacious yet classically American shade of red.

You’d think these mega-companies have their branding strategy sussed, yet over the years even these two have made branding faux pas so huge they make it into the faux pas hall of fame.

Think lovemarks, not trademarks

According to Kevin Roberts worldwide chief executive at Saatchi and Saatchi, successful brands ‘don’t have trademarks, they have lovemarks instead’. As a company strives for brand loyalty, they are forming an emotional bond with their customer base that often has little to do with the quality of the product itself.

Coca Cola

In 1985 Coca Cola tried to rebrand the company in order to compete with their sweeter cola drink rivals- Pepsi. The new taste came under a new name, New Coke, which aggrieved the American public so much that sales dropped and mere months later Coca Cola relaunched its original drink under the name ‘Classic Coke’.

Branding faux pas you won’t make twiceimage by phloxii via Shutterstock

Coca Cola had spent a century branding itself as the real thing, only to suddenly tell people it had got it wrong and this was the new, sweeter coke. Ironically the stark failure of New Coke acted in Coca Cola’s favour, with the relaunch reaffirming the public’s loyalty to the all American drink that had once greeted Apollo astronauts on their return to earth with ‘Welcome back to earth, home of Coca-Cola.’

Harley Davidson

A company with an audience, a mystique even, of strong, rugged masculinity that is so poignant its customers don’t even care that its product doesn’t have the best engine, should not go around producing perfume and baby clothes.

Branding faux pas you won’t make twiceimage by miqu77 via Shutterstock

For a short time during the 1990s Harley Davidson did just that. By over-extending their brand so dramatically, Harley Davidson were alienating their unconditionally loyal customers with products that did not match the Harley Davidson mythology of the freedom of the open road that the brand was built on.

Do your research

When expanding into international markets, it seems fairly obvious that words and phrases mean different things around the world, including slang. An error brands have made time and again is not doing sufficient linguistic research into the country they are about to introduce their product to. This should include talking to a native speaker.

Branding faux pas you won’t make twiceimage by Maksim Kabakou via Shutterstock

In the 1980s a successful Finnish windshield washing company took their product to the US in an attempt to expand their market. Yet their innocently named cleaning agent, Super Piss, came a-cropper when it was discovered that the latter part of the name had a different meaning in American-English.

While in Finland pissapoika refers to the jets where the windshield fluid comes from, it meant something rather more crass to an amused American market.

Similarly when the dairy industry mastermind behind the famous slogan ‘Got Milk’ was taken to Spain, they neglected to translate the phrase for their new customers who read the slogan as, ‘Are You Lactating?’.

Expensive mistakes

We all make mistakes, and as we have already seen even huge established brands can have costly lapses in judgement when they run in the wrong direction with a product. Sometimes companies or ideas fail because their product is outdated, or in the case of Harley Davidson they had simply ventured into unsuitable territory for their brand.

However, sometimes a branding faux pas can all be attributed to a bad idea, and bad market research. As some companies have learnt the hard (and very expensive) way, you can’t force a customer to buy a product they don’t want.

Sony and Godzilla = $60million

In 1998 the movie world learned the power the internet has over the cinema-going public, with films like Godzilla and the huge amount of money spent on its marketing campaign (which included recruiting P Diddy to rap through one of the most expensive promo videos of all time), proved ever more pointless with the release of the Blair Witch Project. The budget film reached unexpected levels of success with an even lower budget marketing campaign.

Each of these events did not play out as Sony had intended; rather they were aiming for a Star Wars mega-franchise that all started with big budget effects in the movie and was supported by an equally large marketing budget.

Unfortunately for Sony, the whole project was dramatically over-hyped with little focus on the end product, which was greeted with resounding disappointment, and overall negativity.

RJ Renolds = $325 million creating smokeless cigarettes

Branded as ‘Premier’ cigarettes and launched in 1988, shortly after passive smoking was officially recognised as a danger to health. The US company spent $325 million trialling smokeless cigarettes; the verdict –

‘Inhaling Premier required vacuum powered lungs, lighting it virtually required a blowtorch, and if successfully lit with a match, the sulphur reaction produced a smell and a flavour that left users retching.’– Reporter Magazine

In 1996 the company relaunched the product using coal to heat the tobacco, and thus creating less smoke; this failed again despite the new name ‘Eclipse’.

Smokeless cigarettes appealed to those who don’t like the smell of cigarettes; otherwise known as non-smokers who do not tend to buy cigarettes.

Branding faux pas you won’t make twiceimage by Maksim Kabakou via Shutterstock

Lessons all brands should take note of

Markets are in a constant state of flux, particularly those heavily reliant on fashion trends and technology.

The more successful a brand becomes the more it pigeon holes itself within the one market; McDonald’s, Coca Cola and Harley Davidson learnt this the hard way. It also makes it difficult for brands to adapt as the overall market changes and advances, it is important to innovate but not over-extend your brand, to anticipate trends but not to over-reach.

Tags: Tips

November 25 2013

14:02

5 Killer Tips that Will Get You Clients: Copywriting for Web Designers

Your portfolio sucks. It makes me cry. You are a great designer with a perfectly designed portfolio site, and yet it’s still terrible at the same time. Even my cat, Sheldon, knows it too. Good thing you can still improve it.

Do you want to convert browsers into clients? I bet you do. That’s the purpose of your portfolio site, yes? To attract more clients. To make them want to get a bite out of the dish you are offering.

And it only takes one topping: copywriting.

I know, I know, you are a web designer, not a copywriter. But applying these tips to your portfolio won’t hurt one bit!

Just a quick note before we begin. Copywriting is the art and science of persuading people to take action by means of writing. It is the best form of advertising.

I need you to stop reading. Do not continue if you cannot promise that you will at least try one of the tips written below.

copywriting-for-web-designers-preview_large

1. Have A Catchy Headline

Design agency inTacto‘s tagline is “We take your brand into the Digital Age.” If you are a business owner with a brand that is still on the Stone Age, this seems like a great deal, right? And it instantly promises a solution to your problem.

That’s the key to writing catchy taglines or headlines. You need to make a promise. People are in pain and you have the cure.

While we’re at it, what do you think about this?

Discover Four Secret Strategies And Tools You Can Use To Find And Build Trust With Your Clients NOW!

Is it catchy enough? How will you improve it?

2. Don’t Be A Nameless Hero

copywriting for web designers 2

Do you know who is Spence…The Evil Genius? I bet you do now. Want to hear how he says it?

My point here is, you need to make yourself memorable to people. Invent a nickname for yourself and give it an unforgettable attitude. Clients do their research, they will look at several services before making their decision on which one to pick, and often…wait, who’s that guy again? Ah, I already forgot. Let’s just move on to the next guys.

I’m betting that you have experienced something similar. Say, your password. It wasn’t memorable enough to the point where, seconds after setting up a new one, you’d have to reset it again. It happens to everyone, don’t cry.

3. Highlight Benefits Over Features

copywriting for web designers 3

Understand your target market. You are a web designer. You are THE web designer. Your target people see web design as witchcraft. They do not care about how it works, all they care about is how it will benefit them. Don’t tell them about your jQuery Sliders and Responsive websites, but tell them about how you can help improve their online presence which will lead to increased sales.

Which one sounds better? “I build retina-ready responsive websites using HTML5 and CSS3″ or “I will help you gain more sales by scientifically designing a website for you.” Scientifically in a sense that your design is backed up by case studies, A/B testings, and standards that actual people worked on.

Since not all web designers are copywriters, I should tell you that by following this tip you will (and I want you to read the following very slowly) attract more clients by telling them the benefits they will get from your features. Repeating things also help.

But if your target clients are developers who can’t design well, then you will have to highlight features over benefits. They already know how a certain feature will benefit them, they only need to know that you offer the service.

4. Talk To Your Clients…Without Actually Talking To Them

Browsers are prospect clients and they are browsing your website because they need something. They are not sure if you offer what they want, though.

Picture this: an angsty teenager wearing his school uniform with a fedora goes to Walmart for some bacon. Five minutes passes by and he still can’t find the bacon. He would ask where but his teenage mind says that’s too low for his dignity, so he decides to leave instead.

First, your prospect clients are not teenagers and no, they’re not angsty. They maybe wearing a fedora and love bacon, but they will not spend five minutes in your portfolio site if you do not talk to them. Think of them as a confused buyer, with you being the salesman. Go and ask them what they want. Help them find what they’re looking for.

  • “Do you need a website?”
  • “Want to modernize your website?”

Try including these, and variations of, on your homepage. Hit them where it hurts. Ask them what’s hurting. Ask the right questions, let them know that you have an idea of what they are looking for…and that you have the solution.

5. Keep It Short But Sweet

You are awesome for reading this far.

The final tip I want to share is to keep everything in your website short. Keep it short while applying all of the tips above. I know, you are amazing, you truly are, and I bet you can write an entire novella about how you successfully satisfied a client from hell. But don’t.

Write about the things that you can do for them. Write something short and sweet that they can’t refuse.

I can easily read George R. R. Martin’s books but don’t expect me to read a 100-word paragraph regarding your skills. I just want my damn website designed, please.

Let’s Repeat Everything, This Time Shorter

  1. Write a catchy headline, tagline, and descriptions. Ask a friend, your parents, and even your favorite teacher, including Mr. Cuddles, if your tagline or headline is memorable enough. Your friends will make fun of you, your parents will support you 100%, your favorite teacher will give you a good feedback, and Mr. Cuddles will probably just doze off. Your goal is to make them not forget it. Make a promise and fulfill it.
  2. Give yourself a fancy nickname that people will be fond of remembering. We all give nicknames to people we don’t know, and they, too, don’t know about it. We give them nicknames because they are so memorable. It can work the other way around. Name yourself and never be forgotten. Do you know Soda Guy? Or Cute Cathy? You know what I mean…I bet you call your pizza delivery guy Pizza Man.
  3. Write about the results, not the process. I just want my burger, I don’t want to know the ingredients and how you cooked it to its perfect golden brown color.
  4. Show them that you have what they want. Tell them you can redesign their website and modernize it or that you can design any website they want you to design. Make them feel their problems will be solved in just one or two sentences.
  5. KISS.

I lied to you. These are not killer tips. These are simple tips. Yet many web designers still fail to follow them. Start updating your portfolio site now!

Don’t forget to share your tips below!

See you next time!

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