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July 02 2013

11:25

Taming The Email Beast


  

In the 1950s, when consumer electronics such as vacuum cleaners and washing machines emerged, there was a belief that household chores would be done in a fraction of the time.

We know now it didn’t work out that way. Our definition of clean changed. Instead of wearing underwear for multiple days, we started using a fresh pair every day, and so the amount of washing required increased. In short, technology enabled us to do more, not less.

Our work environments have followed a similar path. Tools such as email enable us to communicate more, rather than make life easier. In fact, many people are now overwhelmed by the amount of email they receive.

The Problem Of Email

Email has changed our expectations of communication; most of us feel like we need to be constantly available. We are tied to our email-enabled devices, and, like Pavlov’s dog, we have to check email every time the bell rings.

We are constantly available, constantly interrupted and continually overwhelmed.

Going offline isn’t the answer. As Web designers, we do not just build websites; we provide services to our clients. Therefore, we need to keep our clients happy, and that can only be done by regular communication. Clients need constant reassurance that their project is in hand, and they need continual chivying to provide the feedback and contributions we require to do our job.

Like it or not, email is a necessary evil. But that doesn’t mean it needs to rule us. We can tame the beast, and it all starts by doing less.

Like any beast, the more you feed email, the bigger it becomes. It’s time to put email on a diet. We can achieve this in a simple way: by using email less.

Send Less

Believe it or not, doing considerably less with email while still effectively communicating with our clients and colleagues is perfectly possible.

You probably don’t need to send out nearly as many emails as you do. You could almost certainly reduce the number of people you copy in your emails. Remember that the more email you send out, the more email you will get back. It’s that simple.

Email is not always the best form of communication. A face-to-face meeting or a phone call is usually much more effective. After all, what we actually say is the minority of communication. Tone of voice and body language are critically important.

Instant messaging (IM) is another option to consider. While it is intrusive at times, it can be perfect for quick questions. Email encourages long-form communication, while IM tends to be shorter.

That being said, there is no reason why emails need to be long.

Write Less

The less you write in emails, the less people will write in reply. People tend to mirror the behavior of others; so, if you want to receive more concise emails, start writing emails that are to the point yourself.

You might feel that short emails are less friendly and come across as cold, but these problems can be worked around.

Try linking to five.sentenc.es in your signature. That website will perfectly explain the brevity of your emails.

skitch-500_mini
Linking to five.sentenc.es makes it clear to clients that you keep your emails short because you value their time. Larger view.

An even easier option is to adopt the “Sent from my phone” signature that many people use these days, a good excuse for getting to the point.

Please don’t misunderstand. Being friendly and personable with clients is important. But email is not the place to do that. If you want to chat, pick up the phone.

Email should feel more like Twitter than traditional mail. In fact, many people are abandoning email entirely and turning to Twitter as their primary communication tool.

If this step feels too big, try summarizing your email at the top. This will make it easier for the reader to get the gist of your message if they are busy. Also, you will find that people start doing the same in their emails, making reading much quicker.

In addition to sending less email and shortening your messages, reducing the amount you receive is possible.

Receive Less Email

The easiest way to cut down on replies is to tell people that they do not need to reply. Putting abbreviations such as NRN (no reply necessary) or FYI (for your information) in the subject line will help with this. But that won’t stop unsolicited email.

Most of us get a lot of unsolicited email, despite the excellent spam filters that most email services provide. These emails are often newsletters that we’ve never subscribed to or announcements from companies from which we once made a purchase. Regardless of whether we ever did agree to receive these emails, they are now cluttering our inbox.

You might be tempted to just delete these and keep wading through the rest of your email. But take the time to find the “Unsubscribe” link, because these companies will not contact you just once. They will email you again and again until you stop them.

If they don’t include an “Unsubscribe” link, create an email rule that automatically deletes them. Those couple of minutes now will save you time and distraction in the long run. If you really are too busy to find those “Unsubscribe” links, then try out Unroll.me, which makes unsubscribing even easier.

Unroll.me_500
Unroll.me makes unsubscribing to emails easier than ever. Larger view.

However you do it, unsubscribing from mass emails will dramatically reduce your load. But don’t stop there; consider unsubscribing from newsletters that you did sign up for.

Keep Email For Communication Only

Part of our problem is that we have turned email into something it naturally is not. For example, many people use their inbox as a place to read news. Email was never really meant for that. Ample apps (such as the wonderful Feedly) provide this functionality.

Feedly_500_mini
Use an app like Feedly to read news, rather than your email client. Larger view.

Others use their email client as a repository for files that they want to keep. This makes little sense because a much more powerful filing system is built into their operating system.

And yet others use their inbox as a task manager, marking emails as starred or unread to remind themselves to take some action. However, dedicated tasks managers will help you work much more efficiently.

Omnifocus 2_mini_border
Your email client is not nearly as good a task manager as applications such as OmniFocus. Always use the best tool for the job. Larger view.

Turning email into something else merely clutters our inbox, making the job of reading and writing actual email less efficient.

To tame the beast, use email as a communication tool, not as a way to manage files, read news or schedule tasks.

While the techniques above will reduce the amount of email coming in, they address only the symptoms and not the root cause of our problem — which is our addiction to email.

Breaking Our Addiction

The reference earlier to our Pavlovian response to the audio notification of incoming email was slightly tongue in cheek, but accurate nonetheless.

Upon hearing that beep, we find it hard not to look. But checking email every five minutes adds up to over 32,000 interruptions a year! That is a phenomenal number.

Do we really need to check email that much? Almost certainly not. The majority of email that comes in either is unsolicited or can wait a few hours. The number of emails that genuinely require urgent action is relatively low.

The problem is that we perceive certain emails as being urgent when they are not. It’s just a matter of training our clients not to expect an immediate response. Of course, that is not always possible.

What we need is a way to be notified of only the important emails. Fortunately, achieving this is relatively easy. Start by turning off notifications in your email client. They are just too indiscriminate, notifying you of every single message that comes in.

Instead, sign up for a service, such as AwayFind, that will notify you by text or app notification when an email comes in that meets certain requirements. For example, you could choose to receive notifications only of emails from a particular client or about that day’s meeting.

Awayfind.com_500_mini
AwayFind notifies you about only the most important emails, freeing you from the shackles of constant alerts. Larger view.

If you don’t want to pay for this service, you could try IFTTT.

The point is to free yourself from constant interruption. Knowing that important messages will reach you instantly, you can comfortably check email only a couple of times a day. I check email first thing in the morning, at lunchtime and at the end of the business day. That way, I can respond reasonably promptly without having my workflow interrupted.

And when you do check your email, be organized in the way you deal with it.

Organizing Your Email

A lot of people make email more complicated than it needs to be because they are not organized. The biggest offenders are those who never move email out of their inbox.

Having an inbox filled with hundreds or thousands of emails increases the time it takes to process new messages. With so much clutter, figuring out what needs to be dealt with and what has been read becomes confusing. No matter how in control you may feel, things are bound to fall between the cracks.

Your inbox is where email arrives, but it shouldn’t stay there. Instead, clear your inbox every time you open your email client. You don’t necessarily have to act on every email right away — just read it and decide what to do with it.

You have five options upon reading an email:

  • Act on it.
    If you have time to act on the email immediately, then do so. This could mean responding or completing a task. But don’t feel obliged to act immediately if you have higher priorities.
  • Defer it.
    Too busy to deal with the email immediately? No problem. Turn it into a task that sits in your task manager. You can then deal with it on your own time and view it alongside your other tasks.
  • File it.
    Many emails we receive require no particular action, but merely provide useful information. In such cases, archive the post for future reference. With today’s powerful search tools, there is little need to tag it or add it to a folder. But do move it out of the inbox.
  • Delete it.
    If the email is spam or has no long-term value, delete it.
  • Delegate it.
    Some emails require action, but you might not be the best person to do it. In those cases, delegate the task by forwarding the email to the relevant person.

The lesson in all of this is that your inbox is just a holding place for unprocessed email. Once you have read it and decided what to do with it, move it out of your inbox to make room for future emails.

Start Today

You might be intimidated by the prospect of having to process all of those emails staring back at you in your inbox. This might all sound like too much work. I promise you it will be worth it.

If the inbox is too overwhelming, just declare bankruptcy. Archive everything except this week’s email. If any emails from more than a week ago haven’t been addressed yet, replying to them now would probably be too late anyway.

Archiving all of that email will leave you with a manageable load. Work through each email and decide what to do with it. If you get a lot of email, this could take some time, but it will be worth it. Remember that you don’t have to act on everything immediately. Defer actions until later by bouncing them to your task list. The trick is to process everything out of your inbox. Do that and I promise you will never look at email with the same horror again.

So, those are my tips on managing email. What are yours? What do you think of email clients such as Mailbox? Or have you a completely different approach? Let us know in the comments. We’d love to hear your perspective.

(al)


© Paul Boag for Smashing Magazine, 2013.

08:00

Emotional Design with A.C.T. – Part 2

Back in Part 1, we looked at how the emotions expressed by people and products communicate personality traits over time. We also learned that customers are attracted to things that have an aesthetic personality that’s similar to their own,1 but they prefer products that take on a complementary role during interaction.2

In Part 2, we’ll look at how relationships are formed when people interact with products over time, and we’ll explore how people experience the emotion of “love.” Then, we’ll examine how basic product goals like desirability, usability, and usefulness relate to the different types of love. Finally, we’ll explore the A.C.T. model, a user-friendly take on using existing frameworks for designing emotional experiences.

Designing relationships

People attribute personalities to products and interfaces and expect those products to interact according to human social rules.3 Our emotional responses to the marketing, purchase, and use of products combine over time to create emotional experiences, which further combine to create emotional relationships.4 The quality of these accumulated interactions can mark the beginning (or end) of a “relationship” between the person and the product.

Throughout our lives, we’ve all been exposed to different types of relationships, both personally and through media. We have acquaintances, coworkers, companions, friends, lovers, wives, husbands, and every combination in between. While all these relationships are important, the people we love tend to have a special place in our hearts and minds.

But even amongst those we “love,” there are a number of different relationships. Some relationships are short, passionate flings based solely on attraction or lust. Others, though lacking in physical attraction, are deep, intimate friendships formed through ongoing interaction and conversation. Others are simple marriages of convenience with a firm commitment, but little passion or intimacy.

Although these relationships might seem to be very different, the people involved might still call the emotion they share “love.” This suggests that we’re using a single term to describe what may be several different emotions. Because of this, it can be difficult to come to a mutual understanding of what the word love really means.

Some people, for example, will emphatically say how much they love certain products. But when they say they “love” products, what do they really mean? What exactly is required to feel love for a product? Is it different from the love two people might feel for one another? Is love an appropriate emotion for relationships with products?

We can gain new insights into the formation of human-product relationships by understanding how humans form relationships with one another. Let’s take a look at the different ways people experience the emotion of love to get a better understanding of what it means to “love” a product.

How do I love thee?

Sternberg5 has described human relationships in terms of three forms of love.

Forms of Love

  • Passion (Infatuated Love)
  • Intimacy (Friendship)
  • Commitment (Empty Love)

 Passion, Intimacy, Commitment
Forms of love
(Sternberg, 1988), diagram: (van Gorp, 2009)

Passion

Passion is based on aesthetics. We’re passionately attracted to certain people because of how they look, sound, smell, feel and taste. These aesthetic cues communicate information about health, reproductive fitness, fertility, and social status to potential partners 7 8. We generally evaluate these cues automatically without conscious consideration.

If a relationship had Passion but lacked Intimacy and Commitment, it would be called Infatuated Love, or lust5. This form of love would describe the quick fling or one-night stand. According to Sternberg5, relationships based solely on Passion tend to burn out quickly. We tend to be attracted to people who are about as attractive, wealthy, and educated as ourselves (i.e. those who are similar to us).

Intimacy

Sternberg5 defines Intimacy as Friendship, rather than sexual intimacy. Achieving Intimacy usually requires repeated conversation and interaction over time. You don’t really get to know someone well without spending time together in a variety of situations.

When we engage in conversation with another person, we make both unconscious and conscious evaluations of them. We judge whether our styles of interaction are complementary and comfortable, or similar and conflicting. Does the other person constantly interrupt when you’re talking? Are you always butting heads over who’s in charge? Does he or she give you the amount of respect you feel you deserve?

If all you had with another person was Intimacy, you’d probably be very close friends. However, you’d likely not feel much Passion or sexual attraction. If someone has ever told you that they love you, but aren’t “in love” with you, it’s likely that they were talking about feeling Intimacy without Passion.

Commitment

Commitment is a mutually agreed upon agreement. In marriage, an individual consciously enters into a public contract with another person. Even in long-term relationships outside of marriage, the majority of couples in the western world still commit to an exclusive partnership. And yet, without Passion or Intimacy, Commitment is merely an empty agreement. If the only thing you had with someone was a Commitment, without any Passion or Intimacy, you’d have what Sternberg5 calls “Empty Love.”

Depending on the context, one or more of the three forms of love can occur at different times in a relationship. In the western world, Commitment usually comes after we’ve had a chance to evaluate our levels of Passion and Intimacy. At that point, we’ve hopefully decided whether the other person’s personality is a good fit for our own. In other parts of the world this may not be the case. Arranged marriages are one example of a relationship that begins with Commitment, with the expectation of Passion and Intimacy developing later.

Design goals, types of reactions & triune brain

At this point, you may be wondering how all of this relates to designing emotional experiences that encourage relationships. To start with, we could draw some parallels between the three forms of love and the three categories of product requirements I mentioned in Part 1. Here’s a quick recap:

  • Desirable
  • Usable
  • Useful

(Sanders, 1992)

Useful, Usable, Desirable

Design Goals
adapted from: (Sanders, 1992), image: (van Gorp, 2012)

Discussions of emotional design often focus almost exclusively on the aesthetics or Desirability of a product. However, much like a three-legged stool, the qualities of Usability and Usefulness still need to be there for the product to stand on its own. For software and web applications, all three legs of the stool need to be there to support repeat usage and interaction.

The most primitive part of our brain (i.e. the reptilian brain), is automatic and generates unconscious emotional responses. The part of our brain that we share with mammals and a few other vertebrates (i.e. the mammalian brain), is also largely unconscious and creates our emotional experiences. The most highly evolved part of our brains (i.e. the neomammalian brain), is conscious and is where we form complex emotional relationships. These different levels of brain function can help us understand how relationships develop through small, repeated interactions.

Emotional: Responses, Experiences, Relationships

(Demir, 2008), diagram: (van Gorp & Adams, 2012)

Over time, simple emotional responses from the reptilian brain combine with the processing of social cues from the mammalian brain to form experiences, which combine with our thoughts and emotions from the neomammalian brain to create relationships.

Design goals, types of reactions, and forms of love

Let’s quickly examine how the different types of love relate to designing for emotion. The user is attracted to the product’s aesthetics, triggering the Desire or passion to approach. If the user finds the product Usable and easy to interact with, he or she may begin to feel greater connection or intimacy with the product. If the product then displays its Usefulness by reliably and consistently fulfilling its purpose, trust and commitment can result.

Design Goals, Forms of Love, Product Elements, Types of Reactions

Comparing Models

(Sanders, 1992)(Sternberg, 1988)(Demir, 2008)(McLean, 1990), diagram: (van Gorp & Adams, 2012)

Desirability is connected to product aesthetics. Usability is connected to the quality of interaction, and usefulness is connected to how well the product functions. For complex products, this process repeats itself with each use, continuing over time to form deeper relationships.

The types of love

Just as there are different types of relationships between people, there are different types of relationships between people and products. For products where the context of use is a short relationship (as with a disposable product), focusing on a single type of love (or a single leg of the stool) may be fine. Various combinations of the three forms of love describes many of the common relationships we see in our lives.

Types of love

  • Passion + Intimacy = Romantic Love
  • Passion + Commitment = Fatuous or Illusory Love
  • Intimacy + Commitment = Companionate Love
  • Passion + Intimacy + Commitment = Consummate Love

(Sternberg, 1988)

Ideal Human Relationship model

Types of Love
(Sternberg, 1988), diagram: (van Gorp, 2009)

Passion (Desirable) + Intimacy (Usable) = Romantic Love

When you combine the attraction of passion with the interaction and conversation of intimacy, you get Romantic Love. In human relationships Romantic Love describes physical attraction, along with a sense of deep intimate connection, without any formal commitment.

In relationships with products, we can envision attractive, usable products and services that don’t require long-term investments. Virgin Mobile, for example, offers attractive usable phones with no contractual commitment. The target audience is young and drawn to the idea of not committing to a phone plan. Even the marketing of the page–Why “Go” Beyond Talk?–could be taken as a metaphor for moving to another stage in a relationship.

Virgin Mobile

http://www.virginmobileusa.com/cell-phone-service

Passion (Desirable) + Commitment (Useful) = Illusory love

Combining passion and commitment without any intimacy generally makes a poor foundation for a long-term relationship. This may be why Sternberg5 calls this combination “Fatuous” or Illusory Love. One example of this type of relationship would be a “sugar daddy” style relationship, where one partner is involved purely for passion, and the other is involved purely for commitment and the financial rewards that come with it.

In the world of design, attractive but unusable products are one source of this type of Illusory Love. We may purchase a product, attracted purely by its slick marketing or pleasing visual design, only to find that although it looks good on the surface and functions acceptably, it’s difficult to operate and frustrating to use.

Intimacy (Usable) + Commitment (Useful) = Companionate Love

When we combine Intimacy and Commitment, we get a good companion, hence the label Companionate Love5. This type of human relationship would describe a couple who are not physically attracted to each other, but are friendly and committed.

When we think of Companionate Love in terms of product relationships, we can imagine more utilitarian products. They’re easy to use, reliable, and perform the task for which they were designed. However, they don’t create that spark of attraction and desire, so there’s little passion involved. An example of this type of love would be your favorite hairbrush. This brush might be the one that does such a great job of styling your hair, you don’t need any other brushes. You probably don’t think much about your hairbrush when you’re not around it. But like the loss of an old friend, you may only really appreciate it once it’s gone.

Hairbrush

Passion + Intimacy + Commitment = Consummate Love

Occasionally, human relationships seem to encompass all three forms of love. These relationships have achieved what Sternberg5 calls “all consuming” or Consummate Love. The people involved are passionately attracted to one another, have a deep intimate friendship, and a strong abiding commitment.

In human-product relationships, if a product has achieved trust by communicating a clear and consistent personality over repeated interactions, the user may be willing to consciously Commit and engage in transactions with the product. Transactions that lead to the formation of relationships leave us practically and emotionally satisfied in the long term. For interactive products that are used repeatedly, Consummate Love is what we are seeking to elicit from our users.

Designing relationships with A.C.T.

The A.C.T. model embodies the different forms of love, and can help you envision product development as a process of building relationships with users. The terms in the acronym A.C.T. were chosen to help designers understand the requirements they need to fulfill at each stage: Attract, Converse, Transact.

A.C.T. explores the relationship between Sternberg’s levels of love (passion, intimacy, and commitment) and product requirements to produce a model that is both more prescriptive for designers and more communicative for business stakeholders.

Ideal Product Relationship
A.C.T. Model

(van Gorp, 2009)

Let’s quickly summarize the perspectives embodied in the A.C.T.

Attract

  • Desirability (do users find the aesthetics appealing?)
  • Aesthetic properties of the product (i.e. look, sound, smell, touch, and taste)
  • Passion
  • Unconscious, automatic responses
  • Reptilian brain

Converse

  • Usability (i.e. ease of use)
  • How the product interacts with the user
  • Intimacy
  • Unconscious and conscious experiences
  • Mammalian brain

Transact

  • Usefulness
  • Whether the product fulfills its function
  • Commitment
  • Conscious relationships
  • Neomammalian (human) brain

A.C.T. Model

A.C.T. Model Comparison

adapted from: (Sanders, 1992)(Sternberg, 1988)(Demir, 2008)(McLean, 1990), diagram: (van Gorp & Adams, 2012)

Conclusions

We judge products by the personalities we sense through their aesthetics and style of interaction. It takes the skill and sensitivity of designers, marketers and user experience professionals to properly identify the personality that appeals to their target audience, and then consistently design, market, advertise and package that product with the appropriate personality in mind. The A.C.T. Model can help practitioners to more fully and systematically address the requirements that lead to successful products.

To explore this idea in depth, Edie Adams and I have written a book on creating better relationships between people and products. If you’re interested in learning more about emotional design, designing personality and the A.C.T. Model, pick up a copy of Design for Emotion. The book includes over 130 images and examples, interviews with industry experts, and case studies to help you do a better job of designing for emotion, personality and relationship. You can also get a free copy of Chapter 1 of Design for Emotion here.

- Portions of this post are excerpts from Design for Emotion, by Trevor van Gorp and Edie Adams -

References

Govers, P. C. M., & Schoormans, J. P. L. (2005). “Product personality and its influence on consumer preference”. Journal of Consumer Marketing, 22(4), 189–197.

Markey, P. M., & Markey, C. N. (2007). “Romantic ideals, romantic obtainment, and relationship experiences: The complementarity of interpersonal traits among romantic partners”. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 24(4), 517–533.

Reeves, B., & Nass, C. (1998). The media equation: How people treat computers, television and new media like real people and places. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Demîr, E. (2008). “The Field of Design and Emotion: Concepts, Arguments, Tools and Current Issues”. METU JFA, 1(1), 135.

Sternberg, R. J. (1988). The Triangle of Love: Intimacy, Passion, Commitment. New York: Basic Books.

van Gorp, Trevor. (2009). Emotional Design with A.C.T. Poster: 2010 IA Summit. Phoenix, AZ.

7Buss, David. (2003). The Evolution of Desire: Strategies of Human Mating. New York: Basic Books.

Etcoff, N. (2000). Survival of the Prettiest: The Science of Beauty. Anchor Books.

Sanders, E. B. N. (1992, Fall). “Converging perspectives: Product development research for the 1990s”. Design Management Journal, 3(4), 49–54.

10 van Gorp, Trevor, & Adams, E. (2012). Design for Emotion. Boston: Morgan Kaufmann/Elsevier.

11 McLean, P. D. (1990). The triune brain in evolution: Role in paleocerebral functions. New York: Plenum Press.

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04:52

June 28 2013

10:04

How To Launch Anything


  

Launching a new product — especially your first — can be incredibly daunting. Even knowing where to turn for help can be hard. So many blog posts are full of free advice on how to successfully launch that I almost didn’t write another one. But many of the posts I read for my first product launch didn’t help me very much. The material was too fluffy, the marketing ideas were vague, or the advice didn’t apply to my tiny business.

Having launched five new products in fewer than nine months, I’ve turned product launches into a science. And while they never go perfectly, these ideas have helped me generate over $200,000 in revenue from online products, starting from scratch.

Let’s jump in.

Starting From Scratch

In July 2012, my blog had 100 subscribers. Two months later, I made $12,500 in sales in just one day. It turns out that you can start without an audience and still find success. I’ll assume you are starting from scratch, like I did.

A Product

The first thing you’ll need is a product or, rather, an idea of what your product will be. Waiting until your product is finished before marketing it is a terrible plan. For most products, the marketing should start as — or even before — the product is being developed.

Defining the product, with a tentative title, enables you to start identifying your target audience and putting together a marketing plan, which we’ll cover in a minute.

Expertise

For a year, I wrote a meandering blog about nothing in particular. There were a few posts about design, some more on productivity, and the rest were random thoughts that didn’t fit any category. That year of posting was basically wasted because I came out of it with only 100 regular readers.

I was just a designer writing about random topics.

Then, in July 2012, I announced my first book, The App Design Handbook, and something changed. Just by announcing the book with a landing page, I suddenly had a purpose to my writing — to teach iOS app design. More importantly, everyone else’s perception of me changed as well. I wasn’t just another designer writing about anything that came to mind; I was an expert in designing iOS apps, writing a book to teach others to do the same.

My skill level hadn’t changed; I’d been a pretty good designer all along. But just announcing that I was writing a book completely changed the perception of my skill level and expertise.

Take Inventory: What Do You Have?

When my brother-in-law Daniel was 13 or 14, I would often find him walking out of a random room in the house. Confused as to why he was in there, I would ask him what he was doing. He would casually shrug and reply, “Just taking inventory.”

And he was. Later during a dinner conversation, someone would mention that they were looking for batteries, and Daniel would jump in and say, “Oh, you have some. They are on the top shelf of the closet.”

It was a strange habit, but also very helpful at times.

You need to take inventory of everyone and everything that could help you with this product launch: friends with popular blogs, an existing following in social media, and forums or communities you are a part of.

I may have felt like I was starting from nothing, but when I really took inventory, I saw that I had a few things going for me: 100 blog readers, 400 to 500 Twitter followers and a few influential acquaintances.

Start Teaching

When I learned about marketing in college, there was always one question I never got a good answer to: How do you get potential customers to pay attention to you? I knew about buying ads, building brand loyalty and running focus groups, but what if you didn’t have the time or budget for any of that?

Another Way

Back in 2006 I was spending all of my time getting better at Web design — particularly CSS. I was pretty good at coding cross-browser layouts, and I considered myself an intermediate Web designer.

At the same time, Chris Coyier started writing CSS-Tricks. I remember reading his first articles and thinking, “Oh, I know that already. What qualifies Chris to teach when he doesn’t know any more than I do?”

I was a bit arrogant.

But Chris kept putting out CSS tutorials, and I kept patting myself on the back for already knowing the skills he was teaching. But then, as my friends started asking me questions about CSS, I found myself linking to Chris’ articles, not just because they saved me the effort of having to explain myself, but also because they were really well written.

Fast forward another year or two, and I was consulting his articles myself, sometimes just for reference, but other times to learn new skills. While we started at the same level, Chris had improved much more quickly than I did. The difference was that he was teaching.

None of that shocked me. The real surprise didn’t come until July 2012, when Chris decided to redesign CSS-Tricks. In order to take some time off to work on the redesign, Chris launched a Kickstarter project, in which his fans could donate to the project and, in return, get exclusive access to a series of tutorials that he planned to record throughout the redesign process. His goal was to raise $3,500.

When the project closed, he had raised $89,697.

CSS-Kickstarter

How Were Chris and I Different?

Chris and I started at the same skill level. Sure, he got a bit better at CSS over time, but what was it that gave him the ability to flip a switch and raise $89,697, when I couldn’t?

Clearly it had nothing to do with skill in CSS.

It had everything to do with the fact that he taught everything he knew, and I kept my knowledge to myself. Through teaching, Chris built an audience that benefited from his work and that was eager to pay him the moment he gave them an opportunity.

Teach Everything You Know

Teaching is how you get people to pay attention to you and your product without spending money on advertising. By giving away useful information, you will attract potential customers — and get them to trust you — because you’ve helped them so much.

Then, when it comes time to ask for a purchase, you will have become a trusted advisor, not a random company selling something on the Internet.

Announce Your Product

It’s now time to announce your product to the world. If you have a rough idea of the product and a working name, then you have everything you need. The second biggest mistake I see with product announcements is that the creator has waited too long to start generating interest.

A Landing Page

In order to announce your product, you’ll need a landing page. You can make this with LaunchRock, a WordPress plugin, some simple HTML code, or ConvertKit (my own product). Either purchase a new domain name (yourproductname.com) or use a subdirectory, like I do for my books (nathanbarry.com/authority). Either works. Just decide and move on.

Landing Page Elements

The page should lead off with a headline, preferably something that speaks to the pain you are trying to solve (CopyHackers has a guide on this). Beyond this, I like to include a paragraph or two that goes into detail, and then a screenshot or graphic that quickly gives the viewer an idea of the product. For books, I have a 3-D mockup of the book cover, a screenshot inside an iPhone (to represent an iOS app), and a screenshot inside a browser (for a Web application).

app-design-handbook

The Most Important Element

I mentioned earlier that launching late is the second biggest mistake I see on landing pages. What’s the first biggest mistake? Not using email.

It’s common to see landing pages that don’t offer a way to follow along with the progress. Sometimes the best option a visitor has is to follow the product on Twitter or Facebook.

Compared to email, Twitter and Facebook perform very poorly. Getting open rates over 50% on email is quite possible, whereas engagement on Facebook is often well below 15%. Most people deal with every message in their inbox, but they’ll miss your message on Twitter if they don’t sign in at the right time.

The most important element on your landing page is the email opt-in form. Your message could just say, “Enter your email address to follow the progress and be the first to hear when [product name] launches.”

email-form

Plenty of tools will help you capture email addresses. AWeber, MailChimp and Constant Contact all work just fine, but I created ConvertKit for exactly this process.

Start Sharing

Once your page is live, you can start promoting it. Start by sharing in social media and in any relevant communities you are a part of. Ask friends to share, introduce yourself to authors of relevant blogs, and ask for a link in relevant email newsletters.

The Blog Posts

A well-done landing page will get shared on its own if the product is engaging, but landing pages typically aren’t educational.

To get people in your industry to really advertise your upcoming product, you need to teach. Blog posts are a great way to do that. But don’t write posts like “Five Ways to Do X” or “13 Reasons You Should Care About Y.” Those fluffy list posts don’t convey expertise.

Instead, write a few definitive, in-depth posts on your topic. Each should stand by itself by including all necessary information. Could each article be a chapter in a book? If not, rewrite it until it is of that quality.

That’s the kind of content that will be shared and that will build an audience. This is the time for quality over quantity if you want your industry to really take notice.

Capture Email Addresses

In each post, make sure to link to and talk about your upcoming product. I like to do this briefly at both the beginning and end of the post, and in between wherever it makes sense. Just remember that you are teaching, not selling.

Then, at the bottom of every post, include an email opt-in form so that readers can hear more about your upcoming product. This will put the subscriber on the same email list as your landing page form.

Three Posts

I think three posts is the minimum to establish expertise and to maintain a good relationship with your subscribers. Many more and you probably aren’t putting enough effort into each one. Fewer than three and you won’t have enough content to build an email list.

Keep in mind that the goal is to get people who are interested in your product to sign up for the email list. Don’t worry about selling up front. Always start by teaching.

Stay In Touch

A visitor will come across your landing page soon after it is published, sign up and then move on with their life. When you email them in three months to say that your product is ready, do you think they’ll remember who you are?

Probably not.

Not only that, but they’ll wonder how you got their email address and will be tempted to hit the “Mark as spam” button. You don’t want to find yourself in that situation.

How Not to Kill Your Email List

Email lists don’t last forever. Any subscribers who haven’t been contacted in the last month start to go cold. After three to six months, your list is nearly dead.

Of all the assets in my business, my email list of 7,000+ engaged users is the most valuable. Letting anything bad happen to it would be foolish. Just never let the list go cold in the first place.

The easiest strategy is to provide valuable information on a regular basis. Luckily for you, those blog posts you’ve been writing are great content.

Let’s say you are able to get 50 subscribers just from your landing page being shared around the Web. (Don’t forget to ask your friends to share!) Send your first blog post to that list. Because they are interested in your product, they will be interested in your post as well. In that email, include a quick update on your progress with the product. Also, ask your subscribers to share this latest post.

Rinse and Repeat

That new post should get you more subscribers because you will have an opt-in form at the bottom. Now it’s time to write a second post. Let’s say you now have 100 subscribers, 50 from the landing page and another 50 from the new blog post. Send out the second blog post to all 100 subscribers, along with two things: a quick update on the product and a request to share the post with their friends and network.

Can you guess what’s next? Yep, repeat the process again. Write another detailed blog post, send it out to your now longer email list, update them on your progress, and ask them to share the post.

Other Sources

Sharing on social media isn’t the only way to draw attention to a product. Your landing page and each blog post can be shared on Hacker News, Reddit, Inbound.org, Designer News and StumbleUpon and in email newsletters (especially the ones that just aggregate links). These sources can all drive a lot of traffic.

Hitting the home page on Hacker News alone, which is not too hard with good, relevant content, can bring over 10,000 visits. These visits could turn into hundreds of email subscribers.

Make sure to share each post and your landing page individually with every relevant source.

Launch Sequence

Did you know you could do everything right up until this point and still have a failed launch?

I once launched a new workshop to a list of 5,000 designers and didn’t sell a single seat, all because I sprang it on them suddenly. There wasn’t any build-up or sequence to build desire or demand.

Remember how we sent blog posts to the email list as they were published, each with an update on the product? That’s part of the launch sequence, and it is insanely important. But that’s only part of it. You also need to communicate all of the dates and product details well in advance.

Communicate Every Detail

While talking a few months ago with a friend who was about to launch a product, I asked one important question, “Does everyone on your email list know that your product is launching tomorrow?”

He’d actually had a great launch sequence up until that point — a large email list and regular updates — but he had failed to mention the exact launch date. The next day his subscribers were going to get an email that they weren’t expecting, an email that asked them to hand over their hard-earned cash.

I always send a pitch email the day before a big launch. I want potential customers to have all the information they need to make a decision the day before they have an opportunity to buy. Then, on launch day, I send a simple announcement email. Most of those who received the launch email decided the day before whether to buy. Then, it is just a matter of getting out their credit cards to complete the purchase.

Whenever I receive an unexpected sales pitch, I try to decide right then whether I am interested. Even if I am interested, I may put off the purchase for a bit (maybe my credit card isn’t handy right then) or do some more research. Soon, I’ll have forgotten, moved on with work and never come back to buy.

That’s why sending all of the details, including the exact launch time, the day before is so important. Do that well and people will be actively refreshing your page to be the first to make a purchase!

Friendly Advice

So, that’s what my friend did to complete his launch sequence. Right after we finished speaking, he wrote an email to his list saying that the product would be available the following morning at a specific time. It would have been better had his readers been able to look forward to a launch date for a few weeks, but I’m sure announcing the day before had a big impact on sales.

Launch Day

We’ve been talking about product launches for about 3,000 words now, but we’re just now getting to the actual launch. Does that tell you anything?

I hope you’ve learned that the most important aspects of a launch happen long before launch day.

A Simple Email

Once the scheduled launch time rolls around, hit “Publish” on your sales page. Ideally, this will just replace the landing page that has been up for the last few months. Then, send the announcement email. It doesn’t need to be anything fancy. Aim for clarity above all else: “The product is live — get it here.” Include a short testimonial or two if you feel inclined.

The goal is to get your audience from the email to the sales page.

If the whole launch process has been done properly, you should get at least a few sales immediately. All three of my books had over $1,000 in sales within the first 10 minutes of the announcement email going out.

Contact Everyone

Now, spend some time looking beyond your email list. Contact every person who has helped you with the product. Thank them for their help, give them free access to the product, and ask them to share the sales page. Many will.

Then, submit your website to any news aggregators or blogs that write about you, and post in any communities that you’ve been a part of. Tweet, post to Facebook, and ask all of your friends to do the same.

Did anyone ask about your product in the last few months? (I hope so!) Email them to let them know it is now ready and waiting for their credit card number.

Then, take a break from the computer. You’ll need it.

One More Email

This last email is optional, but it tends to print money, so you may want to incorporate it.

I like to run a 20%-off launch day sale, first, to reward my early buyers for trusting me and being so eager, and secondly, to have a reason to send a reminder email at the end of the day saying that the sale is ending. A lot of people had intended to buy upon receiving the first email but, for whatever reason, didn’t. Looking at the sales hour by hour, can you tell when the second email was sent?

My second spike is pretty obvious. Sending that email made me at least an extra $4,000.

Let’s Review

Your sales will die down. Nothing will be as big as a proper launch, but just know that you went out with a bang and hopefully made some money in the process.

As a short review, here’s what you are going to do to launch your next product:

  1. Figure out what you can teach potential customers.
  2. Announce your product, with a landing page, as early as possible.
  3. Ask visitors to subscribe to an email list to stay up to date.
  4. Share the landing page everywhere possible online.
  5. Write an excellent blog post, and ask people to subscribe to hear about your product.
  6. Send this blog post to your email list, along with a product update.
  7. Share the post everywhere and with anyone who would find it relevant.
  8. Repeat steps 5 to 7 with two more blog posts, each time sending the latest post to the larger email list.
  9. Announce the launch date and other details as early as possible.
  10. Send an email the day before telling all subscribers to expect the launch the next day and telling them everything they need to know to make their decision.
  11. Send a simple announcement email.
  12. Work like crazy to promote your newly launched product.
  13. Send a follow-up email near the end of launch day telling your subscribers that the sale is ending and that they should purchase right away.

That’s it! You can do plenty more for an even more successful launch, such as write guest posts or form partnerships, but if you cover the basics outlined above, you are most of the way there.

A Free Course on Product Launches

I don’t want your launch education to end here, so I’ve put together a free three-week course called “Mastering Product Launches.” There will be some overlap between that content and this post, but the email course will walk you through each aspect of launching a product.

(al)


© Nathan Barry for Smashing Magazine, 2013.

June 20 2013

11:48

Email Templates For Web Designers And Developers (PDF, ODT, TXT)


  

You know how it goes: you are facing a difficult situation with a client, and you aren’t quite sure how to respond to it to navigate the conversation into a meaningful direction. This is where email templates can come in handy. This article features email templates for communicating with clients, superiors, teammates and the like. You can easily customize them. They balance firmness and tact, professionalism and friendliness.

Please note, though, that these templates are subjective. They’ve been created to the best of my ability, with the help and input of dozens of designers and developers. Once you load the templates into your email program, remember to format them first, OK? Use the “Paste as plain text” command and you’ll be fine.

Here is a short overview of all templates:

The Dreaded Price Email

First, try to defer talking about price until you have all of the details. I do this all of the time with prospective clients of mine. Tell them that you’ll send an accurate estimate once they share some thoughts on what they’re looking for. And if they budge, go ahead and send it. Be done with it.

[Subject:] Answer to your question on my rates

[Client’s name],

My rate varies, depending on the project and its scope. Generally, though, my rate is [$X] for [work Y], just so that you have a ballpark idea.

If you send me more details about the kind of work you have in mind, I can send you a more accurate estimate. For now, though, let’s get back to where we were, regarding [matter Z], and we can discuss pricing when more information is available.

Regards,
[Your name]
[contact details, website]

Questions About The Design Brief

Trust me, iron out any questions you have before the project starts. The client will appreciate your initiative and your willingness to approach them when help is really needed. Swallowing a bit of pride and asking is always better than wallowing in confusion and causing problems down the road.

[Subject:] Some questions about the design brief

[Client’s name],

I appreciate your quick provision of the design brief. It’s really allowed me to get a good idea of where you want this project to go. I’m excited to start working on the project!

I have just a few questions to clear up before we go full steam ahead.

  • [question X]
  • [question Y]
  • [question Z]

If you could get back to me with your input by [date and/or time], that’d be great. If you also have things you’d like to discuss, please reach out.

It’s always best that we’re on the same page.

Thanks,
[Your name]
[contact details, website]

Sending The Final Plan To A New Client

To give a new client a good impression of you from the outset, make it clear that doing a professional quality work and work ethic is important to you. Send out this email along with the project plan.

[Subject:] Would love your input. Project plan attached.

[Client’s name],

To start, thanks for your vote of trust. I’ll be working hard to make sure you love your decision to work with me — that’s a promise.

I’ve attached the final project plan here, for your input. Below are its main points, in case you don’t have time right away to read the full plan.

  • The total estimated cost is [$X].
  • The estimated time is [Y].
  • [other important point]
  • [other important point]

If you could send me your comments by [date and/or time], I’d appreciate it.

Should you have things you’d like to discuss, please feel free to reach out. If a meeting is needed, I’m OK with that as well.

Thanks again for your business, and I look forward to getting to the work!

Regards,
[Your name]
[contact details, website]

The Cost In The Final Plan Is Damned Far From Your Initial Estimate

You’ll almost always have to submit an initial estimate to the client. If all goes well, that estimate will be reflected in the final plan, without much change. But for those times when a drastic departure is needed, take heart.

[Subject:] Final project plan, based on recent info

[Client’s name],

Two things here.

First, thanks for providing the full details on the project you’d like us to work on together. I’ve prepared the project plan based on the information you’ve given.

The plan is attached here, for your evaluation.

Secondly, I’d like to inform you of the revised estimate, reflected in the plan.

Very briefly, the project will now take [time X], at a cost of [$Y].

I’m aware this is far from the previous estimates I talked about with you. I’ve given these figures a lot of thought, and I believe they’re fair, considering the work to be done on both of our ends.

To close, please send me your feedback on the plan by [date and/or time].

Then, we can work out an arrangement that’s a win for both of us.

Regards,
[Your name]
[contact details, website]

Scope Is Creeping But Can Be Accommodated

I’ve yet to see a large project that doesn’t have scope creep, one way or another. Still, it’s important to manage the creep, quickly and proactively. Otherwise, the project will bloat, bringing a completely new set of problems.

[Subject:] A quick note on your new requirements

[Client’s name],

Thanks for providing input on the project — I appreciate your direction!

Regarding the changes we talked about, I’m happy to tell you that they can be accommodated. But because they aren’t a part of our initial agreement, they’ve caused shifts in the plan for this project.

That revised plan is attached, showing the new timelines and associated costs.

I’d appreciate feedback regarding the attachment by [date and/or time], so that the design work can get back to its usual speed.

Thanks,
[Your name]
[contact details, website]

You Won’t Be Able To Deliver The Design On Time

First things first, problems like this happen sooner or later. What’s important is that you apologize, not try to shirk responsibility, and fix the situation fast. If you do these three actions, you’ll be fine most of the time.

[Subject:] Important notice, and an apology

[Client’s name],

I’m sure this isn’t the type of email you expected to get from me. Still, I’d like to deal with the facts as they are and get a solution in place, ASAP.

So, here goes. I’m sorry, but the design won’t be delivered on time. There are a couple reasons for this, but rest assured, I take full responsibility.

  • [reason A]
  • [reason B]
  • [reason C]

To get the project back on track, I’ve done [action X], [action Y] and [action Z].

I’m also taking steps to ensure that we don’t go through this headache again.

Anyway, if you’d like to discuss the effects of this issue, feel free to reach out.

Regards,
[Your name]
[contact details, website]

Dealing With Late Payment

Thankfully, I’ve not had to send these emails often, and usually my clients have only forgotten to deal with an invoice out of busyness. But if you’re in the unfortunate position of having to collect a very late payment, read on!

[Subject:] Your payment for [work X]

[Client’s name],

I recently sent you an invoice dated [date], for [services rendered]. The total cost reflected in the invoice is [$X].

While I’ve worked up to standard and delivered on time, the compensation still hasn’t arrived. According to our agreement, the payment terms are below.

[Insert relevant details here, preferably in bold for emphasis.]

According to these terms, the payment ball is clearly in your court. If you’re going through difficulties, please let me know, and we’ll work to reach a solution together.

Otherwise, I’ll be expecting your payment by [date X], and will be contacting you on [date Y] if any issues still remain.

Thanks,
[Your name]
[contact details, website]

Discussing Other Aspects Of The Website

Design is rarely the only thing a client has to consider. As the one with the knowledge, you would do well to bring related aspects of website performance and usability to the client’s attention. As a result, you might earn not only their respect, but perhaps even higher compensation.

[Subject:] Wanted to bring these to your attention

[Client’s name],

As you may know, design isn’t the only thing that matters on your website. So, I feel it’s my responsibility to bring your attention to related issues that you may need to consider.

  • [first consideration (such as website performance)]
  • [second consideration (such as usability or functionality)]
  • [yet another consideration]

The factors above will all have an impact on your website and its users. They’re important because of [reason X, reason Y and reason Z].

I’m bringing these things to your attention now so that we can act on them promptly. If you’d like to talk about what I’ve shared here, please let me know!

Regards,
[Your name]
[contact details, website]

Justifying The Need For Extra Hours

As mentioned, problems and changes always come up, whatever the project. Here is yet another template for such instances, this one an email to soften the client’s heart on the subject of extra hours.

[Subject:] Important project update

[Client’s name],

I just wanted to tell you about some important changes to the project.

From my most recent check of what still needs to get done, I’ve come to the realization that extra hours are needed, for these reasons:

  • [first reason and why it matters]
  • [second reason and why it matters]
  • [third reason and so on]

I know this is a surprise, and I would have liked to have avoided this. But my responsibility is to keep you in the loop, especially about any changes such as these.

If you’d like to discuss the new hours, please do reach out. Or we can meet at [date and/or time]. If then doesn’t work, let me know when is most convenient for you.

Thanks,
[Your name]
[contact details, website]

No Need For Extra Hours

On rare occasions you will tell the client that you need extra time, only to realize later that in fact you don’t. Be honest and promptly share the good news with them.

[Subject:] Some good news for you

[Client’s name],

I recently sent you a [revised plan, email, etc.], indicating the need for [X] extra hours. The reasons for those hours were [A, B and C].

On a happier note, I’d like to share with you that those hours are no longer needed. They’ll no longer be billed, and the invoice will reflect that.

To be clear, the total project cost is now [$Y].

Everything else remains as is. If you’d like formal documentation to indicate this change, please let me know and I’ll prepare it.

Thank you,
[Your name]
[contact details, website]

Declining A Project

Oh, it’s a happy day when you have too many projects to accept a new one. If it ever does happen, a polite decline will stand as proof of your professionalism and will leave a good impression on the inquirer, who may need you in future.

[Subject:] Sorry I cannot take on your project

[Client’s name],

Thanks for your [inquiry or offer to hire me].

Unfortunately, I have a lot on my plate right now. I won’t be able to take you up on your offer. I wouldn’t want to accept and then commit at anything less than 100%.

For now, I’d like to focus on current projects, but I expect to have a free period open by [date X]. Would this work for you?

Regards,
[Your name]
[contact details, website]

Stopping Work Because Of Delinquent Payment

All projects come with a payment risk. You could ask for a deposit up front to mitigate the risk, but sometimes you have to stop work altogether and accept the reality. Still, tell your client so that they’re clear that you haven’t shirked any responsibilities of your own.

[Subject:] Will have to stop work until dues are paid

[Client’s name],

This is a situation I would have preferred to avoid, but we both have to deal with the facts as they are. Due to delinquent payment, work on the project will have to stop, according to the terms of our agreement.

For the sake of our relationship, I’ll just assume that the invoice fell through the cracks. I’m sending a copy later today, and look forward to your payment by [date X].

I’ll also send a reminder by [date Y] if the issue remains.

Thanks,
[Your name]
[contact details, website]

The Client Refuses To Sign A Contract

Contracts, whether written in legalese or plain language, protect you. For this reason, a client’s refusal to sign one should throw up a red flag, and you should make it clear that you won’t work without the right measures in place.

[Subject:] Clarification

[Client’s name],

This is just a quick note about the contract I presented to you. You’ve stated that it’s unnecessary, but I really can’t overemphasize that it is necessary.

A contract clarifies our shared responsibilities and is an important safeguard for both of us. It’s an assurance that we’ll both comply with what’s expected of us, within the bounds of our professional relationship.

For these reasons, I really would never work without one. Not only is a contract standard practice, but it’s also demanded by common business sensibilities.

I hope you’ll understand. Should you wish to discontinue work because of the contract requirement, please inform me.

Regards,
[Your name]
[contact details, website]

Funds Needed For Materials

Some designs require third-party resources, such as stock photography or original artwork. Most contracts have a clause that the client will pay for these materials, but reminding the client of as much via email is always prudent.

[Subject:] Materials needed for the design

[Client’s name],

I’m sending you this as a record of my request for materials. Specifically, the design requires the following items:

  • [first item (such as a stock photograph, with link)]
  • [second item (such as artwork, with link)]

These materials will be used for [insert intended use].

The total price for such materials is [$X], which breaks down as [$Y] for the first item, and [$Z] for the second item.

According to our agreement, the funds for such materials will come from you.

Please reply with your approval, and send the payment over by [date X].

Thanks,
[Your name]
[contact details, website]

Rates Are Going Up

Regularly increasing your rates is a normal part of business. This protects your margins and offsets inflation and higher taxes. Still, higher rates could mean disgruntled clients, so soften them to the idea early on.

[Subject:] I’ll be raising my rates

[Client’s name],

Because your business is extremely important to me, I’d like to personally explain the reasons for my raised rates.

  • [reason X]
  • [reason Y]
  • [reason Z]

As you’re aware, increases like these are an unavoidable part of business. That being said, I believe the new rate reflects the accompanying increase in my skills. For example, I’ve recently [insert latest big achievement].

If you have questions or clarifications, please let me know. I’d be happy to talk through any concerns you may have.

Thanks for your time,
[Your name]
[contact details, website]

Request For Testimonial

Testimonials are some of the most powerful marketing materials out there. The best can allay apprehensions, reinforce credibility and solidify your reputation. So, actively gather them when the opportunities present themselves. Don’t let your good work go unnoticed!

[Subject:] Can I get your approval for this quote?

[Client’s name],

Hope I haven’t caught you at a bad time.

I’m sure you know how important testimonials are for securing new clients. And because I want to make things super-easy for you, I’ve prepared a template for you. You’re free to edit it as you like, of course.

[Insert pre-written testimonial.]

If this testimonial is OK, can I get your approval to feature it on my website? Also, if you could send a photo by [date and/or time], I’d really appreciate it.

Regards,
[Your name]
[contact details, website]

Request For Case Study

In addition to testimonials or social networking, case studies are another form of marketing. If you put effort into making great case studies, you’ll greatly reduce apprehensions about your services on the part of potential clients.

[Subject:] Can I feature you as a case study on my website?

[Client’s name],

The subject line pretty much says everything, but I’d like to ask again. Can I feature you as a case study? I think our project had a lot of highlights, and I’m eager to get the word out about our work together.

Specifically, I plan to dig into these main aspects:

  • [first main aspect to highlight in case study]
  • [second main aspect to highlight]
  • [third aspect and so on]

If being featured is OK with you, can we chat over coffee on [date and/or time]? Or if that doesn’t work, I’m free on [date X].

I look forward to meeting you!

Thanks,
[Your name]
[contact details, website]

Request For Referral

If you do good work, referrals will come automatically. But it never hurts to be proactive and ask whether your clients know people whom you could help. At least you’ll get the benefit of their introduction, which will alleviate any anxiety on the part of the prospective client.

[Subject:] Know any people I could help?

[Client’s name],

As you probably know, referrals are an important source of customers. So, I’d like to check in and ask: do you know people I could help with my skills?

If you do, I’ve written an introductory email that you can send them.

Introductory email: Hi, [friend’s name]. I’m introducing you to [your name]. [He/she] is the designer who did my website, and [he/she] is great: solid design skills, good work ethic and very responsive. I think you’d get some benefit from getting in touch with [him/her]. Contact details: [your email address, phone number, website].

Thanks for your help with this, [client name].

Regards,
[Your name]
[contact details, website]

Download The Templates For Free

Thanks

Thanks to the dozens of designers who have provided input and help. Also, a big debt of gratitude to the editors of Smashing Magazine for providing the platform to share this with the world.

Download the Set for Free

This set of templates is completely free to use for commercial or personal use. Go ahead and share this with anyone whom you think it’ll help. But please don’t sell it or claim it as your own. Putting this together was hard work!

(Credits of image on front page: Sarah Joy)

(al) (ea)


© Bea Kylene Jumarang for Smashing Magazine, 2013.

April 19 2013

14:02

Inspirational Podcasts: Listen, Watch And Share!


  

With a phone or tablet in your pocket, you get instant access to a huge variety of podcasts — both audio and video. They keep you entertained while you’re commuting or on a long plane ride, and they provide useful information that you can integrate into your daily routine as a Web professional.

Keeping track of the ever-changing selection and finding quality podcasts that feature exactly the topics you are interested in can be painful. That’s where we come in. We have put together an extensive list that includes your soon-to-be favorite podcast — whether you are a developer looking for coding advice, a designer seeking inspiration or a startup businessperson. So, tune in, stay informed and learn new skills!

Design

On The Grid
On the Grid is a design podcast featuring Matt McInerney, Andy Mangold and Dan Auer. Every week, the three call in for a conversation about design’s effect on the world and the world’s effect on design.

onthegrid

Draft
A show about the craft of designing for the Web. Your hosts are Giovanni DiFeterici and Gene Crawford from Unmatched Style.

draft

The Fox Is Black
The Fox Is Black is an art and design blog that seeks to discover and share the most interesting and inspiring parts of contemporary life and culture.

The Fox Is Black

Design Chat
DesignChat claims to present the best live discussion about design on the Internet. They go live on Wednesdays at 8:00 pm CT.

Design Chat

Let’s Make Mistakes
Mike and Leah talk about design, with a lot of tangents along the way. They are dedicated to bringing you the best podcasts about design and culture from an alternative point of view. They are committed to excellence through argument.

letsmakemistakes

The East Wing
The East Wing’s host, Tim Smith, and his expert guests talk about design, user experience, problem-solving and the keys to creating products with value. A new episode is published every Wednesday.

The East Wing

Design Pro
The Design Pro Show is a weekly webcast with Andy Rutledge. Each interactive live episode is free to watch and full of advice on how to succeed in a professional practice.

Design Pro

Design Festival
The Design Festival podcast provides designers with fresh inspiration. It features expert talks ranging from UX design to typography to coding advice.

Design Festival

UX

User Interface Engineering
User Interface Engineering specializes in website usabilty and user experience. On its podcast, called SpoolCast, experts share their thoughts on designing with the user in mind.

User Interface Engineering

User Experience Podcast
Sharing its voice since 2006, the User Experience Podcast features a wide range of interviewees and commentary on everything UX. Features include developers talking about their development process and information on how to conduct interviews for user research.

User Experience Podcast

Coding

The WebGL Podcast
This one is a podcast about WebGL. It covers the latest news and libraries, as well as tips and tricks to help you get the most out of your WebGL project. It is hosted by Paul Lewis who currently works on Google Chrome’s Developer Relations team.

The WebGL Podcast

The Creative Coding Podcast
Digital media consultant Seb Lee-Delisle and designer and developer Iain Lobb discuss the ins and outs of programming for visual and creative applications.

The Creative Coding Podcast

The Basement Coders Developer Podcast
The Basement Coders Developer Podcast features discussion on development topics and interviews with passionate developers.

The Basement Coders Developer Podcast

HNpod
HNpod is currently hosted by Michael Mahemoff, having been started by Alex Muir. In half an hour, it discusses the week’s top stories on Hacker News.

HNpod

Ruby on Rails

Ruby5
Released Tuesday and Friday mornings, this podcast presents the latest news in the Ruby and Rails community.

Ruby5

RailsCasts
Produced by Ryan Bates, RailsCasts targets the intermediate Rails developer, but beginners and experts will get something out of the tips and tricks as well. A free episode is released every other week.

RailsCasts

Ruby Rogues
Ruby Rogues is a podcast about Ruby and related technologies. A lot of practical tips, such as what the ideal development environment looks like, will facilitate your working process.

Ruby Rogues

JavaScript

The Javascript Show
This podcast by developers Peter Cooper and Jason Seifer features the latest news and discussion within the JavaScript communities, covering frameworks, development techniques, quick scripts and more.

The Javascript Show

JavaScript Jabber
Claiming to be “your prototype for great code,” the JavaScript Jabber’s experts panel shares its knowledge once a week.

JavaScript Jabber

NodeUp: A Node.js Podcast
NodeUp discusses a wide array of Web development topics. Every Sunday you can join the team live via freenode.

NodeUp: A Node.js Podcast

yayQuery
Hosted by developers Paul Irish, Alex Sexton, Rebecca Murphey and Adam J. Sontag, yayQuery is your weekly rainbow ride through all things jQuery.

yayQuery Podcast

PHP

Voices of the ElePHPant
Voices of the ElePHPant offers interviews with people who are involved in the PHP community.

Voices of the ElePHPant

Businesses and Startups

The Industry
The Industry brings a new perspective to tech media. Highlighting design-focused startups and people, its purpose is to give the design community a voice in the tech industry.

theindustry

Startups for the Rest of Us
Hosts Mike Taber and Rob Walling share their own experience as software entrepreneurs with developers and designers who want to launch their own software products.

Startups For the Rest of Us

5by5 | Founders Talk
Hosted by Adam Stacoviak, Founders Talk features interesting interviews with people who had the courage to start a business. A new episode is released each week.

5by5 | Founders Talk

Kalzumeus
Kalzumeus is hosted by Patrick McKenzie. A software businessman himself, he gives advice on business topics.

Kalzumeus

BizCraft
A podcast about the business side of Web design, recorded live almost every two weeks. Hosted by Carl Smith and Gene Crawford from Unmatched Style.

bizcraft

Unfinished Business
Andrew Clarke and Anna Debenham present a weekly discussion show about the business end — the sharp end — of the Web, design and creative industries.

unfinishedbusiness

General

Treehouse Show Archives
Teaching technology to the world is the mission of Treehouse, hosted by Nick Pettit and Jason Seifer. The team offers a dose of Web design and development news every Tuesday.

Treehouse Show Archives - Treehouse Blog

Fresh Squeezed Mobile
An interview podcast exploring Web design and development. Together with experts, the team discusses mobile design, responsive design, content strategy and user experience.

Fresh Squeezed Mobile

ShopTalk
ShopTalk is a Web design, development and UX podcast with Chris Coyier and Dave Rupert. Each week, they are joined by a special guest who helps to answer questions submitted by listeners.

ShopTalk

The Changelog
What’s going on in open source? The Changelog’s hosts, Wynn Netherland and Adam Stacovlak, cover the new and fresh each week.

The Changelog

Boagworld
Paul Boag, creator of the longest-running podcast about Web design, shares tips and news for designers, developers and website owners. His daily audio tips provide some quick inspiration for people on the go.

Boagworld

PleaseAdvise.fm
An occasional podcast by Mike McAlister, Jake Caputo and Chris Molitor. The topics range from WordPress to tips for business startups.

PleaseAdvise.fm

This Developer’s Life
An interview series in which developers talk about certain aspects of their life and working process. What drives them, and what hinders them?

This Developer's Life

Pishposh.tv | Forrst
This one is all about the Forrst community and everything else good and interesting in design and development.

Pishposh.tv - Forrst Podcast

Creatiplicity
Creatiplicity’s host, Chris Bowler, chats with his guests about their creative process.

Creatiplicity

iTunes DesignChat
DesignChat is a weekly video- and text-based conversation between and for creatives.

iTunes DesignChat

WebDev Radio
WebDev Radio’s host, Michael Kimsal, catches up with well-known developers, providing his audience with the latest news and current discussion.

webdev Radio

5by5 | The Web Ahead
The Web Ahead is a weekly podcast that covers changing technologies and the future of the Web. Topics include HTML5, mobile responsive design, iOS and Android. Hosted by Jen Simmons, the episodes are broadcast live but can be watched later.

5by5 | The Web Ahead

5by5 | The Big Web Show
The Big Web Show covers an interesting mix of everything Web. Topics include Web publishing, Web technology, art direction, content strategy, typography and more. Each week, host Jeffrey Zeldman welcomes a new guest. The show is broadcast live and can be watched later.

5by5 | The Big Web Show

Techzing
Techzing is a chat show hosted by Justin Vincent and Jason Roberts. Two episodes are released each week. The “Midweek Interview Show” features interviews with interesting people. In the “Weekend Discussion Show,” the duo talks about startups, tech in general and other topics.

techzing tech podcast

5by5 | Build and Analyze
Build and Analyze is a podcast hosted by Marco Arment and Dan Benjamin. Every week brings the latest news and discussion on mobile Web development, iPhone, iPad and iOS. You can watch the show either live or recorded.

5by5 | Build and Analyze

Young Guns Show
This podcast features interviews with young people who make the Web.

younggunshows

Happy Monday
Josh Long and Sarah Parmenter present a short-burst podcast every Monday. So far, it has featured many well-known experts, including Andy Clarke, Trent Walton and Jessica Hirsche.

happymonday

The Gently Mad Podcast
The Gently Mad is an interview show about what drives us as creators and what connects us as people. Each week, the hosts explore the stories, experiences and insights of awesome people who make awesome things.

tgm

The Businessology Show
This podcast, about the business of design and the design of business, is hosted by Jason Blumer and Dan Mall.

The Businessology Show

Upfront
An in-depth discussion on the latest tooling, workflow and best practices for front-end developers, brought to you every week by Jack Franklin and Ben Howdle.

upfront

The Non-Breaking Space Show
The Non-Breaking Space Show is a podcast that seeks out the best and brightest on the Web and chats with them about what they do and why they do it.

The Non-Breaking Space Show

The Stack | Monocle 24
Hosted by editor in chief Tyler Brûlé, the program looks at the future of print media, from magazines to newspapers.

The Stack | Monocle 24

Design Matters with Debbie Millman
This thought-provoking podcast profiles industry-leading graphic designers, change agents, artists, writers and educators.

designmatters

Scott Hanselman
Scott Hanselman speaks, codes, writes, empowers, promotes, learns and listens — and he shares his insights with you on YouTube.

Scott Hanselman

Download This Show
Download This Show is your weekly point of access to the latest developments in social media, consumer electronics, digital politics, hacktivism and more, brought to you by ABC Radio National.

Download This Show

5by5 | The Critical Path
Critical Path is a talk show that contemplates the causality of success and failure in mobile computing. Using Apple as a lens to look at both telecom and traditional computing markets, the hosts try to understand what it means to be great.

5by5 | The Critical Path

5by5 | High Density
High Density is an interview show that brings together the sharpest minds in the world to discuss how markets and business models are in a state of perpetual disruption. All signal, no noise, and the merciless pursuit of the truth.

5by5 | High Density

Debug
Debug focuses on development, especially for iPhone, iPad, Mac and games, but it covers other platforms as well. Whereas Iterate (covered below) is all about designers, Debug is for developers.

Debug

Iterate
Iterate is a fortnightly podcast focusing on mobile and app design for iOS, Mac, Android and other platforms.

Iterate

Typeradio
Type is speech on paper. Typeradio is speech on type. It is a micro-FM broadcast, an MP3 Internet radio stream and a podcast station. Typeradio broadcasts questions, answers, performances, events and talks online and on stage.

Typeradio

This Week in Web Design
This Week in Web Design helps you accelerate your Web design career by teaching you the creative, business, technology and marketing secrets of its expert hosts and guests.

This Week in Web Design

Refactor.tv
Refactor.tv is a weekly podcast that discusses Web and mobile app development, open-source software and beer. Brought to you from San Francisco by two independent software developers, Sam Soffes and Steve Derico.

refactor.tv

The Breakpoint
The Breakpoint is a new show focusing on development tools and workflows.

thebreakpoint

Book Club
Just like a regular book club but for Web design books. Each month, the club selects a book, reads it as a group and meets online at a set time of the day. The author of the book then takes questions, some sent in beforehand and some asked live by listeners.

bookclub

Until Next Time

We hope you enjoy these podcasts and that there’s some or many in your field of interest. Spice up your travel time or make the drive to work more productive. Let yourself be entertained by experts in our industry, and gain not only new skills but also insights from their lives.

Tell us which is your favorite and why? Of course, you’re welcome to share other inspirational podcasts with the community — simply mention them in the comments section below!

By the way, you may also want to check out Sean Hodge’s list — we highly recommend it!

(al) (ea)


© Melanie Lang for Smashing Magazine, 2013.

April 14 2011

13:05

Pixel Perfection When Rotating, Pasting And Nudging In Photoshop

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When creating Web and app interfaces, most designers slave over every single pixel, making sure it’s got exactly the right color, texture and position. If you’re not careful, though, some common functions like moving, rotating and pasting can undo your hard work, resulting in a blurry mess. But with some small changes to your workflow, you should be able to maintain the highest-quality artwork from the start to the end of the project.

Pixel-Perfect Rotation

If you’re not careful, rotating layers in Photoshop can damage them in a very noticeable, pixel-mashing way.

When rotating layers with Free Transform (and some other tools) to exactly 90 or 270°, the quality of the outcome is determined by the layer’s size. If the layer is of an even width and even height, then you’ll be fine. If it’s of an odd width and odd height, you’ll also be okay. But if they’re of an odd width by even height or even width by odd height, then you’ll see something like the result below:

Mastering1 in Pixel Perfection When Rotating, Pasting And Nudging In Photoshop

In this case, the artwork is 20 × 9 pixels: even-by-odd dimensions. The results for bitmap layers and vector layers are different, but they both produce unusable results because the origin of rotation doesn’t fall on an exact pixel boundary.

A Fix

Because even-by-odd or odd-by-even dimensions are the problem, we need a way to ensure that the contents of the layer are odd-by-odd or even-by-even. Probably any method you can think of will solve this problem, be it adding a square bitmap mask to a layer or adding more content to the layer that you’re rotating. You could also draw a square on another layer and rotate both at once.

As long as the dimensions for the layer or layers are even-by-even or odd-by-odd, it’ll be fine.

Mastering2 in Pixel Perfection When Rotating, Pasting And Nudging In Photoshop

An Easier Fix

Rotation-origin in Pixel Perfection When Rotating, Pasting And Nudging In Photoshop

Changing the origin of rotation to the top left (or any other corner) will ensure it is on a pixel boundary, guaranteeing perfect results every time. To do this, click on a corner origin after selecting the Free Transform tool, but before rotating. This works brilliantly and is the simplest solution yet.

Bitmap and vector masks are affected by this issue as well, so please take care. But the issue affects only rotated layers, either via “Free Transform” or “Transform” under the Edit menu. Rotating the entire canvas via Image → Image Rotation has no problem.

To make things even easier, I’ve created some Photoshop Actions and Workflows that take care of everything for you.

Pixel-Perfect Vector Pasting

If you’ve drawn pixel-snapped artwork in Illustrator and pasted it into Photoshop as a shape layer, you may have noticed that the result is not quite what you expect (i.e. a perfectly sharp image), but rather a blurry mess. Here’s how to fix that.

Below is some artwork as it appears in Illustrator: perfectly formed, snapped to the pixel grid, and at the size we intend to use it in Photoshop.

Mastering3 in Pixel Perfection When Rotating, Pasting And Nudging In Photoshop

Below are the same paths pasted into Photoshop a few times. Notice how only the top-left version is sharp, while the others are half a pixel out on the x axis, y axis or both.

Paste in Pixel Perfection When Rotating, Pasting And Nudging In Photoshop

What Went Wrong?

Photoshop’s pasting behavior works in one of two ways. If you’ve made a selection, then the clipboard’s contents are pasted so that the center of the clipboard is aligned with the center of the selection. If a selection hasn’t been made, then the contents are pasted so that the center of the clipboard aligns with the center of your current view. The level you’re zoomed into and the portion of the document you’re viewing determines the result.

A Fix

Our test artwork is 32 pixels wide by 12 pixels high. Drawing a 32 × 12 marquee selection in Photoshop forces the artwork to land exactly where we want it and to be pixel-aligned. This works every single time.

An Easier Fix

The marquee doesn’t have to be the exact size of your artwork, though. In our case, a 2 × 2-pixel selection would work just as well, because the center of an even-width-and-height marquee selection and the center of even-width-and-height clipboard contents would fall exactly on a pixel boundary, which is what we want. If the artwork was an odd width and height, then a 1 × 1 selection would have been required.

Mastering5 in Pixel Perfection When Rotating, Pasting And Nudging In Photoshop

If you couldn’t be bothered noting your artwork’s dimensions, then by drawing an appropriately sized marquee, you can draw a 2 × 2-pixel selection and paste. If the image is blurry on the x axis only, make the selection 1 × 2 and paste again. If the image is blurry on the y axis only, make the selection 2 × 1 and paste again. If the image is blurry on both axes, make the selection 1 × 1 and paste again.

It may sound complex, but in practice it’s very quick; you’ll only ever have to paste twice to get sharp vector paths from Illustrator.

Smart Objects

Pasting elements as smart objects doesn’t come with the same issue (at least not in Photoshop CS5 anyway). I like to use Shape layers, though: they allow more control and editability and have better anti-aliasing.

Pixel-Perfect Vector Nudging

When nudging vector points, Photoshop exhibits some strange behavior, related to how far you’re zoomed in. At 100%, nudging with the arrow keys will move your vector point exactly 1 pixel. At 200%, nudging moves the point by half a pixel. At 300%, it moves by a third of a pixel.

The behavior seems intentional, but it’s not usually what I’m after. Most of the time, I want to nudge in whole pixel increments. Here’s how you can do that, without zooming out to 100%.

Open your document, and then create a second window by going to Window → Arrange → New Window. You can then resize the new window and place it out of the way.

Mastering6 in Pixel Perfection When Rotating, Pasting And Nudging In Photoshop
Large view

Edit in the other window as normal, zooming in as far as you’d like. You’ll now be able to press Command + ` to switch back to the window that’s zoomed to 100%, nudge using the arrow keys, and then press Command + ` to switch back again. Because the other window is zoomed to 100%, nudging will move the selected vector points exactly 1 pixel.

Mastering7 in Pixel Perfection When Rotating, Pasting And Nudging In Photoshop
Large view

Please note that holding Shift while using the arrow keys to nudge always moves by 10 pixels, no matter how far in you’re zoomed. Also, dragging points with the mouse will snap to pixels in most situations — most, but not all.

While not perfect, this technique does remove some of the frustration with editing detailed vector paths in Photoshop. Or maybe it’s just another reason why complex shapes should be drawn in Illustrator first, and then pasted as shape layers?

Take Charge Of Your Pixels

Using the correct techniques, it should be easy to place pixels exactly where you want. Remember, you’re the one in charge. Demand that they fall in line. Accept nothing less than pixel perfection.

Would you like to know more about a particular technique or Photoshop feature? Please let us know in the comments.

(al)


© Marc Edwards for Smashing Magazine, 2011. | Permalink | Post a comment | Smashing Shop | Smashing Network | About Us
Post tags: photoshop, techniques, useful

April 07 2011

18:07

Useful JavaScript and jQuery Tools, Libraries, Plugins

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Recently we’ve been receiving more requests for carefully selected, useful round-ups. We try to avoid round-ups on Smashing Magazine, but sometimes the format is useful and — if the resources are relevant — can be extremely helpful. Besides, we are glad to drive traffic to some obscure, yet useful resources and thus support the developers of these resources.

In this round-up, you’ll find some of the useful JavaScript and jQuery tools, libraries and plugins that we have stumbled upon recently. Hopefully, you’ll find them valuable for your upcoming projects. Among other things, you’ll find handy services and online utilities, recently released JavaScript libraries and jQuery plugins.

You might want to take a look at the following related posts:

Useful JavaScript Libraries

Respond.js: Fast CSS3 Media Queries for Internet Explorer 6-8 and More
The goal of this script is to provide a fast and lightweight script to enable responsive Web designs in browsers that don’t support CSS3 Media Queries. In particular, Internet Explorer 8 and under.

Javascript-154 in Useful JavaScript and jQuery Tools, Libraries, Plugins

Blackbird: Open Source JavaScript Logging Utility
Blackbird offers a dead-simple way to log messages in JavaScript and an attractive console to view and filter them.

Javascript-199 in Useful JavaScript and jQuery Tools, Libraries, Plugins

Treesaver.js
Treesaver is a JavaScript framework for creating magazine-style layouts using standards-compliant HTML and CSS. It is free for all uses and made available under the MIT or GPLv2 licenses.

Js-001 in Useful JavaScript and jQuery Tools, Libraries, Plugins

Bibliotype
Bibliotype is a (very) simple HTML, CSS and JS based library for rapid prototyping long-form typography and reading on tablets.

Useful-tool-127 in Useful JavaScript and jQuery Tools, Libraries, Plugins

Highcharts – Interactive JavaScript charts
Highcharts is a charting library written in pure JavaScript, offering an easy way of adding interactive charts to your web site or web application. Highcharts currently supports line, spline, area, areaspline, column, bar, pie and scatter chart types.

Javascript-264 in Useful JavaScript and jQuery Tools, Libraries, Plugins

jStat: a JavaScript statistical library
jStat is a statistical library written in JavaScript that allows you to perform advanced statistical operations without the need of a dedicated statistical language (i.e. MATLAB or R).

Js-007 in Useful JavaScript and jQuery Tools, Libraries, Plugins

highlight.js
Highlight.js highlights syntax in code examples on blogs, forums and in fact on any web pages. It’s very easy to use because it works automatically: finds blocks of code, detects a language, highlights it.

Javascript-268 in Useful JavaScript and jQuery Tools, Libraries, Plugins

Visual Event JS Library
Events in Javascript are often seen as a bit of an enigma. This is odd given that Javascript is very much an event driven language, but it is typically down to their complex nature and difficulty to debug. To this end the author created Visual Event to help track events which are subscribed to DOM nodes.

Js-005 in Useful JavaScript and jQuery Tools, Libraries, Plugins

Underscore.js
Underscore is a utility-belt library for JavaScript that provides a lot of the functional programming support that you would expect in Prototype.js (or Ruby), but without extending any of the built-in JavaScript objects.

Javascript-279 in Useful JavaScript and jQuery Tools, Libraries, Plugins

Popcorn.js
Popcorn.js, is a HTML5 javascript library for integrating the web into video production.

Javascript-315 in Useful JavaScript and jQuery Tools, Libraries, Plugins

SlickGrid!
SlickGrid is a JavaScript grid/spreadsheet component.

Js-004 in Useful JavaScript and jQuery Tools, Libraries, Plugins

JavaScript InfoVis Toolkit
The JavaScript InfoVis Toolkit provides tools for creating Interactive Data Visualizations for the Web.

Javascript-237 in Useful JavaScript and jQuery Tools, Libraries, Plugins

Handlebars.js: Minimal Templating on Steroids
Handlebars provides the power necessary to let you build semantic templates effectively with no frustration. You might want to read ThinkVitamin’s article Getting Started with Handlebars.js, too.

Javascript-280 in Useful JavaScript and jQuery Tools, Libraries, Plugins

Backbone.js
Backbone supplies structure to JavaScript-heavy applications by providing models with key-value binding and custom events, collections with a rich API of enumerable functions, views with declarative event handling, and connects it all to your existing application over a RESTful JSON interface.

Javascript-313 in Useful JavaScript and jQuery Tools, Libraries, Plugins

Load JavaScript and Stylesheets on Demand | SidJS
SidJS is a lightweight JavaScript library used to load JavaScript scripts and CSS stylesheets on demand. It increases AJAX applications performance by loading resources when they’re needed.

OpenFaces
OpenFaces is an open-source library of AJAX-powered JSF components, an Ajax framework and a client-side validation framework. OpenFaces is based on the set of JSF components formerly known as QuipuKit. It contains fully revised codebase of QuipuKit and introduces many new components and features.

Js-009 in Useful JavaScript and jQuery Tools, Libraries, Plugins

d3.js
D3 allows you to bind arbitrary data to a Document Object Model (DOM), and then apply data-driven transformations to the document.

Javascript-238 in Useful JavaScript and jQuery Tools, Libraries, Plugins

Tempo: JSON rendering engine
Tempo is a tiny JSON rendering engine that enables you to craft data templates in pure HTML. It not only makes AJAX content easier to work with but also manages clear separations of concerns, i.e. no HTML in your JavaScript files!

Js-002 in Useful JavaScript and jQuery Tools, Libraries, Plugins

Art Deco – Selectable Text
A quick proof-of-concept of split typography, based on Pierre Fix-Masseau’s Art Deco style. The challenge here was to achieve ‘split letters’ as part of a Web page layout, while retaining the ability to select text.

Javascript-153 in Useful JavaScript and jQuery Tools, Libraries, Plugins

Using Less.js to Simplify Your CSS3
LESS is an amazing little tool that extends CSS with the addition of variables, mixins, operations and nested rules.

Javascript-175 in Useful JavaScript and jQuery Tools, Libraries, Plugins

PhantomJS: Headless WebKit with JavaScript API
PhantomJS is a headless WebKit with JavaScript API. It has fast and native support for various web standards: DOM handling, CSS selector, JSON, Canvas, and SVG.

JavaScript Tools and Utilities

TestSwarm: Continious & Distributed JS Testing
TestSwarm is an open source project by Mozilla Labs (and created by John Resig) which aims to simplify the complicated and time-consuming process of running JavaScript test suites in multiple browsers. It offers a continious & distributed testing environment that can be used by multiple users running the tests in various browsers with a “set-and-forget” logic.

Javascript-212 in Useful JavaScript and jQuery Tools, Libraries, Plugins

Minimee
On the Web, speed is important — so when it comes to CSS and JavaScript files, size does matter. By automatically minimizing and combining your files for you, Minimee takes the heavy lifting out of keeping your files nice and clean. Minimee is an ExpressionEngine add-on only.

Javascript-169 in Useful JavaScript and jQuery Tools, Libraries, Plugins

Doctor JS
Doctor JS is a tool which analyzes your JavaScript code. The tool tests how well your code is written in regards to polymorphism, prototypes, exceptions and callbacks. You might want to check out JSLint as well.

Javascript-174 in Useful JavaScript and jQuery Tools, Libraries, Plugins

Remy Sharp’s JSConsole
A JavaScript (and CoffeeScript) web console, useful for quick experimentation, debugging, presentations (for live coding) and workshops. Also available as a native iOS app from the iTunes store.

Javascript-269 in Useful JavaScript and jQuery Tools, Libraries, Plugins

JavaScript Library Boilerplate
Why go through the tedium of creating both a closure AND a .noConflict method when all you want to do is create your own JavaScript Library? With JavaScript Library Boilerplate, you can hit the ground running and create your own JavaScript Library in no time!

Javascript-260 in Useful JavaScript and jQuery Tools, Libraries, Plugins

jsdoc-toolkit
JsDoc Toolkit is an application, written in JavaScript, for automatically generating template-formatted, multi-page HTML (or XML, JSON, or any other text-based) documentation from commented JavaScript source code.

Js-010 in Useful JavaScript and jQuery Tools, Libraries, Plugins

Jasmine: BDD for your JavaScript
Jasmine is a behavior-driven development framework for testing your JavaScript code. It does not depend on any other JavaScript frameworks. It does not require a DOM. And it has a clean, obvious syntax so that you can easily write tests.

Js-011 in Useful JavaScript and jQuery Tools, Libraries, Plugins

ObfuscateJS: JavaScript compressor
The obfuscator currently removes whitespace and comments. It renames variablenames with a local scope to a shorter version, And as an advanced option it renames all variables with a certain prefix to a shorter name.

Javascript-282 in Useful JavaScript and jQuery Tools, Libraries, Plugins

Online JavaScript beautifier
This beautifier will reformat and reindent bookmarklets, ugly javascript, unpack scripts packed by the popular Dean Edward’s packer, as well as deobfuscate scripts processed by javascriptobfuscator.com.

PEG.js
PEG.js is a parser generator for JavaScript based on the parsing expression grammar formalism. It enables you to easily build fast parsers which process complex data or computer languages. You can use it as an underlying tool when writing various data processors, transformers, interpreters, or compilers.

Javascript-228 in Useful JavaScript and jQuery Tools, Libraries, Plugins

JSONView
JSONView is a Firefox extension that helps you view JSON documents in the browser.

Js-014 in Useful JavaScript and jQuery Tools, Libraries, Plugins

jsPerf: JavaScript performance playground
jsPerf aims to provide an easy way to create and share test cases, comparing the performance of different JavaScript snippets by running benchmarks.

JSonduit
JSonduit is a service that can turn practically anything on the web into a JSON feed that any website or mobile app can consume.

Javascript-182 in Useful JavaScript and jQuery Tools, Libraries, Plugins

jsplumb
jsPlumb provides a means for a developer to visually connect elements on their web page, in much the same way you might have seen on Yahoo Pipes. It uses Canvas in modern browsers, and Google’s ExplorerCanvas script for stone-age browsers. The current version (1.2.5) can be used with jQuery, MooTools and YUI3.

Javascript-193 in Useful JavaScript and jQuery Tools, Libraries, Plugins

Helma
Helma is a server-side JavaScript environment and web application framework for fast and efficient scripting and serving of your websites and Internet applications.

Js-015 in Useful JavaScript and jQuery Tools, Libraries, Plugins

HTML + JSON Report
Online HTML5 JSON Report format to view any JSON data in a human-readable HTML view.

Javascript-300 in Useful JavaScript and jQuery Tools, Libraries, Plugins

JSON Editor
This editor allows for easy editing of json strings, after loading a sample from the dropdown list click ‘build tree’, expand the tree, click nodes and start changing.

Javascript-222 in Useful JavaScript and jQuery Tools, Libraries, Plugins

JSCSSP, a CSS parser in JavaScript
JSCSSP is a CSS parser written in cross-browser JavaScript. It parses a string containing CSS styles and outputs a CSS Object Model (warning: not the CSS Object Model). It can preserve some comments, at-rules and style rules that your browser does not recognize and trashes, and even whitespaces if you absolutely need to preserve indentation and blank lines.

jQuery Plugins

sausage.js
Sausage is a jQuery UI widget for contextual pagination. It complements long or infinite-scrolling pages by keeping the user informed of her location within the document.

Javascript-283 in Useful JavaScript and jQuery Tools, Libraries, Plugins

jQuery Waypoints
Waypoints is a small jQuery plugin that makes it easy to execute a function whenever you scroll to an element.

Javascript-234 in Useful JavaScript and jQuery Tools, Libraries, Plugins

Pietimer jQuery Plugin
Pietimer injects a canvas element into the page which has an ever reducing pie shaped timer.

Javascript-303 in Useful JavaScript and jQuery Tools, Libraries, Plugins

ImageLens: a jQuery plug-in for Lens Effect Image Zooming
You can use this jQuery plug-in to add lens style zooming effect to an image.

Javascript-306 in Useful JavaScript and jQuery Tools, Libraries, Plugins

Timeglider jQuery Plugin/Widget
Timeglider is a zooming, panning data-driven timeline — great for history projects, project planning or any other tasks where you’ll need to display a time frame.

Javascript-307 in Useful JavaScript and jQuery Tools, Libraries, Plugins

960 Grid on jQuery-Mobile
A port of a 960 grids to use in jQuery mobile. It aims to bring more flexibility to jQuery-mobile layouts and thus makes it easier to use on tablets. The code is available on Github under MIT license.

Javascript-130 in Useful JavaScript and jQuery Tools, Libraries, Plugins

diagonalFade jQuery plugin
A jQuery plugin allowing you to easily specify direction, fade-in, fade-out, and a host of other options to a grouping of elements.

Javascript-308 in Useful JavaScript and jQuery Tools, Libraries, Plugins

Wijmo jQuery UI Widgets
Wijmo is a complete kit of over 30 UI widgets with everything from interactive menus to rich charts. If you know jQuery, you know Wijmo. Complete with documentation and professional support, every widget is hand-crafted and includes premium themes.

Javascript-267 in Useful JavaScript and jQuery Tools, Libraries, Plugins

Lettering.js – A jQuery Plugin for Radical Web Typography
CSS does not offer a complete down-to-the-letter control. Here you’ll find kerning type, editorial design, manageable code and complete control — just a few examples of what can easily by done with Lettering.js.

Javascript-160 in Useful JavaScript and jQuery Tools, Libraries, Plugins

jslide
jslide is a jQuery plugin to create a simple slideshow of list elements, containing either images or other content.

Javascript-201 in Useful JavaScript and jQuery Tools, Libraries, Plugins

Isotope: A jQuery Plugin for Magical Layouts
An exquisite jQuery plugin for magical layouts. Enables filtering, sorting, and dynamic layouts. Isotope’s capabilities are designed to be used together cohesively. You can do it all — filter, sort, change layout modes, add items — and Isotope will handle it with ease.

Javascript-131 in Useful JavaScript and jQuery Tools, Libraries, Plugins

Better Check Boxes with jQuery and CSS
In this short tutorial, the authors will create a replacement for the default browser checkboxes in the form of a simple jQuery plugin.

Javascript-286 in Useful JavaScript and jQuery Tools, Libraries, Plugins

Thumbnails Navigation Gallery with jQuery
In this tutorial the authors are going to create an extraordinary gallery with scrollable thumbnails that slide out from a navigation. They are going to use jQuery and some CSS3 properties for the style.

Javascript-270 in Useful JavaScript and jQuery Tools, Libraries, Plugins

jQuery Quicktag
Quicktag is a tagging plugin for the jQuery JavaScript library.

DataTables (table plug-in for jQuery)
DataTables is a plug-in for the jQuery Javascript library. It is a highly flexible tool, based upon the foundations of progressive enhancement, which will add advanced interaction controls to any HTML table.

Javascript-262 in Useful JavaScript and jQuery Tools, Libraries, Plugins

jQuery Tags Input
This plugin will turn your boring tag list into a magical input that turns each tag into a style-able object with its own delete link. The plugin handles all the data — your form just sees a comma-delimited list of tags.

Javascript-274 in Useful JavaScript and jQuery Tools, Libraries, Plugins

jquery.timepickr.js
a jQuery library that enhances a date picker input area with a more convenient date selection.

Javascript-224 in Useful JavaScript and jQuery Tools, Libraries, Plugins

Last Click

JavaScript Commodore Emulator
This emulator is meant as a ‘proof of concept’ and uses the HTML5 Canvas-element to render the Commodore 64 screen layout.

Javascript-233 in Useful JavaScript and jQuery Tools, Libraries, Plugins

BreakDOM
A remix of the classic Breakout game. This one will keep you busy for a while.

Javascript-253 in Useful JavaScript and jQuery Tools, Libraries, Plugins



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© Smashing Editorial for Smashing Magazine, 2011. | Permalink | Post a comment | Smashing Shop | Smashing Network | About Us
Post tags: javascript, jquery, tools, useful

January 18 2011

17:54

Time-Saving and Educational Resources for Web Designers

Advertisement in Time-Saving and Educational Resources for Web Designers
 in Time-Saving and Educational Resources for Web Designers  in Time-Saving and Educational Resources for Web Designers  in Time-Saving and Educational Resources for Web Designers

Web design community is strong and hard-working. We have plenty of useful resources, tools and services created, developed and released every single day: apart from goodies such as free fonts or icons, there are also many educational resources and little time-savers that can significantly improve designer’s workflow. We permanently look out for the new projects and support them by presenting them on Twitter, Facebook, in our e-mail newsletter and, evidently, in Smashing Magazine’s posts.

Today we are glad to present one of such posts: an overview of handy new resources for web designers; most of them were released recently, but some of them are a bit older. Still, they were included to supplement the overview, making the post more comprehensive and complete. Please feel free to discuss the featured resources in the comments to this post. And, of course, thank you guys for creating and maintaining all these useful resources. Your efforts are deeply appreciated.

Useful Resources for Web Designers

Fonts in Use
This site presents a catalogue for real-world typography samples and innovations in branding, advertising, signage and publishing. The regularly updated collection of trends and case studies is commented on by typography experts and gurus from around the world. The sharp, interesting comments and discussions will keep you engaged, all backed up by real examples.

Fonts-in-use1 in Time-Saving and Educational Resources for Web Designers

Note and Point: Keynote and PowerPoint Gallery
Note and Point highlights the most beautiful Keynote, PDF and PowerPoint work on the Web, which happens to be mostly Web design-related, although various topics are covered. No doubt these presentations — which really do look that much better — might surprise you by the attention given to color, illustrations and typography.

Note-point in Time-Saving and Educational Resources for Web Designers

Free High-Quality HTML Email Templates
The page presents 38 free HTML email templates (including PSD and HTML files), created by talented professional designers. Every template has been tested in more that 20 popular email clients, including Outlook 2010, Gmail, Lotus Notes, Apple Mail and the iPhone. All of the Photoshop documents are layered and ready to be tweaked. You can download all of the templates for free (320 MB) and use them for any private or commercial project. In case you use Campaign Monitor to send out newsletters, you’ll also get Campaign Monitor’s templates as an extra goodie. Mailchimp users can choose from the professional templates for Mailchimp.

45royale in Time-Saving and Educational Resources for Web Designers

The Grammar Cheat Sheet
Never mix up your dashes again, learn how to set quotations marks and remind yourself to keep paragraphs short and topical. Overall, this article is a nice little overview of suggestions that would help you improve the quailty of your copy. For a closer examination of what else might go wrong, check out “The Trouble With EM ‘n EN (and Other Shady Characters)” by Peter K Sheerin.

145-useful in Time-Saving and Educational Resources for Web Designers

FPO: For Print Only
For Print Only is a blog that is dedicated to everything related to pint design. FPO celebrates that print is not dead by showcasing the most compelling printed projects. Print is alive and well as witnessed by this well organized and inspirational resource.

Print in Time-Saving and Educational Resources for Web Designers

Graphic Atlas: History of Printing
The site is a virtual study collection that showcases printing processes from early woodcuts to modern digital print. The print-identification tool guides you through a number of explorations that replicate the experience of identifying prints using common tools. Among other things, you’ll learn about such printing techniques as relief, letterpress, gravure, silver-dye bleach, dye sublimation and direct thermal. The object explorer allows you to view two images side by side to compare traits across processes. Characteristics such as size, format, color, texture, sheen and layer structure are explained as well.

Graphics-atlas in Time-Saving and Educational Resources for Web Designers

Smarthistory
Smarthistory.org is a free and open, not-for-profit art history textbook. The website covers a wide variety of the artwork usually found in art history classes, ranging from ancient cultures to post-colonialism. In addition to the audio and video, Smarthistory contains articles and images organized by style and chronology. As a bonus, the user interface itself is worth looking at. The appealing design and intuitive navigation (which allows you to browse by era, style, artist and theme) makes this experience not only educational but enjoyable. A comprehensive overview of the seeds that helped sew the graphic design field.

Smarthistory in Time-Saving and Educational Resources for Web Designers

The Photoshop Etiquette Manifesto for Web Designers
This site lays out a number of guidelines for creating Photoshop files and workflows that are conducive to productivity and team collaboration. By following these guidelines, you make it easier for others to work with your files, and more likely that your project will go smoothly. Some of the things included are common-sense (proofread before exporting), but others aren’t necessarily something you’d think of if you’re not used to collaborating or working on big projects (use folders, keep logos as vector smart objects). It also includes helpful illustrations for each example, so there’s no confusion.

Manifesto in Time-Saving and Educational Resources for Web Designers

Desks Near Me
This site features places all over the world that designers and developers might like to work in, be they offices or cafés. The website provides detailed information, including hours of operation and reviews. Some places charge a small fee for use, and many throw in a few goodies like food, drink and access to equipment.

Desks-near-me in Time-Saving and Educational Resources for Web Designers

Dark Design Patterns
Dark Design Patterns aims to expose these black-hat designs whose sole aim is to misdirect and deceive visitors. Anti-usability design patterns that are currently identified on the website include the “Roach Motel,” “Bait and Switch,” “Privacy Zuckering” and “Forced Information Disclosure,” among others. Examples of each are included, and visitors can add their own in the comments on each page. It’s a great website to show clients when they ask you to implement a questionable “feature” on their website.

Darkpatterns in Time-Saving and Educational Resources for Web Designers

The Anatomy of a Perfect Landing Page
Formstack explains how design translates to users and ten key landing page features that draw them in. A useful breakdown of elements to include in your designs and things to keep in mind during your design-work.

127-useful in Time-Saving and Educational Resources for Web Designers

100 Principles for Designing Logos and Building Brands
Inspiration can come from anywhere, but sometimes the simpler the better. From Brand Identity Essentials, here are some principals for designing logos and building brands. These cover example shapes, consistency, voice, meaning and flexibility.

126-useful in Time-Saving and Educational Resources for Web Designers

Design Is History
A wonderful reference site for all designers and provides brief overviews of a wide range of topics — for us, designers, it is improtant to understand where design originates from.

172-useful in Time-Saving and Educational Resources for Web Designers

NounProject
NounProject provides a huge collection of highly recognizable symbols, available for free download and use. The designers are committed to quality in what they do, and so the icons are indeed designed very well.

153-useful in Time-Saving and Educational Resources for Web Designers

Ethics for Web Designers
Robot Regime is dedicated to ethics and Web design, and it discusses what our ethical obligations are — to ourselves, our colleagues and our clients. The site already features some nice pieces, including posts about fair pricing, misrepresenting yourself as a designer and giving clients what they want.

Robotregime in Time-Saving and Educational Resources for Web Designers

Politely Decline Speculative Work
“I won’t do free design work to win your business — here’s why” is a Web page that offers a stock letter you can send to clients explaining why spec work is bad for everyone involved. It’s concise and professional, and it presents clear arguments against spec work, with links to additional information. Plus, you can personalize the letter by adding the recipient’s name to the end of the URL.

Rfp in Time-Saving and Educational Resources for Web Designers

Type Tips
A nice short overview of quick useful tips on all things related to Web typography by Harry Roberts from CSS Wizardry.

160-useful in Time-Saving and Educational Resources for Web Designers

OnTwik
The website brings together lectures, screencasts and conferences from around the world. Both expert and novice developers and designers should be able to find topics of interest, whether it’s CSS and HTML5 or start-ups and creativity. Ontwik is free, and anyone can suggest content for the website; you can even submit your own lectures.

Ontwik1 in Time-Saving and Educational Resources for Web Designers

Design Moo
“Join together and share valuable free Web design resources.” This could be the slogan of this design community, created and curated by front-end developer Chris Wallace. The project is a network of designers and a high-quality collection of free design resources: fonts, icons, illustrations, patterns, textures and Web layouts. All goodies are tagged for easy navigation, and you can follow new releases on Twitter. You might want to check Boxtuffs and Premium Pixels as well, another websites featuring free high-quality resources.

Designmoo in Time-Saving and Educational Resources for Web Designers

Design Kindle: Free High-Quality Design Files
This site offers a ton of free high-quality design files that you might actually want to use, all without restrictions on personal or commercial use. Everything from design elements to images to full themes is included. Design Kindle doesn’t have a big library of files just yet, but more are sure to be added soon.

Designkindle in Time-Saving and Educational Resources for Web Designers

365psd: A Free PSD Every Day
Every day, this site offers a free PSD file for you to download. These files are almost all design elements that you can use in Web and application designs, including buttons, progress bars, navigation elements and more, and they are well designed. Currently, there are more than 300 days worth of freebies, all tagged, browsable and searchable.

365psd1 in Time-Saving and Educational Resources for Web Designers

Guidelines for Mobile Web App Design
This article presents a comprehensive list of links to official user interface and user experience guidelines from various manufacturers. The guidelines include samples, tips and descriptions of common weaknesses for mobile platforms such as iPhone, iPad, Android, BlackBerry, Symbian, webOS and Mee Go. Many of the guidelines focus on native application development, but they can be applied to design of mobile applications in general, too.

Mee-go in Time-Saving and Educational Resources for Web Designers

List of Freely Available Programming Books
Here is a list of programming books on programming languages or about computers in general with open-source licenses and others. If you’ve been searching for some freely available programming books on the Internet, this list will surely give you some good tips.

159-useful in Time-Saving and Educational Resources for Web Designers

Secure Password Generator
The tool lets you enter parameters, including the length of the password, whether to include uppercase and/or lowercase letters or numbers or punctuation and whether to eliminate characters that resemble each other (such as i and l, 1 and I, and o and 0). Then, just select the number of passwords to generate, and it returns a list. It even includes phonetics for each password to make it easier to read out loud (in case you’re giving a password to someone over the phone, for example).

Passwordgenerator in Time-Saving and Educational Resources for Web Designers

Keyonary
This tool is a nice little application for finding shortcuts in Mac OS X, Photoshop and so on. Currently, more than 300 Photoshop shortcuts are available. Simply type the name of application in the search box, and it spits out a long shortcut list.

Keyonary1 in Time-Saving and Educational Resources for Web Designers

Let’s Swap
A place where artists and designers can swap art for free. The site is an experiment: if you are an artist or designer, you probably have something hanging around and you’ll be willing to swap it for something else. The site gives you the opportunity to do exactly that; just put out an open invitation and see what happens. Very interesting idea.

168-useful in Time-Saving and Educational Resources for Web Designers

Starting with Git: Cheat Sheet
After freshening up her git skills, Loma Jane Mitchell shares her ‘cheat sheet’ — the commands that she uses on a day-to-day basis when working with git. Also note that GUI tools and IDE plugins are available for Git, so it is worth taking a look at what is available for the development environment you use.

144-useful in Time-Saving and Educational Resources for Web Designers

Rails 3 Cheat Sheets
The site provides Rails 3 Cheat Sheets for Activemodel, Actionmailer and Actioncontroller, XSS protection and UJS, Activerelation, Bundler and Routing API.

152-useful in Time-Saving and Educational Resources for Web Designers

Bounce Rate Demystified
If you are doing business on the web and have Google Analytics set up for your website, it’s very likely that you know the bounce rate for your website. But, do you know anything about how it’s calculated, what your industry’s average bounce rate is or even what factors affect your bounce rate? Inspired by common questions, KissMetrics created this infographic to give you answers and some tips to help you improve your bounce rate.

136-useful in Time-Saving and Educational Resources for Web Designers

InspireUX
User Experience quotes and articles to inspire and connect the UX community.

178-useful in Time-Saving and Educational Resources for Web Designers

Quotes on Design
A growing collection of useful quotes by designers for designers and developers.

179-useful in Time-Saving and Educational Resources for Web Designers

IA TV
Information Architecture Television features a collection of videos from around the Web that all focus on information architecture. Hundreds of videos dating back to 2008 offer a great wealth of information on everything from design thinking to usability.

119-useful in Time-Saving and Educational Resources for Web Designers

The Bazaar
On this site you can create galleries, upload your artworks and specify your products which you would like to sell. Once the buyer has checked out and has made the payment, your artwork is printed, wrapped and delivered.

148-useful in Time-Saving and Educational Resources for Web Designers

A Collection of Materials Related to Interaction Design
This IxD library provides you with an ultimate collection of posts, articles, PDFs as well as videos related to interaction design for you to read and gain more knowledge and inspiration.

164-useful in Time-Saving and Educational Resources for Web Designers

Pinterest — Catalog the Things You Love
Pinterest is a social catalog service. Think of it as a virtual pinboard — a place where you can post collections of things you love, and “follow” collections created by people with great taste.

169-useful in Time-Saving and Educational Resources for Web Designers

WordPress Snippets
WP-Snippets can come in handy when you’re designing a WordPress theme. Rather than start from scratch when building some functionality or another, why not grab a snippet of code that has already been tested? The website includes many useful snippets, from highlighting author comments to listing random posts to filtering the loop. Make sure to read the comments for each snippet because they could contain helpful information on whether the code works in certain WordPress versions.

Wp-snippets in Time-Saving and Educational Resources for Web Designers

CSS Terms and Definitions
This article discusses the consistency in the use of terms with reagrds to CSS.

143-useful in Time-Saving and Educational Resources for Web Designers

CSS Vocabulary
“I realized quite late that to say something meaningful about CSS, I would have to know exactly what the terms used means. Often, I have asked for help in forums, and have got stuck wondering how exactly to describe my problem. So I thought it would be a good idea to describe all the common terms of CSS.” A nice overview of common CSS terms and definitions and a good addition to the article “CSS Terms and Definitions” described above..

102-useful in Time-Saving and Educational Resources for Web Designers

Bagcheck
BagCheck lets you share your personal collections and also lets you browse through other ‘bags’ to find out common hobbies or activities that helps you connect with people and their interests.

155-useful in Time-Saving and Educational Resources for Web Designers

ManyBooks: Repository of Free E-Books
This site offers a huge collection of public domain e-books, as well as other newer books that have been released in the public domain or under Creative Commons licenses, in a variety of formats. You can download classics such as Pride and Prejudice, as well as newer books such as The Gospel of the Knife, in formats such as ePub, Mobi, PDB and even PDF and plain text. Books are also browsable by genre, author and title. And of course, there is a search function.

Manybooks in Time-Saving and Educational Resources for Web Designers

Last Click

Should I Work for Free?
Who’s ready to stop working for free? Hopefully you are! If you have any doubts, consult this handy chart below. Start in the middle and work your way to your answer.

150-useful in Time-Saving and Educational Resources for Web Designers

Email Etiquette for the Super-Busy
In a recent blog post, venture capitalist Fred Wilson talked about his ongoing struggle with email management and the various solutions he’s tried, concluding: “Every time I make a productivity gain, the volume eventually overwhelms me.” It’s a familiar problem. We’re all extremely busy, and we all get too much email. So what to do?

123-useful in Time-Saving and Educational Resources for Web Designers

The Future of Advertising
An article on advertising; stating that advertising is on the cusp of its first creative revolution since the 1960s brings us to a new prespective. This involves the ad industry that just might get left behind. Click here to read and find out more. Very interesting read.

175-useful in Time-Saving and Educational Resources for Web Designers

Why Your Form Buttons Should Never Say ‘Submit’
When you see a ‘Submit’-button on a form, what comes to your mind? One could easily reason that clicking the button submits the user’s information into the system for processing. A ‘Submit’-button describes what the system does well, but it doesn’t describe what the user does at all. The article suggests to stop using the wording ‘Submit’ on buttons and provide more meaningful, task-specific names instead.

122-useful in Time-Saving and Educational Resources for Web Designers


© Smashing Editorial for Smashing Magazine, 2011. | Permalink | Post a comment | Add to del.icio.us | Digg this | Stumble on StumbleUpon! | Tweet it! | Submit to Reddit | Forum Smashing Magazine
Post tags: education, resources, time-saving, tools, useful

January 08 2011

10:00

Holiday Inspired Freebies: 50+ Templates, Fonts & Icons

Hello there in winter – it’s cold out there, icy and everybody needs to put on their warmest coat, but here comes bright side! People are decorating and beautifying their homes, stores, cars, hotels – just anything they own or walk into are inspired by the holidays. Especially on the internet where anything is possible and quickly can be implemented and changed.

People go crazy on Christmas inspired/related designs, where nothing is over done or too subtle. After all, Christmas is about love, peace & joy!

In this article, I will be sharing tons of resources & images to all the bloggers, readers and everybody who’s reading this with theme of Christmas and Holidays.  You may say it’s too late for this kind of article – but I am saying, while there is winter in the weather and people are still trying to get over New Year and start working – it’s not too late!

Christmas Templates

1. Merry Christmas

2. Christmas Eve

3. Metamorph Xmas

4. Metamorph Christmas

5. Christmas Website Template

6.Happy Holidays

7. Christmas

8. Gift Blog

Holiday Fonts

1. 4YeoXmas

2.Xmas Tyme

3. Xmas One

4.GE Christmas Joy

5. Christmas Wreath

6. Xmas Promotions Symbols

7. Typographers Holidayfont

8. Faux Snow

9. Xmas Batzz

10. Christmas Time

11. PC Snowballs

12. PF Wreath

13. JS Snowbiz

14. Mickey’s Merry Christmas

15. Santa’s Sleigh

16. Christmas on crack

17. Candy Cane

18. Bonnet

19. Santa’s Big Secret

20. Kringle

Christmas Icons

1. Archigraphs Christmas Dock Icons

2. Christmas Feed Icons

3. Free Christmas Icons for You

4. Christmas Icon Set

5. Santa’s Set

6. Christmas Buddy Icons

7. Christmas XP

8. Christmas Icons 2007

9. Christmas icons

10. Christmas Dock Icons

11. Christmas icons

12. Xtal Icons

13. Christmas Icons

14. Christmas pack

15. Christmas Icons

16. Xmas pack

17. Adobe CS3 Icons – xMas style

18. Christmas Dock Icons

19. Christmas Icons

20. Something For Christmas – Win

21. The Day before Christmas

22. Christmas Set

23. Christmas Holiday Icons

24. Happy Holidays 2005

25. Christmas icons

Christmas Photoshop Tutorials

1. Christmas Wallpaper

A nice glowing tree-top for the Christmas tree gives it a nice highlight to the image.

2. Merry Christmas Tree

This tutorial teaches how to make a Christmas tree made up of glowing stars.

3. Photoshop Christmas Tree

This Christmas tree is almost life-like, this tutorial is great for Christmas cards.


4.Christmas Tree Ornament

Add detail to your Christmas ball ornament images with this tutorial.

5. We Wish you a Merry Christmas

This tutorial makes a jolly image with snow and a bright-colored snowman.

6. Holiday Wreath

Make your own holiday wreath, this tutorial will show you how.

7. Christmas Shiny Background

Create that glossy background effect to your Christmas wallpaper to make the image pop-out.

8. A Great Holiday Wallpaper with Christmas Balls

Christmas balls completes a Christmas image. Just because they add that jolly feel and aura.

9. Night Before Christmas

A great combination of shapes, light & gradient effects. This tutorial would really help you create a very warm and calm Christmas wallpaper.

10. Christmas Ornaments Lights Balls

The lighted Christmas balls is an exquisite touch to the image. Make one yourself with this tutorial.

11. How to Create A Christmas Wreath

This tutorial will help you create a more realistic image of a traditional Christmas wreath.

12. New Year or Christmas Card

This tutorial will teach you how to make a simple greeting card, good for Christmas & New Year greetings.

13. Christmas Stars

Create a glowing Christmas star images with this tutorial. Make the brightest star possible!

14. How to Create A Christmas Card in Photoshop

This tutorial will teach you basic techniques on how to make your very own personalized greeting Christmas cards.

15. How to Create Xmas Balls in Photoshop

Create colorful and stunning Christmas balls to complete the Christmas touch to your greeting cards and wallpapers.

16. Xmas Tree Wallpaper in Photoshop

The glowing Christmas tree makes a great concept and the additional glittery highlights makes a perfect Christmas touch. Learn how to achieve this image with this tutorial.

17. Xmas Wrapped Text Effect

Learn how to create colorful gift-wrapped letters with this tutorial.

18. Make a Sketchy Wallpaper

Sketchy drawing effects never get old. Learn how to make one with a Christmas inspired theme with this tutorial.

19. Christmas Glass Ornaments

This tutorial will teach you how to create a realistic Christmas ball ornament with light effects.


20. Decorate with Colored Lights

Colored lights says everything about Christmas. It gives it the final touch to Christmas trees and lights up the town. Learn how to make one using Photoshop.



January 04 2011

21:23

Wordmark.it: Preview words with all fonts on your computer

This is extremely useful. Allows you to easily view how a self-typed word appears in all the fonts on your computer.

January 02 2011

10:00

20 Great Web Applications Alternatives to Usual Desktop Software

Desktop Software has been a great help in our computer work purposes. They serve as our working tool on our projects, designs, hobbies, interest etc. But web apps have set a great trend over the web. Developers of web applications created applications that are likely powerful as the desktop software but create more great output and easiness.  The best thing is that you don’t need to install any of these web apps to use. Just browse over the web and visit these great web applications.

In this article, I’ll be presenting 20 great web applications alternatives to your usual desktop software. Hope you will love it.

1. Google Docs

Google Docs serves as your online productivity tool. It will let you create your documents, spreadsheets, presentations and more online writing tool.

Web_apps_alternatives_1

Alternative for :

  • Microsoft Office
  • Open Office

2. Meebo

Meebo is a web platform for your mostly chat applications. You can login your IM accounts at the same time or individual accounts.

Web_apps_alternatives_2

Alternative for:

  • Facebook Chat
  • Yahoo Messenger
  • AIM
  • Windows Live Messenger

3. Slide Rocket

Presentations are really vital tool for business, education , projects and more. With Slide Rocket, a web presentation tool that allows you to create your own presentation. It presents some of the features in PowerPoint.

Web_apps_alternatives_3

Alternative for:

  • Microsoft PowerPoint
  • OpenOffice Impress

4. Aviary

Aviary is a powerful web creation tools for photo editing, logos, web templates, color palettes , audio editing and more.  There list includes Phoenix: Image Editor, Toucan: Color Editor, Myna: Audio Editor, Peacock: Effects Editor, Raven: Vector Editor, Falcon: Image Markup and Roc: Music Creator.

Web_apps_alternatives_4

Alternative for:

  • Adobe Photoshop
  • Adobe Illustrator
  • Soundbooth

5. Mint

Are you having a hard time to manage your money? Then Mint is all you need. It is a web tool to access to your free personal financial and online management tool.  It will help you to organize your financial accounts, set your budgets needs, and put up your savings.

Web_apps_alternatives_5

Alternative for:

  • Quicken

6. JayCut

JayCut is a web video editing software. With a user-friendly environment, it will let you create your videos, add and edit clips, transitions, effects, audio, download, export in Youtube and more.

Web_apps_alternatives_6

Alternative for:

  • Windows Movie Maker
  • Ulead
  • Other Video Editing Software

7. WobZip

Wobzip is an online tool that makes you uncompressed your files on the fly. It supports different compression format such as ZIP, RAR, and more zip formats. It has also an active scanner that scan your compressed files before unzipping it.

Web_apps_alternatives_7

Alternative for:

  • Unzipping Softwares

8. Zamzar

Zamzar is a powerful online file conversion tool. It converts various formats for documents, image, music, video, e-book, compressed files, cad formats. Just follow 4 easy steps to convert your files instantly.

Web_apps_alternatives_8

Alternative for:

  • File Conversion Software

9. Hulu

Hulu is a video/TV streaming website that lets you watch your favorite tv shows right at your computer. If you missed some of your favorites episode you can just tune in here and enjoy watching.  Hulu is a US exclusive website, but if you are outside the US and trying to access it, you can try this link.

Web_apps_alternatives_9

Alternative for:

  • TV Tuner Software

10. TokBox

If you love to video chat, TokBox is a great online video chatting applications. For free users, you can chat up to 20 people. Just simply sign up,invite your friends and start video chatting.

Web_apps_alternatives_10

Alternative for:

  • Video Chat

11. Moof

Moof is an online web streaming music online for your favorite music. It is like bringing your all favorite music rolled into one place. One of the great feature is you can export your iTunes library and put it into web so you will never missed out your favorite tune.

Web_apps_alternatives_11

Alternative for:

  • iTunes
  • Music Streaming Software

12. ESET Online Virus Scanner

Everyone wants to be secure in terms of viruses and malware. ESET Online Virus Scanner deep scan your PC using your web browser.  The good thing is that you don’t need to install the software and it is always up to date.

Web_apps_alternatives_12

Alternative for:

  • Anti Virus Software

13. Bitlet

Bitlet is a web application that lets you download your torrents. Just upload .torrent file on your computer or direct Bitlet to torrent and Bitlet will do it for you.

Web_apps_alternatives_13

Alternative for:

  • BitTorrent Client

14. icloud

icloud is a web operating system over the web. It is like bringing your own desktop and files running in your web browser that includes an office suite, media player, chat client, games, productivity tool, utility applications and more. Now you won’t worry that you are working in a different PC.

Web_apps_alternatives_14

Alternative for:

  • Operating System

15. Splashup

Splashup is a powerful editing tool and photo manager.  It will let you manage your images and save it in different format. Various features that are likely with Photoshop.

Web_apps_alternatives_15

Alternative for:

  • Image Editing Tool

16. Wufoo

Wufoo is a great building tool for your forms, invitations and survey applications. It makes your collecting of data much easier and in customize way.

Web_apps_alternatives_16

Alternative for:

  • Survey Creating Tool

17. Google Voice

Google Voice makes a huge deal in international calling communication. It delivers various features such as voicemail transcription, one number calling, sms to email, block callers, screen callers, conference call and more. Bringing your all phone into your gmail account given that you are in US and Canada.

Web_apps_alternatives_17

Alternative for:

  • Skype

18. movavi

movavi is an online video files converter. It supports multiple formats that you need for your videos. In just 3 simple step, you will get your converted video file and watch.

Web_apps_alternatives_18

Alternative for:

  • Videora
  • Xilisoft Video Converter
  • Other Video Converter Tool

19. HootSuite

HootSuite is a web apps for your social  networking experience. Updating and monitoring your social activities such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, WordPress and Ping.fm will be easy.It is also good for businesses that tracks statistics of their business over the web.

Web_apps_alternatives_19

Alternative for:

  • Social Network Tool
  • Statistics Tracking Tool

20. Balsamiq

Balsamiq is a web wireframing tool that is great for web designer and developers. It will make your drawing more in detailed and rearrange it easily.  It is a great tool to collaborate your team work.

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Hope you will enjoy this great web applications. If there are more great web apps that we missed, please tell us so and we will love to update it.

November 26 2010

15:00

Web Design Questionnaires, Project Sheets and Work Sheets

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 in Web Design Questionnaires, Project Sheets and Work Sheets  in Web Design Questionnaires, Project Sheets and Work Sheets  in Web Design Questionnaires, Project Sheets and Work Sheets

It’s nearly impossible to provide an accurate quote to a prospective web design client without first gathering information about what that particular client needs. Some designers do this in either a face-to-face meeting or over the phone, but more often, they have a questionnaire that prospective clients fill out. This is preferable for a couple of reasons, but the most important is probably that this document then becomes an integral part of the design process and is available to refer back to along the way.

So the question is whether you should put that questionnaire up on your website, or only send it to prospective clients once they’ve contacted you. There are a couple of reasons you may want to make it available online, but the obvious one is that clients are often eager to get started with their projects and so by providing the questionnaire online, this eliminates a step in the pre-contract part of the process.

Here, we’ve collected questionnaires and worksheets used by actual web design companies, including some of the leaders in the industry. There are both online and downloadable forms included, as well as the pros and cons for each format.

Downloadable Questionnaires

While online forms are certainly popular, so are downloadable questionnaires. These are generally either PDFs or DOCs, though some firms also include versions in RTF or for Pages. The downloadable questionnaires are sometimes longer than their online counterparts, and are usually the choice for agencies that only take on longer and more complex projects.

We Are Pixel8

Wearepixel8 in Web Design Questionnaires, Project Sheets and Work Sheets

We Are Pixel8 has a planner in PDF format that they ask their prospective clients to download and fill out, and then upload to their website along with their contact form. It’s a great way to gather client information without requiring them to just fill out a web form, which presumably lets them take more time with their answers. The instructions on the site are very clear as to how the process works.

Great Example Question: Please provide some information about the look and feel you would like for your website. You may also provide examples.

Happy Cog

Happycog in Web Design Questionnaires, Project Sheets and Work Sheets

Happy Cog is another company that offers a downloadable project planner. The planner includes instructions for submission. It’s a good system, especially since Happy Cog projects are generally large projects with a wider scope than what many other design firms handle.

Great Example Question: Are you familiar with the concept of web standards?

Clearleft

Clearleft in Web Design Questionnaires, Project Sheets and Work Sheets

Clearleft offers a Client Ideas Sheet that prospects can download and fill out in order to get a quote. It’s a simple RTF document, focused entirely on the content. It’s also quite extensive, with a few dozen questions included.

Great Example Question: What is your measure for success, and what are you hoping to achieve?

Lunamedia

Lunamedia in Web Design Questionnaires, Project Sheets and Work Sheets

Lunamedia has a client worksheet that includes sections asking about the company requesting the quote, their customers, competition, their design ideas and requirements as well as the scope and features of the website. The questionnaire can be downloaded from their website and then sent via e-mail when completed.

Great Example Question: Why do you believe site visitors should do business with you rather than with a competitor?

45royale Inc.

45royale in Web Design Questionnaires, Project Sheets and Work Sheets

45royale offers a downloadable project planner that includes questions about the project goals, the look and feel of the site and general information. It also includes a section specifically for website redesigns.

Great Example Question: What action(s) should the user perform when visiting your site (search for information, sign up for an account, purchase a product/service)?

Erskine Design

Erskine in Web Design Questionnaires, Project Sheets and Work Sheets

Erskine Design has a detailed project sheet that stretches over 5 A4-pages. The questions cover current site, reasons for redesign, audience, perception, content, technology and marketing. A more convenient (and shorter) web form is available as well.

Great Example Question: How is your company currently perceived offline? Do you want to carry the same kind of message through your website?

DistinctionHQ

Dist in Web Design Questionnaires, Project Sheets and Work Sheets

DistinctionHQ has one of the shorter project briefs; it clearly states that all answers will be treated with completely confidentiality. The sheet also contains e-mail and phone details of the company and its logo — which can turn out to be useful in case the sheet gets lost in a larger organization.

Great Example Question: Are you providing all text/images for this project, or do you require copywriting and photography services?

Strawberrysoup

Callback in Web Design Questionnaires, Project Sheets and Work Sheets

Strawberryoup allows the customers to request a callback, but also has a project sheet and a design questionnaire that clients are asked to fill out. The agency gives customers a number of choices: they can also send an e-mail, call the agency or submit the documents online.

Great Example Question: If you need a content management system, please describe the features you would like, e.g. updatable news, multiple authors, stock control, user moderation, etc.

Stuff and Nonsense

Nonsense in Web Design Questionnaires, Project Sheets and Work Sheets

Andy Clarke’s Stuff and Nonsense provides a quite lengthy work requisition sheet which is available as MS Word file and PDF. The tone of writing is very informal (“Go make a cuppa, read this through again to make sure you’ve covered everything you need, then email it”) but inviting. All questions are broken down in 9 categories: apart from general information about the site, the questions cover the current site and its performance, reasons for the project, audience, perception, new content, technical staff and marketing. If the clients aren’t sure about something in the sheet, they are encouraged to call Andy Clarke directly.

Great Example Question: Which areas of your current site work well? Why is that?

Mark Boulton Design

Mark in Web Design Questionnaires, Project Sheets and Work Sheets

In Mark Boulton Design‘s project planner potential clients are asked 15 questions. Notice the inviting tone and examples mentioned in thet sheet. The agency does a good job at explaining why the questions are asked and what kind of answers are expected. Apart from general information, the questions regarding branding and design as well as content and site management are asked.

Great Example Question: When we design a brand, or website, it’s often more successful if we can place it within the current market. With that in mind, can you list your competitors? Please provide url’s, or contact details for us to begin our research.

Duoh

Duoh in Web Design Questionnaires, Project Sheets and Work Sheets

Duoh, the design firm of Veerle Pieters and Geert Leyseele, has a downloadable client questionnaire that asks questions about things like brand, audience, and the look and feel of the site. The questionnaire is available in both English and Dutch, and is one of the better visually designed questionnaires out there.

Great Example Question: How does this website figure into your business model?

Pros and Cons of Downloadable Questionnaires

Pros:

  • It’s often more user-friendly, especially for very large projects or projects where a team is involved.
  • The client will have a record of their answers for later reference.
  • The client can take their time in filling out the form.

Cons:

  • There’s potential that the formatting will be affected by different software versions.
  • Clients may skip parts of the form, leaving out vital information.
  • It’s adding an extra step and making it possible that the client won’t ever come back to your site after downloading the form (they may forget, etc.).

Online Questionnaires

A lot of web design agencies have online questionnaires for prospective clients to fill out. Here are some nice examples of firms that use online forms to gather information about prospective clients and their projects. Be sure to click through and take a look at what their questionnaires include.

Emtwo

Emtwo in Web Design Questionnaires, Project Sheets and Work Sheets

Emtwo has an extensive questionnaire right on their website. What sets it apart, though, is that each section collapses, making it feel shorter than it actually is. This kind of design helps keep clients from feeling overwhelmed by an overly-long form.

Great Example Question: Why does your target audience need this website?

Studio 7 Designs

Studio7designs in Web Design Questionnaires, Project Sheets and Work Sheets

Studio 7 Designs has a short questionnaire on their website, including questions about the project timeline, why you want to work with Studio 7 Designs, and what the site’s competition is. A short form like this is often more likely to be filled out, though it’s also possible that prospective clients won’t take as much time with their responses as they might with a longer or downloadable form.

Great Example Question: Why do you want to work with Studio 7 Designs?

The Lab Studios

Thelab in Web Design Questionnaires, Project Sheets and Work Sheets

The Lab Studios has an interactive project planner on their website, consisting of nine steps. It’s an interesting way of breaking up what would otherwise be a very long web form.

Great Example Question: The web can be a lot of things, some you may apply to your industry and requirements, others may not. Tell us what you want to achieve with this website (increased sales, brand recognition) so we can suggest the best possible solutions.

Brian Hoff

Brianhoff in Web Design Questionnaires, Project Sheets and Work Sheets

Brian Hoff‘s graphic design worksheet is simple and straightforward, and asks only the most pertinent questions, including asking for sites the client likes, what they like about their current website, and information about the target client base.

Great Example Question: What are your top 3 frustrations with your current website?

You Know Who

Youknowwho in Web Design Questionnaires, Project Sheets and Work Sheets

You Know Who has a Request for Proposal form directly on the website. The form is quite in-depth, and is necessary if one wants a full proposal. The form is then uploaded within the on-site questionnaire. Clients can also upload any other documents they feel would be useful to the agency, by using the web form.

Great Example Question: Do you feel your current website promotes a favorable user experience?

Pros and Cons of Online Questionnaires

Pros:

  • It’s immediate. Prospects can fill it out right then and there, reducing the risk that they won’t follow through.
  • Makes collecting the answers easier.
  • Allows designers to require answers to certain questions that clients might otherwise leave unanswered (of course it can’t guarantee the usefulness of those answers).

Cons:

  • Can be harder for a team to collaboratively fill out an online questionnaire.
  • Long web forms are psychologically a turn-off to many people.
  • Risk that something will go wrong upon submission. Most clients won’t save their answers elsewhere, and may or may not bother to fill out the form again if something goes wrong, even if it’s on their end.

Improve Your Worksheet!

Now that you’ve had a look at real-world examples of web design questionnaires, it’s time to take a look at your own questionnaire. Look at the questions other designers are asking, and think about how they might improve your own process.

This doesn’t mean you need to ask all the questions other designers are asking. If you don’t see the point in a question, then you probably won’t find the answer helpful. But maybe looking at these questionnaires will get you thinking in a new direction and help you better serve your clients.

Further Resources


© Cameron Chapman for Smashing Magazine, 2010. | Permalink | Post a comment | Add to del.icio.us | Digg this | Stumble on StumbleUpon! | Tweet it! | Submit to Reddit | Forum Smashing Magazine
Post tags: checklists, doc, PDF, questionnaire, rtf, spreadsheet, useful, worksheet

November 20 2010

10:00

28 Handy CSS Cheat Sheets for Designers

Cheatsheets_titleIs there a time that you would like to have a refresher course or suddenly forget about that thing ? If yes, then you need some handy CSS cheat sheets. Post it on your web notes, bookmark it, or a sticky note to have a instant guide for your CSS. CSS or Cascading Style Sheet really help designers to customize their website conforming on the different browsers.

In this post, I’ll be featuring CSS cheat sheets for designers that will be helpful for you.

1. CSS 3 Cheat Sheet

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2. CSS Cheat Sheet V2

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3. liquidicity CSS Help Sheet

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4. Blueprint CSS Cheat Sheet

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5.CSS Cheat Sheet

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6. Practical CSS Cheat Sheet

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7. CSS Shorthand Cheat Sheet

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8. CSS Properties And Values

Cheatsheets8

9. idea3 Cheat Sheet

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10. Liberty Boy: CSS Style Sheet Quick Reference

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11. CSS Specificity- Cheat Sheet

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12. CSS Shorthand Cheat Sheet

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13. CSS Cheat Sheets

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14. CSS3 Click Chart

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15. Design 215 : CSS Quick Reference Guide

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16. Cogeco : CSS Quick Reference Guide

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17. Digilife : Cascading Style Sheets Level 1 properties Cheat Sheet

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18. Dev Guru : CSS Quick Reference Guide

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19. Dustin Diaz: CSS Shorthand Guide

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20. DZone : Core CSS: Part I

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21. HTML Primer : CSS Cheatsheet

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22. Ian Graham : CSS Level 1 and CSS-P Quick Reference Charts

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23. IFSkinZone: CSS Cheat Sheet (HTML)

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24. Javascript Kit: CSS Reference Guide

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25. KillerSites : HTML and CSS Codes

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26. NHS Designs: CSS and Web Design Cheat Sheet

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27. Tag Index : CSS and HTML Cheats and Codes

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28. W3Schools CSS2 Reference

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These things should be come in handy. Hope it will help you in your web designs.

Is there a time that you would like to have a refresher course or suddenly forget about that thing ? If yes, then you need some handy CSS cheat sheets. Is there a time that you would like to have a refresher course or suddenly forget about that thing ? If yes, then you need some handy CSS cheat sheets.

November 17 2010

18:00

40 Useful Cheats Sheets for Graphic Designers

Is there a time that you really don’t know the easiest way to create your design applications? Then there are things that could help you, these are cheat sheets. Cheat sheets give you a good refresher on the topic you want to learn. Just google on your keywords  and surely you will find a bunch of cheat sheets that will help you. You’ll find cheat sheets on graphic design applications  such as Photoshop, Illustrator, and Fireworks.

In this article, I’ll be featuring 40  useful collections of cheat sheets for designers.

1. Black & White Cheatsheet For Photoshop

2. Adobe® Photoshop® CS4 Keyboard Shortcuts for Mac

3. Adobe® Photoshop® CS4 Keyboard Shortcuts for Windows

4. Photoshop Secret Shortcuts

5. Adobe Photoshop Elements Cheat Sheet

6. Photoshop Toolbox Reference

7. Photoshop Lasso Tool Cheatsheet

8. Adobe® Photoshop® CS3 Keyboard Shortcuts for Mac

9 . Adobe® Photoshop® CS3 Keyboard Shortcuts for Windows

10. Photoshop Cheat Sheet

11 . Adobe Photoshop 7.0 Quick Reference Card for Windows

12. Illustrator CS3 Useful Keyboard Shortcuts for Mac

13. Illustrator CS3 Useful Keyboard Shortcuts for Windows

14. Illustrator CS3 Useful Keyboard Shortcuts for Mac

15. Illustrator CS2 Useful Keyboard Shortcuts for Windows

16. Illustrator CS2 Useful Keyboard Shortcuts for Mac

17. Adobe Illustrator Shortcuts

18. Computer Arts – Keyboard shortcut cards

19. Designers Toolbox: Commercial Envelopes

20. cyro pantone foldout

21. Designers Toolbox: Postcard Sizes

22. Designers Toolbox: Standard Foldings

23. Designers Toolbox: Paper Sizes

24. Designers Toolbox: Conversion Chart

25. Designers Toolbox: Binding Styles

26. Designers Toolbox: Standard Web Banners

27. I.D.E.A.S. Graphics Cheatsheet

28. Adobe InDesign CS2 Useful Keyboard Shortcuts for Mac

29. Adobe InDesign CS2 Useful Keyboard Shortcuts for Windows

30. Gimp Quick Reference Card v.1.0

31. The Gimp Cheat Sheet

32. Adobe Pen Tool Cheatsheet

33. CSS Cheat Sheet (V2)

34. CSS Cheat Sheet

35. RGB Hex Colour Chart

36. Color Reference Guide

37. The Browser Safe Colors

38. VisiBone Font Card

39. Common fonts to all versions of Windows & Mac equivalents

40. Megapixels and Maximum Print Size Chart

So grab some of these, you’ll never know when will you need them. Make it handy and usable for your graphics design.

October 19 2010

18:44

50 Powerful Time-Savers For Web Designers

Smashing-magazine-advertisement in 50 Powerful Time-Savers For Web DesignersSpacer in 50 Powerful Time-Savers For Web Designers
 in 50 Powerful Time-Savers For Web Designers  in 50 Powerful Time-Savers For Web Designers  in 50 Powerful Time-Savers For Web Designers

There are tools that make our lives much easier. However, finding those obscure time-savers which would save time in every single project isn’t easy and requires a lot of time. At Smashing Magazine, we are regularly looking for such useful tools, gather them, review them and eventually prepare for a truly smashing round-up. Such posts are quite lengthy and extensive, but they are always worth checking out.

In this post, you’ll find an overview of useful and handy tools that can help you increase your productivity and improve your workflow. Some tools are more general, the others are more technical, yet we hope that this round-up has something to offer to every one of our readers. Please feel free to leave your comments and share with us which one of the tools you’ve found most useful and interesting.

[Offtopic: by the way, did you know that there is a Smashing eBook Series? Book #1 is Professional Web Design, 242 pages for just $9,90.]

Useful Time-Savers For Web Designers

House of Buttons
A growing collection of various buttons spotted in the wild by Jason Long. Very nice and useful collection, and submissions are welcome.

Useful-278 in 50 Powerful Time-Savers For Web Designers

Historious
Historious makes bookmarking work the way you want it. Bookmark sites with a single click, then come back to Historious and find sites by entering a few keywords!

Useful-236 in 50 Powerful Time-Savers For Web Designers

Browser UI
The Browser UI is an action that creates a browser window around any size Photoshop document you can throw at it. The Browser UI is easily installed and helps you get around with your Photoshop documents. A quick screencast is available on the site for a quick understanding of how Browser UI works.

Useful-243 in 50 Powerful Time-Savers For Web Designers

A/B Split Testing Calculator
A/B Test Calculator shows you a comparison of several versions of a particular web page. In order to discover which one is most effective for your audience, you have to enter ‘statistically significant’ numbers.

Useful-121 in 50 Powerful Time-Savers For Web Designers

What deux yeux have teux deux teuxday?
TeuxDeux is a simple, design to-do app that can be used for your iPhone. If you like making to-do lists, you will love TeuxDeux. This free browser-based app can be used everywhere; this way you have your to-dos ready to hand all the time. Check out the various TeuxDeux features included in this iPhone App shown in the left column.

Useful-231 in 50 Powerful Time-Savers For Web Designers

Fillerati – Faux Latin is a Dead Language
‘Fillerati’ instead of ‘Lorem ipsum’… something different for a change. Modern browsers such as Chrome, Firefox, Safari or Opera are recommended.

Useful-252 in 50 Powerful Time-Savers For Web Designers

Inline Code Finder
Inline Code Finder is a tool to traverse through all elements in a web page, and when it finds a HTML element with any of these, it will highlight them. It finds inline JavaScript events, inline CSS coding and javascript:-links.

Useful-283 in 50 Powerful Time-Savers For Web Designers

Share your ideas – Mark (them) Up!
MarkUp works in any browser without the need of being downloaded nor installed. Simply add the MarkUp icon to your bookmarks bar and share your ideas and thoughts swiftly!

Useful-229 in 50 Powerful Time-Savers For Web Designers

Placehold.it
Format, Text, Color and Size – Quick and simple image placeholders. You may want to check Dynamic Dummy Image Generator, too.

Useful-253 in 50 Powerful Time-Savers For Web Designers

ResizeMyBrowser
This site helps you adjust your browser automatically, starting with a simple iPhone-sized browser (320×480) to a MacBook Pro (1440×900).
Note: This web application requires JavaScript. Please check your browser’s settings and make sure JavaScript is enabled.

Useful-132 in 50 Powerful Time-Savers For Web Designers

XRefresh for web developers
A browser plug-in which refreshes the current web page due to file change in selected folders and communicates with browser extension using TCP/IP. This makes it possible to do live page editing with your favorite HTML/CSS editor, especially when working with two monitors at the same time.

Useful-168 in 50 Powerful Time-Savers For Web Designers

Kodingen
The so-called ‘Cloud Development Environment’ which lets you connect to your own FTPs. Web-based access to file-system & svn integration. Also includes an Online Code Editor and Cloud Hosting.

Useful-246 in 50 Powerful Time-Savers For Web Designers

LiberKey
LiberKey is a large collection of portable applications that can be run without installation on your local PC nor from any portable media. You may want to check Portable Apps as well.

Useful-277 in 50 Powerful Time-Savers For Web Designers

Notes for Later
This bookmarklet is a web service for remembering websites. It creates a unique bookmarklet for your personal browser in which you can simply receive the content you need via email. If you select nothing, you still get the current page’s URL and a time stamp. Registration is quick and painless. No login is required – just an email address.

Useful-237 in 50 Powerful Time-Savers For Web Designers

Timy
An easy-to-use desktop application to fill out your Basecamp timesheet and save a lot of time completeing your own personal timesheet.

Useful-181 in 50 Powerful Time-Savers For Web Designers

Slammer – Designer’s Geometry Box
Overlays any grid you want, anywhere you want. A variety of themes and overlays are presented: Typographic Grids, Golden Sections, Fibonacci series, Rule of Thirds and more! Slammer also includes Rulers, Crosshair, Magnifier, Measurements and Screenshots; watching the movie on the Slammer main page will help you learn more. However, Snow Leopard is required.

Useful-196 in 50 Powerful Time-Savers For Web Designers

URList
By dragging the bookmarklet to your browser’s bookmark bar, you will instantly save time in browsing the web and have a preview of the collected links that have been grouped previously. By clicking on the bookmarklet, you can always add a link. URlist not only enables you to create and save link lists easily, but also lets you access those links from anywhere. And creating lists is dead easy. Try it!

Useful-275 in 50 Powerful Time-Savers For Web Designers

Licorizer
A new bookmarking service which allows you to mark relevant content without losing focus. Using a bookmarklet such as this one, enables you to add web pages and clippings to Licorize without leaving nor interrupting the web page you are currently focusing on.

Useful-270 in 50 Powerful Time-Savers For Web Designers

Readability – An Arc90 Lab Experiment
Readability™ is developed to make reading on the Web more enjoyable and remove any clutter around what you’re reading at the moment. A preview of a given text is available to give you an idea of how the style, size and margin can be adjusted. Installing Readability™ into your Web browser is quite easy…and makes it easier on your eyes!

Useful-233 in 50 Powerful Time-Savers For Web Designers

Joli: Print to PDF in Google Reader
Joliprint bookmark provides you an easy and quick way to print a Google Reader post as a PDF. First, you have to create a bookmarklet onto your browser’s bookmark bar, then select a post in Google reader and finally, click on the Joliprint bookmarklet to convert the activated post into a PDF document. Ta-dah! You can check Clipr Bookmarklet as well.

Useful-285 in 50 Powerful Time-Savers For Web Designers

Spoon
Spoon lets you run desktop applications with no installs, conflicts or dependencies such as .NET, Java nor AIR. By virtualizing your existing apps, you can turn them in standalone EXEs, MSIs or flash drives. This tool is also very useful for cross-browser testing right within your browser and is provided in two versions: Spoon for Business or for Developers.

Ie in 50 Powerful Time-Savers For Web Designers

Web Development Project Estimator
A simple tool for web designers and site developers to quickly and thoroughly estimate the time and materials required for a proposed web project. A personal task list can be created, leaving you to decide which ones to incluse or even exclude. Most importantly, hours and rates of the particular project allow you to calculate the estimated final fee.

Useful-201 in 50 Powerful Time-Savers For Web Designers

Golden Ratio Calculator
This online tool helps you calculate the width of your containers to achieve the golden ratio. You can have a column with a certain width (perhaps to achieve a nice word:line ratio) and you wish to find a matching column. Type in the width and use the left side, which gives you both a smaller and larger column. Or if you have a container and wish to divide it in two, type in the container width and use the right side measurements.

Useful-271 in 50 Powerful Time-Savers For Web Designers

My DebugBar
Companion.JS is a Javascript debugger for IE. The current version is 0.5.5 and contains features such as JavaScript error reporting as well as a console feature which helps inspect JavaScript objects at runtime. Please note that CJS requires a Microsoft script debugger.

Useful-194 in 50 Powerful Time-Savers For Web Designers

Entitifier
Cleaning up text for the Web can be very time-consuming and prone to error. In case your client ever ends up delivering content in Microsoft Word or a similar format, cleaning it up is definitely a necessary task to do — if you don’t want to end up with characters that don’t display properly online. By entering a HTML or simple text into the given text box and clicking on the ‘entitify’ button, you instantly have discovered a new tool which helps you escape any nasty characters that should be entities!

Useful-272 in 50 Powerful Time-Savers For Web Designers

Every Time Zone
This tool shows an interactive chart of time in various cities across the globe. It also includes a slider to see the time in a particular city at any time of the day.

Useful-273 in 50 Powerful Time-Savers For Web Designers

Instapaper
This is a simple tool that helps you save web pages for reading later, when you have time — for instance on mobile devices, iPad or Kindle.

Useful-251 in 50 Powerful Time-Savers For Web Designers

Redmark: the easiest way to mark up a design and track revisions
Communication is very important and helps designers and their clients come to clear terms with each other. This site offers visual communication in just three simple steps between designers and clients. It is also possible for a client to find a particular designer they need to match their business. A Demo Project is portrayed for a quick view about how the site actually works.

Useful-155 in 50 Powerful Time-Savers For Web Designers

Awesome Fontstacks
Fonts have always carried an important meaning to web typography. As we all know, a lot of work is required to match and adjust a satisfactory web font for a website. This site helps you create a font stack bundle and also gives you a preview into CSS coding inclusive.

Useful-x in 50 Powerful Time-Savers For Web Designers

Framebox: a wireframing tool
With Framebox, you can sketch your wirframes or just visualize your ideas using UI units such as boxes, headers, buttons, inputs, links, text, text links etc. You can then save it and get a link to created frame, and then send a link to your colleagues.

Useful-281 in 50 Powerful Time-Savers For Web Designers

Droplr
Drag, drop, share! Droplr is the best way to share files from your Mac OS X on the internet, aiming for simplicity, ease of use and flexibility. This application is also completely free to use with ad supported content. Once the selected file is uploaded, Droplr returns a URL in which a user can share with anyone.

Useful-238 in 50 Powerful Time-Savers For Web Designers

Mockingbird: Website wireframes
Mockingbird is an online tool that makes it easy for you to create, link together, preview, and share mockups of your website or application.

Useful-250 in 50 Powerful Time-Savers For Web Designers

CodeBurner: Reference Tool for Web Developers
CodeBurner is a suite of tools for web developers that provides reference material for HTML and CSS, integrated with a range of popular development environments.

Useful-172 in 50 Powerful Time-Savers For Web Designers

HTML Soft Hyphenation Generator
Configurable generator for automatic soft hyphenation in static HTML text without a script.

Useful-137 in 50 Powerful Time-Savers For Web Designers

SelfControl
Is email a distraction? SelfControl is an OS X application which blocks access to incoming and/or outgoing mail servers and websites for a predetermined period of time. For example, you could block access to your e-mail, Facebook, and Twitter for 90 minutes, but still have access to the rest of the Web. Once started, it can not be undone by the application, by deleting the application, or by restarting the computer — you must wait for the timer to run out.

Useful-257 in 50 Powerful Time-Savers For Web Designers

MinutesPlease.com – Manage your web time
This is an extraordinary website that you can have to help you control the time you spend on a particular site. Just type in the URL and the time you are willing to spend on this site – you will notice how fast time flies by!

Useful-239 in 50 Powerful Time-Savers For Web Designers

Clue
A fun and easy way to create memory tests and see how much and what exactly people remember on your website.

Useful-241 in 50 Powerful Time-Savers For Web Designers

Neuskool.com
Neuskool is a personal start page for all your browsing needs with a collection of useful search services, all on one page.

Useful-224 in 50 Powerful Time-Savers For Web Designers

Check My Colours: analyze the color contrast of your web pages
This tool checks foreground and background color combinations of all DOM elements and determine if they provide sufficient contrast when viewed by someone having color deficits. All the tests are based on the algorithms suggested by the W3C.

Useful-157 in 50 Powerful Time-Savers For Web Designers

COPASO: Color Palette tool
COPASO is an advanced color palette tool that helps you create the perfect color palette.

Useful-255 in 50 Powerful Time-Savers For Web Designers

Useful Firefox Extensions

Pixel Perfect Firefox Extension
This extension allows you to overlay a web composition on top of the developed HTML. Letting the developer visually see how many pixels they are off in development.

SenSEO Firefox Extension – Official Website
SenSEO analyzes web pages and tells you how good they fulfill on-page Search Engine Optimization criteria. SenSEO is a Firefox add-on integrated with the popular Firebug web development tool. The code is based on the YSlow extension.

Useful-174 in 50 Powerful Time-Savers For Web Designers

Firefinder
Firefinder is an extension to Firebug (in Firefox) and offers the functionality to, in a quick way, find HTML elements matching chosen CSS selector(s) or XPath expression. It allows you to instantly test your CSS selectors in the page while seeing the content at the same time, and matching elements will be highlighted.

Useful-175 in 50 Powerful Time-Savers For Web Designers

Firediff
Firediff is a Firebug extension that tracks changes to a page’s DOM and CSS and implements a change monitor that records all of the changes made by Firebug and the application itself to CSS and the DOM.

Useful-206 in 50 Powerful Time-Savers For Web Designers

Useful References

SEO Checklist
When it comes to SEO, there are certain elements that need to be in place for any newly-designed or updated website. Have 301 redirects been put into place? Is the robots.txt file authored to allow adequate crawling? This infographic depicts a handy checklist that will help get you through any new site launch or transition.

Useful-190 in 50 Powerful Time-Savers For Web Designers

Typographic Sins
Typographic Sins (also available as PDF) by James Godfrey and Patrick Wilkey covers 35 mistakes commonly made by novice designers. The website puts them in a neat orderly list, but the PDF showcases them visually. It’s a great reference guide and learning tool if you want to learn better typography design.

Useful-267 in 50 Powerful Time-Savers For Web Designers

Entity Code: a Clear and Quick Reference to HTML Entities Codes
A website that eliminates the frustration and the wasted time caused by constant need to add those hard to remember HTML entity codes, such as the copyright symbol © or em-dash —, every time you’re developing a new website or writing a new article.

Useful-198 in 50 Powerful Time-Savers For Web Designers

Thirty Conversations on Design
The site creators asked 30 of the world’s most creative professionals two questions: “What single example of design inspires you most?” and “What problem should design solve next?” Their answers might surprise you. And, hopefully they’ll inspire you.

Useful-230 in 50 Powerful Time-Savers For Web Designers

Essential Interaction Design Essays and Articles
A list of essays and articles that could be important touchstones and reference points for interaction designers.

Further Useful Tools

Min.us
You can drag your data which you wish to share online onto the min.us page. Very convenient.

Mr. Data Converter
Mr. Data Converter will convert your Excel data into one of several web-friendly formats, including HTML, JSON and XML.

PDF Split and Merge
PDFsam is a free open source tool (GPL License) designed to split and merge PDF documents. Whether it be only extracting sections into a single document or changing the order of the pages. The basic version can be downloaded and simply used on every platform with a Java support.

Last Click

Unsuck It
What terrible business jargon do you need unsucked? Unsuck It translates management speak to normal language, making your day to day on- and offline slogs through corporate jargon a little easier to bear. You can even tweet your results as they often turn out to be quite funny.

Useful-269 in 50 Powerful Time-Savers For Web Designers

Temperature Conversion, Weight Conversion and Length Conversion
This simple online tool doesn’t do much, but it’s truly beautiful and it’s a pleasure to use. The tools lets you convert length values, temperature values and weight values.

Useful-258 in 50 Powerful Time-Savers For Web Designers

Coffee Drinks Illustrated
With the vast number of ordering options and new words with accented characters to pronounce the coffee shop ordering experience can be intimidating. Lokesh Dhakar created a few small illustrations to help himself and others wrap their head around some of the small differences.

Useful-290 in 50 Powerful Time-Savers For Web Designers


© Smashing Editorial for Smashing Magazine, 2010. | Permalink | Post a comment | Add to del.icio.us | Digg this | Stumble on StumbleUpon! | Tweet it! | Submit to Reddit | Forum Smashing Magazine
Post tags: PDF, time-savers, tools, useful

September 30 2010

21:00

5 Advanced Google Tricks to Help You Become a Better Web Designer

You can use some simple Google tools in very creative ways, as well as use some more advanced ones to:

  • find high-quality tutorials for any web design software tool, and find them easier and faster
  • find decent alternatives for the current web design software you’re using
  • search for what Spanish (or <insert your favorite nation here>) web designers are talking about

…and much more! You’ll learn all of this in the text below. I’ll use specific examples to illustrate my points, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use your own examples when you understand the points. So let’s get started, shall we?

1. A Small Google Suggest Trick Can Help You Find What Kind of Photoshop Brushes People Are Searching For…

Let’s suppose you’re looking for Photoshop brushes on Google. So you type ‘Photoshop brushes’ in Google and get the usual results. One of the first things you will eventually find is what type of brushes exist. The traditional way people do this is going through multiple sites, seeing what they have to offer and using a lot of trial & error.

But what if I told you there’s a better way to find what type of brushes people are actually searching for on Google? That can help you find some popular (and with the wisdom of crowds, popular can mean good) brushes you can use in your designs. How can you do this? With Google Suggested Results.

How to do it: Type ‘photoshop brushes’ into Google. Suggested results will appear (depending on whether or not you have Instant turned on, you’ll see 5 or 10 suggested results max. I’ll turn off Instant for now in order to get more suggested results). Position your mouse cursor immediately after ‘photoshop’. Now press space. The following should appear:

That’s cool and everything, but not enough for us. We want more relevant results, we want to see more types of Photoshop brushes!! What about I type some letter…like b:

That’s cool already! You can do this with almost every letter and see what type of Photoshop brushes are people actually searching for. For z, it is “zebra” and “zipper” brushes. For h, it is “hair” and “heart”.

You can do this with almost any type of keyword that is broad enough in order to display specific results like these. Keywords like “dreamweaver templates” or “wordpress themes” or “Illustrator patterns”, for example.

2. Using a Web Design Software but Think There’s a Better One Out There? Here’s How to Find Quality Alternatives

Let’s say you’re using Dreamweaver and are looking for a more extensive list of alternatives. Sure, you can type ‘Dreamweaver alternatives’ but what about using some creative queries to get more relevant results…like THIS ONE:

The “better than” keyword can help you find alternatives to practically any web design (or any type of) software out there. “Better than Photoshop”? “Better Than Xara”? You name it and the Google index of 1+ trillion pages has it :)

Another great way to find alternatives to software is to use the “vs.” trick. Let’s go with our Dreamweaver example and see what people use to compare this software to:

or we can go the other way around, put the “vs” behind “dreamweaver” and position the cursor behind the “vs” like this:

We got 2-3 new alternatives!

3. Want to Find Related Keywords to the One You Just Typed? No Worries!

If you click on “more search tools” on the left of the Google results and then on “related searches” you should be presented with some amazing options on related keywords you can use to find what you’re looking for. This is especially useful if the topic you’re searching for is new and unknown to you.

Let’s say you’re interested in learning more about AJAX. You know PHP and you know Javascript but have no idea in what way is exactly Ajax related to them. So you try and type ‘ajax’ and select ‘related searches’. Here is what you get:

This can give you a good foundation on where to start. You can type ‘ajax php’ and ‘ajax javascript’ to see articles on how these 2 technologies directly relate, then you can look for examples and tutorials, XML and so on. Some of these things are obvious but, the truth is, our memory is often too limited to remember to do all obvious things at once. Related searches can be a good reminder to suggest to you what to search for next.

4. Looking for advanced tutorials? Search by file type

As a rule of thumb, PDF files contain tutorials that are often more extensive and offer more information than ordinary web pages. The downside? There are not that many free PDF tutorials on the web. You can try to use the “filetype:pdf” modifier in Google, however, to search for a specific file type only (in this case PDF) and see if you can get some relevant results.

I think that the sheer amount of tutorials hosted on the web nowadays, by quantity is exceeding the amount of information tutorials made in PDF files currently provide. If you want to save time, however, a good idea would be to try and to filter using PDF file type see see some interesting stuff.

*another tip:

I’ve noticed that often, tutorials are in the format “how to create/make _________ in program-name”. You can use this + the first trick above to find ideas on what tutorials people are searching for. For example:

A little bit of creativity and everything’s possible :)

5. Fireworks Tutorials in Spanish?

This is very fun :) You can use Google Translated Search to search sites in Spanish using English. For example:

Isn’t that neat? :)

Oh and by the way, it’s not that this is useless, you can actually find a lot of good stuff there. Why? I haven’t checked if this is exactly true, but I know from experience that you I get more quality stuff in other languages. While those people might not have many original tutorials, they take the best English tutorials and translate them into their own language. So you can potentially find a lot of high-quality stuff using Translated Search fast.

June 28 2010

16:27

50 Powerful Time-Savers For Web Designers

Smashing-magazine-advertisement in 50 Powerful Time-Savers For Web Designers
 in 50 Powerful Time-Savers For Web Designers  in 50 Powerful Time-Savers For Web Designers  in 50 Powerful Time-Savers For Web Designers

Being a web designer is not easy. Not only do we need to have a good understanding about visual design, typography, information architecture, psychology and a plethora of other disciplines; in our work, we need to take care of so many details, so that our job becomes more and more time-consuming, requiring dozens of tools, attention span and an effective workflow for beautiful, timely and functional results.

And this is where small time-savers become handy. Be it a handy checklist, batch installer, dummy image generator or converter from Excel spreadsheet to HTML — all these things can save us a couple of minutes every day, making our work easier and more efficient. And this is why we keep collecting them for Smashing Magazine’s readers. Whether you like lists or not: this one will probably help you find those little nuggets out there that will help you avoid headaches and stress. Below we present useful time-savers for web designers.

You may want to subcribe to Smashing Magazine’s E-Mail Newsletter (32,600 subscribers) to keep updated about new useful tools, techniques and resources. The newsletter is sent out once every two weeks.

[Offtopic: by the way, did you know that Smashing Magazine has one of the most influential and popular Twitter accounts? Join our discussions and get updates about useful tools and resources — follow us on Twitter!]

Time-Savers For Web Designers

LaunchList
This tool helps you review important items before the big launch. By default, the tool provides 28 items to be checked, but it also allows you to add custom items to the list. Each item can be commented on or crossed out. Once you’re done, you can send the report along with project’s details to multiple recipients via email. Alternatives: Ultimate Website Launch Checklist and Paul Boag’s The Ultimate Website Prelaunch Checklist.

Launch in 50 Powerful Time-Savers For Web Designers

Pencil Project: Sketching and Prototyping with Firefox
Pencil is an open source GUI prototyping tool. It contains built-in stencils for diagrams and prototyping, on-screen text editing with rich text support as well as standard drawing operations. Works in Firefox 3.5+.

Useful-tool-212 in 50 Powerful Time-Savers For Web Designers

Zootool
Zootool is a bookmarking website and tool for collecting images, documents, links and videos from anywhere on the Web. A bookmarklet allows you to collect items quickly and easily. You can then tag and organize your saved items in Zootool’s back end. You can also integrate Zootool with Tumblr, Twitter, Delicious and FriendFeed to share what you find. Screenshot via MacStories.

Tools-154 in 50 Powerful Time-Savers For Web Designers

Bounce
A fun and easy way to share ideas on a website. The tool allows you to make notes, write feedback in an overlay of every site and then share your notes with friends.

Useful-tool-220 in 50 Powerful Time-Savers For Web Designers

Ninite Batch Installer
Ninite lets you pick your favorite software from among an extensive list (Web browsers, messaging, media, images, documents, security, runtimes, file sharing, utilities, compression, developer tools and more), creates a batch installer for them and then installs them for you automatically. Alternative: Allmyapps allows you to bundle your favourite applications, install them in a single click and reinstall them whenever you need to.

Handy-004 in 50 Powerful Time-Savers For Web Designers

Support Details
When in doubt, send your customers to this tool. Their data will be automatically read out of the browser (including Flash version, operating system, cookies, JavaScript status, screen resolution, browser size and more) and can be copied, sent directly to you via email or saved.

Supportdetails in 50 Powerful Time-Savers For Web Designers

MugTug’s Darkroom
When you need to modify a picture but don’t have your favorite software on hand, you can use the all-in-one image processor MugTug’s Darkroom which was created for photographers. You are able to adjust levels, white balance, exposure, contrast and saturation and apply a few photographic effects. In addition, Darkroom allows to upload pictures from Picasa and Flickr. Alternatives: Pixlr and Sumo Paint.

Handy-005 in 50 Powerful Time-Savers For Web Designers

Visual Website Optimizer
Visual Website Optimizer is undoubtedly the best A/B, split and multivariate testing software ever created by mankind.

Tools-151 in 50 Powerful Time-Savers For Web Designers

Keyonary
This site a nice little application for finding shortcuts in Mac OS X, Photoshop and so on. Currently, more than 250 Photoshop shortcuts have been added. Simply type the name of application in the search box, and it spits out a long shortcut list.

Tools-143 in 50 Powerful Time-Savers For Web Designers

gridr buildrrr
This generators allows you to choose the grid for your layout, preview it online and generate the CSS code right away.

Tools-145 in 50 Powerful Time-Savers For Web Designers

Instant Blueprint – Create a web project framework in seconds.
Instant Blueprint allows you to quickly create a web project framework with valid HTML/XHTML and CSS in only a matter of seconds, allowing you to get your project up and running faster!

Useful-113 in 50 Powerful Time-Savers For Web Designers

Hummingbird
Hummingbird lets you see how visitors are interacting with your website in real time. Hummingbird is built on top of Node.js, a new javascript web toolkit that can handle large amounts of traffic and many concurrent users.

Useful-tool-227 in 50 Powerful Time-Savers For Web Designers

jsFiddle
Online Editor for the Web, with support of JavaScript, MooTools, jQuery, Prototype, YUI, Glow and Dojo, HTML and CSS. The tool lets you save and run your applications within the web browser.

Useful-tool-213 in 50 Powerful Time-Savers For Web Designers

String: create a multi-language website or app
Essentially, String is a version control for localization. This tool allows you to manage your language files – from PHP to PO to Rails to iPhone apps. You can invite users to translate your content, and keep track of changes. You can add new sections and languages as you go and then download your updated language files and place them in your app.

Tools-132 in 50 Powerful Time-Savers For Web Designers

Titanpad
This tool allows you to edit documents simultaneously with other users, highlighting each user’s edits in a different color. Editing is done in true real time. Nice solution for everybody who works collaboratively on text documents, whether in the same office or on the other side of the world.

Titanpad2 in 50 Powerful Time-Savers For Web Designers

Pixelnovel Timeline: Version Control for Adobe Photoshop
This tool basically integrates a Subversion client in Adobe Photoshop with an Adobe Photoshop plug-in. You can preview versions right in Photoshop and manage version control directly from Photoshop. Not free.

Tools-142 in 50 Powerful Time-Savers For Web Designers

0to255
A simple tool that helps web designers find variations of any color. Simply pick the color that you want to start with and 0to255 gives you a range of colors from black to white using an interval optimized for web design. Then, just click the variation you want to use and the hex code is automatically copied to your clipboard.

Tools-135 in 50 Powerful Time-Savers For Web Designers

Load Impact: Website load/stress test
The tool lets you find out the performance limits of your website before you learn the hard way. It is an online service that simulates users accessing your site and creates test report graphs to find out how many users your site could handle.

Useful-213 in 50 Powerful Time-Savers For Web Designers

Ideone: Online IDE & Debugging Tool
This tool is an online compiler and debugging tool which allows to compile and run code online in more than 40 programming languages, among them C++, Java, JavaScript, Perl, PHP, Python and Ruby. Nice alternatives online: PHP Anywhere (online PHP editor) and CodeRun (allows you to develop, test and debug ASP.NET, PHP and Ajax applications online).

Tools-105 in 50 Powerful Time-Savers For Web Designers

Online Dummy Image Generator
This online tool generates dummy images for you site: you can specify size, background and foreground colors, image format and add custom text. You can also use shortcuts for several standard dimensions including ad sizes (mediumrectangle, skyscarper, leaderboard etc.), screen resolution sizes and video standards (ntsc, pal, hd720, hd1080).

Tools-156 in 50 Powerful Time-Savers For Web Designers

HiFi RegExp Tool
Regular expressions can be a pain. The HiFi RegExp tool is 100% JavaScript using jQuery. This tool was created to help developers learn, practice, and compose regular expressions.

Tools-146 in 50 Powerful Time-Savers For Web Designers

Tableizer
Clients often provide data in spreadsheet form, and reformatting it into HTML can be a real pain. This tool generates HTML tables out of spreadsheet data. Just copy and paste the cells from your spreadsheet, choose your options (font, font size and header color) and you have a properly formatted HTML table for your data.

Tableizer in 50 Powerful Time-Savers For Web Designers

FollowUpThen: Easy Email Reminder
If you don’t mind sending your e-mails to a third-party, try this tool for easy email reminders. On your next email just include time-interval@followupthen.com and the tool will follow up after the time interval you specify. No account is required.

Tools-124 in 50 Powerful Time-Savers For Web Designers

Divine: Conversion tool from PSD to HTML
Divine is a plug-in that sits on top of Photoshop. Once you’ve finished designing in Photoshop, launch Divine plug-in in Photoshop, assign WordPress roles to the main elements (e.g. #footer, #header, etc.), and then the plug-in will prepare all the files you need. Once you set FTP access, the tool uploads the theme automatically to your server. Absolutely free.

Useful-200 in 50 Powerful Time-Savers For Web Designers

Kaleido
This tool allows you to create meaningful visuals for code and can be used to plan, organize and navigate code in a more intuitive way.

Tools-109 in 50 Powerful Time-Savers For Web Designers

Sketchpad
This application is a powerful online image editor. Its tools are organized in handy, draggable boxes that can be positioned very much as you would see in traditional image-editing applications.

Screenshot

Unicode code converter
Type or paste text in any of the green or grey shaded boxes and click on the button Convert button above it. Alternative representations will appear in all the other boxes. You can then cut & paste the results into your document.

Useful-155 in 50 Powerful Time-Savers For Web Designers

Grid System Generator
This tool generates grid systems in valid css / xhtml for rapid prototyping, development and production environments. The grid system generators offer the ability to customize the width, no. of columns and margin(s) to allow more flexibility for various designs.

Useful-176 in 50 Powerful Time-Savers For Web Designers

ud.com namecheck
The tool checks availability of social usernames, domain names and trademarks.

Useful-tool-217 in 50 Powerful Time-Savers For Web Designers

Typograph — Scale & Rhythm
A useful tool for testing typographic scale and rhythm. It lets you set factors such as the typographic scale (traditional, 3:5 Fibonacci, Le Corbusier, etc.), the font size in percentage, line height, the layout, padding and the line height for h1, h2 and h3 headings.

Scale in 50 Powerful Time-Savers For Web Designers

ColorBrewer Intro – Selecting Good Color Schemes for Maps
ColorBrewer is an online tool designed to help people select good color schemes for maps and other graphics. It is free to use, although we’d appreciate it if you could cite us if you decide to use one of our color schemes.

Useful-210 in 50 Powerful Time-Savers For Web Designers

CSS Inliner Tool
If you’ve ever sent an email campaign, you know that if your CSS is not coded inline, it is likely to get stripped out by email clients, which can make your email design pretty funky looking. Writing CSS inline can be time consuming, and repetitive. MailChimp has a CSS inline conversion tool built right in that will automatically transform all of your local styles into inline styles. Designers have found it so useful, we thought we’d share it with everyone else – even if you don’t have a MailChimp account.

Useful-222 in 50 Powerful Time-Savers For Web Designers

HTML Purifier – Filter your HTML the standards-compliant way!
HTML Purifier is a standards-compliant HTML filter library written in PHP. HTML Purifier removes malicious code (better known as XSS) and make sure your documents are standards compliant.

Useful-223 in 50 Powerful Time-Savers For Web Designers

Rendera
Rendera helps you learn HTML5 and CSS. Type in your HTML code and see it rendered in real-time. Then style it with CSS. You can use any of the HTML 5 or CSS3 tags your browser supports. The tool supports HAML and SASS, too.

Useful-tool-204 in 50 Powerful Time-Savers For Web Designers

RegExr
An intuitive tool for learning, writing, and testing Regular Expressions.

Useful-tool-211 in 50 Powerful Time-Savers For Web Designers

try ruby! (in your browser)
This tool allows you to try out Ruby code in the prompt command line online. It supports Ruby’s built-in methods, and contains a step-by-step tutorial for Ruby newbies.

Useful-tool-216 in 50 Powerful Time-Savers For Web Designers

Google Command Line
GoogleCL is a command-line utility that provides access to various Google services. It streamlines tasks such as posting to a Blogger blog, adding events to Calendar, or editing documents on Google Docs.

Useful-tool-222 in 50 Powerful Time-Savers For Web Designers

Tiny Fluid Grid
Simple tool that generates code for fluid grid-based layouts.

Useful-tool-206 in 50 Powerful Time-Savers For Web Designers

Fonolo.com
This online tool lets you lets you skip the phone menus for hundreds of companies and makes it less frustrating to call large companies. For business owners, Fonolo allows your customers to actually see your phone menu options, before they call you.

Tools-152 in 50 Powerful Time-Savers For Web Designers

Producteev: Creating To-Do Lists with Emails
Forward your important emails to task@producteev.com and the tool will create to-do lists on the fly and send you alerts when needed. It can be integrated in E-mails, IM, Web, iPhone, Gmail, Google Calendar etc.

Tools-127 in 50 Powerful Time-Savers For Web Designers

AddUse – User research made easy
AddUse is a web based tool that helps you create, manage and present your user research in a simple, easy to use and cost efficient way. It’s a tool to use at any given moment in your development process. It presents the results from your user tests, surveys and questionnaires in a graphical way, efficiently helping engineering, marketing and management groups make the right decisions.

Tools-148 in 50 Powerful Time-Savers For Web Designers

bookwhen
Online registration for events, workshops, classes and courses. The free version allows for 150 events with 300 bookings per month.

Useful-tool-218 in 50 Powerful Time-Savers For Web Designers

Further useful tools

see[Mike]code: tool for remote coding interview
This simple tool lets you conduct a short coding interview remotely: it creates a disposable page for the job candidate and allows you to discover people who struggle to code on big or small problems.

jsdo.it
This tool allows you to write code your browser, fork and modify any code, fix bugs and add features and also ask the community about your problems.

JavaScript Error Tracking
The service tracks JavaScript errors that occur on your site and provides you with a stack trace to help you debug. Similar errors are grouped together.

Old Version
Old Version has exactly that, the older version of some of your favorite programs. Why? Because newer is not always better. Sometimes the newer versions cause conflicts. This way, you can always go back to the older version that worked for you.

Onbile
Onbile is a free platform for creating and managing your Mobile Website version for iPhone, Android and Blackberry users

Free Bookkeeping, Accounting, & Tax Services; Self Employment & Freelance Success
Easily import from online accounts to put your bookkeeping on autopilot and prepare taxes. Get up-to-date reports that give you visibility into your P&L, income, and expenses.

iSendr
iSendr lets you send files to your friends directly, without uploading to a server.

seekWP
WordPress documentation search engine.

speedtracer
Speed Tracer is a tool to help you identify and fix performance problems in your web applications. It visualizes metrics that are taken from low level instrumentation points inside of the browser and analyzes them as your application runs. Speed Tracer is available as a Chrome extension and works on all platforms where extensions are currently supported (Windows and Linux).

the Awesome Highlighter
This tool lets you highlight text on web pages and then gives you a small link to the highlighted page.

OpenWith.org
This page provides detailed information about most file extension and links to free programs that can open and create each type of file.

Last Click

Kuku Klok
Online alarm clock and wake-up call for those of us who often work too much and fall asleep in front of the screen. Open the website, select the desired alarm time and set your favorite wake-up call. Keep the browser tab open. Happily, this online alarm clock works even if your Internet connection goes down. The available sounds are “Classic Clock,” “Electronic,” “Slayer Guitar,” “Military Trumpet” and “Cockerel.”

Tools-158 in 50 Powerful Time-Savers For Web Designers

What the Hex?
Among the variety of methods of representing color values, some are easier to identify than others. The hexadecimal system, though, often looks incomprehensible. If you feel you know colors pretty well, then this is a simple game for you. All you have to do is match the hexadecimal code (which is actually a group of three hex numbers: #rrggbb) with the corresponding color. Of course, this is easier said than done, but you can adjust the difficulty by displaying between 2 and 48 possible answers.

Tools-160 in 50 Powerful Time-Savers For Web Designers

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© Vitaly Friedman for Smashing Magazine, 2010. | Permalink | Post a comment | Add to del.icio.us | Digg this | Stumble on StumbleUpon! | Tweet it! | Submit to Reddit | Forum Smashing Magazine
Post tags: time-savers, tools, useful

June 17 2010

13:31

Launchlist

Useful website for “your one stop website launch checklist”

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