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The Top 2014 WordPress Themes for Photographers

In this article you can find some of the greatest photography themes available from Creative Market. They are suitable for a photography based website or blog and all are extremely easy to use and customize to your specific needs.

I hope you will enjoy them!

Featured Image: Stock Image From Shutterstock

 

Pierre-Alain D.→Progeny

The amazing Digital Art of Pierre-Alain D.

Pierre-Alain D., founder of 3mmi Design, is a french digital artist / illustrator & webdesigner who has developed a dark -but not only- and intense vision of graphic design through the years. Working mainly for the music industry, he also like to work on all kind of graphic projects.

The amazing Digital Art of Pierre Alain D.   Pierre Alain D.→Vengeance For The Angels

Described once by a blogger as a “one man graphic army”, in addition to photomanipulation, he also like to work on photography, web design, programming, music and video report. He also created and managed for 6 years a musical webzine, which gave him a broad vision of music and its universes, and music is his main inspiration…

Let’s enjoy some of his amazing works:

The amazing Digital Art of Pierre Alain D.   Pierre Alain D.→Winds Of Horus

The amazing Digital Art of Pierre Alain D.   Pierre Alain D.→Time To Revive

The amazing Digital Art of Pierre Alain D.   Pierre Alain D.→The Belly Flame

The amazing Digital Art of Pierre Alain D.   Pierre Alain D.→Seeds Of Life

The amazing Digital Art of Pierre Alain D.   Pierre Alain D.→Progeny

The amazing Digital Art of Pierre Alain D.   Pierre Alain D.→Origins

The amazing Digital Art of Pierre Alain D.   Pierre Alain D.→Mechanic Of Time

The amazing Digital Art of Pierre Alain D.   Pierre Alain D.→Hand Of Gaïa

The amazing Digital Art of Pierre Alain D.   Pierre Alain D.→Gates Of Atlantis

The amazing Digital Art of Pierre Alain D.   Pierre Alain D.→Black Empire

The amazing Digital Art of Pierre Alain D.   Pierre Alain D.→Attrition

That’s it folks! I hope you enjoyed the selections, and i am looking forward to hear your impressions!

 (Images are displayed here because they are licensed by their creator under Creative commons – Attribution. Exclusively to showcase and promote the artists work!)

Stock photo from Dreamstime

Introduction to the Design Process

For many people design is just “firing up photoshop” or “playing with the mouse”. After all when it comes to design everyone has an opinion and actually “knows” better. We probably all have heard at some point things like:  “Of course this pinkish colour will do fine in my manly mustache products! My little daughter chose it for me!”. And other gems similar to this.

The purpose of this article is two-fold:

a) To give non-designers a better understanding of what is design and it’s process. Maybe along the way busting some of their misconceptions and hopefully help them realize how much those design contests and cheap design is really harming their business.

b) To help junior designers understand more about the creative process & design thinking, and how can they be creative on demand.

Let’s begin with a fundamental definition: Design is a process. Its purpose is to turn a brief, requirement or idea called the “design problem” into a finished product or “design solution”.

Stages of the design process

The design process comprises of stages (which we’ll separately discuss briefly).  At one point or another, each designer develops his own steps. But generally speaking are the following:

1) Define : First the problem must be defined through a brief, so that we establish what the problem is and understand who is the target audience and what our constraints or restrictions are.

2) Research: We research and review our information about the design problem at hand, historical data about the company, the competition, potential obstacles or expectations.

3) Ideate: We brainstorm, generate potential ideas and we identify the needs and motivations of our end users.

4) Refine: Those ideas we got will need to be reviewed against our design brief’s objective, refined, and the most efficient of them are being prototyped. The prototype aims to test aspects of the solution & of course its not yet made with the final materials.

5) Implement: The final design solution is implemented and we deliver it to the client.

6) Learn: Obtain feedback and learn from what have happened throughout the design process.

The necessity of a proper briefing

Designer’s shine the most when they have an actual problem to solve. And because sometimes we got carried away and tend to solve the wrong problem, a proper briefing is crucial.

The brief is the key in successfully establishing what is the design problem at hand. The more detailed and properly prepared the brief is, the more accurately the designer will assess the problem at hand, and deliver the proper design solution. At its bare minimum a successful brief should at least be able to give the answer to five simple questions. The famous five W’s: who, what, when, where, why.

Who is the client and our target audience? If its not clear in the current brief it should be made clear. Ask the client to explain the meaning behind their company and current logo. Their company values & mission, strengths and weakness and how their audience perceive their brand. Its also important to have a understanding of the company’s target customers and also their competitors.

What design solution the client is thinking of? And also what kind of applications the client thinks of?  If it a visual identity what additional items are required? Does the company already have a logo or brand identity established? Is there a specific idea already under consideration? Or maybe a specific art style is desired? Its then the designers obligation to question the solutions validity depending on the target audience. A brochure for example might be less appealing to a younger audience than a web site. Or the client insisting on using a cartoon character when its totally unfitting of his brand image etc.

When will the design need to be ready? Unlike to the common misconception designers do like to have things ready before their deadlines. But for that is necessary to know exactly when the design needs to be ready. The designer should also inform the client if this time-scale is achievable. And take into account the availability of any outside associates or requirement might be necessary for the project. Maybe the project needs for the designer to hire a photographer and coordinate a photo-shooting,  for a commercial advertisement, or there is extra time necessary for post production etc.

Where the design will be used? Its important to know the medium the solution will be applied to, as the specifications of the design will be different. Will the design need to be printed? If so the material will might be enforcing further restrictions. Will it be presented in a video or online in the web? The designer should inform the client of these restrictions, and offer alternative solutions.

Why the client thinks this design solution is required? Finally its important to make sure that the client really needs this specific design solution, and not a different one. For example a client don’t having any dynamic content on his web site and asking for a wordpress site. Or preparing an online campaign when his target audience in majority is elderly people that don’t use computers. With people having varying experiences of design services, the quality of the provided briefs might also be different. So whether you are the client or the designer, it is important to clarify all the ambiguous points first so that both of you are in understanding and have shared expectations.

Sometimes it might be better to cooperate and have a non-robust brief re-written by answering at least those 5 questions, rather than having the wrong design problem defined (and end up with the wrong solution)

Why research is crucial

Part of the research may have been initiated by the person who assigned the job, or the research department of the company,  or is up to the designer to do all the research on his own.

Even the humblest design assignment requires collecting basic information about the design’s purpose. the target audience, and competition. High stake campaigns demand extensive research, analysis and planning.

Several data gathering methods exists on that purpose and will give us insights on the attitudes and behaviours of the target group, helping us effectively communicate our design with that group, and also avoid alienating them with wrong choices. Additionally they will help us understand the approach of the competitor’s products, brand and organization and help us form a more effective campaign.

Regardless of who will gather the initial research data though, and however big or small is the design job, there is a bare minimum of data that we need to know in order to proceed to the ideate stage.

1. Who is the audience?

Knowing your audience is critical for developing visual communication the resonates. Focus groups, surveys, and opinion polls are several commonly used methods to collect insights about where our target audience leans and how it interprets the messages.

Various secondary data resources include public reference libraries, newspapers, books, trade periodicals, blogs, conference papers, official statistics, business reports, internet search etc.

In the end we should have been able to at least gather some key data for our target group, like gender, age, socio-economic demographics concerning them, education, income level and their lifestyle aspirations.

2. What is the communication objective?

Meaning what we want our audience to think or feel from the design? Are we creating conviction or preference? Stimulating actions or behaviours? These communication objectives will affect almost every design decision, from the format we’ll use to the font.

3. Does the design need to coordinate with past design work?

Does the company has an already established visual identity or branding our design need to conform? If so we’ll need to study the company’s branding manual and printed materials and ensure that we’ll provide them a solution that will work alongside their existing design and not against it. Incorporating these guidelines to our design solution, will strengthen the company’s  branding, and we’ll not risking alienating the existing client base.

4. Who are the competitors?

Knowing the competitions’ visual communication strengths and weakness, is essential in preparing our own campaign. It will help us focus on the successful ideas and also avoid using visual elements that might correlate our campaign with theirs.

5. What is our budget? How the final product will be delivered?

Don’t be afraid to ask this question and don’t be alarmed if your designer ask you that.The projects budget is very important to determine many important design decisions, like how many colours we’ll use in a print application, if we’ll use special inks or special papers. What quality photo material we’ll focus on acquiring etc.

How the final product will be delivered is also of out-most importance both to determine budget costs, and also at design decision level. If the design will be used for print or for digital media, makes all the difference in the world. And also what kind of print or what kind of digital media we are aiming to deploy. Finally what are the dimension and specifications we’ll have to work with.

Research Outcomes

This preliminary research will help us identify the drivers that stimulate the target group to act on a design, but also the barriers that could impede the success of our design, and we’ll be able to move at the ideate stage.

Note that the research stage usually takes a lot of time and involves effort to successfully identify drivers & barriers, especially in complex and high stake campaigns, and its outside of the scope of an introductory article to fully analyse it, but hopefully it gave you some insights of the process involved.

Brainstorming (or how to be creative on demand)

With the design brief completely understood and our research data at hand, in the idea generation or ideate stage, its time to create & evaluate concepts that may solve our design problem.

If you had been in the habit totally skipping the previous 2 steps and jumping right on your computer, be a bit more patient. We won’t be using our computer any time soon.

Hopefully by now you understand that a designer’s job is NOT to operate Photoshop or Illustrator, anyone can do it after spending several hours watching video tutorials. Computer software is just a tool at our disposal & designers had been solving design problems long before computers were invented.

There several brainstorming techniques we can utilize to help us generate an idea, and can be applied to generate ideas in general, not just on design problem solving.

As David Sherwin, successfully describes in his book: “Creative Workshop”, “Being creative on demand is, well demanding. Sometimes ideas won’t flow without a little extra prodding in the brain cells”. And it’s quite true. The creative process really is hard work & dedication with only a tiny part given over to inspiration.

We have several articles discussing brainstorming, idea generation and creativity in our website, so i won’t be repeating these information here. Feel free to search our website and also consider reading:

You can also find some books i highly suggest on the topic at the end of this article.

Prototype and Implementation

So we got several ideas, and at this stage many designers will either start producing a first draft in the computer, or turn their best rough sketches into more detailed and polished sketches.

Either way afterwards, all will end up presenting 1 to 3 of these drafts or polished sketches to the client to chose one, depending the agreement between them. After the clients choose the idea to proceed with, next comes the refinement of this one best idea to the final version of the design solution.

At the refinement stage a variety of typographic choices and images maybe tested. Elements might need to be resized, repositioned or recoloured to achieve the best result. A design contains many different aspects that need to come together in the final job.

And unlike common beliefs, design does have rules and one should know them to achieve these best results, either by following them OR breaking them on purpose. (Breaking a rule you are unaware of, in most cases is a certain recipe to disaster.)
I won’t go into much details on the design theory since its beyond the scope of this article, but I’d like though to mention a small list of things to consider concerning each individual part of the whole. Its not complete by any means but are the most commonly misused elements by inexperienced designers, or design software users.

The images we use, can communicate in many different ways. They can have different cultural and social interpretations, or evoke different emotions. The way an image was taken also have tremendous importance. Badly photographed, or low quality imagery we’ll have your audience thinking about how bad the photographs are than your message.

The typefaces we might use in our design have their own distinct personalities and not all are appropriate for every design job. Some appear serious , others playful, others modern etc. The way we set our typography is of utmost importance because it helps or hinders the message we try to communicate. And think about how many times we’ve seen a logo or poster, and thought that something was amiss or felt wrong. One doesn’t have to be a typography master to realize that a font like hmm lets say comic sans, would probably be unsuitable for a lawyers image!

The shapes type we used, their size and their placement in a design can also convey different messages. They might evoke feelings of harmony, or of balance or of tension.

Finally colour is a very powerful communication tool in our disposal. It makes things stand out, creates emphasis and also can have strong symbolic and cultural meaning, allowing us to communicate more efficiently with a target group, but also alienate it if wrongly chosen.

After the design is refined it can then presented again to the client for the final approval before it gets to mass printing or publicly appear in a website.

The essential steps of the design process completed. Whatever you do don’t forget to get feedback on your final design from fellow designers and learn as much as you can to further improve your skills, and also evaluate all the things you learned in that process.

If you were a non-designer reading the series, i hope i didn’t tire you much. I tried to explain the process in the simplest possible way avoiding using as much as possible design slang terms. I hope i helped you understand a bit more about a designer’s work & what steps are involved in a design process.

Further Reading/Bibliography:

Designing Sites That Grandma Can Use

9 Tips for Better Website Design

In a previous article we discussed about the principles of effective visual communications. Those principles also apply in web design and are crucial in making the site appear visually appealing.

Aside the visual aesthetics, effective presentation of information, functionality and user friendliness are also factors that determine whether a site is good or bad.

Both standpoints should be considered equally. Making a site that presents information in an efficient way and is user-friendly would be pointless, if it looks ugly or doesn’t fit the client’s brand and image. On the other hand none will wait to see your nice graphics if they take too long to load, or have to go through a labyrinth of clicks to get to that page.

So with these two factors in mind let’s see some quick tips to help you build a better website.

1. Users don’t like getting tired. All your content should be well organized and easy to reach, be it a text block or a link to other pages etc. Your design shouldn’t be a hindrance between the information and the user but the conduit.

 2. Users don’t like to wait. Try to optimize your graphics loading times and your sites overall performance. That “nice” flash slider won’t do you any good if it takes too long to load. Your user will most probably be in another page by then.

 3. Your navigation should be easy to find on the page, and it must be usable. Users must be able to know where the currently are but also how they will reach their next destination. I see sometimes corporate pages with menus 3 & 4 levels deep containing more text in their navigation than in the body of the page itself, and I do wonder if anyone ever bothers navigating that menu.

 4. Each of the pages must look like belonging to the same site, changing style dramatically, in terms of layout, or colors or the navigation position etc. will confuse and make your users feel awkward.

 5. Take into account the basic principles of design. Even if you think that your web site looks gorgeous because your 4 year old daughter drawn the graphics, it might not be exactly what your clients or your audience is looking for. It never hurts to also take a second and more unbiased opinion too.

 6. Be aware of the emerging web technologies, CSS3 is definitely cool but might not work as well in older browsers.  Best practice is to use it in non-critical spots of the site. So even if it’s not supported in an older browser it won’t harm or make your design unusable. But if it does the user can experience the better effects.

 7. Try to make the site as much accessible as you can. Among your audience might be people with special needs or disabilities that you should take into account too. Web sites should be inclusive for everyone if possible.

8. Always remember that unless you made the site for your viewing pleasure or experimentation, it was created to serve an explicit purpose. Either to sell a product, or service, or showcase your work or distribute news etc., and to be appealing in a specific target audience. Make sure that your design do serve that purpose, and is appealing at that audience.

 9. In the end, design is all about the end user. Try to think and feel as your end user would. He is busy, he is overloaded with info, and he has aesthetics.

Hope you enjoyed and found useful this article!

What you think makes or breaks a web site?

Do you use the above approaches or have any additional tips to share? Looking forward to hear your opinions!

By: *嘟嘟嘟*

How To Create Winning Ecommerce Websites? 15 Best Tips From Experts!

Every website needs visitors and customers, but eCommerce websites are basically designed to serve the clients. Online shopping has been becoming a trend and eCommerce websites are in high demand these days. A perfectly designed eCommerce website experiences high conversion rate and brings the desired profit for a business. However not all the web designers understand how to make the eCommerce websites conversion-friendly.

Here is given a guide by web design Edinburgh experts to help the web designers in creating conversion-friendly, yielding eCommerce websites.

1. Who Are Your Prospects? Identify!

Having clear understanding of the target customers help in creating user-friendly design. Know the emotions that could trigger the users’ buying decision. Know their shopping behaviour and the things they prefer to see at an eCommerce website. At an eCommerce website, it’s important to provide the users with the desired information to get a favourable response in the form of a final deal.

2. How Should Be The Navigation? Simple!

For an eCommerce site, simple navigation plays the role. The site visitors should be directed with ease while moving from one to the other point. Facilitate the prospects in quickly browsing the product portfolio.

3. Product Images: High Resolution

Product images add to the glory of an eCommerce website so these images should be of high resolution. Presenting product images from different angle is another approach that helps the visitors in making some quick choices, hence promoting conversions.

4. Product Info: Details

Providing the users with the most useful information about the product is another trick to boost the conversions. Write a great product copy to appeal to the prospects and help them in making an easy decision of the deal. The product info should be winning.

5. Call To Action: Images

Gone are the days when buttons were used for call to action. Images have replaced the buttons, but these images should be persuasive to make more conversions possible.

6. Product Promotion: Videos

An interactive eCommerce website is a real appeal for the site visitors. Product videos add to the interactivity of a website and bring more site conversions. However, videos should be compelling and revealing more about the products or offers made at the website.

7. Shopping Cart: 24/7 visibility

The right place of shopping cart is the right corner of the users’ screens. Drop down menu is also good to be there on shopping cart to help the shoppers look at the products with great ease. The shopping cart should be made accessible to the shoppers all the times because they want the product information anytime they visit the website.

8. Shipping: Free

If possible, free shipping should be offered to the customers. It’s natural that shoppers love special discounts, so a stimulating factor for high conversion rates. Try to make the business model having free shipping option.

9. Distractions: Avoid

Distractions are the worst for shoppers, causing switching. Try to make the shoppers’ experience of the site smooth to facilitate conversions. Offer just the order information in the checkout process at the eCommerce website.

10. Landing Page: Present Featured Products

Not all the shoppers are intended to shop. Many site visitors come and decide to shop after looking at the products. To help such shoppers, provide a list of featured products on the landing pages.

11.  Special Discounts: Mention Clearly

Special offers need special place at a website, so display them prominently to be noticed by the site visitors. Try to improve your discounts to enhance the conversion rate because consumers prefer to shop at a website that offer discounted products.

12.  Contact Info: Display Properly

Websites having clearly displayed contact information experience more conversions. Try to make the contact information detailed so that the prospects could contact the way they prefer.

13.  Transaction Mode: Multiples Options

Don’t ask for credit card from every customer, because many will hesitate giving you the information, means losing a customer. There should be multiple payment options to facilitate the customers.

14.  Site Search: Advanced

Although site search is a good feature to be there at any website, but advanced search do the magic. It makes the shopping experience of the site customers lot easier. For eCommerce websites with larger list of products, advanced search is needed the most to please the prospects.

15.  Site Look: Follow Simplicity

eCommerce websites look complex, but should be made simple for the visitors. The products and the relevant information should be made easy to access. Stunning design is good, but extra use of designing elements will make it tough for the site visitors to focus what they are looking for at the site.

Building an eCommerce website could be a challenging task, but the tips given above offer great help even to a newbie web designer. Try to improve the shopability of eCommerce website that you are designing. Keep in mind that building an eCommerce website is a never-ending process, as updating goes on continuous basis.

Share your “tried and tested” tips to help the web designers designing winning eCommerce websites.

Featured Image: Creative Commons – Attribution by *嘟嘟嘟*

Creative Commons - Attribution photo by Per Axbom

12 Mobile Web Design Trends for 2013 and Beyond…

Some websites are not so mobile friendly but in 2013 that is changing—almost a must for web designers. Users want websites to be seamless and exact on PCs, laptops, smartphones and tablets. What are designers looking at to make this possible? Here are 12 trends that are changing the online world.

1. More Responsive Web Designs

12 Mobile Web Design Trends for 2013 and Beyond...   6263640150 461936bb79

Image via Flickr axbom

RWD or Responsive Web Design means once employed, a website is viewable on any device, desktop, smartphone or tablet. Newspapers and sports-themed websites are gaining tons of followers with new RWD looks that dismiss scrolling left to right for reading text and the image conversions are flawless.

It is true 67 percent of Internet users say they are more apt to buy on the go. With more people using tablets and smartphones to make purchases, RWD cuts out the need for different SEO and HTML in order for consumers to browse and buy no matter what the device; the site looks the same.

2. Websites Are Losing the Clutter

12 Mobile Web Design Trends for 2013 and Beyond...   5018311485 2f0e9416f5

Image via Flickr webtreats

It used to be the more action-packed a website home page, the better but no more. Designers have realized less is more. They are doing this with hidden landing pages and shorter navigation bars. Some websites are losing the navigation bar altogether.

With hidden landing pages, users searching on smartphones will land on the desired page instead of the home page making them more apt to buy or learn more. These hidden pages while still found in a search, when packed with SEO and keywords, are helping to end the clutter on home pages. Left and right arrows and scrolling bars are also making websites fresh and crisp enticing the viewer move through with touchscreens or the mouse.

3. Websites Will Look More Like Apps

12 Mobile Web Design Trends for 2013 and Beyond...   8121841101 6e32499b78

Image via Flickr by Microsoft Sweden

Forget the old term “there’s an app for that,” and instead, think app look-alike-designed websites. The Wall Street Journal reported as of June 2012, the Apple App store offered 650,000 available apps for download and the Google Play Store was not far off at 500,000. And, mobile users are downloading those apps at a large rate—30 billion for iPhones and 15 billion for Android operating systems.

Designers will achieve a wider audience with app-looking websites and users will enjoy the familiarity they bring.

4. Navigation Bars That Move

12 Mobile Web Design Trends for 2013 and Beyond...   2526855947 12048b9d8e

Image via Flickr Gustavo da Cunha Pimenta

CSS programming allows for the “position: fixed” offering navigation bars that scroll up or down when users do. Although not new, they provide users an easy way to head to another part of the website faster.

The fixed position works best with where website navigation bars are page content or search-driven so users can quickly change search criteria or click on scrolling bars to narrow down desired content.

5. The Use of Larger Photos and Images

12 Mobile Web Design Trends for 2013 and Beyond...   6433208107 8843c3660a

Image via Flickr Life@Microsoft Australia

Web designers are also skipping smaller images and opting for larger high-resolution images instead. Not only are these eye-appealing when designed correctly, larger images offer the chance for more elements within the image.

Popular venues for large images include expos, health care, lobbies, restaurants and retail stores that offer an inside feel to the viewer.

6. The Insertion of QR Codes

12 Mobile Web Design Trends for 2013 and Beyond...   2331434662 4450a322d4

Image via Flickr Dan Zen

QR (quick response) codes are now widespread on websites as a call to action—and mobile users are scanning them.

Good for discounts, promotions, coupons or for informational purposes, when users find these calls to action they are pulling out their Blackberry cell phones to take advantage of these hidden square offerings.

7. Influx of Social Media Badges

12 Mobile Web Design Trends for 2013 and Beyond...   4731898939 e972eb3594

Image via Flickr birgerking

It used to be most websites would have a Facebook and Twitter badge and that was it. Now, designers are leading users to companies on LinkedIn, Google+, Digg, StumbleUpon, Tumblr, Pinterest and more.

Beyond leading viewers to these social media pages, web designers are also using social media badges on blog posts pages where readers can share the posts on their social media pages.

8. Integrated Video

12 Mobile Web Design Trends for 2013 and Beyond...   2437319636 7d7df53db3

Image via Flickr Bonnie Bogle

Desktop Google searches will almost always provide a YouTube video. Part of the reason is Google owns YouTube but the other reasons is the real-life scalability videos offer.

Consumers can see how a product works, take a 360 degree tour or learn how to use software and videos are playing a big part in web design.

9. Larger Typography

12 Mobile Web Design Trends for 2013 and Beyond...   5817835395 93eba59bdc

Image via Flickr adactio

Yes if the typography is bigger, it’s better in today’s world of web design. CSS and XHTML coding is making larger typography fit onto mobile phone screens but when using laptops, desktops or tablets, larger text—and simpler fonts—are engaging viewers.

The Sans Serif font is in again along with big text and much like larger photos, designers are using this trend for web design more and more.

10. DIY Website Design

12 Mobile Web Design Trends for 2013 and Beyond...   4919659112 70f8836dfa

Image via Flickr Phil Oakley

WordPress has been around for a while now allowing DIY designer to create their own designs; GitHub is another. Known as open source software many DIY designers are finding free templates created by the skilled open source pros or creating their own.

With open source software brings many plugins each with its own must-have feature and if you want your website to have a great mobile look, there are plugins for that too.

11. HTML5 and JavaScript Surging Ahead of Flash

12 Mobile Web Design Trends for 2013 and Beyond...   5410923901 fbff34c768

Image via Flickr Josef Dunne

With upgraded features in HTML5 and JavaScript, Flash is going away. Wed designers are taking advantage of what HTML5 and JavaScript can do such as offering a rich Internet application (RIA)—Chrome Experiments is a good example of just how designers are making websites rich and interactive.

Movement and engagement are the force behind this type of design.

12. Story Timelines

12 Mobile Web Design Trends for 2013 and Beyond...   8493455756 65fa12e971

Image via Flickr Vixie Rayna

Companies rich in history are using story timelines and opting out of the conventional feel of homepages. This learn more about us approach allows for great imagery and text as well as a cinematic feel.

Popular industries engaged in using story timelines are automakers, food manufacturers and the fashion industry.

These new trends in web design are not only making websites more mobile friendly, they are also engaging the user, providing interaction and offer smart searching capabilities. Because technology and web designer programming changes in a flash, along with these trends in web design for 2013, expect even more from the innovative and the imaginative.

Creative Commons - Attribution photo by Jeff Vier

Making Homemade Inks

With hundreds of different types of inks available to each of anyone on the internet, making your own ink has become the practice confined to a very specific breed of pen nerds; the nostalgic purists, the picky perfectionists, and the cheap (ahem, “thrifty”). Whatever your reason, making ink has a long and rich history and gives us a variety of options to choose from, and being creative people we’re not above inventing our own recipes.

Tea Ink

The easiest functional ink that you can make is tea ink. Just boil about a cup of water and put 3-5 tea bags in to steep for about a half hour. Then dissolve some gum Arabic or carrageenan in the hot tea to thicken it slightly and let it cool. Bottle it up and there you have some non-toxic, edible ink. Keep in mind that any ink made from tea or berries is going to be acidic so if you’re writing anything that you want your great-great-great grandchildren to read you might want to use something else. In most cases it isn’t a concern since most writing paper that’s available is going to degrade on it’s own just as quickly as it would when catalyzed by acidic ink.

Powder Pigments

Once you feel a bit more adventurous you can move on to powder pigments. Classic and highly effective is lampblack, charcoal, or crushed minerals or seashells. If you’re interested in trying more plant oriented things you can try grinding up dried tree bark, herbs, and flowers. The trick to this is to dry the colored bit that you want (usually flower petals) on a paper towel or bit of cloth until it’s looking nice and crispy and to then crush them into a fine powder with a mortar and pestle. To get the pigment out of the cells and floating free in your ink you’ll then want to add some alcohol until you’ve got a thick paste. After that you can add your favorite thinners and thickeners to build your ink consistency.

Thinning/Thickening Agents

Because non-water based inks lack surface tension and sink into the page much more quickly with increased risk of bleeding I prefer to stick with water. If you go with that philosophy that means that besides water, which will usually leave your ink very runny and might let your ink smudge even after it’s dried, you’ll need to add a thickener, preferably a sticky one. The gums mentioned in the paragraph above make effective thickeners, but since not everyone has that sitting in their kitchen cabinet I tend to go with simple old corn starch. Food starch is a natural glue and will do the job reasonably well. That being said, I still know several people who swear by linseed oil instead of water, which will give you a nice consistency without the need for thickeners. For my part I’m going to be sticking with water based inks because I don’t like bleedy inks.

Featured Image: Creative Commons – Attribution photo by Jeff Vier – source

Article by Alice Jenkins

Alice Jenkins is a writer, graphic designer and marketer. When Alice isn’t trying to figure out whole stole her favorite red pen, she writes about web design, small business branding and marketing trends. Alice writes for PensXpress, a business that specializes in custom imprinted pens.

 

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How To Tell If Your Web Design Company Is Scamming You

There seems to be a growing concern amongst many business owners – they fear that their web design company, whom they also trust to host their website and to register their domain name, may be scamming them. Often, the full extent of the company’s power over their clients is not revealed until the client wants to switch web hosts or they want to upgrade their website – why else would the company need to alienate their clients?

There are a variety of ways that a design company may choose to deal with what they have dubbed ‘traitor clients’; those who have decided to take their business elsewhere. They may send them a large bill for switching hosts, often known as a cancellation fee. They may cancel the client’s account completely, which can cause email issues. They may point the domain name to a different website. And they make take the website down until further notice.

It is these sorts of actions that make many people believe design companies are holding too much power over their clients. Why should you be punished for looking for a better deal? You are within your rights to do what you like when you like with your own business, especially as you ultimately own your website and your domain name. This is the reality becoming clear to many clients who have discovered that their design company hasn’t been honest with them.

As with any sort of business venture, there are a number of loopholes in the web design industry that have actually allowed companies to take full control of their client’s web presence. For example, if you haven’t signed a contract specifying that you have sole rights to your domain name or that you will pay certain fees, then there really isn’t much you can do when the design company turns around and takes you for everything you have.

So, how can you go about taking power away from the design company and keeping it within your own grasp, where it belongs? It is recommended that you go out and register your desired domain name before you contact a designer to create a website for you. This way, you will be in possession of all documents relating to the ownership and registration of your domain. This does not, however, prevent companies from scamming you in other ways.

When choosing a web design company to take on the creation of your website, there are a number of questions that you should ask to ensure that they aren’t trying to scam you:

  • Do you provide a contract for all of your projects?
  • If I register my domain name through you, will my contract state that I own the name in all circumstances?
  • If I am late in making payments, does your company policy state that you must cancel the account?
  • Is it stated in your contract that I cannot switch to a different host at a later date?

At the end of the day, you should be wary of web design companies that do not require their clients to sign contracts for every aspect of the project. Without a signed document, there is no way that you can prove your ownership of the website or even of the domain name – for all you know, the design company is trying to sell the whole thing out from under you.

 Article by John Fulton

John has been working as a freelance writer for Zeemo. The company is known to provide excellent and reliable online services such as web development, graphic design, SEO services and web design Melbourne for over a decade now.