Teens: Be A Web Tester For This College Site And Earn A $10 Amazon Giftcard!

Hey guys, I’ve found a great way for you guys to earn some cash to spend on Amazon!

Pearson Education is the largest educational company in the world, and they’re building a site to get teens ready for college.  They are looking for Internet savvy teens like you, to test out beta versions of their site and give them your honest feedback about what works for you and what doesn’t.  Their studies are completed entirely online, and there’s no special software to download or install. In return, you’ll get a $10 Amazon.com gift card for every study you successfully complete. Interested students must be in middle or high school and between 13 and 18 years old to participate. In order to qualify, you must also complete one unpaid eligibility survey.  This is a great opportunity for you guys to expand your knowledge and experience of UX design while making a little extra cash and helping improve online education all at the same time!

 

Here’s a link to the eligibility survey to get started!

5 years ago

How Often Should You Redesign Your Business Cards?

This is a question I ask myself every so often. I’m a big advocate of young talented people establishing their identity with business cards. I’ve had them since I was about 13, and I’m 17 now. In four years, I’ve gone through four redesigns. For me, I make an update when the crucial information changes (portfolio, etc).

For some, information might not change very often. I think it’s best to make changes on these factors: outdated designs, outdated information and new logos.

In order to fully express my creativity, I make sure each design is totally different than the next.

So, how often should you change your business cards? Think about the nature of your business, the people receiving these cards and the image you wish to portray. Does your information change frequently? Do your current cards give off the reflection you want it to?

This picture shows the first business cards I ever designed! Share yours!

 

Need new business cards? Check out BusinessCards.org templates!

5 years ago

Ageism in the Design World

This is a guest post written by Nicole Foster. Nicole Foster is a professional website designer who loves to help businesses and other designers succeed. She offers various custom design services for all types of businesses. Follow her on Twitter or Like her onFacebook.

Being a teenager in the design world is tough. You’re an outcast, a minority, but also somebody very unique. However, some people believe teenagers can’t compare to their older, more “experienced” designer counterparts. This is a form of Ageism, which is defined as “stereotyping of and discrimination against individuals or groups because of their age” (Wikipedia). This mentality is common across all generations, and is a problem because it discourages teenagers from being passionate about design. It makes them question their abilities and feel less talented than an older designer.

Don’t let this discourage you from enjoying the world of design though. Being a designer at a young age allows you to learn more and start your future career earlier. Personally, I started designing websites 6 years ago when I was 12 years old, and I was able to absorb more information on design and programming than people older than me. Nonetheless, I experienced ageism several times since I started my freelance business in 2008, but using these tips, I was able to combat it and prove myself as a competent designer despite my age. Implement these basic tips and you will begin getting the respect you deserve.

Create a Professional Online Image

As a designer, it’s important to have an online presence. You can reach out to other designers, potential employers or potential clients through social media websites like Twitter and Facebook. However, younger people often use them for their personal lives and do not consider how this could affect their image. Separate your personal life from your professional life with these tips:

Dress Professionally

When it comes to impressing people, your appearance is the first thing somebody will look at. If you’re looking to impress people and have them take you seriously as a designer, then you need to dress like you want the job, the client, or the respect.

For Girls – When I was 16, I invested in a suit jacket and it was the best investment for my business. I was able to snag one at a Calvin and Klein’s outlet mall for only $60, so I would suggest searching through department stores and outlet malls for great deals on suit jackets. Underneath the suit jacket, find a simple, one color tank top in any color you like. I usually wear blue to convey professionalism or pink to appeal to my female clients. Lastly, black dress pants and small heals will create the perfect professional look to impress employers, clients and other designers.

For Boys – If you have the money, a full suit and tie combination will do wonders, but cheaper alternatives will be just as effective. An alternative to a full suit is to get a button-up shirt with a complimentary tie. Any color can work for boys, but be aware of the psychology behind the color you choose. Also, buy matching dress pants and comfortable work shoes to complete the look. You can find this all at your nearest department store for affordable prices. As long as you have a complete look, you will be able to gain the respect you deserve.

How to Present Yourself – Now that you have the right outfit, you will need to learn how to present yourself properly to other designers or employers in person. The number one rule is to always shake the hand of the person(s) you are meeting. Never shake too hard or too fast, but a handshake conveys your maturity and will gain you respect immediately. During the meeting or chat, always listen and smile. As long as you create a productive conversation and keep things friendly, the other person will be impressed with your professionalism and they will forget the stereotypes of teenagers.

Have Business Cards

Lastly, and most importantly, have a set of business cards and always carry them with you. You never know when a friend, family member or potential employer could be interested in your design skills, and a business card with your contact information will be the perfect gateway to respect.

Have a Unique, Personalized Design – Every designer has a different style and that should be reflected on your business card. Generally, the business card will reflect the style of your website, but if you do not have one, then base it off a style that describes your personality. Simplicity is the key for effective business cards because it will save you on printing costs, but don’t be afraid to get creative, and stand out. If you have a nice set of business cards you can pass around, it will add to your professional look.

Include the Right Contact Information – Always make sure to include several different ways for people to contact you on your business card. On my business card, I include my website, my phone number, and email address. This allows for potential clients to call, email or learn more about my services on my website. At the least, I would suggest your website link and email if you are not comfortable with giving away your phone number. The more contact options you have, the more likely the person will get a hold of you.

Hand Them Out – Just hand them out to friends, family, teachers, etc. and encourage them to recommend you to people they know. Get them in front of as many people as possible by putting them up on community bulletin boards, business fronts and other places you can think of. The more seen your business cards are, the better your image as a designer will be.

Have any tips of your own?

I recognize there are many other things you can do to be respect in the design world despite your age, but these are basic tips that will benefit you in the long run. In the comment section below, share what you did to defeat ageism and gain the respect you deserve. Also, post any questions you have about this topic; I am very willing to answer any questions and give tips that have personally worked for me.

6 years ago

Win Free Diecut Business Cards from UPrinting!

Business cards are ideal for any designer or blogger (and are generally awesome!) Today, we have a nice giveaway from the folks at UPrinting. I got my business cards printed there, and I am thoroughly pleased!

The winner will receive:

250  pcs Die Cut Business Cards
1.75” x 3.5”, 2” x 3.5”, or 2” x 2”; 2.5”
Diameter (Circle), Rounded Corners, Leaf, Rounded Single-Corner, Half-Circle Side, or Circle; 14pt Cardstock Gloss / Matte / High Gloss (UV), or 13pt Cardstock Uncoated,
6 Business Days Turnaround, *Free shipping
die-cut business card templates available for download
Restriction: Limited to *US residents 18 years old and above only.

To enter, type your email in the box below and press send. To make your entry count, you have to confirm your email. So, make sure to check your email and click the confirmation link you should get.

For extra entries, mention this giveaway on your blog or twitter and comment on this post telling me where you mentioned it.

I’ve teamed up with other companies to bring you more contests and giveaways such as this one, so stay tuned! PS: Here is an image of my cute, square business cards :’)

 

Disclaimer: This business card printing giveaway is sponsored by UPrinting, no monetary compensation was given and I will receive business cards for hosting. For more information about business cards, please visit UPrinting online printing services.

6 years ago

My Experiences and Honest Review of InMotion Hosting

I have been building and running websites of all kinds for many years now, as some of you may know. With this, I have experimented with many different web hosts over time. Some have been awful, yet some of them have been really great! Today I am going to share my experiences with InMotion Hosting. I’d like to mention, that I’m not a fan of those large hosting companies. As a medium sized company, I found InMotion to have great support and great service – without having to compromise a single thing, as you would have to with other, larger hosts. (When I say that InMotion is a medium sized host, I am saying that they are not this big force trying to do everything so great – they focus on a few services, making them as great as possible. Quality over quantity!) I appreciate the friendliness and comfort I experience when dealing with the guys over at InMotion.

When I did my research on InMotion when I was looking for a new web host a few weeks ago, I was not able to find one negative thing about these guys. After going over my options, I took the dive and went for InMotion.  The sign up process was fast and easy, even for a beginner. All of the options are evident and you know exactly what you’re paying for. I have never seen an ordering process this straightforward!

99% of the time, you get a welcome email with account info when you order a hosting account . Most of the time they are the same tedious email, buy with InMotion hosting, I found the welcome email to be very thorough, well organized and jam packed with more information than I know how to do with. To be honest, I see a lot of hosts that just throw you your account information, which can be very non-newbie friendly. Although I knew what I was doing, I feel that here, things seem to be more newbie friendly and easy!

In the few weeks that I have had two of my sites with InMotion, I have experienced superior uptime and am thoroughly enjoying the great features they have to offer. Among them are: Reliable Backups (Weekly or Daily), cPanel, Multiple levels of hosting when your sites grow, money back guarantee and so much more. With hosting starting at $5.95 a month, you really can’t go wrong.

You may have had experiences with shady hosts, feeling uncomfortable about using their servers  – because I know I have. At InMotion, I feel safe. I know my data is secure. I don’t have to worry about downtime or compromised security; instead I have a peace of mind that is unsurpassed.

6 years ago

5 Reasons Websites Should Borrow a Page from Print Designers

This is a guest post by Mike Barbre. Mike Barbre is a social media professional and technology enthusiast. When he’s not using Intermedia’s Hosted Exchange, he can be found following Intermedia on Twitter and as a fan of Intermedia on Facebook.

Print is so last century, Right? Not always the case. There are reasons why print magazines and newspapers continue to sell. Some of them might be personal inertia and the slow penetration of electronic publication.


Photo Credit

However, a glossy print magazine still has a strong appeal. How can a website designer take the good parts of print and use them to make an even better site? Here are a few tips:

1. Browsing is often easier in print. Pick up a magazine. It has a table of contents in the front and all you have to do is flick to the right page. It’s often a temptation to make your index page complicated with nested drop downs, but consider taking a leaf from the print book and going with a table of contacts with each header linked. More and more, users want everything simple and uncluttered.

2. Imagery. Most web sites have standard clip art, which is readily recognizable…from three sites ago. Paying the extra money to get custom graphics for your site, just like print magazines, will make your site stand out from the crowd. What makes you pick up that particular magazine? The glossy, original cover image. Even taking your own camera out and collecting a few suitable pictures is better than going to the clip art library.

3. Fonts and text. Not that long ago it was Helvetica everywhere. You used to have to be sure your site could run on any computer, and that meant the lowest common denominator. These days, that limitation is all but gone and the imagination can run wild. The best print magazines use a distinctive, yet readable font, one that makes you know immediately you have an issue of National Geographic or People in front of you.

4. Advertising. Look at a print magazine, and you will see careful thought put into every ad. Right columns are a different size from left columns. On the web, there is a tendency to plug in an algorithm and use a standard size. If your ads change often, then this is a good idea. However, if you sell your own advertising and can spend a bit of extra time making sure that the adverts smoothly fit in with the page and truly match the content, then your customers will be far less likely to reach for that ad blocker.

5. The rhythm of the book. When you read a magazine or a periodical, there is a flow to it, one that comes from the careful selection of articles in a specific order. Because on the web people go to ‘whatever interests them’, designers seldom try to seek a coherent rhythm to a site. But rhythm is what makes you turn the next page. A careful use of font size and color can keep your readers going from one article to the next, leading them along a good ‘route’ through the site.

There are many other ways in which applying print techniques to the web can make your site more appealing and keep visitors there longer. This trend is likely not a fad or a flash in the pan, but a long-term evolution of web design as technology improves and as tablet devices become a more common way to browse the web.

 

6 years ago

How to Create a Surreal Portrait Photo Manipulation in Photoshop

Hello all, today I am going to show you how to take a normal portrait and turn it  into a breathtaking surreal photo. The image we will be using today has been taken from this deviantart account. This tutorial would be great for beginners learning how to fully take control over Photoshop’s many features. To open larger photos in this tutorial, just click on the smaller photo. You can use this photo, or select one of your own. Lets Begin.

Step 1:

Open your image and make sure the layer is a locked background. If you are unsure how to do this, right click on the layer and press ‘Flatten’.

 

Step 2:

Now we would be adding a shadow around the image where intense light is present; we want the picture to have a dark fantasy look, so we need to remove excess light and add shadows. Use the paint brush and select the foreground color as black. Paint the white area in a smooth fashion so it blends in with the picture to give it a more natural look.
photoshop-surreal-photo-manipulation

photoshop-surreal-photo-manipulation

photoshop-surreal-photo-manipulation

Step 3:
As you can see, the final image has sharp and attractive eyes with good shine and darkness altogether, with emphasis on the iris. We will be using the dodge tool under highlight range and add shine to iris by painting a semicircle around the pupil and use the burn tool under midtones range and add darkness to the pupil and the outer lining of the iris.
photoshop-surreal-photo-manipulation
photoshop-surreal-photo-manipulation
photoshop-surreal-photo-manipulation

Step 4:

Now we will be changing the color of the image using Ctrl+B to alter the color balance of the picture. Change the slider according to your picture.

photoshop-surreal-photo-manipulation

After adding the color, darken some more areas like so.

photoshop-surreal-photo-manipulation

photoshop-surreal-photo-manipulation

Step 5:

Now we will be adding eye shadow and makeup to the model. For this, we need to create a new layer and paint over the eye using color of your choice, I will be using a slightly darker red. Now use a Gaussian blur to blur it and set the mode of the layer to overlay.

photoshop-surreal-photo-manipulation

photoshop-surreal-photo-manipulation

photoshop-surreal-photo-manipulation

photoshop-surreal-photo-manipulation

Step 6:

Now we will be adding some extra elements to give the image more of a fantsy look. I am adding circles above the eyebrow in a dark red color.

photoshop-surreal-photo-manipulation

Add inner shadow to the circled by using blending options of the layer (double click the layer).

photoshop-surreal-photo-manipulation

Step 7:

Now to finish the photo, add some shadows and highlights where needed and finish it off by adding some text.
photoshop-surreal-photo-manipulation

Voila! Enjoy your surreal portrait.

6 years ago

10 New Trend Illustrations in Web Design

Design has always been an integral part of successful websites. Craft a look that communicates your company to your customers and your success increases.

Illustrations have the power of boosting a website’s design. These Web illustrations are most successful when they match current trends. By utilizing current trend illustrations in your Web design, you will show that your company is forward thinking and current.

Here are 10 new trend illustrations in Web design that your company can incorporate into your current design.

Animals

animals-in-web-design
Whether realistic or whimsical in design, humans are attracted to animals. Many animals have characteristics and traits that humans readily identify. By matching an animal with your company, you’re able to communicate a strong message about your company’s values and traits.

Bright Color

bright-colors-in-web-design

These days, Web illustrators are incorporating bright, bold colors in their designs. Before choosing your colors, take a couple of minutes to research the psychology behind colors and choose those that best match the message that you’re trying to convey.

Characters

characters-in-web-design

Companies have been creating characters to help depict their organization and draw customers in. These characters often can be incorporated into long term branding of the company so clients have a strong emotional connection to that brand every time the character appears in marketing materials.

Clouds

clouds-in-web-design

Possibly due to the popularity of Twitter, clouds are starting to sprout up in Web designs. Clouds communicate brightness, airiness and simplicity.

Focus on Footers

footers-in-web-design

Footers contain quite a bit of company information. It’s an important element of your website, so why not incorporate some design elements? Companies are utilizing the space to add illustrations that communicate their brand to website visitors. The footer is often the last element that a person will see, so why not leave them with a lasting impression?

Humor

humor-in-web-design

Everyone loves a good laugh. Utilizing humor in your Web design will help make your site memorable. It will also help increase your traffic because customers will share the site with others to see how it tickles their funny bones.

Landscapes

landscapes-in-web-design

Landscapes are natural elements that add color and beauty to a website. In a medium where grey, black and white often take center stage, it’s refreshing to have colorful, organic elements brightening up the designs.

Larger Logos

big-logos-in-web-design

Splash pages have been on the decline in recent years. But companies can continue to have that large graphic impact by increasing the size of their logos. By adding in graphic and illustration elements to the logos, they can transition into art instead of a stale logo. The larger logo will also help communicate more about the overall brand

Simplicity

simplicity-in-web-design

It’s time to clear out the clutter. It’s hard to process all of the information on the Web when websites are jam-packed with various design elements. White space helps consumers breath and take in the information that you are displaying for them to see.

White

white-in-web-design

Web illustrators have been utilizing white to brighten up other colors and de-clutter their designs. This trend is best achieved by finding creative and unique ways to utilize white, such as through the cloud trend.

Daniela blogs for CreditDonkey, a free tool that allows you to easily compare credit card offers. She’s also looking for suggestions on how to redesign CreditDonkey – email her at daniela.baker@creditdonkey.com

6 years ago

How to Choose the Best Hosting Plan for Your Website

I know how difficult it can be to choose a web host.  In fact in my years of being online, I have cycled through at least five different hosts.  Choosing a good host can be a daunting task.  Here, I will outline all of the things that you need to consider before purchasing hosting for your website.

First off, let me explain the different types of hosting solutions available.

Shared hosting is the most common type of hosting that you will see, mainly because it’s cheap.  It means that tons of websites are hosted on the same server, which isn’t a good thing.  If one website uses up too many resources, it can bring down the entire server – with your website in the sinking boat.

Another option is dedicated hosting.  This means that you’re basically “renting” your own server.  So, you don’t have to worry about anyone else using up your resources since you will not be sharing the space with anyone else.  This is also an ideal choice if you want to have full control over your server and the software installed on it.

Lastly, there’s VPS hosting.  VPS stands for Virtual Private Server.  A VPS means that you share the same hardware (server) as others, but you get your own partition (piece) of the server with your own operating system.  It offers a lot of the same benefits as a dedicated server does, except you physically don’t have the server to yourself.  This is like the next step up from shared hosting.

So, what are the different features offered with each?  Here’s a basic breakdown.

 

Email Servers

Dedicated and VPS hosting give you access to your own email server for your domain, thus bringing beefed up security and more functionality.

Platform Control

For those of you who don’t know, platform control refers to operating systems – in this case, it means that with dedicated and VPS hosting, you can choose what kind of software goes on your server.

Performance and Security

Shared servers are best for smaller websites that do not need many features or strict security.

Dedicated and VPS hosting allow for a lot of server set up and customization options with the added benefit of increased performance.  With these hosting plans, you have full reign over most aspects of the server.  These are best if you need your websites to perform well with a great deal of security features.

6 years ago

Principles of Minimalistic Web Design

You’ve no doubt heard the well-worn expression, “Less is more”. With the rapid growth of E-commerce and the increased importance of an Internet presence, effective web design is all the more relevant when it comes to online success. For a time, the predominant trend in mainstream web design revolved around increasingly complex pages. More Flash, more animations and more resource intensive bells and whistles. Inevitably, the pendulum has swung back in the other direction and minimalist web design is now all the rage. Here are a few tips to assist you in designing an understated, low-key web layout that leaves a lasting impression.

The Focal Element

With stripped down websites, the focus should be on the content and nothing else. But you still need your site to be instantly recognizable to any visitor. That’s where a single, strong visual element comes into play. More often than not, it’ll be your logo. Whether big and bold or small and subtle, your header logo allows your site to immediately identify itself at a glance. Youtube and Amazon are fairly minimalistic in terms of layout, but their logos jump out at you and are arguably the most striking aspect of the page. If you need to, hire a designer to specifically craft an eye-catching and iconic logo. With a minimal layout scheme, it might just make or break your website.

Typography


One common saying in web design circles is that 95% of good, effective web design is typography. That’s even more true when you’re shooting for a minimal design. There are few hard and fast rules, but a few general guidelines apply. For starters, don’t mix serif and sans-serif fonts on the same page. Develop a typography “theme” consisting of similar fonts that work well together. Choose three good fonts, and stick with them throughout your website. Don’t bombard visitors with a barrage of different type faces. Too much variety in this department is a bad thing. If you’re on a budget, use Google’s free Web Fonts API. Otherwise, there are plenty of places online like Font Shop where you can purchase professional font licenses for a custom look.

Color and Whitespace


Unique color palettes have always been important in web design. They take on a greater degree of importance when you have fewer elements on a page to work with. One popular route to take is to use a mix of similar pastel shades on a gray background. Using one or two vibrant colors that stand out on a white background is another way to go. Which brings us to our next point. Often times, effective web design has less to do with what you include as what you don’t. Making effective use of whitespace is a crucial component. Implement whitespace to push your main content to the forefront.

In Summary

Web design in general is a broad topic and minimalist web design in particular can be a bit tricky. These tips should point you in the right direction. Aesthetics aside, minimalist web design has additional benefits above and beyond visual appeal. For one thing, it can save you money in the long run. No matter how good a deal you’re getting from your trusted website host, bandwidth and storage is still expensive. Fewer kilobytes transmitted per page from your VPS hosting provider means a lower monthly bill overall. Ultimately, minimalist website design allows you to serve up attractive web pages and improve your bottom line all at the same time.

6 years ago