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

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

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

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

Does Your Design Company Communicate with You?

When you hire a graphic design company, there are a lot of different things you need to consider. Things like their experience, their level of skill, and their fees are just a few of the considerations that will influence your decision. But one of the most important factors that you should look at when comparing web design companies is something that most clients don’t think twice about: their ability to communicate.

See, the marketing process is an ongoing, complex process. There’s a very important need for consistent communication between the marketing company and the client. If that communication isn’t there, then you’re going to have a serious problem. Without proper communication, your logo design and marketing firm could end up creating a campaign that doesn’t mesh with your vision or help you meet your business objectives.

So, what are some of the ways the best marketing agencies communicate with their clients?

Well, it all starts at the beginning. From the initial consultation, your marketing firm should get the conversation going. They should be committed to learning everything they can about you the client. They should perform an in-depth opening interview to gather as many details as possible about your company, your competitors, your goals, your target audience, your unique selling points, and so on. If your marketing agency doesn’t do this from the start, that’s a pretty big warning sign that you’ve chosen the wrong firm to handle your brand.

After the initial interview, your marketing company should continue to keep the lines of communication open with you, because the next step is the development of your campaign. Depending upon the scope of your project, this could mean the design of a range of marketing collateral (website, brochures, print ads, etc.), the development of your messaging (copywriting), and general strategizing.

Obviously, it’s important that you play a role in this. After all, it is your company, so you should be involved in developing your marketing strategy so that you can be sure it’s in line with your vision and your objectives.

But that’s not all. As your marketing campaign gets implemented, you should still be communicating with your marketing agency. They should be keeping you updated on the current status of your campaign, and they should be measuring results to let you know how it’s performing. This could mean that you have weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly meetings with your marketing agency to keep you apprised of all the latest happenings surrounding your brand’s development.

In short, communication is an essential part of the marketing and design process. The best marketing agencies know how to communicate effectively with their clients, helping to ensure your voice is always heard and you continue to remain satisfied.

Photos by: arinas74 and OmirOnia

6 years ago

Why Teens should attend Seminars and Events

I jus found MeetUp, and I think its great to find some kind of event to attend!

As a teenager, you’d probably be thinking to yourself, why should I attend X, as a teen? Well, if you are somebody with a passion/interest/business in that field then maybe you should.

There are events for any and everything you have interests for. In order to network yourself successfully, you should try to attend some type of profesional event that deals with something you can relate to.

For instance, I am going to be attending WordCamp Miami 2010 in a few weeks. Why you ask? I really have a passion for web design and development; and this will be something I am going to peruse in the future. At an event like this, I can network myself and show older designers and developers what a teen can really do. (Not to mention that an event dedicated to WordPress is something I would attend for fun as well) I have never properly networked myself. But an opportunity like this is amazing to meet new people.

Why Would you Want to Network?

Meeting people can do so much for your online [and offline] presence; for example, lets say you had a small craft business, and you attend (or even had set up a booth to ell) a local crafting event. Fellow (befriended) crafters would mention you in their websites/tweets, or you could even meet a store owner willing to display and sell your products. Even one mention in a large blog could boost web traffic and/or sales tremendously.

Wherever you go, Think Big

Attending local events like these can be fun, but dont forget to take advantage of the situation. Design some business cards, and hand them out as you meet potential friends, clients, or employers.

What Kind of Events Should I Attend?

A lot of local events aren’t expensive to go to; for example the WordCamp Miami I mentioned earlier was only $30 per ticket. That may sound like a lot, but when broken down, it’s really not.

  • Free Lunch
  • Free Tee
  • Swag Bag
  • Hours of soaking up advice from spakers
  • Networking Opportunities
  • FUN! 😀

Do some research in your area, and see if there are any events you could go to!

Last minute advice; attend an event that pertains to something you love. For example, if you like Photography, but really have a passion for painting, don’t attend something related to Photography, spend the effort into going to an art exhibit or event. You’ll meet people that can relate to you, and be further inspired to pursue your goals and dreams.

PLEASE NOTE: Don’t go to an event or meet up by yourself. Make sure you go with a buddy, or PARENT, as it isn’t safe to be vulnerable and alone at an event or meetup.

6 years ago

What your Website's Design Says About You

For many, the first impression of your website can say a lot about the kind of person you are. After all, that’s all we really have to show people who we are online. (If you own a website of course)

For example, if you are labeling yourself as a designer in your portfolio, but use (or buy) a template, what does that make you? A designer should design his or her website, not use the work of others in their respective repertoires. So, what do others think of this?

Or, let’s look at it this way; you create websites. Lets say that the one chance you had to make an impression on someone was your website. Take these factors into consideration.

Load Time
What happens if you are using heavy images and uncompressed files? The site will take longer than usual to load. This can say that you are lazy, don’t know any better or don’t care. You should always make sure that you are saving your images for the web, and are compressing your CSS and HTML files.

Principles of Design
If your design is wacky and all over the place with colors that don’t match and no adherence to design elements, then people could think that you just don’t know what you’re doing. Color, proximity, and typography are all principles of design that can make a huge impact.

Themes and Templates
Keep in mind that you want to stand apart from the crowd. Yes, templates and themes are readily available on the web but that doesn’t mean that we should use them. I personally get a bad vibe when I visit a website that is using a theme that has clearly not been edited in any way, especially when people are supposed to show that they know what they are doing. On the other hand, too many people using a similar design may not register in a good manner with others as well.

Your Message
Also on the subject of templates, please make sure that you are sending out the right message. A dark blue and rugged design will give me the impression of sadness or something bad. This is because blue is a cool color. Cool colors like green, blue, and sometimes purple give off a sad impression. So, in other words — if you are trying to make people happy, don’t use negative colors just because it happens to be your favorite.

For example, if you are trying to give off the impression that you have a successful marketing business, don’t use something flowery just because you are an amateur gardener. You need to relate your design to your content.

User Interface and Interaction
A website nowadays needs to be easy for all to see and use. For example, I just came across this website. It looked like it was designed many years ago. Why, you may ask? Because it’s design was really outdated. It reeked of the 90’s! The page width probably didn’t exceed 750 pixels and the font sizes were between 9-12px. Don’t forget the .gifs!

In the long run, websites need to appeal to the masses. A lesson that I learned long ago was that you need to set your text size to something other than 10px. Not everyone can attach themselves to the screen like you can. Not to mention that they probably don’t see as well either. What looks good to you may not look like that for others.

Also, don’t make your website ridiculously hard to use. Make things easy to find. Don’t use pop ups or sign ups or anything else that may be intrusive because people visit you for your content. If they can’t get to it then they won’t come back.

I wrote this to show you guys that the face of your website means everything. It’s a wake up call to you, (and me!) that others are watching your work, and in turn making judgments about you for it. I hope that this has taught you a thing or two, and that you use what you learn! My #1 goal on this blog is being able to help people! I love helping people, and when I hear that I helped one of you out, it really makes my day. Thanks for reading!

Photo Credit
6 years ago

The Many Seen and Unseen Faces of SoDevious – The Finale

Alright guys, this mini-series has come to a close. Here are the last of the looks that SoDevious has sported in recent times. I hope you enjoy them! They really do bring back some memories for me.

And guess what? NO celebs 😉

So what do you guys think? Any improvements?

6 years ago

Split Toning In Photoshop

Split toning is a pretty simple effect that’s also striking. I’ll be using Photoshop CS5 Extended, so if you have a different version you’ll have to adjust accordingly.

Final Effect:

The image we will be using:

Now, open up your image in Photoshop. Click on the ‘adjustments’ button on the layers palette (it’s the one thats round and half grey half white).
Click on color balance.


Change the settings for highlights to this.


And the shadows to this.


Hopefully, it should look something like this now.

Now we have to add in some contrast, because it’s looking rather dull. Go back to the adjustments button, and click ‘brightness & contrast’. Set the contrast to whatever you think looks best.
Now, to add extra contrast, click down onto the original background layer. Hit Ctrl+J (Or just duplicate the layer the other way) and change the blending mode to overlay.
Lower the opacity of the duplicated layer down to around 50 – 60 so it’s not too harsh.

If your finished product looks like this, then ta-da! You did it right.

Finished Product:

Sorry if this wasn’t extremely helpful or if it was confusing. It’s my first tutorial, and I hope to get better. 🙂

-Keely.

7 years ago