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 Tips for Working Without a Dedicated Office

What do the following three people have in common?

* A parent who wants to add to the family income

* A telecommuting cube warrior

* A successful retiree who’s starting a second career

They each need a home office, or at least some space that can be set aside for it. Ideally, there’s an extra room somewhere in the home that can be converted to a work-at-home environment, but it’s not always the case. Many who work from home have to squeeze office furniture into rooms that are already being used for other activities, yet they’re successful at it. Here are 5 things they know that you may not:

Source: Fabio Bruna

1. Use Physical Barriers to Set Aside the New Office Space

If you’ve chosen a spot in the family room, rearrange the furniture to set your new work space apart from the rest of the room. Use a portable screen or even a curtain hung from a rod to create the illusion of privacy. You might even put a piece of masking tape on the floor where the “office door” should be and ask roommates or family members to pause there and knock politely before entering.

It’s sometimes easier if space in the laundry room or a walk-in closet can be converted, but the idea remains the same. Mark the space as clearly as you can so everyone knows it’s now your office.

2. Treat It Like an Office

This is sometimes harder than it seems, especially if the space is in a room with lots of other traffic. It’s up to you and those who live with you to respect the new space as work space. The children shouldn’t leave toys in there, and laundry shouldn’t pile up on your printer stand. You go to your new office space because it’s time to go to work, not play computer games or chat with friends online. It’s a mind set that can help you make the transition into a work-at-home career more effectively.

3. Make It as Comfortable as You Can

If you can afford to get ergonomic office equipment, do it. A comfortable chair, a keyboard and mouse that are easy on the wrists, and effectively placed lighting are just as important at home as they are in a corporate office.

4. Declutter and Stay Organized

This is especially important for small spaces. Invest in some shelves, filing cabinets, plastic organizers, anything that will fit comfortably in your new office space and provide containers for “stuff.” Once you get it all put away, train yourself to put things back when you’re finished with them. Do all your filing every day so it doesn’t stack up around you. Good organizational habits can make a huge difference in productivity at home.

5. Eliminate Distractions

Ringing telephones, chattering roommates, blaring television, barking dogs, nosy neighbors or spouses – these elements of everyday life can be “death by a thousand cuts” for productivity. If you’re in a room with a TV, you might ask that it not be on during your working hours, or choose to wear a good set of headphones that can block out noise. Turn off the ringers on the house telephones, or set up a caller ID system that will allow you to see. What do a parent looking to add to the family income, a telecommuting cube warrior, and a successful retiree now starting a second career all have in common? The need for a home office, or at least some space that can be set aside for it. Ideally, there’s an extra room somewhere in the home that can be converted to a work-at-home environment, but it’s not always the case. Many who work from home have to squeeze office furniture into rooms that are already being used for other activities, yet they’re making it work.

The challenges that come with the choice to work from home differ from those of working away from home, but they can be met with some of the same strategies. The most important trait you can bring to it is the determination to take your new work seriously and to succeed at it.

6 years ago

8 Tips for Creating an Office at Home

office
Source: smemon87

Whether you are running a business out of the guest room, working from home in the den, or paying your bills in a corner of the family room, constructing a comfortable, professional space is critical. Use these eight tips for creating an office at home.

 

1. Design an office that meets your needs

The first step in crafting the perfect home office is to settle on its purpose.

  • Will you have sole access, or will it be shared with family members?
  • Will you always work alone, or will you need seating for vendors and clients?
  • What shelves, baskets, filing cabinets, and desk space will you need for storage and organisation?
  • If you will claim your home office as a tax deduction, make sure you meet the Internal Revenue Service guidelines.

 

2. Create a floor plan before making purchases

Before you bring new furniture into the space, you must confirm that it will fit. The same principle applies to wall accessories like bulletin boards and dry erase boards.

The simplest method for fashioning a floor plan is to draw your room measurements on a piece of graph paper, cut out coloured paper to match the scaled size of the items you want, and then try different configurations to until you find the best combination. If you prefer a high-tech approach, you can built your floor plan with a spreadsheet, CAD software, or an interior decorating application.

When you are developing your plan, remember to about one foot of extra depth for open file cabinets and desk drawers. More importantly, make sure you have enough electrical outlets and amperage to accommodate all of your equipment. You do not want extension cords wrapping around the room, and you do not want to trip a circuit breaker every time you switch on your desk lamp.

 

3. Define the space

Separating your office into a professional space will help you stay in a work mindset and remain productive. If you will be using only part of a room, consider designating your space with some type of barrier. Some inexpensive options include a Japanese Shoji screen, painted bookcases, adjustable curtains or fabric panels, or even a row of potted plants or trees.

 

4. Pay attention to the furniture

You will get little work done sitting in an uncomfortable chair for hours. You also risk aggravating back problems. Choose a chair and desk that will maintain your good posture. According to Cleveland Clinic, having a proper sitting position means the following:

  • back straight and shoulders back
  • knees at a right angle, even or slightly higher than your hips, with feet flat on the floor and legs uncrossed
  • elbows and arms resting on your chair or desk with your shoulders relaxed
  • shifting to a different position at least once every half hour.

 

5. Avoid bad lighting

Poor lighting can cause eye fatigue and headaches. Move your monitor to a position that will prevent glare. Take advantage of natural lighting whenever possible, and use soft, ambient light bulbs to complement the space. Keep in mind the placement of task lighting for reading and manual work and the general level of room light for other activities.

 

6. Keep the office fun and inspirational

Surround yourself with pleasant colours, motivating artwork, creative toys, and gallery-like accessories. The items in your office should be calming or thought-provoking but never distracting. Live plants, soft tunes, and aromatherapy products can help form a relaxing environment.

 

7. Keep the office clean and tidy

Do not be tempted to pack items into every nook of your office. Leave some open space, remove unnecessary trinkets and piles, and use creative storage units to keep unattractive cords and clutter out of sight.

 

8. Reduce the noise

Locate office noises and take steps to quiet them. Add a door to the furnace, install carpet or wall hangings to absorb echoes, seal door frames, close windows during peak traffic periods, and let your family know your office schedule so they will control interruptions.

 

With a little planning, you can create a perfect environment for your business activities. As you are pulling together your ideal furniture, equipment, and accessories, keep in mind these eight tips for creating an office at home.

6 years ago

What Can Adobe Air Do For You?

First of all, what is Adobe AIR?  First I’ll give Adobe’s explanation, then I’ll give you my simplified version.  Adobe says:

The Adobe® AIR® 2 runtime enables developers to use HTML, JavaScript, Adobe Flash® software, and ActionScript® to build web applications that run as standalone client applications without the constraints of a browser. Adobe AIR and the Adobe Flash Platform unleash the creativity of designers and developers by providing a consistent and flexible development environment for the delivery of applications across devices and platforms. Support for additional platforms, including Android, is under development.

So basically, Adobe AIR is an application that runs on Windows or Apple.  Developers can build scripts that run on Adobe AIR.  It’s a quicker application runner that runs programs over your existing ones.  It’s rather cool and I definitely recommend it.  Once you have it check out the Adobe AIR Marketplace.

But to make life easier, I’ll recommend my 3 favorites right off the bat.

  1. Facebook Desktop – gives your floating updates from your Facebook in the lower right corner
  2. Snackr – gives a floating bar at the bottom of your window (that you can hide) that rolls all your RSS feeds.
  3. Pandora – opens up a window that can play your Pandora playlist

So use it and abuse it.  Adobe AIR is a great thing to have.  Especially for aspiring designers who want to have everything readily accesible.  Such as twitter, facebook, quick image editing programs, and even a nifty Web 2.0 button maker.  If you really want to get crazy, then build your own application.  Adobe AIR has a kit that you can download to get your started!

7 years ago

10 Tips for Building Your Own Forum Community


Source: Extra Ketchup

Forum owners choose a fantastic way to build brand loyalty and develop sales, but also face special challenges in the process. To help you meet those challenges and avoid some of the pitfalls others have experienced, here are 8 tips for building your own forum community. By learning from the experience of others, you can help make your forum a success.

1. Be patient

You probably hear this a lot, but online projects rarely meet instant success. Often forum owners become discouraged when they invest a lot of time and money into their new initiative only to fail to build sufficient popularity. Persistence and flexibility pays off, so keep up the good work, adjust your tactics and plan for success.

2. Choose the right software

Although many forum owners don’t emphasize software as their top priority, they do recognize that choosing the right platform is important. For example, using some of the free forum platforms limits your functionality and may even introduce ads that benefit someone else. Try Invision, phpBB, vBulletin, and other trustworthy solutions and pay for the upgrade to the full version if necessary.

3. Pick a niche that has some interest

Building a popular forum on an unpopular topic just makes your job harder. Do some research and orient your forum in a way that targets a specific group of people that can propel your forum to success.

4. Take a minimalist approach to your forum

Start with three or four sections to start out with so your forum isn’t spread too thin too early. As your forum develops, you’ll see natural opportunities to branch out more, but don’t take on more than your community can support.

5. Don’t be afraid of controversy

You might not like a lot of shouting and name calling on your forum, but you should encourage controversy within the limits you establish (i.e. set boundaries to avoid personal attacks, legal issues, and other undesirable results). People love arguments and a nice juicy one will get more people joining the fray.

6. Be a part of the forum

Let people see that you, the forum owner are a willing participant. Let your personality be part of the community and see how it thrives.

7. Limit the bells and whistles

Every time you modify your software or add a new cool modification you risk nuking your entire forum. When people try to login and the forum is gone, they go somewhere else. You don’t have to stay plain vanilla on your forum, but carefully consider the changes you make. Oh yes: when you do tear things up, be honest about it and go on. Your honesty will be respected and appreciated.

8. Treat your members with respect

With every new member you risk growing complacent and risk taking your success for granted: that sets yourself up for failure. Always make sure your members feel welcome and treat them with respect even when they have a complaint.

9. Don’t be a moneygrubber

You want to make money from your forum, but if that’s all you think about, you will turn people off. You want a comfortable, relaxed atmosphere where people can be themselves without feeling like cattle.

10. Use fake users to facilitate the discussion

This may seem to conflict with your need for honesty, but some extra identities can come in handy when you need to start a new topic, redirect threads, or diffuse tension. You probably don’t want to overuse your fake users or other users could get suspicious.

Take these 10 tips for building your own forum community and get started working on yours today. You will find the experience fun, fulfilling, and profitable.

7 years ago

Pricing Yourself as a Teenage Web Designer

Teenage web designers who have progressed beyond the phase of donating their web design skills to charity now face a completely different predicament: How to price your web design services. While no set formula for pricing yourself exists, following these guidelines will help you adequately price yourself in relation to your current market.

Don’t Price Too Low

While you might think undercutting your competition will bring in more business, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Not only will you bring in very few clients this way, the clients you do bring in will mistreat you. Why? Because people value products based on how much they THINK they should value it. As an example, Jonah Lehrer, author of the book “How We Decide” conducted an experiment with wine. A group of people were allowed to compare the tastes of a cheap wine and an expensive wine. Everyone raved over the expensive wine, proclaiming it had a much richer taste. Little did the taste-testers know that the labels were switched! It turns out that the cheap wine was the better tasting, but everyone perceived the expensive wine to be better, simply because of the higher price.

Offering a fully functional website for $500 will not bring you a flock of clientele. Furthermore, the people that do come will not value your services as much as they should. These people will be impossible to satisfy. It’s a paradox of value.

Factor In Experience

Have you generated a sizable client list? Have you participated in any internships? If you have experience dealing with real clients in the web design industry, let that reflect in your pricing.

Factor in Confidence

Arrogance sells. If you believe you have the skills necessary to compete with your local competition, there’s no reason why your rate should be substantially less than theirs. People subconsciously equate pricing with confidence. Many design firms will charge at least $85/hour. Although their work may look like garbage, they have the arrogance and confidence that makes people spend money. Don’t be arrogant to the point of disrespect, but price and present yourself as a contender.

Offer a Unique Product

If all web designers make websites, how can you offer something new? Many steps are involved in the process of building a website: Make one of these steps your specialty, and people will pay extra for your specialization. Do you have amazing UI design? Do you have a custom client login so they can view the status of their site? Do you respond to all emails within 12 hours? Find something you specialize in and people will pay more for it.

Do you have any experiences with pricing yourself to share?

Leave your feedback in the comments section below!

7 years ago

How to use Grids in Your Design and Why, Part II

This post was Written by Juan Sebastián Celis Maya, of Evolucionemos.com and Sebascelis.com.

As I promised in my last post, today we are going to see how grids can be used inside grids and how we can fill in spaces without having to add divs with the specified size.

As we want to get the most of our grid system, we need to understand how it works, and how we can adapt it to our needs.

Do I always need a div to fill in spaces?

Of course not… Actionly there’s a better way to do this. Sometimes, when we are faced to create a nice web design, creativity is not a problem, but placing our imagination on the web is. Distributing and organizing content has never been easier since the grids were brought about.

As we saw in the first part of this series, all we need is to make sure that the screen is filled in each row. And in our examples, we talked about having 3 divs, with 4 units each one. So the sum was 12.

Introducing Prefixes and Suffixes

If we need to add some space before the div, we need a prefix.

And of course, if we need to add some space after the div, we need a suffix.

Prefixes and suffixes have the same 12 sizes;

prefix_1, prefix_2, prefix_3, prefix_4, prefix_5, prefix_6, prefix_7, prefix_8 , prefix_9 , prefix_10, prefix_11, prefix_12

and

suffix_1, suffix_2, suffix_3, suffix_4, suffix_5, suffix_6, suffix_7, suffix_8, suffix_9, suffix_10, suffix_11, suffix_12

Prefix example:

Prefix example

<div class="grid_4 prefix_4"></div>

 

<div class="grid_4"></div>

If you take a look, you’ll note that here we have a 4 unit div (with a 4 unit prefix) followed by another 4 units div. So both divs sums 8 and the prefix (which is 4) gives a total of 12.

Suffix example:

Suffix example

<div class="grid_4"></div>

 

<div class="grid_4 suffix_4"></div>

Equally, here the sum is 12, because we add a 4 unit div, and another 4 unit div with a 4 unit suffix.

You can use any size of divs and prefixes and suffixes you want. All you need is to make sure the sum of all sizes is 12, because if not, the div will drop for space absence.

Using grids inside grids

Even with all the posibilities we can count on right now, we may want to get a little more advanced using grids. I won’t explain why you may need to use grids inside grids, but it all has to do with situations when we need to group content somehow.

To insert some small divs within a bigger one, we can’t simply anidate the sourcecode. But wait! there’s a catch.

You need to tell the grid wich one’s first and wich one’s last.

Introducing Alpha and Omega

Let’s suppose we have a big div containing some divs. The first of all, we should have an additional parameter as we used prefixes and suffixes. The parameter for the first one is alpha. And so, the parameter for the last div is omega.

Alpha and Omega Example

Alpha and Omega example

<div class="grid_8">

<div class="grid_2 alpha"></div>

<div class=”grid_4“></div>

<div class=”grid_2 omega“></div>

</div>

<div class=”grid_4“></div>

 

<div class="grid_4"></div>

As we can see, within the 8 unit div we added a 2 unit div, a 4 unit div, and another 2 unit div. The first element has the alpha parameter and the last element has omega.

You may be wondering… what could happen if I don’t use alpha and omega?

Well… the width of the divs inside the bigger div, won’t add to what is needed and in consequence some divs will drop, messing up everything we did.

Bonus!

As a bonus for reading this second part, you can download the files used in the examples.


 

Download now

 

7 years ago

How to use Grids in Your Design and Why – Part I

This post was Written by Juan Sebastián Celis Maya, of Evolucionemos.com and Sebascelis.com.

Have you ever wondered why some websites looks so neatly organized and styled? Maybe the information is very well distributed…but what make those websites special?

Well, actually there is a secret!

Most of them use something called “grids“. So what’s a grid?

In Web Design, a grid is composed of just a CSS file; and it’s purpose is to provide a framework for specially sized content containers for text, images, or whatever else that would go on your site.

The most famous, and perhaps best grid system is the 960 Grid System created by Nathan Smith.

But before you start with your own, I will explain the grid and how to use it.

What really defines this grid system is the width: 960 pixels wide.

This width is great because 960 is divisible by 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 10, 12, 15, 16, 20, 24, 30, 32, 40, 48, 60, 64, 80, 96, 120, 160, 192, 240, 320 and 480. This makes it a highly flexible base number to work with.

Let me clarify that there are two versions of this grid to work with; the 12 Column grid and the 16 Column.

I personally like the 12 Column grid, but you can use whichever you suites your needs.

How to Do It

To make things more easy, its best to start with a new design.

The next step is to download the grid’s css: 960 Grid System CSS File

Create a new HTML file that looks something like this:

<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-transitional.dtd">
<html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml">

<head>
<meta http-equiv="content-type" content="text/html; charset=utf-8" />
<title>Your Title Here</title>
<link rel="stylesheet" href="960.css" type="text/css" />
</head>

<body>
<div class="content">
the content will be here
</div>
</body>

</html>

As you can see, we added this line in the section to call the 960.css file:

<link rel="stylesheet" href="960.css" type="text/css" />

It depends on where you have the file, but if it’s at the same folder than the index.html file you can leave it as such.

And then, we need to start adding the content to our file.

There are set blocks (divs) of different sizes:

grid_1, grid_2, grid_3, grid_4, grid_5, grid_6, grid_7, grid_8, grid_9, grid_10, grid_11, grid_12

Each number indicates the relative size of the block. Because we are using a 12 Column Grid, we have 12 different sizes to use.

Now, we can add the divs as follows:

<div class="grid_1"></div>

The class, “grid_1” is defined as 60px wide in the css file.

Those divs are styled as blocks so you can put one next to another and they will float to the left and distribute themselves correctly.

We have to be sure that we add blocks which size adds up to 960px, or 12.

For example this one:

<div class="grid_4"></div>
<div class="grid_4"></div>
<div class="grid_4"></div>

(Each “grid_4” is 300px wide, so 300 times 4 is 12)

Or this one

<div class="grid_4"></div>
<div class="grid_2"></div>
<div class="grid_6"></div>

(4 + 2 + 6 = 12)

Maybe even this one:

<div class="grid_2"></div>
<div class="grid_2"></div>
<div class="grid_4"></div>
<div class="grid_4"></div>

(2 + 2 + 4 + 4)

Or finally this one:

<div class="grid_6"></div>
<div class="grid_6"></div>

All of the sizes add up to 12, so that we make sure that the screen is filled.

After every row we add (blocks which size sums 12) we need to add one div more to tell the browser to clear the blocks below.

<div class="clear"></div>

Then our code would be like this:

<div class="grid_6"></div>
<div class="grid_6"></div>

<div class="clear"></div>

<div class="grid_2"></div>
<div class="grid_2"></div>
<div class="grid_4"></div>
<div class="grid_4"></div>

<div class="clear"></div>

In the next part of this series, we will see how we can use grids inside grids and how we can fill in spaces without having to add divs with the specified size. Grids prove to be very useful tools when designing excellent websites.

Examples

I leave you here some websites designed with 960 Grid System… enjoy!

Gantry Framework

Onehub

TabBots

You can find more examples here.

See you next time!

7 years ago