3 Steps to Think Clearly and Creatively

The more we stress about our problems, the bigger they get.

Sometimes the best thing to do is let go of our problems.  Not to give up, but to let up – and make some “space.”

Yesterday I took the afternoon off.  Even though it was during the week I decided to go on a date with my wife.  No blackberries, hand held devices or computers.  No email.  Just the two of us hanging out for the afternoon; just like we used to when we first met.

It was such a great afternoon.  I forgot about all my problems.  I forgot about all my concerns and I forgot about my work.   That evening, 8 or so hours later I solved two of my biggest problems… one of which didn’t require any work on my part.  The other one came to me as a new idea.

How did I do it?  What’s my secret?

Here are the three steps to think more clearly and creatively: Seguir leyendo “3 Steps to Think Clearly and Creatively”

8 Steps to Free Up More Free Time

We are always looking for ways to make more productive use of our time. Do you always seem to be playing catch up? Do you end your day with a longer to-do list than you started? Are you stressed over how you spend your time? Here are eight steps you can take right now to help regain control of your clock.

Eliminate time wasters. At the top of the list is television. The average American watches 5 hours of TV a day. That equals an incredible 6 full days in front of the tube each month. What could you do with an extra 6 days this month? Turn off the television and find out.

Cut back on possessions. Bigger living spaces and more stuff come with a double price: the cost to purchase them and the time to maintain them. A simpler lifestyle frees up time previously spent on vacuuming, fixing, and replacing. If taken far enough, you may be able to work less because you are buying less stuff. Seguir leyendo “8 Steps to Free Up More Free Time”

40 Brilliant Examples of Sketched UI Wireframes and Mock-Ups

By: Hilde Torbjornsen |

Creating wireframes and mock-ups is quite easy to do digitally these days. Applications are available everywhere, and there’s one for every style. While many prefer to do that part of the work digitally during the process, there are still quite a few designers who actually choose to do it the old-fashioned way using a Moleskine or other ways of drawing by hand.

We all have our preferences and the important part is of course that we find a way to do things that will nourish our creativity and talent.

Sketched UI Wireframes and Mock-Ups

We’ve collected some great examples for you, showing how some designers have drawn their ongoing projects. It can be quite inspiring to have a look at, maybe this will give you some new ideas for yourself?

I’ve personally found that sometimes I get an idea easier on paper when taking a notebook and escaping from the computer for a while, as the distractions are always so many.

HBO – True Blood Site

HBO - True Blood Site





UI Sketch
UI Sketch

Sketched Wireframes 5
Sketched Wireframes 5 Seguir leyendo “40 Brilliant Examples of Sketched UI Wireframes and Mock-Ups”

Los buenos y los otros [Vale la pena tomarse un minuto]

Una vez conocí al dueño de un restaurante que me explicó que cuando tenía que fichar a un nuevo cocinero para su restaurante, sabía en menos de 5 minutos si era buen cocinero o no. La forma de saberlo era simple. Le pedía que preparase un plato y él, mientras tanto, se quedaba observando cómo el chef cogía el cuchillo, cómo cortaba las verduras, cómo organizaba las sartenes, dónde colocaba los platos. En realidad, no tenía nada que ver con la creatividad, con el sabor o lo bien que adornaba el plato. “Es la metodología lo que te permite distinguir a los buenos de los otros”, decía.

Ocurre lo mismo en el mundo del marketing. Hay profesionales con método y otros sin él. Los que tienen método hablan un idioma y los otros otro. Los que tienen método saben que la marca no es necesariamente lo que promulga el Power Point. Los que tienen método saben dibujar un proceso de creación de marca y no se limitan a inventar un logo para después solicitar a una agencia que les diga los valores que tiene la marca. Los que tienen método saben preparar un briefing para conseguir sacar el máximo provecho a las agencias. Los del método saben que antes de arrancar un proyecto, el proceso y los pasos que se van a seguir son la clave para el buen resultado. Los que tienen método saben crear un concurso de agencias justo, establecen los criterios de selección y no se dejan llevar por amigismos o improvisaciones subjetivas.

Seguir leyendo “Los buenos y los otros [Vale la pena tomarse un minuto]”

New App Clues You in on What People Think of Your Website

You want to know what I think of your new website. You got a sec? The folks over at Zurb have created an ingenious little web application that allows anyone to conduct a free test of what visitors remember about a website. And those visitors get exactly five seconds to form a first impression.

Called Clue, the site lets you quickly capture a page and create an interactive memory test that helps determine whether people understand what you’re trying to get across on your website. Just visit the Clue website, submit your URL and create a test that gives you a unique URL that you can then share with customers, vendors, employees and others. You ask them to take the five-second test and they, in turn, provide you with valuable feedback on what they think about the site.

By giving users mere seconds to absorb a web page and recall the most memorable portions of that page, you’re able to quickly and accurately identify the best elements on that page — as well as the ones that don’t work so well.

Want to give Clue a test drive? Just visit http://www.clueapp.com/52+ and test any of the examples at the bottom of the page. If you’re impressed, the next step might be to sign up. Seguir leyendo “New App Clues You in on What People Think of Your Website”

How to Do A Content Audit of Your Website

Michael Gray

By Michael Gray

If you have a website that’s been around for a few years and you’re looking for ways to make some improvements, one of the tactics I recommend is doing a content audit. 

When you do a content audit you have a few goals in mind:

  • Get rid of any low quality or unimportant pages
  • Look for pages or sections that can be improved or updated
  • Improve your rankings by more effectively using your link equity, internal anchor text, and interlinking your content

Get the Data

your inbound link equity can only support a certain number of pages …

The first thing you need to do is to get an understanding of where your website currently stands. You’ll need a list of the pages of your website, the number of inbound links, and amount of visitors your page receives. If you are using Webmaster central, you can export a spreadsheet of all the pages with the number of links. The next thing you have to do is add a column for page views. I like to use a timeframe between a year and year and half.

Depending on the number of pages your website has, it could take a while to get all this data. This is the perfect task for an intern or outsourced labor from a place like ODesk. I recently performed this task on a website that has 1800 URL’s. It cost me $75, and I had the data back in just over 24 hours.

Identify the Low Performing Pages

The two primary factors I like to look at are how many links does a post/page have and how much traffic did it generate in the past 18 months. Any page that generated less than 100 page views is a candidate for deletion. Additionally, any page that generated less than 25 links is also a candidate for deletion. Seguir leyendo “How to Do A Content Audit of Your Website”

PageRank explained, without math (really)


by ian

Whenever I try to explain the concept of true Pagerank – not the fake number you see in the Google Toolbar – I find myself going into all sorts of metaphorical gymnastics. PageRank is like a tree… no, it’s like a fountain… no, wait, an electrical grid… or is it a squid…?

At long last, I’ve hit on a metaphor that works. It requires pipe, water, and some goldfish.

Stay with me… Seguir leyendo “PageRank explained, without math (really)”

El “efecto cepillo de dientes” (o por qué amo a mis ideas)


Cuando una idea presenta problemas, resulta muy peligroso confiarle el 100% de la solución al creador del sistema original, por los sesgos asociados que le quitan flexibilidad.

Por SEBASTIÁN CAMPANARIO | scampanario@clarin.com

Economía insólita

Ilustración de Pablo Blasberg.

La historia es real, pero se va a preservar el nombre del consultor en cuestión (en adelante, “X”) y su rubro de actividad para no incinerarlo. Luego de llegar a lo más alto de la escalera corporativa en una empresa del exterior, “X” resolvió dedicarse a la asesoría independiente. Su nicho más rentable, por lejos, es el de los “work shops” que da a cuadros gerenciales. De estos eventos intensivos, que suelen durar dos días, se supone que debería surgir alguna idea brillante, o al menos lo suficientemente buena para justificar los abultados honorarios del consultor y el costo de oportunidad de los dos días de trabajo perdidos de los ejecutivos en cuestión.

Sin embargo, a menudo sucede que a los gerentes no se les cae una idea ni que los obliguen. Luego de un par de experiencias frustrantes, “X” descubrió que es muy útil llevar una “idea pre-horneada”, deslizarla en forma disimulada y esperar a que alguno de los gerentes (cuanto mayor su rango, mejor) “pique” y la enuncie como propia. No sólo el work shop terminará con todos más contentos, sino que las chances de que la idea se implemente en la empresa crecen considerablemenre cuando se trata de un “hallazgo in house”. Seguir leyendo “El “efecto cepillo de dientes” (o por qué amo a mis ideas)”

MS emergency fix plugs ASP.Net web development hole

ASP.NET logo

Yellow alert over severe server peril

By John LeydenGet more from this author

Microsoft has released an out-of-sequence patch designed to address a serious flaw in its ASP.Net web application development toolkit.

The vulnerability, which has been under active attack for several weeks, creates a mechanism for attackers to read any file on a web application server. Microsoft rates the flaw as only “important”, while independent security watchers such the the SANS Institute‘s Internet Storm Centre say that rating underestimates the risk posed by the flaw to online shops built using Microsoft’s developer tools. The ISC has raised the InfoCon status of the flaw from green to yellow.

Microsoft’s advisory provides more detail on the “information disclosure” flaw. It explains that “in Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5 Service Pack 1 and above, this vulnerability can be used by an attacker to retrieve the contents of any file within the ASP.NET application, including web.config”  and that “this vulnerability can also be used for data tampering, which, if successfully exploited, could be used to decrypt and tamper with the data encrypted by the server”. Seguir leyendo “MS emergency fix plugs ASP.Net web development hole”

Creating Graphs With Adobe Illustrator

Office applications are getting very advanced these days offering all sorts of fancy features for data visualization. Graph generation is a standard feature in desktop applications like Microsoft Excel or OpenOffice.org Calc, but it can also be achieved in non-spreadsheet applications like Adobe Illustrator.

If you’re unfamiliar with the process of creating graphs in Adobe Illustrator, this article will help in giving you some insight into the work-flow. It might also help you decide whether Illustrator is the right tool for this kind of assignment.

What Type of Graphs Can You Create in Illustrator?

Adobe Illustrator offers 9 graph types to visualize data. You can choose from the following:

  • Column Graph
  • Stacked Column Graph
  • Bar Graph
  • Stacked Bar Graph
  • Line Graph
  • Area Graph
  • Scatter Graph
  • Pie Graph
  • Radar Graph

There is also the possibility for making combinations from the existing graph types to achieve greater diversity. The only graph type that can’t be combined is the scatter graph.

Creating graphs in Illustrator is as simple as selecting the Graph Tool (from the Tools panel), clicking on your Artboard and dragging and thus forming the area size of the graph. It is also possible to type in the width and height of the graph, which is useful if you want to create graphs with specific dimensions. If you decide to type in the dimensions of the graph, you should bear in mind that those dimensions are applied to the whole graph object (including labels, legend and x, y values), not just the graph chart.

Once you create this graph size and shape you will see that it’s available as a single element (layer) in the Layers panel, usually with the name <Graph>. This might seem confusing at first but you’ll get used to it very quickly.

The Two Faces of Illustrator Graph Functionality

Creating graphs in Adobe Illustrator is generally a straightforward task but once you get into advanced techniques of graph design, functionality can get quite annoying. You’ll be surprised to discover that basic tasks like scaling and aligning are not instantly applicable on graphs.

Face 1 (Graphs as Objects)

The reason for the initial exceptional lack of functionality of the graph objects in Illustrator is that they are quite simply, ‘objects’. That is to say, they are special groups of sub-elements that have a limited number of attributes the user can control. Graph objects are less flexible than usual Illustrator layers, layer elements and groups of layer elements.

Graph-layers in Creating Graphs With Adobe Illustrator

Here are most of the limitations of Adobe Illustrator’s graph creation functionality that are instantly noticeable:

  • Transform panel is not available for graph objects.
  • No transform controls are available for selected graph objects, thus no instant scaling or rotation is possible.
  • Graph objects cannot be aligned to other objects nor can other objects be aligned to them.
  • Two or more graph objects cannot be grouped.
  • It’s not possible to create a clipping mask from a graph object.
  • A graph object cannot be transformed into a symbol.

Maybe it’s not really wise to initially dig for limitations, as you may get the impression that you’re left with very few things that you can actually do to graphs in Illustrator. Of course, that’s the wrong impression. As noted, creating graphs in Adobe Illustrator is generally a straightforward task.

But through knowing the limitations of your tool can actually help you plan early and work smarter.

Face 2 (working with sub-elements of the Graph Object)… Seguir leyendo “Creating Graphs With Adobe Illustrator”

When Creative Conflict is A Good Thing

by Rick Sloboda |  Become a Facebook Fan of Six Revisions.

When Creative Conflict is A Good ThingDuring your career as a web professional, whether you’re a designer, developer or copywriter, you’re bound to encounter creative differences either within your team, or between you and a client. These situations can be emotionally taxing, but if you have a better understanding of how to work through them and even learn and grow from them, conflicts can actually make you better at your job.

Here are some tips on getting the most out of your conflict, and when it’s best for everyone to just throw in the proverbial towel.

Good Conflict/Bad Conflict

Conflict happens when two or more contradictory perspectives haven’t been agreed on, but it’s not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, when handled well, conflict forces us to be creative problem-solvers, to avoid mistakes, and to learn how to benefit from our differences, all while challenging us to broaden our skills.

Conflict gets ugly when it affects workflow, gets personal, leads to more conflict, and harms working relationships. Fortunately, there are things you can do to prevent disagreements from taking you down the wrong path, starting with learning about how different people deal with conflict.

Types of Conflict Behavior

Understanding the types of behavior that occur during conflict, and recognizing which apply to you and your peers, can help you discover how to get the most out of it.

The types of conflict behavior are:

  1. Competing: you have a high concern for personal goals and low concern for relationships.
  2. Collaborative: you’re interested in a mutually satisfactory solution.
  3. Compromising: you’re willing to give something up if they are.
  4. Avoiding: you delay and ignore the conflict, hoping it will resolve itself.
  5. Accommodating: you’re willing to make a sacrifice to avoid confrontation.

Depending on the way you and your team deal with conflict with respect to the above behaviors, you could either find yourselves at a creative stand-still, or you could come out of the conflict better than if there was none at all.

A study documented in Creativity and Innovation Management found that certain types of conflict behavior, specifically the confrontational variety, yield better results in terms of creative output. Researchers Petra Badke-Schaub, Gabriela Goldschmidt and Martijn Meyer observed video footage of design teams during idea generation. They then compared the conflict behavior styles of each team to their creative output.

The researchers found that high-scoring groups in the areas of innovation and functionality were more prone to competing and compromising, and low-rated groups were more collaborative. The findings also showed that more ideas were generated in the higher-scoring groups, while more repetition of ideas occurred in the low-scoring groups. The researchers concluded that creative performance in teams is not achieved mainly by agreement, but needs cognitive confrontation.

In other words, don’t be afraid to challenge the ideas of people on your team (respectfully), the results are often favorable, while being too agreeable for the purpose of avoiding confrontation can produce lackluster results.

Constructive Team Conflict

What’s the best way to deal with conflict on your team? There are many methods out there, but perhaps the most applicable to conflict on a creative team, is the Conflict Resolution Network’s Creative Response kit…. Seguir leyendo “When Creative Conflict is A Good Thing”

5 Steps to a Stronger Social Media Presence

http://bit.ly/bxpV2J Business, Social Media

Social media and social networking sites present tremendous opportunities to all kinds of business, including web design. If you’re not currently active with social media you are missing out on one of the best methods for networking and for free or low-cost marketing.

Many designers who are using social media are not getting the most out of it. In this post we’ll look at 5 simple steps that you can take to improve your effectiveness with social media, regardless of whether you are already a user or if you have not yet gotten started with social media.

Step 1: Identify Your Goals and Priorities… Seguir leyendo “5 Steps to a Stronger Social Media Presence”

The Future of Libraries

As I write this from a Starbucks, e-book within arm’s reach, it is perhaps only fitting that we discuss the future of books.

And while many a printed word has been dedicated to the certain demise of book publishing as we know it, far less has been said about how these changes are likely to affect another great (and free!) literary institution – the public library.

Google’s efforts to digitize the world’s books and create the world’s largest library online, coupled with the continued and inevitable rise of electronic book publishing, all but guarantees that the role of physical books will diminish for libraries over the years to come.  In an age in which access to information is anything but scarce or restricted, libraries’ face a future where evolution is essential for their continued survival.

So, to ensure that beautiful brick building in your hometown doesn’t go the way of the Blockbuster, here are five small ideas that will be essential for the library of the future to master:

1. Act less like a book warehouse, and more like a community center.

Host book groups, readings from local authors, and children’s educational events. Ramp up involvement in activities that add value to your community in ways that are consistent with the purpose of libraries, but move beyond the need to access books themselves. While many libraries already do these things, it’s time to redouble efforts in these areas.

2. Get niche. Get local.

In the future, no single library will be able to compete with Google (or more broadly, the Internet) on its volume of books. Instead, libraries can add value by being more specialized and local than Google can be. In addition to acting as a community center, libraries can also explore the ability to fund local research initiatives, historical preservation efforts, and co-author books on the history of the local area.

3. Provide clarity and expertise.

If we’re all suffering from information overload, the best cure is expert advice and curation. Librarians can become a hugely valuable asset to their communities by simplifying the search for the right information, and making informed recommendations based on the tastes of the specific person seeking help.

4. Embrace interactivity.

For more than two decades, interactive learning tools have been steadily gaining traction in classrooms, learning centers, and at home. While most libraries have long since embraced the inclusion of computer labs and many have already begun creating multimedia rooms, it will be in every library’s best interest to continue to pursue new forms of interactive learning solutions to remain viable moving forward.

5. Create new, louder spaces.

Increasingly, people are becoming accustomed to working in collaborative, interactive settings. Libraries have an opportunity to not only alter their approach towards learning, but also physically alter their building spaces to match new learning styles. Rooms filled with books and card catalogues can give way to technologically advanced, collaborative workspaces. Large, cavernous atriums can be converted into semi-private alcoves more conducive to discussion (of all volumes) and group analysis. Silent librarians not permitted.

The Future of Libraries… Seguir leyendo “The Future of Libraries”

The Next Level of Design: Being Unique

thumbIn a world filled with CSS galleries and showcase websites, everything starts to look the same.

Gradients, rounded corners, drop shadows, it’s extremely hard to get away from the strongest of trends in our industry.

Each year however, some people manage to set themselves totally apart from everyone else and produce stunning designs with inspiration seemingly flowing directly out of their fingers and into their work.

In this post, we’ll take a look at a few of those people and some of the things which they do to be unique from everyone else.

What Constitutes Being Unique?

It’s all well and good suggesting that you should be unique and different from the competition, but what does that really mean? There are so many websites and great designers out there, what individual elements constitute being unique?

Well, in simple terms being unique just means doing something differently. You don’t have to create a design with the navigation in the footer and the copyright information up where the logo would normally be just for the sake of standing out. It’s about not just following what everyone else is doing and coming up with your very own way of displaying the information and the message which you are trying to get across to the user.

How many sites have you seen with a full width header (with a gradient), followed by a full width navigation bar, then a content section and a sidebar, then a full width footer? Hundreds? Thousands? If your focus is going to be being unique, then this is probably a design recipe which you should steer clear of. It’s too easy to create yet another site like that. Don’t get me wrong, they are popular because they are effective and easy to create… but they don’t stand out.

Being unique is largely about doing small things differently to everyone else rather than trying to reinvent the wheel. Of course you also have to accept that the time period for which it remains unique will be limited. If you do a great job, then unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it) it’s going to be copied by many, many people. That being said, innovation is almost always remembered.

Seguir leyendo “The Next Level of Design: Being Unique”