Charging Per Hour vs. Per Project

If you’re a corporate designer, you don’t have to worry about things like how to bill your clients, as you’re likely either on salary or have a predetermined hourly rate and regular work schedule.

But for freelancers, figuring out how best to charge clients for work completed can be a nightmare. After all, you want to charge clients a fair price, make a decent living, and get enough work so that you’re not struggling to find the next project.

In the world of web design, there are two basic ways most designers charge: per hour or per project. There are advantages and disadvantages to each method, and there are situations where one method works better than the other.

In this article, we’ve presented an overview of what’s involved in each method of charging, as well as what you need to consider when choosing a method.
Charging by the Hour

Charging an hourly rate is incredibly common in the world of freelancers, both for designers and other professionals.

It’s a pretty straight-forward way of charging. I just tell you I charge $X per hour and you either think that’s reasonable and agree to pay it or you don’t and you find someone who charges less.

Advantages to Charging by the Hour

As mentioned, hourly charges are very straight-forward. Some designers have a flat hourly rate regardless of the type of work they do. Others have different hourly rates for different functions (designing, coding, testing, etc.).

It’s easy to lay out for your clients exactly what you charge, and they often feel like it’s a more transparent way of doing business. It’s also a method clients are used to dealing with, as that’s likely how their lawyer, accountant, and other professionals also charge.


Written exclusively for WDD by Cameron Chapman.
http://www.webdesignerdepot.com/2010/10/charging-per-hour-vs-per-project/

If you’re a corporate designer, you don’t have to worry about things like how to bill your clients, as you’re likely either on salary or have a predetermined hourly rate and regular work schedule.

But for freelancers, figuring out how best to charge clients for work completed can be a nightmare. After all, you want to charge clients a fair price, make a decent living, and get enough work so that you’re not struggling to find the next project.

In the world of web design, there are two basic ways most designers charge: per hour or per project. There are advantages and disadvantages to each method, and there are situations where one method works better than the other.

In this article, we’ve presented an overview of what’s involved in each method of charging, as well as what you need to consider when choosing a method.

Charging by the Hour

Charging an hourly rate is incredibly common in the world of freelancers, both for designers and other professionals.

It’s a pretty straight-forward way of charging. I just tell you I charge $X per hour and you either think that’s reasonable and agree to pay it or you don’t and you find someone who charges less.

 

Advantages to Charging by the Hour

As mentioned, hourly charges are very straight-forward. Some designers have a flat hourly rate regardless of the type of work they do. Others have different hourly rates for different functions (designing, coding, testing, etc.).

It’s easy to lay out for your clients exactly what you charge, and they often feel like it’s a more transparent way of doing business. It’s also a method clients are used to dealing with, as that’s likely how their lawyer, accountant, and other professionals also charge.

Leer más “Charging Per Hour vs. Per Project”

60 Exclusive Free Icons: “Childish”

As you probably know, we love great icons and we always like to give away some great sets.

Today we have a set of 60 exclusive free icons that we call “Childish”. As the name implies, these are ideal for children’s websites or for websites that are more relaxed, with a fun feeling. They’re definitely not suitable for a serious corporate website.

The set contains all of the icons in 4 different sizes, 32×32, 48×48, 64×64 and 128×128.

In addition, there’s a vector file containing all of the icons so that you can easily resize and modify them as needed.

All icons are free to use for both personal and commercial purposes, with attribution required (you can waive the attribution requirement by paying a small fee).


thumbAs you probably know, we love great icons and we always like to give away some great sets.

Today we have a set of 60 exclusive free icons that we call “Childish”. As the name implies, these are ideal for children’s websites or for websites that are more relaxed, with a fun feeling. They’re definitely not suitable for a serious corporate website.

The set contains all of the icons in 4 different sizes, 32×32, 48×48, 64×64 and 128×128.

In addition, there’s a vector file containing all of the icons so that you can easily resize and modify them as needed.

All icons are free to use for both personal and commercial purposes, with attribution required (you can waive the attribution requirement by paying a small fee). Leer más “60 Exclusive Free Icons: “Childish””

The design process vs. design-as-product

The trouble with the word “template” is that its meaning depends on one’s point of view.

To some, a template is a ticket to an instant website. Many content management systems allow owners to change plug-and-play themes as easily as they change clothes, and inexpensive skins are just a Google search away.

To others, templates are learning tools. Studying samples of real-world code and style is more practical for them than following examples in a book or reviewing lecture notes.

Templates can represent independence. Anyone, even someone without basic design or development skills, can choose from hundreds of templates without fear that a “design expert” will question their decision.

Templates can also mean efficiency. They are generic enough to fit most information, and they are reusable. Fill the space with a dash of content and you’re done.

Many people I’ve worked with-designers, managers and clients alike-equate templates with design. To create a design is to build a chair in which the content will sit. To choose a design is to select a vehicle to carry information.

The noun “design” differs from the verb “design”: one is a product, the other a process. This thought begs the question: is web design skin deep, or are designers more than purveyors of templates?

intentional design stands out [Más…]
Chasing Keyboard Shortcuts

Thinking of the process of designing a website as “producing the best template” is the wrong approach. I know from experience.

Not long ago I was hired to design a law firm’s website. The business’ owners knew what they wanted, more or less, and provided JPG mock-ups. Aware of the tight deadline, the developer and I hammered out a database, a custom CMS and, of course, the HTML template.

Their three-column composition had pale boxes on a paler background. We measured space for ads on the right, worked to fit the search tool on the left, checked spacing in three versions of Explorer and tweaked the drop-shadows under the navigation bar. In short, we fretted over everything except the center column.

As deadline approached, we met to address last-minute problems. One person wasn’t satisfied with the arrangement of certain information. Someone suggested a solution and asked me to try it out. A few HTML changes later, we saw the new page. Everyone settled for this compromise, and the website went ahead.

After the launch, the client complimented my design skills and particularly my knowledge of keyboard shortcuts. At first, I didn’t recognize the unintended insult, but I’d been cast in the role of “button pusher,” and the field of design was button pushing. Worse, it was my fault: by acting on the committee’s whim, I put myself in this position. The job paid well, but the result was uninspired and the experience belittling.

The best way to design, and I mean the verb, is to keep on designing, to seek problems. To insist that “less is more” is the same as saying “Don’t do something unless the project suffers without it.”

template design vs. content design

How Does It Work?
1. Ask questions.

“What do we want to accomplish?” is just the beginning, and “To build a website” is not a sufficient answer.

* “Who are we trying to help, inform or influence?”
* “Why should people come to us instead of the competition?”
* “Who is responsible for what?”
* “What do we need in order to launch, and what can wait for later?”
* “How will we maintain this website? Who will make changes, monitor traffic and troubleshoot problems?”
* “Has this been done before? If so, how can we improve on it? What mistakes can we learn from?”


design-process-mass-producedhttp://www.webdesignerdepot.com

The trouble with the wordtemplate is that its meaning depends on one’s point of view.

To some, a template is a ticket to an instant website. Many content management systems allow owners to change plug-and-play themes as easily as they change clothes, and inexpensive skins are just a Google search away.

To others, templates are learning tools. Studying samples of real-world code and style is more practical for them than following examples in a book or reviewing lecture notes.

Templates can represent independence. Anyone, even someone without basic design or development skills, can choose from hundreds of templates without fear that a “design expert” will question their decision.

Templates can also mean efficiency. They are generic enough to fit most information, and they are reusable. Fill the space with a dash of content and you’re done.

Many people I’ve worked with-designers, managers and clients alike-equate templates with design. To create a design is to build a chair in which the content will sit. To choose a design is to select a vehicle to carry information.

The noun “design” differs from the verb “design”: one is a product, the other a process. This thought begs the question: is web design skin deep, or are designers more than purveyors of templates?

intentional design stands out Leer más “The design process vs. design-as-product”

The Next Level of Design: Being Unique

In 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.


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.

Leer más “The Next Level of Design: Being Unique”

10 Places to Buy Professionally Designed WordPress Themes

In the past few years, the popularity of WordPress has skyrocketed, which has led to a growing demand for themes. With this growing demand, we’ve seen new premium or commercial WordPress theme shops popping up everywhere.

Some may say that the premium WordPress space is getting a bit saturated, and they’re probably right. However, more premium theme providers does mean a wider selection for those seeking more than what a free theme can offer.

The only problem is being able to find quality and professionalism in the vast sea of premium themes. It seems that the majority of premium theme designs out there are lacking, and appear a bit amateurish.

So for this post, we’re showcasing 10 great places where you can purchase professionally designed WordPress themes.

All of these shops are run by either designers or people that understand design – and as you can see, it shows in the quality of each theme.


//www.webdesignerdepot.com

In the past few years, the popularity of WordPress has skyrocketed, which has led to a growing demand for themes. With this growing demand, we’ve seen new premium or commercial WordPress theme shops popping up everywhere.

Some may say that the premium WordPress space is getting a bit saturated, and they’re probably right. However, more premium theme providers does mean a wider selection for those seeking more than what a free theme can offer.

The only problem is being able to find quality and professionalism in the vast sea of premium themes. It seems that the majority of premium theme designs out there are lacking, and appear a bit amateurish.

So for this post, we’re showcasing 10 great places where you can purchase professionally designed WordPress themes.

All of these shops are run by either designers or people that understand design – and as you can see, it shows in the quality of each theme.

1. Theme Trust

Theme Trust creates beautiful WordPress themes that are dead simple to use. It’s a fairly new theme shop, but a high level of quality and attention to detail is evident in their themes.

Professional WordPress Themes

2. Theme Shift

ThemeShift prides itself on creating “Professional” WordPress themes, and they do a great job at delivering on that promise. Their themes are all well designed and show a great attention to detail.

Theme Shift

3. Themify.me

Themify.me is one of the latest to enter the premium WordPress theme business, but all of their themes look simply amazing.

Themify Leer más “10 Places to Buy Professionally Designed WordPress Themes”

Best Practices for Designing Usable Websites for Kids

Designing for young kids is something not a lot of designers think about until approached by a client who wants to target that age group.

But the truth is that kids in the 3-12 age group are using the Internet in surprising numbers. Ten years ago, it was rare for a child who hadn’t even yet reached school-age to use a computer. Now, there are a surprising number of websites specifically catering to them. And that number is growing all the time.

The Nielsen Norman Group, long known for their usability studies, has recently completed a study on the Internet habits and related usability issues often encountered by kids in the 3-12 age group.

The report is based on actual user studies, rather than just surveys asking kids what their internet habits and experiences are, and provide invaluable insight into the real usability issues confronting kids, and what users can do about it.

Below is just a brief sampling of some of the topics covered in the report and the study. The report can be purchased and downloaded from the NN/G website.


//www.webdesignerdepot.com | Written exclusively for WDD by Cameron Chapman.

Designing for young kids is something not a lot of designers think about until approached by a client who wants to target that age group.

But the truth is that kids in the 3-12 age group are using the Internet in surprising numbers. Ten years ago, it was rare for a child who hadn’t even yet reached school-age to use a computer. Now, there are a surprising number of websites specifically catering to them. And that number is growing all the time.

The Nielsen Norman Group, long known for their usability studies, has recently completed a study on the Internet habits and related usability issues often encountered by kids in the 3-12 age group.

The report is based on actual user studies, rather than just surveys asking kids what their internet habits and experiences are, and provide invaluable insight into the real usability issues confronting kids, and what users can do about it.

Below is just a brief sampling of some of the topics covered in the report and the study. The report can be purchased and downloaded from the NN/G website.

Myth: Kids Have Cutting-Edge Technology

A lot of us tend to believe that kids have access to cutting-edge technology. They have the newest computers, cell phones, and other gadgets at their disposal. While this may be more common among teenagers, younger kids often have outdated computers.

If you think about it for a minute, it makes sense. Kids in elementary school often aren’t as dependent on computers for schoolwork, and therefore parents often give them hand-me-downs (either their own or from an older sibling) or less expensive machines. This not only means that kids often have computers with slower processors, but may also be more limited in internet connection speeds.

Even the computers kids use at school are often older and outdated. School computers are often donated and budgets for new technology are often very limited. School computer labs may hang on to the same computers for five years or more due to budgetary restrictions. And often these computers aren’t particularly cutting-edge when they’re purchased.

Myth: Kids Understand the Technology They Use

A lot of adults look at kids using computers and assume they understand how they work. After all, a lot of these kids have grown up using computers and it seems like second-nature for many of them.

The truth is that just because kids know how to use something doesn’t mean they have any clue how it actually does what it does:

Like most adults who don’t understand how a refrigerator works, kids do not feel they need to understand the underlying mechanisms of the Web before using it.

Because of this, it’s important that designers don’t overestimate the knowledge of their visitors. It becomes more important as a user’s age decreases, as they have less experience in how technology generally works.

Leer más “Best Practices for Designing Usable Websites for Kids”

Create Great Websites, Without Any SEO

Search Engine Optimization, also known as SEO is a subject which gets talked about to death all over the web.

There’s a fairly large group of people who believe that SEO is the be-all and end-all to anything on the web.

They believe that without it, you are nothing and with it, you are everything.

Today we’re going to look at why that isn’t true and why you can create a truly great website which performs well in search engines, without any seedy SEO tactics.

We’ve also included a case study of WooThemes and QA with Adii Pienaar and his views on SEO.

What They Want You To Do

1

SEO companies use techniques which fall into two categories: “White Hat” and “Black Hat”. Black Hat SEO is the term used to describe questionable SEO practices such where people try to cheat the system with multiple websites and code which exploits loop holes in search engine algorithms. Black Hat SEO is frowned upon but, to be honest, White Hat SEO isn’t much better.

People who do White Hat SEO play by the rules. They don’t break any Google Terms of Service (mostly) and they stick to the techniques which are deemed to be legitimate. The problem is that they go over the top and they entirely miss the point.

SEO companies have one goal and one goal only. To get websites into top positions for highly-search key phrases on major search engines. They generally pay very little attention to the content of the site, so long as it has plenty of keywords. They pay very little attention to the usability of the site, so long as search engines are able to index the pages easily. They pay very little attention to the bounce rate, or how long people actually bother to stay on the site.

Ranking highly in search engines means absolutely nothing if people are just going to press the back button as soon as they’ve spent five seconds on your awful website.

There are SEO companies out there with major investors taking money from clients and then paying untrained staff to create spam blogs with bogus content and links. These companies class themselves as fully White Hat, by-the-book operations, but they’re still using incredibly questionable and ultimately dangerous tactics. I should know, I used to work for one of them and disliked every second of it.

We should probably pause for a moment to add a small disclaimer. Not all SEO companies are the same, and not all of them are trying to screw you. There are a few who believe they genuinely are helping you with some misguided idea of what the web is all about (hint: it’s not spam).

There are fewer still who actually have a huge knowledge on SEO and use it as a very small part of a bigger picture. The difference is that the last group of people rarely refer to themselves with any sort of title containing the letters S, E, and O.


This post was authored exclusively for WDD by John O’Nolan //webdesignerdepot.com

thumbSearch Engine Optimization, also known as SEO is a subject which gets talked about to death all over the web.

There’s a fairly large group of people who believe that SEO is the be-all and end-all to anything on the web.

They believe that without it, you are nothing and with it, you are everything.

Today we’re going to look at why that isn’t true and why you can create a truly great website which performs well in search engines, without any seedy SEO tactics.

We’ve also included a case study of WooThemes and QA with Adii Pienaar and his views on SEO.

What They Want You To Do

1

SEO companies use techniques which fall into two categories: “White Hat” and “Black Hat”. Black Hat SEO is the term used to describe questionable SEO practices such where people try to cheat the system with multiple websites and code which exploits loop holes in search engine algorithms. Black Hat SEO is frowned upon but, to be honest, White Hat SEO isn’t much better.

People who do White Hat SEO play by the rules. They don’t break any Google Terms of Service (mostly) and they stick to the techniques which are deemed to be legitimate. The problem is that they go over the top and they entirely miss the point.

SEO companies have one goal and one goal only. To get websites into top positions for highly-search key phrases on major search engines. They generally pay very little attention to the content of the site, so long as it has plenty of keywords. They pay very little attention to the usability of the site, so long as search engines are able to index the pages easily. They pay very little attention to the bounce rate, or how long people actually bother to stay on the site.

Ranking highly in search engines means absolutely nothing if people are just going to press the back button as soon as they’ve spent five seconds on your awful website.

There are SEO companies out there with major investors taking money from clients and then paying untrained staff to create spam blogs with bogus content and links. These companies class themselves as fully White Hat, by-the-book operations, but they’re still using incredibly questionable and ultimately dangerous tactics. I should know, I used to work for one of them and disliked every second of it.

We should probably pause for a moment to add a small disclaimer. Not all SEO companies are the same, and not all of them are trying to screw you. There are a few who believe they genuinely are helping you with some misguided idea of what the web is all about (hint: it’s not spam).

There are fewer still who actually have a huge knowledge on SEO and use it as a very small part of a bigger picture. The difference is that the last group of people rarely refer to themselves with any sort of title containing the letters S, E, and O.

Leer más “Create Great Websites, Without Any SEO”

Fully Understanding Contrast in Design

Usually the subject of contrast is reserved for beginners. Books will say “black and white have contrast, red and orange do not” – but there’s so much more to it.

Beginners books usually only touch on color contrast, but what about size and shape contrast? Often the easiest way to tell an amateur designer from a professional one is to look at their use of contrast.

Creating a structure of importance using size, shape and color is what gives a page impact and legibility to the reader.

In this post, we’re going to look at contrast in detail, examining big typography, funky shapes, clear divides, imagery, and how they properly fit together using contrast for a good user experience.

An Introduction to Contrast

Contrast can be defined as “the difference in visual properties that makes an object (or its representation in an image) distinguishable from other objects and the background.” In plain English that could be described at its most basic level as “things which look different from one another.”

For designers in all walks of the practice, but particularly web designers, contrast is at the root of pretty much everything. We are constantly trying to establish hierarchies of importance, draw people to certain areas of a page and communicate a clear and concise message at the very heart of our work. Creating relationships between different elements of a design is just about the most important thing that you can do. You’ve probably been doing it a great deal already, consciously or not.

Obvious examples of contrast are black and white, big and small, fast and slow, thick and thin. Opposites are the easiest way to grasp what contrast is, but when applying contrast to design work it’s never quite as black and white. If you were wondering, that’s where the saying about a situation being “black and white” comes from, which also leads to the saying of something being a “gray area”. In design we are often comparing things which are different but not opposite, for example an H1 and an h1, or an “add to cart” button and a “check out” button. This is where greater levels of contrast come into play.

Let’s take a look at the different types of contrast and some examples of how they’re used in web design.


This post was authored exclusively for WDD by John O’Nolan //webdesignerdepot.com

Usually the subject of contrast is reserved for beginners. Books will say “black and white have contrast, red and orange do not” – but there’s so much more to it.

Beginners books usually only touch on color contrast, but what about size and shape contrast? Often the easiest way to tell an amateur designer from a professional one is to look at their use of contrast.

Creating a structure of importance using size, shape and color is what gives a page impact and legibility to the reader.

In this post, we’re going to look at contrast in detail, examining big typography, funky shapes, clear divides, imagery, and how they properly fit together using contrast for a good user experience.

An Introduction to Contrast

Contrast can be defined as “the difference in visual properties that makes an object (or its representation in an image) distinguishable from other objects and the background.” In plain English that could be described at its most basic level as “things which look different from one another.”

For designers in all walks of the practice, but particularly web designers, contrast is at the root of pretty much everything. We are constantly trying to establish hierarchies of importance, draw people to certain areas of a page and communicate a clear and concise message at the very heart of our work. Creating relationships between different elements of a design is just about the most important thing that you can do. You’ve probably been doing it a great deal already, consciously or not.

Obvious examples of contrast are black and white, big and small, fast and slow, thick and thin. Opposites are the easiest way to grasp what contrast is, but when applying contrast to design work it’s never quite as black and white. If you were wondering, that’s where the saying about a situation being “black and white” comes from, which also leads to the saying of something being a “gray area”. In design we are often comparing things which are different but not opposite, for example an H1 and an h1, or an “add to cart” button and a “check out” button. This is where greater levels of contrast come into play.

Let’s take a look at the different types of contrast and some examples of how they’re used in web design.

Color Contrast

The most common example of all, this is pretty much where it all starts. If two colors are different to each other (say, black and white) they have high contrast, whereas if they are very similar (red and orange) then they have low contrast.

tekroc

TekRoc use very obvious color contrast here by overlaying bright and vibrant image on top of a very dark background. The bright orange and blue clearly stand out and the eye is immediately drawn to them above all other things on the page.

Leer más “Fully Understanding Contrast in Design”

The Difference Between Art and Design

//webdesignerdepot.com
This post was authored exclusively for WDD by John O’Nolan

The subject of what separates art and design is convoluted and has been debated for a long time.

Artists and designers both create visual compositions using a shared knowledge base, but their reasons for doing so are entirely different.Some designers consider themselves artists, but few artists consider themselves designers.

So what exactly is the difference between art and design? In this post, we’ll examine and compare some of the core principles of each craft.

This is a subject that people have strong opinions about, and I’m looking forward to reading the various points of view in the comments.

This post isn’t a definitive guide, but rather the starting point for a conversation, so let’s be open-minded!


//webdesignerdepot.com
This post was authored exclusively for WDD by John O’Nolan

The subject of what separates art and design is convoluted and has been debated for a long time.Artists and designers both create visual compositions using a shared knowledge base, but their reasons for doing so are entirely different.Some designers consider themselves artists, but few artists consider themselves designers.

So what exactly is the difference between art and design? In this post, we’ll examine and compare some of the core principles of each craft.

This is a subject that people have strong opinions about, and I’m looking forward to reading the various points of view in the comments.

This post isn’t a definitive guide, but rather the starting point for a conversation, so let’s be open-minded!

Good Art Inspires. Good Design Motivates.

Perhaps the most fundamental difference between art and design that we can all agree on is their purposes.

Typically, the process of creating a work of art starts with nothing, a blank canvas. A work of art stems from a view or opinion or feeling that the artist holds within him or herself.

They create the art to share that feeling with others, to allow the viewers to relate to it, learn from it or be inspired by it.

The most renowned (and successful) works of art today are those that establish the strongest emotional bond between the artist and their audience.

By contrast, when a designer sets out to create a new piece, they almost always have a fixed starting point, whether a message, an image, an idea or an action.

The designer’s job isn’t to invent something new, but to communicate something that already exists, for a purpose.

That purpose is almost always to motivate the audience to do something: buy a product, use a service, visit a location, learn certain information. The most successful designs are those that most effectively communicate their message and motivate their consumers to carry out a task.

Leer más “The Difference Between Art and Design”

How to Create a Professional Logo

A professional logo can enhance a company, an organization, or a product. On the other hand, an unprofessional logo can ruin a brand and mar an otherwise good designer’s portfolio.

Many logos in use are unprofessional and carry all the tell-tale marks of an amateur or a beginner. Everyone thinks they can design a great logo, but simply knowing your way around Photoshop is not enough.

Here are some insights into the process and workflow of effective and modern logo design. With these tips and your creativity, you can make your logo designs shine with the very best.

1. Design: Sketch and Brainstorm

A lot of beginners jump right onto the computer to create a logo. However, more often than not, a lot of time is spent fiddling with special effects and filters. While this can be useful, it usually means that the thoughtful design and artistry of the logo itself has taken a back seat.

A better way to start is to get a fresh sheet of paper and a pencil. Think about the meaning and the feeling you want the logo to impart to the viewer. Is it for a high tech game company or a historic non-profit organization? Should it be complex or simple? As you are thinking, sketch and doodle your ideas. Don’t worry about making everything perfect. You just want to let your natural creativity flow without your computer software taking over at this stage.

As you sketch different options, start eliminating the designs that seem weak or inappropriate. When you are satisfied with your ideas, move to the computer. (For those of you with graphics tablets, you can try sketching your ideas directly on your computer, but try and keep away from special brushes and effects.)


A professional logo can enhance a company, an organization, or a product. On the other hand, an unprofessional logo can ruin a brand and mar an otherwise good designer’s portfolio.

Many logos in use are unprofessional and carry all the tell-tale marks of an amateur or a beginner. Everyone thinks they can design a great logo, but simply knowing your way around Photoshop is not enough.

Here are some insights into the process and workflow of effective and modern logo design. With these tips and your creativity, you can make your logo designs shine with the very best.

1. Design: Sketch and Brainstorm

A lot of beginners jump right onto the computer to create a logo. However, more often than not, a lot of time is spent fiddling with special effects and filters. While this can be useful, it usually means that the thoughtful design and artistry of the logo itself has taken a back seat.

A better way to start is to get a fresh sheet of paper and a pencil. Think about the meaning and the feeling you want the logo to impart to the viewer. Is it for a high tech game company or a historic non-profit organization? Should it be complex or simple? As you are thinking, sketch and doodle your ideas. Don’t worry about making everything perfect. You just want to let your natural creativity flow without your computer software taking over at this stage.

As you sketch different options, start eliminating the designs that seem weak or inappropriate. When you are satisfied with your ideas, move to the computer. (For those of you with graphics tablets, you can try sketching your ideas directly on your computer, but try and keep away from special brushes and effects.)


If you are designing a logo for a customer, keep in mind that they might not like all your ideas. So, before spending too much time on each design, you may want to present some work-in-progress designs to gauge their level of interest. This can be a huge time saver, especially if your customer has not given you a lot of direction or if they tend to be very particular. Leer más “How to Create a Professional Logo”

Fully Understanding Contrast in Design

//www.webdesignerdepot.com
This post was authored exclusively for WDD by John O’Nolan

An Introduction to Contrast

Contrast can be defined as “the difference in visual properties that makes an object (or its representation in an image) distinguishable from other objects and the background.” In plain English that could be described at its most basic level as “things which look different from one another.”

For designers in all walks of the practice, but particularly web designers, contrast is at the root of pretty much everything. We are constantly trying to establish hierarchies of importance, draw people to certain areas of a page and communicate a clear and concise message at the very heart of our work. Creating relationships between different elements of a design is just about the most important thing that you can do. You’ve probably been doing it a great deal already, consciously or not.

Obvious examples of contrast are black and white, big and small, fast and slow, thick and thin. Opposites are the easiest way to grasp what contrast is, but when applying contrast to design work it’s never quite as black and white. If you were wondering, that’s where the saying about a situation being “black and white” comes from, which also leads to the saying of something being a “gray area”. In design we are often comparing things which are different but not opposite, for example an H1 and an h1, or an “add to cart” button and a “check out” button. This is where greater levels of contrast come into play.

Let’s take a look at the different types of contrast and some examples of how they’re used in web design.


//www.webdesignerdepot.com
This post was authored exclusively for WDD by John O’Nolan

An Introduction to Contrast

Contrast can be defined as “the difference in visual properties that makes an object (or its representation in an image) distinguishable from other objects and the background.” In plain English that could be described at its most basic level as “things which look different from one another.”

For designers in all walks of the practice, but particularly web designers, contrast is at the root of pretty much everything. We are constantly trying to establish hierarchies of importance, draw people to certain areas of a page and communicate a clear and concise message at the very heart of our work. Creating relationships between different elements of a design is just about the most important thing that you can do. You’ve probably been doing it a great deal already, consciously or not.

Obvious examples of contrast are black and white, big and small, fast and slow, thick and thin. Opposites are the easiest way to grasp what contrast is, but when applying contrast to design work it’s never quite as black and white. If you were wondering, that’s where the saying about a situation being “black and white” comes from, which also leads to the saying of something being a “gray area”. In design we are often comparing things which are different but not opposite, for example an H1 and an h1, or an “add to cart” button and a “check out” button. This is where greater levels of contrast come into play.

Let’s take a look at the different types of contrast and some examples of how they’re used in web design.

Leer más “Fully Understanding Contrast in Design”

15 Bad Habits That Could Kill Your Design Career

1. Poor People Skills

Few things will kill your design business faster than poor people skills. Clients want a friendly face to greet them and someone who is enthusiastic about their project. Avoid complaining, bad-mouthing, whining and making excuses.

Maybe you’re a whiz at social media, and maybe you’ve got a fancy email signature, but sometimes being able to interact professionally with people online just doesn’t cut it. In order to succeed as a designer, you must have strong people skills: you must be able to communicate a thought, frustration or message clearly and efficiently.

Learn how to handle difficult clients, overbearing creative directors and pestering marketing departments—you’ll have to do it all, while managing the inevitable stress of deadlines.
2. Not Setting Boundaries With Clients

If you work on a per-project basis, avoid excessive revisions proposed by clients. If you fail to set limitations, your clients will request frequent revisions, which can eat away at your time and patience.

Allowing clients to request anything might seem like a good policy, but you’ll come off as more professional by setting limits with them during the design process. These should be outlined in your terms of agreement or contract.
3. Complacency

I once worked with a designer who insisted on using tables in the design process. We all know that tables have a place in the work flow, but we were dealing with a layout and style that could have been achieved with some pretty simple CSS. This designer had become complacent; following the same path will kill your own design career.

Begin by identifying aspects of the job that you’ve grown complacent about. Perhaps you are satisfied with your current number of clients, so you make little effort to market your business. Perhaps your standards have fallen, and you’ve stopped giving your best and care to do only enough to get paid.

Whatever you’re complacent about, conquer it. Start caring. Shift your paradigm, and arouse in yourself a desire to always do your best.Killing Your Design Business

[Más…]
4. Laziness

Laziness is the brother of complacency. A lazy designer essentially stops caring about whether their designs look good, whether their clients are happy and whether their career will go anywhere. And designers who stop caring become selfish.

They take more time off than usual, put off deadlines, put themselves before their clients and, therefore, lose clients, forfeiting referrals and killing their business.
5. Procrastination

Putting off essential tasks that will help your design business thrive is extremely easy. After all, there are always tweets to read, emails to answer, articles to read and personal projects to experiment with.

Do your paperwork on time, try to hit or beat deadlines, keep contacting potential clients and stay on top of other important tasks. The more you procrastinate, the easier it will be in future. It’s a slippery slope.

Copying other designers
6. Copying Other Designers

Copying design masterpieces can be tempting–especially when a client comes to you with a particular idea (“I love the look of this website. Can you do something similar?”).

Overcoming the temptation to copy other designers in order to please a client can be difficult. Instead, meet with the client to discuss what about the work they like. Once you have determined why they like the design, you can create something that satisfies their needs, without infringing on another designer’s copyright.

Deliberate copying can result in huge fines and lost credibility, and it will ultimately kill your business. Avoid it like the plague.


//webdesignerdepot.com

Graphic work

This article was written exclusively for Webdesigner Depot by Preston D Lee, a web designer and lover of all things web and tech. Preston manages GraphicDesignBlender.com, where designers go to master the business of design. You can follow Preston on Twitter (@prestondlee) or visit his personal website, prestondlee.com.

Being a designer has never been easy. Working with clients, creative directors, marketing managers and other designers can take a toll on your patience and passion.

It’s important, as a professional designer, to avoid practices that could hurt your career or the company you work for.Whether you work as a freelance designer or in a firm, avoid the following 15 bad habits that might be killing your design career.

What other habits do you think should be avoided in your design career? Please let us know in the comments section.

1. Poor People Skills

Few things will kill your design business faster than poor people skills. Clients want a friendly face to greet them and someone who is enthusiastic about their project. Avoid complaining, bad-mouthing, whining and making excuses.

Maybe you’re a whiz at social media, and maybe you’ve got a fancy email signature, but sometimes being able to interact professionally with people online just doesn’t cut it. In order to succeed as a designer, you must have strong people skills: you must be able to communicate a thought, frustration or message clearly and efficiently.

Learn how to handle difficult clients, overbearing creative directors and pestering marketing departments—you’ll have to do it all, while managing the inevitable stress of deadlines.

2. Not Setting Boundaries With Clients

If you work on a per-project basis, avoid excessive revisions proposed by clients. If you fail to set limitations, your clients will request frequent revisions, which can eat away at your time and patience.

Allowing clients to request anything might seem like a good policy, but you’ll come off as more professional by setting limits with them during the design process. These should be outlined in your terms of agreement or contract.

3. Complacency

I once worked with a designer who insisted on using tables in the design process. We all know that tables have a place in the work flow, but we were dealing with a layout and style that could have been achieved with some pretty simple CSS. This designer had become complacent; following the same path will kill your own design career.

Begin by identifying aspects of the job that you’ve grown complacent about. Perhaps you are satisfied with your current number of clients, so you make little effort to market your business. Perhaps your standards have fallen, and you’ve stopped giving your best and care to do only enough to get paid.

Whatever you’re complacent about, conquer it. Start caring. Shift your paradigm, and arouse in yourself a desire to always do your best.Killing Your Design Business

Leer más “15 Bad Habits That Could Kill Your Design Career”

Interview with Forrst Founder: Kyle Bragger

As websites like Carbonmade and Dribbble (where designers share and promote their portfolios) make their way into the mainstream, there is an ever growing demand for branding work.

In this environment, professionals can dive into the web head first and share their prized designs, without having to host their own portfolio.

Forrst is the latest addition to this niche. Though hiding behind an invite-only system, Forrst is an amazing community of knowledgeable web designers and developers who share snippets of code and design work. You can ask questions and share interesting links with your followers, creating a Twitter-like experience for us web designers.

I conducted a short interview with the website’s developer and founder, Kyle Bragger (@kylebragger). Bragger gives us a brief history of how an idea turned into Forrst, he discusses the design and development process that goes on behind the scenes, and he shares his hopes for the future of the web app.


thumbAs websites like Carbonmade and Dribbble (where designers share and promote their portfolios) make their way into the mainstream, there is an ever growing demand for branding work.

In this environment, professionals can dive into the web head first and share their prized designs, without having to host their own portfolio.

Forrst is the latest addition to this niche. Though hiding behind an invite-only system, Forrst is an amazing community of knowledgeable web designers and developers who share snippets of code and design work. You can ask questions and share interesting links with your followers, creating a Twitter-like experience for us web designers.

I conducted a short interview with the website’s developer and founder, Kyle Bragger (@kylebragger). Bragger gives us a brief history of how an idea turned into Forrst, he discusses the design and development process that goes on behind the scenes, and he shares his hopes for the future of the web app.

Question: What was the purpose of launching Forrst and the motivation behind it? How did the idea for Forrst form and then become what it is today? Was it an original idea of your own or part of a brainstorm with others?

kyleBragger: Forrst started as nothing but a tiny side project that I dreamt up in early January after thinking hard about how and where I was (or wasn’t) sharing things that were really interesting to me from a development and design perspective.

I didn’t feel that what I had to share really fit on Tumblr or Twitter; they’re great tools but in my opinion aren’t the right places to share the kinds of things you’re able to share on Forrst.

The current incarnation of the website launched on May 1st, after about one and a half months of hard work and collaboration between me, Adam Kopec (@akopec) and Pasquale D’Silva (@pasql), and it was cheered on by my wonderful investors, Gary and AJ Vaynerchuk.

I’m responsible for 100% of the development; Adam took my wireframes and vision and kicked ass on a polished UI; and Pasquale is the brilliant illustrator behind the identity and home page scene.

Question: How do you collaborate with others and work on the website? Do you have a daily routine, or is each new day a surprise?

Bragger: I usually try to get up around 6:30 am, handle email and some Twitter support and replies and make it into the office around 10:00.

I’m still doing 100% of the development and have a pretty big list of both short- and long-term things that I’m working on or thinking about.

I constantly deploy new code and usually like to focus on hitting weekly goals. When bigger features need to be designed, I’ll wireframe them and work with Adam to flesh out the UI. He’ll send me a PSD, which I’ll build out in HTML/CSS and implement in Forrst.

Leer más “Interview with Forrst Founder: Kyle Bragger”

Web Design Podcasts Which Will Improve Your Life

Last year we published a post on 7 Great Podcasts for Web Designers which went down well with our readers.

Since then, several of the podcasts have dropped off the radar including arguably the most famous one of all time: BoagWorld.

At the same time a whole load of new web design related podcasts have sprung up, so today we’re going to take a look at the best way to get your web design news fix in audio format.

All of the podcasts covered here are linked directly through to iTunes so that you can instantly subscribe and download them straight from the source.


thumbLast year we published a post on 7 Great Podcasts for Web Designers which went down well with our readers.

Since then, several of the podcasts have dropped off the radar including arguably the most famous one of all time: BoagWorld.

At the same time a whole load of new web design related podcasts have sprung up, so today we’re going to take a look at the best way to get your web design news fix in audio format.

All of the podcasts covered here are linked directly through to iTunes so that you can instantly subscribe and download them straight from the source.
Leer más “Web Design Podcasts Which Will Improve Your Life”

Editing Opacity With Layer Masks

On screen, the colors of pixels are a mix of red, green and blue values. A fourth value, opacity, controls how pixels blend with pixels laid over them.

In image-editing programs such as Photoshop, changing the opacity of a layer is easy but not always precise.

Setting a layer to 50% opacity makes all of its pixels half-visible. If the situation calls for variable visibility, then layer masks are the answer.

A layer mask can give individual pixels different opacities. A layer mask is like a light cast onto a layer.

When the light is on, or white, the image is visible. When the light is off, or black, the layer can’t be seen.


thumbOn screen, the colors of pixels are a mix of red, green and blue values. A fourth value, opacity, controls how pixels blend with pixels laid over them.

In image-editing programs such as Photoshop, changing the opacity of a layer is easy but not always precise.

Setting a layer to 50% opacity  makes all of its pixels half-visible. If the situation calls for variable visibility, then layer masks are the answer.

A layer mask can give individual pixels different opacities. A layer mask is like a light cast onto a layer.

When the light is on, or white, the image is visible. When the light is off, or black, the layer can’t be seen.

Applying a layer mask to a photo hides certain parts. Photoshop uses a grid to represent “nothing” (i.e. completely transparent regions). Unlike areas modified by the eraser tool, areas hidden with layer masks can be restored even after the file is closed.

Leer más “Editing Opacity With Layer Masks”