As we move fully into April (and mid autumn) we thought it was time we looked at some of the fantastic resources that web designers and web developers have been tapping into over the first quarter of 2014. These resources are still very valid in this industry, so jump on board today!
- Cerberus – With more people viewing emails on their smartphones, it is important to ensure that your email displays nicely and is readable. This resource is compatible with Gmail, Outlook and Yahoo.
- StackIcons – Whilst we can typically only assign a single colour to a font, this resource is sophisticated enough that every part within the icon is adjustable. And the icons come in multiple shapes!
- StickUp – This is actually a jQuery plugin that makes your elements stick to the top of the browser window. It means that, no matter how much you scroll down, the stuck element is still visible.
- Type Scale – This resource is the perfect tool for font scaling. You can set the base font size, font weight, font family, preview text and the scaling method – then get the results immediately.
- WP Job Manager – If your website has been built using WordPress, then you can build a job board! This resource adds a new menu to your Dashboard, allowing you to add new job listings and information.
Whilst there are plenty more resources out there that web designers and web developers alike can take advantage of, we hope that you take a moment or two to check out some of the ones above for yourself. You might just find that they are exactly what you have been looking for.
Email marketing is actually a very powerful tool when it comes to furthering your business in this day and age. It does, however, raise a number of questions regarding how these sorts of campaigns are undertaken – do you need to spend thousands of dollars constructing mailing lists or can you do it organically; which techniques work and which don’t?
- Get permission: Your email marketing campaign must comply with privacy laws. This means that you must ask permission to use someone’s email address otherwise you might find yourself penalized or blacklisted.
- Target audience: You must make sure that each message you send out is targeted towards your audience. If you are a web design company, for example, try to offer tips regarding website upkeep.
- Keep clean. Only work with the cleanest permission-based list that you can find. If you don’t want to spend the time crafting your own, join a (legal) company that will allow you to send information to their lists.
- Be persistent: Keep in mind that it takes time to build up customer relationships; sending one or two emails isn’t going to cut it. Make sure that your mail is a regular thing (once a week or month).
This final email marketing tip should actually be more common sense than anything else – make sure that you keep mail short and sweet. For most people, a simple newsletter that contains at least one non-sales article (providing that it says something valuable for recipients) will be sufficient. Don’t send pages and pages of information, as no one will read it.
Every day, the number of people accessing the internet via their smart phones and other mobile devices (such as I Pads and tablets) is growing. Many believe that it won’t be long before this is the norm in terms of surfing the net, leaving desktop computers and even laptops far behind. Because of this, it is important that all companies focus on mobile web design.
Whilst it is possible to create a website specifically for mobile devices, it is also possible to make a single site (known as a responsive one) that can be accessed appropriately on all devices. Simply creating a design that can be viewed on a smart phone is not enough, however; you need to test the site out and make sure that it works on these smaller devices and platforms.
This can be achieved with the assistance of mobile emulators, which allow you to check the site’s responsiveness and functionality across a variety of platforms. Some of the better emulators out there include: ‘Mobi Ready’ (which also allows you to check dot Mobi compliance); ‘Screen fly’ (which covers a variety of platforms); and ‘Responsive’ (which allows you to check responsiveness).
The other great thing about using an emulator to test your mobile website design rather than the devices themselves is that they provide you with free feedback regarding the functionality and responsiveness of your site. They also ensure that you can test the design on all platforms and devices without having to actually go out and buy them, which will save you money.
You might be a designer who has never really had to deal face-to-face with clients before, or you might be a client who is seeking design work for the first time. For whatever reason, talking about a graphic design portfolio can actually be a difficult and intimidating task – you don’t want to use terminology that the client won’t understand and you don’t want to insult their work after all.
The first thing to understand is that this is not easy, especially for designers, but it is certainly a good skill to learn. Try not to be afraid of making mistakes when discussing a portfolio; instead, treat each meeting as a training opportunity that teaches you what is and isn’t okay to say. For a designer, the aim is engage potential clients in your work. For a client, the aim is to gather more information.
Clients will like to discuss your graphic design portfolio because they are trying to determine whether you possess the skills to undertake their project, whereas designers will like to discuss it so that they can show you that their work is of a high quality. By being aware of these reasons, you can ensure that you don’t alienate the other party during the discussion and that you answer all queries.
Finally, you must be aware of how the person (or persons) you are speaking with is reacting to your comments. As a designer, watch for the clients’ reaction when you briefly explain a project that is similar to their own. As a client, look for the artist’s reaction when you ask them questions about their graphic design work or experience.
If this is the first time that you have been involved with the creation of a website, you might not have understood what members of the team meant when they mentioned the alpha and the beta stages of the web development process. These stages are actually part of the cycle that brings a website to life, and they are vital if you want to ensure that the client is happy with the finished product. So, what are the alpha and beta stages?
This stage is the part of the process that involves the web development team presenting their ideas to the client, who will then approve any ideas that they like and dismiss those that they don’t. This will not only include the design; the client also has final say on the functionality, layout and other elements of a website.
This stage is the part of the process that involves the website being coded and tested. The designs approved by the client in the alpha stage are coded so that they are completely functional on the internet; the client is then provided with a copy of what the website will look like and testing commences to make sure that everything is working as expected.
These are not, of course, the only stages involved in the web development process – there are many other steps that must be completed before and after the alpha and beta stages to ensure that the finished website meets the client’s expectations, including: the pre-alpha stage (which involves idea conception) and release stages (which involve the site being made ‘live’).