Category Archives: Web Design

Creating a Website with SEO and Conversions in Your Mind

If you’re running an online business, you’re not alone. Millions of other online entrepreneurs are out there trying to earn livings. To stay ahead of the competition, you need to get educated about search engine optimization(SEO) and social media. You also need to know how to design your site to be as conversion-friendly as possible. If terms like “SEO” and “conversion rate” throw you off, take heart: It’s easy to get on track. You could also enlist the help of a digital agency, one such example is GearyLSF.

Keep it Simple

Drawing visitors to your site is just the first step in the online sales process. After all, they can just as easily click themselves away from your website. That’s a lot less likely to happen when your site has a clean, stylish design. In keeping with the theme of simplicity, you shouldn’t ask too much of your visitors. If they have to jump through a bunch of hoops just to get to the shopping cart, you are doing it wrong. The simpler and less cluttered your site is, the more likely someone is to stay and explore; the easier you make that visit, the more likely they are to become customers.

Entice Visitors to Click

The language that you use in your site’s copy has a profound effect on how visitors react. Within seconds of landing on your page, visitors need to be enticed into clicking their mouse buttons. Those clicks represent legitimate interest that can be used to gauge the success or failure of your site’s design. You can encourage clicks by using terms like “sign up now,” “learn more here” and “send a comment.” Those words are action-oriented and will spur visitors to click the associated link; from there, it’s much easier to turn them into customers.

There are many other ways to improve conversions on your site. Play around with its color scheme to see how color affects its conversion rate – you’re sure to be surprised by what you discover. Heat mapscan also give you a feel for how various design changes affect the way in which people interact with your site.

Include Calls to Action

Calls to action are absolutely crucial when it comes to generating online sales. Visitors want to be told what to do – they don’t want to be left in the dark. If your site leaves them scratching their heads, they won’t understand the point. In that case, they will leave without buying anything. Once again, the terminology that you use will have a strong impact on prompting action. Phrases like “buy now” and “add to cart” provide clear instructions. You need to pique a visitor’s interest and get them to close the deal as quickly as possible.

The content on your site should always be rounded out by clear calls to action. After explaining a product or service, include something like “click here to place your order now” or “learn more about this service here.” Links within the calls to action will lead people to the next step in the process, which should be simple and streamlined.

Maintain Relevancy

Good SEO relies heavily on relevance. The search engines aren’t going to rank your site too well if it doesn’t use relevant keywords. If the backlinks that connect to your site aren’t relevant, your ranking will suffer, too. At all times, keep the importance of staying relevant in the back of your head. Just because another site is willing to link to yours doesn’t mean that you should take the bait. Every little decision matters, so use common sense. You want to attract people who are looking for what you sell, after all – there’s no use in tricking anyone. Reading websites like SEOMoz, SEOBook or SEOMoves will make it easier to see how your campaign is faring; for a reasonable annual fee, you can log in to its simple interface to keep track of your site’s statistics and other data.

Prioritize Keywords

Keywords are at the heart of any successful SEO campaign. Once you’ve selected a great batch of keywords and key phrases, make sure to use them properly. Don’t stuff your content too full of keywords, because that will get you in trouble with the major search engines. Instead, use your keywords as naturally and relevantly as you can throughout the content on your site. Don’t forget to use keywords and key phrases in your anchor text, which is the text that makes up a hyperlink. Sprinkle keywords into titles and headers, too, to keep your site well organized and easy to scan.

As you become more adept at SEO, you will be able to use it to improve your site’s conversion rate, too. For example, you can play around with a variety of different widgets to attract a more targeted audience. Title tags are also important; like so many aspects of SEO, however, that importance is changing. Instead of stuffing them full of keywords, for instance, more people are using them to bolster their branding to great effect.

Make it Easy to Connect

Social media has dramatically transformed the process of marketing online. If you’re not already plugged into popular sites like Twitter and Facebook, it’s time you got on board. You’ll be amazed by how easy it is to connect with prospective customers; such sites also make it easy to keep existing customers happy. It’s simple enough to add social media buttons to your website; similarly, you should link back to your site from all of your social media profiles. Like anything else, you can easily keep track of how successful or unsuccessful your various social media buttons are, which will help you optimize your site even more effectively.

There’s no question about it: Running a successful online business takes a whole lot of work. By being familiar with basic concepts like conversion rates, calls to action and social media, though, you can increase your odds of achieving phenomenal success by a considerable degree. A small amount of extra effort can really pay off, and it is smart to pay attention to emerging trends. There is no finish line when it comes to running an online business; with top-notch SEO best practices, you can stay ahead of the competition.

Tips and ways of Photography For Designers

Throughout your career as a designer you will be required to use a camera at some stage so it is vital you know how to use one, and at the very least, know the basics principles & elements of photography. So I present to you photography tips for designers.

6 Elements of Photography:
Colour, Form, Texture, Pattern, Line, Repetition

6 Principles of Photography:
Light, Subject, Focus, Background, Exposure, Composition

Elements of Photography

There are six main elements that create a picture and you can use a variety of these to create stunning photography.

Colour

If you’re shooting for colour, make sure that the colours compliment each other. If they don’t, change up the wardrobe, the setting, etc… until they do. Painters don’t choose random colors for their paintings. Why should photographers allow outside forces to dictate color choices?

Form
Form is the structure of the shapes that comprise the photo. It gives it a 3rd dimension to the photo. Form is constructed by the use of light and shadow and makes a photo ‘pop’ off the page.

Texture

Photographs are two dimensional, which makes it challenging to get a good sense of texture. The best way to play it up is to use strong shapes, composition, and light angles that compliment the textures in the scene.

Pattern

Pattern is the use of repeating elements in a photography, thus creating a pattern.

Line

Line is the way that a person looks at a photograph. It is how a persons eye looks at a photograph, what lines does the persons eye follow?

Principles of Photography

Eric Hamilton Photography has outlined the 6 principles of photography below. These aspects differentiate art between photography. The first, third, fourth and fifth photos are by Eric Hamilton.

Light

Light is the single most important aspect of photography!

STOP right now, and read that back again and again until it sinks in. After all, the essence of the photographic art is the process of capturing light from the scene in order to create an artistic rendering. In a very real sense, photography is painting with light.

Long before photography and flashes were invented, classical painters posed their subjects next to large windows that acted like big soft boxes in order to create the right light to capture the mood they wanted to paint. Always pay attention to the light, and go to whatever lengths you need to (scheduling, rescheduling, adding light, etc…) in order to make sure you get the light right.

If you can’t get great light, don’t even bother clicking the shutter release — your photo is just going to look like every other amateur with a point and shoot camera, otherwise.

Subject

You absolutely must have light to make a photograph, which is why it got top billing. It is absolutely the foundation of photography, but equally important is the subject. A strong subject is more than a good looking model. The setting, clothing, props, accessories, pose, and emotional expression all work together to tell a story. It’s up to the photographer to make sure it’s a story worth telling.

Focus

Focus isn’t just about what to focus on, it’s also about how much depth of field to show in the portrait. How much do you want to blur out background/foreground elements? How much of the subject really needs a sharp focus? With the right set of lenses, you can really have a lot of control over that aspect, and it makes a significant difference in the resulting images!

Also, don’t discount the possibilities with regards to alternative points of focus. Generally, it’s good to concentrate on eyes, but I often focus on lips, and sometimes create dramatic tension by having the primary subject out of focus, and instead focus on things like hands, or some object being held by the model. In one of my favourite shots, I focussed on a chess board with a very shallow depth of field, and lit up the subject’s face so much that the highlights are all blown out.

Background

For backgrounds, the general rule is to keep it simple. It is possible to do nice environmental portraits, but it’s very easy for backgrounds to clash and distract from the focus of your image. One thing to watch out for when you’re just starting out is mergers — background and foreground images have a tendency to seem to merge together in a photograph, so, for example, watch out that it doesn’t look like trees are growing from the subject’s head, and so on.

Composition

One key difference between an amateur shot, and a professional shot is composition. A great portrait photographer considers shapes, lines, framing, angles, negative space, where to place the point of focus in the frame for maximum impact, and so on.

Exposure

Exposure isn’t just about getting a proper exposure to record the scene. In especially high contrast scenes, for example, you have choices. You can get a proper exposure for shadows, or propper exposure for bright areas, but often, not both, and that can be a good thing. You can choose to take a high-key or low-key approach, and expose to emphasize certain areas of an image over others.

Keep in mind that you can use color, texture, and exposure to emphasize shapes in your compositions.

Conclusion

When you can use a camera, coordinate all of these things, and get them working in harmony, that’s when magic starts to happen. Like music, visual arts rely on harmony (shape, colour, exposure), rhythm (texture), and plot elements to tell a story (setting, model).

How & Where You Pay Freelance Jobs, While You Are Still a Student Designer

As some of you may know I am a third year graphic design student and an active freelancer so I am going to share my tips on how and where to get freelance design jobs while you are still a graphic design student.

For most 1st, 2nd or 3rd year students, finding a part time or even casual job in the design industry is quite frustrating and nearly impossible and most resort to working at their local store, however, there is hope – I am living proof that a design student can get a job in design while still studying, here are my tips…

The Problems

The problems most design students will face is they do not yet have the skills needed to be a professional designer (1) as they are still trying to figure out the ins and outs of the software (2) and to top off this they still are yet to have a reputable portfolio (3) or (4) any knowledge about dealing with clients, budgeting or time management. Let’s have a look at these problems and their solutions.

1. No Basic Design Skills

This of course, is the reason you are at University or College: to learn these skills. However, do not be a static learner at University, you must propel yourself forward to learn more and be the leader of the pack. You should be active in graphic design forums, read design and freelancing blogs like you are now, borrow/buy books, ask questions and get out there.

Go to your local design studio and ask for work experience – I did this and I worked on all their pro bono jobs, it was a great experience and I learned more about clients and time management while I was doing it. These few things will help your basic design skills get up to scratch.

Forums

  • Graphic Design Forum
  • Estetica Design Forum
  • Digital Point Forums
  • How Design Forums

Articles

  • 50 Totally Free Online Lessons In Graphic Design

Books

  • Graphic Design School by David Dabner
  • Non Designer’s Type Book by Robin Williams
  • Recommended Graphic Design Books –   More books I recommend.

Graphic Design Blogs

  • Recommended graphic design blogs & sites: Graphic design resources

2. No Computer Skills

You need computer skills to be a successful graphic designer and a great way to acquire these skills is by reading tutorials, books and of course, practice. I repeat again: tutorials, books and practice. By reading tutorials and books you gain more knowledge of the software and get better as a graphic designer.

Try to get first hand experience off another professional designer – a great way to do this is ask for work experience at your local design studio, they are usually more than happy to help. Another thing I did was get free stock items and deconstruct them to see how they were made, this opened a whole new world for me.

3. Do not have a reputable portfolio

Every designer had to start somewhere and every designer started with nothing so you are not alone. Building your portfolio is probably the most important thing you do at University as this is how you will get a full time job once you leave.

Portfolios are another topic in itself, however you can build it up by making up your own fictional graphic design briefs. Studios do not mind if your portfolio items are fictional as long as they are quality.

Portfolio Tips

  • 10 Tips On Creating a Design Portfolio

Forums: To build your portfolio up you can get some small paying jobs (between $15 to $200) on Digital Point Forums.

Job Board Sites: Check out job boards such as the 28 ones listed here.

More Sites To Find Graphic Design Jobs:

  • Coroflot
  • Behance Job Board
  • Authentic Jobs
  • AIGA Design Jobs
  • Krop
  • Fresh Web Jobs
  • Design:Related
  • Smashing Magazine
  • Simply Hired
  • Web Design Jobs

4. No Knowledge About Clients Or Time-Management

Nearly all graphic design graduates lack client and time management skills: This is where experience is the key and there is no way to get better experience than to gain work experience at your local design/print store –   just drop in and ask – you will be surprised how happy they are to hear from you.   Just mention you’re a graphic design student and you’re wishing to learn some new things. By working there you will learn all about dealing with clients, time management and the design industry… the big picture.

This was an actual reply I received from a reader – it does work!

Hi Jacob. You’re a legend. I followed your advice about just asking a local studio and was shocked when they said I could go in one day a week! I always thought they’d be miserable or ‘have no time for silly young students’, but true, THEY had to start somewhere as well! It maybe be ‘pro bono work’ but its vital experience that will set me apart from other students when applying for a full time job.

5. Getting The Clients Or Jobs

Tieing into point three is that of getting clients. After you feel confident enough to go out freelancing or working at a design studio during University, you should start looking for clients. I wrote an article on how to get your first job which will also help you out. Also get your profile out there, on such places asHubStaff Talent, Upwork, Guru or Freelancer.

10 Signs You are a Bad Graphic Designer

Yes, this is a controversial topic, however I hope to raise awareness of some mistakes you may be making in your graphic design pieces that are making you look like an amateur, but please keep in mind that none of these are hard and fast rules, this is only a general guide of things you should be aware of.

Please forgive me for the graphic and bad grammar / spelling in the picture above as I’m sure you can see it is a joke (rainbow gradients, comic sans, bevel emboss, 13 not 15, bad grammar, off centered type – yuk)

Anyway, I have compiled 15 tell tale signs that you may still be considered a (don’t quote me) bad graphic designer. Some of these have been taken from Robin Williams great book “The Non-Designers Type Book” that I recommended in the top 5 typography resources of all time.

1. Helvetica

Do you use Helvetica in everything?

Ok, yes I know, it is the most popular font of all time – but that is the downfall of Helvetica. Just because it is there, it doesn’t mean you have to use it. Try something else next time and try break out of your habit. Just for some suggestions, maybe Trade Gothic, Formata, Futura, Antique Olive, Eurostile? And yes I know this website uses Helvetica Also check out the post 30 fonts to last you a lifetime.Spacer

2. Straight Quotes & Wrong Quotes

Do you use straight quotes still?

Straight quotes were for typewriters, times have changed! Look at the difference between the quotes above.

  1. The quotations are not hanging over the edge.
  2. Straight quotes have been used instead of true quotation marks.
  3. Quotation marks have been used instead of prime marks after the 7 and 3.
  4. An apostrophe has been left out in between it’s.

Learn the keystrokes to ‘real’ quotes in every application you use. Learn the MAC & PC keyboard shortcuts here.

Don’t type curly quotes when you need inch and foot marks (prime marks).Spacer

3. Quotations Not Hung

Do you NOT hang your quotation marks?

See in the picture in number 2, how the quote marks are hanging off the side of the quote, compared to the other one. Hang your quotation marks. Read your software manual (check their help files) to read how to do this or you can do it manually.Spacer

4. Double Returns.

Do you hit the ‘return’ or the ‘enter’ key twice between paragraphs or after headlines?

Using two spaces makes it possible to end up with a blank line at the top of a column plus it leaves way too much space between each paragraph – it looks disconnected.Spacer

5. Two Spaces After Punctuation

Do you add two spaces after each sentence?

This is a very bad practice and is not correct – Using only one space is the correct way.Spacer

6. Using Boxes Behind Text

Do you use plain boxes of colour behind your text?

Just because you can, doesn’t mean you have to. Try something else, use a dramatic headline, use your white space, use a different font, reverse your type, use pull quotes, etc. Can you see in the above picture how the surrounding white space makes the text stand out on its own? You can use these in the correct places however be careful not to over use it.Spacer

7. Centred Layouts

Do you use a centred layout in your graphic design pieces?

Using centred layouts is usually bad practice as it creates a deadly dull look. See how much more effective the two green verses are, they are more dynamic (one is centred & one is left aligned). Using flush left or right gives strength to your entire page and usually is a better option unless of course there are reasons to use centred text. eg. creating a formal wedding invitation.Spacer

8. Borders

Do you use borders around everything?

This often indicates a beginner who feels unsafe with type that is uncontained. Use your white space. You can let it be there. Seriously.Spacer

9. Indents

Do you use half inch indents?

This is bad practice and is the old way (back in typewriter days). The standard is one em space which is a space as wide as the point size of the type. (what?) This is approximately two spaces, not five.Spacer

10. Hyphens For Bullets

Do you use bullets for hyphens?

This is a typewriter habit and is unprofessional. Try using dots or dingbats.

15 Description of Designer Duty

As a student, I often hear other students asking their tutors “What is the difference between a creative director and an art director?”. To be honest I didn’t know at first however luckily enough I was given a linkby one of my teachers answering just that question. So I present to you 15 designer job descriptions.

Solo designer
A freelance or self-employed design professional who works independently of a company and has no employees.
Owner, partner, principal
An owner, partner, principal holds an equity position and has major business responsibility for a firm having employees.
Creative/design director
A creative director or design director is the creative head of a design firm, advertising agency or an in-house corporate design department. In all of these areas, key responsibilities can include the development of graphic design, advertising, communications and industrial design publications.
Art director
The art director establishes the conceptual and stylistic direction for design staff and orchestrates their work, as well as the work of production artists, photographers, illustrators, prepress technicians, printers and anyone else who is involved in the development of a project. The art director generally selects vendors and, if there isn’t a creative director on staff, has final creative authority.
Senior designer
The senior designer is responsible for conceptualization and design of solutions from concept to completion. In some firms, a senior designer directs the work of one or more junior designers who generate comps and create layouts and final art. In some cases, senior designers do not manage staff but are designated “senior” because of their authority in design decision-making.
Designer
A designer is responsible for conceptualization and design of graphic applications such as collateral material, environmental graphics, books and magazines, corporate identity, film titling and multimedia interfaces, from concept to completion.
Entry-level designer
An entry-level designer is one-to-two years out of school and requires mentoring in all aspects of design conception and implementation.
Print production artist
A print production artist has a working understanding of layout, type and color, and is able to take instructions from a designer and create a complete layout, working proficiently in InDesign, QuarkXPress, Photoshop and Illustrator. Responsibilities also include producing final files that image properly to film.
Web designer
A web designer determines and develops the look and feel for sites, and is responsible for site navigation design and visual execution.
Copywriter
A copywriter is able to write, edit and proof promotional or publicity copy for print or electronic publications. At higher levels, copywriters are often responsible for strategic and conceptual development of messages and stories.
Print production manager
The print production manager is responsible for managing the process (bids, scheduling, production and delivery) of producing publications, from concept through production, including photography, separations, 4-color press work and digital production. Print production managers are strong project managers, managing multiple jobs simultaneously. In some cases, proficiency in InDesign, QuarkXPress, Illustrator and Photoshop is desirable in this role.
Marketing manager, new business manager, director
A marketing or new business professional is responsible for seeking business opportunities, developing proposals and marketing the firm’s practices.
Web developer (front end/interface systems)
A front-end developer uses HTML/JavaScript/ASP/ColdFusion and other tools to develop static and dynamic web pages.
Web programmer/developer (back end systems)
A back end programmer works with web server systems and web databases, develops web queries to databases and programs web applications.
Web producer, senior producer, executive producer
A web producer organizes web development teams and ensures adherence to budget, schedule and design of website development.
Content developer
A content developer is also known as a web writer or editor. He or she is responsible for the production and repurposing of text/graphic/audio content on sites.

Best Design & Tip Program

A question I often get asked via email is “Which graphic design school / university should I attend?”. To be honest it’s a very hard question to answer as everyone has different needs, however, today we haveBrian Jenkins* here to highlight some of the top US design schools. If you are not from the US please do share the top design programs in your country, in the comments below.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in 2008, there were about 286,100 graphic design jobs in the USA . Employment growth for graphic designers from 2008 to 2018 is forecasted by the BLS to be about as fast as the average for all occupations. Keen competition is expected for positions in the field. According to the BLS, those with website design and animation experience will have the best job opportunities.

Recent college graduates will have to depend on their educational credentials and portfolio to convince employers to hire them so it’s vital to select a recognised graphic design degree program to ensure you get the education you need. Some important factors for employers – after your body of work – are the school’s reputation, the quality of the graphic design program, and accreditation by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design. These certainly not the only credentials, but it does help.

When choosing a school, consider schools that have up-to-date design software and technology as employers are looking for candidates who know how to use them. Find out if the schools you’re considering have connections in the graphic design industry and if they provide internships. Internships give valuable experience and networking opportunities, and oftentimes employers will their hire talented interns.

US Top Rated Design Schools

The following schools’ graphic design graduate programs were ranked in the top ten by U.S. News & World Report in 2008. These schools also offer quality undergraduate degree programs that include the vital elements of graphic design:

  • The Rhode Island School of Design: This school is widely regarded as one of the best stand alone design schools in the nation.
  • Cranbrook Academy of Art: This school doesn’t have faculty, but instead has artists-in residence. The program focuses on the core of art and design. Cranbrook provides a very unique experience.
  • Yale University School of Art: This fine school is tied #2 in the U.S. News & World Report list.
  • Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU): VCU offers a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts in Graphic Design. The program includes a range of design-specific classes.
  • Carnegie Mellon University: Graphic design students attend the university’s College of Fine Arts. The college emphasizes hands-on learning.
  • Maryland Institute College of Art: It’s one of the nation’s oldest art colleges. The school is included among the top 25 design schools by ID magazine.
  • California Institute of the Arts: CalArts, founded by Walt Disney, offers a graphic design program that places an emphasis on the practical and conceptual sides of graphic design. Students have access to studios 24/7. The school has a extremely accomplished faculty.
  • Pratt Institute: The Institute’s School of Art & Design faculty is made up of numerous recipients of prestigious awards including Fulbright, Tiffany, and Guggenheim fellowships. Pratt is a member of the Association of the Independent Colleges of Art and Design which consists of 36 of the premier art schools in the nation. It has been regarded as one of the leading art schools in the nation since its founding in 1886.
  • School of Visual Arts: This school offers a graphics design undergraduate program that works in 3D, 2D, and digital media.
  • California College of the Arts: CCA provides internships at publishing and printing firms, nonprofit organizations, and technology companies.

Here’s a list of other US notable schools:

  • University of Delaware
  • Penn State University
  • Kansas City Art Institute
  • Academy of Art University
  • Parson Schools of Design (see their Graphic Design Degree)
  • Cleveland Institute of Art
  • UCLA School of Arts and Architecture
  • University of the Arts
  • University of Illinois at Chicago School of Art and Design

Remember that not one school is right for every individual. Do the research to find out what’s best for you & try your best to get there!

Notable Schools In Other Countries

  • Billy Blue College Of Design – Australia
  • Hyper Island – Sweden

Have a recommended design school in your country? Please let us know in the comments.

*Brian Jenkins writes about a variety of topics related to education and careers for BrainTrack, including careers in graphic design & online graphic design degrees.

5 Good Fonts, Used By Professionals In Graphic Design

Top 7 Most Used Fonts Used By Professionals In Graphic Design

1. Helvetica

Without a doubt, Helvetica is the most heavily used font by professionals (and also by the not so professional) in graphic design. Although some praise the font, many believe that it is spaced too tightly.

And as Vivien pleas in her 16 most overused fonts article, “Understand that you can’t always rely on Helvetica to illustrate and deliver your every message. Helvetica is not perfect for everyone and every occasion.”

2. Trajan

Trajan finds its way into many Hollywood movie posters and anything remotely to do with religion, law, marriage, class or the past. You can check out the flickr pool for more uses of Trajan.

A bit of history on the font Trajan… Trajan is an old style serif typeface designed in 1989 by Carol Twombly for Adobe. The design is based on Roman square capitals, as used for the inscription at the base of Trajan’s Column from which the typeface takes its name.

3. Garamond

Although there are many versions of Garamond, the most used version today is the Adobe Garamondversion (as seen above) released in 1989. Garamond is a great font for magazines, textbooks, websites and long bodies of text and was recently named the second best font (after Helvetica) by a German publication.

4. Futura

Futura is a font that comes up often in large displays, logos, corporate typefaces and in books where small text is needed. It is based on geometric shapes (near-perfect circles, triangles and squares) which became representative of the Bauhaus design style of 19191933. Futura has an appearance of efficiency and forwardness. Some do hate the font though.

5. Bodoni

Bodoni is a great font for headlines, decorative text and logos. Bodoni has a narrow underlying structure with flat, unbracketed serifs. The face has extreme contrast between thick and thin strokes, and an overall geometric construction which makes it a very aesthetic looking font.

10 Typography Tools, Templates and Libraries Web Designers Need to Know

Typography is indeed one of the most crucial components of every good web design. As a novice or professional web designer, knowing about the best typography tools, frameworks and libraries is definitely a plus point.

All these resources can aid you in dealing with web design typography in a better manner, offering you extensive control over fonts used on the web. Enjoy!

1. FlowType

As a handy plugin, FlowType will dynamically adjust the font size in accordance to the width of the wrapper under focus. Additionally, you can use the plugin for applying an ideal count of characters per line along with screen of variable width specification. FlowType can be easily downloaded from GitHub and plays a vital role in accomplishing the most legible typography which includes 45 and 75 characters on a per line basis.

2. Typeplate

As a complete framework for setting up typography in a web design, Typeplate is shipped with some stunning basic typographic styles that address critical elements within web design such as colors, scaling, dropcap, small capital, hyphenation, code block, blockquote, scaling and a lot of other interesting stuff.

3. Gridlover

As a brilliant typography tool, Gridlover allows you to establish a typographic system wherein there is a fully adjustable CSS for the line heights, font sizes and all margins. As an easy-to-use tool, Gridlover allows you to achieve perfect typography for your web design.

4. Hatchshow

Hatchshow is a special web typography plugin which expands the size of your font, thereby filling in the entire width of the font container. Utilizing a specific algorithms, Hatchshow will measure your container’s width, length of font characters and finally append the appropriate font size.

5. LiningJS

As an excellent JavaScript library, LiningJS allows you to individually style each line within a specific paragraph. Stimulating the idea of “::nth-Line()”, “::nth last-line()” and “::last-line” pdeudo-classes, LiningJS will serve as your most trusted library for creating a brilliant web typography.

6. Underline.JS

A yet another remarkable JavaScript library, Underline.JS will allow you to improvise the text underline. You can compare the demo with the underline output of your current CSS text-decoration for spotting the key differences.

7. Modular Scale

Modular Scale is a handy typography tool that will generate an ideal font along with proper scaling for the body and heading of your text. Output received with the use of Modular Scale is available in Sass and should hence be used in conjunction with Sass library.

8. Kerning.js

Kerning.js is a JavaScript library that marks the meeting of kerning with CSS. You can use it to automatically style, kern, scale and transform your web typography using real CSS rules.

9. FFFFallback

FFFFallback is a brilliant web typography tool that allows you to find stack of font that would further degrade in a graceful manner. Available in the form of a bookmarklet, FFFFallback will analyze will allow you to analyze the family font on a particular page, followed by suggesting you the most appropriate font.

10. TypeSettings

As a remarkable pack of CSS rules, TypeSettings is available in Sass and Stylus. You can use it for defining vertical rhythm, font scaling and reasonable ratio for your web typography.

How to Guide How Freelancers Can Compete with Large Studio Designs

Let’s face it, being a freelancer is just plain tough. In what other arena is one person responsible for answering the phones, balancing the books, paying the bills, designing the website, creating the graphics, and working with the customers throughout the entire process? Yet, despite our amazing ability to juggle all of these duties, we still face one large barrier. We don’t have that glowing brick building that somehow screams, “We are a successful company!” As a result, it can be difficult to “capture” large clients.

We Have To Beat the Big Guys

Today, freelancers are becoming more and more prevalent. Why not? It is a fantastic job. We set our own hours, we take on only the jobs that we desire, we have artistic freedom, etc. But, the biggest gripe I hear repeated time and time again is the fact that the main client pool consists of people with tiny budgets. You also may want some tips on how to get your first job.

We’ve all done the local work for far less than we would normally charge. We’ve all received the email from the guy that needs an E-Commerce website for $200.” We’ve all had the regrettable experience of taking a job against our better judgment. When our stomachs are screaming, “Don’t accept this job!”, we ignore it and must ultimately deal with the repercussions: the man with the $150 budget for business cards that expects you to work around the clock; the person who promised he would pay you only to suddenly change his mind a week later. Do you know how much the average graphic designer earns?

Quite simply, the small jobs don’t pay the bills. In order to succeed, we have to beat the big guys. Who are the big guys, you ask? I’m talking about the established design firms in those “brick buildings” that do exquisite work. But, how do you stand out when you’re the shortest guy in the room?

What can we offer that they can not?

To truly be content and financially secure as a freelancer, we must be able to grab the large clients. But bottom line, why would a financially stable company go with a freelancer when they can easily choose a more reputable firm? To answer these questions we must look at our strengths.

What can we offer that they can’t? There are a few constants. First, we most likely won’t be able to out-perform a team of designers as far as “chops” are concerned. I believe we can equal that level of quality, but won’t be able to stand out in this respect. Second, we can out-price them, but cost typically isn’t as big an issue with large corporations. So, how do we beat the design firms?

Customer Service

Think to yourself: What is my main gripe, as a consumer, with large companies? My first thought goes to my bank. I called them recently to remove an erroneous error only to be put on hold for thirty minutes. When I finally did speak with a human being, he most likely lived in another country and had little, if any, interest in my situation. They, like many large companies, have terrible customer service! We can use this to our advantage.

Nine times out of ten, a prospective client doesn’t know exactly what he wants. He doesn’t know the jargon or even how to communicate a semblance of what his company desires. This is where we can rise above the larger design firms.

Act As a Guide

It may require a bit more work, but it ultimately gets us the contract. New clients are weary about the entire process. It is foreign to them. If we act as a guide, we can take their hand from beginning to end and provide them with the comfort of knowing that someone is looking out for them every step of the way.

If they have a question, they can directly call us – no receptionists, no programmer that doesn’t know the full details, just one person. In my experience, this has been vital to my success.

I’m a firm believer that customer service is what has gotten me every single big client that I have. There will always be an individual or company that can do the job better. As much as this agitates me, I accept it. To stand out, we must focus on our unique “freelancer” strengths.

Use Deadlines to Your Advantage

What you’ll find, if you haven’t already, is that deadlines are a very real issue with corporate clients. They must have a job completed by a certain date, no questions asked. The only problem is that they very rarely have all their ducks in a row.

They have sudden changes that come from corporate which require immediate revisions. Who is going to make these changes in the middle of the night in time for that presentation Monday morning? They know that the successful Firm X designers won’t be at work until Monday morning. But, Freelancer Y is a single ring away and will be happy to fix it at midnight. Yes, I’m talking about you, fellow freelancers!

How do I personally get big clients?

How do I personally “reel” in a big fish? First, I will work on weekends when the bigger firms are closed. Second, I will give a client my personal number and tell them to call me immediately if they think that they might have a question. Third, I’ll pick up the phone on the first ring – whether that is at two in the afternoon or four in the morning. When a client knows that he can rely on you no matter what, you begin to stand out in a big way! Editors note: First ring is pretty freaky!

I will close with a portion of an email that, just a few weeks ago, secured a very large client’s business.

“I truly hope you’ll consider me. If you have not already heard from other divisions in your organization, I will be personally available to you 24/7. If you need a quick change to the site at 10:00 at night, it’ll be taken care of. If you need me to communicate with your print designer in the very early morning, it will be taken care of. Relieving you of as much stress as possible is my goal – and I always achieve it.” Please don’t hesitate to call me personally if you have any questions. I’ll hope to work with you soon.

The client called me later (without ever being put on hold, I might add) that day and said, “Let’s do it!” Was it my “web chops” that got me the job? Nah, any developer can code a site. My “customer service chops” got me the job.

How Your Portfolio Works in These 5 Simple Steps

Recommended Materials & Equipment

1) Daylight Bulb

The main reason we use a daylight bulb is because it matches the colour temperature of ‘daylight’. This keeps the photo looking natural and balanced, which makes it pleasing to the eye.

2) Desk Lamp

A flexible lamp is needed to control where the light is facing. This allows us to control the types of shadows that we create in our photos.

3) Backdrop Paper

The color of the backdrop paper will dictate the mood and atmosphere of your portfolio piece. Be sure to use a smooth paper instead of textured.

4) DSLR or Point and Shoot Digital Camera

Both types of cameras are great, however a DSLR camera offers more flexibility and functions that will be discussed later. In this post, the camera that I’ll be using is the Canon 1100D. I highly recommend this camera for anyone who doesn’t have much experience in using DSLR cameras. It’s low cost, has tons of functions and as you’ll see later it takes great photos. You can see some some photos that I’ve taken with this camera here.

5) Tripod

A tripod is needed to ensure sharpness in the photo. In this case, I used a Gorillapod, which is highly flexible and easily allows you to take sharp photos while keeping your camera at a low distance.