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Archive for July, 2009

Registry Easy: The Ultimate Registry Cleaner?

July 9th, 2009 No comments

When it comes to registry cleaners, it can be a daunting task of epic proportions finding exactly what your computer needs. Constantly bombarded with advertisements for new and supposedly advanced speed increasing registry cleaners, it becomes difficult for one to see any difference between them. Riding on a proven track record of satisfied customers, the Registry Easy program appeared to have everything customers could want. But is the Registry Easy software as really powerful as they claim?

Registry Easy

To find out, our investigation began from the perspective of any regular client in need of registry cleaning or system optimization. Upon visiting RegistryEasy.com, certain attributes of this software were quite appealing, including its listed benefits. It is time to find out how well it actually performs – here’s a Registry Easy review.

After download and installation, which were quite simple, the program needed to be put to the test. Loaded on an ever increasingly slow computer, the first glance at Registry Easy was encouraging. Its options were laid out simple enough for even a child to figure out, while still concealing the immense options it possessed.

Before starting the scan, the software was used to create a backup point just in case of any unmonitored deletion that might affect overall functionality. With the click of the auto scan button, the program went straight to work collecting a long list of problems with the registry, not to mention a slew of other issues. At first count, nearly 1,200 separate problems were found and corrected. The whole process was done in just a few minutes, and the backup was deemed unnecessary this time.

Ease of use was a major concern for most users, and the Registry Easy software compensated with a simple yet effective layout. Although the basic scans were easy to perform, it did take a minute or two to figure out the more advanced features. The new registry optimization feature worked seamlessly, although its overall affect seems miniscule compared with the registry cleaning itself.

To lay out our review as easily as possible for those too lazy to read through everything, here are the main pros and cons found with Registry Easy.

Pros:

  • A very user friendly interface that defines ‘ease of use’.
  • The scan itself is quite fast, normally finishing within minutes and providing a comprehensive list that states whether the entries are increasingly dangerous or just a small unnecessary file.
  • Provides a backup point that can reverse the hands of time from any accidental deletion.
  • Most importantly, it actually worked to increase computer speed.

Cons:

  • During the short duration of the scan, system resources are focused on the software and can cause slowed performance of other programs.
  • Although there is a ticket system on their website for support, there is no live person support that is often offered by other registry cleaners.

For those that are still on the wall about making a purchase, remember that the Registry Easy program offers a free scan on their website. If you find that there are numerous problems currently housed on your computer, it is time to take the plunge. With a 60-day money back guarantee, you have nothing but your registry problems to lose.

Categories: Webmasters Resources Tags: ,

5 WordPress Plugins for July

July 9th, 2009 No comments

A new month, a new set of WordPress plugins that add nice features to your WP blog.

1. Sociable – http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/sociable/

This plugin adds social bookmarking and networking image/links to your posts, which allows your visitors and readers to submit them to their favorite one. Gives you a nice list of ~100 social bookmarking sites.

2. Broken Link Checker – http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/broken-link-checker/

I found this plugin the other day, and I must say it’s a must have. It will scan your ENTIRE blog detecting every single outgoing link and will put them in a work queue which will test them to see if they are broken or not, and then alert you to broken links/images and redirect URLs. It’s a great way to clean up your blog of links that lead to dead sites.

3. All in One SEO Pack – http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/all-in-one-seo-pack/

A must have plugin for any blog that wants to excel in the search engines. It will automatically rewrite your meta description and keywords fitting each post giving you the best SEO gains. The best and most downloaded plugin for WordPress to date.

4. CommentLuv – http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/commentluv/

A great way to give back to your readers, by allowing the ability for a commenters recent post to appear under their comment. I’ve been using this plugin for awhile now, and I’m proud to support it. You can signup on the official site at http://www.commentluv.com/ to get even more great features. This plugin is suggested to use with the DoFollow plugin for even more luv.

5. Akismet – http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/akismet/

Packaged with the default WordPress core files, this plugin serves as protection against the thousands of bots and people that like to spam comments on blogs on the internet. It will cross check  a persons comment against their database to determine if it’s spam or not, and will automatically place detected spam into your Spam comments section where you can review each comment to make sure it’s really spam. The accuracy rate is pretty good, as of right now I am getting a 95.67% accuracy rate for my Akismet.

Categories: Others, Webmasters Resources Tags:

Manage Your Business on Your Mac & iPhone Giveaway

July 8th, 2009 No comments
Comments are now disabled. Stay tuned for the follow-up post announcing the winners.

Marketcircle, a company who won an Apple Design Award this year in WWDC09, has teamed up with Six Revisions to give away three packages of the Daylite 3 productivity suite bundled with the Daylite Touch.

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For those unfamiliar with Daylite, it is a business productivity suite designed to help you manage your business and your team: project collaboration, shared calendars, task delegation, and sales tracking, you can do it all from within Daylite’s super intuitive interface. With the award-winning Daylite Touch iPhone app (which won a Macworld Best of Show award), you can do all of this from within your iPhone.

Three randomly selected lucky winners will win a full license of Daylite 3 AND a one-year subscription to Daylite Touch.
How to Participate

To participate, leave a comment about one of the following topics:

    * How do you manage your business and schedule?
    * What tips do you have for being more productive?
    * What kind of hardware/software do you need in order to be productive?

Make sure to leave a valid email address when filling out the comment form because this is how we will contact you once you’ve won.
Giveaway Details

This giveaway will end on July 6, 2009 after which commenting on this post will be disabled. You can only participate once. Please don’t forget to put a valid email address in the comment form email field so that we can contact you if you’ve won.
About Marketcircle Inc.

Marketcircle Inc. develops award-winning business applications for Mac OS X and the iPhone, including Daylite business productivity management software, and Billings, a practical time-billing and invoicing application. Incorporated in 1999, Marketcircle Inc. is located in Toronto, Canada, with partners worldwide.

Categories: Webmasters Resources Tags: ,

10 Things Every Web Designer Just Starting Out Should Know

July 8th, 2009 No comments

There are many aspects of creating a website design. Web designers often have to play multiple roles and be very knowledgeable about building effective and usable site layouts.

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Most of the lessons you’ll learn in web design comes from work experience; learning is an iterative process and there is no better way to gain knowledge than to make mistakes (and then and learning from them).

In this article, we discuss 10 essential and general tips that every novice web designer should know.

1. Optimize Web Graphics for Better Page Load Times

Learn how to optimize your web graphics by selecting the proper format and making sure that it’s as small as it can possibly be. Even though people are advancing to broadband connections, there are still quite a few who use dial-up internet connections. Additionally, with the emergence of mobile device technologies that don’t necessarily have broadband-like speeds, having slow page load times due to image file sizes can turn users off.

Here a general rule of thumbs for picking the right file format: images that have solid colors are best saved as PNGs and GIFs, while images with continuous colors (such as photographs) are best saved as JPGs.

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There are plenty of tools available at your disposal that will help you further optimize your images and lower their file sizes, check out this list of tools for optimizing your images.

By limiting the number of images you use to the bare minimum, being smart about using images, and reducing file sizes as best as you can, you will significantly cut down page response times of  a web page and improve your web page performance.

2. Keep it Clean and Simple

A good web design is not just one that looks visually appealing, but also one that is user-friendly. A clean and simple web design typically ends up being a high-usability web design that is not confusing to interact with.

By having too many site features and components on a page, you risk the chance of distracting website viewers from the purpose of the website. Make sure each page element has a purpose and ask yourself the following questions:

  • Does the design really need this?
  • What does this element do and how does it help the user?
  • If I remove this element all of a sudden, will most people want it back?
  • How does this element tie into the goal, message, and purpose of the site?

Additionally, though it may be super awesome to come up with a new concept or interface design pattern for your website, make sure that the design is still accessible and intuitive to your users. People are accustomed to common interaction patterns, site features, and web interfaces – and if your design is truly unique, make sure it’s not too obscure and puzzling. Be creative, but also keep it simple.

3. Navigation is the Most Important Thing You Will Design

The most essential site feature is the website’s navigation — without it, users are stuck whatever page they happen to land on. With that obvious fact out of the way, we’ll talk about some important points to consider when constructing a navigation scheme.

First, it’s very important to put enough time and a lot of planning on a site’s navigation structure. This is common sense, but it’s still surprising how many web designs take site navigation for granted.

Placement, style, technology (will it use JavaScript or just CSS?), usability, and web accessibility are just some of the things you need to consider when creating the navigation design.

Your navigation design should work without CSS because of text-based browsers. Poke fun of text browsers all you want, but they are still prevalent in many mobile devices. Perhaps more importantly, navigation that works with CSS disabled is accessible (99.99% of the time) via screen readers.

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Navigation should be accessible and usable without the need for client-side technologies such as JavaScript or Flash, which users may not have enabled or installed for various reasons such as security or company policy.

It is imperative that you have a good navigation system in place that is located at a highly-visible location. A good navigation is detectable as soon as the web page loads without having to scroll down the web page. This is where keeping it clean and simple plays a major role: a complex and unconventional design can lead to user confusion.

Users must never wonder, even for a split second, "Where is the site navigation?"

For sites organized in a hierarchical, multi-level manner, make sure that it is easy to navigate from between parent and child web pages. In addition, it should be easy to reach top-level pages (such as the site’s front page) from any webpage.

The main goal of your site navigation is to allow users to get to their desired content with as few actions and with as little effort on their behalf as possible.

4. Use Fonts Wisely and Methodically

Though there are thousands of fonts out there, you can really only use a handful (at least until CSS3 is fully supported by major browsers). Make it a point to stick to web-safe fonts. If you don’t like web-safe fonts, consider a progressively-enhanced web design that leverages sIFR or Cufon.

Keep font usage consistent. Make sure that headings are visually-different from paragraph text. Use white space, tweak line-height, font-size, and letter-spacing properties to make content pleasant to read and effortlessly scannable.

Perhaps one of the things that web designers often get wrong is font-sizes. Because we want to fit as much text as we can in a web page, we sometimes set font sizes to uncomfortably small sizes. Try to keep font sizes at and above 12px if possible, especially for paragraph text. While many people face no difficulty reading small text sizes, think about older users and persons with low-vision and other types of vision impairment.

5. Understand Color Accessibility

After talking about fonts, we also need to point out the importance of using the right colors.

You  need to consider color contrast of background and foreground colors for readability and for users with low-vision. For instance, black text on white background has a high-contrast, while orange text on red background will make you strain your eyes.

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Also, use colors that are accessible to users with particular forms of color-blindness (check out a tool called Vischeck that will help you test for certain types of color-blindness).

Some color combinations work well only when the color is used as a foreground color instead of a background color. Take for example, dark blue text on a pink background versus but pink text on blue background, same colors but different levels of readability and reading comfort. It is important not only to get a good color combination but also to apply it to the right elements on the page.

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6. You Need to Know How to Write Code Yourself

With various WYSIWYG editors flooding the market, it has become as simple as 1-2-3 to design a site. However, most of these editors insert unnecessarily code junk, making your HTML structure poorly designed, harder to maintain and update, and causing your file sizes to bloat.

By writing the code yourself, you come out with clean, crisp, and terse code that’s a pleasure to read and maintain; code that you can be proud to call your own.

Knowing how to use a WYSIWYG or an IDE with a visual preview does not excuse you from learning HTML and CSS. You have to know what’s going on in order to create effective, semantic, and highly-optimized web designs.

7. Don’t Forget Search Engine Optimization

A good designer should always remember to keep the basics of SEO in mind when designing a site. For example, structuring web content so that important text are represented as headings (i.e. page title and logo). This is where learning how to code properly comes in handy. Knowing correct, semantic, and standards-based HTML/CSS – you will quickly realize that divs are better than tables for web layouts not only for accurate representation of site content, but also for search engine rankings; you will also know that CSS background text image replacement is a good idea.

8. Understand that People are Impatient

People on an average spend only a few seconds before deciding whether they want to read more or navigate away to another site. Therefore, you as a web designer have to device a way for encouraging users to choose the former option within those precious seconds.

Know that not many visitors will scroll down to view the entire contents of the page if what they see at the top does not interest them. Remember to keep your important elements on the top where they are easily visible, but also do not overcrowd the top half of the page which can intimidate users and turn them off from reading further down the page. Consider the top half of a web design a selling point: be a salesman, make people buy into the notion that they want to see what else is on your site.

9. Learn About (and Be Aware of) Browser Quirks

One of the things you must know as a web designer is that your work operates in a finicky and unpredictable environment: web browsers. It’s not enough that your designs work on a few web browsers, they need to work in as many browsing situations as you can possibly afford. Before production – test your prototypes using tools like Browsershots.

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10. Make Designs that are Flexible and Maintainable

A good web designer makes sure that the site can easily be updated or modified in the future. Designing websites that are malleable and easy to maintain is a sign of a great web designer. Make your work as modular as possible by separating style from structure.

Know that our industry is dynamic and still young – things change in a very short amount of time. Keeping this thought in mind will promote the creation of flexible web designs.

12 Essential Rules To Designing A Logo

July 6th, 2009 No comments

The logo is the face of any brand — the very first impression — so its design is extremely important.

When executed correctly, a logo is a powerful asset to your client’s brand.

However, creating an effective visual representation of a brand requires much more than just graphic design.

Like any line of work that involves a set of specific skills, logo design requires plenty of practice and experience for it to be successful; knowledge is definitely power for any graphic designer.

For this reason, we have outlined 12 essential rules to follow in order to design an effective logo.

 

1. Preliminary Work Is a Must

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Preliminary sketches are an important first step in designing an effective logo.

These can be as simple as paper and pen drawings or drafts made using a vector program, such as Illustrator.

The bottom line is that you compromise the final result if you rush, or skip, this step.

Start with 20 to 30 sketches or ideas and then branch out to create variations of the original ideas.

If nothing seems to work, start over and begin sketching new ideas.

An effective graphic designer will spend more time on this preliminary work than any other step in the design process.

2. Create Balance

Balance is important in logo design because our minds naturally perceive a balanced design as being pleasing and appealing.

Keep your logo balanced by keeping the “weight” of the graphics, colors, and size equal on each side.

Though the rule of balance can occasionally be broken, remember that your logo will be viewed by the masses, not just those with an eye for great art, so a balanced design is the safest approach.

3. Size Matters

When it comes to logo design, size does matter. A logo has to look good and be legible at all sizes.

A logo is not effective if it loses too much definition when scaled down for letterheads, envelopes, and small promotional items. The logo also has to look good when used for larger formats, such as posters, billboards, and electronic formats such as TV and the Web.

The most reliable way to determine if a logo works at all sizes is to actually test it yourself.

Note that the smallest scale is usually the hardest to get right, so start by printing the logo on a letterhead or envelope and see if it is still legible.

You can also test for large-scale rendering by printing a poster-sized version at a print shop.

4. Clever Use of Color

EXTERN_0001 Color theory is complex, but designers who understand the basics are able to use color to their advantage.

The basic rules to keep in mind are:

  • Use colors near to each other on the color wheel (e.g. for a “warm” palette, use red, orange, and yellow hues).
  • Don’t use colors that are so bright that they are hard on the eyes.
  • The logo must also look good in black and white, grayscale, and two colors.
  • Breaking the rules sometimes is okay; just make sure you have a good reason to!

Knowing how colors evoke feelings and moods is also important. For example, red can evoke feelings of aggression, love, passion, and strength.

Keep this in mind as you try out different color combinations, and try to match the color to the overall tone and feel of the brand.

Playing around with individual colors on their own is another good idea. Some brands are recognizable solely by their distinct color.

For example, when you think of John Deere, you think of the “John Deere green” color, and this sets this brand apart from its competitors and, more importantly, makes the brand all the more recognizable.

5. Design Style Should Suit the Company

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You can use various design styles when creating a logo, and to pick the right one, you should have some background information about the client and the brand.

A recent trend in logo design is the Web 2.0 style of 3D-looking logos, with “bubbly” graphics, gradients, and drop shadows.

This style may work well for a Web 2.0 website or tech company, but may not be effective for other kinds of brands.

Research your client and its audience before you begin your preliminary work.

This will help you determine the best design style from the start and save you from having to return repeatedly to the drawing board.

6. Typography Matters… a Lot!

Choosing the right font type and size is much more difficult than many beginner designers realize.

If your logo design includes text, either as part of the logo or in the tagline, you will need to spend time sorting through various font types — often, dozens of them — and testing them in your design before making a final decision.

Try both serif fonts and sans-serif fonts as well as script, italics, bold, and custom fonts.

Consider three main points when choosing a font to accompany your logo design:

  • Avoid the most commonly used fonts, such as Comic Sans, or else your design may come off as amateurish.
  • Make sure the font is legible when scaled down, especially with script fonts.
  • One font is ideal, and avoid more than two.

Strongly consider a custom font for your design. The more original the font, the more it will distinguish the brand. Examples of successful logos that have a custom font are Yahoo!, Twitter, and Coca Cola.

7. The Goal IS Recognition

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The whole point of creating a logo is to build brand recognition. So, how do you go about doing this?

Well, it varies from case to case, but the goal with the logo is for the average person to instantly call the brand to mind.

A few examples of this are the logos for Coca-Cola, Pepsi, McDonald’s, and Nike.

Just a glimpse of any of these logos is all you need to recognize the brands.

The key to making a popular and recognizable logo is to combine all of the elements discussed in this article: size, style, color, typography, and originality.

Overlooking any of these during the design process will impair the quality of your final design. Examine your own logo design and see whether it meets all of these criteria.

A quick test to determine if your logo is recognizable enough is to invert it using any graphic design software and see if you can still recognize the brand. Additionally, you should mirror the logo and see if it’s easily recognizable in this state.

Keep in mind that logos aren’t always seen head-on in real world situations, for example, on the side of a bus or a billboard that you drive by.

Therefore, you should make sure to view your logo design from all angles and ensure that it’s recognizable from any direction before submitting it to your client.

8. Dare to be Different

To stand out from the competition, you must distinguish yourself as a designer with a distinct style. Rather than copy another design or style, be innovative and stand out from the crowd.

So, how can you be different? Try breaking the rules of design and taking risks.

Try a variety of styles to find the one that works best for your client. Try different color combinations until you find one that makes your design truly original.

Have fun with the design program you use, and keep tweaking the design until you feel you’ve got it right.

9. K.I.S.S. (Keep it Simple, Stupid)

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The simpler the logo, the more recognizable it will be.

For example, the Nike swoosh is an extremely simple logo and is also one of the most recognizable in the world.

Follow the K.I.S.S. rule right from the start of the design process, when you are brainstorming ideas and doodling sketches.

Often, you’ll find that you start with a relatively complicated design and end up with a simpler version of it in the end.

Work the design down to its essentials and leave out all unnecessary elements.

10. Go Easy on Effects

Adobe Illustrator, Freehand, Photoshop, and other graphic design programs are extremely powerful tools and have many filters and effects that you can apply to your logo, but don’t get carried away!

There’s a time and place for these powerful tools, but it is not necessarily to design a logo.

Of course, playing around and seeing whether they enhance a logo is fine, but just remember that simplicity is key.

11. Develop a Design “Assembly Line”

To produce consistently high-quality logos, you need to develop your own design process, or “assembly line.” This should include the following steps:

  • Research
  • Brainstorm and generate ideas
  • Preliminary sketches
  • Develop vector designs
  • Send to client
  • Add or remove anything the client wants
  • Finalize the design and resubmit to client

Although you may want to tweak the order slightly, you should follow these basic steps with each logo design.

This will help you streamline your work, stay organized, maintain focus, and deliver better quality and more consistent results with each job.

12. Use Other Designs for Inspiration Only!

The last rule for designing an effective logo is quite simple: don’t copy other designers’ work! While there’s nothing wrong with being inspired by other designers, copying another person’s ideas or work is morally and legally wrong.

Gallery websites exist that let you use vector art images free of charge, with proper attribution under the Creative Commons License, but I strongly recommend not going this route.

These websites can be helpful for getting ideas during the brainstorming stage, but you’re better off starting your design from scratch and making it 100% original.

Categories: Designing Tags: ,

Free Website Style Guide Photoshop Template

July 6th, 2009 No comments

If you are a website designer, you probably know that a style guide should be a core element of every professional website design and development process. Having a clear and well prepared style guide can save an enormous amount of time for developer and save the designer from having to explain the design details over and over. I have created a blank website style guide template.

Download it exclusively from Sharebrain:  a fully layered, well documented, blank Photoshop PSD template, with all design elements, typography tags, comments, ads, poll and many more, to speed up your design process and make your developers happier. It’s well documented layers make it super easy to adjust it to your needs, apply layer styles and add colors or effects as needed. Using the 960px grid system with guidelines makes layout rearranging a matter of seconds.

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Features:

– 960px grid system with photoshop guidelines
– Header with Logo, Company name and company slogan
– Two level menu
– Two column layout with right sidebar
– Headline tags H1 – H4
– Typography formatting, including hyperlinks
– Category and Tags
– Video player with FlowPlayer layout
– Inline Image
– Quote box
– Social Bookmark icons
– Comments with avatars and comment form
– Search box
– Poll with voting results, Events with calendar icons, Ads and
Comments blocks in sidebar
– Footer with main menu links

Now please do 3 things:
a. Download it & use it 🙂
b. If you like it, tell everyone about it so we can bring you more freebies.
c. Share your designs with us in comments to this article.

Great Designers Steal?

July 6th, 2009 No comments

You often hear designers say, “Good designers copy. Great designers steal.”

Well, anyone who says this is one of three types of designers:

One who copies, one who steals or one who admits that not copying and stealing is hard but still tries not to anyway.

For some reason, a lot of web designers believe that there’s nothing truly unique left to create and that there is no such thing as originality.

I disagree, or at least I don’t want to accept that notion. You shouldn’t either.

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Designers who copy

These people are at the bottom of the design pyramid, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. You have to start somewhere.

Designers who copy are novices who haven’t yet grasped what makes a great design great, and so they imitate.

They frequent web galleries, pick a site they like and find a way to recreate and adapt it to the project at hand. This is how anyone learns anything. In fact, this is how we learn to, among other things, walk and talk as babies. We imitate to build a foundation of experience.

My very first website was a fan site for the anime Dragon Ball Z, which I loved as a kid. In the process of creating this site, I taught myself HTML by copying the code from another Dragon Ball Z site that I liked.

I literally copied and pasted all of the code, but then I went through it line by line, learning what each tag did. By the time I designed my next site, I was able not only to understand code but to create my own code from scratch.

Designers who steal

These are, of course, the people who say, “Good designers copy. Great designers steal.” Filmmaker Jim Jarmusch once said:

“Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light, and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is non-existent. And don’t bother concealing your thievery; celebrate it if you feel like it.”

This sums up these burglars well. Once a designer has copied another’s design and feel they have a grasp of what makes a great design great, their natural inclination is to go and create their own great and unique design.

But they soon discover that doing that is not as easy as the other designer made it seem. They learn that the dirty secret of many great designers is that they steal.

In design, to steal is to take inspiration from other people’s work. Designers who steal may frequent online design galleries, like designers who copy, but they know how to hide their sources.

“The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources.” —Albert Einstein


They take only pieces of sites or just the overall concept or theme of something. In 2003, designer Cameron Moll wrote an article titled  “Good Designers Copy, Great Designers Steal” in which he shows the source of a logo he created.

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Moll explains:

“The chances of someone else having used this particular piece of clip art were very slim. And the chances of the intended audience — or anyone else, for that matter — being familiar with such a piece were even slimmer. Translation? A perfect source for stealing.”

Designers who try not to copy or steal

It’s a fact that we can’t help but be influenced by our surroundings. Designers steal all the time without realizing it.

A designer may look at the curvy lines of Moll’s logo above and months later may create a logo very similar to it without actually recalling where they got the idea from.

Designers in this category are aware of this habit. They know that creating something truly unique is almost impossible, but they try anyway.

To try, they may start by looking at online print galleries, instead of web galleries. They may also begin looking at package design, architecture, photography, nature—anything but web design—in an attempt to be authentically inspired rather than simply steal.

They look not just for design that works but rather for ways to make designs better.

After walking around a park in search of inspiration for a blog on nature, a designer may find him or herself using images of grass and soil to dress up the footer of the site to look like ground. They might add some birds to the header.

Or, after sitting on a bench and noticing the relationship between foreground and background, they might play around with the user’s sense of perception.

The further a designer who seeks inspiration moves away from web design, the more likely their designs will turn out truly original.

To sum up…

The pursuit of originality on the web is not a lost cause. The web industry is still young, and some things have yet to be attempted.

Once you understand the basics of design, try to think outside the box, and try new and different things. Be atypical and unique. Experiment. Don’t be afraid to design from the heart. But keep this in mind:

“Things which are different in order to be different are seldom better, but that which is made to be better is almost always different.” —Dieter Rams

In our striving to be unique and original, trying different things for their own sake is okay because they could potentially lead to better things. It’s a lot like throwing darts at a target blindfolded. You may never hit the target, but you just might learn something in the process. But do try hard to make something better than just different.

Not too long ago, people thought the Earth was flat and the center of the universe. Not too long ago, either, designers used the <blink> tag and used tables to build websites.

Theories and conventions are always being questioned, challenged and broken, and they should. If you believe a better way is possible, you will often find your way to it.

“The most innovative designers consciously reject the standard option box and cultivate an appetite for thinking wrong.” —Marty Neumeier

Navicat Premium Cross-Database Admin Tool (License Giveaway & 50% Special Discount)

July 3rd, 2009 No comments

Navicat, an impressive database admin tool which has versions to manage specific databases is now offering an unique tool named Navicat Premium which can manage:

  • MySQL
  • PostgreSQL
  • Oracle
  •     

within a single application with amazing features.

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Navicat Premium allows you to control these 3 database types like they are the same & saves you too much time. You can:

  • drag’n drop tables from Oracle to MySQL, PostgreSQL to MySQL and vice versa
  • schedule operations for different databases such as print report in MySQL, backup data in Oracle and synchronize data in PostgreSQL to run automatically
       

The application comes with all the nice features of the Navicat family:

  • advanced import/ export wizard
  • query builder
  • report builder
  • data synchronization
  • backup
  • job scheduler
  • & more
           
  • For anyone who works cross-database, Navicat Premium is a must-have software that removes all the headache of working with multiple applications & compatibility problems between databases.

It is available for two platforms – Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X.

Categories: Webmaster Tools Tags: ,

Instant iPhone Compatible Websites: iWebKit

July 3rd, 2009 No comments

iWebKit is an open source toolkit for creating iPhone / iPod compatible websites very easily & quickly.

It is simplicity lies under the usage of basic html that anyone can edit rather than more complicated Ajaxed solutions.

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The toolkit has support for:

  • iPhone-style form elements (like on/off checkboxes)
  • pop-ups
  • fullscreen
  • & more..
       
  • It is possible to theme the interface besides the standard iPhone theme & the download package comes with various ready-to-use themes.

And, websites created with iWebKit are compatible with the latest iPhone OS 3.0.

Create Fireworks in Flash

July 3rd, 2009 No comments

This article was submitted by Enric Godes, project manager at Vasava, a design studio. Godes and Vasava were commissioned by Adobe Software to create this tutorial.

Today we’re going to develop a virtual fireworks display in Flash.

To follow along, you’ll need:

How to Proceed

Step 1: Change the Flash movie to 800×600 and 65 fps.

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Step 2: Draw a 4 px circle and transform it on symbol by pushing F8.

Step 3: Edit the MovieClip and animate it from left to right on a straight line. These are the sparks eminating from the center of the individual fireworks.

We used a shape interpolation for this. Later, you can also try varying animation types and change the timing to create different results. Insert a stop on the last frame.

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Step 4: Find the MovieClip on the library and right click to open the properties window on the class field and change it to “Particle"

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Step 5: Make a new symbol and put it on the scene. On the properties window, change it to "nightSky." This is where we will put the fireworks.

Step 6: And now the coding. First, import the classes we are going to use

import caurina.transitions.Tweener;
import flash.events.*;

Step 7: Next, define the movie vars.

var fwParticlesCount:uint=200; // particles in each explosion
var fwTimer:uint=2000; // time between explosions
var timer:Timer = new Timer(fwTimer);
// this adds a timer, in each step of the timer it will call fire() function
timer.addEventListener(TimerEvent.TIMER, fire);
timer.start();

Step 8: We want to use a lot of random numbers, so we created the following function to save some time.

function randRange(min:Number, max:Number):Number {var randomNum:Number = Math.random() * (max – min + 1) + min;    return randomNum;}

Step 9: And now the main function, which is putting the particles in a circle, animating them and setting their opacity and position.

function fire(event:TimerEvent){

    // the origin coordinate for the firework
    var x0:uint=randRange(100,700);
    var y0:uint=randRange(100,500);
    // now i’m going to create and define the properties of each particle in the firework
    for(var i:uint=0;i<fw Particles Count;i++){
           var tempParticle:Particle=new Particle();
           tempParticle.x=x0;
           tempParticle.y=y0;
           tempParticle.rotation=randRange(0,360)
           tempParticle.scaleX=tempParticle.scaleY=randRange(.3,1)
           //add to the stage
           nightSky.addChild(tempParticle)
           //the particle is going to start with the animation you prepared on the Movie Clip
           //then with a little delay the Tweener animates the y an opacity,
           //onComplete remove the mc from stage and deletes the particle
    Tweener.addTween(tempParticle,{y:y0+200+randRange(50,50),alpha:0,delay:1,time:2,transition:"easeInSine",onComplete:function(){nightSky.remove Child(this);delete this}});

                                  
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That’s all you need to do. Now just sit back and enjoy the show!

  Enric Godes is a project manager at Vasava. Started in Barcelona in 1997, Vasava is a   communication studio with 18 young designers who specialize in cross-media projects: print, web, motion, 3D animation, and video. To unleash creativity and meet the deadline-driven demands of clients, Vasava relies on the integrated, cross-discipline tools found in Adobe Creative Suite Master Collection software.