Archive for the ‘Tips and Tutorials’ Category

5 Reasons Not To Resize The Browser Window

July 23rd, 2009 No comments

Some website developers prefer to resize the browser window of the visitors, without their permission, to display their own creativity in terms of flash, presentations and other graphics in either a full screen window or a browser window size that best displays what they have created. These developers either just do not know that it annoys most of the visitors, me included, or may be they never gave it a thought. Its impact on a business is even more, when a designer does something similar with their site or presentation, it ends up annoying the visitor who could also have been a potential customer and drives them away from the site.

If you are a wanna-be web designer, already established or an experienced designer, I put forward a list of reasons which tells you in clear terms that you should not follow this practice, give it a thought and you may agree with me if you think from a visitor’s point of view.

  • It’s annoying – You may have never asked people who visit your or your client’s website but you should know that many people don’t like their browser window being resized without their consent.
  • Increased screen resolution – Gone are those days when people used to have 640×480 or a maximum of 800×600 screen resolution. Computers have become a lot more cheaper now and that also includes monitor. Screen resolutions have increased and on an average over 90% of computers use anything over 1024×768 pixels resolution.
  • It’s not your browser – It’s your visitor’s browser, not yours! Period! If you can not help it and must resize the browser window because you want to show them a very large drawing picture or a design of some mechanical instrument, first display a notice to let them know and only after they click on it you should change the browser window size. Makes sense?
  • Resizing everything? – If you rely on a javascript to detect and adjust your site’s content according to screen resolution or size of browser’s window and if a visitor does not has javascript enabled [~5% don’t], you may not be able to do that. It may end up cluttering the layout. Don’t you think so?
  • You’ll lose visitors – Visitors don’t like to see their browser window getting resized without any notice, they might end up closing your site and never want to come back again.

10 Tips For Surviving The Economic Downturn

July 16th, 2009 No comments

The immediate challenge for smaller web design companies is how to attract new business and keep old clients in a downturn economy.

Customers are falling off of maintenance contracts and smaller businesses may not be looking to start a website right away.

Enterprise level clients are becoming more price-conscious. What can we do to make sure our collective heads stay above water in this tough climate?

Here are 10 tips to survive the economic downturn.


1. Contact Your Clients

Some businesses are actually afraid to contact their clients in a downturn because they don’t want to be the next casualty on their cost-cutting lists.

If someone is going to jump the boat, they’re going to do it anyway and a phone call from you may actually stop them from leaving rather than encouraging them. Call your past clients up, ask how their businesses are doing and ask them if you can help them out with anything that they may be considering on the web front.

Reinforce that your business is stable and you’ll be there for them.

2. Reinforce Your Value

When your potential clients sit down and plug in the math to justify an in-house designer versus an outsourced designer, the outsourced one will win every time.

No employment premiums, no benefits and no major ongoing costs once the project is done. If they are relying on in-house staff in other roles to maintain the website, chances are good that updates aren’t being done on time if at all.

Your services don’t cost your customers money, they save them money in the long run.

3. Look at Your Pricing

If you are noticing a lot of clients dropping off your roster and not a significant amount of new business, reevaluate your pricing plans and packages. Are they clear? Do they fall in line with what other web design companies are charging in your area? A quick market survey of other businesses in your area will tell you what you need to know.

While you should never compete on price, you should check once in a while just to make sure that your pricing isn’t way out of line with the competition.

Don’t make your pricing the lowest on the block either. You don’t want the clients that are looking for the cheapest game out there. Somewhere in the middle is where you want to be in order to attract clients and still make money.

4. Stay Profitable

It is just as important to make sure that you are making money as it is to ensure that your services are priced in line with the market. This rate calculator is an excellent gauge of how much you should personally be making based on your expenses.

If you aren’t there yet, or don’t think you will be there at your current rates, it’s time to reevaluate.

5. Choose the Right Add-On Services

We can all agree that add-ons are a great moneymaker regardless of economic times.

Make sure that you add services that you know you can provide; for example, you don’t want to turn yourself into a web hosting service if you only have very basic knowledge of web hosting.

Client pressure can often push us into business decisions like this that we just aren’t ready for. Outsource anything that you aren’t 100% comfortable with.

This is the time to consider adding social media to your roster. You can read more about it in our article here.

6. Don’t Use the Recession in Your Marketing

Not only will your message be dated when there is an upswing, this kind of marketing just reinforces the “don’t buy anything” reflex that businesses have during economic downturns.

People who want web design services base their buying decision on a combination of reputation, service, and price. Throwing extra concerns in just confuses the message.

7. Go after Larger Companies

Smaller businesses that aren’t financially viable to start with are the first casualties in a downturn.

You have to retool your model to go after, and keep, larger customers. Designing a site for a mid-sized company is the same as doing a site for a small business, with only some minor exceptions.

Upper management requires metrics to show the performance of the site, an easy enough thing to do since most of you are already set up with web analytics programs. Include the fact that you have reporting tools in your marketing message and larger companies will jump on board.

Keep in mind that larger companies will require more of your time in the design process than smaller companies and quote accordingly. Ask the company to appoint a project manager to deal with your company during site creation and maintenance so that their message isn’t diluted by various stakeholders.  This way you spend less time defending project decisions and more time designing.

8. Form Strategic Alliances

Competition between web design businesses is usually friendly.

Call up a bunch of web design companies in your area and see if you can help each other out. You may have Flash skills that another company can hire you for. They may have more SEO experience than you do and they may be able to handle your SEO requests.

Just make sure that you bring something to the table so that the references aren’t all one-way.

9. Reduce Your Overhead

Make a list of the stuff that you currently pay for that isn’t 100% necessary for your business.

Ongoing costs like magazine subscriptions should be the first on the chopping block. After them, focus on items that save you money and help the environment, like going with a printer cartridge recycling service instead of buying new cartridges.

10. Focus on Staff

Reducing staff should be a measure that you only take if you think your business is in serious trouble.

While layoffs may be the order of the day for large businesses, smaller web design businesses should be focused on reassuring their staff and contractors that there will be continuing work for them. Talk to them and see if they want to work different hours, take classes to upgrade their skills or anything else.

While you probably can’t offer huge raises right now, flexible hours and free courses are great incentives for your staff that will keep them happy and working hard for you.

If you are the only “staff” at your business, don’t forget to take some time off yourself. A lot of web designers are in “panic mode” right now, trying to get as much work as they can. When you take on too much, your efforts are diluted and the quality of your work suffers.


There are a million small things that you can do to save money and stay viable in an economic downturn.

The most important thing that you can do is use this opportunity to develop good business habits, like paying attention to customer retention and keeping your expenses lean.

The things that you can do to help yourself and others out during a recession are usually the things that you should be doing in business all along – it’s just easy to forget about them when times are good.

Writing an effective “About Me” page

June 23rd, 2009 No comments

You are embarking on a new adventure…your very own website! You may have something to sell, something to tell, or just might want to be on the Internet for some other reason, or just because everyone else seems to be.
Regardless of the reason, there is one thing that all web sites
need, whether it is corporate or personal, and that is an “About” page.about
If you have a corporate, or business web site

, your “About” page will be about the company you have, or the products you are trying to sell. If it is a personal web site
however, the “About” page is usually about YOU.
So, what makes a good “About”, or “About me” page? First of all, I think your audience needs an introduction from you, so I would start with telling everyone, just who you are, and something about your background, and that will include:

   1. Where you came from?
   2. Where you were born and when?
   3. Who your parents were?
   4. What they did (if relevant)?
   5. How you were raised?
   6. You can speak about your religious background if that is appropriate.
   7. Where you are educated?
   8. Did you go to university? If so, what degrees did you earn?

This provides your reader with some idea of where your currents thoughts/ideas might have been formulated.

Try to make these factual statements about yourself entertaining, or at least well-structured and interesting to read. Don’t forget, you are laying the groundwork for someone to read your biography. In doing so, they will continue on reading being interested in what else you have to say on your website.

Now you have provided the reader with your background, begin telling the reader:

    * Why do you have this web site of yours?
    * What are your goals in providing this information?
    * Why information are you trying to impart?
    * What audience are you trying to reach?
    * What message are you trying to pass along to people who reach your web site?
    * Are you interested in trying to convince someone of something?
    * Do you have a cause you are promoting? If so, where in your background would you have reason to promote the cause?
    * Are you published?
    * Are you the creator of some wonderful invention?
    * Are you the son/daughter of someone famous with a need to correct some misconception of your parents?

These are all questions you should ask yourself when writing an “About me” page. The length of the page will depend entirely on your depth of experience in life and what you are representing. I suggest you take a look at as any web sites as you can to get ideas. See what other people have to say about them selves. Check out the “About me” pages for the famous, and not so famous. Which do you like, which “About me” holds your interest, which speaks to you and leaves you with a longing for the life just led. These are the pages that spring off the screen and truly tell you something about the person. Yours should do the very same thing. Good luck and I can’t wait to read all about you!

Hit a Plateau? 4 Ways to Improve Your Skills

June 8th, 2009 No comments



As freelancers, we’re often only limited by our imagination, so it can be difficult to see whether we are progressing in our given field. Sure, we can produce some great logo designs or write an article, but we were able to do that a few months ago as well. In order to stand out in a sea of talent, it’s often the case that you need to take your skills to the “next level,” something far easier said than done.

Today I want to look at plateaus in terms of ability, and four tried and tested methods to help you get through them. The journey of mastery is an on-going process, but there are lots of ways to improve our talents along the way.

1 — Slow Down

I’m not sure if this is common across the board, but I can have periods of a few weeks or more when I’m really productive, I’m firing on all cylinders, and everything is going smoothly. Then, for no known reason, I’ll start putting things off, focusing on the easy work so I can skip the hard and checking my email just to feel busy.

Put simply, the dreaded p-word kicks in. Yeah, you know the one…procrastination.

This type of slowing down is usually due to a lack of self-discipline, and not what I’m referring too here. Instead, in order to improve your skills, one effective technique is to stop rushing through your work habitually, and slow down to focus on specific actions.

Once World Champion speed-typist, Albert Tangora, would intentionally type at half his normal speed for a few weeks whenever he hit a plateau. He took time to get the feel for what he was doing, and once he started pushing himself again, he found that he easily broke his previous records.

Improving your skills isn’t always about frantically trying to push your limits further and further. Sometimes it’s good to slow down, really focus on what you are doing and take everything in.

There are lots of ways you can implement this ’slowing down’ into your routine, depending on what you do:

  • Chase the smaller, easier clients for a while instead of the big fish
  • Write your articles slowly, with more care and attention
  • Obsess over your lines of code and really force yourself to think about what you are doing

The aim here is to try to turn-off the auto-pilot and concentrate on specific actions at a slower speed. You may only need to do this for a very short time-frame to notice improved results.

2 — Go Back to Basics

The process we have each used to build our current ability is quite honestly, just a case of trial and error. Our mind stores our successful actions and over time these successes become natural. You can look at driving to see a good example of this. Once you have been driving a car for a while, you don’t need to think about when to use the clutch or change gear, you just know.

One of the reasons we can hit a plateau (or at least feel like we have) is because we have forgotten what it feels like to succeed. We’ve forgotten what it is like to notice our own improvements and achieve things we have never thought possible. We’re often lacking, what scientists call (seriously), the winning feeling.

The winning feeling is simply an emotion we get when we accomplish certain tasks. This is a huge necessity for beginners, but when you’re very advanced in your field, it can be hard to know that you’re improving. It’s often the case that the better we get at something, the more critical we become of our own work; practically eliminating this winning feeling from our realities.

Just for a while, try going back to basics so you can re-live this winning feeling in your chosen field. Write a simple program that you know will do its job, create a website design that doesn’t have any fancy features or write a basic article for a directory that nobody will see. Go back to basics and recall what it is like to prosper.

When you return to your more important tasks, you can start to see how far you really have progressed.

3 — Practice

I know this point is fairly obvious, but obvious just means most are aware of it, not that it is bad. “Practice makes perfect” has to be one of the most common phrases in the English language and for good reason, it’s true.

I recently read Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell and while he missed out one very important point, it was packed with fascinating information. One point that really struck a chord with me were all the examples of talented and successful individuals (in their field) who had spent at least 10,000 hours honing their skills. (10,000 hours, by the way, equates to working on your talent: 5 hours per day, 7 days per week, for just less than 5 and a half years).

What really interested me was that when looking at current professionals such as violinists and pianists, there was not one exception to the rule. There was nobody who appeared to have some God-given talent and didn’t need to practice that much; they all had to put an extreme number of hours in to get where they were.

I think that this in itself really shows the power of practice.

4 — Look at Finished Results

I am under no illusion that I still have a long way to go in order to improve my skills as a writer, but I have definitely progressed a lot over the last few years. One thing that I can recall being very closely linked to my improvements as a writer is when I started to read more books.

I read about one book every week and whether I enjoyed the content or not, I always felt that even just looking at different styles of writing helps me to better my own. This doesn’t just have to be an idea that writers can use though, far from it.

If you’re a designer, look at logo design books or CSS galleries. If you write Facebook applications, look at the developer forums to see how people are doing things or try to dissect what is already out there. Whatever field it is that you are in, take time to look at the end results from other talent, and you’ll no doubt be inspired to improve your own.

If you keep doing this you’ll start to begin to define what is good to you versus the type of work you wouldn’t want to produce, and then use those good examples to benefit your own output.

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The Ten Types of Freelancers: Which One Are You?

June 3rd, 2009 No comments

During my years of working online and interacting with other freelancers, I’ve noticed that most freelancers seem to fit into several personality types. Each type of freelancer seems to have a number of common character traits.

It can be fun and helpful to examine these freelancing personality types. Often times your freelancing personality type can show what makes you act the way you do as a freelancer.

So, what type of freelancer are you?

(This article is intended to take a lighthearted look at the various freelancing personality traits. It is based purely on my own impressions and not any kind of scientific study…)

Freelancing Personality Types

Here are the ten freelancing personality types that I’ve worked with over the years. See if you can recognize any of them. You may even find that you fit into one (or more) of these types.

  1. Loner. The freelancing Loner is exactly what it sounds like – a person who prefers to work alone rather than as part of a team. Often, the Loner desires a quiet or isolated environment. He or she may also work unconventional hours. The Loner may be alone, but usually they are not lonely.
  2. Social Butterfly. The Social Butterfly freelancer is easily recognized by his or her prominent presence on nearly every available form of social media. While most freelancers participate in a few forms of social media, the Social Butterfly is drawn to and active in all forms of social media.
  3. Empire Builder. You’ll probably recognize the Empire Builder because of how quickly their business expands. In a matter of months, it seems, they are expanding their business and hiring others. Often an empire-building freelancer moves out of the realm of freelancing into the corporate realm rather quickly.
  4. Controller. For some freelancers, it’s all about being in control. Generally speaking, a controller does not like to have a boss or manager over them. Controllers work best when they are given a general direction and allowed to make most of the major decisions for themselves.
  5. All About The Money. While all freelancers work to earn their living, this particular freelancing personality is driven primarily by the profit motive. He or she may move into and out of new ventures rather quickly, dropping activities when they discover that an activity does not provide enough profit.
  6. Balancing Act. This type of freelancer is primarily lifestyle driven. They strive for a better quality of life. Often, he or she has other demanding responsibilities in addition to their freelancing work. The Balancing Act freelancer may also value being location independent and being able to set their own hours.
  7. Consummate Professional. To the Consummate Professional, their reputation is everything. He or she wants to be known for the high quality of their work. For this freelancer, getting a byline or other recognition for their work is extremely important.
  8. Anti-corporate. I just recently ran across this type of freelancer. As I was waiting in an airport, I overheard two freelancers talking to each other. “I’m against anything corporate,” the one freelancer said to the other. “I work mainly for individuals and other freelancers.
  9. Experimental. The Experimental freelancer is someone who is trying on freelancing. Often they are looking for a life-change. He or she may have recently lost their traditional employment. Some experimental freelancers will embrace freelancing permanently. Others will move on after a few months.
  10. Semi-retired. The Semi-Retired freelancer is a seasoned professional who has chosen to come out of retirement to freelance. Usually, they have many years of professional experience to offer. Their driving factor is the need to be active and to contribute. Frequently, they prefer to work part-time.
Changing Your Freelancing Personality

If you notice that one freelancing personality type seems to fit you better than the others, ask yourself: “is this personality type good for my business?

If the answer is “no,” don’t panic. All is not lost. You may be able to take steps to change your freelancing personality type.

For example, if you feel that you are too much of a Loner, make it a goal to take on some projects where you must work with others. If you’re too controlling, make it a point to occasionally accept a project where you will have to follow someone else’s direction. If you’re Anti-corporate, ask yourself if you are missing out on lucrative assignments by not accepting corporate clients.

Create Your Own Patterns Online for Free

May 23rd, 2009 No comments

Repper is a free-to-use pattern creator that turns your images into eye-catching designs. First of all, you can load a random example image or upload your own image. Resize & drag the box to change the pattern. And then save your design and download the pattern to your computer.

Patterns generated with the Repper tool are freely available to everybody under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License. This means that you can use it for your own personal projects for free.



3 Beautiful CSS Effects With Tutorials And Source Files By Dragon Labs

May 19th, 2009 No comments

Dragon Labs is featuring 3 beautiful CSS / JavaScript effects that you may want to use in your websites. Here they are:

Codename Rainbows

A solution to create rainbow effects by not using any images.

It is accomplished with the help of some JavaScript and CSS magic to apply a two-color gradient to any text. Shadows and highlights can also be applied.



Codename Putterfish

This is a CSS trick, specially used in menus, that fades any other elements when one of the items is hovered.

Codename DragonFish

It is technique to smoothly change colors and create ambient motion. A nice demo is presented here.

P.S. Rainbow & Putterfish are well-described & source files are offered. On the other hand, DragonFish, currently, only comes with the demo.

Hand-Picked The Best Fonts for Download

May 16th, 2009 No comments

Fontex has spent plenty of hours to compile a list of hand-picked fonts for you. This is an amazing resource for everyone who would like to be presented with amazing free fonts to Download. They are adding some premium fonts on Fontex soon. The site is profesionally designed. With the help of jQuery, the site becomes more interactive as well.


What is Social Bookmarking and How can I get Traffic from it?

May 9th, 2009 No comments

Not surprisingly many businesses up and down the country have invested in compliance programmes and staff training. Business guides illustrate the most important business coherences. Both a regular status report and a concluding management audit will reflect your economic performance.

Getting website traffic isn’t really easy at first especially if your website is brand new. You will need to know the basics of internet marketing and practice the techniques in driving traffic to your website. The main concern is that you’ll be learning the same methods that other people used to get traffic in their pages. If these people include webmasters that offer similar products or services to what you are offering, then you’ll find yourself in a very competitive situation.

Building website traffic is simply marketing your website so that it can market for you. However, website traffic is one thing, but targeted traffic is everything. Building a website is not all you need to do. Once you have a site you need to know how to drive traffic to the site. Building website traffic is simply marketing your website so that it can market for you. However, website traffic is one thing, but targeted traffic is everything.

Social bookmarking is a concept where users ‘tag’ sites of interest. After that happens, these tags show up in two places: the user’s profile, (which looks like a mini-site to other users), and the homepage of the bookmarking network. Social bookmarking promotion is an interesting concept that can be used for enhancing the process of marketing. What marketers can really do is allow sharing of content by the visitors. Social bookmarking produces up-to-the-minute information sources loaded with personal investment and value.

Social bookmarking sites are similar to directories where you can submit websites, but they have social networking and online bookmarking elements to them. Websites that are bookmarked by many users tend to show on the popular results encouraging more people to bookmark them and visit your site. This will give you loads of traffic to fuel your website’s longevity.

Social bookmarking is indeed one of the best techniques that internet marketers and website owners employ these days as part of their website promotion. Aside from the fact that this is a free service, it has already its proven results. Social bookmarking using either categories or tags. Share your bookmarks online or keep them private. Social bookmarking web sites take bookmarking on your web browser to the next level. The content here is user-generated.

Social bookmarking has become very popular in recent years simply because it is useful and fun. It doesn’t only make you remember your favorite websites, but it also shares them to other people so that they can likewise read and enjoy those web pages.

Fancy Form Styling and Advanced Form Functionality

May 7th, 2009 No comments

CSSTricks has created a Website Change Request Form, in order to show off some fancy form styling and advanced form functionality. The form is fully functional, submission can only happen when the required fields are filled out properly. Submission is handled via AJAX, no page refresh needed.

jqTransform is used to help with the styling of the form elements. It completely replaces radio buttons and check boxes with custom graphics, and wraps textareas and text-based inputs in nice styling as well. The submission of all the form elements is SERIALIZED, via jQuery Form Plugin, so adding and changing form elements is easy.



Categories: Tips and Tutorials Tags: ,