How to Increase Your Web Presence: 4 Strategies
Nowadays, most businesses operate online. That being said, operating in the digital world means that you must have a well-established presence on the web. The main reason is that the market is overcrowded with various other companies that are competing for their customers and their spot on the market. That’s why you need to find a way to stand out. However, even though businesses operate in the digital world, not every company has a good online presence.
Just because your business is out there, it doesn’t mean that people will notice it or become interested for that matter. Building a web presence means that you must make your company recognizable online and known to your audience. Otherwise, you’ll soon be outrun by your competitors. Building online presence takes time and effort. There are various strategies you can implement, but you must plan ahead and determine which strategies are best for your business. Therefore, here are a few powerful strategies to increase your web presence.
Build an awesome website
Websites are the core of every modern business. Without a good website, you have no hopes of developing your business further or increasing your web presence. The main reason is that websites are the face of companies. Your leads will eventually visit your website to browse through your company information, as well as your products or services. If you cannot provide an exceptional experience for your website visitors, you can be sure that they’ll abandon your pages and move elsewhere.
Online consumers have certain needs and expectations when it comes to browsing company websites. In other words, your website must be fast, responsive, easy to navigate, user friendly and safe, among other things. Being able to meet consumer expectations won’t just guarantee their satisfaction. Moreover, satisfied customers will more likely recommend you to friends and family, as well as give out referrals to other consumers. That way, your web presence will experience an increase, thanks to the satisfaction of your customers.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is a cost-effective marketing strategy that can help you improve your presence online. Not only that, but it can also help you boost your visibility, credibility and exposure in the online world. SEO helps you optimize your website so that it ranks high on search engines, such as Google. Ranking for the right keywords helps your website appear on the first page of search results. That way, your website becomes more accessible and easily findable by your audience.
In addition, content marketing, guest posting and link building are also excellent SEO activities that can help you increase your web presence. However, consulting with an SEO company may be a good idea if you have difficulties effectively leveraging such activities. In addition, SEO takes time before it starts showing viable results and it requires constant improvements because search engine algorithms oftentimes change. That’s why it’s important not to give up on SEO, because sooner or later, you’ll start seeing the benefits of your efforts.
Build presence on social media
One of the best ways to increase your web presence is through social media platforms. The main reason is that social media allows you to directly communicate with your target audience, while you effectively build awareness for your business in the meantime. Actively engaging in conversations with your audience on social media allows you to establish more personal relationships with them. After all, the more familiar people are with your business, the better your presence and visibility will be.
However, when building presence on social media, it’s important to determine which social media channels your audience prefers. That way, you can focus on networks that have value to your business, instead of wasting resources on building presence on every social network out there. In addition, you can leverage influencer marketing to gain more publicity and exposure. That way, you’ll increase your web presence by having an influencer supporting your business on social media.
Publish amazing content
Content can easily increase your web presence and help you position yourself as an industry expert. Good content is widely accepted by online consumers and it’s always a good way to deliver value to audiences, while gaining recognition in return. However, you must focus on relevancy and quality of your content. The more relevant and useful your content is, the more impact it will have.
That’s why it’s important to ensure that your content is authoritative, informative, educational and entertaining. Otherwise, it won’t yield the results you need to increase your web presence. If you’re not a well-versed writer or you feel preoccupied with some other aspects of your online marketing strategy, you should consider outsourcing your content to an outside agency. They have both the knowledge and the tools needed to create a solid content creation and promotion plan for you and tailor it to your goals. Remember, only impeccable content can go viral and take your marketing efforts to the next level.
Building and improving your online presence requires a lot of dedication and effort. Not everything you do will get you the positive publicity you need to make your business famous. That’s why it’s important to plan ahead and develop a good strategy that will increase your web presence in the best way possible.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful to roll out of bed and instantly be at work without a lengthy commute or hours spent on getting ready? More and more people are working from home these days either remotely for companies or as freelance workers.
According to one survey of 15,000 people, about 43 percent of Americans work at home at least some of the work week. Working from home has a number of advantages, including saving money on your wardrobe, commuting costs and lunches out. At the same time, it can be challenging due to distractions, so make sure you’re prepared for the time commitment before taking on a remote position.
If you’ve already thought it over and you’re sure you want a web-based job you can do from the comfort of your own home office, here are 14 that might interest you.
1. Web Designer
As a web designer, you can either work freelance from your own home office or secure a remote position with a company. Web design has many different facets, and it’s smart to specialize in an area or two, such as user experience (UX) design.
While you don’t technically need a formal education to become a web designer, some knowledge of coding and training in the aesthetics of design will help you build your career.
If you have skill with the written word, look into writing as a full-time career. Many companies hire writers to create content for their websites. You can either collect a number of small business clients or find a company that needs full-time writers.
Degrees in related areas such as education, English and journalism are helpful so that you understand proper grammar and how to put together a story.
3. Cyber Security
As more and more businesses go online and conduct their business there, cybersecurity needs grow. By the year 2024, security analyst jobs are expected to increase by 18 percent.
The majority of work in cybersecurity requires a bachelor’s degree and even some advanced training beyond that. It’s vital that you fully understand how the backend of networks operate and what you need to do to protect companies from external attacks.
4. Medical Coding
You’ve likely heard that you can do medical coding from home. That’s true, but many people start with a local hospital and then work their way into a remote job.
Medical coding pays fairly well, and you can get into it by completing certification. You’ll have to pass a test to show that you know all the codes needed. Be aware that the coding system changes, so you’ll also need to stay up-to-date on training over time.
5. Social Media Marketer
Do you have a knack for social media and a background in marketing? Social media marketing is a position that can be done from home. Similar to writing, smaller companies may require only a part-time marketer, so you may need to work for several companies to reach full-time income status.
Make sure you have a background in marketing and that you understand the details of each social media platform and its typical audience.
6. Virtual Assistant
Are you highly organized? Consider working as a virtual assistant. The work for this type of position is highly varied. You might answer emails for a CEO one day and transcribe a recorded meeting another day. You might have a client who needs you to send out notices to their customers the next week.
You’ll need to be extremely organized and have a wide range of clerical skills to do this type of work.
7. Language Translator
The median pay for interpreters and translators is $47,190 per year. The typical education is a bachelor’s degree, and you’ll of course need to read, write and speak fluently in the languages you’ll translate. Because this type of work isn’t something companies typically need every day, you’ll probably work as a freelancer running your own business.
8. Online Teacher/Tutor
Do you love to teach others? A job as an online teacher or tutor is an excellent option. Be aware that if you plan to teach English to other countries, you’ll likely be required to work hours that make sense in that country. So, if you live in the United States and plan to tutor students in Asia, you’ll need to get up very early in the morning or stay up very late at night to cover your shifts.
Most companies require a teaching degree and/or experience with this kind of work.
9. Phone Support
In today’s economy, consumers expect companies to answer live chat, emails and phone calls 24/7. This demand has created an entire industry for remote workers, which gives you an opportunity.
You don’t need an advanced degree to offer phone support for a company, but you will need good phone manners and a decent speaking voice. If you’re unsure, take some basic voice lessons to help you develop your voice and keep from straining it while talking for long periods of time.
10. Legal Transcriptionist
Do you type fast and have accuracy in your finished product? Legal transcription is a good choice for you, and you can do this type of work web-based. Expect about $20 per audio hour, but be aware that it can take you longer than an hour to transcribe an hour’s worth of audio depending on your typing speed and any accents in the recording as well as other factors.
You don’t need any special training for this position, but you’ll be expected to have good grammatical skills.
If your skills are more in the math realm, take accounting classes and learn to do business bookkeeping. You can complete this work from nearly anywhere. If you work for a local company, you’ll likely need to go into the office sometimes, but you’ll find that much of your work is doable at home. Local community colleges typically offer accounting classes.
12. Life Coach
If you’re skilled at inspiring people to do their best, you may do well as a life coach or personal coach. This type of work requires multiple clients, but you can specialize in areas such as weight loss, academics or personal improvement. All work can be completed online via Skype or messaging. You could also meet clients in your home or at a small local office.
13. Video Editing
There are many opportunities to do this type of work at home. Contact local funeral homes to inquire about their need for a video editor. Most now offer this type of service and may need someone to fill the gap and put in the time it takes to pull all the images and text together as well as add music. You could also freelance and create videos for graduations, birthdays, anniversaries, weddings and other special events.
Many different types of photography exist nowadays. And, you don’t have to be a wedding or portrait photographer to make money with today’s online marketplace. In fact, you can take pictures of nearly anything imaginable, upload them to stock photo sites and make a living. Another option is to commission with companies such as grocery stores and restaurants to come up with recipes and include images for their readers.
Best Web-Based Jobs
These fourteen ideas cover a wide range of skill types and interests. The best web-based jobs tap into something you’re already passionate about. This allows you to work from home while pursuing that interest. If you don’t see anything on the list that interests you, brainstorm about what you like to do and how you might turn that into a career. With a little creativity and a lot of determination, you’ll work from home before you know it.
When you create a website, everything from the theme to the fonts of the website matters. You need to optimize every little aspect and perfect the many things to ensure that your website is user-friendly. This helps you increase conversion rates and boosts your revenues. You may be wondering how a simple font can affect your website performance. Different aspects including readability, appearance, loading time and preference of clients come into play. Clearly, optimizing your fonts is an essential step in your website development process. Here we describe ways to optimize web fonts which will help you instantly boost the appeal and performance of your WordPress site.
1. Use specialized services
There are a number of different services on the web that particularly deal with web font optimization. The matter is of critical importance which is why sites like Typekit and Google Fonts work tirelessly to cater to your needs. These are third-party fonts that help you to customize the fonts on your page thanks to its vast storage of most commonly accessed fonts. You can also use different font plugins which include:
If you don’t know much about CSS, this is the perfect plugin for you. You can use these fonts by opening the theme panel and using the variety of themes present. Each has its own custom fonts that help you chose the perfect font that you require. Plus, it works on different browsers, optimizing your experience.
Which has an elaborate library of fonts for you to choose from. You can also make specialized custom designs and craft special art for your website. The font plugin gives you access to a live preview so that you can have a view of your actual site before everything is updated.
These fonts provide you with the ease of access to a number of fonts. You can easily style le your custom fonts and modify the file according to your preference. They also help to incorporate the fonts into the website, boosting the entire process.
2. Asynchronous loading of web fonts
You can get a blocking request when you are requesting fonts through font-face. To avoid this issue you need to employ different java scripts and call your fonts through them. There will be millions of different styles to choose from however, you need to act wisely. Being a blogger, you tend to find the best ways to craft a user-friendly and efficient website. Here is what you should do in order to optimize the speed of your website:
- Use a variety of java scripts to call the different fonts via font-face
- Use different fonts so that the website can run them simultaneously
- Employ different typefaces to create a user-oriented design that will boost your website performance.
Web fonts create a key role in improving the UX as well as conversion rate of a website. Considering these two factors, even the best online business ideas may suffer from low traffic, high spam score, and high bounce rate due to bad UX and web font loading time.
3. Don’t go overboard with typefaces
Where employing a limited number of typefaces is good for your website, choosing too many is hazardous. It can:
- Delay the loading of your website due to the different number of sets of fonts that the website will need to load every time it accessed the page.
- Decrease the performance of your website because of the burden on the browser.
- Reduce conversion rates due to excessive loading time and poor user interface.
In order to improve the website performance, you need to choose a moderate number of typefaces and pair them together in order to boost your website efficiency. Don’t be smitten by the millions of different styles. Burdening the host with them will result in unnecessary load on your website, considerably decreasing its performance.
4. Use a preload header
You need to be choosy when using this feature because if you add the different resources, the browser picks them all at once which makes the whole thing pointless. On the other hand, if you are selective and choose the selective fonts precisely, a preload header can be very advantageous.
- It helps the browser to load all the fonts excessively fast
- It also helps you easily incorporate the fonts into the site
- Aids the website to load the required fonts optimizing the website performance.
5. Mach your fonts with the browser
Different browsers have different font compatibility, a wise decision is to do your research and chose fonts according to good review. Website builders incorporate a variety of font formats depending on the popularity of the browser. In short, there are 4 types of fonts. They include:
- WOFF, this is the Web Open Font Format, devolved in 2009, it is a true type of font. Developers use it with Metadata and for compression.
- TTF, also known as the True Type Font which has been around since as early as the 80s
- WOFF2, the Web Open Font Format 2 improves on the preexisting fonts and is an improved version of the font.
- Embedded Open Type, often used for the embedded codes in the website. Originally made by Microsoft, it has a major appeal for users.
If you use Google Fonts, a major part of choosing and optimization is done for you. This is because:
- Google has compressed all of its fonts for ease of access
- Google provides the fonts via Google’s CDN improving the speed of delivery
- Is already optimized, but still allows you to make the preferred changes.
6. Cookies are good
- Provide a temporary storage of the loaded character s of the fonts, serving as a temporary memory.
- Improve website loading speeds as part of the fonts were already stored as cookies when you first accessed the page
- Boost website performance and conversion rates thanks to better loading speeds.
7. Limit the characters
There are a ton of characters present in every font you choose for your website. So considering you used 4 fonts, this would mean that the rower will need to load 4 different sets of character. This can lead to:
- Excessive burden on the browser
- Excessive delays due to massive downloading every time a browser accesses the website
- Slower loading time due to the large load
However, if you set the browser to load only the specific character found on the page, the website will load much quicker. Of course, you won’t use the entire set of characters from every font, hence, if you chose a specific font, only the characters showing on the page will load which will decrease the ultimate load on the browser. As a result, your website performance will improve considerably.
You need to consider the many ways you can use to optimize the website fonts. Doing so will help to boost the website performance and will optimize user experience. This will translate into higher conversion rates and increased revenues, benefiting your business. Follow the steps above in order to optimize your WordPress site fonts for better performance.
Designing Websites with Chatbots
Avi Ben Ezra is the CTO of SnatchBot, one of the most popular platforms for creating chatbots. Based on his experience and over 40 million interactions carried out by SnatchBot bots, he believes all good websites need a chatbot.
1. Conversational guides to web content add a whole new dimension to good website design
I believe that conversational user interfaces are the future of websites and I’m happy to see them quickly taking over the web. They provide excellent convenience and guidance for website visitors, who no longer need to dial call centers, submit support tickets or sift through knowledge bases in order to get the answers to their questions.
With conversational interfaces, they can now quickly get in touch with a brand and find precisely what they need.
But, what exactly is a conversational user interface? It’s a user interface that mimics human conversation. You’ve probably already interacted with virtual assistants, such as Siri, Cortana, Google Assistant and Alexa, so you know how well they can carry out a human-like conversation.
This is exactly the idea behind conversational websites: to implement a chatbot, which is a conversational interface, capable of guiding website visitors and providing them with the help they need when they need it. Not only are chatbots capable of answering users’ questions, but they can also provide suggestions based on the users’ behavior and personalize their experiences.
In doing so, chatbots instantly delight people and compel them to come back again. Instead of leaving a particular website frustrated, they’ll be hooked in and they’ll even provide honest and constructive feedback invaluable for further improvement and growth.
2. Chatbots are capable of handling all the features your website design needs
Apart from answering the questions of your website visitors and providing excellent customer support, chatbots can handle various other features on your website. They can process payments, help you build an email list, help you collect data about your visitors and make data-driven decisions regarding your web design.
Chatbots can also easily manage your sales funnel, as they are capable of processing orders as well. Your customers don’t have to browse through your products to find what they need because they can start a conversation with your chatbot and let it do all the work.
It’s really simple: a chatbot asks a customer what they’re looking for and provides instant suggestions based on the product type, color, size, style and price range the customer selected. When the customer is ready to make a purchase, the chatbot can then guide them to the shopping cart and process the payment, at the same time notifying you of the new order.
3. Use NLP to deepen the bot’s understanding
In order for your chatbot to truly understand human language and be able to respond accordingly, it needs to be supported by NLP (Natural-Language Processing). NLP is an area of computer science and AI used to provide a computer program, such as a chatbot, with an ability to understand human language and effectively process the natural-language data.
Without NLP, your chatbot wouldn’t be able to fully understand the context behind typed words and it wouldn’t be able to learn from the conversations it engages in. With a state-of-the-art NLP, such as the one we have at SnatchBot, you can create a really intelligent bot able to learn and recognize speech patterns, so that it isn’t limited only to predetermined questions and answers.
NLP even helps your bot recognize emotions and show empathy. You can program your bot to use empathetic language, which your customers will certainly find both fun and useful.
4. You can still offer live chat if you need it
Implementing a chatbot on your website doesn’t mean that there’s no room for live chat anymore. I personally think that you still need it, because bots are still in their infancy stage and they’re not capable of solving complex problems just yet.
Moreover, there are still a lot of people who prefer communicating with a live agent to engaging in a conversation with a bot. Therefore, don’t make your customers frustrated by not providing them with the live chat option.
However, chatbots can outperform human customer support because they are available 24/7, they provide instant answers, and they can multitask, so no one will ever be put on hold. This is exactly why you need one on your website – they’ll always be there to offer a helping hand.
But, again, you should have both a chatbot and live chat, so that you can meet the needs of all your customers.
5. Make sure your bot is omni-channel
People nowadays expect brands to provide omni-channel service, which is only natural, given the fact that we’re all using various channels throughout the day. If you’re checking out a Facebook page of a particular brand, you want to be able to get in touch via Facebook Messenger, right?
This is especially important to mobile users, as it can be frustrating to keep switching from one channel to the other in order to interact with a brand. It’s even more frustrating for you to switch between different channels when several or more customers are contacting you at the same time.
Also, everyone has different channel preferences. This is why your bot should be omni-channel, like SnatchBot chatbots are, so that your website users can continue the conversation without any friction and access all your content on their favourite channel.
With Snatchbot, you can quickly build your own bot and publish it into any channel you want, which you can do entirely for free. There are no hidden costs down the road. We also have a Bot Store with pre-built bots designed for various industries, so you can go with that option if you’re not tech-savvy or simply find it easier.
Chatbots can really revolutionize websites, but you can’t really to what extent until you implement one and clearly see it for yourself. That’s why I highly recommend you try SnatchBot, because it’s completely free and it will help you create a conversational website that will absolutely delight your users.
With the rise of the web, people’s approach to making purchases has changed significantly. They are now aware of how important they are to small businesses trying to survive in such a competitive marketplace. And, in return for their loyalty, they expect you to provide them with the exceptional buying experience and they won’t accept anything less than that.
Your customers not interested in your products only. Namely, they want to know the story behind your brand, as well. They expect you to answer their questions fast, connect with them on social networks, and create relevant and interesting content. They don’t want to waste their time, either. If your site takes more than 3 seconds to load, they will abandon it and look for your competitors. The same goes for your navigation, mobile-friendliness, content, and the overall visual appeal of your site.
Given all these facts, here is how you should do digital marketing in 2018.
Prepare for the Google Mobile-First Index
If you haven’t heard yet that Google has finally rolled out their mobile-first index, then you’re living under a rock. This has become one of the hottest news in the digital marketing sphere, but what does it actually mean? From now on, Google will focus on the mobile version of your site when indexing it.
So, make sure you optimize your site for mobile searchers. After all, 60% of all web searches are done via mobile devices. Make your keywords longer and more conversational to optimize them for voice search. Use Google’s AMPs to speed up your site significantly. Your navigation should be simpler, while all important elements of your website should be above the fold. For additional information, take a look at what Google says about preparing your site for the mobile-first index.
Do you know that an average U.S. household participates in about 29 loyalty programs? They love them for different reasons- some join these programs to save money, while others want to receive a reward for their loyalty. For some, the availability of rewards programs is the major factor that determines whether they will buy from you or not.
Now, loyalty programs vary and you need to choose the option that works for your target audience. You could give them points or vouchers that can be later redeemed at your stores or offer them exclusive deals for every purchase or referral they make. However, recent studies point out that people have labeled financial rewards or highly targeted incentives far more enticing. So, to make customized loyalty programs, you could offer personalized visa gift cards, with your customers’ names on them or even organize a contest and let them win your premium products.
Focus on User-Generated Content
Let’s face it- people trust other customers more than you. According to the Local Customer Review Survey, 85% of them trust online reviews as much as their friends, while 73% of them will trust your business more if your customers’ reviews are positive.
In light of statistics like this, it’s obvious that user-generated content (UGC) is one of those tactics you simply cannot allow to ignore. After all, it’s your customers that sell your products today.
Use your social networks to invite people to share their own videos of your products or services.
Boost the visibility of this content by sharing it regularly and creating dedicated hashtags.
Most importantly, you need to know what works for each of the social networks you use. Share live stories and videos on Facebook, post photos on Twitter, while the user-generated content your Instagram account could be the combination of these forms of UGC.
Use Social Networks to Offer Instant Feedback
In the past, your communication with your customers was based on phone calls and emails. However, the times have changed and, today, your communication channels cannot be observed in isolation. All instant messaging apps, video conferencing tools, social networks, email providers, and telemarketing strategies are highly intertwined, creating what we call the omnichannel approach to communication.
Today, your customers can move from one device to another uninterruptedly. They can find your phone number on your site and call you instantly, not having to switch between different apps. They can scan your QR code that will lead them to the piece of content they want to read or a product they want to buy. They can stumble upon your business on social networks, read the reviews, ask questions, and follow the link to your site to learn more about you.
If you’re too busy answering your customers’ messages regularly, then hire someone to do so for you. Even better, use a chatbot. Even this is still a pretty new concept, chatbots are predicted to revolutionize the digital marketing industry in 2018. Namely, these AI-powered tools have become smarter and more intuitive. They will provide your customers with relevant, real-time feedback and, at the same time, do all repetitive and time-consuming tasks for you.
You can use social media monitoring tools to keep track of your brand or product mentions. Whenever someone mentions you, you’ll get notified. This is called social listening and it’s immensely important in providing your customers with real-time customers services and collecting their feedback.
Create Interactive Content
Gone are the days when you could write a 1000-word blog post and generate a bunch of links, shares, and comments. We’re living in the era of augmented reality and people expect your content to surprise and excite them. So, update your content strategy with interactive content, the one your customers can actively participate in, such as polls and quizzes. Don’t forget about visual content, especially videos, as they’re expected to account for 82% of the total internet traffic by 2020.
Tell your Customers a Story
You’re not doing content marketing for SEO purposes solely. You’re creating your content for your customers. And, to engage them and get them emotionally involved, each article you write needs to have a good story to back it.
That’s what storytelling is about.
Namely, 92% of people emphasized that they expect all major brands to create ads that feel like stories. Stories share a real-life experience, add the human element to your brand promotion, and evoke nostalgia and empathy. Most importantly, as they don’t seem overly promotional, they will take your relationship with your customers to a completely new, more personal level.
Over to You
Digital marketing is not about promoting your business and ranking higher on Google. It’s also about building and nurturing strong relationships with your target audience. That’s exactly what will set you apart from a sea of businesses similar to yours.
Hope these tips help!
Online education is the future of learning. It solves the problem of not having any usable skill and provides unmatched possibilities for everyone wanting to learn something new. Web design is among the most popular skills learned online, as thousands of people around the world earn a certificate in this area every week using a membership software.
In today’s article, we’re going to talk about everything related to online courses of web design, including types, sources, and selection. With an average salary of web designer of $49,000, the occupation becomes more and more popular.
Hope this guide will be helpful to you to make a great choice of a course and begin your journey in this exciting field.
How Getting Online Education Affects My Employment Chances?
The web has courses for everyone, whether you are a beginner or an experienced designer. They cover all areas of the field, including responsive design, UX, web design essentials, and lots more. However, there are still lots of traditional schools and universities that teach web design.
Naturally, those wondering whether to choose online education begin questioning the credibility of this option. If you’re wondering, too, here is the list of advantages of taking an online course:
- You don’t have to put your life on hold to attend school
- Online courses provide a comparable quality of education
- Many online courses provide certificates recognized by most employers
- Taking an online course is a much more affordable option
- You don’t have to quit your job to pursue a degree online
- You can learn anywhere with an Internet connection
“Because of these reasons, thousands of people choose to learn online,” says Bruce Wilkins, an online educator from A-writer. While getting traditional education remains a great option in terms of increasing your chances of employment, online education can have the same effect.
You just have to choose a known, proven course that provides relevant knowledge. Need some help with that? Read further.
How to Choose Online Web Design Courses
To make a final selection of a course, you should consider the following factors:
- Credibility of the source
- Learning Method
Each of them is equally important; for example, your budget determines whether you seek paid or free courses while credibility of the source may affect the chance of employment. Also, your preferred learning style such as visual has a significant effect on knowledge retention, so choose a course with appropriate materials.
Here’s a list of well-known websites with online web design courses for every budget and skill. All of them have 4+ stars rating given by learners.
Course Title: Make a Website
Cost: Free (pro versions available)
In-Demand Skills: yes
CodeAcademy is a well-known US-based online learning platform that provides web design knowledge for both beginners and experts. It has both free and paid courses (average price of a paid course is $199). The skills provided by CodeAcademy are relevant and updated, so you can be sure that you’ll do well on your first job.
Course Title: Responsive Web Design Fundamentals
Source: Class Central
In-Demand Skills: yes
Class Central is another popular source of knowledge related to web design and development. This class in particular is taught by a web developer from Google, and it great for those starting their way in responsive web design. It is totally free and self-paced, and uses a lot of visuals to represent the information.
In-Demand Skills: yes
Created by the University of Michigan, this course offers a self-paced, customized approach to learning web design. It requires no previous experience in web design and 2-4 hours/week to complete. After completing the course, you’ll know the basics of web design; also, you’ll be able to create a responsive website that uses a wide range of tools to make it as user-friendly as possible.
Course Title: Diploma in Web Design
In-Demand Skills: yes
Choosing a great web design course requires some consideration; for example, it’s better to choose a well-known platform that provides an approach that fits your learning style and good feedback from learners.
In this article, only free courses were provided so you can make a good start without burning a hole in your pocket while still being able to purchase an official certificate to provide to potential employers.
Hope you’ll make a great choice!
Every so often, we all need to pull up TED.com or YouTube and find a motivational talk to give us the strength we need to get through a challenging day or simply for a breath of fresh air. Today, we’re sharing some of our favorites with you. Please leave a comment below and let us know which speeches light that spark for you. We’d love to check them out.
The surprising truth about what motivates us
adapted from Dan Pink’s talk at the RSA
The power of time off
How to use a paper towel
How the worst moments in our lives
make us who we are
The unheard story of David and Goliath
How great leaders inspire action
What makes a good life?
Lessons from the longest study on happiness
Your body language shapes who you are
The price of shame
The dangers of willful blindness
These Are Things’s
How we learned to stop worrying and enjoy the ride
Edible Education 101
The psychology of your future self
The surprising science of happiness
From TED’s Radio Hour:
Brand Over Brain
From TED’s Radio Hour:
The Power of Design
Top 10 Web Conversion Strategies
Here at Cleveland web design firm Go Media, we’re always being asked what we can do to help a website succeed. Online, success hinges on a very simple trifecta: people must find your site, people must use your site, and people must return to your site. Conversion is about people successfully using your website, and returning again and again to go through an additional transaction or sign-up.
Think about it this way. When you are driving your car, you follow the road. You know to obey predictable patterns like traffic lights and stop signs. On a clear, sunny day with little traffic and some amazing tunes, driving is a breeze. You get where you want to go efficiently and actually enjoy yourself. Now, let’s add in a snowstorm, bumper-to-bumper traffic, a screaming toddler who needs to go to the bathroom “RIGHT NOW,” Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star on repeat, no snacks in the car…and no rest-stop signs in sight. We’ve just sucked any possible fun out of that that car.
A website is no different. You want people to get to their destination (i.e. a conversion) as effectively as possible. You don’t want them to turn around mid-way through the ride, and you’d really like for them to enjoy themselves so that they come back again. To accomplish your goal, you need to provide your user with strong, clear messaging and cues. Get them to their destination quickly, with no traffic, snowstorms, screaming toddlers (we do love kids, we promise!), or diversions along the way.
Below are our Top 10 Website Design Conversion Tips:
1. Keep it simple.
Remove any unnecessary clutter on your site. Pay particular attention to your form fields–removing irrelevant messaging means your user focuses on the end goal: the sale or sign-up. Please note though, removing fields does NOT mean confusing your user. Be sure to maintain a sense of sequence and order.
2. Be bold.
Make your call to action pop with color and language. “Click here” within the body copy is so…unclickable. “Sign up now” in a red button, “Start free trial” in a green button, “Add to cart” in an orange button –these are some examples that blow hidden copy out of the water.
3. Put your call to action (CTA) above the fold.
Users can’t click what they don’t see. Ensure your CTA is easily accessible as soon as your user lands on the page. What if a user isn’t ready to click immediately upon landing on your page? On the off-chance they need more time to digest your information, put your CTA handy for them so that they can click when ready. Try keeping your CTA on the page as they scroll or add another area for a CTA below the fold.
4. Size doesn’t always matter.
Yes, your CTAs should pop. But here’s some news– bigger isn’t always better. There are other elements that contribute to a visual hierarchy, such as product placement, white-space, expectations for where buttons will be on the page, etc. Even if your CTAs are large, if they are hidden or don’t follow the flow of the page, your users won’t know where to click.
5. Say what you mean.
Headlines tell your user exactly what they need to know. You want to use your headlines to encourage your desired behavior on the site. Be relevant, show your value proposition, and be clear. If you can do all that and have a sense of humor, we’re hiring.
6. Be real.
Ditch the stock photos and invest in real people. Consumers want to trust you, and they don’t trust what’s fake. A warning: make sure your photos contribute to your work. If they clutter or confuse your key message, remove them.
7. Be real x 2.
Add video to your site–short video! Explain your product as concisely as you can, because a video can actually hurt you if it is poorly done or is far too long. Remember to be approachable in the video. You want your users to aspire to be you, the you that is holding your amazing product. Bonus points if your video is sharable or you utilize user-created content to highlight your product.
8. You’ve got it? Flaunt it.
Has your company earned an award of any kind? Highlight your awards prominently on your website. Consumers will naturally trust the best in the business.
9. Encourage Trust
Use a security seal if applicable to your business. If a user feels secure on your site, chances are they’ll happily shop. (The keyword= applicable. Don’t just add seals if they aren’t appropriate to your site).
10. Read Tip 1.
A clutter-free, straightforward website is really the absolute best way to encourage conversion. Keep your website’s hierarchy clear, use graphics and/or video to further your mission, and ensure that its easy for your customer to convert.
So there you have it! Follow those ten strategies and you’ll be on your way to website success. And remember, your friends here at Cleveland web design firm Go Media are always here to help create the award-winning websites – then maximize the conversions – we all deserve.
How to Hire a Web Design Firm: Ask These Questions Before You Invest
When hiring a web development firm, we here at Cleveland creative agency Go Media are firm believers in looking before you leap. Make the right decision and your financial investment will pay dividends for the long term. This is one serious decision! Knowing that, you’ve got some serious questions to ask to potential firms. Ask this list of exhaustive questions and you can feel confident about your decision.
And of course, all consulting for a new website is free when you come to Go Media, so feel free to start your new search with us!
Recommended Questions for Other Firms:
Get to know your team:
At the end of the day, you want to know if the team handling your work is a cohesive one. You’ll want to ask if they have been working together for years on a reliable web solution, or figure out if there is a middleman that will cause disruption or confusion in the process. Try asking:
- Where is your development team based?
- Is all of your development work handled in-house?
- What is the size of your team?
- How long has your team been working together?
Get to know the technology:
Ask potential firms to give you a little back story on the technology they’ll be implementing. Really get a gauge on their history with the technology and their familiarity with it. Then, get a feel for the back-end. Trust us, you’ll need to have quick and easy access to your website, as well as be able to edit it without having to contact your web development team. Not only will that be an aggravating experience, but an expensive one. Ask:
- Can you tell me a little bit about your history deploying similar websites and what my user experience might look like?
- What might the back-end of my experience look like?
- Can I take a peek at some sites you’ve deployed in the past?
Request it be Responsive:
As over half of websites are now viewed on mobile devices, this is a must-have. This one is simple. Say:
- Will you build my site responsive or mobile ready?
Check into CMS:
Dig deep into the content management system, or CMS, used by the web development firm you’re interviewing. As there are so many on the market, as well as varying fees associated with each, you’ve got to take note. If you ask our opinion, you’ve got to go with the most inexpensive, widely adopted technology that gives you the most functionality. That, to us, is WordPress.
- Tell me about your content management system and the associated fees. Is the CMS proprietary or open source?
What is the warranty?
Because the web is constantly changing, your site will require constant maintenance and upkeep to stay up to the times. Talk to a future web design firm about things like their warranty, maintenance plan, service plan and web hosting. This way, you can feel safe knowing that the firm you have hired for web development will handle this support in the best and the worst of times. Cover these questions:
- What is your warranty, what does it cover and what costs are involved?
This is important, now. When talking pricing remember to ask, ask, ask away and never, never assume. Here are some questions you’ll want to ask right out of the gate to ensure you are communicating clearly and leaving nothing to imagination.
- Tell me about your pricing system?
- Are you project-based or hourly?
- What is your policy for payments?
- How frequently do projects go over budget?
- What happens when extra features are added or work is added over the projects initial scope?
* Side note: many times our clients tell us our proposals are bigger than the average bear. Why, they ask? Well, it’s simple. We get down to the nitty gritty, giving our clients extremely detailed discovery and project scopes, leaving nothing to the imagination. We want to make sure we nail deadlines and accurately meet the budget outlined. Honesty is the best policy. If the web design firm you are speaking with doesn’t provide you with full details, run!
Take a look at the timeline:
Gain an estimate of the time it will take to build the site at hand. Take note, then check with a reference. What’s the estimate they gave their reference? How long did it actually take to build the site? Do some of your own research and be the judge. Does their internal team have the technology down this to a science or a third party at play here?
- What is your estimated timeline to build the site?
Process, process, process:
You want to be sure the firm has thought through their process, as this is crucial to their, and your, overall success. Process, to Go Media, equals quality, consistency and reliability. We have our own detailed 32 step web development process mapped out. But that’s us and we love process!
- Talk me through your design process?
Find out who owns the source files:
You’ll want to know, upfront, if you will have access to your design files upon project completion. Do you they belong to you? The design firm? Should it end badly for some reason and you no longer have access to the files, you’ll wish you would have asked this question earlier.
- Will I be able to access my files upon project completion?
Once your website is launched, you’ll want to track its success. Make sure the firm you’ll hire has metrics built directly into the site, whatever those might be (sales, conversions, traffic, etc.)
- What ways do you track the success of the websites you deploy?
Look out for the Long-term:
Once you’ve made a commitment you’ll want to settle in and stay for the long-term. Choose a company that has some size, stability and staying-power. We suggest a company of six or more. With a firm this size, there will most likely be a couple designers and a couple developers. Even in a pinch, when someone is out sick, you’ll be covered.
- How long have you been in business? How large is your firm?
Ask about the Project Management Piece:
You’ll want to know if a dedicated project manager will be assigned to your project. If so, you’ll have someone on your side building timelines, scheduling meetings, coordinating feedback, reviewing and organizing content, etc. If not, you’ll have some more work on your plate.
- Do you have a dedicated project manager that will be managing this project?
Ask for References:
Last but not least, don’t forget to ask for some references. Like any investment, this is a natural and normal request.
To learn more about Go Media’s web development services visit us at gomedia.us!
Adobe recently announced the release of their HTML5 Pack for Adobe Illustrator CS5. It’s totally free for Illustrator CS5 users. Here’s a quick rundown from their site:
- Efficiently design for web and devices by exporting Illustrator Artboards for unique screen sizes using SVG and CSS3 media queries.
- Create web widgets with Illustrator by generating dynamic vector art for data driven web work-flows.
- Take advantage of the latest enhancements to SVG and Canvas to generate interactive web content.
- Map artwork appearance attributes from designer to developer tools—export from the Illustrator Appearance Panel to CSS3 for streamlined styling of web pages.
It’s interesting that this was released around the same time that Apple relaxed their rules about how iPhone and iPad apps can be developed, specifically in allowing tools like Adobe’s Flash-to-iPhone compiler found in Flash CS5.
In effect, Apple now allows Adobe use their Flash-based tools to develop apps, and Adobe releases tools to allow Illustrator CS5 users to develop non-Flash interactive content for the web — which in particular means developing interactive content for the iPhone and iPad. And of course for Android, since most Android phones still do not have the capability to run Flash content.
Note that this has nothing to do with Flash content displaying on Apple’s iOS devices, but interestingly offers an alternative to Flash for developing interactive web content. The two are only loosely related, but I find the shift in attitude from both companies very surprising and welcome.
I’m glad to see Adobe offering these tools and stepping up to the plate. Sure, they have a lot riding on Flash and would prefer creators to use their proprietary formats. But designers need to have tools to develop in whatever environment is applicable to their project. If a client wants HTML5, Adobe needs to offer the tools to do so before someone else beats them to it.
Adobe Evangelist Greg Rewis has an extended video demonstrating the use of the HTML5 Pack for use on the web. Looks pretty slick:
Recently we published a post regarding Apple’s stance on Flash and their iDevices. The gist of the situation is that Apple has decided they don’t want to be reliant on a third-party plugin for the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch products.
Apple’s suggestion is for developer’s to embrace the new HTML5 specs which are supported by most current browsers, with planned support for HTML5 coming in those browsers that don’t currently support it.
There’s actually two components to this situation: the first being a browser plugin, which allows Flash-based video players and Flash-based websites (or web elements) to run on the Apple devices; the second is the new terms for the iPhone OS 4.0, which basically state that coders must use Apple’s tools to create apps for the platform.
So on one hand, we’re talking about browser content, and on the other we are talking about the App Store.
GoMedia wants to hear from you web devs out there: what’s your take on this? Not being a web developer myself, my thoughts come from an end-user perspective.
Personally, I like the idea that video and other interactive content would be browser-based as opposed to being restricted to one single authoring tool (Adobe Flash). It just seems good for the internet in general moving forward.
As far as the App Store, I think that is beyond the scope of the Flash vs. HTML5 argument as you cannot use HTML5 to build an App Store app, but one could easily build HTML5 “web apps” for the Apple devices as Google has done with their Gmail, Google Reader and Google Voice “web apps”. So let’s stick to browser-based content on this one.
I’m sure at this stage Flash has more flexibility and options for creating content than the yet-to-be-approved HTML5 standards offer. Flash has been around much longer. But in the long run, which is better for the internet in general?
Basing interactive elements within the browser as opposed to relying on a proprietary plugin just seems like the way to go. It opens up more options for competing software development tools as well as a set standard and coding language that everyone can use without needing anything more complex than a text editor.
But perhaps I am missing something here, not being a web developer (or in particular a Flash developer). As I mentioned, I am sure the Flash tools are currently more robust than HTML5, but I am also looking forward to what HTML5 has the potential to become.
With the success of the iPad, I have seen many major websites starting to at the least implement HTML5-based options for their video and interactive content. Some have decided to completely switch over from Flash to HTML5.
Go Media wants your input: what are the pros and cons of each route? Are your opinions based on your use of Flash? We’d like to hear from web developers that use Flash, and those who don’t. We’d also lke to hear from those who have used HTML5 to either replace or supplement Flash content — what were the benefits? What were the limitations?
Apple’s Steve Jobs just posted a long open letter on the reasoning behind the decision to exclude Flash support on mobile devices such as the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch.
Jobs lists six major points surround the decision, but wraps it up and confirms what I suspected was the driving force behind the decision. In Steve’s own words:
“We know from painful experience that letting a third party layer of software come between the platform and the developer ultimately results in sub-standard apps and hinders the enhancement and progress of the platform.
If developers grow dependent on third party development libraries and tools, they can only take advantage of platform enhancements if and when the third party chooses to adopt the new features.
We cannot be at the mercy of a third party deciding if and when they will make our enhancements available to our developers.”
Apple dealt with this during the transition from OS9 to OS X, and Jobs even notes in his letter that only now in CS5 has Adobe finally shipped a native Mac OS X version of the Creative Suite software. With the success of the iPhone & iPad, you can’t blame them for not wanting it to happen all over again.
The Floppy Disk is Finally Dead
I find it interesting that also this week, Sony announced it will be phasing out the manufacturing of floppy disk drives. Apple chose to do this in 1998 with the first iMac. Jobs implies in his letter that HTML5 is a new era for the web, and I believe he and Apple look at Flash the same way they looked at the floppy disk in 1998. Is it really any surprise?
Interestingly, this week Apple finally opened up access to hardware acceleration on OS X 10.6.3 for plugins such as Flash, something Adobe has been telling Apple for years they need in order to optimize the Flash Player on OS X. So far it’s only supported on the newest of the new Macs, but it’s a start.
Jobs notes in his letter regarding the other Flash issue — namely their attempt with Flash Catalyst to provide a “packager” for Flash creations that would allow them to run on an iPhone in a “wrapper. I think most Apple-bashers on the Flash issue seem to have overlooked what Jobs points out: any app created with that sort of tool must rely on the lowest common denominator features across all mobile platforms.
Apple doesn’t want this. Apple wants developers to create apps using the unique features offered by the iPhone OS.
The Apple “Experience”
Some people look at a device as a “tabula rasa” — something that they should be allowed to do whatever they want on it. I believe the Android operating system is built on this approach. But not the iPhone OS.
Apple has always focused on the overall experience rather than a “jack of all trades” open-endedness with their offerings. They make their own operating system. They make their own software. They make their own hardware/computers. And now with the iPad and recent acquisitions, they now make their own processor chips.
It shouldn’t be surprising to anyone that Apple has no desire to be a company producing a blank slate device that runs every last thing out there. They want to offer a unique and specific experience for the end-user. It is my opinion that they believe the best way to go about this is to use the tools specifically designed to create for the iPhone OS platform.
Adobe has called Apple to task on this decision, calling themselves open and Apple proprietary. But it’s not like Adobe hasn’t had their share of cutting users out of preferred authoring tools. It’s a no-brainer to see that Adobe acquired Macromedia primarily for the Flash authoring tool.
But in this process, they also acquired authoring tools such as FreeHand which was discontinued in favor of Adobe’s own vector graphics software, Illustrator. There has been no relenting of the frustration former FreeHand users have felt having lost their favorite tool.
Adobe has implicitly said that you need to move to Illustrator, and no roadmap as to what will or will not be incorporated into Illustrator. While not exactly the same, still it echoes the Apple decision that if you want to create iPhone OS apps, you do so with the approved tools. In a certain sense, Adobe has said that if you want to create vector graphics, you do so with the approved tools.
I’d venture to say that Adobe’s decision to end support for FreeHand and force users to migrate to Adobe Illustrator is really not that much different from Apple telling app developers that instead of writing lowest common denominator apps, you must use the free tools offered to create specifically for the iPhone OS.
I am sure out dear readers have opinions on this situation, and I would love to hear them. Please leave us your 2 cents in the comments section below.
Go Media friend Brad Colbow has a nice comic on this topic, and I’ll leave you with that.
Photoshop Vs. Illustrator in a no-holds-barred battle to the death!
WARNING! This blog post contains foul language and dirty underhanded insults. The (harsh) opinions expressed in this article do not reflect those of Go Media Inc. or Adobe Inc. Please do not read further if you are pregnant, have a weak constitution or are currently on prescribed psychotropic medication.
Only Go Media is brave enough to bring these two power-house applications together and ask the question: Which is the superior go-to design and Illustration tool: Photoshop or Illustrator? Combatants, take your corners, LET’S GET IT ON!
Ps: Illustrator is like that shitty kid you grew up with that always breathed through his mouth and really liked drawing these illustrations of half naked woman with huge boobs… wishful thinking illustrator. The fact of the matter is Photoshop is way more relevant in the lives of the majority of creative people out there. PERIOD. Face the facts, go back to your corner and play with your pen tool.
Ai: Photoshop you ignorant slut! Bloated obsolete relics like you and Print Shop need to know when your time has passed. Oh, but let’s all cling to an aged and decadent past. You can “paint” in Photoshop. You think this somehow pays tribute to the Renaissance masters. I’m afraid not. If Leonardo da Vinci were alive today he’d bitch slap you and all your air-brushing users. His entire generation was pushing forward, innovating, advancing. The only advancing You’ve done in two decades is to steal my tools! If Michelangelo were alive today he’d be using me. Why? Because the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel is HUGE! Only vector graphics are equipped to handle such a large surface. You would wet your pants and go crying to mommy if you were faced with a canvas that big. So, let’s place Photoshop where it belongs: in a time capsule.
1. What app is best for logo design?
Ps: First off, ‘logo design’ means many different things. We could be talking about a Logotype, icon, symbol, etc. What we always know for sure is the mark has to be functional and have the initial integrity and quality preserved since its inception. It is from this stance that I ground my attack against Illustrator… You crash more times than Helen Keller driving a Pinto. How the hell can I utilize your premiere feature of vector creation to the fullest when at most I get three hours of productivity?? Bush league. (side bet: $100 says there are at least 10 exclamation points in the Illustrator response…trite.)
Rebuttal: Ai: Gosh Photoshop, it sounds like the problem is your 386, not Illustrator. I suggest you upgrade your computer along with that greasy comb-over on top of your head. Even on your decrepit old computer any self respecting logo designer will take those three hours on Illustrator over a full week on Photoslop. Face facts – logos are clean simple marks with sharp crisp logotypes. Everyone but your cave-dwelling users develop logos as Vector art. No room for fuzzy pixelization here. Score: Illustrator 1, Photoshit 0.
2. What app is best for drawing, painting or illustrating?
Ai: I would never rest on the laurels of my name alone, but c’mon! My name is Illustrator! I wasn’t given that name because I was designed to wipe your baby’s ass! Likewise, Photoshop, you were designed to edit photos! That, and to SUCK, but I digress. You approach illustration by trying to simulate traditional painting techniques, namely: airbrushing. I, on the other hand, utilize the full power of the computer to advance the process of illustration. Just to name a few: Pen tool, Shape tool, Brush, Pencil tool and symbol sprayer are all Illustrator originals that you stole. What did Photoshop have – an airbrush, that’s it. If you want to create something in Photoshop, you better have a camera to help you get started.
Rebuttal: Ps: You’re right Illustrator… If I were to work with you I wouldn’t need to take my own source pictures… I could just download and live trace a low-res version right off of Google Images. Original! I remember when seamlessly tracing things was a crux part of my workflow too (LOL).
Just because you’re named ‘Illustrator’ doesn’t mean anything you hack. Any sort of illustration, be it a drawing or painting, is best when not limited by fundamental capabilities or restrictions. You limit our users far too much and for what… the benefit of scalability? Who cares, just work at actual size. I stole your functionality because you clearly don’t know how to fully utilize them. Take a pick: The unhinged creative powers of Photoshop, or, The one-track train of thought Illustrator.
3. What app is best for web design
Ps: Two things…
1. Being that Illustrator is Vector based, who in their right mind would design a website in it knowing the graphics would need to be rasterized. Cut out the middle man, use Photoshop.
2. Flash movies are the only logical application of vector graphics. Even so, once the movie or animation is published to the web, it functions more so as a video and it loses its vector quality.
So really the only logical thought being that the value of a vector graphic lies in the actual development of movies in Flash. Sweet. Now you have to buy an additional (expensive) piece of software so you can start publishing your faux websites to the internet. Not to mention the exorbitant amount of time you’ll spend learning how to actionscript. Good Idea.
The web at its best is cohesive and unrestricted. Flash is a proprietary piece of software which requires its own player and works to carve out its piece of the internet. That’s ok and all, but calling Flash programming ‘web design’ in its most pure sense, is like trying to include Canada in the United States.
Rebuttal: Ai: Pretty sensitive about that Flash app huh Photopoop? Me thinks thou dost protest too much. You hardly made any argument for yourself before spending the rest of your time attempting (pathetically) to bash Flash. The facts are these: In Illustrator you can design a web page with more tools than Photoshop offers, you can export slices from Illustrator just like in Photoshop (sorry, no extra steps here.), and oh yeah – if you do use the considerable advantages of Flash – your file is already prepped for it! I’m surprised you would suggest that Flash puts MORE restrictions on website creation. Is that why the most dynamic and artistic sites on the web use it? Seems you’re suffering a little Flash envy there buck-o!
4. What app is best for working with type
Ai: From Wikipedia: “Adobe Illustrator was first developed for the Apple Macintosh in 1986 as a commercialization of Adobe’s in-house font development software and Postscript file format.” Type (fonts) are vector graphics. Illustrator is a vector based software. Photoshop handling type is like Phyllis Diller handling an eyebrow pencil: the results are not good! Heck, “type” isn’t even an option on your primary navigation!
Once again, Adobe has (poorly) tacked on some other program’s functions to their pathetically misguided old software. If you want to thread some text in Photoshop, sorry, you can’t do it. Type on a path? No. Type in a shape? Nada. Vertical type on a path? Nyet. Convert text to paths? Nope. Change case? Nay. Must I really go on? I’ll admit – I’m starting to feel sorry for you, you poor little photo editor.
Rebuttal: Ps: Someone definitely did their homework. Because I CLEARLY cannot type on a path or shape or even vertically for that matter… that shit’s just way outta my league….
Coming Soon: PART TWO. Will Illustrator crash? Will Photoshop fix his comb-over? And WHO WILL DIE?
Ever since I first heard about Yahoo Pipes more than a year ago, I’ve been looking for reasons to put it to work for me. But for some reason or another, it always ended up in the “cool but of little use” category. Today I really hunkered down in the Pipe builder and set out to create the ultimate Design Resource RSS feed.
Here’s what’ll be happening in this post:
1. How the Pipe was built
2. How to customize the Pipe for yourself
3. I don’t care – just feed me design candy!
1. How the Pipe was Built
I was searching around for a hairy Illustrator art brush, and came to Deviant Art’s Illustrator Brush page. There were some cool brushes (and a lot of crap), but I made a mental note to visit the page more often to build my collection of Illustrator brushes. But really, let’s be honest, that was never going to happen. There are just two many squeaky wheels of coolness around the web these days for me to really have the time to check Deviant Art more often. Yahoo Pipes to the rescue!
So after many false starts, and a little help from from a fellow pipe builder, I was able to use the “Feed Auto Discover” module to fetch updates to a bunch of Deviant Art’s resource pages as RSS feeds with preview images. By default, Deviant Art’s RSS feed is text only, kinda defeating the purpose.
To add to Deviant Art’s resources I added another module, “Fetch Feed” and added design resource feeds from the Go Mediazine itself, Brusheezy, Vecteezy, and IHeartVector.
I piped all of these feeds into a “Union” module, then to a “Sort” module that sorted the resources by date published. Output to RSS and voila – a huge RSS feed of graphic design resources. Here’s what the final Pipe looked like:
And here’s what the output looked like in my trusty Google Reader:
The beauty of this feed is that I can stay up to date on new design resources published on all of these pages at once, and they come to me in one feed. That’s also the curse of it – too much to handle (and scrolling past a bunch of crap to get to the good stuff). That’s where customization comes in.
2. How to Customize the Pipe for Yourself
Well first you’re going to have to have a Yahoo account. If you have a Yahoo mail account or a Flickr account, you’ve got one already. So let’s get started and sign into Pipes:
Now, in the search box go ahead and type “Design Resource”. The Design Resource Megafeed should be the first result. Click “View Results”.
Now you should see a list of results returned from the Design Resource Megafeed. But you want to customize this, right? Then click on “Edit Source”.
Alright, we’re almost there. You should now see that mess of boxes and tubes like in the first screen shot in this guide. Here is where you’ll be editing the sources of the pipe so that it only outputs stuff you want to see. Don’t care about getting latest scoop of Illustrator Actions from Deviant Art? Then click the little ‘minus’ button to the left of the Illustrator Actions source.
Note: You’ll have to select the URL and scroll to the left to see the whole thing and figure out which is which.
Of course you don’t have to stop at removing sources. Add in your favorite sources not on this list to make it your own.
If you want to get real fancy you can set up a filter. In the left menu under Sources and and User Inputs, click Operators to unfold the modules. See ‘Filter’? That’s what we’ll use to further limit the list of design resources based on your preferences. Drag it into the editing space.
Personally, I don’t want to see any of the anime crap that Deviant Art is famous for (sorry anime fans). So, I set up my filter to block any posts that contain “anime” in the description.
Once I got the filter set up, I grabbed the output tube (Pipe) from the ‘Sort’ module and dragged it into the input circle of the ‘Filter’ module. Then, I connected the ‘Filter’ module to the ‘Output’ module in the same way.
And there you have it – your own customized design resource feed! This is what my final customized Pipe looks like:
3. I Don’t Care – Just Feed me Design Candy!
Okay already! Click for the Design Resource Megafeed
Click the RSS Button shown in the screen shot below to add to your favorite reader (which of course is Google Reader, right?).
Hope you enjoyed this little guide to Yahoo Pipes. If you use this Pipe to make an even sweeter mashup, be sure to link it here in the comments!
Lately I’ve been reading a lot about lucid dreaming, keeping a dream journal, watching Waking Life, and generally trying everything I can to take control of my dreams. The first thing I’m going to do in a dream – FLY! Us ground dwelling humans seem to be pretty consumed by the idea of taking flight – there’s just something immortal about it. So, there’s no wonder that wings are a perennial favorite design element.
Good news is that there’s lots of resources out there to help you incorporate some wingage into your designs. I’ve divided the resources up into three categories: Photoshop Brushes, Vector, and Texture / Reference Images. Most are free, but be sure to read each resource’s usage blurb before you use them on the next cult hit tee.
Here’s a nice set of Sumi-e style wings from wab-sabi-ways
Falln-Brushes on Deviant Art has a great collection of Brushes, and features Wings in quite a few. Here are few winged highlights. Just click the previews to go to the download page.
While Brusheezy is an awesome collection of Photoshop brushes, it could definitely use a few more wings. Here are the only wings on the site,some cool bat wings:
myPhotoshopBrushes.com mixes grunge and wings in a messy set of Splatter Brushes.
Vector Wings are even harder to come by than Photoshop brushes, and harder to make. They’re also a lot more useful! Vector wings have more detail and enjoy all kinds of vectory goodness like subtracting, intersecting, etc. Here are some of the juiciest vector wings we could round up on the web.
Well hey, this is Go Media’s blog, so we’ve got to include our very own vector wings. While not free, we think you’ll agree that the quality is way beyond what you’ll find out there free of charge. Go Media has two wing packs from Set 1 and Set 2. There’s also a really badass wing included in Ornate from Set 7.
Unfortunately you can’t really see all the detail in these wings from the previews. Check out the mad detail by trying out our sample pack, which happens to have 4 pretty sweet wings.
Ok, ok, on to the free stuff. Jimiyo posted some nice free vector wings on his blog last month:
I Heart Vector has some cool wings and a few birds (which are close enough) for free.
Again, trusty Vecteezy needs more wings! Ben Blogged has the only good wings on Vecteezy with the Wings – Coat of Arms with a ton of downloads.
Textures & Reference Images
Here are some references images that could be used as textures. When you get brave enough to fire up that pen tool or wacom and start making some of your own vector wings, these photos will come in handy! Also, if you want to use these images as low-res brushes you can make your own brushes in Photoshop. Just go to Edit > Define Brush Preset with the image loaded.
Well that rounds out this collection of winged design goodness. Share your best spots for finding wings in the comments. I look forward to revising this list with your suggestions. Take care!
We’re really happy to announce a brand new site design to the Go Mediazine. Or should I officially say GOMEDIAZINE – all one word. Or you could spell it GOMEDIAzine or something like that. But anyway, we’re still tweaking some things and finding bugs now that people are using it. So we really encourage you to post a comment and tell us how you feel about it.
I got rid of Google Ads and I am selling 125×125 banners through BuySellAds. So if you are interested in getting a prime ad spot on a site that will probably be doubling in traffic in the next few months, you can grab an ad spot here.