Web Design As A Hobby

Denial is a big stress point… I finally realized that web design is my hobby. I’ve been spending lots of time building various websites for my self, most of which never got finished, some just sit there. So to call it a business would be a lie, to my self. I find myself getting pretty excited when I get a new idea for a website. Right away I go and get a good domain for it, and think of the design. Spending a few hours in Photoshop designing the site is lots of fun. Then getting into the programming and making it come alive. All that makes me happy… lol, yes I am a nerd.

The ideas I get are good but most of them are not real great so they never go anywere because I dont’ spend enough time taking them through all the way. After the fun wears out I find my self jump onto the next exciting project.

With this kind of thing happening about every month to every other month, I do have quiet a few websites stacked up that are half finished or mostly just a good domain for it. Maybe some day I’ll get back to them and finish them.

Before I realized that this is what I do for fun, I thought this was a business that was really not going anywhere, i kept putting money into the domains and not getting anywhere with it. This created lots of stress for me. It’s so much easier now that I look at it differently. Another thing is it helps me not to jump on new ideas too quick and think them through a bit longer.

I must say I sill love finding new cool domains. They are hard to find but once you find one it’s like a Christmas present.

So now take a look at your self, your projects… Are you stressed out that they are not getting finished? Are there too many of them for you to focus on? You just might be fighting with it, web design might be your hobby and you might just need to relax and enjoy it.

Tell me about your web design habits in the comments.

Ok, lateroonie.

~ Valik

Excellent Guide on How-To Setup A Website!

As website guides go, I’ve never seen a better, more organized and easy to use how-to guide on creating a website. Daniel Piechnick put together all the details that anyone would ever need to setup  a website in his new site that is all dedicated to this guide. I was actually surprised at how nice and clean the design work was and how accurate and in-details the information is. All the info you will need but at the same time he does not overwhelm you with extra unnecessary information. This is perfect for people interested in creating a website that are brand new to this industry. I was actually thinking to create something like this but never got to it and it’s awesome that finally something like that is available now for the newbies that is easy to follow.

Excellent job Daniel!

Source: http://websitesetupguide.com/

Web Design across Culture and Context

With China emerging as the next great economic powerhouse –not to mention its population of 1.3 billion potential customers – it makes sense that if you’re building a website right now, you’ll want to make sure it appeals to a web user from an Eastern cultural background.

Sure, I know what you’re thinking – really, how much difference can there be between what Mike Lilly and Li Ming want from a website? Well there’s a huge difference. A vast amount of research has gone into analyzing the ways in which different cultures communicate and how this can be applied to online communication, with one of the seminal texts being the work of theorist Edward Hall, particularly his 1990 publication Understanding Cultural Difference. Hall posits that cultures can be defined in one of two categories, as Low Context or High Context. A Low Context culture, which broadly encompasses most Western countries, is one in which meaning is communicated mostly through the content of the message – there is less expectation of a shared cultural understanding and therefore communication is explicit and unmistakeable – think of Germany and the Scandinavian countries as prime examples of Low Context cultures.

A High Context culture, on the other hand, is one in which communication is governed by a set of unwritten but formal rules, taking into the account the social status of the speakers, the context in which they are communicating and the subject at hand. Meaning will often be expressed more through body language, gesture and unspoken assumptions than through what is literally said. The rules of society play a dominant role in communication in High Context cultures (you might say the medium is the message, even), while in Low Context cultures it’s what you actually say that carries the majority of meaning.

You may be thinking that this is all well and good for academics in ivy covered halls to sit around thinking up fancy theories, but how can you actually prove it applies to real life? Funnily enough, psychology professors Denise Park of the University of Illinois and Michael W. Chee of the SingHealth Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory in Singapore must have been thinking the same thing. They published research in 2007 proving that your cultural background really does have an effect on the way your brain processes visual stimuli.

Using cognitive tests and Magnetic Resonance Imaging to scan the brain activity of 37 Americans and 37 Asian subjects, they found that the older members of each test group processed information in distinct ways – when shown identical pictures, the Asian subjects paid more attention to the background or context of the image, while the Western subjects focused on the dominant object. These findings would seem to support Hall’s Low Context and High Context theory – namely, that the subjects from the High Context culture looked for meaning in the context of the given image, while those from the Low Context culture looked to the image’s focus point.

All well and good, but how does all this esoteric theory apply to designing a website? Essentially, designers immersed in a Low Context culture will tend to focus on the vital information at hand and how it can be most clearly framed and expressed, at the expense of providing context to the message. Viewers from a High Context culture will want to read about the company, its business motto, its history, its place in society and its relationship to themselves, while viewers from a Low Context culture will want to just get to the point and find out what they’re being offered and whether it’s of value to them. Take, for instance, the design differences between the local sites for a global company such as Sony – the Sony UK site has all the information you could need right there on the front page, with a focus on the products on sale, while the Sony China front page gives a large chunk of space to news about the company, providing cultural context to the viewer.

Additionally, viewers from High Context cultures are more likely to look to the visual cues for meaning and to fill in the missing context – at its simplest point, this means not being afraid of using plenty of imagery, multimedia and animation when designing a website for a High Context audience. While the generally accepted opinion in Low Context cultures is that it’s unprofessional for a web site’s pages to be diverse in their layout, design and colour schemes, in High Context cultures this is often expected and approved of.

Taking these different expectations into account when designing the information architecture for your site is crucial to ensuring you can communicate effectively across cultural divides, especially if you’re looking to expand into the Chinese market – 1.3 billion new customers is nothing to be scoffed at.

About the author

Christian Arno is founder and Managing Director of global translation company Lingo24, website localization specialists. With clients in over sixty countries and operations spanning four continents, Lingo24 achieved a turnover of $6m USD in 2009.

What’s the Right Website for You?

The Internet has been around for ages, but that does not mean that everyone in the world has a presence on it. It is only now that people are waking up to the fact that the web is the best, cheapest and fastest way to grow and promote your business. All a potential customer has to do is Google your company name and see what the Internet throws up – it may take them straight to your website or it may show them random news snippets about you from various sectors of the press and customer musings. In short, the web can make or break you – if there are negative things being said about you, then you can bet that they’ll spread like wildfire on the web; and if your reviews are positive, there’s nothing for you to worry about – you can relax and watch your popularity grow by the day.

Like it or lump it, the Internet is here to stay, so if you’re looking for a presence on the web to boost your image and make yourself more visible, here are a few things you need to keep in mind when trying to find a website design that’s suitable for you:

  • Talk to someone who can explain the best kind of site for your company. In general however, if your budget is small and if you’re just starting out, what you need is a basic brochure website that has a few pages, one About page that tells visitors about your company, one or two Product/Service pages, and one Contact Us page that lets people email, mail or call you.
  • The Contact Us page sometimes has only a postal address, an email address and a phone number, and at other times, it has a form that allows visitors to mail the company directly from within your site. With the second option, you’re getting your own email option from your host, so if you hope to stay on the web for some time, it’s best to go with web hosts who can offer you email addresses and tools to control them.
  • Some designers stick to template sites which are cost-effective, but on the downside, they make your site look like one in a hundred. They are not distinctive and visitors may not be impressed if you’re looking to wow them with your design.
  • Brochure websites are a little costlier, but you get your own unique design and have more control over what features to include.
  • The product or service you sell plays a large role in the design of your site – if you deal in something glamorous, you need a site that is the perfect showcase for your products. On the other hand, if your corporate image is more staid and reserved, your website should reflect this in its personality.
  • If you want to be able to change the content of your websites, it should come enabled with CMS. Some sites are dynamic in that they can be updated automatically through programmed databases. Talk to your web designer about the costs and benefits of each before making your choice.

In general, your website should be determined by your needs and not designed according to the rest of the sites on the Web.

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This guest post is contributed by Barbara Williams, she writes on the topic of Computer Technician Programs . Email her at:  barbara.williams07@gmail.com .

Spruce up Your Website!

The website has become a mandatory thing for every business and every one wishes to have a website in order to make them popular. The popularity of a website is determined by the number of users visiting the website and hence in order to promote the number of visitors for your website, you will have to design the website well. A good website design would be a great reason for many visitors to visit your website! A bad website design can spoil the entire idea of designing a website. It would irritate visitors, which in turn corrupts your name! Hence it is better to put good efforts in bringing out an excellent website. The following things must be given an attention in order to make your website look attractive!

Your Logo: Your logos would simply describe and make your company famous. Hence it is essential to put your logo in the website in order to make it familiar among the users.

Attractive tagline: Any one would be attracted with a good tagline and hence it is mandatory to add a good tagline to your website that would immediately catch the reader’s attention.

Interesting portfolio: Portfolio is another aspect which would attract visitors! An attractive portfolio would work wonders with the user visits!

Illustrate about yourself: The main purpose of a website is to illustrate who you are. Hence it is essential to put the details about yourself, which you wish to communicate to the public.

Describe your services: In order to make people understand about your company, you must add the services offered by you in order to make your clients understand and this would provide a great business opportunity for you!

Links to your blogs: If you have blogs, then you could provide links for it in the website! This would promote the user visits to those blogs. People generally tend to click link out of curiosity. This is also a great way to promote blogs!

Contact information: Contact information is another mandatory part of your website, which makes potential clients to contact you.

Link to social networking: There are lots of social networking sites which can be used to make the websites popular. Hence it is essential to add links to various social networking sites.

Links to contact you: There must be enough of links which would enable the clients to contact you!

Good content: Last but not the least, the content of the website must be interesting for the readers.

Also read 5 Important Tips for Web Design Success for more understanding on website design structure and important elements that make a big difference in the success of a website.

Until next time.

~ Valik

The Structural Approach to Web Design

structure

Photo credit: rudiriet

When designing a website, several factors are taken into consideration. One of the main objectives that designers often are required to satisfy is the usability of the website. It is important to note that if you have specific objectives to promote user friendliness instead of aesthetics that a structure-first approach to designing web sites should be used. A structure first methodology, which can look like an unintuitive way to design web sites for visually oriented designers actually carry several advantages.

Structure-first web design approaches are pedagogical; the designers are required to conceptualize the design as a separate but interrelated step. They are also practical, if you consider the functionality and effectiveness of a site it is measured by the validity of solid HTML code, which requires a separation between structures of the document by using tags and aesthetics by using Cascading Style Sheets.

Taking on a structural perspective in web design ensures that the contents of your web site will maintain readability in cases where the styling rules are disabled in your user’s browser. In situations where the user browses the pages by using a handheld device, like cell phones your visual formatting and assistive technology like screen readers are often ignored. A structural focus leads to the generation of many flexible web pages, which are viewable by users in several ways. These pages are easily reformatted if necessary, and can easily be revised and updated. Continue reading “The Structural Approach to Web Design”

Web Design and Global Considerations

The information superhighway spans across the globe, people who access your website come from all corners of the word and from various cultural influences.  It is important to consider this when designing your web pages to ensure that the appeal of your objective speaks to the worldwide population and not one specific demographic.

Consider the following; you have no knowledge of how a user was able to access your page or their previous experiences in dealing with your company its products services and affiliations. There is no assurance of the path that the user took to arrive at the page, which links he used to arrive at the website or which search tool he utilized to research your information. These factors are helpful to consider when generating a design that is culturally neutral and is pleasing to all.

There is a chance that the user will connect at lower than ideal speeds. Sometimes users will even have a connection of .5kb for mobile phone access. It’s not just the nominal connection speed that is a modifier in the users transfer rate. A typical consumer on a standard modem will get a 3kb transfer rate but will even get slower as lines become busy. Minimizing the overall schematic of the web design and its size will greatly improve the access experience and speeds up loading time for pages.

Using ideas such as CSS will lower the render time. Building your pages in sequential chunks and avoiding pages wrapped in large tables will also help with loading time. It’s ideal to save imagery for content whenever possible and remember that important content should be CSS based and not image based. These factors which tell users where they are, what the functions are and where the site can direct them need to load first to maximize the user experience.

Computers will always have different fonts that they use. PC’s will have a different font list than a Mac. Some of the fonts that you think are universal might not be available for a lot of people. To be on the safe side, it is a wise option to design your website with a globally utilized font such as Verdana for windows based computers. Sans Serif or Helvetica, Arial are some other options that you can use to set the general body font of your design content. For aspects of your design that do not require mass readability such as headers you can use fixed-pitch fonts like Courier for snippet code.

Take into consideration that some computers will have less capacity in displaying full spectrum color. Some PC’s are so ancient out there that they can only display 256 colors. Remember that the color scheme can be different on a Mac compared to your regular PC. It is a wise practice to use white for background and choose universally present colors found in all color schemes. Use web safe colors for large portions of your content and accept the fact that the coloration will always be compromised for a small percentage of your users; this is a limitation of their machine.

If you plan to use the latest coding then provide links for browsers that can easily be downloaded to maximize the viewing capacity of your users. Some websites post recommendations of which browser will be compatible for the web content. There are numerous freeware browsers that identify and are updated to read and maximize the usage of current programming, it is advisable to provide a download link or mention the platform so that your users can take full advantage of your design.

5 Important Tips for Web Design Success

For people just getting into the knack of designing web pages, choosing the right elements when It comes to your layout can be confusing. A lot of programmers make the mistake on making a generalized web design with no focus, this ends up in disaster because the web page does not carry a true function or tries to “gain the best of both worlds” by dabbling too much in all the elements. A web site that’s too visually oriented, coupled with an explosion of color where you have to read a ton of content on a single page is a failed one. This guide will provide you with some important steps to ensure a successful web design.

1. Define your Focal Point

Before you create your style sheet or post your test content, consider this: What makes your users different from others and what is the focus of your business? This is an important factor in ensuring the look, aesthetics and content reflect the true nature of your business or the message that the website is trying to convey. Remember that lack of focus will just jumble the message. Your users might be amazed at the design but might get lost at what the website is trying to make them do if you don’t put a focus for your design.

2. Simpler is most times better

When designing a website don’t try to impress with complicated design, flash animation, and other bells and whistles. Make the design simple and clean and impress with the content. Fill the website with the best quality content you can get your hands on. The majority of the visitors that will come to your site will be looking for information, not to see how cool your website it, so give them exactly what they want.

3. Sticking to your main objective

Specific web elements are meant to generate certain stimuli for its users. A content-based approach is intended for research and information purposes, where your design is largely based on content management and easy access to stored data for your users to analyze or study. Visually appealing sites are more geared towards provoking emotional stimuli, creating an impulse for customers or allowing them to feel a certain way. Product representation and websites that sell will benefit from this approach. Remember that when you design your pages it is crucial to stick to your objective. If you think that trying something new on one page to spruce things up is a bold and innovative choice, it isn’t. Creating wildcard pages not only sends mixed signals but conveys the work of an unprofessional designer.

4. Create designs that reflect you or your business

Marketing your website or your product is as important as designing the perfect page. Remember that as consumers browse your page, your personality is reflected on each design and will create a universal perception of how your users will define you. Try to create a design that makes you feel comfortable. Combine colors and a feeling of comfort when it comes to your design and layout, this is normally a good way to go in making sure that your website reflects your personality.  If you’re not sure how to go about it or am scared that you might send the wrong message if you follow your personal choices then do some research and look at certain sites. If you find something appealing but speaks to you then bookmark the page and start your design concept by using the website as an inspiration.

5. Test and Measure your success

Remember that keeping an open line of communication between you and your users will be one of the best things to do to measure the effectiveness of your site. Allocate a specific portion of your site devoted to user feedback or provide an email address where users can voice out their opinion about your site. The best gauge to see if your site was able to deliver the goods is to hear from the people who use them.

My Web Design Site, FlyNewMedia.com, Gets Re-Designed

flynm

Yep, it’s never good enough when it comes to my own website. I think this is re-design number 3 or 4. I finally got the logo to look awesome, if I may say so myself. :)

I wanted this design to look clean and simple while bringing more of me onto the homepage, to make it personal. The idea was to make the visitor feel like I was right there, available for them right now. I built in the little “I am available right now” indicator that is powered by Twitter. I can send a tweet from my cell phone and update where I am available at that time – “Twitter” if I am at the computer and available to answer right away, “Cell phone” if I am away from the computer but answering the cell phone or “Email” if I am not available – which is rare.

Most websites have a personal disconnect between the website and the company or the human that represents it, this is why I wanted to make this site’s visitors feel like I am right here sitting and waiting for them to contact me.

I’d love some feedback – comments, criticism, ideas.
Please leave your comments below.

Thanks!

Source: http://www.FlyNewMedia.com