Free Online Web Applications

March 31, 2009

As a web designer, I don’t need to tell you how awesome the internet is. You can truly find about anything you need on the net. It’s the wild west of the 21st century. As web designers, you also know how important web applications are. What’s better than just web applications for your projects, how about free web applications. Today, I have compiled a list of free design applications that you can use for your web design endeavors. It is important to note though, that these applications are not just for the hardcore designers, they are for everyone from managers, teachers, nurses, students or office workers. Though these applications are not very well known they are great for anyone interested in improving their work efficiency. Check them out!

One online application that is sure to help you in your web design endeavors is FreshBooks.  FreshBooks is an online invoicing and time tracking utility that saves your business time and money.  This application will also make you appear more professional in the eyes of your clientele.

A great way to get an understanding about how your readership feels about your website is through surveys. Premiere Survey is a free survey application that allows online surveys, web surveys, and email surveys. It also offers customer satisfaction surveys, employee satisfaction surveys and market research surveys. So if you want to better fine tune your website for your market, surveys are they way to go.

The Doodlekit website builder is powered by a database backend. This means you get extra functionality that you won’t get with most other website maker tools. We help you make your website a success with: blogs, forums, shopping carts, custom forms and much more. Our free website builder is ever-expanding, which means the longer you own your site, the more new features and functions you’ll discover.

Whether you’re a novice or an experienced web user, Doodlekit’s website builder can help you create the perfect website for your business or personal needs.

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Another great application for you internet business is Zapproved. Zapproved is a web tool that makes group decision-making more efficient and accountable. This unique solution introduces peer-to-peer and organization techniques to improve the process of building consensus.

A great application for your web design purposes is FileDropper. The great thing about FileDropper is its simple interface. FileDropper provides one click file hosting. To do this, you just click the upload button and select you file and the file is taken to the page where it is hosted. You can upload to a remarkable 5 GB.

W3Counter offers you website analytics, real time web stats and web counter. The best thing about W3Counter is that it’s free and that it answers the questions: who’s using your website, how did they reach you website, and what do the find attractive about it.

These free web applications should help every web designer out there who wants to work more efficiently and improve upon their website. In addition, these applications are also beneficial for anyone wanting to improve upon their quality of work. Check them out and delve deeper into these exciting programs.

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How Your Website Design Can Effectively Communicate

March 31, 2009

One of the most important and foundational elements of a website is communication. Unfortunately many times the message a website is trying to communicate is often trumped for a fancy and glitzy website. No matter what your website is about, whether it is an entertainment website, education website, payday loans website or a design website, there is an essential need to communicate effectively with your website’s visitors.

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There are millions of websites and not all websites communicate the same way, but most websites use a few common methods in their communication. With this article, we will look at these common methods and in the second article we will delve more deeply in the subject.

An obvious course that websites often use to communicate is text. Websites can use text in the main body of content or it can be used in the websites title tags for optimization in search engines. Text is the main element people use in understanding a website.  Text can be utilized differently dependent on the website, whether the site is a payday loans site or if it is an entertainment blog.

A great way to not only make your website look great but also to communicate effectively is images. Many times images can communicate your website’s message better than text ever could. When using images though, you will want to make sure they compose well with the rest of the elements on your site.

Part of our human nature is that when we read something we want to know what it is quickly. Given this, titles and headers are extremely important. The header or title of your content should let the viewer know the major points of the content.

Icons are also a very important way to communicate with your readership. Icons are unique because they communicate without text. For example, if a viewer wants to return to the homepage of your website, they might just hit an icon of a house and instantly they are taken aback.

The colors that websites utilize also communicate to the visitors. In many cases, colors are just used to make the site look better, but colors also have a psychology to them which might affect the viewer’s behavior.

Becoming more and more popular with websites is audio and video. With the creation of YouTube, it is now easier and faster to use audio and video to communicate a message to your audience.

These are the basic methods websites use to communicate a message. The second part of this article will look more specifically at these methods.

Web Design Portfolio Strategies

March 31, 2009

As a web designer a personal, online portfolio is very important. For instance, if you are a student or if your unemployed then you need a portfolio to show possible employers your skills as a web designer, which then might lead to you being hired. If you’re doing freelance work then you need a portfolio to showcase your projects, so people will contact you about possible gigs. If you are a designer in a studio, then you might use your portfolio to blog about your design experiences or show people how to build a presence online.

 
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The most important thing to remember about your portfolio is it’s all about promoting you. Your name is your brand and the only way that people are going to know about it, is if you get it out there. And as a web designer, it is extremely important for you to have an awesome portfolio.

One of the first and most important element of your portfolio is your logo. This is how people will remember you when they leave your website. Make sure that your logo is in a very readable spot, the top left position is usually ideal. The logo does not have to be your name, but if you want to get your name out there, it might be good to consider it. Also, make sure your logo links back to your homepage.

Another important factor to consider is taglines. When prospective employers or clients look at your website, they will want to know what you do. So let them know what you do and keep it short and catchy.

The most essential element in your portfolio is the actual content. Be sure to include all of the best of your previous work. Provide links to the work you have done for other site. Help the viewer of your portfolio along by providing brief descriptions of your work and what skills they entailed. Also, having testimonials will greatly enhance your portfolio.

With your portfolio you’ll want to go more in depth with what services you provide. Though it may seem clear what services you offer, you don’t want to leave you clients guessing or you might miss out on some work.

This portfolio is all about you, so you will want a section within the portfolio that will show the prospective client who the person behind the work is. Share with your viewer your background, how many years you have been doing design, and what your educational background is. It is an important way for the potential client to form a connection with you.

So when you begin working on your portfolio, utilize these strategies and the improvement to your portfolio will increase your chances of finding what you were looking for!

Help spread the word! If you enjoy using Doodlekit, the free website builder we would love if you would help us promote it. Point others to the best way to make a website online. Currently, word of mouth is our #1 promotion tool, but now we would like to move beyond that. Help us help others make a website easily with Doodlekit!

Communication Challenges in Web Design

March 31, 2009

In the first part of this article, we talked about the importance of your websites ability to communicate with its audience. We looked at all of the main methods; text, titles and headlines, icons, colors, video and audio. With this half we are going to discuss some of the challenges you may come across while making your website’s communication factors, better.

While designing your free website you will have to decide how much content you want. The quantity of content on a page can cause problems, so it is important to decide how much is good for your readership. Sometimes having too much content can make your website appear clutter and can turn away your viewers. Having a slimmer amount of content, many times can keep the attention of your readers, thus them spending more time on your website.

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Your websites demographic can also pose a challenge when trying to communicate with your audience. Because everyone is different and it’s hard to lump just one group of people together, you will have to consider many things when trying to communicate with the user. How old are they, what is their knowledge level of the subject, what is their sex, etc. When you figure this out, you will be able to better effectively mold your website.

Clarity of content is also very important. Focus on being concise and clear because if not you could easily lose a new reader. When a viewer begins reading your articles within in a few sentences, they should know what the article is about. If the viewer knows what they are reading they will become less frustrated and are likely to look through the rest of your website.

With your website, don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through. This is how your readership gets to know who you are. And if your site is a portfolio of your work, the potential client might feel a connection with you and you just might land a job.

Another challenge while trying to communicate with your audience is the sites actual design. Do not let your websites design overpower the content. The content should be your websites main priority. The design should be used strategically and should make the viewers experience on your website pleasant.

So, always keep these communication factors and method in mind when working on your site and you should have an effective and outstanding, communicating website!

Free and Open Source Alternatives to Photoshop

March 31, 2009

 

For any web designer, Adobe Photoshop is a must on any wish list. Photoshop comes with a multitude of features that allow exceptional and professional photo editing. But the reason many designers do not use Photoshop is simply the price, which can be too expensive. Fortunately for designers, there are numerous open source and entirely free programs out there that do as much as Photoshop if not more.

Doodlekit is a fully hosted online free website builder and CMS (Content Management System) that helps you build a personal or business website. It’s perfect for anyone from first-timers to advanced web developers and web designers. Unlike other website creator tools, Doodlekit is all online. You don’t need to install any software on your computer, and you can use it from any computer, anywhere in the world that has internet access, at any time.

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One Photoshop substitute is Gimp. GIMP is short for “GNU image manipulation program.” GIMP is one of the oldest and most popular alternatives to Photoshop.  GIMP does not have all of the features that Photoshop has but you will find the majority of features there. GIMP has a large community of support and it is also cross platform.

Cinepaint is almost designed specifically for video and it is often utilized to make animated feature films by major studios. Like Photoshop it has many capabilities and as a photo editor it can reach fidelity of up to 32 bit color.
Communities of web designers also use Krita as a Photoshop alternative. Krita is known for its easy learning curve and in 2006 won the Akademy Award for Best Application. Krita is a little less powerful than GIMP and Photoshop, but it also has many unique features.

Paint.NET has become the de-facto replacement for the popular MSPaint and has transformed into a fully featured open source image editor with large community of support. To run Paint.NET you will need Windows.

A design application that was designed specifically for the Mac is ChocoFlop. ChocoFlop is a pretty comprehensive design application. Thought this program will not always be free, at the moment it is in its beta version and is being offered for free download.

Pixia was originally designed in Japanese and was almost exclusively used for Japanese anime. Today, though, it has been re-designed for English and can be used as an editor in general. It does not have easiest learning curve out of all of the programs discussed but if you are serious about web design, it is worth a shot. Pixia is designed for application on Windows.

As a web designer, your pocket book may not always allow you to use the most ideal design programs, but with a little research and searching around, you will find that there are numerous alternatives to Photoshop that any web designer can use to make an excellent web site.