Category Archives: Website Design

How to Design Your Own Graphics For Your Website – For Free!

In the world of web design, one has many options on how they wish to build their website. Some folks prefer simplicity – white background, black text, easy to navigate and easy on the eyes. Other folks like to go all sorts of crazy, adding flash animations, animated buttons, cinematic swipes that supplement website navigation. In any case, if you want your website to stand out of the pack, you’re going to need custom graphics not seen anywhere else. This applies whether you’re going for a more simplistic website design that is easy to navigate, or for something more complex and in-depth, with music players, flash animations, and the whole nine yards.

Custom Graphics

custom graphics

Custom graphics are essential. For example, say you’re attempting to sell a product or service – you’d want your product or services to stand out from the rest, correct? Why else would someone invest in your skills or products if they think they could find them somewhere else? The internet is a tough place to start a business, considering how many other people are doing just that – millions of people across the world make their income primarily from their respective internet home pages. So instead of falling by the wayside amongst the internet flock, get your website to stand out with some custom graphics!

An eye-catching logo is almost necessary to build up a brand name. Logos, customized fonts, banners for both the website and social media accounts like Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr…it’s all necessary to grease the machine that is internet sales. Again, who is going to buy products from a poorly designed websites riddled with graphics that are offensive to the eye? Better yet, who would want to purchase products or services from a person who steals other images from around the internet as their source of web design?

Free Graphic Editing Programs

Free Graphic Editing Programs

While some people simply do not have the time available to spend on the creation of custom graphics, instead hiring freelancers or established graphic designers to capture that image, that edge, it is an important and very useful skill set to possess. Why wait on graphic designers to get back to you, and why spend valuable cash on something you can learn to do yourself for free?

The best course of action for budding graphic designers is to look into freeware and open source programs. There are a number of options available for graphic editing software that won’t even cost you a penny, as opposed to the dreaded and overly expensive subscription plan offered by Adobe for their programs, such as Photoshop. I’m going to briefly detail two separate programs and how they can help you jump-start your creative juices!

Paint.Net

paint net

You ever catch a friend cooking up some graphics in MSPaint and shake your head in disbelief? The simple act of using such a primitive editing software conjures nostalgic memories of 4th grade computer class, drawing dirty graphics on MSPaint and saving it to the school’s computer. Simply put, MSPaint is just not powerful enough for heavy duty tasks. It doesn’t even have a layer feature! Enter: Paint.Net.

Paint.net is entirely free, and best of all, it’s rather easy to get started with. Unlike Photoshop, which may take some time getting used to, Paint.Net is simplistic in it’s ways, similar to MSPaint, but is so much more powerful. There are also loads of free tutorials available online!

GIMP

gimp

Many refer to GIMP as the freeware Photoshop. The fact it is an open source program is a big ‘selling’ point – many, many plugins are available for GIMP, most of which are for free. Be warned, however, as the learning curve is quite steep. GIMP is a powerful program and may even take a while to load, depending on how many custom brushes and presets you’ve loaded it with, but once you learn how to best utilize the software, you’ll be making professional looking designs in no time!

Conclusion

So instead of dishing out wads of cash to graphic designers, consider getting some freeware graphic design programs yourself. Look up some tutorials, learn a new skill-set. It could end up saving you a lot of money in the long run!

Maintaining Simplicity For Killer Website Designs

A common theme with users of the web these days, is lack of an attention span. And who can blame them? There is simply so much content to go through, so many websites and social media sites and blogs and news outlets and personal journalist pages…the list goes on and on. Some people argue you only have a few seconds to catch the attention of those viewing your website. If you fail to catch their attention, they could very well disappear back into the world wide web, getting mentally tangled amongst the thousands of distracting Youtube videos!

Simply put, websites and blogs fight tooth and nail for attention on the internet. There is a LOT of competition, as well as a LOT of diversity. Whether you have an established website that’s been gathering traffic for years or are just starting a new website, it’s good to consider this simple fact:

Simplicity may be key in holding the attention of internet users.

Older Web Design

In the 90’s websites were far more low budget. Any 10 year old with access to America Online could fire up Expages or Angelfire and create a makeshift website that hurts the eyes. Back in those days navigation menus were primarily focused on the left side of the page in a separate frame. The designs were shoddy, eyesores really, and folks would utilize HTML help sites to assist them in the arduous and tiresome process of coding websites.

old websites

Back in those days, something as simple as a navigation bar with animated buttons was quite the spectacle to witness! Other animated or flash based website properties weren’t quite as effective…ugly snow fall in the background that ate up CPU, invisible music players that crank out horrid MIDI recreations of pop tunes. It was a time of great development, when very few could actually design a website and the rest adhered to ugly templates and ease of design. My how things have changed!

Modern Web Design

Enter modern web design. Gone are the days of shoddy templates. Angelfire and Expages have been replaced with WIX and Weebly, which afford more design freedom implementing drag-and-drop interfaces, available right through the website. You can design your own graphics and have them sprucing up your website with a few clicks of the mouse!

Add to this the ability to drag and drop pre-made Flash or HTML5 widgets directly into your site, and you can design a pretty professional looking website in only a few hours! Because of the potential ease simplicity of modern web design, a good percentage of web designers have opted to make more simplistic, bare-bones websites.

simple website

Conclusion: Simplicity May Be A Necessity

Simplicity can very well be the key in capturing viewers attention and keeping them hooked. Instead of cluttered websites that only work on a certain screen size and look jumbled on mobile devices, it is just smarter and more efficient to make simplistic, aesthetically pleasing website designs. Instead of focusing on flashy navigation bars and cluttered graphics, it is wise in these days to instead focus on killer, high quality content and keeping the website easy-to-navigate and easy on the eyes….this enables it to be easier to bookmark!

Need a website? Contact us today!

A Blog or A Website – Which is Best For Your Needs?

It seems like these days, everyone and their mother (and their uncle, grandfather, 2nd cousin twice removed, and ex-girlfriend) maintain their very own blog or website. The internet connects the world – you can interact with people from all over the globe from the comfort of your bedroom. You can share your half-baked political opinions with people 500 miles away, or share music with friends from another continent.
In any case, it is best to go over all the different options available when choosing how to submit your content to the internet. With so much competition out there, it’s unwise to make a website that would be better off as a blog, or to start a blog that would be better off as a website.

website

Website Positives

The good thing about websites is the diversity of pages you can create. Do a bit of photography, a dash of writing, a helping of graphic design, and create some rockin’ music? Your best bet is to get a website so you can properly house each separate category of artistic expression, giving each skill it’s own subsection. Blogs can become cluttered, especially if you’re multi-talented and wish to showcase each talent individually. And it’s also easy to forget, you can throw a blog right onto your website for even more efficiency in design and ease in navigation!
Website Negatives

In web design, I’ve found that it’s rather quite difficult to maintain news archives. Eventually, you’ve gotta delete the old news updates to make room for the more recent news updates. Bandwidth can be an issue if you wish to perpetually host content, as well. Don’t wanna run the costs of your website up the roof when you’d be better off utilizing a blog!
Blog Positives

Blogs are great if you’ve got a particular niche skill you’re trying to focus on. An entire website devoted to photography may be better housed on a Blogger, WordPress or Tumblr account. If people like your work (be it song uploads, graphic design, writing, or photography) they are likely to scroll to the older posts and check out a good chunk of your work.

Blog

Also, the templates offered by most blog sites can help you bypass the designing phase entirely, giving you the time you need to focus on producing killer content! With a blog, design isn’t nearly as important – the blog serves as a host of content, a stream of consciousness, vs the order and tidiness of a website.
Blog Negatives

Blogs have their set of pitfalls as well. For one, if you’re in the game of making rather offensive and morally deprived comedy, prepare yourself for an influx of harsh comments and negativity. Some blog comments can rival even the worst Youtube comments! Also, it is keen to realize if you have multiple skill sets and which to showcase each, posts will be lost in the clutter of a blog. Older updates will get pushed back in favor of new updates, and some of your best work may not get the attention you were hoping if it’s just ‘another blog post’ amongst hundreds of other updates.

web vs blog
Conclusion
It’s easy to rush a project and end up with a website that should be a blog or a blog that should be a website. Carefully ponder what will serve your content and writing style best, and react accordingly. Also realize a good chunk of websites nowadays also implement blogs into the fold, so perhaps the best course of action is going with both!

Thinking about launching your own web development project? Contact us today and get started.

Coding vs. Web Design Templates

As proprietor of your very own website, it is likely you have already looked into various web design options. Perhaps you considered hiring a freelancer to do the work for you, or to even go through a web design company. Or maybe you do coding yourself and are looking to get better, creating your own website from scratch through HTML. Or perhaps you’re going to check out a drag and drop based designer site, such as Wix or Weebly. Whatever the case may be, it is best to keep in mind that maintaining a website under any of the methods are rather different, yet hold similarities as well.

custom coded website or template

Simply put, your website should look professional. Not makeshift, not lazily put together, but a professional, crisp web design to keep the visitors of your website (be they fans, friends, potential customers or clients) happy. The website should be easy on the eyes, easy to navigate, and memorable enough to stand out from the millions of other sites populating the world wide web. A professional looking website will give you an edge, a boost of suggested credibility.

Coded Web Design

There are several benefits in going with a custom, coded web design.

First of all, your website is going to look unique. Each template available is just that – a template – and has been used, reused, and reworked to death. Getting a custom site coded is only going to help you stand out more. Your site should also be search engine friendly, provided you hire a skilled and experienced web designer. The coding of a website dictates it’s influence and success amongst search engines.

custom coded website

Another thing about templates, is they aren’t always tailored to every type of websites needs. Building a site from the ground up will ensure that the website you have will blend seamlessly with your content, updates, news updates, and more.

The only disadvantages of coding is time, effort, and money. Coding isn’t easy to pick up, it certainly takes practice. One single misplaced character in coding can ruin the entire integrity of a site, or cause a host of other smaller problems. This is why learning coding could prove difficult, and hiring someone else could prove expensive.

Web Design Templates

Web design templates are oftentimes given flack, if only for the fact they exist in numerous forms all over the internet. The main disadvantage of going with a template is a lack of uniqueness to your website – your homepage will likely look similar to dozens of other websites. This can prove disadvantageous is trying to put across a professional business appearance. However, design templates aren’t all that bad…

website template

For starters, you could always use the templates as a foundation, go in and heavily customize it to the point of being an entirely new design. Use the template as a springboard or a shortcut. Also, if you’re faced with time or budgetary constraints, a web design template can get you kick started much faster than coding from scratch. This also means the designing phase will be shorter – the development of your website will be far more efficient. Sites like Wix and Weebly are amongst the most popular do-it-yourself sites out there right now.

Conclusion

Both routes offer their own advantages and disadvantages. Weigh your website’s personal needs and goals carefully, and make an educated decision based on said needs and goals. Happy designing! If you need help with your web development project, Contact us today.