10 design mistakes that will bust your budget Tuesday, Oct 7 2014 

We identify 10 common design pitfalls and explain how to avoid them before it costs you a packet.

http://www.creativebloq.com/graphic-design-tips/bust-budget-123620

Not all projects are smooth sailing. Sometimes things go wrong,clients aren’t happy and the time and resources you originally planned to spend on the project expands exponentially. Your expected profit becomes dramatically scaled down and you may even end up making a loss…

Head some of the major problems off at the start by recognising these 10 common design project pitfalls and sidestepping them before they come back to bite you on your creative ass…

01. You said ‘yes’ but should have said ‘no’

design-busting-mistakes

You don’t have to – and shouldn’t – just accept every commission available

We’ve all done it. The lure of a big job can make you accept a commission without really thinking it through. Especially if you don’t have any other work on. But ask yourself: are you reallyright for the job? Does it excite you? Sometimes it’s better to say ‘no’ to avoid problems further down the line.

02. You didn’t get anything in writing

Whether we like it or not, sometimes things go wrong. Let’s call it ‘creative differences’ and leave it at that. Whenever you take on a new job, make sure that you get the specifics down in writing and make the client aware of how you work and what you charge for. Putting together some business terms and conditions is never a waste of your time.

03. You’ve got stuck in ‘design creep’

“Hey, can we just add this?” On those jobs where the brief you start with isn’t the brief you’re looking at now, find the decision makers, get them involved and motivated, and persuade them to sign off as soon as possible. Don’t do endless iterations trying to keep everyone happy.

04. You’re not around to fix anything

projm

If you walk away and leave your team to its own devices, don’t expect everything to run perfectly

Don’t walk out and forget the project on live day +1. Agree some performance metrics with the client, and measure them. If the project isn’t performing, take action instantly. Build this into your budget.

05. Your design is high concept, not high impact

It’s great that your design has swirly curls and uses that rounded new font that everyone in the studio loves. But if it doesn’t change the behaviour of the target audience, you have failed the client – even if the client loves it too.

06. You forgot you’ll be judged on design

Nebulous ideas like ‘brand awareness’ and ‘eyeballs’ can be useless in practice. No one cares whether or not the public can recognise a logo if they hate the brand and everything it stands for, and would rather buy from a competitor. Pick practical, useful metrics like sales, profits and cash raised.

07. You didn’t agree a budget

invoice

Your client may not approve your invoice if you didn’t properly agree a budget to start with

Find out up front what a client expects to spend, and give them something that fits the budget. If the client hasn’t thought about the budget, they haven’t thought about the project.

08. Your bluff came back to bite you

If you don’t instantly know the answer to a problem, especially when dealing with a client, it’s tempting to excude an air of confidence and respond “sure” or “no problem” as a first response, thinking you’ll think of something later. But if you don’t, it can cause a lot of stress and backtracking further down the line.

People are generally much more receptive to honestly than BS. So say: “To be honest, I’m not sure how we’ll resolve this. Let’s have a think and meet up tomorrow to discuss it.” Don’t see this as eroding your authority. By being upfront, you’re actually enhancing it.

09. You took on too much work

No one wants to turn down a job. But just because you once managed to get through three projects at once, don’t assume you’ll always be able to. Be realistic, and build some breathing space into your schedule for when things go wrong.

10. You didn’t stick up for yourself

If you’re the sort of person you seeks out the path of least resistance, then get out of the design industry now. While there’s no need to be rude or arrogant, if you let the client’s prejudices (“I don’t like that blue, let’s made it red”) dictate every little detail of the project then you’re failing in your duty to spell out and stick to your design vision. Ultimately, you’ll be judged on the end result of a project – not how agreeable you are during it. So keep that in mind throughout the process and you shouldn’t go far wrong.

What design mistakes have you made that you wish you could go back in time and change? Let us know in the comments below, and also read the biggest mistakes designers make.

Tags: DesignCareerGraphic designWeb designTips

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3-Year-Olds Can Learn to Code — One Robot Turtle at a Time Sunday, Jun 15 2014 

Samanthamurphy

Samantha Murphy Kelly

Samantha Murphy Kelly is a Senior Tech Correspondent for Mashable, where she covers lifestyle tech and entertainment. She joined the Mashable team in 2011 and is based in New York.

 

NEW YORK — It’s never too early to turn your child into a computer programmer.

A new board game called Robot Turtles is attracting plenty of attention at the 2014 International American Toy Fair for teaching kids as young as 3 the basics of coding.

Robot Turtles by ThinkFun is the most-funded board game in Kickstarter history, far surpassing its $25,000 goal with $630,000 in pledges. The company is now accepting preorders, priced at $24.99, and will ship in June.

The concept comes from former Google programmer Dan Shapiro, who wanted to share his love for coding with his two daughters. Although many computer-based platforms for preschools are already on the market, Shapiro wanted to take the learning process offline with a traditional board game.

 

Image

He designed the game so kids can pick up the essentials in just a few minutes. It’s also approachable for parents who might want to get kids on a tech literacy track but didn’t know how to get started.

The child plays the role of the programmer while the adult is the computer. The young player picks one of four turtles (blue, purple, yellow or red) and a corresponding jewel, and places them in different spots on the board. Up to four players can play at the same time.

The child has to direct — or write code — for the adult to follow and get the turtle to the jewel. Each card instructs the user to take a specific action, so the child can lay down a left-hand card or forward-step card. The adult then follows the cue from the card and helps move the turtle closer to the gem. The child then puts down another card to build a coding sequence.

Some obstacles, such as blockades or ice walls, come up along the way. Others cards have special abilities, such as shooting a laser to melt the ice wall.

“As the child gets more advanced, they can do more planning and lay down a few cards at once,” the spokesperson said. “Coding for kids is huge right now, but a lot of it is screen based because that is the obvious route. This brings the computer world to traditional play.”

 

Twitter Fail! 15 Things You Should Never Do On Twitter Thursday, May 8 2014 

By Tara Struyk

http://www.techopedia.com/2/29536/internet/web-20/twitter-fail-15-things-you-should-never-do-on-twitterTakeaway:

Twitter can be a great marketing tool. It can be a great way to network. It’s awesome for content marketing. Unless you mess it up.

Twitter Fail! 15 Things You Should Never Do On Twitter

Source: Flickr/xioubin low

Everyone’s on Twitter. Your friends, your colleagues, your boss, your kids, and even a whole bunch of petsinanimate objects and fictional characters. Businesses too, and in increasing numbers. According to a survey by Constant Contact that was released in March 2013, 25 percent of small businesses are now using Twitter, compared to only 7 percent last year. A 2012 survey found that Twitter was the most popular social network among big companies, with 73 percent of Fortune 500 companies reporting that they have a Twitter account.It’s not all hype. Twitter can be a great marketing tool. It can be a great way to network. It’s awesome for content marketing. Unless you mess it up, in which case you’ll probably end up looking like an idiot … or at least lose a few followers.

Want to get it right? Here are 15 things you absolutely should not do on Twitter. (For tips on how businesses can use social media, read Jedi Strategies for Social Media Management.)

Be an Egg

You know that little egg you get as a profile picture if you don’t bother to upload one? It’s anonymous, faceless and totally unengaging, which is exactly how you’ll come across if you use it. And that’s a best-case scenario. The worst case is that people will assume you’re a spammer.

Set Up Auto DMs

Twitter’s a social network for sharing cool stuff in a relatively public way; it isn’t for spamming people with offers or bugging them to sign up for your newsletters/reports/free e-book downloads. Or at least it shouldn’t be. When you share and engage with people via tweets, that is the networking. If you do it right, it’s a way to spread a message, boost brand awareness and even drive traffic to your site. Trying to squeeze more out of it by terrorizing people through direct messaging is like wearing a self-promotional sandwich board to a business lunch: annoyingly over the top. (Get more great tips in Social Media: How to Do It Right.)

Only Share Your Own Stuff

You probably know someone who monopolizes the conversation and only talks about him or herself. What a jerk. If you only post content from your own site or business and fail to interact with other people on Twitter, you’re sort of a jerk too. Social media is about beingsocial. Use your social skills.

Set Up an Auto Tweet Announcing How Many People Unfollowed You

Yes, there are actually apps that will determine who has unfollowed you on Twitter and tweet it out on your account. Maybe someone unfollowed you because they disagreed with your viewpoints, didn’t find value in your Tweets or just plain found you boring. Or maybe it wasn’t about you at all. On Twitter, people follow and unfollow other users all the time. No matter what the reason, announcing it is obnoxious. And really, Twitter has enough drama going on as it is. 

Talk Too Much (Especially About Yourself)

A normal (and by normal, I mean “real-world”) conversation goes like this: One person talks, the other listens, and vice versa. Unless you’re a comedian who can deliver a great punchline every time you Tweet, you’d better start listening, responding, retweeting and generally being a good conversationalist.

Ask People to Follow You

Will you be my friend? Please? Relationships got a lot more sophisticated than that right around the time you hit first grade. People will follow you because they want to, not because you ask.

Talk Yourself Up

You might be totally rad. If so, wait for someone else to say it. And please don’t use words like “maven,” “junkie” or “ninja” (especially ninja – I doubt you’ve flipped out and killed someone lately) in your Twitter bio. It makes you look like an @ss.

Use Too Many Hashtags

Hashtags work. They help other users find relevant content. In that way, they might help other users find you. #A #tweet #with #too #many #hashtags #looks #ugly. What hashtags are supposed to do is alert users about the conversation you’re joining, or what’s important or relevant about the link you’re posting. The hashtag eyeball assault that’s become common on Twitter is pointless. (Learn more important hashtag etiquette in Streamline the Conversation: How and Why Twitter Hashtags Work.)

Game Your Follower Count

Yes, you can buy Twitter followers. They are cheap. They might even be real, at least in the sense that they’re real people in some low-wage country being paid to maintain a Twitter account. What they aren’t is fans of your company, your business or your content. They don’t buy your product, or spread the word about what you have to offer. And they might even expose your real followers to spam (or you to embarrassment if people find out.)

Tweet Inspirational Quotes

A quote or two can be cool, especially if it has some specific relevance, but if you want to be social you should really have something to say. Otherwise you’ll come off as a wind-up toy. It won’t be long before people stop winding you up.

Use Too Much Stupid Vocabulary

Tweeple, 140 characters creates enough confusion in the Twittersphere, and that’s without made-up words like tweetheart and twesume. They’re less than twitterific … and they sound like a speech impediment.

Send Multiple Tweets

Tweets are 140 characters for a reason. There are some good applications for writing what are called “tall tweets.” Use them if you’re going over the limit, but do it judiciously. The best Twitter feeds have short, engaging messages and links that beg to be clicked. They don’t read like a novel.

Overtweet

In terms of an optimal number of tweets per day, there is a “tweetspot” (sorry, last one). According to a study released by Buddy Media in 2012, that number is about four per day. After that, you begin to suffer diminishing returns. Plus, if you flood your followers’ feeds, you’ll annoy the heck out of them.

Retweet Compliments, Retweets or Thank You Tweets

This might be a bit of a gray area, but retweets should be about saying, “Hey, look what this guy said. I like it, so I’m sharing it with you.” It shouldn’t be about “Hey, look what this guy said about me.” That’s what the Favorite button is for.

Send Spam

There’s a fine line between promoting your product and spamming your followers. This is especially true for those who sell a product or service. Yes, your followers might like to know about product offerings and promotions now and then. What they don’t want is to be plugged into your non-stop advertising channel. That’s grounds for an unfollow.

What Twitter etiquette rules do you live by? What do other Twitter users do to irritate you? Are you doing some of things on my list of don’ts and seeing success as a result? Let me know @TaraStruyk.

Bye-Bye Browsers: Why Facebook’s New App Links Are a Big Deal Thursday, May 1 2014 

Bye-Bye Browsers: Why Facebook’s New App Links Are a Big Deal

AT and T Expanding Fiber-Optic Internet to 21 Major Cities Friday, Apr 25 2014 

AT&T Expanding Fiber-Optic Internet to 21 Major Cities

AT&T Inc. plans to extend its fastest fiber-optic Internet service to 21 major cities, further ramping up competition with Google Inc. and cable providers.

Where is Cent. FL?

Where is Cent. FL?

The largest U.S. phone company said in a statement today that it plans to expand its GigaPower fiber-optic service to as many as 100 cities and municipalities. To provide service in select communities, AT&T will have to get approval from local officials. AT&T’s proposal is to deliver Internet speeds of as fast as 1 gigabit a second, about 100 times faster than standard Web access, along with U-verse television and other services to residents and businesses.

AT&T is racing against Google and cable companies to bring higher-speed fiber services to customers within its network operation areas. Earlier this month, AT&T announced plans to bring GigaPower to six cities in North Carolina. That move followed plans announced a year ago for faster service in Austin, Texas, where Google is also expanding its Google Fiber offering.

“We are excited to bring GigaPower to 100 cities and towns,” Lori Lee, head of AT&T’s U-verse unit, said in a phone interview. “We will work with local officials as we look for areas of strong demand and pro-investment policy.”

The 21 major cities up for consideration include Atlanta, Houston, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

AT&T doesn’t disclose how many GigaPower subscribers it has. The push to expand GigaPower won’t change AT&T’s 2014 capital spending plans, Lee said.

Google Fiber

Google Fiber began as a showcase for what people can do with dramatically faster Internet speeds. The project also was meant to stimulate competition among broadband providers.

 for Bloomberg

http://mashable.com/2014/04/22/att-google-fiber-optic-internet/

9 Simple Tips for Making Your Website Disability-Friendly Tuesday, Apr 22 2014 

9 Simple Tips for Making Your Website Disability-Friendly

The Internet isn’t always “one size fits all.” Every day, inaccessible web design prevents billions of people in the disabled community from an easy online experience.

For those with visual impairments, learning difficulties, hearing loss and more, there are dozens of unique challenges waiting behind every URL. But building a disability-friendly site is a lot simpler than you might think.

Laurence Berry, a designer for UK-based design and tech organization FutureGov who has also written extensively about accessible web design, says the easiest way to build user-friendly sites is to figure out their key obstacles.

“This sounds pretty obvious, but understanding the problems people with disabilities face on the web is the key to building an accessible product,” he says in an email interview withMashable.

Knowing is half the battle, but implementing the necessary changes for a more inclusive web experience can seem daunting. However, you’re hurting yourself if your website isn’t accessible to those with disabilities.

“If you just want to look at it from a strictly commercial perspective, if sites don’t consider disabled users, they’re missing out on a huge chunk of the market,” says Sandi Wassmer, a technologist and design expert who registered blind in 2008.

Approximately one billion people in the world live with disabilities

Approximately one billion people in the world live with disabilities, according to the UN. That’s a sizable chunk indeed.

In addition to those born with disabilities, Wassmer points out another user group to be aware of — the aging population.

“Some of the natural signs of aging, such as loss of sensory acuity, ability to process cognitive load and fine motor skills, all impact how older people interact with technology,” she says.

SEO, Your Website & You: 5 Myths & 10 Tips Monday, Apr 21 2014 

SEO, Your Website & You: 5 Myths & 10 Tips

April 14, 2014

Amazingly, even in 2014, many people have heard bits of information about websites and search engine optimization (SEO) that are either no longer relevant, completely misplaced, or simply erroneous. These all need to die really horrible deaths.

SEO Mythbusting

http://searchenginewatch.com/article/2339605/SEO-Your-Website-You-5-Myths-10-Tips

mythbusters

 

Myth 1: If You Build it, They Will Come

Myth 2: Link Building is Dead

Myth 3: Using Google Analytics Lets Google Spy On You

Myth 4: Ranking (Positioning) Doesn’t Matter

Myth 5: Social is the New Link Building

 

10 SEO Tips

OK, now we’ve debunked those common myths, what shouldn’t you ignore? Let’s look at some things that actually matter. Here are 10 of the most common missed SEO opportunities.

1. Google Authorship

2. Citations

3. Content

4. URLs

5. The Alt Attribute

6. Page Speed

7. Robots.txt

8. Penalties

9. New Sites

10. Get a Site Audit Every Year

SEO Isn’t Voodoo (or Black Magic or Even ‘Bovine Feces’)

SEO Voodoo DollRemember a few years back when SEO was considered “voodoo” or “black magic” by anyone who didn’t understand it?

Really, SEO is based on the rules of a mathematical algorithm. This means the site meets or doesn’t, certain points on a mathematical scorecard and your site is then adjusted accordingly.

Though we haven’t been given these rules by the search engines, we can test against the algorithm and do things we know work because a + bc. Math is predictable, testable, and somewhat verifiable.

So yes, even though Google does still suggest that SEO is… well, um, “bovine feces” – it really isn’t. As long as you’re doing it right.

 

RIP, the server. It’s time to breathe the air of cloud connection Monday, Mar 31 2014 

 

http://gigaom.com/2014/03/29/rip-the-server-its-time-to-breathe-the-air-of-cloud-connection/

SUMMARY:

Today, running your business on private servers is on the same level of odd behavior as carrying scuba tanks to provide a private air supply.

453612803

 

When you own your own servers, collaboration requires you to simulate the sharing that a cloud makes completely straightforward. If something happens on Department X servers in one building, and something related happens on Department Y servers elsewhere, it takes a ziggurat of middleware to make it look as if a shared process is taking place in a shared space. This is more expensive, more failure prone, and can’t possibly be more effective than the real thing: an actual, single, concurrently accessible work product on the shared foundation of a cloud service provider. That could be any of several reputable innovators, but almost certainly will not be someone who’d rather sell you software to run on your own machines……..

 

 

We live on a fully connected planet, surrounded by tasks that increasingly demand immediate scalable access to rich processing power–mediated by ubiquitous networks. No new company starts out with a budget line item of “buy servers”; even in the largest enterprises, few today would want to risk joining the hall of shame for managers who build over-budget and under-performing server farms, instead of marshalling modern cloud services to solve the problem.

RIP, the server. You were what we needed when there was no alternative. You’re now a relic of a time that’s almost unrecognizable today; you represent a cost that’s unaffordable, and unreasonable, for all future time to come.

 

Twitter-Owned Crashlytics Unveils Beta Testing Tool for App Developers Friday, Feb 28 2014 

Twitter-Owned Crashlytics Unveils Beta Testing Tool for App Developers

Kurt%20wagner

BY KURT WAGNER
 

Twitter-owned Crashlytics, a mobile company focused on crash reporting technology for apps, is testing a new tool that allows developers to beta test their apps with real users.

The “beta distribution tool,” as it’s called in the company’s recent blog post, lets developers ship early versions of their iOS or Android mobile apps to users in order to test for bugs and receive feedback. The distribution tool from Crashlytics is also in beta mode. Interested developers need to apply in order to gain access.

In other words, it’s a beta version of the tool for apps in beta.

This is the first time that Crashlytics or Twitter has ever offered a tool for developers looking to test their beta apps.

Why Mobile Is the Future of Advertising and Marketing Tuesday, Feb 25 2014 

Why Mobile Is the Future of Advertising and Marketing

Ignore the naysayers–we’re living in a world where smart phones are about to outnumber PCs. If you’re a company that uses advertising in any meaningful way, you’d better buy your mobile cruise tickets before the boat leaves without you…

 

By Tom Lowery

Entrepreneur, author, corporate training specialist

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