Articles by ‘Tara Hornor’

Best Twitter Practices for Improving Visibility

One of the best ways for freelance graphic designers and web developers to gain exposure online is with social media. Twitter is an especially successful avenue simply because it is such a common platform. Freelancers, big and small businesses, non-profit organizations, retailers, individuals – Twitter is full of world-wide activity, across every industry.

Photo Credit: mkhmarketing via Compfight cc

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Website Designs that are People-friendly are Google-friendly

Google has always had the goal of making sure that their search engine provides the most relevant results to searchers. Through the use of algorithms, Google determines how related a site is when an Internet user completes a search for a certain keyword or keyword phrase. Recently, though, Google has made some very drastic changes to its algorithms. These updates have left many unaware website owners wondering how to make their sites appear on Google searches.

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Why the Flat Design Trend is Hurting Usability

The flat design trend has taken over the graphic design world in a very short amount of time. One of the first big interfaces to go flat was Windows 8. However, it wasn’t until the release of Apple’s iOS 7 last summer, June 10, 2013 that we really saw a huge increase in the many interfaces, websites, apps, and more that adopted a flat design. Before then, most designs were skeuomorphic with lots of 3D effects, gradients, and texture.

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Programming Skills Most Desired by Employers in 2014

It’s no myth that programmers are a highly sought after group in companies all over the globe. In her Forbes article on the Top Jobs for 2014, Jacquelin Smith analyzes an EMSI job study, which found that software developer (applications and systems software) is "the higher-paying occupation that has produced the most jobs post-recession". She also points out that the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 30% increase in software developers between 2010 and 2020.

Joseph Mapua also points out in his article in SkilledUp that, according to the BLS, businesses are looking to hire IT and computer workers due to the high demand for implementing new technologies. Developing software, enhancing security, upgrading outdated systems are all areas for which organizations have a need for computer professionals.

US News Today came out with their list of top 100 jobs of 2014 recently as well. Software developer and computer systems analyst were the top two in the entire list! Within the list of tech jobs, the top 5 careers include these two plus web developer, information security analyst, and database administrator.

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Using Parallax Scrolling without Overdoing It

Parallax scrolling has been around since the 80s when video games used the effect to make foreground images move at different speeds than background images. It wasn’t until about 2011, though, that parallax scrolling became popular on the web after Nike released its Better World microsite in January of 2011. At that time, parallax was new and exciting. It made a huge impression on first time visitors because of the stunning effects. Now, it has become an overdone effect that is (hopefully) slowly dying down.

Just because an effect has been abused, however, does not necessarily mean it should be thrown to the wind. Some websites use parallax scrolling in just the right amount and the right way – to pique the interest of viewers but point them to the right places. Even ecommerce sites can create some pretty excellent parallax that lends, rather takes away, from conversions. For other websites, parallax scrolling ruins the entire experience of the visitor, turning their site into something very un-usable and confusing. So how do web designers know how to correctly implement this effect?

The first bit of advice to remember is that there are plenty of other ways to make a site stand out and draw visitors in to an experience without parallax scrolling. But if you must use it, then make sure to keep the following points in mind.

Use It for the Right Website

Not every website will benefit from parallax scrolling. In fact, parallax is not beneficial for any website on which users want fast information. Parallax requires scrolling patience, especially if in between helpful information are a bunch of added graphics and cutesy animation. These distractions will usually end up annoying visitors who are in a hurry.

Storytelling websites, however, can benefit greatly from parallax scrolling. Again, you don’t want to create so many extras that getting to the right information is almost impossible. But a parallax effect can really add to the experience and emotional response of a story.

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Is Responsive Design Still King in Today’s Mobile Age?

Asking the question, “Is responsive design still king in today’s mobile age?” requires some explanation. The first bit of information necessary for this question to make sense is the fact that mobile device use has increased exponentially in the last few years. According to an infographic from DigitalBuzzBlog, in May 2011 only 35% used a smartphone and 17% still had no cell phone, but by May 2013, these numbers had increased to 56% smartphone users and only 9% without a cell phone. In fact, mobile web use is growing 8 times faster than use in the 90′s and 2000′s. And half of average global mobile users access Internet primarily or exclusively on a mobile device. So a website that works for a mobile device, which include tablets, is necessary for any company to remain accessible and competitive today.

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2014 Web Design Trends – To Follow or Not to Follow?

The year 2013 and even 2012 saw several changes in trends for website design due to several large influencers. Google made several changes to their search engine algorithms in more than a few updates in past couple of years, forcing more websites to really cater to their audience in usability and content. The release of HTML5 gave designers a lot to play around with, which sometimes resulted in an overboard of animation, unfortunately. Responsive designs became much more necessary as mobile access to the web became much more prominent.

These examples are just a brief snippet of many of the changes that have influenced recent trends and that will continue to guide web design trends in 2014. Keep in mind, though, that most trends come with a downside – usually in the event of overuse. It’s also wise to remember that not every trend will be right for every single one of your clients. As a web designer or web developer, you have the responsibility of both keeping up with current trends as well as tailoring a website to your client.

So, read through some of the more popularly predicted trends below, and then decide on a client-by-client basis which of these trends to follow and which you should leave behind.

Flat Design

When Apple rolled out the iOS7 update, not everyone was a huge fan of the all-new flat design. Yet, Jony Ive seemed to know that it was the perfect time to let go of skeumorphism and introduce a much more minimalististic, clean, and straight-forward design. After the release of iOS7, flat designs started appearing all over the web. This year will probably be no exception in the continuing growth of flat design. It is not only mobile-friendly but also strips down a design to basics, often creating a much more organized look and feel.

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Top Design Tips for Improving Ecommerce Conversions

For three years now I have successfully avoided the Black Friday madness by shopping online on Cyber Monday instead of in stores. It seems that I’m not the only one either. This year many stores, such as Toys R Us, offered Black Friday deals online as well as in store fronts. This allowed me to get the best possible deals since different discounts were available for different items for each of the two events. Because of shopping online, I could easily jump from one online store to the next to compare availability and prices. The result? I bought way too many gifts for my kids this year simply because of the amazing deals available from multiple stores, all from the convenience – and safety – of my own home.

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Social Media: Finding the Balance Between a Waste of Time and Necessary Networking

Ah yes, the all too constant struggle of networking with social media. It’s one of those necessary evils that everyone, from job seekers to freelancers to name brand companies, have to rethink constantly. This is why it is one of the most commonly discussed topics across multiple industries. We all know just how important social media is, and most of us continue to struggle between making it a successful marketing avenue and a waste of time.

As a freelancer who has struggled with wasting hours on social media and completely ignoring it for a month (or more) at a time, I have learned a few ways to help me narrow this gap between the two extremes. Now, have learned how to better focus my efforts with social media. It’s still not perfect, but I am on the road to tightening down my efforts and am already seeing results. And for those of you social media skeptics, even when I was only flailing along with social media, I gained enough clients through my exposure via Twitter and Google+ that I haven’t had to search for clients since I became active in several social platforms.

If you are a business owner, freelancer, or even an individual simply looking to build up a strong network in your search for a career, you may find the following tips to help you better take advantage of the benefits that social media has to offer. Hopefully, some of the resources below will help you greatly reduce the time-suck trap many fall into with social media. Use your own experience in combination with these tips, and like me you may find clients knocking down your proverbial door.

So, take a look at the following 10 tips and resources and get ready to re-adjust your social networking plan into one that will waste less time and build more positive results for you and your business ventures.

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30+ Yummy Dessert and Candy Website Designs

There’s nothing like looking at pictures of candy or desserts to get the mouth watering. For designers, viewing creative designs can have a very similar affect! Sometimes just even the sight of a unique font or clever use of texture can cause a creative mind to start “watering” with ideas.

The following list of websites are all dessert, bakery, or candy websites – and all are designs that have more than a few inspiring aspects. A few are amazingly easy to navigate along with a clever design. Others have a beautiful home page, while some are creatively interactive. A few contain photography too brilliant to pass up. Some of the best below will get both your saliva and creative juices flowing, so you may want to have your favorite treat to munch on as well as a pen and paper handy for phenomenal design ideas that appear due to inspiration.

Be sure to share which are your favorites or even those you think are not worthy of inclusion in this collection. If you have a favorite dessert or candy website design that’s not included in this list, tell us about it!

Wonka: Feed Your Imagination

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