Effective Use of Blog Sidebars

While sidebars aren’t the primary focal point of blogs, they still have an important role in usability and appearance. A well-designed sidebar can make it easier for visitors to find what they like, which will keep them at your site longer and improve your overall effectiveness. On the other hand, a poor sidebar can lead to lost and frustrated visitors.

Before the re-design of this site was started, the sidebar (or in this case sidebars) was a focal point of need. I felt that whatever direction the new design went, it needed to improve the usability of the site by making navigation easier and directing visitors to the appropriate parts of the site. The decision was made to use two sidebars in order to include everything that was needed without cluttering up the sidebar too much.

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Are Paid Links a Necessary Search Engine Optimization Evil?

This is a guest post written by David Brown.

What do nearly all high ranking websites have in common? As a search engine marketing consultant, I am confronted with the task of evaluating the inbound links of thousands of websites each month. In doing so, I have come to the realization that top ranking websites continue to pay for links despite Google’s public disapproval. Google’s minimalistic efforts to combat paid link building force ethical search engine marketing companies to buy links in order to compete. If done poorly, paid linkers run the risk of having short-lived benefits and potentially harmful consequences. The following tips will help you identify paid links that have positive and long-lasting results on search engine optimization efforts.

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12 Realities of Pricing Design Services

For most designers pricing services is not something that is the highlight of the job. Still, it is something that you’ll have to deal with if you’re freelancing or working for a small firm. Here’s my take on pricing web design services.

1. There’s no exact formula.

Unfortunately, there’s no right or wrong way to price your services. Every designer needs to develop his or her own method for pricing, and even then, you probably won’t be able to follow the same formula on every project. Because each job will be different, it’s difficult to develop a method that will work well every time.

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June's Best: This Month in Web Design

Since it’s almost the end of June, here is a quick recap of 34 posts you shouldn’t miss, from a variety of design and development-related blogs.

Web Design and Development:

15 Tools for Faster Web Pages

15 Tools to Help You Develop Faster Web Pages from Six Revisions.

CSS Editors Reviewed from Smashing Magazine.

Using CSS to Fix Anything: 20+ Common Bugs and Fixes from Noupe.

13+ Fantastic Tools for Knowing How They’re Doing It from Noupe.

Absolute Positioning Inside Relative Positioning from CSS Tricks.

Design and Code a Website in Gimp, HTML, and CSS from Help Developer.

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What Should Separate a Premium Theme from a Free Theme?

If you’ve spent any time at all looking around at WordPress themes that are available either for free or as a premium theme, you certainly know that there’s a very wide variety of quality available. Of course, that’s to be expected when you’re dealing with free themes. Anyone can create and distribute a theme for WordPress, which is one of the strengths of using WordPress as your CMS or blogging platform. However, that also means you’ll have to be careful when selecting a theme.

With the rise in popularity of premium themes and the increasing demand for them, the line between free theme and premium theme can be difficult to distinguish. I’ve read from a number of theme developers that have been unsure of how to distribute their theme, for free or for sale.

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7 Ways to Increase Your Creativity in Web Design

Colored Pencils

For all types of designers inspiration and creativity are vital to success. If you read many blogs in the web design community I’m sure you’re familiar with posts of inspirational designs and, of course, CSS galleries . We’re so used to seeing the 100+ CSS galleries that exist to the point that many designers tend to rely on them too heavily.

While it’s productive and helpful to see excellent examples of work from other web designers, basing to much of your inspiration on other sites can lead to a lack of variety and innovation in design. Fortunately, there are countless other ways to improve upon the creativity of your designs. Let’s take a look at 7 of them.

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Vandelay Design Has a New Look

I’m happy to unveil the new look here for Vandelay Design! The new design is quite different from the old one, and I hope that it will provide a better home for the content of this blog. If you’re reading this in an RSS reader or in your email I encourage you to visit and see what you think (and of course if you’re already on the site please click around a little bit to check things out).

There were a few main goals with the redesign, which I’ll touch on in a minute, but ultimately I hope that it makes the blog a more comfortable and welcoming place for readers. Please leave your feedback, positive or negative, if you have a moment. Also, I’ve tested things myself, but if you see anything that’s not working please let me know.

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Understanding the Mentality of Your Visitors

Understanding the mentality of your visitors is critical. Their opinion of your website is more important than having a pretty design . Why do they arrive at your website? How do they arrive? What are they looking for? What will make-or-break their visit? What will make them come back?

If you understand why someone is visiting, then you can do a better job of giving them what they are looking for and you can make their visit more fulfilling. To really understand why someone is visiting, you really need to have an idea of who they are and what situations surround them. Knowing your target audience is crucial and it should impact just about everything that you do.

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