How to Improve Your Focus and Get More Done

Did you ever wonder why you are more productive on some days than on others?

A lot of the time it’s focus. Many of us are more focused on some days than on others. When we lack focus, we tend to work more slowly.

You may think that you can’t do anything about how focused you are. You may think that you just have to live with however focused you happen to be at any given time.

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Unorthodox Layouts: The Next Big Thing?

Graphic and web design are areas that thrive off the creation and manipulation of trends. If you’ve ever closely studied either area, you know there are many basic rules of thumb. From these basics spread many of today’s newest trends. The gift and curse of trends are they’re never a secret. Like any popular thing, once it catches on, it spreads and grows like wildfire.

With web design, we tend to find a new implementation of something ‘cool’ every month or so. Scrolling effects went from entire parallax scrolling sites to small parallax slides. Viewing sites on phones went from a separate mobile theme to responsive web design to “why don’t you just make an app?” in a matter of months.

In a few days, lots of people will sit at their desks and gather their thoughts. They’ll scroll through a bunch of website showcases and sift through Dribbble to find some things they like. They will bookmark some things, scribble down some notes and dump it all into a WordPress blog. Before they hit the publish button, they’ll proofread it and submit a guide to the world of the trendiest trends for web design in 2014.

Pay them no attention. If you want to stand out, then you have to stand out. No matter the purpose of a website, there’s room to do things differently. You don’t believe it? Let’s take a look

 

The Garden Edit

It starts off looking like a regular website; maybe a photography portfolio of some sort. But as you scroll down, you actually find out that it’s an eCommerce website where they’re selling products for your garden. Even the product pages have a different layout. They’re probably trying to show you their products are different than everyone else’s.

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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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7 Vital Elements of a Good Web Design Portfolio

How do you show prospective design clients what you can do?

The best way to show clients what you can do is to show them what you’ve already done. Direct them to your online portfolio.

If you’re a new freelance web designer, creating an online portfolio is one of the very first things that you need to do. As soon as you complete a project that you can be proud of, you can start to build your portfolio.

If you’re an experienced freelance web designer hopefully you already have a portfolio. However, don’t make the mistake that many experienced freelancers make and let your portfolio sit untouched for months–or even years. Your portfolio should be a changing online document that always highlights your very best work.

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On Vandelay Design Blog we share many examples of what a good portfolio should look like. Here’s one post with 50 Awesome Portfolio Websites. Here’s another post with 25 Beautiful Portfolio Website Designs.

While looking at the portfolios of other web designers can certainly give you some good ideas, it’s also helpful to have a checklist of elements you should include on your own portfolio. That’s what this post is for. This post lists seven vital elements that every good web design portfolio should include.

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14 Online Training Sites for Web Designers and Web Developers

You’re too busy to go back to school. At least that’s the excuse you give for not pursuing additional training in your field.

Well guess what? That excuse isn’t any good any more. In fact, it hasn’t been good for some time. And it’s a good thing too, because you need stay current in your field if you want to stay competitive.

You can get additional training on web design, web development, and many other topics from the comfort of your own home. You no longer have to go somewhere to take a class.

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Many traditional colleges offer online courses. In addition to coursework available online through the colleges, a large online training industry has sprung up in the past decade.

In this post, I’ll focus on online training sites. I’ll list 14 of the best non-college online training opportunities for web designers and web developers.

If you liked this post, you will probably also like: Learning Web Design: Self Taught vs. a Formal Education.

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How to Keep Rejection from Ruining Your Happiness as a Freelance Web Designer

Freelance web design is your dream job–and now, you’re finally living the dream. You’re running your own web design business, and you’re in charge. Things should be fabulous, right?

Well, not exactly. First of all, running a freelance web design business is much harder than you thought it would be. You’re doing tasks you never realized you’d have to do to keep your web design business afloat. (I can say this with confidence even though you and I have never met because nearly every freelancer goes through this experience.)

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Then there’s rejection. You never thought it would get to you like it has. After all, criticism never bothered you when you worked in a traditional job. But now it does bother you and you wonder what is going on.

In this post, I’ll take a closer look at an experience many freelancers go through–rejection. I’ll also give you some tips to help you get through it. I’ll also identify three types of rejection that freelancers are likely to face.

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What You Need to Know Before You Expose That Bad Client

If you’ve had a bad experience with a client, you may have thought about using your blog or social media to shame them.

The practice of client shaming seems to be growing. Just in the past month, I’ve seen at least four blog posts and social media complaints about companies who did everything from not paying the freelancer to using the freelancer’s work without permission. And let’s face it, it some cases making a client’s transgressions public can feel pretty good to a frustrated freelance web designer.

Of course, there’s the popular Clients from Hell website that could also be fueling the trend. While the clients are not identified on Clients from Hell and the stories are posted anonymously, I always wonder if clients ever read it and recognize themselves.

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While the decision to publicly expose a bad freelance client is a personal one, you should be aware of the benefits and drawbacks of doing so before you decide to do it yourself.

In this post, I share three reasons why some freelancers choose to expose a bad client publicly and three reasons why you might not want to do it yourself. I also list five alternative to going public with your client problems.

If you liked this post, you may like How to Evaluate Prospective Clients and Choose the Best Ones.

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20 Great Google+ Web Design and Web Development Communities

Google+ Communities are a great way for freelance web designers and web developers to connect with others.

Joining a community can strengthen your freelancing business in the following ways:

  • Networking. As a member of a Google+ Community, you have a chance to interact with others with similar interests and a chance to build relationships.
  • Reputation. By providing helpful insights and tips to other members of the community, you can enhance your reputation as a professional.
  • Resource. If you have a problem or question you can’t solve, ask the community. The insights shared by peers can be very helpful.

Social network or online community concept

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How to Prepare Your Freelance Web Design Business for Change

Are you comfortable with your freelance web design business the way it is right now?

Good. Now shake yourself out of that complacency.

No matter how comfortable you are at present, change is inevitable. If you’re not ready for it, your business will suffer. You’ll lose business to the freelancers who were ready for the changes.

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Fortunately, there’s an easy fix. Change doesn’t have to be painful. The fix is to be ready for it.

Prepare your freelance business for change. Become the freelancer who others turn to because you’re up to date.

Even though no one can completely know what’s going to happen in the future, you can prepare yourself for some types of change. In this post, I’ll give you some pointers to help you prepare for the three most common types of change–starting with professional change.

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