Monthly Archives: Feb 2009

Business

Another Freelance Web Design Nightmare

Design by committee leads to design on the fly

Paul Boag has posted recently at Smashing Magazine a great article about corporate website problems entitled 10 Harsh Truths About Corporate Websites. Actually the whole article is great.  Yet point number 8 got most of my attention and empathy – it deals with corporate website design. If you are a freelance web designer, like me, you have propably gone through that situation.  I have gone several times through that and I have  a very recent case of mine in which I had to recode the site five times because the partners of my client couldn’t make up thier mind. I have brought that section below for you:

8. Design By Committee Brings Death

The ultimate symbol of a large organization’s approach to website management is the committee. A committee is often formed to tackle the website because internal politics demand that everybody has a say and all considerations be taken into account. To say that all committees are a bad idea is naive, and to suggest that a large corporate website could be developed without consultation is fanciful. However, when it comes to design, committees are often the kiss of death.

Design by committee leads to design on the fly

Design by committee leads to design on the fly

Design is subjective. The way we respond to a design can be influenced by culture, gender, age, childhood experience and even physical conditions (such as color blindness). What one person considers great design could be hated by another. This is why it is so important that design decisions be informed by user testing rather than personal experience. Unfortunately, this approach is rarely taken when a committee is involved in design decisions.

Instead, designing by committee becomes about compromise. Because committee members have different opinions about the design, they look for ways to find common ground. One person hates the blue color scheme, while another loves it. This leads to designing on the fly, with the committee instructing the designer to “try a different blue” in the hopes of finding middle ground. Unfortunately, this leads only to bland design that neither appeals to nor excites anyone.

I hope you loved this realistic piece of writing about corporate web design. To enjoy the whole article read more at Smashing Magazine.

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Opinion

Donate and get 5 books for the price of 1

koalaSitePoint is running a great book deal to support the victims of the Australian bushfires. For the next 3 days, you can pick any 5 books (in PDF format) and pay for only 1. That’s about $150 worth of books for just $29.95! 100% of the proceeds from this sale will be donated to the Australian Red Cross Victorian Bushfire Appeal.

Yes, we’re serious: 100%. If you buy 5 PDFs for $29.95, then $29.95 is donated. Our ambitious target is to raise more than $50,000 to help the families and communities affected by this tragedy.

We’re offering our entire range of books — from PHP to Project Management — for the sale; designers, developers, freelancers, managers, and business owners alike will all be able to choose a selection of professional books to enjoy.

You have just 3 days to treat yourself to this amazing deal, courtesy of SitePoint, and know that you’re helping Australian families in need. What are you waiting for?

Go now at SitePoint and get five books at the price of one and feel it in yourself that you are being helpful to other human beings and other beings in the planet. Do it now, they need you!

PS: I just bought mine and donated at the same time.

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Design

Vector Graphics Editor Review: Inkscape

What is Inkscape?

new-inkscape-logo

Official Inkscape Logo

Inkscape is an Open Source vector graphics editor, with capabilities similar to Illustrator, Freehand, CorelDraw, or Xara X using the W3C standard Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) file format. Supported SVG features include shapes, paths, text, markers, clones, alpha blending, transforms, gradients, patterns, and grouping. Inkscape also supports Creative Commons meta-data, node editing, layers, complex path operations, bitmap tracing, text-on-path, flowed text, direct XML editing, and more. It imports formats such as JPEG, PNG, TIFF, and others and exports PNG as well as multiple vector-based formats. It can also export JPG with a little trick.

The main goal of Inkscape is to create a powerful and convenient drawing tool fully compliant with XML, SVG, and CSS standards. The guys over at Inkscape aim to maintain a thriving user and developer community by using open, community-oriented development.

The term Inkscape is made up of the two English words ‘ink‘ and ‘scape‘. Ink is a common substance for drawings, and is used when the sketched work is ready to be permanently committed to paper, and thus evokes the idea that Inkscape is ready for production work. A scape is a view of a large number of objects, such as a landscape or ocean-scape, and thus alludes to the object-oriented nature of vector imagery.

What is vector graphics?

Designed with Inkscape by Andy Fitzsimon

Designed with Inkscape by Andy Fitzsimon

In contrast to raster (bitmap) graphics editors such as Photoshop or Gimp, Inkscape stores its graphics in a vector format. Vector graphics is a resolution-independent description of the actual shapes and objects that you see in the image. A rasterization engine uses this information to determine how to plot each line and curve at any resolution or zoom level.Contrast that to bitmap (raster) graphics which is always bound to a specific resolution and stores an image as a grid of pixels.

Vector graphics are a complement, rather than an alternative, to bitmap graphics. Each has its own purpose and are useful for different kinds of things. Raster graphics tend to be better for photographs and some kinds of artistic drawings, whereas vectors are more suitable for design compositions, logos, images with text, technical illustrations, etc.

Note that Inkscape can import and display bitmap images, too. An imported bitmap becomes yet another object in your vector graphics, and you can do with it everything you can do to other kinds of objects (move, transform, clip, etc.)

What is SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics)

Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) is an open, industry-standard XML-based format for vector graphics developed by the W3C. Its acceptance is growing fast. Most vector editors these days can import and export SVG, and modern browsers (such as Firefox and Opera) can display it directly, i.e. without requiring any plugins. (For Internet Explorer, there’s an SVG Viewer plugin from Adobe.)

Is Inkscape ready for regular users to use?

Designed with Inkscape by Andy Fitzsimon

Designed with Inkscape by Andy Fitzsimon

Yes! While Inkscape does not have all the features of the leading vector editors, the latest versions provide for a large portion of basic vector graphics editing capabilities. People report successfully using Inkscape in a lot of very different projects (web graphics, technical diagrams, icons, creative art, logos, maps). For example, thousands of images on Wikipedia are created_with_Inkscape, as is the majority of the content on openclipart; many examples of Inkscape art can be seen here and here. We try to always keep the codebase usable for real users, as we believe that a tight iteration cycle between users and developers will give best results. You can start using Inkscape alongside your other tools now!

What platforms does Inkscape run on?

Inkscape is great for yet another reason, it can run in different OS. When I switched from Windows to Ubuntu, I was very happy for being able to use Inkscape in Ubuntu too. Inkscape team provides binary packages for Linux, Windows 2000/2003/XP (fully self-contained installer), and OSX (dmg package). It is know also that Inkscape is successfully used on FreeBSD and other Unix-like operating systems. Windows 98/ME is no longer supported.

How did Inkscape start?

Inkscape was started as a fork of Sodipodi, in late 2003, by four Sodipodi developers: Bryce Harrington, MenTaLguY, Nathan Hurst, and Ted Gould. Their mission was creating a fully compliant Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) drawing tool written in C++ with a new, more user friendly (Gnome HIG compliant) interface and an open, community-oriented development process. Within several months the project had produced several releases, demonstrating a sequence of significant new features and improvements to the codebase and quickly established Inkscape as a noteworthy Open Source project.

Can I create web sites with Inkscape?

Designed with Inkscape by Andy Fitzsimon

Designed with Inkscape by Andy Fitzsimon

Yes, Inkscape is perfect for web design. I have designed all my websites and clients’ ones with Inkscape. Many other webpage authors use Inkscape for website mockups or to generate parts of web pages, such as banners, logos, icons, and more.

With the recent advances in SVG support in web browsers (such as Firefox or Opera), using SVG directly on the web becomes more of a possibility. For example, with Firefox 1.5 or better, you can open any Inkscape SVG document right in the browser, and Firefox will show it correctly. In theory, SVG and XHTML can be used together within the same document, so interested users or developers can explore this possibility further. Unfortunately, even though SVG is the internet standard for vector graphics, some older (but still common) web browsers fail to support SVG.

Web page authors who need to support widest variety of web browsers convert each SVG graphic to a raster image (.png) as the very last step.

Conclusion

Inkscape is definitively a very powerful and promising vector design tool. As a Inkscape user and lover, I suggest everybody to go and download it regardless of thier OS. Also, you might like to have a look at some Inkscape screenshots or visit Inkscape galleries. Don’t forget to share your thoughts below and also consider subscribing to my feeds. Thanks very much for reading.

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Business

Motivational Sales Skills Speech of Warren Greshes

I came across this great video of  Warren Greshes talking very motivationally about selling skills. I wanted to share this with you and I’m sure you’re going to love it the same way I did. Watch the video, you won’t regret it. To learn more about Warren Greshes, just read below this video.

Warren Greshes is one of the Most Riveting Motivational Speakers in the Business. It’s been said about Warren Greshes that his presentations elevate a keynote speech to a form of performance art. Sharpened on the grindstone of New York’s cut-throat garment industry, where he spent 10 years as a national sales manager, his street-smart sales instinct combine with an electrifying style for a session you won’t soon forget.

As an expert in the area of sales motivation and personal and professional development, Warren has addressed corporate and association audiences all over the world. His corporate clients include: Bridgestone/Firestone, Hewlett Packard, Monsanto and Coca Cola. Warren has also spoken in front of some of the largest and most prestigious organizations in the world, including The Million Dollar Round Table, the National Association of Realtors and Sales and Marketing Executives International. International audiences find that his practical “real world” solutions and views on the global economy are right on the money.

the-best-damn-sales-book-ever-16-rock-solid-rules-to-achieving-successHis positive and pragmatic message has given thousands the power to overcome obstacles and “conquer the world.” His unique, action-oriented style and customized messages consistently earn him high praise from his clients. Warren hosts a weekly radio show, “Success Talk:  So, What’s Stopping You?” heard throughout the world on the World Talk Radio Network. In addition, he has produced audio and video programs in the areas of sales, success and customer service, including the award-winning “Supercharged Selling: The Power to be the Best,” and in early 2006 John Wiley & Sons Publishers will release his first book, “The Best Damn Sales Book Ever: 16 Rock-Solid Rules to Achieving Success!” Warren has served on the board of directors of the National Speakers Association, and in 1998 was awarded their highest designation when he was inducted into the Speakers’ Hall of Fame.

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