Category : Design

Design

The Importance of Choosing the Right WordPress Theme

wp-logo

Choosing a WordPress theme can be a lot of fun as it allows you to personalise your website or blog and make it your own. However, ultimately, it can have a significant impact upon your online project, whatever it might be.

Read More
Design

Fedora Logo Design Process

I came across in a blog post of 2005 the Fedora logo design process. I do share the same opinion as the writer of that post when he says:

It’s fascinating to see the process and justification behind a logo idea like this.

It’s really an incredible walk-through of a visual identity concept. To keep it short, enjoy the show below.

fedora-logo-process

How do you find this great logo process?

Read More
Code Design

UKlocum, my Latest WordPress Freelance Project

One of my many WordPress freelance projects I am working on is UKlocum. This is one of the many projects I have received from my dear client from Poland, Greg. When Greg contacted me for this project explaining what he wanted to do, he asked me if this could be done with WordPress. He had seen the potential of WordPress in other previous smaller projects we worked on. Before that, he had thought of getting it custom made from scratch, which would have cost him too much. So, I told him WordPress could handle it and we decided to go with WordPress. This site was a real challenge in terms of functionality and all this post is about is that WordPress handles perfectly CMS websites.

The Theme

uklocum

UKLocum Website Preview

This project was pretty urgent and I could not afford to design a new theme from scratch, having a lot of other works in hand.  So I decided to go for a free WordPress theme and tweak it to fit my needs. I looked around and I can say that the theme community of WordPress is doing a great job. What I decided to go for is the Magazeen theme that was featured at Smashing Magazine too. Do you want to know what I tweaked? Read on…

Theme Code Cleaning

As you may already know, coders code differently. That is why getting your hands dirty with others people’s code is not a very enjoyable experience, moreover, sometimes it is a real pain. That was the case even with Magazeen which I expected to be better coded. The problem with code was that there where redundant use of DIVS and not logical cascading of CSS. This is my humble opinion – check it yourslef to be sure.

Most of code clearing was easy as it consisted in just removing functionality that the theme came prepacked with such as comments form, advanced widgets, thumbs gallery other elements that I cannot recall now, but it is quite boring and frustrating in other tasks as the drop down menu integration below.

Suckerfish drop down menu integration

The Magazeen theme did not come with a drop down menu, so I needed to integrate one as my client, Greg, required it. Not going into much trouble, I decided to use the Suckerfish Drop Down Menu which I had used several times previously. Because the code was messy, the most difficult part was fitting the theme code to the menu rather than integrating the drop down menu to the theme. However, it ended to be a success.

Custom Banner Integration

The custom banner integration consisted in removing some code from the banner section and placing the banner image there. Also, to help SEO of the site, I used a CSS image replacement techinque for the logo so that the human fisitors can see the nice image logo whereas the search engines read the given text wrapped in <h1> html tags.

Color Combination Alteration

Pawel, my client’s graphic designer, suggested that we used another color combination that would go better with the logo and banner colors. I implemented that color combination and it resulted in  another success.

Welcome Guest or User

Under the menu, I integrated a piece of PHP code from WordPress to welcome a guest visitor and to tell them to log in or to register and also to greet a registered user and to allow them to log out from front page or any other part of the site, so that not to make them to spend time and click to go to admin panel to log out.

Extended User Register

Because of the nature of the site and the needs of my client, he asked me if we could extend the register form with other fields. So  I did, using a great plugin called Register Plus. This is a very feature reach plugin which would allow you do almost anything with your register page, from having your custom logo to adding a lot of functionality and fields. I want to immensely thank the plugin’s developer for offering such a great plugin to the WordPress community.

Events Manager

The most impressing part of the UKLocum is the Events Manager. The Events Manager is a plugin developed by Davide Benini. It allows you to manage events specifying precise spatial data such as location, town, province, etc. It allows your visitors to book their participation in listed events. In my opinion it is the best plugin out there for event management.

When my client, Greg, saw it, he was enthusiastic about it. However, we had to face a challenge with the events. We needed to have people register first for the site, after that they would be able to book the events. Taking in consideration that the plugin developers have fulfilled almost any need in functionality terms, I found the solution fast enough. I employed the HidePost to accomplish that task, just another great plugin out there. I hid the booking form from not logged in visitors, telling them to log in or register, if not, to be able to book the event. That was the happy end of our next challenge.

Bottom Line

What would be the last words of this long boring post? Hmmm! As you could have already deducted from reading this post, WordPress is being more and more important in nowadays web environment. Also,  running WordPress freelance business (perhaps that’s not the right collocation) is a great way to make a living by making money online. The last but not the least, if you need a custom WordPress theme or other WordPress services and, if you are looking for a professional and reliable WordPress freelancer, look no further than my contact page.

Don’t forget that your opinion is most appreciated – please share it below.

Read More
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.

Read More
Design

Web Design: Best of 2008

In the year that we left behind, web design trends and techniques where described in the opening paragraph of a post at WebDesignerWall by Nick La one of most prominent web designers of 2008. Here is what he puts forward:

This year, more designers are using the large background technique and utilizing Javascript frameworks (such as jQuery and MooTools) to enchance the user experience. I also came across a few designs that mixed Flash with CSS; perhaps a new trend we should look for in 2009?

He has been very descriptive in information and selective in words, letting us  have, in few words, a clear view of what 2008 contributed to the world wide web in terms of design and user experience.

I strongly suggest that you have a look at the article and enjoy the best of CSS web desing in 2008.

Read More
1 2