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Articles by ‘Rob Toledo’

Tools of the Trade for Web Designers

One complaint I hear over and over again from designers is that no matter how hard they push through the day, there just never seems to be enough time to get through everything they’d expected to. I’ve heard it often enough that I’ve done some digging to identify the problem. Sure, we could all be a bunch of lazy designers, but I think we all know that’s not true. So what’s to blame for productivity that’s not quite up to snuff?

The best I can figure is that we’re all suffering from a condition that I’ve dubbed “Old Guard Syndrome.” That is, we’re stuck in a rut. We aren’t taking advantage of changing technologies as quickly as software and online tools are updating what they’re capable of doing for us. We need to adapt faster if we’re going to stay organized and become more efficient. Following are some online tools that can help you streamline your workload and make each minute of your day count for just a bit more.

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5 Tips to Creating Stellar Videos To Describe Your Business

Done the right way, there are few trust-building, explanatory tools as powerful as a business video, especially for businesses with particularly complex products. But, of course, a poorly produced video will have the opposite effect, making a product and business appear unprofessional or behind the times. Here are our top five tips for designing a compelling business video that describes it all.

1. Plan Your Storytelling

First, clarify your purpose. Will this be a cut and dry video explaining what your product is and how it can be best be used, or are you looking to communicate a little bit more about your company’s background and mission? Next, think carefully about the kind of storytelling approach you’d like to take. Do you prefer a traditional storytelling structure with the description of a problem at the beginning and the discovery of a solution by the video’s end, or do you want to experiment with something more structurally wacky and creative? Will you rely on case studies and anecdotes, or do a few well-chosen facts and figures say it all? Oftentimes, it’s best to make an abstract product or process concrete through the first-person story of fictional customer X, or through the use of a metaphor that relates directly to your audience’s experiences.

If you’re really having trouble discerning your story’s arc, choose from a range of storyboarding or scriptwriting products to help you plan it out. In the end, it may even be worth consulting with a professional writer or editor to get it just right. The last thing you want is to discover you need a change of direction midway through a shoot.

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Optimizing Your Mobile Design

With page views from mobile devices on the rise, shifting focus from standard to optimized and responsive design has become even more vital in preventing alienation of your site’s visitors. Some of the obvious elements exist: you have to use responsive design to make sure that your mobile website will fit on any size of screen. You have to design your mobile website so that people can use it with one thumb while they hold their phone with the other four and their dog’s leash with the other.  You have to design a mobile site so that it loads quickly and puts minimal strain on the user’s bandwidth limitations.

But there’s much more to the mobile web experience. Mobile websites are more than just tiny versions of your website, because people interact with mobile devices in different ways than they interact with desktop devices.

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Time to Ditch the Bad Stock Photo Habits

Stock photos can be a great way to make a website pop. They’re easy to find, relatively cheap, of a high quality and are available in a wide range of subjects and genres. The problem is, many web designers don’t take advantage of this breadth, sticking instead to a few tried and true photos and looks that do little to separate a site or business from the pack. It doesn’t have to be that way, just as long as web designers think creatively about choosing, applying and editing stock photos in unique ways.

Avoid Cliches

While no formal study has yet to be completed on the exact number of times the image of sanitized-looking business people shaking hands has appeared on the front page of a business website, we’re betting it’s formidable. Using clichéd photos like this says to consumers, “We’re neither innovative nor up to date on the latest trends, and we don’t care what this says about us.” Stay away from tired imagery, including anyone laughing into a salad or struggling to drink water, families laughing together in fields, and a woman at a call center smiling into the camera.

Modernize your imagery to create more powerful response on a much cleaner design. Compare your website to real world architecture and recognize trends. Feel free to get a little bit riskier in your design, and react appropriately. You cannot A/B test enough.

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5 Great Tools for Finding Color Inspiration

There are so many great resources available to designers that help inspire and improve efficiency, but often, color inspiration and color search abilities are overlooked in web design resources. After all, it’s often just important to find an image, gradient, or palette as it is to find one with the right subject.

What’s more, color can be one of the elements that designers forget to focus on, in favor of the typography, layout, or imagery. And yet a gorgeous color palette can make the difference between a bland and a strikingly original design.

So if you find yourself in need of a color inspiration boost, not only will this roundup of great sites provide you with all the palettes and images you could ever wish to see, they’re also great resources for manipulating, creating, and sharing color.

Find the right palette, pattern, or gradient

5 Great Tools for Finding Color Inspiration

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Using the Cloud in Web Design

Cloud computing is revolutionizing the way web designers do their work, from designing to storing and sharing files. Instead of having to rely on one local computer or server to access software and projects, designers now have the ability to access these elements anywhere, and on any device. This technology has made collaboration easier than ever, with the ability to quickly share and discuss ideas, mockups and finalized designs quickly and easily with very little time spent arranging the logistics.

Below outlines more about the cloud and how it can benefit you as a designer.

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The Characteristics of a Successful Ecommerce Website

As one of the most complicated and interactive types of sites, a web store can be a daunting task for the uninitiated. Even if you’ve been working in web design for years, you might not know where to start. So once you’ve made decisions on the large-scale aspects, like a solid wireframe and clear conversion tunnel, take note of these necessary concepts that can help your site to greater success:

Choose a Niche that Suits You

You can find anything and everything on the web, so what’s to stop someone from shopping exclusively on big-box retail sites, and instead come to you? It’s important to provide a user experience that makes your customers respect your expertise. If you project a knowledgeable and dependable impression, customers will fell that it’s worth the extra effort they make to shop with you. Identify what makes your ecommerce site stand out, and highlight those attributes in your design.

Kiki and Bree

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