Articles by ‘Tara Hornor’

Daily Practices to Overcome a Creative Block

Creativity in web design, graphic design, illustration, and any other creative profession is an integral part of daily life. And if you, as a creative professional, have ever experienced a creative block, you are certainly not alone. Keeping the creative juices flowing and fresh day in and day out can take a toll after awhile, but some daily practices can be the medicine you need.

Even if your dream and your passion is web design, a daily job in this field can suck the passion right out of you. And believe me, as an online writer for over 7 years, I feel the suckage right down to my very bones. So, this article is as much for you as it is for me!

If you have come to the point where walking up to your computer to start work each day (or night, depending on your routine) leaves you feeling drained, then it’s time to make changes. Below are some daily practices you can start to enhance creativity. I know that “daily practices” can sound a bit intimidating, but most of them are very easy, will add only a few minutes to your day, and are actually quite fun. I have tested them all, and found out that all work for me, with varying degrees and with different twists. So, like me, you’ll need to pick the ones that work best for you, and add them to your daily routine in a way that works for you to really renew your creative flow…

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Animated Websites: 10 Designs that Wow

You as a web designer have the responsibility to suggest the right style and amount of animation necessary. A website should have enough humanity (via motion) for viewers to connect but not so much animation that it distracts from the message. Animation should increase the usability of a site, not make it more confusing to navigate. But of course, the nature of some websites allow for much heavier animation than others.

The following are 10 websites that utilize animation in varying degrees. Some are fully interactive animated websites, while others only include animation in certain sections of the design. All are great examples of when and how animation works for a variety of purposes…

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Best Design Blogs to Follow To Keep Your Skills Sharp

Designers who keep up with the latest tricks, tools, resources, and trends remain competitive much more easily than those who never check in on what’s new. And one of the easiest ways to keep your skills sharp and savvy as a graphic or web designer is to follow the best design blogs in the industry.

The only problem? There are way too many to choose from, it seems, especially if you are a newbie to online blogs. And, not every design blog is worth your time. So, I have put together a list of web and graphic design blogs that are my favorite and what I believe to be the best for a designer’s “continuing education.”

While there are many more excellent blogs to be found, the following list is limited to those geared to both graphic and web designers as well as developers. The list excludes blogs of a purely inspirational nature, since these, while certainly inspiring, don’t offer much in the way of actual skills. Another important part of this list are several blogs that offer freelance/ business advice and a few that help designers stay on top of the latest industry news.

Now I know that you don’t have the time to follow all of these, but my recommendation is to browse through each one and subscribe to those that interest you the most. You can always unsubscribe later if you find that some of the design blogs aren’t helpful to you…

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Client Acquisition Tips from 11 Freelance Design Experts

Being a freelancer is hard work. Not only do you have to keep up with work projects but you also have to keep track of invoicing, communicating with clients, marketing yourself, and even making sure you have enough work for upcoming months to keep bills paid. This can make freelancing quite time consuming and exhausting. Thankfully, there are solutions to keep clients flowing in without taking away from the actual money-making tasks.

Bringing in new clients can be less of a pain and time suck with the right methods, and seasoned freelancers are just the ones to ask. The following 11 freelancer designers are experts in the field and have a lot of experience in client acquisition. So, we asked these experts the same question:

What advice can you give on finding new clients and/or making yourself visible enough that your work queue remains full?

While their answers vary slightly, most of them show that gaining new clients can become almost automated, if you put in the right leg work in the beginning. As you read through the advice below, you may want to think about which fits you the best. Every freelancer varies in their gifts and skills, so pick the method that will be easiest for you to keep up with until the time comes to let your efforts bring the clients to you…

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Fantastic Examples of a Fullscreen Video Background in Web Design

One way to make a larger than life impression with your web design is with a fullscreen video background. I’m not sure if it’s the same for anyone else, but when I visit a website with a high quality fullscreen video right there above the fold, I am mesmerized. And suddenly, I justify the time to explore around the site to find out more about this wonderful organization that stated its message so artfully and gave me such a powerful feeling.

Now, notice I said “high quality” in my statement above. I’m sure most of you have come across websites with a video background that caused your opinion to drop several bars. So have I, and it’s less than disappointing. Usually my experience with these slow loading, poor quality fullscreen video designs ends up with me frustratingly exiting the website as quickly as possible. Fullscreen video backgrounds only work if they have the following components…

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25+ Fantastic Redesign Concepts for IMDb

With over 160 million visitors per month, IMDb (which stands for Internet Movie Database) can easily claim the title of the most popular movie database on the web. However, many would agree that the website is in dire need of an update. The app, while much better organized than the website, could use some changes as well. And really both the site and app should have a similar appearance instead of the current problem of neither looking much alike.

Many designers have taken it upon themselves to update the IMDb design. In fact, there are a lot of IMDb redesign concepts out there, but not all are any better than the current design. The following list, though, include some really fantastic redesign concepts. Some of the designs below would be excellent as is. Others have some great ideas but are a bit incomplete. All, however, are worth taking a closer look at on the designer’s portfolio, so be sure to click on your favorites to see more of the designer’s explanation for different design elements…

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When You Should Design Against Client Expectations

The age-old battle between designers and their clients rages on. Your client expects a certain type of design from you. They give you examples of what they want. Then they share their goal for this design, and your heart sinks. You know that they need something entirely different than what they expect to accomplish this goal.

Steve Jobs said something very wise about designing a product for a customer: “It’s really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” And the same is true of design clients.

Now, of course, some clients are the perfect client. They tell you their needs, their goals, and may even give you a couple of examples, but they leave the whole of the project up to you. When you present your design, they are in love and can’t wait to hire you for their next project.

But many times, designers have to be prepared to either sell their soul (i.e. creative pride) to get paid or be prepared to walk away from a project into which they have already put too much time. Any time you cross a client, you will probably need to be prepared for one of these worst possible outcomes. Remember the saying, “Prepare for the worst and hope for the best”?

Very often, you may only have to compromise a little on your design pride to get to the invoicing part of the job. But disagreeing with a client’s opinion is no light matter, which is why you need to know exactly why you should not always design to client expectations…

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39 Fantastically Creative Resume and CV Examples

A creative resume or curriculum vitae is one document you can’t skimp – and this is true for anyone but especially designers and other creative professionals. When applying for a job, the first impression you create is the strongest and longest lasting one. The same is true when making contact with a new potential client. That first impression has to help you stand out from your competitors.

Most of the time, that first impression is made online via an online application, your website, an email, or even social media. Hopefully, you already have a strong website, either a personal portfolio or your freelance business site. And hopefully your social media pages continue your personal or business brand look and feel. But what about your resume?

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22 Incredible Amazon Redesign Concepts

While Amazon.com started out as a small ecommerce store selling only books, it grew into the world’s largest retailer in a relatively short amount of time. This impressive company has now expanded into a retailer of almost any product you could ever want or need (including fresh groceries), publishing, instant streaming, and much more.

Being in the spotlight makes it, of course, vulnerable to criticism, including the design of its website and apps. But many of these critiques are not over-reaching since it wouldn’t be hard to find many to agree the site is a bit cluttered.

As such, lots of different Amazon redesign concepts have emerged over the past few years. Some create an entire new look for the site. Others only make a few changes to the interface to clean up the design a bit. And while all have differing opinions on how Amazon and its apps should look, all support the similar idea that it may be time for a touch up to the Amazon designs. Let’s take a look!…

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How To Build a Telework Team That Gets Things Done

Telework teams are becoming very common these days, especially with the growing amount of tools available to help companies keep remote employees accountable. In fact, an article on telecommuting in the NYTimes.com mentions that “those who work at home tend to put in longer hours and are often more productive.” Small business owners and freelancers can certainly vouch for this and know just how beneficial building a team remotely can be, even if only for single projects…if you have the right team building techniques in place, that is.

The entire process can be a bit intimidating if you have never used a virtual team before now. Hire the wrong members, and you could get burned pretty badly and may even lose valuable clients. Without the right processes, possibly even training, and of course the right technology, building effective teams is nearly impossible.

On the other hand, using team building techniques that have been tested by those who have forged the road before you can make your experience a very positive one. A telework team can save you money, time, and energy, providing you with a much better outcome for your clients than you could have produced on your own.

So, where to start? With the hiring, right? Wrong. Before you ever start looking for your team members, you first need to come up with a plan. The same NYTimes.com article from above points out that telecommuting “works best when a company has developed a plan, including the best technology to use.” The following will take you from the very beginning, your plan of action, to the actual management of your team using the right resources. Of course, you have to decide what works best for you, but these tips should give you a great starting point for the best possible results in building a team no matter the length of your project…

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