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Articles by ‘Tara Hornor’

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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A Web Designer’s Guide to Marketing on Facebook

There are many articles to be found on how creative professionals can market on Twitter, Pinterest, even Linkedin. Yet not many seem to push Facebook as a social media focus specifically for web designers. Many experts mention LinkedIn, Twitter, Behance, Instagram, and other creative portfolios as top social media networks for creative professionals, and it’s easy to see why.

You have to go where your audience is. Web designers should market themselves to businesses, startups, non-profits, and one of the best places to connect with professionals in the corporate world is LinkedIn. Twitter is great for making connections with other web professionals who can lead you to new clients, and Behance is a common portfolio platform that many use for research.

Yet Facebook is also an excellent platform on which web designers can create important connections, and it doesn’t take as much time as you would think. You may decide that Facebook is not the platform for you to spend the majority of your time for social media marketing, but it still is too valuable to completely pass up.

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8 Small but Powerful Tips for a Standout Website Design

Every one of your clients wants to (or at least should want to) stand out from their competition. To be distinguished is to be memorable. Your client’s job is to provide a solid business. Your job as a web designer is to make sure that they get both noticed in the first place and remembered so that they have an audience to whom they can demonstrate their excellence.

Creating a standout website design is not exactly the easiest task. It is much easier to pick a common layout and fill in the blanks or to pick a design trend and build a website around it. Neither of these methods will help you create a website that breaks the mold, though.

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Google Should Penalize Multi-Page Articles: Here’s Why

When writing most articles, I usually end up on some news blog at some point or another searching for facts, statistics, or a reference to back up my opinion. As a health nut, I often find myself browsing through nutrition or fitness blogs for updated findings on health.

The problem is that many of these informational or news websites make it extremely difficult to do what I do best when I need to digest a bunch of information in a short amount of time: skim the content quickly to pick up the main points. Why is so hard to skim these articles? Because the blogs break up the information into several pages. These multi-page articles (also called slideshow or pagination posts) require me to click somewhere on the page to get to the next section in the article, thereby forcing me to spend way more time than necessary reading an article.

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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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How to Create a Strong Brand as a Web Professional

Knowing how to create a strong brand is incredibly important whether you are a freelancer, own an agency, or have just graduated from school. In fact, for many web professionals, their business brand IS their personal brand since they are usually the sole provider of services to clients.

Web designers, developers, SEO experts, online marketers, and other Internet careerists have to make sure that their brand stands out in a unique way. After all, they are competing with thousands of others advertising their web services online. Another part of building a strong brand is the ability to connect emotionally with prospective clients. This way, clients feel more of a connection and even an investment in you, and therefore are more likely to turn to you when they need your services.

Photo Credit: Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com via Compfight cc

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How to Help Your Client Decide if a Native App is Necessary

More and more people across the world are using their mobile devices to access digital content. According to eMarketer, mobile phone use will grow from 61.1% to 69.4% worldwide. The same article also claims that nearly one-fourth of the global population use a smartphone monthly, but by 2017, this number will increase to 50%.

American cell phone use has already surpassed the global numbers. The Pew Internet Research discovered that as of 2014, 90% of American adults own a cell phone, and 58% of those cell phone owners have a smartphone. Interestly enough, though, America only ranked number 13 in the 2013 list of countries with highest smartphone penetration. The top 5 in the list were United Arab Emirates, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, and Norway, respectively:

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Best Twitter Practices for Improving Visibility

One of the best ways for freelance graphic designers and web developers to gain exposure online is with social media. Twitter is an especially successful avenue simply because it is such a common platform. Freelancers, big and small businesses, non-profit organizations, retailers, individuals – Twitter is full of world-wide activity, across every industry.

Photo Credit: mkhmarketing via Compfight cc

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Why the Flat Design Trend is Hurting Usability

The flat design trend has taken over the graphic design world in a very short amount of time. One of the first big interfaces to go flat was Windows 8. However, it wasn’t until the release of Apple’s iOS 7 last summer, June 10, 2013 that we really saw a huge increase in the many interfaces, websites, apps, and more that adopted a flat design. Before then, most designs were skeuomorphic with lots of 3D effects, gradients, and texture.

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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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25 Awesome Websites for Unique Businesses

Now that nearly every business in every niche and industry is online these days, it can be difficult for even the highly unique businesses to stand out. Small businesses have a need to be highly innovative and original to really draw in loyal clients, and one way to be innovative is with your brand elements, including your website.

An awesome website that portrays a highly original brand story is one that clients will not only stay on longer but are more likely to convert into loyal fans and customers. The following collection of websites include stunning website design for unique businesses. In the list below, unique doesn’t necessarily mean a completely new and innovative service or product, although a few of the following businesses fall into this category. Unique also stands for businesses that were innovative in their brand story – in the way they portray their brands on their websites.

So take a look and let us know which ones below were the most successful in presenting their business in a unique way with an incredible website.

East African Bakery

East African Bakery

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Using Parallax Scrolling without Overdoing It

Parallax scrolling has been around since the 80s when video games used the effect to make foreground images move at different speeds than background images. It wasn’t until about 2011, though, that parallax scrolling became popular on the web after Nike released its Better World microsite in January of 2011. At that time, parallax was new and exciting. It made a huge impression on first time visitors because of the stunning effects. Now, it has become an overdone effect that is (hopefully) slowly dying down.

Just because an effect has been abused, however, does not necessarily mean it should be thrown to the wind. Some websites use parallax scrolling in just the right amount and the right way – to pique the interest of viewers but point them to the right places. Even ecommerce sites can create some pretty excellent parallax that lends, rather takes away, from conversions. For other websites, parallax scrolling ruins the entire experience of the visitor, turning their site into something very un-usable and confusing. So how do web designers know how to correctly implement this effect?

The first bit of advice to remember is that there are plenty of other ways to make a site stand out and draw visitors in to an experience without parallax scrolling. But if you must use it, then make sure to keep the following points in mind.

Use It for the Right Website

Not every website will benefit from parallax scrolling. In fact, parallax is not beneficial for any website on which users want fast information. Parallax requires scrolling patience, especially if in between helpful information are a bunch of added graphics and cutesy animation. These distractions will usually end up annoying visitors who are in a hurry.

Storytelling websites, however, can benefit greatly from parallax scrolling. Again, you don’t want to create so many extras that getting to the right information is almost impossible. But a parallax effect can really add to the experience and emotional response of a story.

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2014 Web Design Trends – To Follow or Not to Follow?

The year 2013 and even 2012 saw several changes in trends for website design due to several large influencers. Google made several changes to their search engine algorithms in more than a few updates in past couple of years, forcing more websites to really cater to their audience in usability and content. The release of HTML5 gave designers a lot to play around with, which sometimes resulted in an overboard of animation, unfortunately. Responsive designs became much more necessary as mobile access to the web became much more prominent.

These examples are just a brief snippet of many of the changes that have influenced recent trends and that will continue to guide web design trends in 2014. Keep in mind, though, that most trends come with a downside – usually in the event of overuse. It’s also wise to remember that not every trend will be right for every single one of your clients. As a web designer or web developer, you have the responsibility of both keeping up with current trends as well as tailoring a website to your client.

So, read through some of the more popularly predicted trends below, and then decide on a client-by-client basis which of these trends to follow and which you should leave behind.

Flat Design

When Apple rolled out the iOS7 update, not everyone was a huge fan of the all-new flat design. Yet, Jony Ive seemed to know that it was the perfect time to let go of skeumorphism and introduce a much more minimalististic, clean, and straight-forward design. After the release of iOS7, flat designs started appearing all over the web. This year will probably be no exception in the continuing growth of flat design. It is not only mobile-friendly but also strips down a design to basics, often creating a much more organized look and feel.

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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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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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