DesignM.ag » design http://designm.ag Articles and Resources for Web Designers Tue, 28 Oct 2014 15:24:06 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 15 Web Apps That Top Web Designers Are Usinghttp://designm.ag/design/15-web-apps-that-top-web-designers-are-using/ http://designm.ag/design/15-web-apps-that-top-web-designers-are-using/#comments Thu, 04 Sep 2014 14:47:57 +0000 http://designm.ag/?p=118734

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How well does your small web design business or freelance fare? Being part of a fiercely competitive business world poses many challenges, and you need all the help you can get. Hence, you may want to turn your attention to a set of web apps that are engineered to help companies like yours. This is a list of 15 extremely useful apps that vouch to improve your overall project and time management, file sharing, data collection, prototype presentations, and e-mail marketing.

Invoicing and Financial Apps

Nutcache

nutcache

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How well does your small web design business or freelance fare? Being part of a fiercely competitive business world poses many challenges, and you need all the help you can get. Hence, you may want to turn your attention to a set of web apps that are engineered to help companies like yours. This is a list of 15 extremely useful apps that vouch to improve your overall project and time management, file sharing, data collection, prototype presentations, and e-mail marketing.

Invoicing and Financial Apps

Nutcache

nutcache

Top-ranked companies have one thing in common: they all keep their finances in check. If you’re a minor entrepreneur who just started to freelance, or a small business owner, it’s important to understand that you can’t climb the ladder of success unless you know how to administrate your money. The internet is brimming with solutions that help you control every aspect of your cash flow.

Nutcache champions these services, and it gives you a superbly easy way to track all expenses, bill your clients, and create estimates. And you can accomplish all of the afore-mentioned tasks at no cost whatsoever. Even further, you can add as many clients and team members, and also use Nutcache to track your working time. Finally, I would like to add that this app is updated very often, and can be converted to be used in many languages.

 

Pulse

pulse

Your company’s cash flow is similar to the blood pressure of a human body. You don’t want to risk it. If it’s too high, you may not be able to keep up, and your ‘business body’ will see some regrettable decisions that have a negative impact on your wellbeing. On the other hand, if its values are too low, your business might suffer a complete blackout.

Pulse app helps you keep an upper hand on your cash. It will calculate your company’s real financial possibilities in terms of days, weeks, and months. Therefore, it’s a valuable assistant for making sensible decisions.

 

Apptivo

apptivo

Now that I’ve highlighted the importance of solid cash control and logical decision-making, I would like to introduce you to a multifunctional web app. As many as 130K IT specialists and designers are already using this software, which spread like wildfire in 40 countries.

Apptivo covers the financial aspects of your business, but in reality, it offers a whole lot more. It is designed to be the central deck of all your managerial activities, with a common data model. A total number of 45 apps is at your service. You may add your brand to invoices before sending them to your clients, as well as delve in project management, CRM, and time management.

 

Wireframing and prototyping tools

Proto.io

protoio

Let’s talk about your projects. Websites, web apps, and mobile apps take careful planning and have to be frequently tested during their period of ‘gestation’ in your/your agency’s lab. In addition, the client you’re working for has to see for herself/himself that you’ve been using your time to create a magnificent product. As such, you need to make sure your prototype is free of errors, and that your client gets a good presentation.

Proto.io runs simulations of your prototype, so you can discover any shortcomings and get it ready for presentation. By means of interactive elements like screen transitions and animations, your client can be made to experience a version of the app/site that comes very close to the end result.

 

PowerMockup

powermockup

It’s so frustrating when your co-workers or your clients don’t get the full measure of your project in-the-making. I guess that’s why they say that presentation is everything. However, if you’re reading this article, then it’s safe to state that you’re most likely accustomed to Microsoft PowerPoint. Go ahead and get your point across using a savvy little add-on for PowePoint 2007, 2010, and 2013. PowerMockup gives you access to a library that is packed with wireframe icons and stencils. You won’t find it challenging to single out those you need, then drag and drop them into your presentation. Moreover, you can also create whole new stencils using PowerPoint, and add them to the library for later use.

 

Collaboration and project management tools

Freedcamp

freedcamp

If you’re currently running a graphic/web design agency, then you probably learned the valuable lesson of collaboration. As the saying goes, there is no ‘I’ in ‘TEAM’. And do you know how you keep your team in sync and make sure that everyone is on the same wavelength? You turn your attention to project management cloud software. Freedcamp is the free app that helps you manage projects and keep in touch with any number of other users, and clients – through the Meebo chatbar. You will be able to appoint tasks, send invoices, keep track of time, and share documents from Google Drive. Other applications include CRM, Issue Tracker, Calendar, Password manager, etc.

 

Comindware Project

cominproj

Comindware Project is a great ally for your business. Depending on the size of your company and its requirements, you can choose an appropriate pricing plan. This cloud-based or on-premise app will save you a lot of trouble by taking it upon itself to automate your project planning and optimize your entire team’s workload. After you’ve assigned tasks and set priorities using the intuitive drag-and-drop UI, Comindware Project will take your settings into consideration, and schedule tasks of its own accord. The progress of your project is illustrated with a Gantt-chart, and any delayed task is re-scheduled automatically, so you always get a full view of the real milestones and deadlines.

 

Time Management

Toggl

toggl

When you’re working under the pressure of deadlines, time is of the essence. It would be very interesting to compare the time spent working on different projects, and see how productive you and your team were. Time management web apps like Toogl will help you monitor that aspect of your practice, and it takes 5-10 minutes of your time to use on a daily basis.

 

Timeneye

timeneye

Yet another spectacular tool is Timeneye. Time tracking is a good idea because you can study every team member’s performance in relation with time on various projects, and so come up with new policies that enhance your company’s productivity. Timeneye acknowledges the fact that time tracking solutions ought to be simple and fast, so you can even register entries from Basecamp, and this app will help you generate and export detailed reports.

 

Email Marketing

Mailigen

mailigen

If you want your design services to be in high demand, then you have to take proactive steps to make that happen. Cast the net to catch clients, by sending e-mail newsletters that look tempting. Mailigen will provide you with a wide selection of e-mail templates so just choose one of them and start ‘fishing’. The service then collects and analyzes your data, and gives in-depth reports and statistics that are worth their length in gold.

 

Sendloop

sendloop

You must’ve heard about Sendloop by now. If you haven’t, allow me to rectify that mistake. This is the web app that helps company owners conceive stunning e-mails, which are perfected to look flawless on the display of any mobile device. It takes less than 5 minutes in all, to drag-and-drop various elements and end up with gorgeous e-mails. Apart from helping you construct superlative e-mail marketing campaigns, Sendloop takes charge of tracking e-mail metrics in real time, as well.

 

Form builders

Gravity Forms

gravityforms

In the Information Age, you always need to make sure that you stay in the loop. Collect data from your target audience by creating simple or complex forms. Either way, Gravity Forms is very easy to work with. It’s a contact form plugin for WordPress, complete witha drag and drop interface, advanced notification routing, lead capture, and conditional logic fields. Furthermore, you can also use it to create posts from external forms.

 

Typeform

typeform

Why contend with bland-looking forms, when you can establish a mobile-ready and interactive communicating lane between you and the public you’re targeting? Typeform will help you create beautiful forms and surveys, as well as collect valuable data via contests and landing pages. Should you use this service for free, please be informed that you can send as many typeforms as you wish, and collect an unlimited amount of responses. Yet, the PRO plan also allows you to integrate payment fields, hidden fields, your brand in place of Typeform’s, and automatically respondent notification messages.

 

File sharing

Onehub

onehub

How do you and your employees or business partners share files? I must confess that my favorite web app for this purpose is Onehub. This service is very secure, and puts you in control of how people relate to those files. For instance, you can choose to set permissions such as viewer, downloader, printer, creator, and administrator.

 

SugarSync

sugarsync

SugarSync is another fine tool to share files with. I love the feature that enables you to render a certain folder ‘read-only’, as you may want to share some files to be viewed, but not altered. In all other instances, you can just share a public link, and the receiver of that link can download files and folders without having to sign up, first.

Conclusion

We have come to the end of our extended list of web apps engineered to make small web design businesses and freelance enterprises bloom. It is my sincere hope that your company will benefit from the new things you’ve learned here, and that this newly acquired knowledge helps you take a giant leap forward on the path to success.


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Building your Portfolio: Custom Website or Online Service?http://designm.ag/design/custom-website-or-online-service-portfolio/ http://designm.ag/design/custom-website-or-online-service-portfolio/#comments Mon, 18 Aug 2014 13:09:30 +0000 http://designm.ag/?p=117979

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Deciding when to launch your first portfolio online can be a challenge. It's tough to know exactly when your work quality is good enough to share with others. Plus how should you get it out on the Internet? There are numerous methods and building your own custom website layout isn't always the best choice.

I'd like to share a few ideas for creatives about building your first online portfolio. The process is much simpler than you might think, and the toughest part is making exemplary work to demonstrate your skillset. But how people find your work is also very important. I hope to shed a bit of light on this topic and help designers make the right choice for their online showcase.


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Deciding when to launch your first portfolio online can be a challenge. It’s tough to know exactly when your work quality is good enough to share with others. Plus how should you get it out on the Internet? There are numerous methods and building your own custom website layout isn’t always the best choice.

I’d like to share a few ideas for creatives about building your first online portfolio. The process is much simpler than you might think, and the toughest part is making exemplary work to demonstrate your skillset. But how people find your work is also very important. I hope to shed a bit of light on this topic and help designers make the right choice for their online showcase.

Self-Hosting your Portfolio

Building your own website can be tough if you don’t know a lot about HTML/CSS. Yet this is typically a popular option because it lets you create anything. The layout, the domain name, how the portfolio looks and the written web copy is all up to you. Might seem a bit stressful, huh?

Well it may seem stressful at first, especially if you’re brand new to the industry. I’d suggest looking into how much work is required so you can determine if hand-coding a website something you’d want to learn. Paying a freelance developer to code your website isn’t always worth the money – especially because HTML/CSS is so easy to learn with a bit of practice.

The more difficult part is knowing how to design a great website before coding. Arduous choices include building a helpful navigation, user interface, portfolio gallery, and color scheme(among other topics). You might consider looking into other design portfolios for inspiration just to get some ideas. But copying another design is not the answer. You need to create a design that’s somewhat unique yet true to yourself and your work.

Custom Themes

If you’re a little nervous about designing your own custom layout then why not purchase a premium portfolio theme? You can get them as cheap as $40-$60 from marketplaces like ThemeForest. Each theme comes with many different page layouts and portfolio styles which work nicely for writers, photographers, artists, graphic designers, even musicians or comedians.

The largest benefit of using a custom theme is the simplicity. WordPress is free to install so all you need is a domain name along with some web hosting. Just setup WordPress, install your theme, and customize to your liking. It’s real easy to start uploading your own portfolio pieces into the theme and you probably won’t need to change any HTML or CSS code.

If you are making your very first portfolio but really want to have a unique website(ie. yourname.com) then I would highly recommend starting with a theme. You may only use this for a few months or years before updating to a newer design. But it will show professionalism that you may not be able to replicate on your own. Custom WordPress theming requires not just HTML/CSS knowledge, but also PHP and sometimes JavaScript/jQuery. Theming is a complex task which anybody can learn – but it will take some time, and unfortunately you might not have that time available.

Popular Online Services

Aside from launching your own domain name there are many online portfolio services both free and paid. I’d recommend signing up for a couple of these even if you do have your own website.

Behance

behance network website homepage

Popular networks like Behance can get your name ranking in Google very quickly.

Quick ranking happens because online portfolio services have very good standing with Google’s algorithm. Your new domain name could require weeks or even a month to start ranking in Google. Using both a custom site and online service helps to get your name out there faster – plus you can often link to your personal website from services like Behance so that other users find you online.

When just getting started I would highly recommend Behance. The general service is free but they offer a pro account to build your own personal portfolio on their servers. It’s not totally necessary and the free account is more than enough to get your work out there.

Carbonmade

carbonmade portfolio service homepage design

Another great choice is Carbonmade which has been online for many years. Their free account limits you to adding only 5 projects and 35 images. This could be more than enough for a beginner so it’s never a bad choice. Each portfolio will look like a custom site using a subdomain like travisleekoller.carbonmade.com. Check it out and see what you think.

DeviantART

deviantart social network designers artists

The very popular online art community deviantART has to be one of my favorites. The site is a bit more laid-back yet still serves as a great place to share creative work. DA behaves more like a social network, so artists will post work and other users can leave comments & critiques.

Still a great place to use if you want to share alternative work that you don’t wish to include in your main portfolio. Also deviantART is free forever and there aren’t any upload limitations.

Coroflot

coroflot website portfolio layout design

One other suggestion is Coroflot which combines unique portfolios along with open design jobs. This site behaves like a social network for creative people and companies looking to hire creative people. You can signup for free to get started with lots of great portfolio features.

Coroflot is aimed at those who also want to put themselves out there for hire. The profile page is perfect for potential hirers looking for hirees to fill a role in their studio or company. Many big-time companies use Coroflot for job offerings and although it’s still a competitive industry, signing up for your own portfolio certainly can’t hurt the odds.

Closing

As you might imagine there is no single correct answer when it comes to portfolio design. In fact, many designers will have their own website coupled with online profiles like Behance and Dribbble. Just getting your work online is a big first step. When potential employers or clients search your name it should return quite a few results demonstrating your expertise. But when you’re just getting started pick whatever feels most comfortable and keep pushing yourself! The best creative people know that you’re never done learning – it’s always a growth process.


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30 Elegant Themes for Ghosthttp://designm.ag/resources/30-elegant-themes-for-ghost/ http://designm.ag/resources/30-elegant-themes-for-ghost/#comments Thu, 12 Jun 2014 14:19:26 +0000 http://designm.ag/?p=80906

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A year ago, finding a blogging platform that focused on blogging was impossible. Even content creation platforms that advertised as having an easy set-up and were specifically for bloggers seemed to focus mostly on the creation of the layout of a blog. For instance, WordPress has some amazing news and magazine themes, but it certainly isn't a quick set-up. Tumblr themes are a bit simpler but still come with some bells and whistles that many found annoying. Bloggers just wanted to be able to quickly set up a simple but professionally designed blog and start publishing.John O'Nolan was one such blogger who became frustrated enough with the situation that he hired Hannah Wolfe as lead developer, received funding through Kickstarter, and created a simple blogging platform called Ghost. With so many supporters due to blogging platform ire already, Ghost quickly received the funding it needed to launch on 14 October 2013. The other good news is that there are themes for more than just writers. Portfolio ghost themes are also emerging.So, if you are a blogger or a designer looking to set up a simple blogging or even portfolio platform, Ghost is one platform that brings content back to the forefront on the web. In fact, below is a list of 30 of our favorite ghost themes so far. All are very elegant and, most importantly, provide a clean layout to help your content shine.

1. Penman


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A year ago, finding a blogging platform that focused on blogging was impossible. Even content creation platforms that advertised as having an easy set-up and were specifically for bloggers seemed to focus mostly on the creation of the layout of a blog. For instance, WordPress has some amazing news and magazine themes, but it certainly isn’t a quick set-up. Tumblr themes are a bit simpler but still come with some bells and whistles that many found annoying. Bloggers just wanted to be able to quickly set up a simple but professionally designed blog and start publishing.

John O’Nolan was one such blogger who became frustrated enough with the situation that he hired Hannah Wolfe as lead developer, received funding through Kickstarter, and created a simple blogging platform called Ghost. With so many supporters due to blogging platform ire already, Ghost quickly received the funding it needed to launch on 14 October 2013. The other good news is that there are themes for more than just writers. Portfolio ghost themes are also emerging.

So, if you are a blogger or a designer looking to set up a simple blogging or even portfolio platform, Ghost is one platform that brings content back to the forefront on the web. In fact, below is a list of 30 of our favorite ghost themes so far. All are very elegant and, most importantly, provide a clean layout to help your content shine.

1. Penman

Demo & Download

2. Tasty

Demo & Download

3. Ghost – The Journey

Demo & Download

4. Nonus

Demo & Download

5. Helios

Demo & Download

6. Fixy

Demo & Download

7. Omikron

Demo & Download

8. Ghostwall

Demo & Download

9. Aperture

Demo & Download

10. Demon’strate

Demo & Download

11. Penoolis

Demo & Download

12. Ghex

Demo & Download

13. Ghost Stories

Demo & Download

14. Glampagne

Demo & Download

15. The Classy

Demo & Download

16. Cameraman

Demo & Download

17. Retro

Demo & Download

18. Ghoststrap

Demo & Download

19. Ghostentista

Demo & Download

20. Ghostium

Demo & Download

21. Swayze

Demo & Download

22. GhostScroll

Demo & Download

23. Simply Pure

Demo & Download

24. Magnum

Demo & Download

25. Suave

Demo & Download

26. StoryLane

Demo & Download

27. Banshee

Demo & Download

28. Curri

Demo & Download

29. Chronicle

Demo & Download

30. Writr

Demo & Download


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30 Opera Browser Extensions for Web Designers and Developershttp://designm.ag/design/30-opera-extensions-for-designers-developers/ http://designm.ag/design/30-opera-extensions-for-designers-developers/#comments Mon, 28 Apr 2014 12:24:43 +0000 http://designm.ag/?p=84292

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The Opera web browser is a great choice for reliable cross-platform Internet surfing. It's typically quicker than Firefox and offers a longer development history than Chrome. The Opera team works hard to create an expansive browser with plenty of extra features to keep users coming back. And it's fair to say the people who use Opera definitely enjoy the program.

This gallery is dedicated to extensions for Opera which can help you design, take apart, reconstruct, or analyze websites. Both designers and developers will find something useful in this collection. Whether you're a long-time user or might just try Opera on a whim, this post has an extension for every web enthusiast.

Validator

w3c validator html opera browser extension


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The Opera web browser is a great choice for reliable cross-platform Internet surfing. It’s typically quicker than Firefox and offers a longer development history than Chrome. The Opera team works hard to create an expansive browser with plenty of extra features to keep users coming back. And it’s fair to say the people who use Opera definitely enjoy the program.

This gallery is dedicated to extensions for Opera which can help you design, take apart, reconstruct, or analyze websites. Both designers and developers will find something useful in this collection. Whether you’re a long-time user or might just try Opera on a whim, this post has an extension for every web enthusiast.

Validator

w3c validator html opera browser extension

HTML Color Coder

html color code picker hex opera extension

Web Developer

web developer browser opera extension tools

User-Agent Switcher

user agent switcher opera browser extension

Live HTTP Headers

live http headers browser opera extension

Color Picker Extension

color picker extension opera design browser

Source

opera view source syntax dom website development extension

Edit the Page

edit html css page opera extension development

OMeasure!

omeasure opera extension plugin measuring width

Scripter

scripter script inclusion checker opera extension

Firebug Lite

firebug lite button browser opera extension

Auto-Ipsum

auto ipsum lorem opera browser extension design

Responsive Design Tester

test web design responsive layout checker extension for opera

JsonViewer

json viewer extension reader syntax extension

Xdebug

opera extension script xdebug php development ide

Readable JavaScript

readable javascript extension opera web browser

ScriptKeeper

scriptkeeper extension no script blocking opera

AutoPager

autopager auto pagination extension browser opera

Edit This Cookie

extension opera browser edit website cookies

MakeLinks

makelinks display popup previews for hyperlinks

Images Dimensions

image dimension checker preview extension opera

Encode-Decode HTML

encode decode html entities extension opera browser

URL Encoder/Decoder

url encode decode slashes extension browser opera

Server Details

server details website hosting extension opera

Tab Accordion

tab accordion extension opera browser design

Ghostery

website checker scripts ads ghostery opera extension

Shorten URL

opera extension popup browser toolbar shorten url

.no { CSS }

no css opera extension details

Script Weeder

script weeder cleaning js javascript

The Developer Briefcase

the developer briefcase opera browser extension


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