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#14730 Copy Clinic #1: You are not your client

Posted by Notbanksys Copy Shoppe on 14 May 2013 - 22:22

Welcome to part 1 of my brand spanking new Copy Clinic series. These articles are aimed at you lot, with particular attention to the humble freelance web designer, but the techniques you'll learn will be invaluable whatever copy you need to write.

 

Ready? Go!

 

When it comes to web design, you lot are the mutts nuts, but I'm aware that there's a fair bit of uncertainty surrounding writing copy for your portfolio sites in particular. You may even think you're just not cut out to write anything.

 

But here you are, day after day, writing reams of really good stuff right here on this forum. I'm going to show you how to modify your skillz to help get more clicks on your HIRE ME buttons.

 

There are two really important things you can do to make your copy ten times better. Only two. Get them right, and your web copy will be transformed. I promise.

 

First up, you need to change your perspective. When you wrote your site, you probably thought you needed to write about your business? What you're good at, how you do things, and what you think is important in web design? So long as you carry on writing about yourself, you're going to risk alienating prospects. Why? Because they're not interested in reading about you!

 

Clients want to hear about themselves. You need to get inside their heads, and modify your message to suit their needs and expectations. Good news is, this is much easier than you think.

 

All you have to do is become your client.

 

A web design client generally wants the following:

  • A web designer who answers the phone when it rings, takes time to listen, and replies in a friendly, helpful way.
  • Someone who can steer their web project in an affordable and profitable direction.
  • Someone who can justify their design choices, and explain them clearly.
  • Someone who's not too proud to let the client stick their oar in (sorry clients)
  • Someone who knows how to get clicks goddamnit

 

Every time you write 'clean web design', 'html5', 'responsive techniques' and 'custom wordpress code', you risk your prospects thinking so what?. They don't need to know technicalities, they need to know there's a high chance of success when they work with you.

 

So give them what they want. Stylish, sexy design? Good. Quick loading times? Excellent. Easy to get hold of, and quick to act? Brilliant. A return on their investment? BINGO.

 

Compare this:

BS Web Designs offer affordable and clean web design that excels in every way, and is coded to industry standards

 

 

With this:


Take the stress out of success with a custom-built, high-performance website designed for maximum return on investment

 

 

You see what else I did? I gave it personality. You know, that thing you have when you talk to people, that you throw out of the window as soon as you write something down.

 

This is the second important thing you need to know.

 

Forget what they taught you in school, and write how you talk. Ok, if you're all innit tho blud, and fo' shizzle fam you might want to tart it up a bit, but as a rule, copy only works if it reads as though someone is speaking it.

 

It doesn't matter whether you're marketing to the top or the bottom end of the market. People buy from people. So relax, step into your prospects' shoes, and be yourself, and watch your inbox fill up!

 

And that's a wrap!

 

What do you want to learn about in article #2?


  • 18


#11397 Please read this topic before posting - Looking to Hire posting rules

Posted by MikeChipshop on 05 April 2013 - 10:20

Welcome to The Web Designer Forum (tWDF to our friends!).

 

We're pretty pleased you're looking to hire someone, it shows you've thought about your site and that you'd like it done properly by a professional. So if you read these few F.A.Q, you'll be well on your way to the website of your dreams!

 

  • All offers and discussions are to be carried out by Private Messaging or Email. No private discussions to be carried out on the thread except for those that relate directly to the job at hand, such as any question that have been asked that may be needed to facilitate the smooth running of the job.
  • As with any professional, we work for money and this means that you need to have a budget.
    Anyone who posts in the looking to hire section must have a budget designated for the project. This means letting us know what your budget is or be willing to accept quotes for the work to be carried out.
  • Have an idea of what it is you want doing in the first place. "I want a website" isn't a satisfactory statement. Think about what you want to achieve from the site, how many visitors you're expecting and the functionality you expect.
  • Have a time-frame in mind but be aware this will depend on what you want doing. "I want a whole site by 5PM" just isn't going to fly.
  • Be realistic with your goals. We hate nothing more than "I want the next Facebook". Although the next Facebook could be out there somewhere, the level of work and budget needed to carry out such a build are huge. Just remember this.
  • No partnership offers / pay when complete / equity in the company / free advertising exposure offers. This is not the place for discussing those.
  • No "Spec Work" - http://www.nospec.com/faq
  • tWDF holds no responsibility for any of the work that passes through this part of the board. We're just here to give people a place to find each other and that's it.
  • Unless otherwise stated by the thread starter, no cross country working. We'd always encourage anyone seeking someone to complete a job for them to find a professional from as close to them geographically as possible.
  • Please do not post here if you're from outside of Europe, The USA or Australasia. 
  • Tag your post with either "Permanent", "Contract" or "Freelance" and tick "Use first tag as prefix"

 

All topics created made in this board have to be approved by a Moderator before they become visible to the public. Duplicating or re-creating topics that are currently in the moderation queue will be considered spamming.

 

 

If any of the guidelines above are ignored then the thread may be deleted without warning.

 

Happy hunting!


  • 14


#27903 Website Redesign Competition

Posted by Renaissance-Design on 03 April 2014 - 13:30

No worries mate. We're just a start up with no income. The competition is mainly designed for uni students looking to make a bit of extra pocket money while gaining some experience working on a live site and gaining some exposure.

If you've been running for 18 months you're just calling yourself a startup because you think it sounds cool. Also, if you have no income after 18 months, it's time to give up.
 
Here's the contradiction in what you're saying: your website is at the centre of your business. In a sense, it is your business - yet here you are, trying to skimp on redesigning it by paying chump change. This isn't a competition, it's barely-disguised spec work. I've seen better "prizes" in cereal boxes.
 

Was not intended to offend anyone.


Well, you've fucking offended me. You've come onto our site as you probably have umpteen others, completely ignored the Looking to Hireboard and its posting rules (which clearly state that spec work is not allowed), picked a random board and spammed your cheap-arse exploitative "competition". Do you walk into other people's houses, shit on the coffee table and wipe your arse on the curtains? No. So mind your fucking manners online too.

We could delete this thread, but we're not going to. We're going to leave it here so the world can see what a chancer you are.


  • 12


#10790 My work has been stolen!

Posted by jackdanieltracy on 30 March 2013 - 16:35

Not a problem mate. Just been going through the rest of his portfolio on peopleperhour, and it seems that most of what he has uploaded isn't actually his own work :')


  • 11


#4298 Useful Resources

Posted by Renaissance-Design on 07 February 2013 - 15:31

Here's a few resources that might be useful to you, relating to handling the business side.
  • 10


#30030 5 common design errors that will ruin your copy

Posted by Notbanksys Copy Shoppe on 01 July 2014 - 20:04

You know what amazes me? When people pay good money for great sales copy, and then ruin it with poor design and presentation.

 

What the flock is going on with that?

 

So, in case you're one of those pushers of pretty pixels who doesn't understand the importance of presentation when it comes to your sales message, here's a quick crib sheet.

 

And if you're a perpetrator of one of these heinous crimes against profitability, consider yourself duly reprimanded. Say 5 Hail Marys and read anything by David Ogilvy as penance.

 

Wait. You don't know who David Ogilvy is? You need to get hip, bro. He's the patron saint of using words and images to sell products and services. In other words advertising.

 

Yep - advertising. Because guess what? If you're a web designer, that's your job dude. If you don't know how to make people act, then you're doin' it wrong...

 

So without further ado or sanctimony, here are the 5 deadly sins of typographic design:

 

1. Hard-to-read type. For some reason, many web designers don't seem to consider readability when they set type. Maybe it's because they are too concerned with bevelling the shit out of everything in photoshop? Whatever. Here's the plain truth. Font choice matters. Leading matters. Contrast matters. Justification matters. And if you don't believe me, just visit any newspaper site and tell me what their typography has in common.

 

Alright then, I'll do it for you! Here's what you'll notice. Serif fonts - and lots of them! Why? Because, they're easier to read. With one exception (and no I'm not talking about Windows XP). You'll probably notice they use sans serif below a certain size, because serifs don't translate well on the screen if they're too small, and end up hindering reading.

 

You'll also notice plenty of leading (or line-spacing if you're only familiar with how CSS describes it), short line lengths, lots of contrast and left-justified text. I can't emphasise this point enough. If you want body text to be read, justify to the left column only.

 

2. Defiling the sacred left margin. You'd think this one would be obvious, but I see violations all the time. In an ideal world, your body copy should have its left margin on the left of your site. Because we read from left to right, so you want to put your copy where the visitor's eye lands, right? Ok, but even if there's a left column and then your body copy, there's one rule you must never break.

Do not interrupt the left margin. That means floating images and other 'break-out' content on the left. The only exception is bullet points, which readers are used to breaking a left margin slightly.

 

If you need to include a relevant picture, it's ok to place it against the left margin so long as you don't float text to the right. Make your picture wide enough to have a place of its own between paragraphs.

 

3. Wimpy headings. Your headings need contrast like you need money. They won't work without it. Not just black-on-white contrast. I'm talking contrast with the rest of your copy. Ideally, at least 50'% bigger than the body copy, in a bold/ slab/ high-impact face and with an accent colour maybe.

 

4. Claustrophobic copy. Words need space to breathe. Correct use of a grid is paramount if you want your copy to be read - and acted upon. Make sure there's plenty of padding around your text, so that it doesn't feel hemmed in. Peoples eyes jar against other elements that get too close, so the more space the better. A minimum of 1em should be observed at all times. Likewise, when padding between paragraphs I recommend 1em, although you may get away with .5em. Just. Don't tab indent paragraphs. It may look cute, but it's hard to read, okay?

 

5. Bloody interruptions! I don't care how creative you are - the only thing you're going to create by shoving random 'design' elements in among the copy is a lower conversion rate. If you've got some pretty pictures you want to use to decorate your site, do not put them in with the copy - unless - they directly support the copy. In which case, knock yourself out. Everything else is an invitation to stop reading. Which means fewer conversions. You know, the reason you created your website.

 

Now you're hip to that, all you have left to do is make sure you have some engaging and persuasive copy that's written to help you achieve your business goals.

 

If you need help with that, hit me up at tony [at] copyshoppe.co.uk


  • 10


#29262 Five things you can do today to at least double your conversions

Posted by Notbanksys Copy Shoppe on 11 June 2014 - 10:20

Did I just say double your conversions? Damn straight I did, and if you can't find 30 mins to follow these simple steps, you're quite frankly a mug.

I'm gonna keep this short and sweet cos I've got to write, design and build an entire new website today, and I've done nothing towards it so far...

This article is for all you pixel pushers out there who are good with the old corel draw or whatever, less so with the part of your website that actually sells. I'm talkin bout the words, dawg.

So, with no further ado...

 

Why does a hit record's songwriter earn so much more than its singer?

or

Five things you can do today to at least double your conversions!

 

Being a web designer is a little bit like being in a band. In the beginning it's really exciting. Getting all 'creative' is a lot of fun, and putting your work out there for everyone to admire is a thrill.

 

But after a while, you realise that your band sucks, because you never learned to play. Fast forward a few years of bedroom isolation and hairdresser avoidance, and you emerge a fledgling virtuoso. If Eddie Van Halen was a web designer, he'd be shitting his pants right about now.

 

All the local bands suddenly want you to play for them. It feels amazing. But once the excitement levels off, something dawns on you. Although your playing sounds good, your songs are terrible. If you'd spent all that time learning to compose rather than just play, you could be winning over huge audiences right now. Instead of playing to an audience of 7, including your mum and dad for the 3rd time this month.

 

In case you need this lazy metaphor explained to you, the song is your copy, your sales message. The part of your website that earns its keep. And a good song needs a good arrangement, which is where this article comes in.

 

So, here are 5 things you can do right now to massively increase your readership. Depending on its current state, this will easily double (or more) your conversion rate. If your bounce rate is high, expect to see it drop right off afterwards.

 

  1. Stop using tiny text. Just because you're under 25 and can read a number plate at 3000 metres without a telescope doesn't mean the rest of us are, or can. Nothing makes folks click away like not being able to read a site. Set your body text at a minimum of 16px. As screens get smaller and resolutions bigger, you may need to increase this.

  2. Improve your contrast. Did you know that 40% more people will read the same copy set in black on white vs white on black? It doesn't have to be black and white - just a light background and dark text, with lots of contrast will be fine.

  3. Long lines are tiring. This really is one of my pet hates, especially among web designers (no offence). Y'all just love your 24" iMacs too much. A website doesn't need to fill your screen, it needs to communicate effectively. Long lines of text are just plain hard to read. Keep your line lengths to around 75 characters and you'll see a jump in readership.

  4. It's a website, not a novel. So stop using massive blocks of text when you can easily break them up into short, readable paragraphs. The same goes for sentences. If you can average at about 12 words a sentence, your readership will skyrocket.

  5. Use a call to action, dawg! If I had a pound for every website I see without a call to action, I would be in the Carribean right now, and you'd be staring at a 404 error page. Do not be shy about asking readers to take action. They want and expect to be told. And the bigger the better. Use lots of contrast, and include a verb (and ideally a benefit) to really get those clicks flowing. For example "Double your conversions in 5 easy steps today"

 

Told you it was easy.

 

All you need to make it really sing is some top-notch copy. If you need help with that, give me a shout now (or anytime) at anthony [at] vividcopy.co.uk


  • 10


#525 List Of Tools

Posted by Jason Dexter on 06 November 2012 - 11:48

Every man and his SEO team have released tools at some point but it's pretty difficult to decide which ones are the most useful.

Here's a list of online tools that I use:

Open Site Explorer - Great for getting rich and valuable information about a domain. They provide information about where the links are coming from, their anchor text, how diverse they are and a bunch of other cool stuff.

SEOGadget - A great way of quickly looking at backlinks pointing to a website and providing you with a quick overview of which links should be removed. It's great to get a good understanding of backlinks and what to look out for.

Serpfox - SEOMoz provides a great rank tracker, but I find serpfox to be so much easier to track rankings and they update daily so you get a more up to date feedback. They also check rankings of up to 500 places. Your site is useless down there but it helps to gain a greater understand of where you rank and if you actually rank. Easy to quickly look at how well a website is doing as well.

Ahrefs - Another backlink checking tool. However, this one claims to update their index every 30 minutes. They constantly crawl the internet and that explains why their premium accounts are pretty expensive but the free accounts are useful enough. They show when backlinks have dropped, when new ones have been added, where they're from etc etc. The interface isn't as great as OSE but it's a useful tool to have a quick insight into what's happening.

Linkstant- This a new addition to the tools and something I've just set up on my own blog. Much like Ahrefs in terms of speed of link discovery, this one actually sends you an email when new links are found pointing to your website. Completely free, easy t set up. It took me two minutes to get things running. You can actually have an SMS sent as soon as a new link is found pointing to your website. It might not be as deep and thorough as Ahrefs but it sure as hell keeps you motivated to get those links! Also, unlike Ahrefs, you don't run out of credits.

Link Detective - A great tool for anyone that is serious about beating competitors. Basically, download a CSV from Open Site Explorer and throw it into the system. It will then tell you the websites makeup of links; directory, sitewide, blog comments, forums and so on. It also tells you the anchor text percentage as well. So if your website has been hit by a penalty on Google, run it through this. Any anchor text, that isn't you brand or naked URL, that is over 20% needs fixing. Diversify your links! It also tells you which links are dead, too.

These two tools require you sign up to SEOMoz. You can take a free 30 day trial which can be cancelled at any time, so give them a try!

SEOMoz Keyword Difficulty - If you're looking into a keyword and need to decide how difficult it is, then this is a great tool. They provide a percentage of difficulty for the keyword along with visitor numbers for this keyword. This information is found within Adwords keyword tool, but it provides a much easier way of determining just how difficult a keyword is. It's also an excellent way of comparing keyword difficulty and it's easy to then delve even deeper and find out which websites rank for a particular keyword.

SEOMoz On-page SEO - SEOmoz provides a great tool here. Enter your keyword and web page you're looking to rank and it will give you a run down and a grade of how well the website is optimised. They tell you if you need to add more keywords into the document, whether the title tags need tweaking and so on.
  • 9


#30312 How to add images to your WordPress theme

Posted by MikeChipshop on 09 July 2014 - 10:37

This is the first in a series of basic WordPress theme techniques i'm going to be dropping on to this site.

Quite often i'm called in to do fixes on sites where the original developer was just lacking that little bit of knowledge and easy fixes are required. To this end, i'll be taking these as i get them and posting them up here.

 

So with out further ado....

 

How to add images to your WordPress theme

 

This one i actually come across a lot!

It's not that original developer was being lazy, cutting corners or really even realising they were doing anything wrong. It's just they've always learnt to link to images in the same way, from static site using either a relative or an absolute URL and they've not thought anything of continuing this trend.

 

To be clear, we're not talking about images intended for content here, those should be managed with the WordPress media uploader/manager, we're talking images used in the design element, consistent across the site.

 

Example of an absolute image path
<img src="http://yourdomain.co.uk/img/image.png">
 
Example of a relative image path
<img src="img/image.png">

 

Why wont this work?

 

In the case of absolute paths, what if the image folder location changes? What if the domain name changes? That's an instant break right there. Same goes for relative paths with the added grief that if you're visiting from a category, tag etc, that'll get stuck in to the path as well. So "http://yourdomain.co.uk/img/image.png" could quite easily become "http://yourdomain.co.uk/category/yourcategory/img/image.png". Strangely enough, this wont work.

 

Wouldn't it be nice if WordPress had an easy way to deal with this?

 

Just as well it does then eh?

 

This is where i introduce to the 'bloginfo' tag, specifically the 'stylesheet_directory" argument.

 

<?php bloginfo('stylesheet_directory'); ?>

 

'bloginfo' has a lot of arguments you can use to pull... well, information about the blog (or site in most cases).

'stylesheet_directory', as the name suggests, pulls the exact URL of the folder in which the current stylesheet resides. Which will be your current theme folder.

 

So let's say your theme is called 'awesome-theme' then 'bloginfo('stylesheet_directory');' would contain the url...

 

http://yourdomain.co.uk/wp-content/themes/awesome-theme/

 

simply use the call in place of any image url's you'll be adding...

 

<img src="<?php bloginfo('stylesheet_directory'); ?>/img/image.png">

 

Which WordPress handily turns in to...

 

http://yourdomain.co.uk/wp-content/themes/awesome-theme/img/image.png

 

Things to note

 

The above example assumes you're using "img" as your image folder name, if not, continue to use what ever you were using.

Also... please god make sure your theme image folder is in your theme folder! I can't count the amount of times people have come to me with the image folder in the root or in wp-content. If the images are directly related to the theme, then they are to be kept within that folder!

 

I hope this helps in some way but if not, leave any questions in the thread and i'll do my best to update this post.

 


  • 9


#24032 Copy Clinic #3: Notbanksy's 5-minute guide to the perfect 'about me...

Posted by Notbanksys Copy Shoppe on 27 November 2013 - 13:18

Notbanksy's 5-minute guide to the perfect 'about me' page

Or why your about page is off-putting to potential customers and ruins your website

 

Writing a brilliant about page is far from easy, but learning the elements that make one up is a piece of cake, so discover here my 5 minute guide to the perfect about me page.

 

Get ready to see your current about page commit hare-kiri in shame, and learn these simple, fundamental techniques for engaging customers and building rapport:

 

  • Building a window instead of a wall gives clients the insight they're looking for

  • The picture that helps build trust

  • Telling a story puts prospects at ease

  • They're waiting for you to make an offer

 

Put simply, your 'about me' page isn't what you think it is. It's not there for you to tell the world about how you like to go train-spotting or whatever in your spare time, it's there because, (believe it or not) clients and prospects are interested to know you.

 

For freelancers, this is especially important. If you think they want to know how your clean designs and standards compliant solutions are the dogs teabags, then get to the back of the class and pay attention.

 

Who reads this crap anyway?

You feel more comfortable working with people you know, right? So don't be surprised to learn that anyone who is considering working with you is interested in your about page, because they want to know what you're like. What they actually want is to steal a glimpse of your humanity, because they need to know if they can trust you.

 

I'm gonna repeat that in case you weren't paying attention (at the back).

 

They need to know if they can trust you.

 

Which is why, when it comes to your about page, you should build a window, not a wall. (Yeah, OK, I nicked that from another page - but it's good, innit?) Meaning, don't graffiti the page with boastful claims about how you're passionate about great design, progressive enhancement, Columbian coffee and zzz....

 

Sorry, bored myself shitless for a minute.

 

They want to know what you're like to work with. I know - weird ain't it?! But it's only weird because you've been conditioned by the great British education and the illiteranet at large to write about your business as if you've just had a frontal lobotomy and still coming around from the general anaesthetic.

 

The truth is, you're not used to talking about yourself openly and honestly, especially where your business is concerned - but that's exactly what you need to do, while retaining a strong business focus. In other words, build a 'window.'

 

It's not an essay, it's a conversation

There's a common theme in all the copy clinic posts so far, so no prizes for anticipating this one. But your about page is not an essay. It's a part presentation, part conversation. But it's only gonna work if you come across as approachable, genuine, and honest.

 

So what sort of things should you say?

 

Well, to begin with, a gentle introduction into how you got started as a freelance web designer wouldn't hurt. But not in too much detail, and don't be boring! Just give prospects an overview of your background so they can quickly decide if you're worth reading more about.

 

For example, compare

"I studied computer systems for 6 years at MIT before deciding to become a web designer"

with

"During my gap year I started writing poetry, and decided to publish it online. Not trusting any of the blogging platforms with my work, I decided to design and build my own. I don't write poems any more because I'm too busy perfecting my open source CMS..."

 

The first one sounds like someone trying not to say "I failed my IT exams, so now I'm a web designer" while the second sounds like someone you'd trust to take a project seriously.

 

Get it? Not so hard, is it?

 

!Important: Be specific

 

If you feel it's important to demonstrate your value to prospects (which it absolutely is) then you need to make sure you're always specific; never vague. The difference is huge.

 

Compare:

"All my work is built on an agile grid framework with multiple jQuery hooks to create a lean, clean, proper-fancy solution that local businesses go crazy for."

with:

"When Bill from LocalCorps came to me, his bloated, ugly home page had a bounce rate of nearly 70%. Two months later, we had his page load time down to under a second, his bounce rate down to 25% and his conversions more than tripled. Now we're working on his social media strategy together..."

 

For some reason, you see a whole lot of the first kind of writing on about pages, and not a lot of the second. But I can GUARANTEE you that your prospects will take more notice of the second. Why? Because it gives them something they can understand in terms of a potential benefit to their business, and it proves that you're trustworthy (to Bill, and by extension to all your clients). The first kind of writing just comes across as boastful and boring.

 

I'll show you mine...

If you show me yours! Ok, get your mind out of the gutter - this is a serious point I'm trying to make here. The point being, wherever possible, use visual and emotive language.

 

The better you are at describing actual, tangible things, or feelings, the more likely you are to land yourself a new prospect. Which is why taking a case study of a particularly successful job is such a good way to go. You get to say just how thrilled Bill from LocalCorps was with his fast-loading new website and tripled conversion rate. Prospects will naturally put themselves in Bill's shoes, and imagine that working with you is going to be not only good for business, but pleasant.

 

What's the best way to make room for emotive and visual language in your about page? Tell a story. It doesn't have to be a novel and it doesn't have to be a beginning-middle-end story. The paragraph about Bill is a story. It's about people, and what happens to them. And people like to read about things they can relate to. Like people. And things happening to them. Capiche? Good.

 

Launch a thousand ships with your boat

Do you want to learn a trick that will make your competitors laugh at you while you steal all their prospects? Thought so!

 

All you've got to do is put a picture of your boat* on your about page. (*in cockney rhyming slang: boat race = face).

 

I can hear y'all complaining already: But !b, I'm not good-looking like you. Who wants to see my hideous mug on a webpage? Shut up already!

 

Because actually, you're wrong. Obviously, make an effort for the photo, and wipe the tomato sauce off your chin before the shutter closes. But it's a clever psychological trick. When clients see your face, they see that you're not Brad Pitt (or some snot-nosed Hollywood upstart). They see you're just an average guy or gal who feels a bit awkward in front of the camera, and they're gonna empathise. They're gonna say to themselves: this person is like me. Cha-ching!

 

Before you go

So you've done everything I've taught you? Great. But there's one more thing. And if you don't use this, you've sort of wasted all that effort. Sort of.

 

If you don't tie your about page in to your offer in some way, you're a mug. Because it's the perfect place to ask for their business. And it doesn't make you look desperate or smarmy. It makes you look smart and proactive. Like someone they'd want to work with...

 

Finally, a great example of a well-written about page: http://mailchimp.com/about/ for pretty much all the reasons given above. And because there's a monkey!

 

Post your questions in the thread and I'll answer them!

 

And if you're just too damn busy to write your about page yourself, give me a shout at anthony [at] vividcopy.co.uk


  • 9


#34313 October site of the month

Posted by CraigP on 03 November 2014 - 14:34

I can't help but feel that the reason I have no votes by others is that people have taken a disliking to me on this forum. Come on guys, this isn't a popularity contest!

This is a ridiculous thing to say.. I have entered many sites with no votes... 

 

Wait a minute...


  • 8


#30424 Vertically align (just about) anything with 6 lines of CSS

Posted by rob on 13 July 2014 - 15:13

I stumbled across a couple of different versions of this and kind of collated them into one that seems to work across most browsers. Use it as you wish. It could have been done in just three lines, but the three lines in the parent element stop some funky blur happening in IE when the main element is on a half pixel point.

.my-parent {
  -webkit-transform-style: preserve-3d;
  -moz-transform-style: preserve-3d;
  transform-style: preserve-3d;
}

.my-item-to-vertically-centre {
  position: relative;
  top: 50%;
  transform: translateY(-50%);
}

Granted, for some browsers you will need to add vendor prefixes, but all in all, it's really solid code.

 

Source of inspiration from Css Tricks and a couple of other sites I found with similar code that seemed to be a bit fudged. This is as clean as I can get it.


  • 8


#28518 Just another night in irc

Posted by Jheg on 06 May 2014 - 21:27

 

<notbanski> brb - moving downstairs

* notbanski (~anthony@90.201.193.141) has left
<jheg> hands up who just had the disturbing thought of Mr !b going down on his missus
<jheg> no me neither
* notbanksy (~tone@90.201.193.141) has joined
<jheg> welcome back how is it down there?
<notbanksy> a little light rain
<notbanksy> how's you sir?

 


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#27886 Just launched my new portfolio/personal site! now gathering thoughts

Posted by isaacpvl on 02 April 2014 - 22:47

You can check it out here.

 

I guess the biggest thing this time around for me was doing really original things that show personal flair and style. I'm aware I come on really strong, and with a lot of people that's not a good thing, but hey, I'm choosing to go for it.

 

Would love to hear what anyone thinks (critiques included)


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#21950 Ryan's 4 Step process to getting shit done, or: "Seriously, I will fi...

Posted by Ryan McFadyen on 23 September 2013 - 16:00

If you've been in this industry for any length of time you probably have a side project or two. I think it's nigh on impossible to dip your toe into many different peoples little passion projects all the time and not come away with a surging urge to make your own dent in the world. They may be sitting on a sub domain somewhere half finished, they might be trickling in a few pennies every month or they might solely exist in your head.. but they are there, I'm certain of it. 

 

A couple of weeks ago I found myself in an odd situation. There I was doing bits and pieces for a side project and I was distracted by another side project. This didn't seem right. Of all the reasonable and respectable things I could be distracted by (like Monster Trucks or /r/EarthPorn) my mind chose this rare slice of 'my project time' to forget about actually making progress and instead just think up more stuff I'll never actually get around to doing.

 

So naturally rather than doing either I stopped what I was doing and just thought about all of my side projects. Just how much crap have I started but never actually pushed to the point of noticeable effect? Seven. Seven bloody side projects, seven china plates on sticks spinning extremely slowly with nobody watching. Seven domain names that just result in blank white pages.

 

Now I'm not a disorganised guy, I keep my bank statements in a ring binder and not on the floor (like I used to.. ) so how did it get to the point where I had seven things I barely remember starting but actually would quite like to bring into the world? 

 

Simple. It turns out there is a vast world of difference between organising your work load as a web designer/freelancer and organising separate projects. As a designer/developer/whatever-you-might-be you have maybe 3, 4, 5-ish projects on the go at once. It's a lot but ultimately you are doing more or less the same thing on each of them. You are doing your job, you don't need to worry about the entire business concept and every aspect of it from start to finish.

 

So with my seven projects I set about organising it all and now I'm going to tell you what I learned because so far.. I think it's worked.

 

 

Step 1) Remember the original idea.

 

It's only natural that over time ideas evolve, nobody would ever create anything good if we didn't tweak as we went but you have to keep in mind with side projects that you are not only just one person but a person who primarily does something else with their time.

 

Scope creep essentially and the more you let it happen the further away your project will be from becoming reality. This will dishearten you, progress slows and your mind wanders to another idea. Rinse, repeat.. until you die having never accomplished anything.

 

To combat it sit and have a think about the original idea. What was it that made you create the folder or register the domain? Something extremely simple was enough to give you the inspiration to make it happen so don't lose that. Write it down on a piece of paper and stick it to the wall. "Facebook for dogs!".

 

I now have 7 pieces of paper on my wall above my monitor, they are just simple overviews of what each project should do.. a list of things that I want that project to accomplish. It's a reminder to halt the scope creep, to stop getting ahead of yourself and just accomplish what you originally wanted to accomplish. Never mind what you think the world expects of the project, just do what you set out to do.

 

Step 2 ) Separation of church and state (or day-you and project-you)

 

Your mind is powerful.. but not in the ways you think it is. You assume that if you just import your project emails into your main email account and label appropriately it will be easier to manage, or, If you just throw the project files into the same directory you keep client files you can work on it at the same pace you would client work.

 

You can't. It's just not the same.

 

The more separation the better, you need to take yourself away from your work environment and isolate the project. When working on it you should feel different, you should feel like it's new and that will make it feel exciting. 

 

I created a user profile on my computer for each project. When I want to work on one I have to log out of my usual profile and log in to one that has a different background, doesn't automatically open up my email and twitter, doesn't know my reddit password, doesn't even have the same browsers installed. 

 

Maybe go even further, deliberately use applications/websites you don't normally use. If you usually have twitter open in the background why not instead create a pinterest account and do that? The goal is to put yourself in a mental state that's new and different from the day to day. You should feel a little lost and since you probably can't shake up your physical environment too much you do it in your virtual environment. 

 

Step 3 ) Write todo lists like a five year old.

 

Everyone knows todo lists help, it's not a secret but I think a problem a lot of people run into is they decide they are going to get organised, get stuff done and put together a to do list like this ;

  • Open code editor

  • Write social network for dogs

  • Market social network for dogs (not to dogs!)

  • Sleep

That's no good. You need to write todos like a five your old, break everything down into stupidly simple parts. Aim for tasks that take no longer than 10 minutes to complete. "Call to action button should have paw icon"

 

The more often you are ticking things off that list the more progress you feel you are making. It's a simple psychological trick but it's an effective one. You can use paper if you really want a physical confirmation of your work but I'm good with something like Wunderlist

 

Step 4 ) Tell people

 

Any side project that actually comes into existence has at some point spent a very long time in the company of just one person, its creator, and sometimes that creator will find motivation a very hard thing to come by.

 

The easiest way to get motivation in those moments is to tell people what you are doing. Create expectations for yourself. Give yourself a bit of social pressure to get the thing out there. Don't worry about it being embarrassing if you never manage it.. just telling people where you are at and showing them what you have puts you 95% further than most people will ever get.

 

For example, why not write a 4 step tutorial on your forum about how to get shit done, maybe end it by promising that within two weeks of posting you'll show everyone that you have actually finished one of your seven sodding side projects. Not a beta, not a quick peek.. but actually produced something that bloody well works.

 

Now go get shit done you bunch of layabout dreamers.


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#39548 Is web design/development dying?

Posted by DigitalSquid on 24 January 2016 - 23:08

Welcome back!

 

Saying that GoDaddy (and other dodgy webhosts) are dominating the web industry, is comparable to McDonald's in the food industry.

 

Yes, it's popular. People will flock there and sing it's praises because it suits their needs - it's quick, it's cheap, it's easy and it's reliable. You can waltz in there pick a meal that suits your tastes off the fixed menu, eat it and then put the wrapper in the bin. No time wasted preparing, cooking or washing up; someone else does that for you. You know exactly what you're going to get, just like all the other people around you doing exactly the same thing.

 

However, not everyone wants to eat that way. Other people what different cuisines, more personal service, fancier food, selections of deserts, better ambiance, etc... No matter how much McDonald's wanted to, they'd never be able to break that market. It simply doesn't suit their business model and they don't have the infrastructure to support it. Not that they care though, they know they couldn't do it and they're perfectly happy with the success they're having with quick and easy dining. That's what GoDaddy are doing in the industry.

 

So is there a future? Hell yeah! The web industry is still one of the fastest growing. It's true that the web building services like GoDaddy or Wix do make up a huge portion of the market share for small business and personal sites but there are so many other facets of it that they can't touch. How many large businesses, eCommerce sites, game developers, app developers, API services, SEO, UX/UI designers, media/content streaming, data security/encryption and web accessibility services do you think would choose to use GoDaddy services over a specialised development company?

 

If anything, I'm grateful for the likes of GoDaddy and their budget services, as they're soaking up the "budget" customers that I hate dealing with. It lets people like me focus on doing more interesting, personalised and custom development for clients that want a reliable non-budget service instead of a disappointing Happy Meal that looks nothing like the picture advertising it.


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#35504 How can I build my confidence as a web designer

Posted by Spinoza on 05 February 2015 - 00:07

Hi Moris

 

Firstly, congratulations on achieving what you have to date. It's clear that you're committed to learning, and that's half the battle - having the right mindset. 

 

You say you've been learning web design on the side. Are you at college at the moment? Or in an unrelated job? Your next step may well depend on your present circumstances.

 

Rather than jumping straight into freelancing, a lot of people go to work for web design companies first to get some real life experience. Even going in as a junior would offer a good insight into the profession and boost your skills, not only technically, but also in terms of how projects are managed, dealing with clients, working with other specialists and disciplines and a lot of the the other periphery but important stuff.

 

Speaking for myself, it was 5 years of that before I felt confident enough to go it alone, and you might find getting some industry experience is easier than jumping straight into working for yourself. But of course if you're in an unrelated full time job at the moment, then you're unlikely to be able to just jump straight from one career to the other without something to show off your credentials. Actually the same applies if you're looking to jump straight into freelancing - you need something to stick in a portfolio to show clients.

 

Do you have any friends or family who would be interested in a website from you? You could do it pro bono just to get a couple of sites established. Alternatively, just create some dummy sites for companies that don't exist. As long as you're upfront about this to the employer/new client, and explain that they're not real, it shouldn't be a problem. It's about getting something up that demonstrates your skills and your potential.

 

The next question is what aspect of the job do you want to do? As you probably know, being a web designer these days is a multi-facted career and this sounds like what you have in mind. But you say that design isn't your strong point. In all honesty, design is one of those skills that can take a good while to master. It can be done, but a lot of designers will have been "that way inclined" (no not like that  :D  ) from school/college days, studying it and immersing themselves in the subject. To master design, I think you need - or at least greatly benefit from -  a deep appreciation for design. That may be you or it may not be. Plenty of people 'get by' doing design without having this appreciation. They make websites that are perfectly reasonable and they make a living from it, but it's just something to bear in mind when deciding whether you want to specialise, or be a jack of all trades.

 

You might, for instance, decide that you would prefer to concentrate on being a front end web developer and either (a) apply for that specific role at a larger web company, or (b) team up with a freelance designer. There are different routes to take. You might also just apply to an agency and do contract work on a freelance basis - that's a good way to get some sites under your belt, but it's competitive.

 

As for the general confidence of putting yourself out there and getting work, trust me, that comes with time. The more sites you have (real or not), the more confident you'll feel about your abilities - and in turn, the more confident you'll feel selling yourself to clients. When I started up, I relied on the local Chamber of Commerce to point me in the right direction re. business issues like invoicing, networking, accounting, tax returns and so on. Feeling anxious about your first client meeting and all that stuff is perfectly normal so don't sweat it.

 

So think carefully about what you want to do (ie. specialise, or general - and there's no right or wrong answer here) and then decide on the best route to that from the position you're in at the moment.

 

One last thing: it's good to come up with a brand, even if it's a personal portfolio website. At a minimum, that means the domain name, logo, website and business card. If you're not confident in your design abilities, then my advice is to keep the design simple (if necessary, stick to white background and grey all-caps Helvetica - oops there goes my secret!) and let the work/information speak for itself. 


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#32394 Member of the Month July & August

Posted by Jheg on 03 September 2014 - 11:03

zVCzvBZ.jpg

 

TWDF MEMBER OF THE MONTH, JULY & AUGUST 2014

 

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inspired

&

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historygirllfc

 

Sorry we missed Julys MotM I can assure you it wasn't due to us not thinking anyone was deserving its just sometimes we get a little busy with our day to day commitments and sometimes irc happens :/  So we're announcing two members to cover off July and August and each will get their £10 dotgrid voucher code. 

 

Needless to say we feel you guys have contributed wonderfully and the vouchers are a small token gesture of our appreciation.

 

You've got mail! There's a voucher code in your inboxes and don't worry there's no minimum spend so you could either grab one of these A5 books for free or put your voucher towards something larger! 

 

Thanks again guys!


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#32146 Setting up a small business or freelancing - part one

Posted by CraigP on 27 August 2014 - 20:26

Evening all.

 

It is all too common for someone new or even the more experienced to get stuck with:

  • What to do?
  • What's next?
  • What if there is no work?
  • How do i stay focused?
  • How do I prioritise?

 

So for those of you who don't know who I am, well, I am Craig, Front end web developer and Director @ Push24 Creative Ltd.

 

Take a seat, I am going to guide you through some basics and fundimentals of running a small business or being a freelancer.

 

****This is not a guide on how to run a company - This is for start-ups only, I will not cover anything above a sole trader/partnership****

 

So you have an idea - Let's say, you want to build websites. You have the skill, and you are always learning new things (obviously)

But you don't know how to transfer this into profit - or a living.

 

You firstly need to look at the bigger picture. Setting up a business is great. It is so much fun and when you suceed. Which you will. You get the most satisfying feeling  you could possibly imagine. 

 

 

There is a few things you should consider - 

  • Can you do this full time?
  • What are your financial commitments?
  • Have you got a fall back plan?
  • Can you handle high levels of stress?
  • Are you absolutely ready to have the time of your life?

 

These things should not be considered lightly. Setting up a business or going lone soldier is a risk and as your business progresses through its life you will be faced with more and more risks, some big, some small, it doesn't matter, a risk is a risk and you must be willing to take that risk as a challenge.

 

So you're settled on your decision to set this up and work for yourself. (nice work, some might say that making that decision is the hardest one you will ever make)

 

What's next - Let's get some legal stuff out the way.

  1. Get an accountant. It will be the best investment you ever make.
  2. Register for Self assessment.
  3. Introduce yourself to a solictor - You're handling Legalling binding contracts with clients now.
  4. Business plan - a 3-5 year guide to your success and wildest dreams.
  5. Financial forecast - This is something i always do as a base of what i want to acheive financially over the next 3-5 years. (optional)
  6. Bank account - Always keep your business money seperate to your day to day funds, it makes yours, and your accountants life easier.

 

URGH - ^^ That seams like a massive pain in the arse, right?  No. do this now, stay on top of it. or go back to your day job, because you will FAIL!!!

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

Lets have a little breather for a second. You are set up, you are ready to go, you have your first client waiting.

Before you dive in the deep end and think you;re the boss of the world, remember this.

 

Business is business, There is no friends in business, There is no family in business. In business there is profit and loss.

It is a dog eat dog world and if you do not PROTECT YOURSELF  you will be eaten alive.

 

So two rules to live by before you begin.

Do not begin any work unless you have a signed contract with an agenda and timescale.

Do not begin any work unless you have taken a deposit - I take 50%.

 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

So you're ready to go. You have done all of the above.

By now you should have mixed emotions of fear and excitment.

 

I want to add that people will tell you your Business Plan should be your bible - I disagree - it's a guide which will change pretty much every week.

Your bible should be a pen, and paper. Working from home is hard. There is a lot to distract you, My office is currently undergoing maintanence for the next few months, so I have moved back to my house. Straight away i knew this would be an issue for me so i made a plan to break my day up.

 

  1. Get up in the morning, I go for a swim/run/walk (This is important - You will spend a lot of hours in your house, it can drive you mad)
  2. Get home, have breakfast and get ready for work - Why? you're at home, sit in your pants. NO!!! getting ready for work, gives you a state of mind that you must work.
  3. Open your pad, and pick up a pen, Cus you need to write down a realistic list of things you need to do today.
  • Allow time for dealing with the unexpected (You've received unexpected charges from your bank) That could take an hour to deal with.
  • Break your day up, have a lunch hour, Pop out for a coffee (These things sub-concioulsy make you feel guilty for not working and will boost the rest of your day)
  • Existing customers first - How many stories do i have to hear that the guys done his job but he's too busy with his new client to help me with this Content management System i have never used)
  • Settle your paperwork before you start work and when you finsih work. Itll take you ten minutes and you won't end up falling behind with stacks and stacks of overdue bills and invoices)
  • Try and communicate with people face to face or by telephone - You're spending a lot of hours by yourself. It isn't healthy.

 

I will wrap it up here for now. With one thing to add.

 

There is only one person in the whole entire planet that can make you sucessful - That person is you.

 

Good Luck.

 

 


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#32015 Smooth scrolling...

Posted by notxalckram on 22 August 2014 - 12:30

Got it working using this:

  $(function() {
  $('a').click(function() {
    if (location.pathname.replace(/^\//,'') == this.pathname.replace(/^\//,'') && location.hostname == this.hostname) {
      var target = $(this.hash);
      target = target.length ? target : $('[name=' + this.hash.slice(0) +']');
      if (target.length) {
        $('#content').animate({
          scrollTop: target.offset().top - 15
        }, 1000);
        return false;
      }
    }
  });
});

Just incase anyone wanted to know.


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