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2010 Challenges

December 29, 2009

Contests

I know that there are more contests out there that will help me showcase skills, but I found this daily challenge from About.com interesting. It only asks that I spend a small part of each day trying a new design or logo. This is inspired by an article from Smashing Magazine Design Something Every Day. I have found that designing quickly and accurately are my weakest points – but what I love to do the most. I think this will get the ball rolling for me, I hope! I plan on listing more challenges and contest here as they crop up.

Inspirational Websites

Right now I am totally jazzed that I got the cutest, smallest little notebook Aspire One for Christmas! Now I can take this with me to client’s businesses and show them website designs without using their business computers. I am also jazzed that I have a program to ‘burn’ labels and images on my DVD’s – such a neat tool to look professional!

  1. Web Design Blog is offering a premier membership to anyone writing about their site using the term Free Vector Graphics in their article. I have found many beautiful textures, fonts and links by being on their email list and visiting their website. I also think they have a great way of mixing free and paid services, for instance offering product or website reviews for a fee – this increases back links with a substantial review – an ad for $20 – I think that is a pretty creative idea. It makes me happy to know that so many free – usable items are offered, so I don’t feel as if I am constantly facing my billfold while learning how other designers present their expertise.
  2. 7 Must-See Web Design – Video’s and Presentations

Tests

If I can swing it, I would like to sign up for more Lynda.com classes. Even if I cannot, there are several tests I am finding on odesk, Brainbench and different sources. I want to collect them on this page and use them to help keep my php, javascript and other skills sharp.

Resources

I will keep a running tally on the pros/cons of some interesting services I come across in 2010. If there is no review, I haven’t had time to evaluate it yet, but will post as soon as I have some experience with the service or product.

  1. PLAXO
  2. UI – YUI Library Yahoo User Interface “Library is a set of utilities and controls, written with JavaScript and CSS, for building richly interactive web applications using techniques such as DOM scripting, DHTML and AJAX. YUI is available under a BSD license and is free for all uses.”
  3. Social Media – Google Wave article
  4. Flash – Interesting Video tutorial for making SEF URL’s and also enabling the Back/Forward buttons on a Flash site. This tutorial is from gotoandlearn.com and uses an opensource download SWFAddress for deep linking Flash and Ajax.
  5. IA and UI – Web Design article – restating what I learned in class, but I need to remind myself of these points:

Here’s the model of 4 things you need to do to have a successful site:

  1. Help me find your site.

  2. Get my attention, and affirm I’m in the right place.

  3. Convince me to keep reading, watching, or listening, until I’ve had my positive needs affirmed and my doubts resolved.

  4. Ask me to take some action.

Work from the top of this list downwards. Test the top things, and make sure you’re in the right area of the map, before you move down to refine and to polish your graphics and other details.

  1. Message – what core proposition does your audience respond best to? Is it obvious when you arrive what kind of site/page you’re on?
  2. Calls to Action – if you don’t ask, how can you get? Make sure your have strong, clear calls to action that lets your audience know exactly what you want them to do next.
  3. Headings – if all the body text and small detail were removed, how would the page read? At a high level, does the page make sense and encourage me to keep reading?
  4. Affirmations and Objections – what positive content can you add, or what objections can you resolve, to make your audience comfortable enough to take the next step?
  5. Plug Leaks – are you squeezing your visitors through the door you want them to use (which achieves your goal), or are you offering them lots of alternative places to go (which don’t)?
  6. Layout – is the page simple and clear, or cluttered?
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