Oh Groupon, You Humor Me

I unsuscribed myself from Groupon’s emails (stop it. Don’t judge me) so I went to the bottom of the email and hit the handy dandy ‘unsubscribe’ feature.

I must say, I’m a sucker for little fun pages or advertising you find within a website (Just ask me about Pickles the Panda) so it amused me greatly when I got sent to this page for attempting to be unsubscribed:

Naturally, I wanted to punish Derrick. Call it the New Yorker in my but I suspected it could be fun. How dare he assume I’d want to receive daily emails?! (Just kidding. I’m not dumb enough to ignore the fact that I WANTED these emails, originally).

I suggest you all unsubscribe immediately to see what happens to him.

You gotta love their little guilt trip, too. Bravo Groupon- I know this isn’t what you want to hear, but I was actually glad I unsubscribed because I got to see this fun madness! :)

Have you ever come across any fun pages like this? If so, what brands do it? I love checking them out- even if it means adding and then removing myself on purpose.

Lifehacker’s unobtrusive opt-in

I’m on Lifehacker currently (which, by the way, I’m completely lost in. There are SO many things in the Mac OSX section that I’m downloading right now. Wunderlist being one of them) and I wanted to point out their little happy, unobstrusive opt-in box that allows you to both follow Lifehacker on Facebook, AND get your email updates if you feel so inclined.

Nice, Lifehacker. Me likey lots.

Pickles the Panda- Office Style

And here we go again. Pickles the Panda. Grooveshark isn’t telling me that it loves me anymore, but it’s mocking my terribly timed “that’s what she said” attempts.

GROOVESHARK. I <3 YOU.

Google Font API

Google Font API

When I was taking a college HTML/CSS class way back in 2003, I remember one thing. I was writing code for a site I was ‘designing’ in class (and I use that term loosely). I really, REALLY wanted to have a pretty font. That’s all I was asking for. But due to web safe fonts, it was a bitch to do that. So what did I do? I put my font in as an image and wrote the image into my code. Simple solution at the time right? Teacher was amazed, ended up getting asked to tutor… all for one stupid revelation that we weren’t taught in class.

Google has now officially fixed (or at least helped) that pain in the ass situation. What they have been working on is a Google Font Directory, where developers and designers can submit their fonts for us to use, so that developers, designers and coders can use the Google Font API to enhance their websites with more web-safe fonts.

Google Font

With each font, there’s the html code that you’ll insert into your site so that it can read, accept and display it. The html will look something to this effect to link it to the external style sheet:

<link href=’http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Cantarell‘ rel=’stylesheet’ type=’text/css’>

and the CSS will look like:

h1 { font-family: ‘Cantarell‘, arial, serif; }

…doesn’t seem too complicated at all.It said it works in “most browsers”, so I’m assuming Chrome for sure, but I’m questioning Firefox (because it’s touchy about a lot of things) as well as IE. Safari will most likely easily support it.

Dribbble for Designers!


Dribbble

I was looking around the interwebs today, looking for new social networking platforms etc, when I came across something called “Dribbble“… yes, with three B’s.

Dribbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbble is pretty much a “Twitter” for designers- you can show what you’re working on in 120,000 pixels or less; it’s called a “shot”. I think the concept is actually really cool- why should people who write get all the fun? I love looking at what other people are designing… mainly because I can’t design anything that looks better than a stick figure. Sometimes I get all Picasso though. Don’t ask.

Dribbble plays off of other ideas from Twitter, not just changing the 140 characters to 120,000 px but also:

  • You can follow fellow Dribbblers.
  • ‘Rebound’ and follow up with your own designs so they are linked as references.
  • Comment….constructively of course.
  • You can “like” the shots (they also took some elements of Facebook. THE HORROR!)
  • You can also search through Dribbble by tags. I smell trending designs in the making.

Follow fellow Dribbblers. Say that 10 times fast.

The only catch for this neat website is that it’s invitation only. Another Dribbbler has to send you an invite so you can join and start participating in the community. It’s completely member driven.

You are allowed to post 24 shots each month- you get more when the month starts. For instance, if you have 15 left at the end of the month, you’ll receive 9 more shots on the 1st to make it 24 again.

I find websites like this interesting, because when they launch you’re like “oh DUH! Why didn’t I think of that? Of course we should have made a visual twitter for designers.” But often the obvious escapes us and we just don’t think about things like that. Maybe we should all start analyzing social networking sites. There’s bound to be something we’re missing.

I actually have a list of features I feel that certain websites are missing and I would like to incorporate it into a new site to launch The problem is, in true life fashion, every time I think of a website, application or cool idea… it gets released. THE WORLD IS READING MY MIND!

Of course there’s ALSO the little problem of me always wanting to start 80 billion projects and burning myself out. One day I’ll stop being so typical and actually finish something astounding. Something good has to be coming out of this brain of mine, with all the ideas I churn around!

So I’ll leave you with this… what else do you feel social networking websites are missing or moving towards?

Time for bed.

You can also search through Dribbble by tags.

Inspiration and Aspiration

It’s Sunday! The glorious day which was created specifically for relaxation, being lazy and indulging in guilty pleasures. Therefore I don’t have any kind of interesting news I want to write about, but a few thoughts floating around here and there that I figured I would jot in here.

I spend a lot of my time stalking websites that can benefit my technology and science addiction creativity in some way… whether it be design tutorials for color inspiration, websites geared towards free lance writing, technology blogs (to hone in on various people’s writing styles and skills) and personal websites. Doing this everyday keeps my brain in focus for writing. In order to writer better, you have to read more. How else are you going to get inspired? Where else will you find your aspirations, if not from the desire within yourself to be as good as the writers that you enjoy reading? What is it EXACTLY that makes me want to keep going back to certain websites, excited to read new articles? What can I pick apart that draws me to it? Usually it’s their writing style. There is something so distinct and catchy that I just can’t get enough.

There are two main things that exist to someone in the creative field, aside from their own talent. Inspiration and aspiration. I’m a writer, clearly, and I know what it’s like to aspire to be a “Houdini with words”, mimicking great writers of old and new literature. I write, edit, change wording around, write more, drink a cup of coffee, rip my hair out edit more, then begrudgingly complete it. I read so many amazing pieces and wonder if my writing can ever hold up to those standards or even be of the same caliber. Design, writing, art, music… it’s all so subjective. What is phenomenal to one person may be “ehhhh…” to another. Of course, it’s hard to not want to smack the “ehhhh…” person upside the head and ask what wonderful things they’ve written/designed/composed lately, but we don’t do that. We are supposed to be calm, cool, artsy creatives. I personally don’t fit that category, seeing as I’m a sarcastic hot-head, so maintaining my composure is generally harder than the typical “artsy creative” person.

When we see something that inspires us it rings a bell in our head. Shines a light in our eyes, if you will. That little something activates a trigger that makes us think “I aspire to do that”.  Then we set our aspirations high and vow to ourselves that we will reach that level of utopia. However, with all good, comes the bad. Shane is like me. He spends time playing scrabble with me always seeking inspiration, so that he can integrate new things into his design work to achieve a clean well thought out look. Sometimes I email him websites or work I come across during MY inspiration-hunt that I KNOW he’ll love, and that will inspire him. Now, like I said, there is always a bad side. I know he is reading this (Hi Shane!) but he has already heard me say this, and actually suggested I write on a topic like this and inspired me to do so, for everyone else who feels this way that is a creative field. [NOTE:incredibly long run on sentence. Bad thing to do.]  Shane is amazing at what he does- he is an extremely talented designer. His advantage is that he can both design AND code- something that most people can only do one or the other of. He gets blindsided by other people’s work, but fails to see how great his own work truly is. The problem is that we aspire so hard to be as “great” as the ones who inspire us, that we overlook our own budding talent. We also feel like we should “be as good as this person” or “write as well as this person” when… well, while they are great and talented, we may be as great and talented as them- we just aren’t on the same level of exposure as them. Who knows how many tries or mistakes, and how much time it takes to actually get their final result, that we so badly crave to achieve.

Creativity comes from within. Some people have it, and some people seriously lack it (you can spot them a mile away). So if you have it, use your ability to be inspired, take that, and manipulate it into something beautiful. Use this to spark inspiration in others. Creativity is a blessing, not a given right.

If you are looking for a great designer/coder, I have one for you. Please visit his website: http://www.shanewaite.com

You can also contact him via email- contact@shanewaite.com

Post-It Mayhem [video]/Mona Lisa comprised of caffeine.

video below

Let me start this off with a personal declaration; stating something that most of you who know me [or read my website] already know. I LOVE POST IT NOTES! I have all different colors, use them haphazardly, as well as include them in anything I can in and around my desk. There may or may not be blank ones hanging around as well just for the sole joy of peeling them. If I could materialize 3M into a human, I would probably hug and squeeze them tightly… and make them my personal office slave helper.

[note: slight exaggeration there in case a genius or two couldn’t pick up on that]

browsing the interwebs, I stumbled across this amazing stop-motion post it note video. This probably took hours upon hours and is really impressive. Impressive as in I wish I thought of it first. BEHOLD! With a great “thanks for the awesomeness” to Bang-Yao, I bring you, the sneaky post-its caught on video. Someone needs to squash that smiley bomb. Continue reading for the Mona Lisa coffee cup art.

Deadline by Bang-yao Liu. from Umberto Cigognini on Vimeo.

Here’s another great example of art through a different median. This Mona Lisa, on display at the Rocks Aroma Festival in Sydney, Australia, was created using 3,604 cups of coffee with various amounts of coffee and creamer contained in them for her shading. Whoever was behind this put in A LOT of hard work to make this work of art. It’s a modern day take on an old masterpiece.
Photobucket

You can follow me on Twitter, as well as join my Facebook fan page.

Smashing Magazine book info/pre-order!

I love smashing magazine. I love to stalk them, I love to read them, I love to write for them (I’m currently formulating my first post for them a a guest writer. I’m analyzing different organization programs for mac).. all together, smashingmagazine.com is just a great resource for anybody, whether you are a digital designer, an artist, a writer, a freelancer, or whatever you may be.

Smashing magazine had put together somewhat of a compilation book that is now available for pre-order. According to their website, the book will be 300 pages, containing full color images on coated paper. You’re getting this book from a panel of experts so you know all the content will be top notch in there. I have pulled some information/images directly off their website because it won’t do them justice to just paraphrase information about this amazing book. Here is the information on some of the chapters. (credit/source: smashingmagazine.com)

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The Smashing Book is a printed book about best practices in modern Web design. The book shares technical tips and best practices on coding, usability and optimization and explores how to create successful user interfaces and apply marketing principles to increase conversion rates. It also shows how to get the most out of typography, color and branding so that you end up with intuitive and effective Web designs. And lastly, you will also get a peek behind the curtains of Smashing Magazine.

Various chapters included in this book are as follows:

The Art And Science Of CSS Layouts

In modern Web design, developing a layout is a craft that requires patience, precision and solid knowledge of CSS. While design elements create flow and hierarchy in the design, Web layouts build up a skeleton of the website, providing a space and structure where design elements can breathe and serve their purpose. However, laying out a page is often a tricky and time-consuming matter that can be undermined by numerous browser inconsistencies and trade-offs between various types of layouts.

There are some practical guidelines to help you approach this issue in a manageable and effective way. This article throws light on various kinds of layouts, discussing their advantages and disadvantages and suggesting situations in which each would work best. It also talks about techniques and related issues that will help you gain a better understanding of CSS layouts in general.

User Interface Design In Modern Applications

User interface design isn’t just about buttons and menus. It’s about the interaction between the user and the application or device, and in many cases about the interaction between multiple users through that device. This means that user interface design isn’t about how a product looks, but about how it works. It’s not just about arranging buttons and picking colors, but about choosing the right tools for the job. Does a particular interface even need buttons? If so, what do they need to do? What do you need to provide for the user to figure out how your application works and accomplish what they want with ease?

Web Typography: Rules, Guidelines And Common Mistakes

Typography covers a wide range of topics and applications, even wider now with the Web and the digitization of information. Typography is not just about choosing a nice font. It is a complex meta language that brings value to communication, that increases the readability and legibility of content, giving tone to a brand and corporate image, helping to sell products and making information better understood by the audience. However, the poor application of a few common rules of typography is enough to make readers turn away.

Usability Principles For Modern Websites

We don’t know a single Web designer who wouldn’t want an outsider’s opinion of their website. Bonus points if you find a designer willing to give you feedback. Keep in mind, though, that a designer’s opinion isn’t your user’s opinion. To identify with our users, we must focus on much more than the outward appearance of our websites, as difficult as that is to do. To complicate matters, modern websites quickly become huge multi-faceted structures. Competing websites often offer similar functionality, but one will win out because it provides a superior user experience. This is where the Web is headed, a sort of evolution of website design.

The Guide to Fantastic Color Usage In Web Design and Usability

Considering the cultural implications of the colors on your website is important, especially if you expect international traffic. Green, for instance, a popular color, is taken in Western society to mean environmental consciousness. In China, a green hat could imply that a man’s wife is cheating on him. The color is sacred in the Islamic world, and it has significance in Catholicism. In some African countries, green represents the natural richness of Africa. It has also been associated with money, jealousy, growth, sickness, inexperience, evil, fertility, hope, youth and death. This is just one example of the cultural and psychological implications that color can have for your website’s audience.

Performance Optimization For Websites

Slow and unresponsive websites are annoying. And if your website is annoying, your visitors are unlikely to buy goods or contact you, and you will lose money. Hence, optimizing your website to provide a good user experience is important. Yahoo’s Firefox plug-in YSlow provides tips on how to make websites more responsive. We will not settle for YSlow’s tips alone, though, but take two further steps by optimizing MySQL and PHP as well.

In this chapter, we get technical. You will require root-level access to your server machine. If you are in a shared-hosting environment, you may not have this level of access. But the section will still be useful to you because you can check if your Web host’s machine meets your requirements, and if it does not, you will know what to demand from your host.

Design To Sell: Increasing Conversion Rates

Most websites are not works of art or things made to be appreciated solely for their beauty or expression. Websites are functional interfaces that serve a specific purpose. If you run an online store, the purpose of your website is to sell goods. If you run a Web application, your website is there to get people to sign up. Whatever industry you operate in and whatever type of business, organization or community you run, you want your website to perform by getting those sales, sign-ups, subscribers or clicks.

“Conversion” is an online marketing term that describes an instance of a visitor to your website performing an action that you deem to be desirable. The main question is, how do you turn a new visitor to your website into a loyal customer? To answer this, we’ll look at what it takes to sell effectively.

How To Turn A Site Into A Remarkable Brand

The term “remarkable” means being worthy of notice or attention or, in the context of Web development, naturally persuading the viewer to mention or recommend a website to a friend. Developing a remarkable brand for your website means that people will likely give credit or refer to your website voluntarily, which is a big bonus when you are starting to build and develop your website.

Any niche or industry has hundreds or thousands of websites all based on the same topic, but from the crowd always emerges a bunch of websites that re-appear time and again. These websites are often mentioned in conversation and cited in sources of information or are the homes of highly sought after products. Given their high profiles, they can all be classified as remarkable, but how did they manage to build this great reputation?

Learning From Experts: Interviews And Insights

Many of the most successful and well-recognized designers are willing and eager to provide guidance to others who want to improve their own skills. We posed a series of questions to leading designers and developers in an effort to get some answers to common questions. The participants bring a great deal of diversity in skills and expertise, and all have valuable insight that can help those looking to grow.

This chapter contains ideas, insights and tips from Dan Rubin, Jason Santa Maria, Paul Boag, Jeff Croft, Andy Budd, Collis Ta’eed, Wolfgang Bartelme, Keith Robinson, Jonathan Snook, Elliot Jay Stocks, Khoi Vinh, Veerle Pieters, Chris Coyier, Dave Shea, Darren Hoyt, Henry Jones, Kiam McKay, Nick La, Jon Hicks, Larissa Meek and others.

The Smashing Story

How did Smashing Magazine come into existence? How do we work, and what happens behind the scenes? What is our secret recipe for success? Our readers are asking, and Smashing Magazine is answering.

The Smashing Magazine story is not the classic story of two guys coming up with a great idea in the right place at the right time. It is a story of dedication, patience and hard work… truly hard work. Perhaps the most unusual thing about Smashing Magazine’s birth is that we never actually sat down together to discuss the whole thing. We never threw up a whiteboard and brainstormed on a groundbreaking concept for a successful magazine with a solid marketing model. In fact, Smashing Magazine is the result of a random experiment, initiated by two like-minded Web workers with shared passion and knowledge, as well as valuable experience (Sven) and energetic motivation (Vitaly).

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So all in all, this will be an extremely comphrehensive book that is a must have for anybody interested and/or working in this industry. I plan on getting my paws on a copy, so I will most likely be writing a review. This book is available for pre-order currently. You will receive 20% off as well as a 30 day/money back guarantee…  not that you’ll ever dream of returning it, but just as a safety. There is no shipping, but there is something called “social shipping”. Somewhat like a “pay it forward” gesture if you will. You can willingly throw extra money on your order, and that money will go into a shipping pool to help them get books to hard to reach places. The book is currently in its final stages of production and is expected for release in September.

As a side note… have you ever wondered what certain people would look like in website form?! This website made me giggle a little so I thought I would share. http://www.outlawdesignblog.com/2009/what-if-websites-were-people/