Monthly Archives: September 2011


10 Creative Portfolio Sites You Haven’t Seen Before

Your online portfolio is probably the most important tool you have to sell yourself to potential clients. Its a first impression that can make or break you, so you had better make it good. Here are 10 awesomely creative portfolio sites that strike a perfect balance between creativity, simplicity and professionalism. Here they are, in no particular order:


This French graphic designer/illustrator/art director’s site is simple to the extreme. When the work is this whimsical and eye-catching, who needs a complicated design?


Quirky use of color and a faux die-line make for an interesting canvas to show off this illustrator/designer’s work.


Simple, elegant and black and white, this design lets the work shine on its own.


This web design uses a rigid grid, fun bands of color and great typography as a showcase for a good variety of work.


Working with a non-traditional layout can be a kiss of death when not handled properly. In this case, however, it lets the work shine while keeping users engaged.


Can a website be simple and dramatic? Well this one has pulled it off pretty nicely.


Clean, elegant design seems to be Nina’s specialty. It comes across in her work, her logo and in the site itself.


This fashion designer’s portfolio site uses a bold, graphic layout, strong typography, and social media strategy to his advantage.


I am in love with Deda’s fun retro typography and use of clever infographics to tell her story. And bonus points for the parallax scrolling effect!


This UI/Web designer makes great use of a simple, one page design. He uses big graphics and bigger social media links to make an impact.


The Wacom Inkling – Sketch Vectors on Paper!

First off, let me say this: I am not a good sketcher. It has always been on my to-do list to become one though, and I think this might be the gadget to finally make that dream come true. Wacom is about to release its highly anticipated digital drawing tool, the Inkling which lets you draw – on paper – (in multiple layers!) and then import it all into Illustrator to tweak to your heart’s content.

The Basics

The kit includes a pressure-sensitive pen, and a wireless receiver. The receiver is simply clipped to your sketchbook of choice and records the strokes of the pen and as a digital image. When you want to add a new layer, you just press a button on the receiver. When you’re done, hook the device up to your computer, upload and you’re ready to edit it in any image program. Illustrator seems to be your best bet considering these are vectors you’re working with.

The Specifics

  • The included pen has 1024 levels of pressure sensitivity to give your lines an organic weight shift
  • Works can be stored as JPEG, BMP, TIFF, PNG, SVG and PDF files
  • Retail price of $199
  • As of the date of this post, the Inkling is scheduled to be released mid-October, and is available for pre-order on Amazon

The Caveat

As I previously stated, I’m not a good sketcher. So how do I erase??

Check out the preview video below!


How to Train Your Clients With Video Tutorials

So you’ve finished designing and developing a beautiful, functional CMS based website for one of your clients. Everything looks great, and even more importantly, everything works! But, being a content managed site, the work is never truly finished. Some clients choose to hire you in perpetuity, to maintain and keep the site current. Others want a clean break; You design and develop, then hand it off for their own staff to keep it up. In the second case, unless they already know what they’re doing, they will need to be trained (by you) in how to properly use the system.

This can happen in any number of ways. You can do it in person at their office, by writing a custom training manual, or more recently via Skype’s screen sharing platform. Each has its benefits and drawbacks. In person shows a great deal of customer service, and is maybe the best way to really train someone in the finer points of CMS data entry. But these days, you aren’t always working for a local client, and getting on a plane bound for the other side of the world may not be the most feasible option. Training manuals can be thorough, but who wants to write one of those? Come to think of it, who wants to read one either? Skype was my favorite option. It’s the next best thing to actually being in the same room. The only problem is that there is a lot of information being thrown around, and the person in training would have to take copious notes to consult later.

My Solution: Video Tutorials

I recently started making video tutorials for my blog and to put up on YouTube. Then I thought “What if I could use that same principle to train my clients?” And an idea was born. By using simple screen-capture software, (I use SnapzPro) and editing it in iMovie, I can give my clients the same Skype screen-sharing experience with one important difference: they can go back to it. This eliminates the aspect of a client taking sub-par notes, thus forgetting how to do something.

The One-Two Punch:

There are some clients who will have questions. For this reason, I would recommend a 2-pronged approach. First, Make the training tutorial and send it to the client with an email letting them know that if they should have any additional questions, you will be happy to revisit anything they need help with over Skype. Alternately, you may want to do this Skype training FIRST, so that you can go over all questions your client has, then incorporate all those points into the video. This way, all their questions are not only answered, but saved for them to go back to again and again, as necessary.

Do you have any client-training tips you would like to share? Leave them below, I’d love to hear about them.


Facebook Landing Pages – The Easy Way to Get More Facebook Fans

A Facebook fan page without fans is just sad. Maybe people are going to your fan page but not clicking “like,” because there’s nothing in it for them for doing so. Obviously, the best way to get people to like your page is to give them a reason to like it. The idea is to put some really great content behind a virtual barricade, and only once they’ve liked your page do they get access to it. In this video tutorial, I will show you how to set up a well designed landing page that entices visitors to like your page, in order to get at that content. Building a simple Facebook landing page incredibly, stupidly easy, and will ultimately get you more fans.

Let’s get started!


Adobe Has a New Muse- How to Create Websites With No Coding Knowledge Whatsoever

Adobe has a new way for not-so-web-savvy designers to create websites. While they have not decided on a permanent name, for now it goes by the codename Muse. They just unveiled the beta last week and already it is getting lots of internet buzz. The question code-phobic designers seem to be asking is, “Is this the tool that will finally let me design websites?”

We’ll get to that, but first some background. Muse is in beta until early 2012 when it will be rolled out as a subscription-based service. Why subscription, and not as software you can buy along with the Creative Suite bundle? “Traditionally Adobe builds up a collection of new features over 12, 18 or 24 months, then makes those changes available as a major upgrade.” according to Adobe.  “It is anticipated that new updates of Muse will be released much more frequently, probably quarterly. New features will be made available when they’re ready, not held to be part of an annual or biannual major upgrade.” So in other words, it won’t be ready to be released as software… yet. It is currently a free service, but after its release, a subscription to the service will cost $180 per year, or $20 per month.

WYSIWYG editors are nothing new, but Adobe Muse has some pretty interesting distinctions. Dreamweaver’s interface was always a little daunting for inexperienced web designers. But the interface for Muse is much closer to that of Photoshop or InDesign, making it simple for print designers to transition into web design without having to learn code. In fact, you won’t have to deal with code at all using Muse. It is purely visual, and all the coding goes on behind the scenes. You simply design your pages as you would in Photoshop, add widgets such as lightbox galleries, dynamic menus and slideshows. Another cool feature shows you what fonts are web-safe, and which that it will end up converting to images, complete with alt-text. Adobe also claims that the code Muse generates in search engine friendly code, and even allows users to customize keywords and alt-text for images. Adobe does however, acknowledge that Muse has its limitations, specifically stating that at least for now, it is mostly to be used to building largely static websites. The FAQ page states, “today Muse is a great tool for creating websites with high quality visual design and no CMS integration. That will likely change as we add CMS integration and explore enabling creation of websites for mobile and tablets.Just like in the early days of Desktop Publishing when PageMaker could only create a small subset of all the possible typeset publications in the world, Muse today can only create a subset of all the possible websites. However, for website in that subset, it’s a far more efficient tool than hand coding.”

So while Adobe Muse may be a great way for novice web designers to get their feet wet, and design some simple, yet visually compelling sites, it won’t be very useful for the big-budget dynamic sites that pay the bills. Watch the video below to see Muse in action.

Will you use Muse? Share your thoughts or experience using it!