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Is teaching computing at schools going to make a difference to school leavers?  There is a shortage of high-tech skills in industry for sure and the government are making a smart move by incorporating computing in schools as a core subject to accommodate this. Yet some say Computer Science skills are not so easily picked  up as ICT skills were and the shift is quite significant! Take a look at the question asked in the blog at Route2Compute …”What is computer Science to you?”

Summary: This is an article that enlists some important tips that one should keep in mind while designing their ecommerce website.

Ecommerce web development has become essential part of many businesses because it is the best way to reach your target audience in a cost effective manner. Online business stores are becoming more and more popular by the passing day because, physical proximity is no longer a boundary today. But, designing an ecommerce site is not similar to a normal one. It takes more experience and dedication.

There are many features that one has to include in an ecommerce website. There has to be product catalogue and various other avenues that one has to incorporate within the site. The site owner has to enable the necessary discounts and other such facilities for the customers. What’s more, he must choose a payment gateway for people to make payment online for product purchasing.

Following are some tips that you can keep in mind while making an ecommerce site.

  • The user’s experience on your site is very important. Make a clean interface with easy navigation for a hassle free user experience. Less is more. If you keep your website looking clutter-free, it will look fresher and more inviting.
  • Intuitive navigation is vital. If yours is an ecommerce website, you don’t want your customers searching all over the webpage for the next product. Make it simple. Keep the products visible and their details alongside. Keep the products within their reach. One of the most important reasons for people to opt for online shopping is the lack of time. Therefore, they will obviously not appreciate it, if they have to spend a lot of time on your website looking for the things.
  • Make your site light weight. It helps. If your site takes a lot of time to load, people will just close the window and move on to another site that loads faster. Do away with the unnecessary pomp.
  • Search Boxes are people’s favourite. You must never miss it. Always keep a search box for your users.
  • Introduce new offers and always make it a point that you highlight it on your home page.
  • Ensure that your product page is designed well. This is so that you don’t draw unnecessary attention to unwanted and unnecessary things but the product itself. Make it attractive and engaging.
  • Make their added items visible. People like to know how many items are there in their cart already and what does it amount to.

If you can take care of the above points, you will surely have a fantastic ecommerce website.

Author Resource:- Bryan is a bespoke website designer in London at Viteb one of the leading Web design company London providing clean, professional and good looking Website Design Services which deal with the latest web standards. Being as a web designer he has also written many articles on web design tips and guides.

Today I am going to demonstrate some quick tips and techniques  in Photoshop  to improve the quality of an image and make it look more professional.

 

Now lets make it look better…..

1. Open your photo in Photoshop Cs5 and go to Layer and New Adjustment Layer, then choose Brightness/Contrast.

 This automatically creates a new layer for you..just click ok

Adjust your brightness and contrast levels accordingly. I have used 67 as this photo needs brightening up! I just used +6 for contrast as I don’t want it to look fake.

2. Next we are going to warm up the image as it looks a little cold! So go to Layer and New Adjustment Layer, then choose Photo Filter. Click OK to create the new layer…

Now we are going to choose warming Filter 85 and I am going to change the density to 19 as I don’t want to over do it!

3. I am still not happy so how about a bit of Vibrance and Saturation. Again go to Layer and New Adjustment Layer, then choose Vibrance. Adjust accordingly..

 

4. Next I would like a softer focus so I am going to put a bit of Blur on the image. With layer 1 selected (your original layer) go to Filter, Blur, then Gaussian Blur.

I am going to give a radius of 1.5 as I don’t want to ruin the focus. I am aiming to have the main focus on the girl in the centre and the guy on the right – now that is my next step:

5. Choose the Quick Selection tool and drag around the areas you want to sharpen or bring more in to focus – in this case the girl.

 

Next click Filter, then Sharpen to bring the girl into focus.

6. Finally my finished photo, whether you like it or not!!

( I took the original image from [Series Of  Business Professionals  At Work by Photostock/   http://www.freedigitalphotos.net] and I have edited it slightly from its original for the purposes of this tutorial.)

Did you find this useful?

Grunge backgrounds and style tend to vary from vintage, to  dirty to painted! Some backgrounds are distracting but these free grey grunge backgounds by calebkimbrough really appeal in my opinion and would make for a funky look or perhaps for a project with an urban theme! In fact below you can see how well this grunge background looks with the “Urban Sketch” font below (the first image)!

The second image above shows the  Calibri Font , and was created in Adobe Fireworks CS5. It has an “inset emboss” as shown below and I used the fill option inside the font which is “Oil Paint 2″.

By Sarah at Webblitz 

Why am I reviewing other UK Web Design Blogs?

Here I will showcase the Top 10 Web Deisgn Blogs in the UK , (which compared to USA they are not all that abundant!). I intend to provide an honest appraisal and my findings are based on where the UK blogs appear in Googles search results, with number one being the most popular. I am not discussing these blogs with a competitive persepective but rather with the aim to research and uncover what these UK blogs offer and discover  how they are reaching success;  in other words I am in the business of appreciating others work and sharing/celebrating their accomplishment! So here goes…. 

 1.  Spoon Graphics :    “For Graphic Design lovers!”  

The blog at Spoon Graphics strikes you with its own unique handsome graphic design which complements the smart layout . Spoon Graphics has a tremendous amount of accommodating articles about Digital Artists, Word Press Themes,  Digital Graphics Techniques and  Photoshop/Illustrator  Tutorials  that in truth really do cater for the graphic designer and hence this blog really fulfils its mission. 

The latest post: How to create a Vector Soldier in Illustrator is an easy to follow tutorial with assisting screen shots, and like all the posts at Spoon Graphics it has been eloquently put together and written by a true professional. You can see a picture of the owner with the “MacBook” on his head (Chris Spooner)! This is a comical perspective on the high profile Chris Spooner who has risen to the top of Google unsurprisingly with an enormous amount of success! 

2. The Web Design Blog  :  “Get the most out of web design!” 

 The “Web Design Blog ” has an air of authority and immediately you can see it has weight in the web design field! A magic wand, a simple logo, and well designed navigation buttons lead you into a world of accurate well-heeled articles. The emphasis on “Interviews” I find appealing as not many other blogs do this and this tells me how committed the author must be and I like this approach.  For example you can check out the talented web designer Grace Smith as the Web Design Blog interview her; she unveils some of her secrets about being a freelance web designer. Who knows maybe the humble Sarah at Webblitz may be interviewed here one day! 

Dont forget to check out the Web Design Blogs’ rather generous Freebies in the “Downloads” i.e.  Free Multi-Coloured Ipod Nano PNG Icons.

3. Web Designer Mag  :   “Web Design for Real People!”

The Web Designer Mag holds a delicious variety of professional web design topics for interested web design enthusiasts. The site design itself is a superb mix of colours, graphics and adverts but it oddly works. I like the sites motto “Web Design for Real people” which suggests they seek the genuine and authentic reader. So if you have a true passion for the subject and you want to learn about  or contribute to the huge amount of tutorials for WordPress, PHP, Photoshop etc then do visit this cutting edge magazine!

In addition to The Web Designer Mag “Imagine Publishing” have another rather ‘attention-grabbing’ magazine called “How it works” which I think the younger audience would appreciate, although not actually quite in the young bracket myself I had to admit I was quite partial to the pages on “Space” and enjoyed reading the article “Question Of The Day: Is NASA about to announce the discovery of alien life?”

4.  Design Shack  : “Prepare to be Inspired”

For all those truly creative Design Shack offers inspiring web design, with comprehensive tutorials and helpful resources. They focus on the elite web designs and will only showcase the connoisseurs! So be inspired folks! I love the commentary on web designs in the ‘Gallery’ and the option to search on designs based on Colour, Layout and Category.

 

5. Graphic Design Blog : “All things graphic design”

‘Content is king’ as they say;  this blog is truly the crème of graphic design blogs for sharing articles, resources, graphic design programs etc. What I really liked was the resources for students and I think the resources at this blog would be a great aid to graphic design studies. Tara the owner is an experienced freelance graphic designer and delicately puts together some splendid articles on the subject I especially like the guest blog section and the post Photoshop – the Good, the Bad and the Ugly”  by Richard Fisher at Frank Communications. There is a wealth of categories here from “Fonts and Useful Stuff” to “Design Books” to “Character Design”.

Dont  forget to check out that Von Glitschka has kindly offered to give one of Taras lucky readers at Graphic Design Blog a free signed copy of his book titled :Vector Basic Training

6. Vision Online  : ”Interesting look at current trends”

Another one of the UKs best British web design blogs. Visiononline keep it simple : they don’t have a huge amount of articles but they are ranking  pretty well in Google and is it any wonder? The articles are contemporary and appealing ; I like the article “Could design save lives?” which goes on to mention how design can help the mind and reduce pain. 

Another interesting article is “2011 predictions” are we really going to get bored of Cloud computing?!

7.  Dave Reeder  : “jQuery; eat ya heart out!”

Some excellent practical articles especially on jquery. Dave uses BlogEngine.NET which is a refreshing alternative to the WordPress,  Joomla setup  blogs. See help for Gliders, Sliders and Carousels and “ jquery tabs with memory”   and grab the markup for these tags free! So if you want some practical help on the jQuery framework then this is the place to bookmark!

8. Pixel Design Studio  :  “A break from the norm”

Snazzy design and truly eye catching,  makes me want to click the “do not click here” why not try it yourself to see what it does! I very much like the navigation bar as when you hover over a link a description appears underneath in trendy handwriting! I am already hooked and feel I must read more!

Pixel designs studio have some admirable work in their portfolio but I am really here to discuss uk web design blogs and this one rightly deserves to rank high! The posts in the blog section are very well put together “Top 7  SEO Best SEO strategies”. Its not surprising this site has won several awards from around the globe and I am a big fan of getting Uk Web design stamped on the globe!

9.  Web Design Talk “Web Programmers Unleash!”

Another web design blog that commands authority, straight to the point, practical and down to earth: this blog is for those inclined with the programming element of web design: i.e. the technical stuff  like PHP, ASP, jQuery.  Some real practical help available in the posts; so if you are a web programmer this is the place to unleash your programming frustrations.  A good post is:  “Parsing Arguments as an Associative Array to a function” all the sources are provided for free and this is an extremely well written article.

10. Ben Sky Blog :  “For Fellow Web Designers & Developers”

Another blog climbing high in Google, a really fine clean and neat design with easy navigation; there are not many articles in the blog, but hey its quality not quantity! I like the  article “Time Management for Freelancers”  as it give some useful and real advice especially about promoting which is certainly one of the things Bensky have got right otherwise I wouldn’t be writing this!

Do you think I have left any UK Web Design Blogs out? Have I overlooked you?

Please let me know in the comments!

http://valuethewebsite.com/
Well I came across this little cracker today! Fantastic tool but a bit dissapointing to know my site is only worth $120! Well hey it hasnt been around that long so maybe I can be forgiven – guess I had better to a little more SEO!

ValueTheWebsite is a free tool every website owner should bookmark: you get free Traffic Stats plus Alexa Traffic Stats and a report about how many daily page views you get. A quick tool if you cant be bothered logging into your Google Anayltics account!

By Scott Johnson
I have chosen three websites that I believe to be very well designed, all for different reasons. I hope they inspire you as much as they have me during my web design studies!

1. MonoFace

Mono is an advertising agency based in Minneapolis, MN that lives by the motto that “simpler is better.” The “Mono” face site lives up to that motto by presenting visitors with a fun and simple Flash application that allows them to sculpt a Mr. Potato Head style face that contains 759,375 entertaining possibilities.

2. Philosophers Notes

First of all, and most importantly, this site design is simple. It does very little that it doesn’t need to do, and every single element is there for a reason.
There is only as much navigation as there needs to be. The branding is simple and clean. The page only uses a few different fonts (the main heading and the main call to action use their own typefaces in order to stand out).

3. Moo

This e-commerce/marketing site hits you on every page with clearly set out products which really shows their benefits. I appreciate the way the product photos are zoomed-in, filling the space with valuable content, combined with a consistent angle to add dynamism and interest.

By Ethan Englsh
Right so most of us know how to make a website using tools like Dreamweaver. It is fairly simple to design your website and make it look modern, but publishing the website can cost you quite a bit of money if you don’t know where to go.

So How Do you Begin?
1. First off you need a domain name. There are lots of free domains you can get, but they are only sub domains like www.yourwebsitename.hostingwebsite.com. You can get one of these sub domains easy by going to http://www.000webhost.com/ .
However I would suggest going to http://www.123-reg.co.uk/ here you can get a domain name without the sub domain. Of course this is not free but it is very cheap. Mine cost me only one pound for my domain name for one year.

2. Once you have sorted your domain name you will need some sort of “web hosting” to upload your web files to. You can either pay for one of these or get one free. I would suggest going to http://eu5.org/. This is free and you get 1.5gbs web hosting space. The reason I would suggest this is to get your website of the ground. If your website becomes successful though you can always pay for more space.

3.Because you are using a domain name and web hosting from different companies you need to change the name servers. To do this you would go to 123 reg as mentioned above; go to the control panel and select name servers. You will get the EU5 name servers on sign up. Once you have changed the name servers you might have to wait up to 48 hours for the changes to take effect. This should take no more than 10 hours though in my experience.

4.Once all that is done you now have your web domain name and web hosting. Now we need to upload the site. Upload your index page to the root directory and your images to the directory you saved them to, usually /images but you might have choose a different directory. Upload all your files and make sure your website is operational.
Now if you want to upload more than just the index page (which you probably do) you would need to purchase a sub domain from 123 reg. If however you don’t have the money to purchase a sub domain you can just make your website PHP.
Making the website with PHP will enable all your pages to be on a single domain name. PHP might take you a while to become good at, but it’s definitely worth looking into to get your website online for cheaper. You could find a tutorial on the internet to get you started with PHP or alternatively buying a book on it, unless of course you’re currently learning it in college.
Whichever option you have chosen PHP or purchasing the sub domains for your pages, you are now done and your website is online.

Free Forums?
Now most websites have forums, I have chosen eu5.org because it offers free forums to install. I would recommend PHPBB. You can install this by going to your eu5.org account, going to applications and installing PHPBB to www.your domain.com/forums.
Forums are really easy to configure, there is no tricky code involved. Once your forum is online you can now start configuring it. You will login with the administrator password and user name given upon installing the forum. Once in go to the control panel and start configuring. You can change the style, title and logo really easily. I would recommend changing the default user and pass. To upload your logo, upload it to root/forum/style/imagesets. Then go to the admin control panel and select styles, imagesets on the forum and select from the drop down box the file you have uploaded to be your logo.
That’s it you should now have your website online with a fully functional forum!

By Jodie Clark
www.photoshopbackgrounds.com is an excellent resource for some freebie photoshop backgrounds! It is a simple and easy website to use as it has a large variety of free backgrounds organised into categories, this is to make it easier to find exactly what background you are looking for. I think the free backgrounds available on this website are fantastic as they are appealing to the eye as they are very colourful and if you looking to add impact to your site this is the place!

It is very easy to download a background, you simply click the background you want and then click download and follow the step by step guide.

By Ben Jackson
Free social networking icons are the icons on web pages that have a link with a social network site such as (Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Digg, RSS, Reddit, and Stumble upon). These icons let you like the website and refer it to a friend over the social networking sites. But these are just some of the free social networking icons there are tons more. You can see these on the website which you talk about to your friends and family if you find this interesting.

These free social network icons are made so you can brag about a website and share it with friends and family. I think this is a good idea because they let you share information around the world about a website you have found and that you are interested in the site.
Here is a list of some websites offering the best free social networking icon packs:

www.webanddesigners.com/30-free-social-media-icon-sets
www.thedesigncubicle.com/…/600-free-design-twitter-and-social-media-icons -a-collection-motherload/
www.smashingapps.com/…/the-ultimate-fresh-collection-of-high-quality-free -social-media-icon-sets.html

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