The Best Links of the Day: July 18, 2013

google maps
  1. Super useful tools for CSS coding
    Whether css is your life or you are just a dabbler, here are some helpful tools.
    link to article

  2. google maps

  3. How to Save Offline Maps in the New Google Maps for iOS
    An ‘easter egg’ trick for saving Google Maps so you don’t have to rely on a data connection.
    link to article
  4. What is Web Typography?
    Nice article on the basics & why web typography is important to your overall branding.
    link to article
  5. The Complete Guide to Developing a Social Media Policy for Your Business
    This article gives you a nice outline for creating a social media plan, instead of just jumping in blind. This way everyone is on the same page, and you don’t end up with any of the social media missteps others have taken.
    link to article
  6. The Best Shopping Cart Plugins to Sell With WordPress
    Although most people I know are leaning toward WooCommerce these days, it’s nice to see a list with the major players & live examples of each. Don’t be fooled by the ‘free’ though – money will need to be spent for addons for shipping, paypal, credit cards, etc.
    link to article

The Best Links of the Day: July 17, 2013

Eventually, someone will start reading these, because there really are some great finds in my daily lists. I’m trying to keep it to 5 links, and I choose them from hundreds of articles, tweets & posts I see each day.
unfollow post on Facebook

  1. How to unfollow a Facebook post using the mobile app
    This was driving me absolutely crazy, and I cannot believe I didn’t know how to do this before last night, but there I was, bombarded by replies I didn’t need to see, and only my iphone to get me out of it. This article walks you through how to turn off notifications from the mobile app.
    link to article
  2. Mobile Payments are Exploding: What You Need to Know as a Retailer
    There’s no denying this is a growing area, and new options are going to keep popping up. It’s a great idea to check out what’s available & see if being able to take credit cards from anywhere can help your business.
    link to article
  3. 10 Ways Google+ Will Improve Your SEO
    As a proponent of social media, I admit, I have been unenthusiastic about Google+. It just seemed redundant to me, regardless of how many articles tell me I should be using it. Well, this article outlines how it helps your SEO, which almost has me convinced I need to finally get on the Google+ bandwagon!
    link to article
  4. 10 Surprising social media statistics that might make you rethink your social strategy.
    Some really interesting stats here that continue into the comments. Worth a look.
    link to article
  5. iphone screenshot

  6. Capture a Screen Shot on iPhone 5
    This is a really simple one, but I needed to do this recently, and I didn’t know how – now I do!
    link to article

The Best Links of the Day: July 16, 2013

Noupe

Whew, today has been a bit crazy, I didn’t know if i was going to be able to get to this, but here I am. Time to add my links & comments & get all those tabs on my browser closed.
Noupe

  1. Freerange Stock: Commercial Use Photos Completely Free Of Charge
    Who doesn’t like FREE?! So when I saw this article on Freerange, I knew I had to share with all of you. All you have to do is open up a free membership to have access.
    link to article
  2. Secret Price Codes Will Save You Money At Costco
    Clearly, I’m on a money saving bent today. Here’s an in depth article on how to save even more at Costco.
    link to article
  3. The Web Designer’s Cheat Sheet
    A list of time & effort savers for the harried web designer
    link to article
  4. 20 Best Instagram WordPress Plugin
    Instagram galleries, sidebar widgets, badges..anything you need to link your Instagram to your WordPress site.
    link to article
  5. apps

  6. 12 Free iPhone Apps Entrepreneurs Should Use
    I’ll admit, there are quite a few on here I never heard of, along with a few very well known ones. It covers everything from Skype to dealing with expenses.
    link to article

The Best Links of the Day: July 15, 2013

Culture on the Cheap

So, as you may have surmised, I’m not going to try and do this on the weekends. For the one or two of you checking these out, it will purely be a work day thing.
Culture on the Cheap

  1. Culture on The Cheap
    For the New Yorkers who might come across this, this is a fabulous site. It lists free and cheap cultural events in & around the city. When I came across it, I was dismayed to see that Cheap Trick was playing a free concert the day I looked, but I would not be able to get there
    link to site

  2. WordPress Tutorials

  3. 50 brilliant WordPress tutorials for designers
    A great list for all levels of designers covering everything from shortcodes to choosing a great color scheme to custom post types.
    link to article
  4. How to Use Pinterest to Drive Traffic to Your Blog
    I’m a big Pinterest fan. It’s a great place to get inspiration, find recipes, look at cute animals & a great marketing tool. Here are some great tips on how to drive traffic to your blog (or site).
    link to article
  5. Lifehacker Pack for Mac 2013: Our List of the Best Mac Apps
    I know a lot of you are mac users, and this list contains quite a few of my go to apps, so it needed to be shared.
    link to article
  6. How To Email Your List
    I know I’m guilty of this – I have a nice email list, but I’m so afraid I’m going to be bothering people, that I rarely use it. This article basically tells you(me) to get over it, just avoid the skeeze!
    link to article

The Best Links of the Day: July 12, 2013

combining fonts

Wow, I made it to my second day of links – yay me! I hope someone somewhere out there finds these useful. If nothing else, I guess it’s a good way for me to bookmark all the things I find, then forget about!
bed risers

  1. USB & Outlet Bed Risers
    Wow, how has someone not come up with this before. In this day & age, we have a million things (ok, that’s a slight exaggeration) to plug in by our beds, but most bedrooms have limited outlet availability. These bad boys provide two solutions in one – more under bed space & outlets at every post!
    link to article
  2. Time Warp
    Well this looks cool! I haven’t tried it out yet, but I dare any of you to tell me you never procrastinate. Available as a Chrome add on, it’s designed to step in when you just can’t tear yourself away from twitter, facebook, gmail or (gulp) blog posts. Oh, and on another note, if you weren’t humming Time Warp from Rocky Horror to yourself when you read this, I have my doubts about you!
    link to article
  3. 20 Really Helpful Infographics and Cheats for Designers
    Ok, technically, I found this the other day, but since i just started these posts, I wanted to get this (and the next one) in. These are well done & quite useful.
    link to article
  4. combining fonts

  5. Tools to Combine Fonts
    Figuring out the right font combinations can sometimes be a daunting task, there are just so many out there, and so many factor to consider. Check out this list of tools to help you decide.
    link to article
  6. How to Get Followers on Instagram
    It’s always helpful to read tips on how to increase your reach on any social network. Like all of them, Instagram needs time & effort to raise your level of followers. This list is a great place to start.
    link to article

The Best Links of the Day: July 11, 2013

IFTTT

If you read my earlier post today, you know that I am resurrecting my mostly dead blog. Here is the very first (drumroll please) list of the best articles/links I have found each day.

1. Official IFTTT App Now Available For iPhone, Lets You Add Your Apps To Any Recipe
I admit, I’ve been a bit late to the IFTTT bandwagon, but the more time I give it, the more I see all it is capable of. It is so useful if you spend a little time checking out what it can do. Well, now they have an iphone app. You create recipes combining different services to complete certain tasks. There are a lot of community submitted recipes for the web version, so I am sure a ton will start popping up for the iphone app.
link to article

2. Web Applications & Resources for Responsive Web / Mobile Design
Responsive, retina, grids – all buzz words you see & hear everywhere. This is a list of a few very useful resources for those buzz words.
link to article

3. 50 Must-Know Mobile Commerce Facts and Statistics
Mobile commerce is a fast growing segment that online merchants can no longer ignore. Take a look at this slideshow of stats create by Mobify – a real wow!
link to article

4. How to Use Hangouts to Collaborate with Anyone, Anywhere, On Any Device
Another one of those services that I am not really utilizing, but every time I read an article on a service like this, I think to myself “why aren’t you?”.
link to article

5. Chalkboard Car Invites Street Art and Graffiti from Passersby
Let’s call this one my ‘just for fun’ link. I would love to draw all over that car!
link to article

A New Blog Post From A Mostly Dead Blog

It’s been forever since I last did a blog post. I preach the importance of them to my clients all the time, but between my various other writing duties (pug rescue, my now-defunct geek blog, personal projects, etc) I just couldn’t summon the will I needed to write for for Curious Light, which really SHOULD be the first place I do it for. So, here it is, finally, a new post.

I’ve decided that I find a lot of good design, developer, tech & otherwise useful links in all the reading I do. I share them regulary on twitter (@curiouslt) & sometimes even my Facebook page (don’t get me started on that!), so why not share them here. Consider this (hopefully daily) exercise a curated list of the best of what I’ve found each day.

So this is starting today. I’m working on the list right now. My intention is to publish it at around 5pm (EST) each day, and any great articles/links I find after that time will go in the next days list.

Wish me luck!

Why I mourn Steve Jobs passing

 

I know there are those of you out there that think those of us ‘mourning’ the passing of Steve Jobs are overreacting – we didn’t know him, how could we possibly be this affected by his passing.

There have been beloved figures that have died that I have felt saddened by, but only a few where I actually wanted to ‘mourn’ and pay my respects. These are people that have had a profound affect on me/my life in one way or another. Jim Henson, Theodore Geisel, Rod Serling (years later) – immensely creative minds that brought a unique passion & vision to their work. Imagination…it’s probably my favorite word, and these men all had it in spades, and their passing felt like a personal loss. I now have to add one more to that list – Steve Jobs.

While working in film & television production (about 19 years ago), the company I worked for decided to buy a NeXt computer & an MacIntosh Quadra to do our own graphics. The machines were obscenely expensive then, but oh the possibilities. I’ve watch Apple progress since that time..going from huge hard drives that held little to pushing the limits of what we can store at our fingertips. My first ‘design’ Mac that I had at home had a 4GB hard drive, that was about 1996. Amazing to think how much the Mac has progressed in 15 years. You can now do almost anything on an iMac – things that just a short time ago seemed impossible.

That is why I mourn Steve Jobs. His leadership, his vision..is what made that possible. My computer is my toolbox, my pen & paper, my way of expressing who I am. Steve Jobs gave me that.

This was an amazing cartoon that was done when Mel Blanc died..that’s kind of how I feel today, just substitute a computer for the microphone.

speechless

Why Photos Are So Important To Your Site

A big question small businesses face is whether or not to spend the money to get professional photos of their products taken for their website. I know many of my client struggle with budget & time concerns when it comes to their photos. But, I want to stress what an important (if not the most important) factor photos are.

I always ask clients to send links to sites they like & why they like them. I usually get big name sites with one thing in common..gorgeous photographs. Let’s look at a couple of examples.

Free People

Most of the page is taken  up with a slider containing beautiful photographs. In this case, it is not just of the product, but in a location that sets the mood.

Free People

Kiki & Bree

A large photograph accompanied by 4 smaller ones – all clothing is shown on models.

Kiki and Bree

NestLiving

Colorful chairs against a white background compliment the overall aesthetic of the site.

Nest Living

What's the first thing you noticed on these pages? The photos..that’s what draws you in and what will compel you to explore, it might even get you to read some of the text!

Let’s look at one of these examples without their 'beauty shots' but with some flat product photos.

Alternate View

Not terrible, but it lacks the emotional connection & visual impact of the original. These photos can't direct you around the page like the original can. Take a look at the original Kiki & Bree one again – the child's gaze is leading you to look to the right at what is written there, and the light is taking you up to the navigation. It's hard to get that with a flat image.

Now, I know what your thinking – “I don't have the time or the resources to do this”. To that I would respond that you don’t have to take all of your product photos this way, but you should budget for one photo shoot a season and get a few 'beauty shots' taken of your products. You don't have to spend a fortune, recruit friends, or kids of friends & give them a small gift for their troubles – maybe one of the outfits they model, or a nice dinner. Find a local photographer, a student even that can give you a half day at a reasonable price.

A designer can create a gorgeous, functional site for you, but if your products aren't enticing, none of that will get you sales. I'm not a big fan of cliche expressions, but it is true, you only get one chance to make a first impression.

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