iOS7 concept by Andre Almeida

iOS7 concept by Andre Almeida

It appears that flat design is taking the lead over skeuomorphism, as Apple’s new iOS is rumored to be receiving a huge overhaul in the near future. The most recent speculation claims that the new iOS look is going to be largely monotone and understated, as well as abandoning the textures and “realistic” drop shadows of the past.

Web Designer Depot reported the claims which have also been going around most design blogs, which also state that the new mobile OS is rumored to be announced at the Apple WDDC on June 10th, where there is also speculation about a new iPhone announcement.

One of the leading reasons many designers have been slowly migrating is that it is incredibly easy to make a flat design also responsive, especially compared too skeuomorphic designs. Flat design follows the ideology that effects simulating the 3D world such as drop shadows or textures that mimic real objects are not only deceitful, but becoming increasingly irrelevant in an online world.

This isn’t to say that skeuomorphism is completely dead; there are still many designers promoting the strategy. But, Apple has long been cited as one of the biggest proponents of the trend, with their iconic mobile OS styles.

The rumors all started when Apple tapped Jonathan Ive to head the design of iOS7. Ive, Apple’s Vice President of Industrial Design and the man responsible for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch hardware, is known to have a strong dislike of skeuomorphic design, which was heavily promoted in the company by Steve Jobs and former iOS head Scott Forstall.

No one will know for sure what is coming with the Apple conference until the 10th, and many skeptics claim that Apple is likely to be implemented incrementally rather than suddenly with an iOS update.

It isn’t uncommon for business owners to try to handle at least a portion of their SEO on their own. Some will try to find a balance between working with an SEO company and doing some of it themselves, while others try to go totally independent and see what they can do without paying for the professionals.

Both make complete sense and have positive aspects. You want to have control over your company’s online presence, and it is always important to try to familiarize yourself as much as possible with online marketing and SEO, even if you are working with an SEO agency.

There’s a reason there is professional online marketing help available however, and that is there are many online marketing tasks a company should try to take care of themselves, and then there are the more complex tasks that are best left to the people who work in SEO every day.

Many of the tasks the company can take care of are actually best done before you ever begin working with an SEO agency. If you don’t know what you can do on your own, Search Engine Journal writer Amanda DiSilvestro recently made a checklist of things you should do before you begin looking for professional help. They will let you take the reins on your online presence and make sure it fits the way you want your company to be portrayed, while also creating a foundation that experts will be able to build upon later.

There’s Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and Pinterest. All offer something unique and a unique demographic to those that create a presence for their business there. So which one is best suited for the needs of your company?

Jen Wilson, of Business Journal, recently published an in-depth look at who exactly is using each site and what type of company will flourish there. Here’s a quick rundown of the findings.

Facebook: Best suited for established brands with a dedicated following that will share success stories. Ages 18-55.

Twitter: Great for developing relationships with customers and for PR. Younger demographic than Facebook with an added bonus of well-known personalities among the users.

LinkedIn: B2B sales is perfect here, but it can also be used to establish yourself as an expert in a given field. Wide age range, but users are college educated and often advanced in their careers.

Google+: Tech companies, internet services and gaming works great considering there’s a high concentration of young, tech savvy males here. Also, get a boost in search as your picture appears with your articles or web site.

Pinterest: Any image driven company, specifically fashion or design but could even be adapted for certain types of sales. The best place to market to women under 50.

CSS lets us do wonderful things as designers, but it can sometimes be a hassle. If you are super experienced, you may have learned to avoid the problems, but the majority of us are way to accustomed to beginning with a very simple CSS file, and watching it spiral out of control as you continue development.

As you create your site, your CSS gradually becomes a mess. It looks disorganized, borderline unreadable, and there are inevitably quite a few mistakes spread throughout. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad designer. In fact, this could happen to anyone.

Usually there are two ways to deal with this, you can either regularly stop your site development and clean up the CSS, or you can wait until the end and dive into fixing everything all at once. Either way, it takes forever.

Recently, a third (much faster) way has come up. Why not just use a tool to keep your CSS sorted and formatted? No tool is going to keep your CSS looking perfect, but they can at least keep it organized enough to be readable when it becomes time to edit, and you won’t have to do near as much editing as you did in the past.

Speckyboy Design Magazine collected a whole bunch of different options for keeping CSS code looking clean while you work. While none of them will recognize your unique way of writing the code, but you should be able to find something that fits you well enough to make your life much easier.

You run a small local business with brick and mortar locations. What reason do you have to invest in online marketing? Actually, there are quite a few reasons local businesses can benefit from online marketing.

You want your business to be reaching out to customers everywhere they are looking for you or services like yours, and more and more people are turning to the internet before they make a purchase. If they aren’t buying straight off the web, they are checking reviews and public perception of the products they are looking for.

A recent BIA/Kelsey report said that 97% of consumers use online media before making local purchases, and Google suggests that 9 out of 10 internet searches led to follow up actions such as calling or visiting businesses. That means the majority of consumers are turning to the internet, and if your business isn’t there, they will find others.

Online marketing isn’t as intimidating as many thing, either. Search Engine Land says that 50% of small businesses’ online listings are wrong, and the majority of small business owners claim they don’t have the time to keep online listings up to date. Keeping Google’s information on your business updated only takes a few minutes, and that is where most will find you. You can create a local business listing even if you don’t have a website or sell anything online.

The one step above this is to embrace social media. Many smaller businesses focus almost their entire web presence on Facebook, Google+, and Twitter, because these are where the brands can reach out directly to consumers.

If you do wish to fully capitalize on online marketing, but don’t think you have the time, hiring someone to manage your online brand and website eventually pays itself off in public awareness of your brand and cementing your brand identity as a trusted business in the community. However, you can’t just do a little. A shoddy or out of date website can hurt public perception of your company, so keeping your site up to date with all the current web standards is important to maintaining your brand’s integrity.

One of the advantages of your business’s social media profile that almost no one is talking about is that it can reveal the flaws in your business. Whether it’s through negative feedback or a general lack of participation, the problems that arise on social media usually point to problems that need to be fixed at your physical location.

Carrie Kerpen, of Inc., calls social media “a mirror. A reflection of your company and how you’re doing today.” Basically, this means that if you see an abundance of negative comments, it’s because you’re doing something wrong. This is a pretty simple idea. After all, if you were getting an abundance of phone calls from customers complaining about your service, wouldn’t you assume something was wrong with your service? This is simply an example of how some business owners are not translating social media activity correctly, or perhaps simply undervaluing its importance.

After you’ve come up with solutions to your business’s shortcomings, be sure to let those naysayers on social media know about it. Negative comments that are left unanswered are far more damning than those that receive an apologetic, professional response detailing how your business is adapting and dealing with the problem. Sometimes, it can even be a simple reassurance that changes in your business won’t affect the quality product your customer is used to. Or, maybe you can apologize for a perceived shortcoming that can’t be changed while pointing out some advantages your customer has yet to notice.

When used correctly, social media is a way to make your business better and enhance the relationship you have with your customers.


Stitched PanoramaWeb design has more in common with print design than we like to admit. While the web offers endless opportunities and unique design possibilities, print design has been evolving for over 500 years and much of how we approach content of all kinds comes from our longstanding use of print and paper.

Design is really all about connecting with the public and sharing information in an attractive form, whether it be in books, images, or videos. Noupe offered some print design rules that apply in every medium you want to use.

Less is More

Print has always been very aware of size constraints. If you go over the size limit, it means adding more space, which meant using more paper, which means higher costs. The web has the opposite problem. We are given endless space and some designers take that space and try to use as much of it as possible to bombard viewers with everything they have to offer.

When you throw too much at the audience all at once however, you face clutter problems as well as just overwhelming and putting off your audience. Consider a memo or press release, and how corporate designers aim to immediately grab the viewer’s attention with economic design. You can put out information with a strong central theme or message without attacking your audience all at once.

Make Scanning Easy

Very few people read every word on anything. We are skimmers, who jump to and from text littered all throughout or life, and we expect the things we read to make this easy for us. People don’t want to have to search extensively for what they’re looking for. They want the content to be broken up in a way where sections and different types of information are immediately obvious.

Following a typographical hierarchy is one of the best ways to keep your content organized for scanners to find what they are looking for. Headlines and sub-headings guide the eyes and announce the main topic of content sections, while bold and italics draw attention to important areas.

Functionality is More Important Than Style

Managing print functionality doesn’t seem like that much of a task, but part of that comes from our long history of streamlining text into its most legible forms from the birth of the print press. Consider every aspect of print design that keeps text legible; text color, layout, font choice, and even text alignment all have to be considered in order to keep the print “functional” or able to convey the information you’re trying to share.

In web design, functionality is much more of an overt issue, yet the rule remains the same. Some designers try to hard to create lavish sights rich with animation and high quality images, but they sacrifice usability, sped, and practicality in favor of style. Any site that doesn’t work for users isn’t a successful site because people won’t care about fancy design if they can’t use it.

While on the surface, creating content is about sharing important information of different kinds with the public, we’d all be lying if we said that we didn’t hope to get the most traffic possible coming to your site thanks to some great blog post or infographic. It isn’t easy. Getting over 100,000 views on a page as a startup is a lot of luck, but it also takes a lot of work to make quality content.

There are no magic tricks to make content that will get you exponentially more site visitors and creating one post that gets that many eyes on it doesn’t mean they will necessarily keep coming back, but it can tell us a lot about what people are looking for on the web and what counts as great quality.

Stephen Kenwright works at Branded3 who recently hit the coveted 100,000 pageview benchmark, and he wrote about what he has learned from the short term success over at SEOMoz. You can learn a lot from their isolated case, and the tips Kenwright offers.

Well, the big event that the SEO community has been talking about for weeks has finally hit and everything is… mostly the same, unless you run sites known for spammy practices like porn or gambling. Two days ago, Google started rolling out Penguin 2.0. By Matt Cutts’ estimate, 2.3 percent of English-U.S. queries were affected.

While 2.3 percent of searches doesn’t sound like a lot, in all actuality that is thousands of websites being hit with penalties and sudden drops in the rankings, but if you’ve been keeping up with Google’s best practices, chances are you are safe.

None-the-less, in SEO it is always best to stay informed on these types of updates, and Penguin 2.0 does change the Google handles search a bit. To fill in everyone on all the details, Search Engine Journal’s John Rampton and Murray Newlands made a YouTube video covering everything you could want to know about Penguin 2.0.

Oh, and if you’ve been wanting to know why it’s called Penguin 2.0, Cutts says, “This is the fourth Penguin-related launch Google has done, but because this is an updated algorithm (not just a data refresh).”

Random TypographyIt’s easy to take text for granted as a designer. However for most users, text is the most common component across the web. Designers can lose focus or patience on text when we want to get to the more fun aspects of design, but you can’t communicate effectively in any way without good typography, and good type is built upon a few basic principles.

Web Designer Depot set down a list of rules that designers can follow for excellent typography, or at least prevent the most basic mistakes. While some of these considerations may seem unimportant or odd when you begin trying to work them into your page compositions, before long they will be second nature to you.

  • Establish a Typographic Hierarchy – Text is all about conveying information, and readers on the internet want to obtain that information quickly. They scan and look for the most interesting or important parts, which they can’t easily do without an organized typographic hierarchy. Even for readers who don’t skim, the hierarchy keeps information organized and accessible.
  • Keep Text Large Enough To Read – While 12pt. fonts may have been acceptable on the web a few years ago, no one wants to be squinting at a computer screen anymore. Make your text large enough for people to easily read. I’d suggest 16pt. fonts, but certainly no smaller than 14pt.
  • Choose Appropriate Fonts For Body Texts – Conveying information is also all about legibility. Choosing a flowery, superfluous, or otherwise hard to read font for body copy is off-putting to visitors and will keep them from sticking around the page for long. There is a time and a place for extravagant fonts, but that isn’t in the body paragraphs.
  • Don’t Use Too Many Fonts On One Page – The web ran on only a handful of fonts years ago, but now we have the abilities to work with a practically endless number of fonts in our designs. That doesn’t mean every one of those fonts should go into a single design. Using too many fonts in a single design can be clashy, distracting, and just plain ugly. The old rule is too stick to two or three fonts. I don’t suggest using more.
  • Give Your Text Some Room To Breathe – Just like on school essays, having extra space between each line of text makes everything much easier to read than trying to make sense of jumbled cluttered letters. The problem is evenly solved too, all by increasing line-heights. Be careful not to overdo it though, too much space can be bad.

Web Designer Depot has a few other rules on their page, but these basic rules will be enough to protect you from the biggest typographic sins. Remember, text is the best way to convey information to your visitors, so make the text easy to read above all else.