Toolbox Blog: resources, tips, tricks & info for creative professionals

Posts Tagged ‘professional’

April 21st, 2009

How Can I Get a Job as a Web Designer?

It’s a question we hear all the time and one that doesn’t have a straight answer.  Here are a few of our favorite resources to point you in the right direction:

First, read Joe Gillespie’s post Web Design as a Career over at WPDFD, he takes a stab at why this particular phrasing of the question is so hard to answer and talks about the many jobs that fall under the broad term ‘Web Designer’.

WetFeet.com gives a more generic description of the career path, but it’s a great place to start out and is geared towards the student or recent grad.

As for actual resources to help you on your way, Design Mentor Training has a great resource page specifically for Graphic and Web Design.  A traditional career research tool is a ‘job outlook‘ – you can look at employment trends, how the industry is growing, and salary ranges.

For more reading, About.com has a great collection of articles on professional web careers.

Finally, experience is key and freelancing is a great way to build up your portfolio and continue to develop your skills.  Check out The Monster List of Freelance Job Sites (2009) for where to go to find jobs.  A few of our favorites: Freelance Switch, ELance, and Guru.

February 10th, 2009

5 Common Mistakes Made When Designing a Website

There are some pretty bad websites out there.  In fact, there are sites dedicated solely to pointing them out (webpagesthatsuck.com).  Most of the ‘bad websites’ out there (excluding the truly horrific) are labeled so because they made a handful of very common mistakes during the design process.  These are some of those mistakes we see the most often.

Having design elements that look like ads – There is absolutely nothing wrong with having a reasonable amount of advertisements on your website.  However, you must realize that because of the sheer volume of advertisements on pages, most users have developed selective attention.  They’ll ignore everything that looks like a banner, pop-up or any other type of typical ad – so its not a good idea to have important design elements or information displayed in any of these formats.

Jamming 10 pounds of stuff into a 5 pound bag – Whether you go overboard on content or flashy design elements, cramming too much onto a site is a common mistake.  The result could be a busy layout, a wall of text, side scrolling, very little white space, etc.  Each of these things makes a website difficult to read and making your visitors work for information is never a good idea.

Having confusing and unclear navigation – Clear navigation is one of the most important factors for a site’s usability.  Users should have no questions about how they are supposed to move around the different areas of your site.  It’s a good idea to make your links change colors once a user clicks on them, knowing which pages they’ve already visited helps prevent users from unintentionally landing on pages they’ve seen before.  Also, your users shouldn’t have to jump through hoops to find the content they are looking for – make sure that every single page is within 3 or 4 clicks of your homepage.

Looking amateur-ish – Sure this is a bit vague, but there are certain features/missteps that web designers make that scream beginner.  For example, avoid saying “Welcome to ____” on your homepage.  There are other ways to make your visitors feel welcome.  Similarly, test to make sure your page looks good in all browsers instead of taking the shortcut “Best viewed in ____”.

Using overly wild or bright color schemes – Everyone loves creativity, and this doesn’t mean that you should shy away from using color in your design.  However, when colors are too bright or you use too many colors on the same page it can look unprofessional.  Also make sure that your background color and text color compliment each other, keeping your text easy to read and scan.

So next time your designing a site, take a minute to step back and review.  If you avoid these common errors you are probably safe from having your site end up on one of the many “Worst Website” lists.

January 6th, 2009

If You’re Not Utilizing Social Media You Should Be – Tips, Tricks, and Pointers

If you didn’t hop on board the Social Media train in 2008 or haven’t heard about it (living under a rock perhaps?) 2009 is your year!  It’s a big deal trend, and it shows no signs of slowing down.  Don’t believe me?  Check out Todd Mailcoat’s post on Stuntdubl.com – 9 Reasons You NEED Social Media Marketing in 2009.

Developing a social media marketing strategy can be especially tough.  The list of available Social Media sites seems endless (Twitter, Digg, Delicious, Facebook, LinkedIn, Technorati, StumbleUpon…I could go on forever) and there are tons of pitfalls and mistakes to make that could derail your campaign in seconds.  However, using Social Media to your advantage can be extremely rewarding – leading to much higher traffic and better search rankings and in the end more money/sales/whatever for you.

So to start the new year off right AgencyTool has compiled what we think is the best advice around when it comes to Social Media.

First off – what NOT to do.  Janet Fouts posted the Seven Sins of Social Media and every single one of her points should be taken to heart by anyone getting into SM Marketing.  Along the same line is The 11 Rules of Social Media Etiquette by Eric Brantner.  Both of these articles are great places to start to learn the basic do’s and don’ts of the trade.

No matter which sites you decide to use you’ll invariably have to create some sort of user profile before you can go to town.  Facebook, MySpace and LinkedIn profiles are pretty self-explanatory and their importance is obvious.  What some people fail to realize is that your profiles on Digg, Reddit and other aggregation-type sites are important as well.  For help check out this video from Brent Csutoras: Tips on Building Social Media Profiles.

We aren’t going to list every SM site out there – it would be impossible – with a little research you’ll be able to find ones that fit into your strategy and style.  We are going to share a few choice tips/tricks we found for some of our favorite social media sites.

Twitter.  There were debates about it’s purpose and usefulness, some people love it – some hate it, and it can be tough to really get involved with, but there is no denying that Twitter has substantially changed the way some people communicate online.  For a good overview of the service and how it can be useful read Dan York’s Why and How I Use Twitter and it’s follow up post.

LinkedIn is like MySpace for professionals.  It’s a great way to connect with colleagues and network with people both in and outside of your profession – it’s also a great Social Media Marketing tool.  Read LinkedIn Tips and Tricks to Get 500+ Contacts to learn how to make full use of your account.

Social Bookmarking and Aggregate News sites are another great way to use social media to draw attention and traffic to your site.  There are plenty of resources around to help you make the most of this type of site.  Take a look at BlueHat SEO’s Stumble and Digg Begging for a hack to put on your site that reminds visitors to stumble and digg up your page.  Chris Poteet write a great little guide on how to Become a Delicious Power User and this post from Top SEO Tricks tells you all about Getting Traffic from DIGG.com Comments.

Lastly, it’s easy to lose track of what you are doing once you charge into a social media campaign.  Keeping track of multiple profiles and what is being said about your site/brand/company can become overwhelming.  Read Social Media Tips: Tracking Your Buzz Online for pointers on how to stay up to date easily.

Do you have a great piece of advice or resource for utilizing Social Media?  Leave a comment, we’d love to hear about it.

August 19th, 2008

Can Pink Be Professional? 15 Pink Websites You Have to See

It’s a question the designers have asked for a while now.  Can pink be used in a professional design?  I think the answer is a resounding YES!  Nixing the color pink all together can stifle the creative process. You decide…here are 15 websites utilizing the wonderful color pink


Some uber professional sites: A financial/trading company, an advertising agency, and a large well-respected mobile phone service provider…all using pink!


Even a few professional web design firms…

And even if the pink seems overwhelming, keep in mind the type of company and intended audience.  Character design or a stuffed animal designer for example…

Then again, you don’t want to get too carried away…

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ABOUT AGENCYTOOL At its core, AgencyTool exists to serve as a resource for creative agencies, whether they be into web design, print, advertising or anything else. Here on the AgencyTool Blog you'll find a mish-mosh of resources and thoughts that we think are worth sharing.

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