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It has been awhile since I have done a review on some sweet websites out there. Let’s begin. The first one is Maily. This creative website is designed so little kids can learn to send emails. The email interface is as kid friendly as you can get. Have you seen how good kids are with ipads? I guess that is why these guys thought the next natural step would be able to send emails as well. They can add images draw with their fingers and easily send to whomever they want. To send an email they just click a really big send button and choose the picture of the person they want to send to.

Sounds pretty easy right? I haven’t downloaded the app just watched the video, which I placed below. Check it out and let me know what you think.

For those of you out there who like to get away from the computer, tv, and everything else urban. All trails is a good website for you. It is a user based website that lets you view marked out trails all around the world. There is a cool rating system that lets you see how well liked a particular trail is. There are really good details given like how long the hike takes and distance. One cool feature is that people can add photos in different parts of the trail so you can know exactly what it looks like.

I am a little conflicted on how much I want to know about a the trail before going on it, but I am sure that this would contribute to less people going on trails they are not ready for. Another great aspect of this website that they don’t promote as much is that you can meet others who share the love of the outdoors.

There is a member section where you can view all the members in your area. They also display who has hiked the most trails and who has hiked the most distance. Funny how you would turn this into a competition. They too have a video and here it is.

The last website that I am going to recommend is Squiggle. Working remotely is becoming much more popular, but you loose some of that face to face interaction. These guys have created a platform that allows you to work together as if you were in the same room. You can talk, share screens, or even work on code together. I am guessing that it is not as good as working next to someone, but through the demo I was still pretty impressed. You can message each other and share code super easily. It all goes through a feed which is nice so you can view past comments. After all, it is nice to go back and let your co worker know that he actually said something totally different.

squiggle

The price is pretty reasonable at $9 per month per person, but there is not that much information to lead to a commitment for this. They do offer a free trial, but very little information on why squiggly is better then say a skype or other similar website. Will keep an eye out for these guys and complete another test run. Please let me know if you guys have good or bad experiences with them.

 

Last but not least is an av estimating software program called jetbuilt. They help cut your av generation of proposals in a quarter of the time. The design is very well done and the thing is fast!

 

teachinsight2Let us first talk about video tutorials in general. The way that people are learning has been changing for quite some time now. If you are web designer or software developer or anything to do with computers you know that traditional schools in not the way to go. Often this type of structure takes to long to set up, resulting in old lesson plans and outdated methods. The best developers out there are also way into opensource. Many post tutorials on the web and are happy to help each other out for free.

This content comes out in many forms, through blogs, and forums, and yes you guessed it, video tutorials. I learned through reading tutorials on web design in the beginning. When video tutorials came out, WOW! I really started to accelerate learning web design techniques and coding skills. Video tutorials have a great combination of using visual demonstration, writing, and audio. They touch all our senses, which not only reaches a wider audience, but helps with understanding a concept better.

Free video websites like youtube and vimeo offer some great tutorials, but they are so hard to find! It would be great if you searched and you had a list of video tutorials that were all high quality and had a rating to go by. Well there is a website called TeachInsight that offers amazing video tutorials in this kind of format. There isn’t much to choose from in ways of tutorials, but we have a feeling that it will start to fill in once people notice the potential. Becoming a teacher is not that difficult of a process. Looks like you sign up then take a 10 question quiz. Once you pass that quiz you are able to submit your video tutorial for review.

If the tutorial is approved it will appear on the market place. The goal is to have the website feature it, so you can be seen in front of everyone. Right now they are running a promotional contest where you can win a free Kindle. It’s a pretty good technique to get some extra signups. To enter, all you have to do is signup for the website. At the end of May one winner will be chosen. They said that they are going to do a follow up interview with the winner, which is pretty cool. The wordpress tutorial looks like it has sold the most. Like I said before, doesn’t look like there are too many to choose from, but lots of subjects that talented people could fit into. Looks like there member count is right around 117, which is up from when we last checked at under 100. Will keep an eye out to see how fast they grow.

We have made some video tutorials in the past. Some skills don’t even need you to record your face. They are called screencasts. It is pretty cool when you can demonstrate a program through allowing someone to follow along with your computer screen as you talk.

MyspaceI forgot exactly how it came up, but a friend of mine mentioned that the new myspace had a new look and it was really good. I was very skeptical because I still remember that awful interface that lasted what seemed forever. The one thing that they really had going for them was the ability to stylize your home page to how you want and of course the music integration.

So I went to the website recently to sign up and see the new look. Wow! I was pleasantly surprised. They have geared their new model to be focused around music. The user flow is pretty intuitive except for the navigation at the bottom. I will help you guys get a feel.

The myspace link in the bottom left is kind of like your home page news feed on facebook. It shows all the updates that your connections are posting. Connections is basically the same as friends. The friend request has been really simplified by using a ven diagram symbol. When you hover over someone’s photo it appears. If you click it, you are now connected to that person. they can choose to connect back if they like.

The next link at the bottom will say your username. This takes you to your profile page. Two things I really liked about this page. The scrolling goes from left to right and uses a sort of masonry blog style. The second thing is you get a killer background image as well as a profile image. This really styles your profile and gives it whatever feel you want.

Next three tabs are your typical functionality tabs, post something, notifications, and messages. The messages tab has the ability to do live chat if someone is signed on. There is a green dot that appears next to your username signifying that you are signed on.

The discover tab is sweet. I used this for awhile before getting fatigued at looking at pictures and music. You can search through all different types of stuff and there are category breakdowns on the left to filter your search. I listened to the music section and found some really cool tunes.

There is one more tab with the magnify glass representing the search area. The estetics are really simple and clean. It gives you a big screen to type in what you are looking for. As you type it does a sort of ajax call and give you results that are filtered by category. Really high functioning search and very useful.

One tip that may help some of you out there is I could not find out how to logout. You have to go to your home feed, which is the myspace link in the bottom left, then you will see the signout link in the menu on the mid left.

Like I said before, the whole model is geared around music so they have an awesome music player at the bottom that stays static the whole time you go through the website. You can add songs in the que and listen to music while you are wandering from section to section. Facebook looks 10 years behind these guys now. Myspace really threw down the gauntlet on this one. I would say google plus should be scared, but who uses google plus anyway?

website_designMost great designs are adjustments to already existing ones out there. Web design is not different. One of the interesting thing about websites that they are interactive. They are meant to be used and touched by the visitor making them much more then a pretty picture to look at. Why can’t they be as easy as drawing a picture then?

It is a a strange combo of people that get forced to work together for designing website. You have the designer/artist who cares about the colors, layout, typograhpy, and feel. Then there is the programmer, who cares out functionality and performance. Normally these two people don’t spend much time together, but for a website creation they become best buds. Well… almost best friends.

So where do the designers find inspiration? The place that we always look to is other websites. We see tons of websites all day and come across features and looks that we like all the time. Just a heads up, the most popular websites out there are far from the best designed. The site finds the best  Web Design that scours the web for incredible designs and functionality. I found a trend that they really like fullscreen image type of websites, which is not always the best, but nevertheless they find great ones.

Have you guys ever heard of dribbble? I love this site so much! It is a compilation of the best designers from around the world. You have to be invited to make your own personal contributions, which is one of the reasons why the art is so awesome. You can type a search for anything you are looking for and see all kinds of great designs. Another cool feature is that you can contact that person and hire them if you really like there work. Keep in mind that these guys are in high demand and not so cheap.


What every inspires you remember that there is no wrong answer, only ugly designs. A general rule of thumb is don’t rely on one person’s opinion. You have to hear many and take the average. Best of luck and keep designing!

startup_websiteSome of our clients are startup companies and we don’t just help them with their design. There are a list of important things to consider when launching a startup website and we are going to go over some of them.

  • Have an overall idea of the purpose of the website and stay focused on that. Often I have to keep people on track to the main goal of their product or service. People get excited and lose focus. 
  • Place google analytics into the website. Google analytics is a great free resource. They keep improving it and you can really make some educated decisions from reading it. All you have to do is open an adwords account and you can have a free analytics account as well. There are tons of tutorials to use it, so don’t forget to add it in.
  • Cross browser compatibility. Pretty simple right? Amazingly no matter how much you test, most likely there will be someone out there that complains on how your website looks on there device. You job is to make sure the majority of browsers and devices work. Don’t worry about 3 year old versions of browsers. Make sure your website looks perfect on Chrome, Safari, and Firefox. Did I leave out Internet Explorer? Woops.
  • Make sure you have some kind of backing up in place. Your website could be hacked or the hosting company could go down in flames. Who knows? Always a good idea to backup!
  • Test server is a good option if you plan on constantly making changes to the website. You dont want to have to take it down or be  working on the live site. Also think about using version control. We recommend GIT. GIThub is also a wonderful resource for version control.
  • Try Pay Per Click and stay SEO friendly. The biggest PPC out there is obviously adwords. It has gotten pretty competitive and might not be the best option because of how high the keyword bids are.
  • Social networking helps. I think it is funny how people throw this term out like it is some kind of perfect solution to marketing online. The face is that it takes a lot of work to be successful at social marketing, so if you plan to use this, which you should, then don’t expect instant results. Spend some effort.
  • I came across this website that was very cool and seems to have been helping other startups out there. The website is Angel List. The idea behind the website is a social network where investors and entrepreneurs go to meet each other to create deals. There are many companies receiving funding through this, so it must work for some. I would highly recommend to give it a go at the very least.
  • Try to stay relaxed and don’t expect instant results on anything. Keep at it and something will happen sooner or later.
verblingI forgot how I stumbled upon this website, but it is a really great idea! The website is called Verbling and the just of it is speak to native speakers of a particular language. After creating an account you can join in watching the current lesson or you can place a reservation for a future lesson. I believe a lesson runs every hour. There is also a section where you can just practice with a native speaker.

They give you one free reservation with signing up and if you want to get unlimted lessons you can pay $25/month. Pretty reasonable considering how much you would end up paying if you  were seeking to learn somewhere else. I tried the practice with a partner section and really enjoyed it. I was nervous at first, but so was the other guy. After 15 minutes of talking, I felt like I had already learned some things and excited to keep trying.

The interface is decent and there are not too many options to confuse us. Overall I give the design work a thumbs up! Let me know what you guys think.