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Posts Tagged ‘Design’

The importance of being creative

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

I have read a slew of great blog posts recently about being creative and finding inspiration. One article mentioned an artist who is trying to be creative everyday for one year.

This inspired me

Trying to be creative everyday sounds difficult until you really think about it. Am I not being creative when I build a website, write an email, doodle in my notebook or arrange the plants on my windowsill?

For the last few days I have attempted to be creative each day on something that is not related in any way to the projects that I am working on. Being creative for creative sake.


This is an extreme challenge and a difficult one to keep on top of every day. I’ve already missed a few days :( Maybe I’ll try to make something every other day? Once a week perhaps?

Creative professionals should try to be creative as often as possible. When working on a project the main bust of creativity comes at the start of a project with different routes, ideas and ways to solve the problem at hand. Once a project is underway the creative demand on the team drops.

The more you use your muscles the bigger, better and stronger they get. Creativity is no different, like a muscle it requires constant flexing and work to improve.

Lets sculpt those guns

We should all try to create something today. It doesn’t have to be a work of art. It doesn’t have to be in-depth. It just has to be something.

Stop Police!

Stop Police!

Me and the missus

me and the missus

Green Tea?

Green Tea?

I’ll be posting others as they are created here Flickr – Be Creative

Google Chrome from a web design eye

Friday, September 5th, 2008

You have read comic of never-ending proportions, you have listened to the monster of hype that surrounds it, but one thing that is never really mentioned…

Is it any good for web designers… really?

Chrome is a new web browser from that little startup a few years ago called Google (stupid name it will never last, its not even a word!). First and foremost I will rant about the fact that their is no version for the mac. I have been testing it mostly through VMware Fusion so not a massive downer but I would prefer it to be native.

Two days ago I quit Safari and Firefox then made Chrome my browser of choice. All main development and browsing was done though this browser. Before I delve into the depths of why it helps or hinders the web design process I think I need to run through some of its features.

Features that are useful for web design

I spend far too much time with my hands on the keyboard to worry about the mouse. Shortcuts keys are productivity gold. In a very OS friendly way Google Chrome keeps to the conventions and goes with what you would expect. Unlike other big name companies, yes Adobe Photoshop on the Mac I am talking to you.

Ctrl+L – Gives focus to the address bar.
Ctrl+T – New tab, my most used shortcut.
Ctrl+U – View the page source.
Ctrl+F – Find.
Ctrl+Click a link – Opens the link in a new tab.
Alt+Click a link – Allows you to download the contents of the link.

The view source has code highlighting and line numbering. The links inside the source are clickable, again a great time saver.

Google Chrome has no status bar running along the bottom of the browser to take up precious web design real estate. When you rollover a link it pops up a small bar in this area. Its only visible when its needed. A few more pixels available for that unnecessarily large footer.

Dragging links from the page to make a new tab is all very cool but you can also do this with images. Great for testing and just that little bit fast than having to open the inspector every time.

Well that was a good list of features… I seem to be missing the main one. Oh yeah, because the browser is based on the Webkit rendering engine you get the super inspector. Simply right click on any element and get a barrage of helpful info from it like css/html. Its no Firebug but for a built in feature its a great addition.

A feature not so well publicised is the advanced memory page. Type ‘about:memory’ into the location bar and you get a better breakdown of the memory consumption plus it also shows you the memory of other browser too. A nice comparison but not massively useful for a web designer.

Incognito tab or porn mode

Yeah! I can now surf anonymously without any digital trail being left behind for any unsuspecting third party to see what kind of a deviant double life I lead. Apart from the added perk of my partner not discovering my hula hoop fetish the incognito tab is actually a fantastic tool for testing.

At BigRedCircle we build a lot of web apps as well and web sites. One thing that is needed often is to test these apps from the perspective of a new user. With the incognito tab open I can log into a web app using completely different user details and nothing is stored so my session in the regular tab is safe. This is a massive time saver and annoyance saver. No need to delete all of my browser cookies just for a quick test.

Not another browser to test in!

Great, another browser to take into consideration! The bain of a web designers existence. Chrome uses the Webkit rendering engine so if you have built a site and it works in Safari 3 then it will almost certainly look the same in Chrome. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t check it in Chrome but I don’t ever see a need to have some crazy css hack to target this browser.

Is Chrome my weapon of choice in this armoire of web weapons?

No! But it is good. The best kind of browser is a fast one and Chrome sure is fast. As far as the browsers go it ticks a lot of the boxes but will it replace Firefox as my own personal development browser of choice? If the Web Developer Tool Bar and Firebug were available for Chrome it would. Again Firefox has become better than the sum of its parts and takes the lead but only by a whisker.

Although Google keep telling us that this is just the first Beta, maybe “we ain’t seen nothing yet”.

Portfolio – Nouveaux website has launched

Monday, May 26th, 2008

Finally the new Nouveaux Online website has gone live for everyone on the internet to see. After the usual rigmarole of cross browser testing and getting the right content from the client we have finally launched the (and I quote) ‘Best Conservatory website in Liverpool’.

It has lots of funky new features but our favourite is the new online quote generator. I haven’t seen any other conservatory websites with anything like this on it. So, like captain planet we combined all of our usability powers and gave you the easiest online conservatory quote generator known to man.

Have a look around, even get a quote?

Portfolio – Nouveaux Online

See how fast you can get a quote. Maybe not the best use of the website but from the page loading to seeing a price my best time was 11.2 seconds.

FutureOfWebDesign London 08 mp3s and keynotes

Tuesday, April 29th, 2008

Just a quick update from the previous post about the FOWD conference in London.

Those people over at Carsonified have released all of their speakers talks on mp3 and put their keynotes on slideshare. Isn’t that that nice of them.

If you listen to the mp3 and flick through the slides at the same time. It’s like your own personal ‘FOWD at my desk’ conference.

I highly recommend you stop what you are doing and listen to these now, well if you want to.

Some of the best talks in no particular order


Andy Clarke & Steve PearceMP3 Keynote

Jon HicksMP3 Keynote

Daniel BurkaMP3 Keynote

We were there, FutureOfWebDesign London 08

Monday, April 21st, 2008

Sitting watching The Spy Who Loved Me on a lazy Saturday afternoon gives me time for quiet reflection of my previous week. Why don’t all cars come with submarine mode capabilities? It would make for much more interesting trips to Blackpool. Putting aside my desire for a sub-aquatic Lotus Esprit I though I would share with you the best thing that has happened this week…

BigRedCircle went to the Future of Web Design 08 conference in London!

With all the excitement of visiting an underwater base we stepped into Kensington town hall.

This was, personally my second visit to the hall of web wonderment. So, how did it match up to last year?

FOWD07 – I left feeling inspired and hungry for my next web project. Millions of ideas and possibilities were circling around my head. Some of which made it to the web, others are still waiting to be great. Although I think I missed a trick with my amazing idea of selling fresh bread online. I think 2010 will be the year of bread online. Just you wait!

FOWD08 – To compare the two is a difficult thing to do. Its like comparing jasmine green tea with pineapple and grapefruit green tea. They are very similar in many ways but inherently different.

This year I actually learned a lot. The conference seemed slightly more technical, aimed a little more towards developers as oppose to straight up designers.

This was like cat nip to me.

Hicksdesign gave an innovative talk on his development process from start to finish on a website that I can safely say is best cheese website in the world ever.

The highlight for me was Andy Clarke and Steve Pearce’s tag team, duel blow, double dragon attack on the “User Experience vs Brand Experience” subject. Simply inspiring and really made me think in new ways when I approach such a subject. Inevitably, the outcome was: The two should not be at opposite sides of the ring in a death match style but more naturally be married together in a harmonious way. Expertly depicted and voiced by these two web guys on top form.

Top of the bill, king of the castle, the headlining act… Daniel Burka gave a good insight into the trials and tribulations of developing a webapp from an in-house capacity. Its one thing to create websites in a creative design agency. Always jumping from site to site, but to keep your focus and reiterate and reiterate over and over, always trying to improve a single webapp that is used my millions. A daunting task. The talk was very impressive, I almost felt like whooping. Being an american I think he would have appreciated a significant whoop during his talk but I resisted and bowed to my better judgement and simply clapped a little harder at the end.

All in all I can’t fault the Carsonified guys for putting on such a top notch, blog worthy event. Thanks, from all at BigRedCircle. The fire in our bellies has been truly stocked, the magic wand of inspiration has been waved over our heads.

To the information super highway!

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