Sweet skrillex video. Enjoy if you haven’t seen it.
So you want to learn web design?
I’ve been approached by several people looking to start getting information on how they can learn design. Well I tell them its doesn’t come overnight and much of it comes with experience and doing the work, but the following are resources and tips I can give to those just getting into web/ui design.
The online web community
Reading blogs is a great way to keep up with the discussion around web design and development along with learning new skills. There is a pretty decent size community aligned around all the web disciplines, you just have to search them out. Here are a few I follow all the time.
Also find designers that inspire you and if they have a blog keep up with what they are writing about. Also consider make friends with other designs to help bounce ideas off of and learn from.
- Think Vitamin Membership - Great video resource on learning a wide range of programing languages and tools. (I wish this was around when I was first learning.)
- Adobe.TV - Good for learning the tools of the trade.
What about books?
Design books are a dime a dozen but many these days are very well written if you get the right ones. Here are a few books/publishers I recommend.
- Designing for the social web by Joshua Porter
- Prototyping: A Practitioner’s Guide by Todd Warfel
- Books from A-List-Apart - All books very short but to the point and informative. Easy reads and good advice.
- Five Simple Steps - A great series of books again that cover some great topics and well written.
- SitePoint Books - Many great designers have written books for this publishing company including Jina Bolton and Elliot Stocks to name a few.
Books are also some of the best resources for learnings tools like flash and others that have spastic learning resources spread out on the web.
TIP: These days many publishers are producing kindel & ePub ready books. This is an awesome change for people learning the web because you can easily search the books for exactly what you are looking for. Also its easy to take it these to the gym and read while you walk on the treadmill, train your body and mind at the same time.
What about conferences?
I love going to design conferences, problem is most are quite expensive. If you are still in school GO TO CONFERENCES!! Most have student discounts that are well worth it and you’ll make great connections and learn from some of the best in the business. Good conferences include:
- Web Directions
- Carsonified Events
- An Event Apart
- WMC Fest
- HOW design conference
- And many more… just search for web design conference and find one near you.
Should I go to school for design?
Well.. yes and no. I did and I can say it was a blessing and a curse. It helped modivate me to get involved and do the projects I needed to inorder to learn design. It also provided me with a degree (which really just shows employers you can accomplish something). The downfall was most teachers had minimal professional business experience, and if they did they were very out-dated on current technology and trends in the industry.
So do you need to go to college? I say no IF you have the passion and design to build out a great portfolio, get the experience to show you can do it. If you need a little motivation and a degree (which can get you in the door at least) then do it. There are many online and local colleges you can get design degrees from. (I’m even considering going to Academia of Art University online for a masters one day.)
Remember to study some DESIGN
The last piece of advice I can give you is to just start building. A huge part of learning the tools is putting them to work. I can’t tell you how many crappy sites I’ve created and scrapped just to learn the basics. Fill your head with knowledge then apply it, even think up crazy startup ideas and code up some sites. There are so many different resources out there online and offline, just seek out what you want to learn and what will give you the most value!
Have other tips for getting started? Share them in the comments!
Finding and Hiring a Web/UI Designer
Recently I’ve been approached by several companies looking to hire UI designers. This has been a pretty hard task for any company recently due to the amount of jobs available and the apparent lack of qualified talent to fill them.
If you are a company looking to hook one of these rare breeds of people, here are some tips for finding/acquiring them.
1. Find them where they are
The best way to find the perfect designer for your company/project is to seek out the person who fits the bill. This is not the easiest task, you have to find out where the conversation online and offline is happening to find the people who are passionate about the work and looking for work.
Online: Get into sites like Dribbble.com, Forrst.com, deviantart.com, behanced.com where artistes are posting their work. Its a good chance to see how they interact with others in the design community and a quick glance at the quality of their work. (I’ve actually been contacted numerous times from people seeing my work on Dribbble.com)
There are also numerous design-centric blogs out there, find out what they are talking about and who is commenting on the content and look them up!!
Offline: Depending on your location there are also meetup.com groups like Refresh Denver or other groups that facilitate designer gatherings like AIGA. Float your position to those places or even attend an event and ask to share that you are looking for a designer. Consider looking to schools like Westwood or Art Institute for graduating talent (if your not too concerned about finding a pro.)
2. Post the job on sites they actually check.
There are several online job boards that I believe are checked most-often for freelance and full-time work. I know when I freelanced I subscribed to their RSS feeds so I could easily check out new job postings without much hassle. Some notable ones are:
Quite often there are also local websites that will post jobs like http://www.thedenveregotist.com/ . Try to find out whats going on in your local area. There is also the AIGA which typically has branches in different parts of the country.
If all else fails, keep posting to craigslist and reaching out to friend. (Funny thing is I’m actually in the job I am now from seeing a craigslist job post.)
3. Acquire them
The hardest part of finding a designer is picking the RIGHT designer. There are always stories of people hiring someone who didn’t hold-up their side of the deal. The key to finding a great designer is being open to working with local and non-local designers and evaluating their work and commitment to finishing projects.
Review their work and have realistic expectations
Its hard to find designers these days and many have mixed experience with different platforms, tools and varying levels of experience.
- First you should establish exactly what skills you NEED for your project, is it just design? do they have to code? if so what type of code?
- The best thing you can do is review work they have done in the past and look for code samples and references to existing work. If you don’t know whats good, ask your friends and think about sites you frequent, does their work fit your taste?
- Contact them, don’t wait for them to come to you. The best designers are in high-demand so quite often they already have work scheduled out a month or two in advance if not more. Be realistic of your time schedule for completing projects.
- Designers aren’t cheep, and if they are then they are either cutting themselves short, trying to gain some experience (just out of college or building their portfolio) or their work is sub-par. How much can you expect to pay for a full-time designer? Well it depends where you are located and what skills/experience you require. The AIGA often puts out yearly salary surveys, a good place to start.
Test the waters
If you are looking to fill a critical position on a team (usually for a company) and you are nervous the person you want to hire may not have the skills or experience to fit the bill, consider a small work trial of one or two weeks (PAID). Set up some small projects that will test how well they work with the team and the culture. (note this only really works with freelancers as a full-time designer will be unlikely to have the time or be willing to take the risk.) I actually got my current job by doing test projects for two weeks to prove I could put design where my mouth was.
Here are some more tips for hiring designers.
Thoughts on iOS5 for iPhone
So I’ve been using iOS5 beta on my iPhone4 for a little over a week and there are some features that rock and others that could use some work. I noted the feature/app along with if I think it was a “win” or “fail”.
The new notifications feature is awesome, although I wish I could clear ALL notifications at once and not just one notification at a time. Also it WAS NOT APPLES IDEA, its a mix of both Android notifications and another talented app designer.
The new ability to see when people read your messages in nice, and even better you can disallow that feature if you so choose (which I don’t believe BBM for Blackberry does). Another feature basically taken from Blackberry, but at least it has been improved upon.
Camera Features- Win/Fail
The new controls over taking a picture with the volume buttons is nice, although stolen from other apps. Being able to do some basic cropping and color adjustment is very helpful when you only want to use the basic camera features.
Twitter Integration- Win
Being a casual twitter user the new twitter integration was well done, I can sync existing contacts with their twitter profiles. Also the built-in twitter apps seem much better then previous clients, although they ability to follow conversations is not as good as Tweetbot.
GeoLocation Reminders are pretty cool, but as of the beta its been very unreliable to actually add a GeoLocation Reminder without actually being AT that location when you do it.
Apple may be trying to create a super simple to-do list app but I think it lacks core to-do organization features like being able to edit and re-order a list, easily swipe and delete messages. Also synchronization between iCal and “Reminders” seems overly difficult. It will need a lot of work before it can hope to replace better task and reminder lists like Things.
So overall all the features seem to be strong additions except Reminders, although next time it would be nice to see Apple show some class and maybe buy-out or pony up some money to the people who innovated your product for you. The best feature by far was the notifications, no more overly annoying pop-up notices when I simply want to unlock the phone and make a call.
Are you a developer or have you been using iOS5? Let me know what you think too!
*Note: did not mention Newstand because it doesn’t seem to be rolled-out quite yet through the beta.
Dropping off the grid… kind of
So its been nearly a year since I’ve been working at Lijit, and since that time I’ve accomplished quite a bit. Some of the highlights include:
- Helping Re-Design & Re-building our basic user search results from scratch.
- Re-designing our company website & blog (always a work-in-progress).
- The creation of the Interactive Ad Unit or a “social engagement” ad, an RSS based flash ad that is highly customizable and versatile.
- Creating the IAU demos for big companies like Lucky Brand Jeans, Ebay and T-mobile just to name a few.
- Working with an amazingly talented group of people.
Needless to say there are plenty of other things I’ve done that didn’t make it in the top list. Its been awesome to work at such a versatile job where one second I’m designing new tools and the next doing an ad for a major brand.
I was also under the gun to finish the new Another Color website which is finally out there, so check it out.
That said, its time for a vacation. I’m headed to Spain for most of October at the end of the week. I’ll be enjoying all Europe has to offer, visiting Paris and Rome as well. You can follow my trip while I log it at Everlater, including all the places we stay, eat, visit and all the fun stuff in-between. If your looking to contact me during this time your better off sending me a tweet, as my phone will probably be off.
Don’t worry though, I’ll be back in Boulder in time for Halloween.
Its Moving Time
Hey Everyone, in less then two weeks I’ll be moving into a new apartment in Boulder. With that move I am downsizing all the extra books and furniture I really do not need. So with that said, it’s your chance to snag some really good books for cheep. Most of which I have read and simply do not have the desire to hang onto anymore. The following books are up for your purchasing pleasure.
- The Art of Public Speaking (9th edition) – Stephen E. Lucas
-includes: book, CD-ROM guidebook, topic finder, compact disc set
- American English (2nd edition) – W. Wolfram, N. Schilling-Estes
- Language in the USA: themes for the 21st century – Finegan, Rickford
- How It’s Done: an invitation to social research (3rd edition) – E. Stier Adler, R. Clark
- Communication Mosaics: an introduction to the field of communication (5th edition) – Wood
- Exploring Interface Design: proven techniques for creating compelling & usable interfaces for multimedia and the web (Westwood) – M. Silver
- Exploring Digital Workflow: An introduction to managing graphic content in a cross-media world (Westwood) – P. A. Dolin
- Practical Project Management (Westwood) – R.G. Ghattas, S.L. McKee
- Power and the Holy in the Age of Investiture Conflict: A Brief History with Documents – M. C. Miller
- Spartacuz and the Slave Wars: A Brief History with Documents – B. D. Shaw
- Adobe Indesign CS3: Classroom in a Book
- ActionScript 3.0: for Adobe Flash CS3 Professional – Perkins
-Includes CD-ROM with exercise files and training videos
- Adobe Flash CS3 Professional – Perkins
-Includes CD-ROM with exercise files and training videos
- The Zen of CSS Design: visual enlightenment for the web – D. Shea, M. E. Holzschlag
- The Adobe Illustrator CS2 WOW! Book: tips, tricks, and techniques from 100 top illustrator artists – S. Steuer
- Learning ActionScript 3.0: A beginners guide – R. Shupe, Z. Rosser
- Site-Seeing: A visual approach to web usability – L. Wroblewski
- Medicine for Mountaineering & other wilderness activities (5th edition) – J. A. Wilkerson
- Management (9th edition) – S.P. Robbins, M. Coulter
- Engines: fundamentals of service – J. Deere
- Operating Techniques: for the tractor-loader-backhoe – G.J. Ober
- Power Trains: A service, testing, and maintenance guide for power trains in off-road vehicles, trucks, and buses – fundamentals of service
- Preventive Maintenance: A practical step-by-step guide to reducing equipment operating costs and downtime and improving operating safety – fundamentals of service
- Preparation and Maintenance of Pistes: Handbook for Practitioners – M. Fauve, H. Rhyner, M. Schneebeli
- The Border Collie – T. Libby, W. Hunthausen D.V.M
Includes free training DVD
So if you are interested in any of the books & live in Colorado just leave a comment or email me email@example.com
I also have some pretty cheep furniture (not cheep when be purchased them) we are looking to pass on to a new owner. The following are some furniture pieces, pictures and our asking price.
1. Futon Couch - Wood frame w/ large folding mattress. $250 OBO
Futon has seen some better days, but is still holding on strong. The wood frame has some damage from poor construction by the producer but still functions as expected. A few scratches and loose screws here & there. The reason this is $250 is for the futon mattress and it is still in great condition.
2. Coffee Table - Wood Coffee Table w/ space below for small boxes/movies/whatever. $100 OBO
3. Dinning Table w/ 4 chairs - $300 OBO.
Great table and chairs, simple. Minor teeth marks on bottom wood thanks to teething puppy, although it is very unnoticeable. We will sell the table with only 2 chairs if you so desire, or if you want to purchase the chairs on their own lets discuss.
4. Swivel work chair $30 OBO
5. 2X Gemini Printer Stand/File Cart, Maple/Black $40 each OBO
Great little file carts, used them to store books, files & draw on when I did freelance work. I have two to get rid of, unfortunately I sold the tables they came with. Click the link below for more detail from Staples where we purchased them.
If you are interested in any of these items and live in or around the Boulder area please shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Making the Tumblr switch
So I’ve recently take some time to look at matthaltom.com and it just wasn’t serving the purpose I need out of my homepage these days, just to connect with people. I’ve show my work for some time and at this point I do not mind archiving my old website to http://portfolio09.matthaltom.com and taking the step into Tumblrville.
I’ve always been interested in doing some Tumblr themes and from all my previous Wordpress work, thus far its been pretty simple. I am currently working on a new tumblr theme to replace this public theme.
So why switch to Tumblr from Wordpress?
- First was the social aspect, it takes less effort to expose some of my content then it would through Wordpress. Instead of just an RSS feed, tumblrs follow feature works great.
- Second, I’m not a blogger. Really. I’m not big into but I feel the need to share cool stuff from time to time, thus tumblrs simple and short nature of posting fits me better.
- Lastly, I just wanted to do a tumblr theme for once.
Anyways, stay tuned as I work to post more projects and hopefully become a more active tumblr user. :)
Introducing My Reading List for iPad
Throw away that Post-It note with the things you want to read scribbled illegibly! Introducing My Reading List for iPad.
My Reading List is an easy and intuitive way to manage the books that you want to read.
My Reading List integrates seamlessly with Amazon.com making searching and adding books to your reading list smooth like butter. The app also has a built-in “Buy” feature so you can purchase upcoming books on your list right inside of My Reading List.
Manage, move and rearrange your list then delete books off it as you read them. Feels good to finish another book, doesn’t it?
Available immediately, My Reading List is for sale in the App Store [iTunes link] for $2.99.
We look forward to your ratings and your feedback.
I had a hand in designing the Icon and part of the UI for this sweet little app. :)
As you can probably guess, I’ve been pretty busy these days… seeing how there is a lack of art showing up on here. BUT every so often, I do get some time and I owe people some art.
That said, there is someone very special to me… my mom. This was meant to be uploaded on her birthday, but things got a little crazy around those few days she was visiting. So here it is, finally. Love you mom & you are an amazing woman. I wish I could be as organized and focused on what I want as you are.