Friday, 28 April 2017

3 Ways to Fund Your Professional Website Development Project

You’ve launched a business but you still need a website; however, you’re not sure how to create one. You’ve seen DIY platforms like Wix, Weebly, and WordPress, but you also know people who have had a custom website developed.

Which route should you take? Though many people are perfectly happy creating their business website on free DIY platforms, going that route may come at a huge price you won’t notice until later on.

First, if you ever decide to switch platforms (and almost everyone does, to be honest), it’s almost impossible to export the data in a way that makes it easy to transfer. Instead, you’ll have to re-create your entire website from scratch.

Also, DIY platforms are severely limited, and when you’re a business owner it’s difficult to see why. The design may look great to you from the outside, but it might not have the functionality you need.

Plus, you won’t know until you start creating it. These are just some of the reasons people hire professional developers to construct a custom website they know will serve their needs from start to finish.

The biggest objection that keeps people from hiring a developer is the cost. But if you want a professional website that performs, there’s no way around it.

The good news is there are plenty of ways you can fund your website. Here are a few.

1. Find a developer who’s willing to accept monthly payments

It’s not unheard-of to find a website developer who is willing to accept monthly payments to develop your website. You’ll almost always have to provide 50% of the website cost up front in cash before the project begins, though.

Some developers will request that you pay the remainder on a timely schedule; others will request the remaining 50% at the conclusion of the job. Different developers will have different ways of charging for their work so it can vary greatly. published an article with examples of 20 different developers who charge clients in different ways, with explanations for why they structure their payment schedules the way they do.

Since website projects generally take several months to complete, you could set aside a certain amount of money each month while the job proceeds, even if your developer doesn’t require monthly payments. That way, you’ll have a fair amount of the funds at hand by the end of the project.

Don’t be afraid to ask for a payment plan if you need one; just remember that developers sometimes put in hundreds of hours of work between payment cycles, so if you default on your side of the agreement, you could be leaving the developer high and dry.

2. Take out a small personal loan

If you haven’t filed the necessary paperwork to incorporate your business, you can’t take out a business loan. However, you may want to consider taking out a small personal loan to pay for your website.

Here are some things to keep in mind if you apply for a personal loan:

  • Lenders will use your debt-to-income ratio to determine whether you’ll be able to pay back the loan. So it’s a good idea for you to do the same. According to, even when you have a high income that could more than cover your requested loan, if you have a disproportionately large debt level as well, then the lender might conclude that you would be a financial risk.
  • In this case, you’ll want to reduce the debt you owe; such as reducing your credit card balances to between 10% and 20% of the total limit on each card. You could also apply for a smaller loan and scale back the features of your website, or at least save the more elaborate items for a future update.
  • 3. Get status as a corporation

    Another way to fund your website is to get official status as a corporation. This will give you (as your business) access to lines of credit. The difference between taking out a business loan as opposed to a personal loan is that if you default on the former, you cannot be personally sued.

    Avoid negotiating the cost of your website

    Whoever said that everything in life is negotiable was probably not a website developer. The cost of building a website might seem high, especially if you’re getting quotes for a site that requires custom functionality.

    But if you add up all the time spent meeting with clients, making adjustments, taking phone calls, troubleshooting, and testing the project thoroughly, many website developers end up earning less than their hourly rate.

    Attempting to negotiate a lower price for a website isn’t the same as negotiating a lower price for a car. With a car, you can look up the value and know what it’s worth, so it’s fair to negotiate. You can’t do that with a website, which by definition, will be one of a kind.

    Instead of viewing a website as a burden of an expense, try to see it instead as the machine that will power your business and your brand, and generate your audience and platform.

    That’s what you’re actually paying for when you hire a professional developer.

    The post 3 Ways to Fund Your Professional Website Development Project appeared first on SpyreStudios.

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Thursday, 27 April 2017

The Dos and Dont’s of Newsletter Design

The important role newsletters play in attracting attention has really come to light in recent years. Not only is email supposed to have a larger reach than most social media channels, it also encourages a loyal following and is very action oriented.

Although social media is of course king for engaging with potential customers and maintaining relationships with current ones, its algorithms are becoming increasingly more complicated and difficult to stay on top of. Email marketing has remained constant and steady with email analytics easy to obtain and understand. Standing out from your competitors not only comes from a well-designed site with companies like this one, or from a steady social media presence, but also from going that extra mile with your marketing strategy.

In saying that, just how effective your business or organization’s newsletter really is, comes down to both the design and the content. With an abundance of newsletters arriving in our inboxes on a daily basis, the design of the newsletter is the first factor that will either grab a reader’s attention or lose it during that initial moment. Below are some tips to keep you on the right track.

Don’t use oversized images

The most common mistake seen in email marketing is the use of oversized images. Large images take a long time to load, and that leads to placeholder wireframes filling a large part of the newsletter when it’s first opened. That lack of content is not only frustrating to the viewer, but damaging to their perception of your communication. Make sure to use tools like TinyPNG to compress your images, and don’t use images with overlarge dimensions to begin with.

Do keep consistent branding

Whether designing for your own project or some clients of yours, if there is a clear corporate identity (CI), make sure to stick to it. For example, if a well-established company has a certain logo, typeface or color scheme, it’s crucial to adhere to this scheme. Not only does it reinforce the brand in the reader’s mind, but it makes it clear who the newsletter is coming from and conveys a sense of professionalism and capability on the part of the designer.

This still allows room to play around with design and messaging, but don’t let that get in the way of clearing expressing your client’s branding. Also bear in mind here the seasonal or festive timing of your newsletter.

Do create a sensible layout

Newsletters with a confusing or unappealing layout can be disastrous. They’re hard to read, and that means they’re hard to click on, reducing click-throughs and client traffic and making the campaign less effective as a whole. A good layout should evoke a pleasant reading experience and a desire to find out more.

Always make sure your design is responsive and flows cleanly onto different display sizes, from mobile to desktop.

Text must always be easy to read. Use a background color that complements the text color and ensures enough contrast for legibility, avoid dense blocks of text, and choose a font that’s well-suited to body copy. If your setting headings, make sure you pick a display font that’s legible but approachable.

Always be sure to set the call to action sections apart from your regular text – these parts must attract the attention of your readers. This is the perfect place to use a button or a linked image to emphasize the element in the reader’s mind.

Finally, if you’re specifying pixel sizes, keep your newsletter’s maximum width under 650 pixels. That’s the cut-off point for most email readers, and exceeding this will result in a truncated newsletter.

Don’t bury the lead

Every newsletter is sent to make the recipient do something. Whether shopping a new sale, checking out the latest news, downloading the newest version of your app, donating to a worthy cause or purchasing tickets to the next big show, newsletters exist to make people do something.
In most cases, this call to action takes the form of a link that the reader should click. That link should be incredible simple to find. It should be visually and thematically prominent in your newsletter’s design, using larger text, a colored button, a linked image, or something else visually attractive. No one should ever wonder why they received your newsletter.

Don’t go on too long

Lengthy newsletters are no one’s friend. In should be immediately obvious to your reader why they’ve received your message, what you want them to do, and why they should do it. Information should be organized in a clear and obvious hierarchy, using text and images to organize your narrative and make your intentions clear. Users also shouldn’t have to scroll too far to view the contents of your newsletter. A long table is not welcome, and most of the included content will often be ignored or glossed over, even if it’s something the reader would normally want to see.

Do use engaging imagery

Run-of-the-mill images won’t cut it for newsletter design. You need attention-grabbing images and make a reader look more closely. Keep in mind that you’re competing against an enormous volume of other emails, both commercial and personal, and yours needs to stand out from the crowd. Seek out professional, interesting and engaging imagery that will drag a reader’s attention to your call to action.

The post The Dos and Dont’s of Newsletter Design appeared first on SpyreStudios.

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Best Star Wars Posters and Illustrations

Star Wars Day is just around the corner and I’m excited to share with you some of the best Star Wars illustrations and posters I was able to find on the Web. Enjoy and don’t forget to have a great Star Wars day this May 4th.

Star Wars Trilogy Posters

Star Wars Poster

Created by: Marko Manev / Las Vegas, NV, USA

Found here: Behance

Marko Maven is a conceptual mixed-media artist and illustrator born in Skopje, Macedonia. His work comprises print, editorial, and comic illustrations. His Star Wars Trilogy posters have a raw, detailed look. The design mixes realistic and minimalist elements to create a whole new concept. Each one of the Trilogy posters is tinted in separate color that aims to best represent the atmosphere of the movie.

Star Wars Tribute

Star Wars Digital Art

Created  by: Alessandro Pautasso / Turin, Italy

Found here: Behance

The digital illustrations of Alessandro Pautasso are a unique twist of modern, abstract realism that creatively mixes geometry with a complex color palette. His Tribute illustration series follow the same concept. His digital art is infused with a splash of rainbow colors. The main elements elegantly pop up on a clean black background.

Star Wars Ships Poster Series

Star Wars Posters

Created  by: Vesa Lehtimäki / Helsinki, Finland

Found here: Flickr, The Geek Twins

Vesa Lehtimäki, also known as The Avantaut, is a Helsinki-based photographer, illustrator, and a HUGO Award 2017 finalist. The creative work of this artist has influenced the visuals in The Lego Movie. Vesa’s work is on the Star Wars ship poster series is inspired by the work of popular artists like Justin Van Genderen and Sana Sini, but it also has its own unique twist.

Star Wars Digital Art

Boba Fett digital illustration

Created by: Dan Luvisi

Found here: Ego Alterego

Dan Luvisi is an accredited digital illustrator and concept artist with a vast resume of projects. His graphic novel, named Killbook of a Bounty Hunter, was sold to Paramount Pictures. His illustrations are realistic and unique in their own way. They have a high level of detail and use a complex combination of colors that create an immersive appearance.

Star Wars Insider Cover Illustration

Star Wars cover art illustration

Created by: Roberto Campus / Florida, United States / Copyright: LucasArts

Found here: DeviantArt

Roberto Campus is a Florida-based illustrator who has worked with various famous publishers, like Lucas Arts, Marvel, DC, and Penguin Books. His artwork varies from ultra realistic to anime style. The book cover illustration featured in this post was commissioned to him by Lucas Arts for the Star Wars insider magazine. The cover illustration shows Obi-Wan Kenobi in front of a wall filled with wanted posters.


Retro Star Wars Illustrations

Star Wars Poster

Created by: Markus Jansson / Falun, Sweden

Found here: Tie Fighters

These stunning retro Star Wars illustrations wonderfully combine the roaring 60s with the futuristic beauty of the Star Wars characters. The two posters feature R2D2 and C3PO in a matching style. Both characters have a vintage hero posture that bravely stares towards the sky. The blue background ideally matches with the bright yellow headings and makes the main elements of the design pop up.


Boba Fett Digital Illustration

Star Wars Grunge Poster

Created by: thedigitalnursery

Found here: Pinterest / Etsy

The Digital Nursery is an UK design shop hosted on Etsy. Pete, the shop’s owner, describes himself as a solo creative that works in print in packaging. His printed posters shop was inspired by the need to decorate his own walls.  All posters follow an Illustrator-based creative pattern and feature a rich color palette. This particular Star Wars poster has a grunge vibe and mixes textures with modern sans serif typography.

Alternative Star Wars Movie Posters

Star Wars illustration

Created by: Olly Moss

Found here: Booooooom

The creative artwork of the British designer Olly Moss has found its place among many bestselling books, movies, and games, like Harry Potter, The Firewatch, and others. His alternative Star Wars poster features an illustration of the silhouette of Dart Vader which frames a lonely forest scene with futuristic elements.

Star Wars Identities Posters

Star Wars Identities: The Exhibition

Found here: Star Wars Identities Exhibition

The Star Wars Identities Exhibition features different characters from the all-time popular movies by displaying them in a unique and creative way. The exhibition invites fans to find out their true Star Wars identity while exploring a fan world of 3d, mixed media, and digital art. This particular poster shows storm trooper’s silhouette formed by a group of storm troopers viewed from a top-down perspective.


Related articles:

Inspirational Showcase of Three-Dimensional (3D) Movie Posters

Evolution of Animation Film Posters from 1937 to Present




The post Best Star Wars Posters and Illustrations appeared first on SpyreStudios.

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Template Review – Which Templates Are Best for Setting Up a Photography Website

Flatiron Template Squarespace

It’s amazing how over time, the ability to freeze and capture different moments, feelings, and emotions has become a mundane action. More and more people agree that photography is a form of art, no matter where it is used: wedding photography, travel photography, commercial shoots, food shooting and so on. But only a select few possess the eye and instinct of a true photographer because a keen sense of perspective and spatial awareness is always a necessity.

These qualities also apply to website design. Nowadays, having a website is mandatory for a photographer, as it can offer an unprecedented level of exposure. In an instant, works of art can be shared with the entire world. And this immediate, worldwide connection can only take place online.

However, just by having a few photos posted online is not enough to attract the attention of your targeted audience. The website you use for displaying them and the design of the site is also very important. Even if you are not tech savvy, there are many options out there that can help you set up a stunning portfolio website and show people your work in a tremendous way.

HTML templates offer so many customization choices, allowing you to create a page that will never underwhelm. You will be able to tweak every detail and alter any setting. Without any advanced web development expertise, users can make aesthetic and practical choices. You just have to decide which one is the best option for you.

Squarespace is an all-in-one platform that gives you everything you need to create a beautiful home online and run a successful photography business. The platform also offers more than 45 stunning templates to start with, and numerous options you can use to customize your website.

While all Squarespace templates feature built-in mobile design and contact forms, the templates below combine bold image presentation with a clear structure for a great photography website. This helps you attract clients’ attention with eye-catching images and communicate the values that make you an exceptional photographer. All Squarespace templates are optimized with responsive design, allowing your site to adjust to the format of any mobile device or browser. Some templates have mobile-specific tweaks in their Style Editors for an extra layer of customization.

That being said, let’s take a look at some of the best photography website templates you can find on Squarespace:


 Om Template Squarespace

Om is a calm, cool template that elevates your content by utilizing a clean layout and a simple, open interface. It uses padding and white space to make images pop, and also makes great use of logos as a site title, making it a fantastic fit for you, if you want to establish a personal brand.

The template can aid to the needs of freelancers, digital studios, creative agencies, photographers, and artists. It offers many innovative portfolios and blog options that boost your chances of showing your work in an amazing way and getting customers. In a hyper-competitive market, Om can be your greatest asset.

Om and Squarespace’s other templates allow you to connect to a wider audience by linking your site to your social media profiles, and pushing content as you publish it. Adding social features like Share and Pin It buttons help visitors share your content too, which further increases your site’s reach. When it comes to website development, you can’t overlook Search Engine Optimization. Your website will be SEO-ready, increasing your online exposure.


Momentum Template Squarespace

Momentum is an exceptional template that never fails to impress. It’s modern, responsive, and retina-ready design promises full compatibility with any platform, device, or web browser. It also makes bold statements with big images. Featuring multiple options for gallery design, Momentum is ideal for showing past work in full-bleed galleries, with FAQ and Contact pages in the bottom navigation. With such an inclusive and versatile template, your online presence will surely impress and increase. As a Momentum user, you will be able to choose either a regular or a boxed version. If any issue arises during the installation or customization process, you can always rely on the excellent support system. In addition, a detailed documentation source is available. Also, you have a detailed explanation for every feature.


Ishimoto Template Review

A one-of-a-kind template, with a one-of-a-kind name. Ishimoto is a portfolio template with an innovative, horizontal slide gallery, that makes it preferred among photographers, artists, and restaurants. For sure, Ishimoto is the best option for those who love bold and vibrant pictures, displayed in a carousel format. Although you may be tempted to include as many features as possible, it is best to maximize performance while featuring a clean, intuitive interface. Ishimoto is a photography website template that understands the needs of ambitious, online business people. It offers a retina-ready design that is compatible with high-resolution retina displays, and it is capable of accommodating any customer.

Taking into consideration that Ishimoto is fully-responsive, you will be able to administer the site while you are on the move if you prefer hand-held devices. You can display content on the screens on desktop computers, laptops, smartphones and tablets. The code is well-written, streamlined and optimized. This enhances your site’s performance and allows for easy modifications.

Just as well, Ishimoto is very user-friendly. Even with a basic understanding of web development, you will be able to navigate its options and features. The website also includes awesome font icons, along with a Contact form. If you have any issues, Squarespace’s top-notch support system is there to help you. Besides, if you want to view this product or any other templates before buying it, a live preview has been made available.


Flatiron Template Squarespace

Flatiron is an unconventional template that is high quality and pays such close attention to detail, that other templates could only hope to match. With a portfolio experience that supports multiple portfolio projects side by side, Flatiron is popular with art directors, illustrators, and photographers. This template empowers you to share your work with the world. With a flexible grid Index Page, Flatiron presents an overview of your projects, enticing visitors to explore individual pieces in greater depth.

By using Flatiron as a template for your website design, you will be sure that your projects become a reality, as it promotes and displays your content. The Index Page creates a grid of thumbnail images, each one linking to a separate page, giving people a snapshot of your work while encouraging them to dig deeper. Taking into consideration the multiple options you have for personalizing it, Flatiron is a modern template that never fails to impress. It also features a streamlined and well-written code that can maximize your page’s capabilities with any web browser. In addition, you will have an aesthetically pleasing portfolio website.  Because this template aims to maximize client convenience, page customization is accessible for all users. And best of all, you don’t need to be tech savvy.

If you want to learn more about Flatiron, be sure to access the detailed documentation source. It contains information regarding every feature. The template is also fully responsive, and has cross-browser compatibility.


Forte Template Squarespace

“Less is more” definitely applies to this website template and, Forte is for sure the best option for those who love simplicity and minimalism. Forte is a bold, yet minimal template that features full-screen images and precise typography. Its landing page pulls visitors into your portfolio, displaying the range of projects in beautiful, high-resolution images. Forte can be also used for general, corporate, spa, hotel, restaurants, and event agency websites.

The layout is entirely responsive, and it can display your content on any platform, web browser, or device. As a special feature for this template, each page in the Index displays as a full-bleed background image with a content overlay, and you open it by clicking the page title. Forte has a color auto-detect feature that determines how light or dark your background is and sets the color of the site title, tagline, navigation, and social icons to black or white. Every relevant tool will be at your disposal, and you will not have to rely on 3rd party add-ons. From start to finish, you can design a fully-functional website in a matter of minutes.


Avenue Template Squarespace

A classic template with a timeless look, Avenue’s clean, straight lines and adaptive grid-based layout are especially popular with photographers, illustrators, and designers. The template comes with an intuitively designed interface, carefully crafted to ease the display of your unforgettable photos. As a special feature, the Index Page organizes multiple pages or galleries into a single grid collection by using thumbnail images.

Whether you shoot landscapes, people, food, weddings, or you want to keep a journal with your vision and thoughts, Avenue works just for you! For a captivating visual experience, Avenue boasts lively and spirited page transitions in many unexpected, yet perfectly natural ways embodied in a minimal and beautiful design language that allows the photos to take center stage.

In order to make it easy for your mobile users to discover your site, Avenue is mobile ready and fully responsive and can be integrated with social networks.


We personally love every template. No matter which one you use, you can’t go wrong! Let us know in the comments below which one is your favorite, or what other ones we should cover in the future.

Try Squarespace free today for 14-days! No credit card required. When you’re ready to subscribe be sure to use coupon ‘WDL’ for 10% off your first purchase.

Thanks for reading, and happy web-designing!

Read More at Template Review – Which Templates Are Best for Setting Up a Photography Website

from Web Design Ledger

14 Flat Design UI Packs for Your Next Project

UI kits are a great way to jumpstart your next wireframing project or layout design. The best kits include a full set of user interface elements, ranging from simple buttons to complex, prefabricated page elements. Here’s some flat design UI packs you can use to jump on the latest trend and create bold, modern designs. Most of them are PSD kits, but a few come as ready-to-use HTML and CSS.

The Flat Design UI Pack

For a free pack, The Flat Design UI Pack contains a surprisingly complete set of UI elements. You’ll find a wide array of buttons, icons and navigation elements, as well as premade features like dropdowns, headers, profile pages, weather packs and more. One downside: it relies on Gotham Rounded for most text, so you’ll need to have that (fairly expensive) typeface on your computer before you do any major redesigns.

Flat Rounded Square UI Kit

Flat Rounded Square UI Kit is one of the few UI kits that includes both basic elements and full-bore layouts. It’s filled with beautiful, ready-to-ship design elements that can be easily dropped into your new project. It includes complex layouts like comments pages, video players and carousels, as well as simple elements like multi-color buttons and a themed icon set.

Vertical Infinity

Vertical Infinity is all about the basic elements of wireframing. The UI kit is made up almost entirely of individual elements, like drop downs, nav items and menu bar. There’s a huge set of Retina/HiDPI-optimized resources in a many colors, and the green color can easily be swapped out for others in Photoshop. The pack is absolutely massive, with just about every UI element you could hope for isolated and ready for use. An amazing tool for anyone starting a new layout.

Square UI

Square UI is the free version of Design Modo’s excellent Square UI pro kit. It’s an attractive, modern collection with a great set of professional features, like multiple states for text boxes and buttons.

Flat UI Kit by Design Modo

Flat UI Kit is a colorful and complete set of UI elements. It’s cheerful color scheme is great for livening up dull projects, with 20 different themed colors to fill any need. The kit is heavy on professional-grade basics that you can mix and match to create your own designs, but doesn’t include much in the way of pre-built layouts. It also comes in the form of HTML and CSS, rather than PSD files, making it easier to push to production.

Flat UI Kit by Riki Tanone

Some flat design kits are a little more flashy than others. Riki Tanone’s Flat UI kit is a great example, showing a bit of pizazz in color selection. It’s not nearly as fully-featured as some of our other packs, but it’s more opinionated style might spark your inspiration for your next design.

Flat UI Kit by Devin Schulz

Devin Schulz’s Flat UI kit is another great Dribbble find. It’s short on color, but uses monochrome hues effectively. The kit is a little small, but considering it’s just a Dribbble shot, it’s a great way to get started on your design.

Flat UI Kit by Piotr Adam Kwiatkowski

Flat UI Kit by Piotr Adam Kwiatkowski is a minimal set of UI elements, but it offers great inspiration. It’s one of the few designs in this set to use subtle gradients effectively, giving a more vibrant look to what might otherwise be a fairly ho-hum layout.

Flat UI Kit by WebDesignerDepot

WebDesignerDepot partnered with well-known vector marketplace FreePik to create their Flat UI Kit. It’s amazingly dense, and it’s filled with the kind of professional features you’d expect from a pairing of two excellent companies. You’ve got profile pages, sign up forms, search bars, pricing carousels and more. It’s short on more basic elements, like buttons in different states, but the preset elements can be a big time saver for more complicated projects.

Flat Design UI Components

Flat Design UI Components is a great pack for getting started with a “night mode” design. It skips the basics in favor of fully-fledged UI elements like calendars, weather widgets, profile pages and sign-in forms, as well as a charming photo of Anne Hathaway.

Secret Spot PSD UI Kit

Secret Spot HTML5 CSS UI Kit exudes freshness and modernity. It’s got a strong card-based layout, and it’s one of the few kits to come as a CSS3/HTML5 webpage rather than a PSD layout. If your prefer a PSD kit, you can get that here.

Phoenix iOS UI Kit

Phoenix iOS UI Kit might be aggressively modern for some tastes, but it’s got no shortage of style. The gradient-style background elements are lovely, and it’s a pleasure to look at. It’s definitely for iOS development only, but it’s too attractive not to share.

Blog/Magazine Flat UI Kit

Blog/Magazine Flat UI Kit was designed with a very specific purpose in mind, and it shows. While the basic elements could be used for any designs, the pre-fabricated design elements are heavy on the modern blog look. This is a great place to start if you’re updating your WordPress template or designed a Bootstrap-based blog.

The Noun Project

The Noun Project isn’t a specific UI set, but a website that you can use to find specific UI elements. Designers upload free-to-use UI elements, and end users search the database to find what they’re looking for. There’s a wealth of free, flat UI elements available for the asking, and it’s especially useful if you’re seeing a generic or styleless layout.

The post 14 Flat Design UI Packs for Your Next Project appeared first on SpyreStudios.

from SpyreStudios