Falling in love with Photoshop! Again!

This week, I’ve fallen back in love with Photoshop in a big way. I’ve put a lot of focus into improving my Photoshop skills, giving myself a break from the coding and reigning the creative forces that got me interested in web designing in the first place. 
 
Because I was looking at some designs I made for my new website, and I thought “Yea they’re good, and they’ll look good in the browser.. .but they’re not amazing”.  And that’s what I’m looking to give my online presence this time around. The wow factor. Wow factor and web copy.  More on that in a moment.
 
It was time to put some more texture in my designs to try and help me create something that will stand out. My current design as of this date was probably my boldest original attempt. 
 
These images I’m showing here are my attempts at some bold new backgrounds and interfaces that could be used as a background for a site or application.
 
 ImageImage
 
 
They aren’t perfect, it took time for me to sink in how to get these done properly and remember all the little photoshop tricks to a quicker workflow, yet but they show the amazing visual power of Photoshop and you want to create visually rich designs. I’m showing you these because I want to show that I can expand on what I’m currently able to to proficiently in Photoshop so I can create similar effects consistently. 
 
Functionally I’m 99% settled on the pages I’m going to be making on my new website in terms of name.
 
I said before one of the biggest goals of the redesign is to strip out the complicated navigation and make the copy more concise and easier to read.  Goodbye to the postit note backgrounds and to that eyesore of a font that goes on top of it.
 
I’m thinking something like this
 
About/Welcome
Portfolio
Prices
I design websites
Hire me/Use me/contact video
 
External links also included for Social media and feedback links.  Nice and simple, not bloated, and back to basics is the idea.
 
I’m intending to keep the text the same but I’m seeking advice for the first time from a web copywriter.  In the past, I’ve sought to tackle as much of the website on my own as I could, naturally because I’m a web designer  but I’m hoping some professionally written copy will help represent me a bit better and will help me sell. 
 
There’s no holy grail answer of course but for an Return on investment sooner or later you have to make an investment and with my network growing, maybe it’s time to take a braver walk in my business journey.
 
Thanks for reading, don’t forget to check out these links, hope your day has been good and see you next time  🙂
 
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I like a good Hamburger (menu).

So this is what I’ve been up to over the past couple of weeks. It’s a responsive workflow with with a hamburger menu built in. It’s meant for mobile screens so if you have a mobile or tablet point your phone to it and see how it works.

You can find it here,

http://www.jonniegrieve.co.uk/tmp/ham/ham1.html 

And in case the link goes 404 on you later on, here’s a screenshot to give you the idea.

 

Image

The hamburger menu is a trend in responsive design I’ve been wanting to get into for a while. I’ve seen it in mobile apps and mobile websites. It contains the main navigation away from the screen (until the user interacts with it) leaving space in an otherwise confined space for the all important content. Click the hamburger menu (typically 3 straight lines) and voila, usinj query, the content is pushed aside so you can go to the all the important links around your website or application. I want to experiment further with these but for now this Facebook style hamburger menu will do. and I’m delighted to see it works well certainly on my smartphone and I hope yours too.

Responsive design is key these days with smartphones and tablets being used more and more to access the web and I’ll say again I’ve neglected it far too long.

Unfortunately, when I tried as an experiment, to add my current site and superimpose it with the menu, it was a bodged job.
I could have spent the next however long it took going through the code and working out the kinks. But instead, I thought it would be better off starting over, bringing the same elements of the site in a brand new version of the site.

I’ll save the bodged one to fix for a rainy day 🙂

An update from Jonnie Grieve Digital Media

Okay. A few updates from me

First of all, oops! I’ve been flooding your Facebook news feeds with retweets and a few more of my Twitter posts on Facebook than I intended. Sorry about that, and will put a stop to it.

But just to explain what has been going with these retweets.

To kick off 2014 I joined and became a business shareholder of Bizitalk… a fast growing and wonderful social media site for small business. They’ve done wonders in helping me to put my name out there and promote my business through the free Tweet promotion program. And in return for that promotion, I retweet other select tweets that bare the #bizitalk hashtag. So for a little investment on your part, if you have a small business, I do highly recommend you joining.

I also mentioned earlier that I was white listed by Google Adwords to test adverts created by Google Web Designer. I did a simple ad and a test earlier today and…. it didn’t work!

I’m not sure if they actually opened the door for zip files on Adwords yet but I was told it was all set for me to try, so hopefully Adwords will get on the case for me and sort out what the problem is. I’m not an ad agency or rep so I can’t get into doubleclick, with Web Designer currently supports so I want to get into Awords as soon as possible and in the future someday, maybe, possibly get into helping people advertise through Adwords campaigns and see if I can get a repuation for helping businesses that way.

But that’s for the future, I’m still intrigued by those possibilities but it is still early days for Adwords and GWD. For now, here is the Ad I made.

http://www.jonniegrieve.co.uk/tmp/jgdm-ad.html

Wireframes

I’ve been doing some research into Wireframing tools for the new design of my website. A new design for my website is something that has been in the works for a while now.  I attempted a new design last year but something held me back on publishing it.  It solved the problem in my current design of overcomplicated navigation and too much information but after feedback I chose not go ahead.

The other problem was that I didn’t make the website responsive. That is not good and it’s about time I changed that!

Mockflow.com

So I headed around to see what I could find (other than a pencil and paper) to wireframe some interfaces to get a better idea of screens for both desktop and mobile. I knew I was already on Mockingbird.com but I thought I’d look again at what was out there.  I found Mockflow.

Mockflow is a very impressive piece of kit.  It’s nifty, intuitive, easy on the eye and quick to set up.  Like most creative design applications, you have a stage/canvas, tools to select from a menu and in no time at all you have a wireframe with precise placement for sections, call to actions, interactive elements… BOOM!!  You have a complete Wireframe. It means what is says when it boasts super easy wireframing!

What I also loved about this tool as that it gives you a visual representaton of your project site map as you’re adding pages to your project, so you can wireframe your entire project.

You can add

  • Customisable Design layouts
  • Text
  • Buttons
  • Active links
  • Spaces for icons
  • Form elements
  • Elements of offline and Rich Internet Applications.

The choice is staggering!  

It’s a new toy for a web designer!  I’m afraid there are limitations based on how much you can afford on its monthly pricing plans but this really is the most exciting tool I’ve found since Google Web Designer. I’m not sure about it’s website building app (partly because I haven’t looked at it yet and partly because I myself am a web designer, but I can’t deny that Mockflow can provide me with wireframing tools that at the moment GWD can’t. But I will look for ways Web Designer can do the same for me but. I’ll have to have some serious throught about signing up to the premium plan.  Check it out! Mockflow and their apps have the recommendation of Jonnie Grieve Digital Media  🙂

Thanks for reading, be sure to check out my website, and see you soon   🙂 

www.mockflow.com

www.jonniegrieve.co.uk