Here’s a sneak preview of the cover of the next Minders album, which we helped to design.
Monthly Archives: April 2006
Template Rover is a company offering pre-built website templates that you can buy, tweak, and put online. Naturally, as web designers, we’re not big fans of that idea – but hey, it’s a living.
The problem is that their website is really out of control. It tries to show you large previews of the templates as you roll over the thumbnails, which in my opinion really does not work well at all.
Actually, some of the content of the templates is pretty funny, too. “Welcome on the site of the best dentists!” “Slogan goes here!”
Cuppa is a free program to tell you when your cup of tea is done steeping.
Use it from the Dock: just right-click or control-click on Cuppa’s icon and select the beverage you are brewing. Or select a beverage from the Beverages menu. Cuppa will begin timing the brew, and you’ll see a teabag appear in the cup and gradually darken as the tea steeps. When the tea is done Cuppa will attempt to get your attention by various configurable means. You can also enable a countdown timer that’s displayed in the dock icon.
You know, Jennifer Niederst Robbins’ Web Design in a Nutshell is basically the Farmer’s Almanac of the Web.
I remember loving the Farmer’s Almanac when I was a kid. I’d browse it endlessly, reading all the folklore and obscure bits of knowledge, wonder how they could possibly forecast the weather for the entire year in advance. It was the kind of book you just had to buy, and it sat around for a long time. There was always something to learn, just pick it up and flip open to any page.
Web Design in a Nutshell has the same charm for me. And the Third Edition totally rocks.
Apple Computer has announced today that they’re expanding their recycling program, previously just offered to iPod owners, to their computers as well. When you buy a new computer, they will take an old one back and dispose of it in an environmentally friendly way.
Equipment received by the program in the US is recycled domestically and no hazardous material is shipped overseas. Earlier this week, Apple was named a “Forward Green Leader,” one of the top ten environmentally progressive companies recognized by the Sierra Club and its investment advisor, Forward Management.
Yet another very good reason to be proud to use Apple products.
I spend all day at my Mac – designing, coding, writing, corresponding, and generally getting things done. That’s why I’m interested in any tool that will help me work smarter. Here’s a few that we’re looking at this week.
MailTags is an add-on for Apple Mail that helps you to organize your mail by “tagging.” I get a ton of email in a day, much of it important and much of it becomes a to-do right away. This seems like a great way to organize that information.
WorkTimer is a free time tracking utility “by designers for designers.” It has good support for getting your hours into Excel or an XML file, but unfortunately no direct support for QuickBooks.
Finally, John Gruber, author of Daring Fireball, has decided to leave his job at Joyent and write full time. I thought his words on this decision were well-written and decided to finally show my support. Good luck, John!
The new Blinksale appears to have gone live today. First impression was that, besides the still slow page loads (at times 20 seconds), there are quite a few useful additions and overall the service is much improved. Invoice histories are definitely a postive. Gone are the days of asking myself, “Did I already send that invoice?”
However, as a paying client, I am dismayed at one new feature that isn’t kosher at all. Clients used to be able to pay by PayPal right from their emailed invoice – handy! Not anymore. Now, clients have to click onto a client invoice page. What’s on that page? Advertisements for Blinksale! In fact, the “what is this” copy reads,
Needmore Designs uses Blinksale to send, track, and manage invoices—like yours. Not only is Blinksale the easiest way to send invoices online. It’s a great way to track your purchases as well. With your own Blinksale account you can keep all your invoices in one place, then sort them by date, tag, or vendor. It’s pretty slick. You can sign up for your free Blinksale account today.
Are they kidding? Inserting my business name into their marketing pitch. This isn’t even some kind of opt-in referral program! Needless to say, this is one disappointed client.
Here’s a good rule of thumb for you, when deciding on a hosting company or domain name registrar. Do they have ads on their site? Don’t go with them.
Places like GoDaddy, Network Solutions, Register.com… they’re all filled with ads and promotions. That’s a bad sign. That is a guarantee that they’re willing to put their income before treating their customers well. Companies that don’t pollute their website with ads, places like A Small Orange or Site5 or TextDrive even Dreamhost are good examples, and good choices for hosting.
This may seem like an odd thing to consider, a bit of “judging a book by its cover.” Yet we have a lot of experience with different web hosting companies and domain name registrars, and you’d be surprised how often this rule holds true.
Many a modern entrepreneur will remind you to cut features so you can launch your product or service or website sooner. The reasoning is largely that you don’t really know what features people will want until you launch, so wait to add them. If you keep adding features, development of the project will get bogged down, and the project will suffer.
But think of more than just your projects when you think of this mantra. Think about your business as a whole, and the services that it offers. Do you, like us, design websites? Maybe you want to offer hosting, to make things easier for your clients. Maybe you want to offer email campaign management as well… why not? You can make money at that, too. Maybe you should offer search engine promotion, full e-commerce, fancy server-side script integration, etc.
The problem is, the more of these that you offer, the more you have to support down the road. If you start spreading yourself a bit thin early-on to get the cash flow going, think about which of those you’ll have to maintain and support for years down the road. It might be worthwhile to wait and see if that’s really what you want to do. You might do better by keeping your offerings more focused, offering fewer services but doing a much better job with them.
While looking for a decent, working, iPod-capable stereo to put in our car for some upcoming travel, I found a really neat feature on the Circuit City website. You tell it about your car, and as you browse the site, there is an indicator beside every car audio product that indicates if it fits in your car.
Very helpful, and very logical. I have no idea if it was designed by 37signals, but it sure looks like it to me. In the same way that one recognizes the work of a good artist, or at least the influence of their works, so we see more and more examples of this kind of smart design around the web.