With so many ecommerce platforms to choose from, you can now have a powerful online business. Setting up a retail store online has honestly never been easier, and the right platform will empower you and offer the necessary tools to enhance lead generation and boost sales. As an entrepreneur, your only focus should be running a successful business and catering to your customers while a competent ecommerce platform takes care of the technical details.
So, which platform should you choose to start your online retail business? With so many options available, let’s narrow down the choice to the two most competitive, popular, and dominant ecommerce platforms on the market: Volusion and Shopify. Read on to get a comprehensive, comparative review of both, then decide which platform gets your vote.
Both Shopify and Volusion are online solutions that enable you to create and manage an online store. Although they offer similar services, they're very different in aspects like design, plans, and pricing. Let's see who wins the debate of Volusion vs Shopify when we compare them on each aspect of their service.Customers
Volusion was established in 1999, while Shopify has been in business since 2006, meaning Shopify is relatively new in the market. When compared in terms of active customers, Shopify wins hands down, as it has more than 150,000 active customers; Volusion, on the other hand, has roughly 40,000 active customers. Even though Volusion is older and...
Most of us have found ourselves trapped in the rabbit hole of motherhood lifestyle blogs, or “mom blogs.”
Maybe you spent time reading an inspirational adoption story; perhaps you've followed a family living off the grid.
Or maybe you're like me, and one “quick search” for coconut oil turned into thirty minutes of DIY recipes and lotions.Why we love mom blogs
What makes these blogs so addictive? Well, unlike a business blog or marketing site, mom blogs invite us to view a stranger's life, family, and interests. What's more, they're aware of their readers and what their followers want to know.
So, what can you, a designer, learn from browsing blogs about family? (Other than how to make your own natural bug spray or gluten-free bread?)
It turns out you can learn a lot, actually. Today we're going to talk about the top 5 lessons you can take away from mom bloggers, several moms you can follow, and as promised, awesome freebie printables.What designers can learn from mom bloggers Mom & Baby by Ioana Şopov
As creatives, it can be difficult to relate to others. Our jobs, schedules, and projects are usually atypical compared to our friends and family.
The same can be said for many bloggers. Blogs, if successful enough, can become lucrative, full-time...
I didn't know what exactly to call them, but I've seen these shapes appear in many places across the design world. I'm calling them “teardrop foliage.” I think they are cool shapes, and they are relatively simple shapes, so they are very versatile and can be used in many different ways. I spent some time putting together a free set of Illustrator brushes to help you create these shapes quickly and easily in Illustrator. If you don't use illustrator, I have EPS and SVG source files for you to download. Enjoy the brushes!Screenshot: A Closer Look: Using the brushes:
Typically, to get the best results you should follow this rule: The longer your path is, the smaller the head on the brush should be. (the rounded part at the end). Illustrator is going to stretch your brush to fit the size of the path that you draw, therefore, if your path is really long, the rounded shape at the end will get stretched quite a bit. That's when you switch to a smaller brush head. The opposite applies to smaller paths. the smaller your path, the bigger the head on the brush because it isn't going to stretch much at all.
Don't forget to play with your stroke size. A distorted brush stroke at 1px might look...
Trying to catch the attention of web surfers has always been a big challenge. With more and more websites available every day, it can be hard to figure out what you need to do to make your site stand out and look better.
Strong search engine optimization will help of course, but once a visitor finds your site, whether they stay will depend a lot on your web design. Bounce rates also cause your search engine rankings to take a hit.
What can you do to make a unique and amazing website?Be Creative with Your Bios
Clients and customers want to know who they’ll be working with. A bit of personality in your bios will add that human touch that can be easy to lose when interacting online. Even phone conversations can lose some of the realness of face-to-face interactions.
Be creative with bios listed on your website. Tell a story, talk about your favorite book, have pictures that aren’t just your typical headshot. Take the opportunity to show everyone what makes you (and your team) unique. It can be more of a selling point than you think.Take a Unique Stance
Professionals are now connected in an unprecedented way. With social media, online portfolios, and instant messaging, you maybe wondering—is it really necessary to make your own business cards when we have the Internet?
After all, don't many of us toss cards after professional events? While we may find ourselves trashing business cards, they are in fact great marketing tools. In fact, a company's sales increase 2.5% for every 2,000 business cards handed out.Where can you make your own business cards?
Since paper is fairly inexpensive, business cards have good ROI. Of course, you still have the task of actually getting your business cards made.
Designing a card from scratch is an excellent opportunity to get creative, but many of us are strapped for time. What's more, many of us creatives end up designing business cards for loved ones—another potential time suck.
Rather than starting from scratch, it can often be faster to make your own business cards online with templates and pre-existing images. That's why we've assembled a list of 10 different sites that allow you to make your own business cards for free.
Let's get started!1. Adobe Spark
Adobe Spark is the free Adobe software that lets you quickly and easily put together a business card. This service has a number of templates, colors, and images to choose...
My first set of Photoshop brushes (high-res watercolor) was pretty popular, so I thought I would feed you all some more. (examples and download instructions below) I'm beginning to make a lot of brushes for myself because I can't always find exactly what I want online. Of course, I would never do that without sharing them with all of you. I hope you like them!
A Closer Look:
In this set of brushes, I went a little more crazy with the strokes. These brushes are more complex than the previous set and were painted on a higher quality paper, so the end result is in fact, much better. I
A thumbnail of one of the brushes in the set, and a cropped section of that full size brush.
Another brush in the set. (image below is about 25% of the full size)Download CS1+ Installation:
1. Download the file and unzip it.
2. Copy the file (BB_watercolor_II.abr) to your Photoshop/Presets/Brushes folder.
3. In your Photoshop Brushes palette, click on the arrow in the upper right and click on “Load Brushes.”
4. Navigate until you find the file and load it (Photoshop/Presets/Brushes/BB_watercolor_II.abr )
Understanding psychology is an important part of how we interact with others. Applying psychology to your work is no different, especially if you're a graphic designer.
Consider, for instance, how you communicate with the people around you. Are your conversations with colleagues the same as your interactions with your parents? What about your close friends?
Chances are, you adapt based on your company; you understand how your behavior can affect those around you. In this way, you're already letting psychology guide your actions. Your designs require the same care and consideration.
During the creative process, it's important to consider how your choices can affect your clients, your audience, and yourself. In this article, we'll discuss some ways applying psychology to your work can make you a better designer.1. Understanding your target demographic can guide your designs
If you were hired to design a spread for a children's magazine, you would probably use bright colors and quirky characters, right? After all, you want to get kids' attention, and in the right way.
You wouldn't design a frightening illustration, because it's not your target demographic. But what if you were designing for female Baby Boomers? What about male Millennials? What is appropriate for these demographics?
This is where research becomes a necessary aspect to your job. Social media, forums, and polls are great resources to find information on your...
Over the years, we've gotten a lot of responses to this post about how I made the intricate designs in those headers. Swirls, and swooshes, or whatever you want to call them, are pretty hard to come by as a freebie (except here on BittBox), and they are even more rare in vector format. Part of the reason is that most people, even avid Illustrator users, don't realize how easy it is to create these shapes. All it takes is a few simple, yet not highly utilized Illustrator tips. This tutorial will show you how to create your own curlies, and swooshes easily, in Illustrator. It's not nearly as difficult as you might think. . .
Lets Get Started:
And to answer all of your questions: Yes I made all of those designs on my own (with a bit of help from Vectips.com and their awesome Adobe Illustrator tutorials). The same goes for every BittBox release. All of my files are hand-made by me, not borrowed. If this is your first time to attempt a tutorial like this, I suggest following it exactly as I have it here, then going back over the process and playing with your options later. I'm going to outline how to do this, but you should always take my methods and play around with your options such as stroke sizes or brush shapes.
I started to make Photoshop brush sets here on BittBox many years ago, and everyone seems to love them, so I'm gonna keep sharing them whenever I can. I actually took leaves from my own back yard and scanned them to make this Hi-Res Photoshop Brush set. There are 10 brushes in the set, and most of them are 2500px in size.Screenshot: A Closer Look:
The image below is a clipped section of one of the brushes at full size.Download CS1+ Installation:
1. Download the file and unzip it.
2. Copy the .abr file to your Photoshop/Presets/Brushes folder.
3. In your Photoshop Brushes palette, click on the arrow in the upper right and click on “Load Brushes.”
4. Navigate until you find the file and load it (Photoshop/Presets/Brushes/BB_HiRes_Leaves.abr )
Note: The next time you restart Photoshop you will not have to load the file, it will be in the list of Brush Libraries.
There are easier tasks than creating a perfect intro for your short film or YouTube video. After all, making intros can be time-consuming. What's more, the creative process takes experience and resources—both of which can be hard to come by.
Fortunately, the Internet can connect creatives like you with artists who make the cool stuff you need. Like, for instance… After Effects intro templates.
To celebrate some of that cool stuff on the Internet, we've listed 10 sites and pages where you can find After Effects intro templates and implement them into your projects.
Let's get started!1. Videezy Free & Paid After Effects Templates
Videezy is a stock video site that offers free and paid stock video, templates, and backgrounds. As a free member, you can download all three, completely free, for a number of uses.
If you're looking to download even higher-quality options, Videezy's Pro paid service offers exclusive After Effects intro templates for your video needs.
With a reasonable pay-as-you go system, you can download templates without breaking the bank. Additionally, Videezy also offers titles, lower thirds, and logo reveals.2. Videoblocks Free & Paid After Effects Templates
Videoblocks also offers a number of resources, free and paid. In addition to video, titles, and slideshows, Videoblocks...
There’s so much to usability testing that it’s almost impossible to cover it all. But you should still do everything you can to gather metrics and improve your site whenever possible.
Finding the right tool is half the battle when it comes to usability testing. That’s why I’ve compiled the top 14 tools you can use for crystal-clear usability tests. The more you practice the easier it’ll be to study this type of data and find solutions from it.1. UserTesting
At the top of the list is UserTesting and for good reason. This site is massive and they offer basically every testing service under the sun.
You’ll find resources for heatmap tracking, eye tracking, video recordings, moderated sessions, written feedback and a lot more. The UserTesting toolbox seems limitless. It should absolutely cover all the big aspects of usability.
However you may not need everything they offer, so the pricing may not be worthwhile. Check out their plans to see if they’re worth the cost, but if not you can probably find a more specialized tool that does exactly what you need for a bit cheaper.2. Five Second Test
The idea behind a five second test is simple. You flash an interface in front of someone for five seconds, then gather feedback from their first impression.
You've probably heard a lot about the freelance life. Is it preferable? Healthy? Anxiety-inducing? Like anything else, it can be any or all three, depending on your goals. So, how can you know if it's right for you? Today we'll discuss the pros and cons of freelancing: the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Let's get started!The Cons of Freelancing: 1. Going from a free schedule to an erratic one “Mondays, amiright?” by Chris Fernandez
Freelance work has a certain ebb and flow with which creatives are well-accustomed.
If you're considering freelancing, remember that your schedule may go from zero to sixty at any time. Consider organizing your freelance schedule to minimize the effects.2. Dealing with “quirky” clients because you need to live “The Family Reunioner” by Rogie
Freelancing puts us into contact with people we might not otherwise know. No matter the client, be thoughtful and understanding with their needs.
Use the opportunity; take time to learn from them, and use your time...
I've seen this trend becoming much more popular amongst mobile and web designers. Adobe After Effects is a powerful software suite typically used for adding effects into videos. But it can also create animations for user interfaces in smartphone apps, tablets, and website layouts. It takes a lot of practice but After Effects is quite the interesting program.
These AE animations can be exported as GIFs and used to demonstrate how a UI should behave. Examples may include swiping through a photo gallery, sliding open a menu, performing a search, or anything similar. I'd like to share some ideas about why you might want to learn After Effects and start creating these animations for your digital projects.Why Create Animations?
As a designer you often need to present the final interface to developers or clients who wish to make the website or application. This is fine if you can work with static elements, or if the animation effects are very basic. However once you get further into things like mobile app design you'll find yourself creating very dynamic menus and screen transitions.
By designing a GIF you can show off how the animation should unfold. It will show which parts of the screen should move away, how they should move, and what should appear afterwards. Even basic effects like scrolling down might pinch or squeeze parts of the design. The clearer your ideas can be communicated, the easier it will be to make them.UI and UX Differences
The term ‘User Interface' includes all the pieces...
Making a custom brush for Illustrator is much easier than you may have expected. This tutorial was requested by many of my readers after I posted this free set of 35 Abstract Illustrator Brushes. The possibilities are endless as far as Illustrator brush-making goes, but I wanted to get you started in the right direction and let you take it from there. (The purpose is to tease you, so you want to try it on your own!)
It would actually be pretty hard to make this tutorial any more detailed, because making custom Illustrator brushes honestly couldn't be easier. However, there are a couple things you need to know first.
There are 4 types of brushes you can create in Illustrator: Calligraphic, Art, Scatter, and Pattern. Today we'll go over creating an Art Brush. While we're exploring how to make an art brush, you can experiment with other brush types in the same fashion; the only differences are settings, and how the brushes act when applied.
Editor's note: If you're looking to find out more on creating custom Illustrator brushes, I've got a handy tutorial on the ‘colorization method.'Make a Custom Illustrator Art Brush:
First, open a new Illustrator document and make any shape your heart desires. You can literally make ANY shape into a brush, even a square if you feel like it. Here's what I made. A couple of bars and some blocks scattered...
Restaurants are a big part of the economy with over 600,000 in the US alone. Every restaurant in the modern age needs a good website. And thankfully these websites have the simplest design requirements.
But just because they’re simple to design doesn’t mean they’re simple to create from scratch. You’ll need to know what sort of information a typical visitor wants and how to give it to them—all things that I’ll cover in this guide.
So whether you’re working for a client or looking to design your own restaurant site I’m confident this guide will help you craft something fantastic.Grab Attention Above-The-Fold
The majority of restaurant websites only need a small bit of content: menus, hours, locations, maybe pricing & operation details.
You won’t have a ton of writing to pad out the site and it’s a good idea to not add fluff. Instead focus on above-the-fold content which draws attention right at the first pageload.
For restaurant websites the best thing you can use is photography to grab attention and sell your restaurant immediately. The best restaurants use photographs to capture their food and use this as a selling point at the top of the page.
The massive Chicago-style pizza chain Unos delivers an HD photo of their pizza in full-screen right above the page. It takes up the entire background along with accompanying text to help sell...
It's that time of year again… a time when many of us eat too much leftover casserole and look for the best sales. That's right, Black Friday (and Saturday and Sunday…) season is here. And if you're looking for Black Friday deals for developers, you've come to the right place.
It's no secret we love developer freebies and discounts. That's why today we'll go over some of the best Black Friday deals for developers. You'll get to take advantage of discounted themes, classes, and more!
And the best part? You won't even have to leave the sofa to take advantage of these deals. Now that's what I call holiday spirit.Black Friday Deals StudioPress
StudioPress offers managed WordPress hosting and easily allows you to build sites, whether or not you're a developer.
With reliable safety features and advanced SEO functionality, StudioPress is a dependable option for those looking for trustworthy hosting.StudioPress Deals
This year, StudioPress Black Friday deals begin on November 21, 2017 and extend until November 28th (8pm EST).
And just between us, StudioPress has some of the best Black Friday deals for developers this year.
If you're anxious to see how much time you have left during any day of the sale, simply...
From pursuing passion projects to creating your own schedule, being an entrepreneur offers numerous freedoms. Those same freedoms, however, can also create challenges for a busy professional. So, just what are the best tips to organize your chaotic day?
Since employees, tasks, and scheduling often fall on a company's founder, we've listed a few tips below—tips to organize more than your day, but your life, too.
In this article, we'll discuss:
Let's get started!Good habits > Procrastination
For many of us, procrastination is a way of life. For instance, I often feel most productive right before a deadline, when I'll experience a rush of creativity. (Funny how that happens, isn't it?)
A bit of extra pressure (deadlines, bedtime, the end of a workday, etc.) can often encourage a project's completion.
However, some deadlines come too soon. There are times when I've had to ask for extensions, and it's never fun. In those moments, procrastination doesn't help me; it inhibits me, as well as my progress.
This is why procrastination should not go unexamined; it often stems from a greater cause. Whether it's thrill-seeking, indecisiveness, or a fear of failure, procrastination can be a bad, deep-seated habit.
So, what are some good habits to counteract the bad? Healthy goals—ones that can help you take on your procrasti-kryptonite and tell it to get lost.Start Early
Starting early may not...
Before I start, let me say that this is by no means the only way to make a hand drawn font. Ever since I began giving away fonts, I've had many requests for me to write a tutorial on my font making process, so here it is. This is how I do it, and depending on your responses, I can go deeper into a FontLab Studio tutorial. This tutorial, however, is designed to reveal my process from start to finish. A lot of you may not have FontLab Studio, so you may need to adapt the second half of the tutorial to whatever font software you may have access to. Here we go.1. The Tools
I like to use India Ink and a primitive Bamboo Pens (above) to draw my characters, but you can even just use a pencil and paper if you like. You can get both the items pictured above really cheap (< $10 total) from your local art supply store or Hobby Lobby, etc.2. Start Drawing
Take whatever tools you choose to use and start cranking out letter forms. It's ok to mess up, just draw the letter again. But keep cranking them out until you're happy with what you've got. I like to lay all of the finished ones out in front of me so I can see what I already have and what I still...
Staring at a blank page can always be a little intimidating, even for skilled designers. But this is the starting point of every new design project.
As you go through the motions creating more work you’ll learn to develop your own routine for approaching projects. But if you have no idea where to start then this post is for you!
I’ll cover some of the early phases of design like planning, sketching, executing & organizing. Once you can build your own creative routine you’ll have a much easier time crafting projects from scratch that dazzle and amaze.Brainstorming Ideas
The very first step of any project is the idea phase. Whether you’re designing an iconset, a print flyer, or a website, you need ideas to get started. Maybe you already have some in your head!
But I typically work to gather inspiration first from as many sources as possible. Try looking around the web for similar projects, or related designs, or anything that’ll get you thinking on the right path coming up with new angles.
This post has plenty of sites you can browse for ideas but these are my favorites for design inspiration:
You might even create a folder in your project workspace to save screenshots or pictures of ideas you like. This way you can always refresh yourself on what you want to achieve.
But try to come up with concepts, ideas, and big picture stuff first. Think of the overall experience, or the overall “big picture” of...
I've got another set of Illustrator brushes for everyone. These inky watercolor brushes are a great addition to your repertoire. Download them and let us know how you use them in your projects!Download CS3 (Brushes) Download CS1 (Brushes)
Even though it has an .ai extension, the file you downloaded is an “Illustrator Brush Library,” not an actual Illustrator file. You will not be able to open the file in Illustrator.
1. Unzip the File.
2. Copy or move the file to your Illustrator > Presets > Brushes folder.
3. Restart Illustrator If it was open during installation.
After you restart Illustrator, you will be able to load the brushes by clicking on the little arrow in the upper right corner of the brushes palette. Or go to Window > Brush Libraries > and choose the file from the list.