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WordPress Custom Post Types From Start To Finish

16/07/14

Author

Custom post types are a great way to extend WordPress’ blogging capabilities and better organise your website’s content for both you and your clients. Custom post types essentially allow you to duplicate the ‘Pages’ and ‘Posts’ of WordPress, complete with your own specified features. We’ve used them extensively here at Den, most recently when a client wanted a page with a horizontal slider that cycled through a list of benefits for their product. By creating a ‘benefits’ custom post type, we could create multiple articles for benefits which were separated in the back end and easily selectable on the front end. In this article, I’ll walk you through how this was achieved from start to finish.

Step 1: Adding A New Custom Post Type

The first step to adding your own custom post type requires you getting down and dirty with some code. Open up your theme’s functions.php and paste this code:

If you upload this and refresh your WordPress admin panel, you should now see a ‘Benefits’ option on the menu panel with the ability to view all current articles and add new ones. Success! The majority of this code is made up of language strings and is fairly self-explanatory, simply replace all the ‘benefits’ with whatever you want to call your post type. Just keep the singular/plural cases consistent with the code above. There are a few bits of code I’d like to call attention to, mostly in the $args array. This is the meat of the code and determines what your custom post type can and can’t do. As always, the WordPress Codex contains the full list of supported features. You won’t need most of them, however; here are the important ones:

    • labels - You’ll want to add these if only for the benefit of your client. It allows you to specify how WordPress refers to your custom post type.
    • supports - This defines which features your custom post type uses. In this instance, we allow for a ‘title’ and ‘editor’ which are fairly standard and allow your client to add a title and body of text to your custom post type. ‘thumbnail’ allows you to set a featured image (as long as you’ve added add_theme_support('post-thumbnails'); to your theme) and ‘custom-fields’ allows you to add miscellaneous data to each post. Sounds obvious but this demonstrates the power of custom post types; if you wanted to create a post type to display a gallery of artwork, for example, then you could forgo all text input and just allow images!
    • has_archive - Like the vanilla posts and pages, you can create both single pages and an archive specifically for your custom post type by setting this to true
    • rewrite – This allows you to control what WordPress uses for your post in permalinks. This is important if you’re interested in semantic, pretty URLs.

            Step 2: Adding Extras Right now our custom post type is almost a carbon copy of regular WordPress posts. This is all well and good if you’re only in it for the organisation benefits, but what if you want to really customise your custom post types? Here I’ll show you how to add a completely new field for your client to use. Open up your functions.php file and add the following code:

This will add an ‘Event Details’ textarea to the backend of your custom post type. It doesn’t have to be a textarea, of course. By editing the meta_options() function you can change it to whatever you would like! You’re not limited to a single extra option either, so you can add as many of these as you would like to your custom post type. Thanks to the flexibility provided by this option, you can completely extend custom post types to include virtually any and all information you could want!

Step 3: Displaying custom posts on the front end
After you’ve got your custom post up and running in the admin panel the next step is displaying them to your visitors! Custom post types can have their own single-{custom_post_type}.php and archive-{custom_post_type}.php pages like regular posts, but in our case we wanted to display our custom posts in a slider on an existing page. This is really simple to do; simply open up the file you want to add your custom posts to and paste in this code:

Here we’re very simply using a WP_Query loop to get our custom posts and then looping through the data – mostly standard WP functions like the_title(); and the_content(); but we also get and include our custom Event Details inside this loop!

Once again the WordPress Codex has the complete documentation of all available options, but I’ll go over our WP_Query loop in a bit more detail as it’s specific to our situation.

  • posts_per_page – I’ve set this to -1 to display all benefits posts, but you can instead limit this to a certain amount if you want.
  • meta_key – This links back to when we enabled ‘custom-fields’ to our custom post type in the first code block. We created a custom field called ‘Order’ with an integer value so the client can order the posts however they want!
  • orderby
  • - This works in tandem with meta_key above to get the value of the specified custom field.

Fin
If you’ve reached this far then you should now know how to add custom post types to WordPress, as well as add custom fields to your custom post types! This really demonstrates the power and flexibility of WordPress as you can completely extend WordPress beyond being a simple blogging platform while still maintaining a consistent, sensible and semantic back end for your clients.

Ways to analyse design

19/06/14

Author

Ahoy maties, we hope you are splendid! This week in the DEN veering away from the usual inspiration content to the more insightful. We have compiled an educated, (hopefully) enjoyable account about ways to analyse design. Included are alternative approaches you can use to view design, such as logos, graphics, art and objects, in order to come to new findings or be enlightened in a way different to your habit approach! Don’t be shy, this is for everyone to try from students to pros, if you’re feeling a bit unenthused and fancy a new avenue to meander along, with grounding from some other fields.

From experience, growing up absolutely frantic for as much creative stuff as I could get my hands on, I noted it can often be confusing and difficult to know which way is the ‘best way’ or ‘right way’ to go about design in the initial stages. There is in fact, no right or wrong way to design, it’s what originates from your gut, mind and self, where everyone ever born, has the potential to ‘create’ something, but clearly not everyone is confident enough to embrace it. Every individual has their way of creating.

Whether in the idea creation stage, researching stage and the ‘communicating your work to others’ stage, it can be hard to be fully satisfied that you did all you could up until the final product, ensuring all areas and perspectives were covered. From the position of the creator and designer, this is a never-ending problem of self-turmoil- there is always more that can be done, but sometimes you have to be straight with yourself and just say ‘enough is enough, it’s finished now!’ Time is not an exhaustive tool unfortunately, and especially not to people you work with, whom simply can’t grow a beard waiting…(as much as we would like to perfect our own works). *cue dancing beard gif*

It is a tentative and tough skill to crack immaculately, to ensure others understand most of (well merely some of if you’re lucky nowadays, with the design world so vast and minds so wonderful) what you’re trying to achieve with design. It is an oh so difficult, shifting and innovative language to master. But know also that EVERYONE IS IN THE SAME BOAT and all creatives acknowledge this and sympathise with one another. Chill.

Enough of the contextual rambling; the following are metaphorical lenses you can put on from the final stage, reflection stage of design, to ensure you have thought about different things, or perhaps as an objective reader of another’s work, to decipher various conclusions.

From the view of sociocultural anthropology:

By studying the meaning of humans and their social relations through symbols language, objects, music, material culture and technology, we can investigate what the design tells us of the creator, culture and their life.

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For example questions towards this Instagram image could be- what is it made of? How was it made- by hands or with man-made or technological tools? What’s in it? This could generate answers such as…

1. The fruit is artistically arranged, suggesting that the owner sees this meal in a delightful, celebratory manner, and whereby she is in control of it. It takes longer to create than the usual ‘throw it altogether’ breakfast procedure, which shows this creator cares about eating and takes enjoyment from the making ritual.

2. It is framed from a bird’s eye view where she is looking down on it. This portrays power, status relations between the person and food, whereby the power’s power is communicated by the towering stance over the bowl.

3. The picture is bright, retaining the subject matter’s true colour richness, revealing the appreciation for the fruit’s natural richness.

4. The circle bowl makes the picture appear complete and shows the creator’s appreciation of organic shapes, relating the subject matter. No poncy square plates here, thank you.

5. It appears to be taken with her smartphone, which is an accessible device to people in their everyday lives and thus, we can view this picture as a capturing of a daily, basic part of her routine. A professional camera would suggest the moment requires a more prestigious capturing mechanism, which could be seen to praise it or pay homage to it.

We learn from zooming out and reading the account biography that this person is in fact recovering from an ED and is optimistic about life and seeking happiness. Check @Coconuttysara’s page for extra fruity, wholesome, frolicking!

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This approach is somewhat tricky for contemporary material or mass-produced things, that pass across such a vast network of people at different stages of creation, with no singular, clear or intended identity attached and shaped by a multitude of influences, processes and societies (e.g. Apple Macbooks or the Coca Cola logo- keep this in mind).

From a sociological perspective:

Questioning how it is used, how people interact with it or how respond to it, can reveal invaluable findings on society, the broader picture and human, intuition relations.With the same Instagram picture, we can decipher:

1. Instragram is a social media network where people represent snippets of their life, things they achieve, what they’re interested, inspired by and proud of. Therefore it is applicable for that particular owner to showcase the above through an image-sharing platform and communicate through visual as opposed to uploading them to perhaps a less concise, relatable word-based platform.

2. Others respond to show their appreciation or opinion towards content, which could cause owners to feel greater satisfaction and happiness from sharing their work and encouraging them posting further. Others could also learn something and be inspired by this, flavouring others work. It could go the other way due to negative response and also act as a deterrent for independent thinking. This opens up the debate of whether people are actually original, thinking for themselves, or just being fed by one another. The social media platform could be seen as a way to dilute individual creation and thought processes. Therefore one could infer that society is easily-led or get their meanings/understanding from a social media platform, especially amongst younger minds…

3. It also displays that people communicate in the modern day more commonly without voices, and frequently without words even, but by ‘liking’ and ‘sharing.’ Could this change the paradigm of communication and get us more lost in what people mean when they create something or speak? Or even worse, how to respond in real life…Hmmmmm

4. From the wider, technological picture, we can see images, smart phones and social media have been created to spread art and information with speed and ease to a large audience. It can be seen as less direct communication means and less personal, but also encourages people to perhaps think more deeply about how to reach the greatest number of people and to better posting/creation each time. Two sides to every story eh?

What can you decipher from this picture from reading this? Creatives- what can you learn from looking back on your own work using this insight?

These approaches still essentially ask when, what, why, how and for whom, but with a grounding in a type of approach. For example, in technical, natural science approaches, meanings can be seen as more literal, but like seen as above, these more social lenses open analysis up to broader conclusions.

Lastly, bear in mind that these lenses aren’t always so applicable for every design or creation and some illuminate more than others, depending on what clues have been excluded from or unaccounted for in the design. Happy reading, fellow Sherlocks!

Things you didn’t know you could do with…

04/06/14

Author

Hi seedlings! Hope you are bright and well. We are going to throw you readers off tangent this week to welcome you into the world of life hacks (intriguing lifestyle tips), intuitive thinking and craft. We love design do not get us wrong, but we are also huge fans of simply ‘WINNING’ over everyday occurrences. For example better ways to do things, improving your time efficiency or just out-the-box ideas… This week here is a list of alternative things you didn’t know you could do with…well, coppa’ load of the lot below…

Up first, things you didn’t know you could do with… nail polish!

Other than painting those glorious talons, nail polish is good for some DIY clothing repairs. Clear polish is ideal for sealing a frayed material end, solidifying stretched and worn tough-feel belts and black nail polish is fab for filling in those scuffed over worn black shoes of yours!

shoes scuff

To make a piece of wall art to jazz up a boring wall, why not snip up a big picture or drawing you’ve recently found from your wobbly, artistic past and make a statement?! Yes we all have those dodgy attempts at creating masterpieces sprawled around our storage spaces, but it doesn’t mean they are now redundant in this day and age! Even if you have improved to a standard you previously didn’t foresee, they still have use, or you might just want to donate a gift to a friend with a bare apartment! Cut up your large artwork into three vertical strips, align them on the wall with sophisticated spacing and the gaps in between create an intentionally broken up visual puzzle or disproportioned collage.

These examples are intentional artist triptychs, but don’t be afraid to create your own abstraction or reinvention of the old:

butterflyTriptych

Suckatlife.com

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Scott J Menaul

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Picassomio

Alternative things you can do with serviettes…other than wiping your chops after an oily spag bol! Serviettes are in fact another malleable medium in which to create sculpture from. They may be tacky and chloroform white, but they are a cheap, easy solution for sprucing up your table displays. Teach your eldest and you’ve got yourself an instant talking point at a dinner party amongst friends. (Probably up your ante if you’ve got some uber special or corporate guests visiting and go buy a feature piece chaps)

ENTER kitchen roll origami…

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Find out how to create your own supper snails at WonderHowTo

Well this one you may already know what to do, but this is how to make your soup BETTER. It’s all well and good getting your fave tomato soup from a can and heating in the microwave because you ‘cba’ making something more complicated/nutritious at lunchtime. Yes we appreciate you worker bees have little time to Jamie Oliver the hell outta your kitchen with fancy produce, but this shouldn’t take too long! We have a better way of thinking about, making and consuming soup! It doesn’t just have to be just you and the bowl- it can be you, more of your 5-a-day and the bowl.

BarleyandLentilSoup

Any leftover veg from last night’s dinner in the fridge? Plonk it in the pan with the can contents. Any cabbage or spinach you can chop finely? Plonk it in the pan too- they will absorb the soup’s watery niceness. Lastly, why not fry up that last red onion rolling around in the back of your pantry for a last minute burst of flavour? Red onions are enriched with vitamins and pack a bigger punch than white onions. Plus, even past their sell by date they are very much edible. Fry ‘em up with paprika and a little chilli and plonk this pile of beauty in the soup pan too! You can make a smart, tasty, filling lunch without the usual lazy stodge- the honk of white bread.

Tell you what also makes a good soup base if you are really going to DIY it- baked beans! Half a can is one of your five a day; they’re cheap and cheerful, as are veg bits and bobs, so GO TRY and channel your inner spice queen to make it rich and satisfying.

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I mean come on, Lidl baked beans (pictured above) are like 29p or something? What a steal.

Check out Cooking Matters for more easy and healthy meal tips, especially in the soup variety!

Last but not least, make a cool desktop screensaver! Sometimes boredom can conjure a remarkable amount of energy for randomness we have discovered. So after playing around with screen shots on the mac and tapping into some mental creativity, we discovered that making a cool yet puzzling background is actually easy as pie! Why not prank your (hopefully light-hearted) work colleague by doing this?

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Steps: Select your scene using your computer screen edge as the frame, screenshot, Photoshop with an image open, reduce size, repeat…

Pointless right? But still something rarely anyone will have already done…Tune in soon for more harmless DEN creative rambling. CIAO.

Places in London you never remember

09/04/14

Author

This title is initially quite baffling/ambiguous and open on first read (that’s exactly why you opened this post probably) and the fact that it mentioned the word ‘London’ caught your eye, because well, everyone always reads stuff about London exponentially more than most other UK cities. This is where we are here to clarify our chosen title ‘places in London you never remember’…

…by ‘places’ we specifically mean ‘pictures of places’ that we have taken on our travels and by ‘never remember’ we mean ‘possibly or regularly pass by and don’t look twice at or do one time and then the fun has gone, that they’ve become part of your subconscious memory.’

Being keen explorers, urban walkers, London adorers and outdoor crawlers, we’ve snapped some actually rather alright (if we say so ourselves) pictures of London, of some actually rather normal spaces and places, but due to the power of light, colour and composition, have actually managed to pull of some interesting shots. Take a peek, see if you can guess some of the areas before we give them away…

Place1: CLUE- a small domain resting on the Southbound, confident Victoria line, commonly disregarded by folk due to a more infamous later stop, but when you delve into its residential depths, it is rather quaint and pretty.

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Place2: Another part of the same area as the first picture but this time nearing the more council-house provision ends, where red brick is rife and a street culture is more prominent.

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Place3: Edging on one of the edgiest London places, rising through its previous shoddy reputation and now claiming a culture rich in food, markets and urban attitude, it’s…

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Place4: A side street from the same area as in place 3 but this time on a lovely Spring evening around 6pm. Funny what a simple streetscape can capture eh? This makes the place appear quite desolate, but in reality behind the camera, we were getting knocked about and whizzed by on the bustling pavements.

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Place5: A very official area, with big important people inhabiting it. Also known to be fully touristic, camera-riddden and situated by a prominent London gallery… But obviously captured at a point where the work hours are just about ending and evening freedom ensues. To the bars!

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Place6: Everyone’s favourite major station, incessantly featured on TV programmes, (Eastenders last week, 22 march 2014 may we add) always shining red in self glory and coalescing 6 tube lines in one node, pay homage to the almighty one!

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Place7: Rude not to throw a panorama in, a sequel to photo 1 of course. This is just us being a bit quirky and turning our phones round to snap a longer shot,(obviously showing off) but what was interesting/slightly saddening about this place was the gated up adventure park and no children in sight at ALL on a Sunday :’(

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The aim of this game was to show you what you can do on an iPhone in a few seconds. That’s right, abusing the wonders of modernising technology! The beauty of iPhone photography is that it’s rapid, touch sensitive to focusing, automatically adjusts lighting levels and has a wide screen for envisioning scenes. Why not go and test some of your own skills when you’re on your commute to work, or just rambling on the weekend? Go snap some friggin’ boring scenes and make them B.E.A.UTIFULLL. Then put ‘em on an online page or spam your friends’ whatsapp with them!

All photos taken and edited by instagram: @alixblanx

10 ways to boost your productivity at work

28/11/13

Author

It’s always tough maintaining the Monday morning momentum throughout the week and keeping up enthusiastic appearances in the mean time. We know office work or constant output can be tough, it’s a hard life being brilliant, so we have conjured up a pretty trustworthy list of things you can do to make your day at work more productive. This is especially appropriate for Wednesday afternoon onwards…

1. A ruddy good night’s sleep. Get at least seven hours we say, no one can think as clearly or as positively as someone with a good rest behind them. NHS state between six to nine hours per night is recommended, but we like the idea of minimum seven (tehe).

ikea

IKEA Levitation by Jyo John.

2. Eat sugar during the day. Start with a slow energy release breakfast such as wholegrain toast, porridge, or yoghurt and muesli etc. Try to lay off caffeine- but we know it is vital sometimes, so save it until you really need it during the dragging hours of the day. By sugar we mean good sugars, such as those in fruit! Apples, oranges, juices and smoothies are-OH MY GOSH- oh so awakening and keep you buzzed.

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Forbidden fruit by Karan Singh.

3. Try and situate your smaller working environment, if possible, by a window or area with plentiful natural light, and perhaps the added opportunity of an opening. Fresh air can hit you awake and keep you invigorated almost immediately. Being in a cozy, darker, warmer place can help nod you off and reduce focus on the task at hand. (As lush as that sometimes sounds!) Studies have even shown that being connected to views and the outside environment has health and wellbeing benefits.

window

Rear Window by Alexandra Jarek.

4. Before going to work read the paper or listen to the radio news. This is firstly not only good for kick starting thinking and absorbing information in your brain, but also gives you added chat fuel for those pauses and office breaks. No one enjoys dull company over lunchtime now, do they? It also makes great use of that commute.

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Once Upon A Time by Engin Oztekin.

5. Make a really good lunch before you go to work. Having something to look forward to half way through the day can give you excitement and incentive…well it does us! Nothing better than treating your insides nicely after a powerful morning sesh. We like meaty pasta salads, quinoa and cranberry mixes, savoury brioche sandwiches, nuts and greens! MOREOVER, make something different and exotic each day of the week to keep your taste buds surprised.

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Sandwich Packaging by April Naoman. 

6. Go on a walk on a break. Get the old legs moving, breathe some fresh air and have a look about. Have a gander at your surrounding area and think about the place; what you like, dislike, what’s interesting, the people, what has changed since you first arrived etc. This is more for fun but it still keeps your mind off work material for a bit before you go back to it. Or even better, get a dog! We bring good ol’ Snoop to work and he gives us a great excuse to keep getting out to refresh ourselves.

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Holly by Tom Ralston.

7. Write lists. Lists are boring but wonderful and can downsize an overbearing load that may seem unachievable, to doable chunks. Wunderlist is our favourite online website that keeps us ticking and saves us losing those multiple scraps of paper! Wahey!

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Meet Mable by Amy Collins.

8. Take a few nice pictures, pieces of art or posters into work and put them up with pride! It reminds you throughout the day that you’re not just a cog you’re a human. Surround yourself with things that brighten up your day and keep you smiling. This option can also be employed through the medium of music too. If listening to jams that push you through piles of priorities at a better rate than throughout silence, then make a killer playlist!

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Artwork by Ian Stevenson.

9. Stretch and use your body after a long day when you get home. Whether it’s yoga, Youtube videos or handstands, (whatever it may be) try it! It allows you to realize all of your limbs and physical potential of your body, relaxes your mind, releases tension and overall, makes you feel more at ease and ready for bed. #Yogayawn

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Mellow by HiredMonkeez.

10. When you have done a ton of brilliant things, note them down! Keep a record of your productive achievements, then why not at the end of the year congratulate yourself with a creative plaque! It’s lovely and fulfilling to look back on what you are capable of in an annum and if it was not as satisfying as you may have hoped, it can spur you on for a better next year. Why not use Prezi or Infogram to display how fabulous are in interactive ways!

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Yesness by Janus Badenhorst.

We hope these actually pay off and they boost your productivity at work. Let us know how you get on!

A Food Infographic Compendium

01/10/13

Author

This week we have gathered a lovely collection of infographics all related to consuming things! If you have a sweet tooth are heavy in food game, this one if for you. As little tech geeks who love sipping and slurping away swimming pool quantities of tea and coffee, as well as (sorry not sorry) eating sweet treats in the office while we ‘web’ away, this one came from the bottom of our hearts. Infographics are a great way of presenting and learning about topics, using data in a visual way and communicating them innovatively and interestingly to an audience.

This a food infographic compendium a la DEN CREATIVE. Join us consumers and learn about what you put in your body! Mmm tea…

Up first, SUGAR. ‘Nursing your sweet tooth’ is by OnlineNursingPrograms.com. It notes the amount of sugar that Americans consume on average. Fancy finding out where most Americans get their sugar from? And what sugar munching types leads to health problems? This one is a banger…lucky we get to mouth water while this is a serious problem in the US * worried face *

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Find out more on Design Taxi.

Infographic number two is all about the beloved take away. All brits love (to hate to admit) the Chinese take away, so why not learn about the different Chinese genres as an eating guide? ‘Your Guide to Chinese Food: Styles of Cooking Chinese’ is a project from Daily Infographic.

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It’s the morning time so this is highly appropriate. We bring you a lovey array of breakfast styles from around the world! YUM! From tagines to sausage made of mince beef, take a visual world tour through this infographic by the Chef Works. Check out Visual.ly for the full story!

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Last but not least ,‘Your Brain On Beer Versus Coffee!’ Who doesn’t want to know about this topic? If we’re not in the office with a fresh hot cup of Starbs, we are having a cheeky pint down the local on a Friday to celebrate a hectic week and no doubt you office or creative types are too! Don’t pretend you’re not…

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America-based Japanese coffee lover Ryoko Itawa of I Love Coffee came across the article ‘Coffee VS Beer: Which drink makes you more creative?’ written by Ooomf’s cofounder Mikael Cho—which she found interesting, and decided to create an infographic based on the article.

Design Taxi say:

‘The conclusion: beer makes you more creative to come up with an idea; while coffee helps you find focus to execute that idea.’

And to go with the last one, here is an entry on how to make the perfect cup of coffee! Hurrah finally a fun, visual way of making the perfect Latte, Mocha and Miami Vice(?) There are plenty more unusual cup combinations to discover while you’re at it too…

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This one’s from the great chaps at  Plaid-Creative! WOO COFFEE GUIDE.

Well you learn something new everyday now don’t ya!

Why we love Wacom!

23/07/13

Author

For all you tech-types, this post is about Wacom, why they’re design worthy and how they are the leading manufacturer of interactive pen displays, pen tablets and digital interface solutions. Now you may or may not have heard of them but we’re here to tell you why we love Wacom. Involved in the tech, design or media industry? Read on…

Well you may already be well versed in the use of their products, but if you aren’t or you fancy learning something new, we put together a little set of FAQ’s and MUST KNOW’s about them.

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Funny name isn’t it. So what is Wacom?

Wacom is a well-known leading brand involved in the creation of pen tablets, pen displays, stylus and other products for business & education. It is way up there in terms of innovation and is proud to show off its quality of invention and product evolution to cater for a variety of user needs. (And we are proud to support that statement!) They have product ranges of pen tablets including Bamboo and Intuos.

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How does Wacom relate to creatives?

As graphic and web designers, we love Wacom, so our office is full of ‘em, but how do you know what to go for? Whether you’re a recreational creative playing about with new design techniques and fun ways to explore mark making on your laptop, or a full-blown freelancer with plentiful projects coming your way, there’s sizes and technology for all. Check their website for the latest products from A5 to A4 and bigger.

We love graphics tablets for better line control on screen, compared to a conventional mouse and together stylus and tablet mirrors the use of pen and paper. Genius! It’s all digital, meaning you don’t even have to have a notebook nearby, you can just start scribbling ideas and generating something fabulous instantly! (Perfect for those days of zero inspiration)

They allow you to create a huge range of marks on screen, with various stylus tips and the different tablet sizes allow you to experiment with scale. It’s like learning a new instrument nearly! Put that on your CV, BOOM!

Do they do other fun stuff in their product range? I might want to build my kit…

OH Yes! Their website and other good technology online vendors, stock a lovely range of complementary accessories. From a wireless accessory kit, to nibs, to cases and bags, Wacom specialize in making your user interface experience easier and more efficient wherever you choose to work. You’re going to look like a right tech-geek!

So Den, what has Wacom helped you create?

Other than our everyday use as a mouse alternative for better control and sometimes just a scribble on screen, we use Wacom tablets for regular, specialist, client briefs on websites and digital branding. This means we receive a spec, we think about how to achieve this via different design solutions, we start prototyping and exercising our thought processes with our creative minds and tools (Wacom well included) and then we review and modify until we reach the ultimate result. The stylus is fabulous for adding to with other new nibs and different art packs available. You can achieve a huge range of design styles and visually communicate so much more once you get the hang of it and add to your selected product. There are even different densities and weights for the stylus, so you will never stop creating something new.

WIN for Wacom! Check out DEN’s portfolio of websites we have created and see if you can spot some of our different design aesthetics and styles.

 

What are ‘cookies’ all about?

12/02/13

Author

As you may have noticed, many websites are now using cookies to give you ‘the best experience’ of their site when you first enter it. You may be frequently greeted by a message at the bottom or top of your screen nowadays and DEN are here to tell you what it’s all about so you don’t get freaked out or perhaps allured by such an unusual term online. So what are ‘cookies’ all about?

First of all these are cookies…

But they are not the cookies we are focusing on today unfortunately. However if you do appreciate these above baked goodies, find out here to get your hands on them here. As big foodies too, the DEN team don’t mind throwing in a few off-topic recommendations every now and then. Trust us, they are delicious and gourmet. You don’t have to thank us!

They are not programs but text files that contain key bits of information. Many people have the idea that they are harmful to a system, but we can clarify here what’s going on, so you’re not misunderstood. Cookies are in fact little smidgens of memory that are stored in your computer when you visit a website, storing memory of the page and your usage of it, in order to run it more smoothly and fluently the next times you visit. It can also help the site tailor to your needs with progressive use, giving you more of what you want or are interested in. It is a quicker way of reproducing data that doesn’t have to be processed again but can be just brought out when necessary. Like that good old happy birthday song, stored up in our memories, and brought out when necessary.

There are types of cookies that store different types of information; for example some may track how long you spend on a page and other may track the types of pages you are clicking on. Overall they can be beneficial to users and make their interactions with sites on the whole more efficient and engaging.

However to clear up the ‘bad cookie’ reputation we can provide some evidence as to why this exists. Cookies obviously store data about people using the web and so some people may feel uncomfortable about their information- for example what they are purchasing in their shopping carts etc.- being shared by businesses and organisations. There are cases where names are added to marketing lists due to their online activity and included in other relevant advertising lists. It can occasionally be annoying and the whole idea in general can make some feel uneasy.

Many websites take advantage of cookies in some way whether you’re aware of it or not, but a new online law has been passed this 2012, whereby sites must now ask user permission to use cookies. Thus things brings us to the present day messages that pop up on our screen and tempt our naïve taste buds every time we see the word! Shame they’re not the real thing..
Happy browsing!

Defining what we do in the DEN: Web design terminology

22/01/13

Author

Hello to all our lovely followers! We do enjoy bringing you a good balance of blog post genres weekly, so this time, changing up from our most recent amusing topics, mixed in with some random content and a couple of factual company-related posts, today is about the facts. We decided it was time to fully define what we do in the DEN and so like our word terminology fun post, this one will give it to you straight about our web sector.

Just so it is all in one place and you never have to wonder what we in the DEN get up to, here is our field-specific terminology word bank. We do do a few other bits and pieces alongside our main work as well (coffee drinking and outdoor sports included!) Hopefully this post will also give you some insight into our sector, handy for any of you budding web, design and communication related industry fanatics out there!

Pordum Website 1

1. Design: Web design is not always as easy as 1,2,3 nor is it rarely ever a finite process. With the latest technology, software and trends constantly emerging, web design always has to keep up with the zeitgeist in order for it to be relevant and running a smoothly as possible. ‘Design’ in essence is the deciding of and process involved with the creation of the look and functioning of something; with the web it has to consider 2D facets, still and moving components, sound, navigation, mobility, system compatibility and size requirements of different devices. The list is endless as is the possibility of creating something so new, unique and innovative for every one. We personally love it! Researching, drawing, market knowledge, user behaviors and interests, as well as a strong eye for style and detail always goes into their creation, as well as matching the visual brand with the good or service it is showcasing. We know consistency with a brand is important throughout all mediums, and can ensure we do our best at translating it into web formats.

2. Web Optimization or SEO is what web developers use to describe the work that they undertake in an attempt to get more traffic to a particular site via search engines. SEO is about the composition of the web framework and content itself that make websites relevant within searches on search engines, thus bringing the most applicable and tailored results. It is basically the way (behind the scenes of websites) in which the gap between the provider and the consumer is reduced on the web, cutting down miscommunication and further searching on the web. Its important to get it right from the start, as well as keep up-to-date as search algorithms are constantly changing.

3. Hosting:
In short, to store electronic data (e.g. a full website’s content) on a computer connected to the internet. Its not just as easy as doing it yourself and everything running smoothly and immediately all the time, there is in fact a lot of work involved and as some of you may know, with a thing called a server. A computer can contain all the data and scripts which can be accessed by other computers via an internet connection or modem. Big sites and organizations, (for examples mass media corporations or banks) use multiple powerful computers to host just single sites, but on smaller scales many sites can be hosted just one computer (a shared server), whereby a single computer can host several hundred sites. Thus to publish your own website, you will need a web hosting service. HI. It is important to discuss the site’s size and expected traffic, in order to generate the best type of hosting for a project.

4. Domains: A domain is an area or territory owned by someone or an organization. For example a domain name, is the website address composition of words that leads to a desired result. It can also relate to local network areas, for example, whereby several computers are networked within a same domain by the request of company, so that all can be seen on the domain or local servers.

“Domains & hosting are a bit like an address and a shop. The domain (address) tells people where to find your shop, but without the shop (hosting) there’s nothing to see. You have to keep everything somewhere!” Bill.

We hope this proved useful. If you’ve got any other requests for us, let us know!

[Above work by Ana Dias 'Big Girl's Don't Cry]

What a ‘Visual Sundae!’ Starting with Bird Illustration

14/09/12

Author

Today we are bringing you not only a new talented individual’s work (about bird illustration!) but also a never-ending source of inspiration. (Well…it possible will end one day, but not in the foreseeable future, so we’re fine!) We discovered this artist on an art and design blog called ‘Visual Sundae’ bringing a lovely collection of fresh art, design and assemblage of ideas to the world wide web. Curated by Michael Nun, this website is chock’a’block full of goodies of his choices and will be useful to you creative minds out there too! If you’re really inspired, go that step further and curate your own blog, eh?

Blogs are a great way of archiving solid, interesting material for visual stimulation and act as a reference backlog to awesome ideas when you need them. They also tell a lot about a person and create a collection of all the things you’ve ever found interesting. Bookmarking a page is okay, but it is always helpful (and more fun) to maintain a blog whereby layout can be adjusted, it can be made to look appealing and the navigation is simple! All information is in one place and doesn’t take up any of your hard drive space, as it is an online tool and backed up there! Everyone’s a winner.

Now on to the work…

We really fell in love with these intricate studies of birds, with heaps of fresh watercolour laden upon them and lots of nifty draftsmanship gone into the original bones and structure of the drawings. They are by an artist called Abby Diamond, according to ‘Visual Sundae’ and as you may see, she uses a canvas of good quality, textured watercolour paper- essential if you want the paint to sit the right way on top of your linear drawing and not mess with the ink.

Abby Diamond is a young illustrator from Pennsylvania according to the source and more of her work can be found here. Some of her bird designs have even been commissioned into tattoos for people. Crazy huh? Her blog is entitled ‘Ink, paint and feathers’, which can only mean, she loves inking a variety of birds and splashing them with bright, energetic colour ranges. Ink can be a tricky medium to get the hang of but practice makes perfect with anything and if you have a favourite topic, things can only get better!

We personally like the visual shading and cross-hatching elements of her work that are subtly left exposed under the colour layers. She builds up the juicy form of the birds by starting with lighter, thinner, linear inked lines and building the relationship lines up between the context and the animal’s form. She then progressively adds to the holistic picture by adding etching and mark making, bringing out darker lines with more presence, then finally introduces the watercolour paints. To top it off, small ink splatters and fainter, bleeding water colour patches add a touch of authenticity to the finished pieces and overall a vibrant, lively piece is created. By emphasizing those relationship, circles and form lines, the pieces contain more movement and character. Her work definitely captures the spirit of small spritely, singing birds!

See her blog here.