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.
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!
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.
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]
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.
These days when you hear about design for communication, for a purpose, for visual stimulation and graphics, you are bound to hear the term ‘typography,’ with a significant weighting to its mention. Many may still be unsure as to why typography is so respected and paramount in design nowadays. It has become a design entity and method in itself, especially in this age whereby its evolution and the development of its usages and available style has become so vast.
Typography is a design element to consider; it is the technique and arrangement of type within a composition. You must respect its parameters, boundaries, impact and message. It must always suit its purpose- for example match and portray a relevant message to the subject matter it is handling. There is no point applying a thin stemmed, embellished, script typeface to a protest poster now, is there? There has been an array of typefaces designed which may have stemmed from initial sketches and drawings of letters, to mark making, to seeing something in everyday occurrences that resembles lettering, to taking inspiration from some of the neutral default fonts of computer software. The possibilities of how it is created or how an idea is born are endless. Typography is important in conveying. You have to think ‘If typography wasn’t there, would the design you are using it in, still make an impact or fit its purpose?’
Typography not only deals with aesthetics, it also deals with content. Having a double purpose means clarity on different levels of communicating information. Like stated before, it should portray a message that connects with its theme or genre, but it also should have clarity of written meaning. The metaphorical and literal meanings can have a nice balance and relationship in typography! The beauty of typography means it does not always have to be straightforward or direct, as long as its design and usage, affects its audience in the desired way. Take a look at the example below on a clever use of typography, whereby meaning is not obvious, yet it is intelligent.
Typography can also be how you arrange it on the page; its positioning
-Its involvement in composition
by Ismael Fino on behance.net
by Atelier van Wageningen: Sjablony (character set) for Novo Typo from Itsnicethat.com
by Aaron Carambula from welovetypography.com
-Its link or interaction to other elements and itself
by Kissmiklos on behance.net
-Its spacing between letters, kerning and scale
by Petra Bindel from welovetypography.com
-Its colour or pattern
by Deanne Cheuk from welovetypography.com
and many more techniques that make it a design article.
Nowadays every brand and company wants to attain recognition to a successful scale. More specifically, to a scale that keeps their company running smoothly: bringing in business, covering outgoings and creating a source for referral or recommendations to others.
A good route to gaining recognition is to be memorable, accessible and easy to find. By making yourself or business known on multiple platforms, you can only add to your pool of followers or people that can stumble across you if your lucky! For example, spreading a company’s name and brand across a range of communication platforms can enhance the number of people who know about your goods and services and know where to contact the desired company. Mediums include web, digital and print! E.g an online website, print mediums (this could be in the form of leaflets, catalogues, business cards, brochures etc), apps on smart phones and tablets…and the list is ever growing as we journey through this innovative century. Technological developments are now very relied on and so useful for businesses, it would be hard to go back!
The digital age is upon us whereby more interactive design mediums are becoming apparent. The app revolution is obvious, where you can operate ‘on the go,’ as is the upcoming responsive web phenomenon detailed in a previous blog post. Social media is soaring to exponential user levels; there is such a choice on the web nowadays, companies can choose which media sites are the most appropriate to their business. This can be for amusement and interest purposes or even better- add to the company’s strategy to boost company success in some way.
Another idea would be to create something that users can remember you by, by going that step further. This could be as easy as a successful brand theme and identity, an offer or deal that is successfully advertised or a more physical offering. For example a free download whether it be a song (if relevant to the business), a computer wallpaper to download or a set of vouchers complimentary to the type of business. These are just some ideas that can attract!
The main undercurrent in this post is to express how useful it is to utilize mediums to a business’ advantage. Depending on your type of business, you may require different criteria, tools and platforms to help you run effectively. Den are equipped with design techniques, fresh ideas and web design and development services. We can also host and offer several other technological goodies to help you with your needs!
Ideas for the future- a little mind mapping commentary:
Any TV coverage one gets in order to promote what companies are offering is of course invaluable, as that genre of visual advertising is immensely effective and memorable. What is more, HD and 3D are a new age hit and may be the next big thing for companies to take advantage of, not just TV shows and films. Something to think about?
Soon the world may even see interactive TVs? What could that mean for the future of brand promotion and recognition? Communication would be so easy, immediate and direct if audiences and potential clientele could reach a company and their services through advertisements in just a touch! Touch screens are booming right now and it would cut out a bit of time indeed. Information sharing would be instant! (Oooer)
These are just a set of revolutionary ideas that could be seen as predictions. They could become a reality if digital development reached effective capacities, so hold on to your tech hats people! The digital age is upon us.
The graphic seemed appropriate in style and content. It belongs to Layout Design, Marios G. Kordilas a Graphic designer.
DEN are all about ideas, imagination and open-mindedness in design. We thought it was very appropriate-reaching the critical ‘green’ era- to bring you a new style of art. This little fun unusual surprise of a tutorial is about sustainable, authentic, green art! Spice up outdoors with this quirky number! I bet you’ve never heard of this genre of creativity before?
-Firstly crumble 3 handfuls of moss into a blender and 700ml of warm water.
-Then add 2 teaspoons of water retention gardening gel, giving it a stir before pouring in 120ml of buttermilk.
-Pulse the blender until the mixture forms a gel consistency; this should be between 2-5 minutes.
-Transfer the gel mixture into a bucket, grab your paintbrush and head to the nearest wood or concrete surface.
Remember to mist it with water weekly to keep it nourished and vibrant! Your moss needs feeding just as much as any plant. The better you maintain it, the better it grows and healthier it looks as part of your wall design. It will grow nicely and what is more, you won’t get caught for vandalism or tagging! Hurrah!
(Perhaps best keep your moss graffiti to your own private land, just in case)
Check out the below examples:
For more cool green ideas visit DO THE GREEN THING HERE.
The time has come where websites are no longer just fixed, dormant and rigid formats. They no longer have to remain permanent in their layout, operations, motion and sizing- they can grow with the times much like everything else and adapt to the device they’re displayed on! Personally we think this is utter brilliance and it is true, it’s about time the web synchronises with the other latest modes of technology and their screen adaptive formatting.
Responsive web design is exactly what it says on the tin- responsive! Much like on tablets and phone screens (parallel to apps as well) whereby the site alters with the device its on, website design can become this dynamic, interchangeable and a responsive platform that reacts and adapts to the device as well. We at DEN believe designing, developing and coding web sites for them to ‘mould’ to various devices is revolutionary! We definitely have the imagination, innovation and determination to get the ball rolling on this one and are working with clients to currently achieve this mesmerising new web design advance. Why not consider it for yourself?
The 3 imperative elements to responsive web design:
These all encompass the fluidity and transposable functions.
Flexible layout first requires the composition of a fluid grid. This is in essence your ‘base’ tool for the resizing and repositioning of content appropriately for the device it has to fit to.
Flexible images have various methods by which their sizes can be altered. The adjustment of images is very important, as we know in achieving a bold online aesthetic. In this genre of web design, do this by either resizing the image on the fly or dynamically cropping the image and by combining both you are enabling an automatically adjusting image when it is below a specific size! Voila!
Lastly, media queries allow the creation of multiple layouts using the same content. Media queries behave similar to conditional elements, for all you web fiends out there! Now usually one stylesheet is used for large displays and another is used for mobile devices of different widths for example. This new amalgamating function of ‘media queries’ is spot on with achieving it all. For scalability, CSS media queries apply different page styling according to set parameters.
After all of that info, we hope you are won over, as we are very excited about it! It has been known by analytics this new era of websites is said to bring in a greater volume of punters due to its innovation, individuality between sites, further added visual stimulation and total appeal. Great for businesses that want to go that extra distance and really attract clientele!
Indeed from personal experience, I do love a well thought out, interesting website and when it draws me in with something a bit different, I don’t look elsewhere for what I’m seeking after that.
Take a look at some examples for yourself: www.designmadeingermany.de, trentwalton.com, 2011.dconstruct.org
Recently I was informed by the big dog of the company- Bill, that we now have a Pinterest account. This gives us the opportunity to do as we so wish with our new web space. However being newbies to the new social media platform, it was time to be the hunter gatherer of information to find out what it’s all about and work our way around the site! Moreover by doing so, it gives you lovely followers the chance to learn something new today as well. If you have anything to add or offer after reading this, add a comment! After all sharing is caring…and it seems to be online nowadays.
Pinterest is a virtual pin board, where account holders (free to register by the way!) have the chance to organise and showcase a range of exciting material of their choice. From intimate moments, to cool colour shades you find, to invaluable quotes; it is a personal space for anything and everything. Depending on who your audience are, what you want to use it for (e.g you can tailor it to a specific theme, trend or subject) it’s fun for all users and you have the freedom to go crazy! It gives the opportunity to interact with others, give feedback and is a more exposed way of sharing things immediately, as opposed to some platforms that require more searching. Pinning and repining is a function similar to blogging and re-blogging. It is sharing what you have found either on someone else’s pin board and putting your own spin on it, or uploading files from your computer. I would liken it to tumblr!
It is fairly user friendly. The clear plain pastel layout and theme, with chunky clear text helps navigation and reduces screen clutter when moving around the site. Each pin is organised in to its own box, defined by a faint border which is also very helpful. Each box would be likened to a post or blog entry. You can search topics if you have something in mind and create your own categories really easily when you share your goodies. Once you’ve grasped the initial process and realise you have your own space/profile, it is A- OK! It took me a while at first to just reach a space I could call home, or our area, but that’s pretty simple to find after a few moments. Like most things are, it is connected with Twitter and Facebook, so sharing and pinning becomes seamless.
In terms of usability…
New online sharing phenomenon’s like these have to be fun, basic, user-friendly and easy to navigate around. Basically nothing too busy or fancy at first, especially if you want people to start and continue using. Once you have attracted a large population it is easier to modify settings, appearances or functions, as people will adapt with the trends. Take Facebook for example- that has seen several site upgrades and modifications since its existence! Adding online tips and tutorials as you move around the site will also appeal to new users and aid any site changes.
Why not try it yourself and better yet, follow us on Pinterest.
This post is on how to create a subtle and blended blur round the edge of a photo, with overall faded colour, more extreme crisper levels and adding a touch of delicacy to your favourite photos. I find this method and its results work lovely with landscapes and photographs with people in or subject close-ups, (primarily a combination of all three) however feel free to experiment with a range of photography genres.
Have you ever wondered had to get that dark vignette around the image edge too? In either an old-fashioned oval or a rectangle? Well here is how to do it!
-First open your image up in Photoshop. (If its in RAW form you have an automatically greater number of editing and resolution possibilities for colour, temperature etc.)
-Open levels in Image>Adjustments and click Auto. To make it really defined and crisp, further adjust to your liking; pull the black arrow at the end of the scale towards the middle to add more darkness and do the same with the white for whiter highlights. Click OK to exit and complete that task.
-Again in adjustments choose Hue/Saturation and drag the saturation pointer to the greyer end of the scale (the left), according to how spooky or diluted you want the colour to be. I prefer the result when the pointer is half way between the centre of the scale (0) and the completely de-saturated (LHS) of the scale.
-Choose the marquee tool on your left hand side tool bar and either select rectangle or oval. On the tool bar above your image you should be able to locate the ‘feather’ option so as to create a softer more blended blur boundary with the rest of the image. I like to work with 80px feathering for high res images.
-Once you’ve drawn your marquee about 2-3cm in from the very image edge, (less or more depending on how prominent you want your vignette or blur) click ‘Select’ on the top most tool bar and choose ‘Inverse’. This should make your marquee selection opposite to what it highlighted before. (The marching ants should be tracing round the outer edge border of the image now)
-TO ADD BLUR: At the top menu choose Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur and alter the Radius px weighting. For high res images I recommend around 8-10px. If you have the preview box ticked whilst you alter the px, you can monitor your live actions. Click OK when satisfied.
-OPTIONAL VIGNETTE: To make the edge darker open Hue/Saturation and alter the ‘Lightness’ scale bar. Make it so the selected border (still highlighted by the marching ants) darkens by pulling the pointer the left side of the scale. Moreover to make it really dark again adjust the levels or choose the brush tool (on the left hand side toolbar) and manually colour the edge.
-For this choose a fuzzy brush that can create nice natural blur in itself. Ensure you reduce the opacity and flow, (on the top toolbar, once your brush tool is selected) so the colour blend is more seamless. I like to use about 40-50% opacity and a 50% or lower Flow setting. You can always layer these brush marks so it builds a better darkness fade. To do this, start with really low opacity and flow numbers, then add more potency by increasing the percentages to your liking, over the top of those marks.
Viola! There you have it. A faded, crisp, bold, atmospheric image with a sexy blur around the edge. It makes photography look classy and professional and can even disguise an average camera you used to take the photo with (if applicable)! 300dpi images or more, always create best results with general photo editing. Sometimes the process looks better without an obvious vignette so be sure to be subtle when adding your darkness or altering image border levels. Enjoy editing!
This is an example Image I produced for my friend’s clothing brand:
After watching (very randomly) Blue Peter, I discovered a new genre of art; light photography. Ever wondered how these lot below came about? They are sometimes referred to as light paintings, but they are all made in the same way. It’s all about the shutter speed of your SLR. The slower the shutter, the longer the internal camera operations can process the light in front of it. It can only be done at night and the longer the shutter is left open, the more light it will pick up. So if you wanted to create a picturesque scene with plenty of detail, leave it open for as long as you can get away with! If your fairly impatient, why not try various light arrangements and images within the same context/scene, then layer them up on Photoshop. (A cheating way obviously, but your much more free to manipulate and edit to make it wonderful!) The best thing is, no one will know!