How to find an awesome web business idea.

I am a web designer, experience at CSS, Illustrators, Photoshop, the design things, and a bit HTML, but not capable of coding a website or making a web product. I did several researches, and now time to share what I’ve learnt so far, I also want to document the process of making a web product without programming knowledge, how to find a good business ideas, how to validate them, how to find a co-founder, a coder with a reasonable pay, how to find first customer/user for my product.

1. Read

The first step, I think, is to read. A web design almost have no knowledge about market research, finding a niche, a business idea that solves people’s problem. I was not familiar with business terms, then I start finding blogs, websites for startup ideas. And the best resource is:

If you want to build a web product, a mobile app, or a million dollars tech startup like Instagram, Whatapps, you should start here, it has everything you need

2. Finding ideas.

How to have a good idea? You can start by looking around, what’re your friend struggling at? what are the difficulties they have  currently? What is the pain in your work, your job, your industry? Here was how I did. I surfed around the net, talked with my female co-workers. They seemed tired of staying up late for works and stuffs, then I asked why didn’t they use something herbal, or natural oil to treat their skin. They said that those things may be good for their skin, but they didn’t know exactly which products, and how to do it.

Then I finally came with this idea:

A social network platform provide reviews, tutorials, guides, beauty and makeup tips to help women become more beautiful. Since it is a social network, anyone can share their tips and product reviews

The ideas should solve pains and problems of people, not just those you think great. Also, you better have business ideas related to your passion because only passion that can push you keep going. One of my ideas, is a social network for women to learn about makeup, beauty, and things like that. But I don’t know where to start. I’m not a women and I obviously do not like make up or so. It was so hard to sketch the first version of the web

3.Validating ideas

Next step is to find out if anyone is doing your ideas? Can you do better than them? Does anyone know these sites? If the niche is not saturated, you can jump in, make better product and user would definitely crazy about it.
Another thing is to check is how many will need your solutions, products? Anything to be more specific? I did find out that women want specific and detail guide for makeup, skin care, hair care: how to make up to be looked like Gwen Stacy (Amazing Spiderman movies), or hair care tips for dry hair, hair care tips for curly hair…

The findings:

It seems that there very few sites succeed in providing beauty tips and guides for women. So there’s a market for my ideas

One people are doing great jobs is Michelle Phan – she one of the bests vlogger on Youtube helping women become more beautiful. She now has nearly 7 million fans. The verdict is women really need guides and tutorials like those of Michelle Phan.

Well, that’s how to find a good startup idea, and validate it. As told before, I don’t have passion for this product, so I would talk about another idea in later posts. Next post would be about an idea, first step to make the product, where to find a coder ? What you need to know ?


How to choose web designers and softwares ?

Choosing a Web Designer, or a Web design company

Choosing a Web designer can be difficult due to the sheer number of companies and individuals offering such services. offers an online database of Web designers that you can search by services, name, or location.

Entrepreneur columnist Melissa Campanelli recommends doing your homework before selecting a designer: “Check out a list of the sites the company’s worked on and look closely at its own site.

[Read more…]

Web Site Life Cycles and Maintenance

Similar to any piece of software, Web sites follow a series of phases in their so-called “usable lives.” For e-commerce sites, the nature of those lives is also changing based on increasingly nuanced marketing objectives laid out for them. A typical site life cycle starts with basic planning and design, and ends with up-keep and administration. Below are some of the most common steps:

  1. Planning and requirements gathering
  2. Preliminary design and specification
  3. Detailed design and coding
  4. Testing and revision
  5. Launch
  6. Maintenance and upgrades

Web Site Life Cycles and development process

From this list, you might assume that the planning through launching steps consume the most time and resources; for many sites, however, maintenance and regular updates are central to their effectiveness and receive ample attention. The best life cycle plans take into account the site’s ongoing maintenance needs after the initial launch. One estimate is that maintenance requires about 20 percent of the initial development costs. Web users, much like newspaper or magazine readers, often expect continually refreshed content. Ultimately, if the business needs for the site—like driving traffic and generating sales—change considerably over time, the site may require a redesign and relaunch. Ideally, life cycle planning also considers market and technology signals that suggest when a site’s useful life is limited.

Web watchers commonly cite an evolutionary path for the kinds of sites companies launch. The first and simplest of these are called brochureware, essentially static non-interactive pages that are posted once and then left alone. The next stage is more like a magazine or small online community, providing basic interaction and periodic updates, while more advanced sites incorporate interactive applications, perhaps for online transactions or other customer needs. The most sophisticated sites are a complicated, user-specific conglomeration of content and applications originating in diverse locations and presented as a seamless yet dynamic interface.

While these models can help place you on a general continuum, keeping your site current can mean many different things depending on your content, your clients, your competitors. Certainly, on a national news site, visitors expect the content to be refreshed every few hours, if not minutes. For a local news site, that standard might be slwoed to include just daily updates. Some Web consultants recommend that smaller sites be updated at least once a quarter in order to maintain a sense of fresh content and keep the site’s visual material current. Others say monthly or weekly is more appropriate. With some exceptions, sites that haven’t had a graphic overhaul within one to two years may be perceived by end-users as looking outdated due to technology changes.

One way to organize updates and maintenance activity is to create a maintenance plan. There is no set form the plan should take, but some get fairly formal and lead to content management systems. Either way, the purpose is to begin serious thinking about the ongoing requirements of operating the site. The requirements may be technical, such as how to support increasing traffic loads, or strategic, such as how to make the site the top performer in its category—and keep it there. Planning also needs to account for logistical issues like personnel hours needed to maintain the site.

More elaborate sites usually have back-end maintenance tools built in so that content specialists at the company, say, marketing staff, can readily change text and images in predefined places on the site without requiring a programmer’s intervention. These content management systems store site information in databases and often include a user interface customized for the particular needs of the company. They also provide support for advanced problems like version control, ensuring there is clear documentation of what is the currently approved content versus previous content or work in progress.

Not all maintenance is aimed at making sites more complex, however. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, as Flash and other multimedia technologies gained sway, many well-funded sites rushed to include bits of animation and sound. No doubt some visitors were impressed with their technical prowess, but many Web users insist on practical, useful features instead of those that merely waste time and clog bandwidth. Some of the largest sites have learned to design their sites “down,” focusing on the quality and efficiency of the user experience. This movement includes a heavy emphasis on intuitive user interfaces and simple, informative designs. The idea is to hone the site for the particular needs of its main visitors—and possibly customize it for each one.

As with site development and hosting, maintenance and life cycle management can be outsourced to specialty firms. Often, if an outside team develops the site, they will include a bid for ongoing maintenance as well. Many Web consultants believe outsourcing is a wise approach because it greatly increases the likelihood the work will get done. Often times, specialists also have skills and inside knowledge that allows them to do a better job than a company could do on its own.

Of course, some maintenance is more technical in nature and, as such, doesn’t involve content or currency. A common problem, with small sites in particular, may occur up when the site operator assumes it will work continuously without interruption. As server addresses and other system features change, the site may become saddled with broken links and haphazard functions. Browser upgrades can change the way pages display and functions execute, as well. Web site operators need methods of keeping their services up and the existing functions working. Along with third-party service vendors, developers can create testing and monitoring tools for making sure the site is operating properly.

4 Signs You Need a Paid WordPress Theme

Many are drawn to the idea of registering a domain name, installing a free WordPress theme, and starting out their businesses within a day or two. And while going the free route at the start is certainly understandable, it’s startling to see just how many businesses and bloggers insist on sticking with the free theme they started out with. If you fit into the camp of those resistant to change or if you suspect that you may need a paid theme, here are 4 signs that it’s time to make that shift.

You’re Getting Traffic

When you’re just starting out, you won’t have much traffic. If you’re just starting out with your online venture, it may take a while to build up a good number of visitors. While you’re working on that, it may not be worth buying a theme. After all, you don’t know whether the site will ever take off and so it would be extra effort that may not pay off.

However, once you get a good amount of traffic (and we’re talking more than just a trickle), we recommend moving to a theme that caters to that audience. People won’t be adding you to their bookmarks if they land on a site that’s using a terrible theme that’s not geared towards servicing your customers or visitors. Once you have the basis on which to build your business, it’s time to invest in it by getting a paid theme.

You Want to Increase Ad Clicks

Free themes are great if you’re just starting out with your blog and aren’t sure you have a basis for revenue growth, but once you get a significant amount of people through those virtual doors you’re going to want to maximize opportunities wherever possible. Buying themes that are built to maximize ad clicks work extremely well for this.

For example, have a look at the Intellitheme from the Empire Flippers. It specifically caters to people looking to monetize their websites through Google Adsense and as such places the ads in the exact positions that tend to get the most clicks. Have a look at the following example (a hair loss website), which uses this theme. The site isn’t built for aesthetic value, but it’s very likely that ad clicks are being maximized here.

You Want to be Taken Seriously

While a free theme can look decent depending on where you look, it’s never going to look properly professional. If you want to be taken seriously, your website needs to exude a certain level of quality. Having a footer link to a free WordPress theme just isn’t going to do that. Think about it: how many legitimate sites peddle their wares with a free theme that Average Joe has as well? Exactly.

Your visitors will only start thinking of you as someone worth listening to once you’ve shown that you’re taking your online business seriously. That means sprucing up the design with a paid theme, making it look like you’re more than just a run-of-the-mill blogger.

You Can’t Afford a Custom Design

While your ultimate ambition may be to have a fully custom design built for your business, it’s probably not the best investment right from the get-go. Unless you’re already making the big bucks, a custom job will dwindle your overall budget down to nothing in a real hurry. Some designers will offer you something ‘unique’ for just a few hundred dollars, but these will either be repurposed from a bought theme or will look terrible. With custom designs, you get what you pay for.

Ultimately, forking out $50 on ThemeForest, Genesis, or any other professional theme marketplace is a sound investment once your blog or website is either making money or driving leads to your business. You’ll make that money back with the difference it’s going to make both in terms of conversions and returning traffic.

Getting the Users to Browse Your Website

There are several ongoing discussions about the web. A lot of it is flak, and there are a lot more which are too technical that regular users will never understand half of the words being used. There is one question though which bears scrutiny: “How does a user feel about a website?”

This all boils down to the user interface (UI), and its effects on the user experience. It is easy to say that the UI follows the UX, or that UX has to be tested to show or prove an effective UI. For a lot of development people, this is a chicken and egg question.

For Internet marketers, the rest of the world has it wrong. Internet marketers have a different perspective on things. They want their analytics to go deeper. They also want to know what UI really works. In terms of user interface and usability, almost all options have been done before. There are some platforms which are limited, of course, although most of the successful content management system (CMS) like WordPress, Joomla and Drupal have gotten along fine due to third-party extensions, themes, support and customization. In this regard, WordPress has shown its versatility. WordPress sites range from excellent visual sites like this one to more functional sites such as this example.

The Internet marketers may have it right in the end. They might be asking the right questions: How much of a website’s functionality translates to efficiency? In other words, how would a website’s controls, bells and whistles, convert to clicks, page views, impressions, and ultimately, sales?

For regular users, they wouldn’t know the answer, and would not care either way. For people who invest their time and money on a website, every single view is important. They need to know what happens when a click happens. They need to understand how to make the user flip the page and go on to the next. They also need to know how to entice a user to click a “buy” or “subscribe” button. These are things that only a user would know, and unfortunately, it is hard for the website owner to read a user’s mind, without any proper studies to that effect.

One cautionary tale of marketing studies is that of the Ford Edsel. The design and marketing of the Edsel was based on a lot of market studies. Up to the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, it was the most heavily researched car in terms of consumer reactions and possible acceptance. As a machine, it was one of the best engineered car ever built. However, the sales never took off. It was one of Ford’s worst selling cars.

Along the same vein, websites have been trying to balance the bells and whistles with functionality. So far, the bells and whistles are winning. Most websites look better than they perform. The best looking websites may not get enough clicks because they look too good, that the pages don’t load fast enough. These things are hard to balance.

Convincing the user to stay and peruse the site should be the aim of every website designer. This is where discussions about UI and UX start and where they should ultimately end.

5 Examples of Well Designed Health Blogs

Health blogs seem to be everywhere on the Internet, covering topics on everything from how to correct your diet to various forms of stretches, exercise and homeopathic supplements. With all these health blogs, there are some that stand out by simple means of having well designed sites. Here are five great examples of very well designed health blogs.

An Empowered Spirit

The website has a beautiful lay out and design. Very soothing photos of the beautiful California coast grace the home page, and the user interface for accessing older entries and surveys make this one of the nicest of health blogs out today. The content gets updated daily and the site is evergreen, so you know the information you get today is going to be relevant for some time to come.

Loving Imperfection

The Loving Imperfection website is a great example of a smaller, personalized health blog that is appealing due to the content and the sheer honesty of the blogger. On this health blog, there are multiple sections, all accessed via a photo-grid that simulates the most recent Windows OS. Click on the photo that is most relevant to your information needs and you are taken to that section of the blog where you find many entries that have evergreen content. This is highly rated and definitely an example of a well designed health blog. It reminds me a lot

Chasing Normal

The design of Chasing Normal follows a standard WordPress blog template but is executed with a subtle color palette and layout that is aesthetically pleasing, helping ease the reader through some of the harsher entries on the reality of living with rheumatoid arthritis. While it adheres to the standard layout of the WordPress design, it is done with obvious care to content and visual enhancements. Should you be ready to make a health blog, this is a wise one to reference as it hits all the right notes.

Walk By Faith Not Sight

This is a personal health blog that covers a range of content, but what makes it effective is its layout and color schema that truly enhances the content and draws the reader in. Updated content gets placed at the top and makes it easy for return readers to keep up and see the interconnectedness of the entries, something every good health blog should cover. While there are sections of this health blog that diverge from standard medical health tips (spirituality being one of the sections) it has enough evergreen content to make it worthy of being in the list of well designed health blogs

Ultimate Pulmonary Wellness

This health blog intermixes with the health clinic that hosts the blog. The layout takes the reader through a variety of sections, including examples of the clinics offerings, successes and facilities. The health blog section gives daily updates and entries all related to health of the heart and pulmonary system. The content is evergreen and relevant and the blog format is unique and not standard blog template formulaic as so many of the other health blogs are. This one is a stand out because it has tremendous content in a non-standard layout.

Is A Simple Design A Good Design?

I hear a lot of people ask me questions about what sort of things to keep in mind when they are designing their website. Many of them have never had any experience with programming or HTML code, much less maintaining an active website, and it can seem a bit daunting at first. Luckily, some sites like Weebly and Wix offer even the most rookie Internet user the ability to customize their own website without having to worry about the underlying technology.

But one major mistake I see again and again is when someone gets too involved or caught up in trying to make their website have everything. The problem is usually that they don’t know why they want a website – it may start out as a daily journal, and then they want to add current events, their favorite book lists, until eventually it is a cluttered and unfocused mess.

The first thing to consider when making a website is simplicity. This means having a clear idea of what your website is about. That way you can tailor it specifically to that purpose. By streamlining the number of applications, you can also help to cut down on irrelevant components and tangents that can distract guests to your website.

For example, if you wanted to produce a training website with Wix for different vocational purposes, let’s suppose you were targeting domestic electricians and people aspiring to be kidney dialysis technicians, it’s important to tailor it toward that end.

For an electrician’s website offering or talking about training, you’d want to have drop down tabs with menus that were clear and well targeted – what sorts of job expectations there are, what training is needed related to wiring commercial or residential sites, and the average base salary. You would also probably benefit from a testimonials page, where people who had switched to this career could explain its benefits and drawbacks.

Let’s switch and talk about a dialysis technician’s website – this one might have similar options, but you would need to have more explanation – for example, going into detail about what dialysis is and how it benefits people with kidney problems. Sometimes a website or topic doesn’t fit into a simple scheme, but it is always important to try and simplify it (both in terms of layout and language) for visitors unfamiliar with the topic.

One way to deal with having too much dense information on a website is to supplement with lots of pictures. Especially in the case of a dialysis technician, where the average Joe wouldn’t initially understand the dialysis process so some images and diagrams could really aid the accessibility of your site.

With both examples, we’re looking at different types of jobs, though – as a result, a web page tailoring to both of these topics should endeavor to look as professional as possible. This means a firm, non-flashy color scheme, crisp and non-cursive fonts, and a layout that makes the website clear in its intention.

Top 5 Fitness Website Designs

Building and managing a website is the ultimate way to present your content to the entire world in a fast and effective manner. If you want to get your fitness message out to the universe and you have the internet savvy to do it, it is important to consider the best platform for your page. Your website host, your chosen theme and design, everything down to the color of font you choose can make all the difference. When it comes to having 50 viewers or 5,000,000 viewers, the better sites are more organized, easy-to-read, and more informative than their competitors.

The following is an analysis of 5 popular fitness sites and what it is that makes them effective.

Bar-Barians has a website design the immediately pops. Being a body building site, the giant lettering and blown up photos make you feel as if you are right there with them. You immediately get the impression that you are consulting the advice of some of the hardest workers out there. Their site is currently under construction and unfortunately much of the content has been hidden, however you can see the massive potential in the design of the developing product.

The best part are the helpful web widgets at the top which connects their page to all major social media platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, and G+. This is the kind of design feature that brings in new viewers and it is very important to consider the impression your site leaves across all platforms.

DssTuff is a focus of legibility. They have a solid white background with black text, making the site easy on the eyes while keeping it crisp and and professional. There is just enough orange accents and photos to give the site an energetic feel that really works for a CrossFit site. Again the use of widgets here makes any site stand out above the rest. They also embed relevant videos from Youtube throughout the site, as articles generally do better when they have an accompanying video. There are many different types of people and some prefer to watch rather than read.

It’s important to have a main focus when building any website, is a CrossFit gear comparison site, you can find a number of guides and reviews to help you find the gear you need quickly. If you require a standard pair of Crossfit sneakers go to this page for all the latest releases.

You will not find a fitness site with more helpful information than Body Building can offer. They have it all and their meticulously built site is one of the best. They have a workable search bar, menu options galore, and a Facebook compatible log-in, which is always a smart move to improve membership.

At times, however, their level of resources and information can become overwhelming. Some articles run on for thousands of words on a single page and it can get a little intense. It is important to fill your site with as much relevant content as possible, while at the same time being conscious of what level of depth will be appealing to your readership.

The idea behind this site is to be inspired and comfortable in your own skin. They bring this message to the forefront quite clearly in all areas of the site. It is incredibly important to keep your intent obvious to the reader throughout the entire site.

This eye-popping page offers a wide array of options from the beginning. With a nicely located search bar along the top, the immediate front page focuses on the blog. Blogging is the heart of this website and more recent posts are easily accessed from a grid format that allows you to glimpse many posts at once. This cuts down on scrolling for the user. The earlier mentioned search feature and tagging method keeps the site organized and makes finding any specific posts a breeze.

Muscle and Fitness is an enormous site with an even larger following. Their front page is completely full of article links and videos. They change daily, which is so important to any popular site. The information and articles have to be fresh on a fast and consistent basis. A rarely updated site is a dead one. In addition to having a well organized site, Muscle and Fitness have a working phone version of their site for mobile browsers. This increases their ability to reach a larger audience and absolutely leads to success.

You may have noticed, many of these sites have a lot of the same features. This is because they work. Search bars, social media widgets, strategically placed photographs and videos, and regularly updated articles are the keys to success. Remember to pay attention to your font colors to get enough contrast for your reader’s eye comfort. Maintaining a fitness site is never easy, but if you bother to look to proven success, you can find the web deign that works for you

The Times Are ‘A Changin’

The More Things Change….The More Things Change

I love where web design is going nowadays. Website responsiveness, usability and mobile devices are now taking priority. It really makes a big difference more now than a few years ago when sites were not looking that good. I use the web many hours every day and current web design makes my life easier with how things look and function. It doesn’t matter if I’m making a call using my virtual PBX phone system or using something like Paypal. The site layouts are new and they keep getting better over time. I remember back when I first started using the web. Back then I didn’t know any better because that’s what I was used to. The sites were terrible and I’m not sure how I coped. You get used to how things are and when something changes you quickly forget what a difference it makes. It’s interesting to think about where web design will be in couple of years.

Web Languages

The development of CSS and HTML5 has allowed developers to do a lot more with web development and design. This has come to light with some of the sites that are active nowadays. It makes websites look futuristic and gives them capabilities that we wouldn’t have even thought about. It also allows designers to use their imagination and do what they want. They can use features such as CSS animations to make websites perform the way they want. These sorts of things were once only available with JavaScript and other languages. There are also services such as Modernizr which allows developers to see what features will work on certain devices and users. Using Modernizr they can add features for certain users and make backups for others that can’t access certain parts of sites depending on their hardware or other reasons.


This also ties in with SAAS . SAAS is where software is being hosted on a website. I could remotely connect to the site from anywhere. With the site being responsive I can then use it on any of my devices. This is a good thing and doesn’t require me to download anything extra. SAAS websites are starting to work and feel like actual software. It’s amazing seeing this trend and how easy things are becoming part of our everyday lives.

Where To Go From Here

My overall thoughts on the recent trends of web design and their uses in web based products are favorable. I think that it has already made a massive difference in the way we use and develop websites. It also affects how websites work into our everyday lives. The recent uprising of SAAS has shown how websites and cloud based systems can replace downloadable software and other packages. Now it is easier for us. Design is at the heart of that. Making things easier is all about design. If a website is not designed well and a user can’t figure out how to use it then the site is useless. I’m excited to see where these trends go and what the future of web design is.

Selling Products Via Top Flight Web Design

A good friend of mine has recently been busy conducting interviews for the open position of a developer/web designer in his company. In one of his questions, he was asking the candidates to design web pages that would encourage the customers to purchase two entirely different products: A water ionizer machine and a mattress.

Interview question always attract me. They give you an opportunity to think beyond routine stuff, especially when you haven’t interviewed for a new job in a while. I exercised my creative muscles and here’s my version of the solutions.

The Mattress

Instead of confusing the customers with the wide range of choices available in the market, I would rather put up a small questionnaire first. The questions would include the size of mattress they are looking for, what kind of positions they generally fall asleep in (as choices would differ for a side sleeper and a back sleeper), and also questions about the price range they are looking for. I would have a drop down for each question, so that they have limited and fixed choices and the survey can be finished quickly.

The drop down could be an interactive one, which means that, if a particular answer is chosen for a question then the choices available for the next questions will change accordingly. If we go for an interactive drop-down, then I would choose the AJAX callback to populate the dropdown values over a full page refresh. This would ensure quick completion of the survey.
After the survey is completed, I would re-direct the user to a table displaying the top 5 mattresses that met their requirements described in the survey. I would expect the table to be instrumental in driving the sales.

The water ionizer machine

Now, this is an offbeat product and it called for some online research to know more about it. I asked my friend why he chose this. He told that he wanted to know how the candidates would present such an obscure product. Sounded like a good interview technique to me.
Let’s get back to creating the page. A water ionizer machine purchase has many factors to consider and much more complicated concepts to come to terms with such as ORP, PHP, electrolysis etc. I would try to simplify the information that surrounds this product, by putting the descriptions for each of these terms in a noticeable position on the page. I would try to ease the understanding of each factor by providing different mediums like videos, tables etc.
Too much information could also be intimidating for a customer. It would be appropriate to hide different pointers in the form of pop-up divs, so that they get to see it only when they want to know more details.
I would again suggest the use of a table as the centerpiece for the page. A table summarizes a lot of information in a simplified manner. I would add the feature of sorting on criteria like user rating, price and other factors. I would prefer the sorting to be hosted by the client, so that the customer need not wait for the server to post back each time they do a sort.

So that’s it! This summarizes my interview answers. I sent them to my buddy asking if I would hypothetically get the job. He replied saying that my answers might led to a second interview, but only if the competition wasn’t up to much!

Buddies hey – they never stop with the banter!

Hotmail vs Gmail A Rough Overview


This has constantly been the most popular email service on the internet. Its success is generally due to massive publicity and around the world services. As a result it has now become the default e-mail service for most starting Web users. If you want an email address, you go to Hotmail. It was hardly threatened by other companies until the current launch of Google’s Gmail. A year or so ago, Hotmail offered a measly 2 MB storage for e-mail Then out of the blue, Gmail introduced a huge 1 GB email service for public use. Thankfully for Hotmail, Gmail is presently in beta and just offered with an invite based signup. Hotmail in an effort to combat Google has now increased email capacity to 250 MB in an effort to rival Gmail. Personally, I don’t really care for Hotmail. Its pages load slower than other providers and ads are literally everywhere. Even with 250MB, the capacity is still little in small compared to Gmail and Yahoo Mail. Being the biggest provider of e-mail, it is also the most targeted by hackers and unauthorized users.

On the other hand it has the backing of Microsoft, that has usually high quality spam and virus filters, it has nice HTML e-mail features as well and it works magnificently with other Microsoft items such as MSN Messenger and MSN Spaces.


Released as an invite just beta on April 1, 2004 (no it was not an April Fool’s joke) Gmail made totally free email history when it announced that its new email service would boast a huge 1GB of totally free e-mail storage. This was 500 times what Hotmail and 250 times what Yahoo provided at the time and hence users worldwide simply couldn’t get enough of Gmail. Individuals who were fortunate enough to get an invitation were usually fantastic beta testers, but some started offering these invitations on websites like eBay. I myself was one of the fortunate to get an invitation from Gmail in its early stages. At the time most users were given no more than 10 invitations to hand out. Today I have 50, with rapidly replenishment of these after use. Personally, I enjoy Gmail. It’s got a clean and quick interface, with really simple to use features. It’s storage is excellent, but few users will ever utilize even half of the area. It’s spam filters are good, however I would need to state Hotmail did much better at the task. POP and IMAP access are now available, along with email forwarding.

Even Gmail has its cons. It lacks extensive HTML email support. It does not have some typical features like other e-mail services, such as a choice of spam filter level, the capability to trash messages quickly as well as doesn’t work well (works just in plain HTML mode) with Opera and other older browsers.
There have actually been 2 privacy problems raised with Gmail. The unobtrusive and normally clean looking ads on the right of the majority of pages are contextual. This suggests these ads are generated based on page content, or in this case email material. For that reason every time you view an email, your email material is analysed and after that converted into ads for Google’s earnings. According to Google, this is all done by robots not human beings, and therefore the e-mail is never ever read by any humans, but none the less, numerous users get freaked out when they see their e-mail posted in ad-form on the right of the screen.

The other personal privacy issue is that of trashed messages. With 1GB of space, Gmail encourages users not to delete messages, but only to archive them for later viewing. If a user chooses to trash a message anyhow, there is a clause in the Gmail personal privacy policy which triggers some conflict. The clause mentions that after removal of an email, Google can keep it in storage for as long as it wishes. For that reason, when you trash a message and expect it to be gone for life, it might be just simply resting on a Google server, waiting to be accessed by unauthorized users.

Many folks are connecting Gmail. Will you fall under a 1GB storage temptation to offer your personal privacy? Well I personally do not worry about these privacy allegations, but you need to make up your own mind.

Web Design Showcase: 5 Best Paintball Websites

1. Ministry of Paintball

The Ministry of Paintball website visually resembles a military recruitment page, creating instant appeal in its association with the aura of armed forces. The text is minimized to a short and sweet introductory paragraph that sells the company well and encourages you to select further options on the page. Catering for several different countries, the page advertises its variety of global sites with sensibly sized pictures of flags that correspond to a particular country. Hovering over these images causes the flags to light up in their original colors; adding welcome patches of visual enrichment. They also act as links to each respective country’s Ministry of Paintball site. It is an extremely simplistic but effective webpage; with additional informational bullet points at the base of the page also adding value.

2. Delta Force Paintball

This URL for Delta Force Paintball features an expansive selection of drop-down menus across the top of the page, whilst including important info such as “Booking”, “FAQ’s”, and “Contacts” separated from the rest of the text on the right-hand side in larger, bolder writing. The webpage has customer reviews and general news down the right side, with a slideshow of images of celebrity game players acting as the biggest image on the page; encouraging visitors to join in and participate with famous stars who have previously visited Delta Force paintballing locations. The site also features a list of reasons to attend and participate in Delta Force paintball sites, along with links to their own specific paintball “Game Zones”, “Guns and Gear”, and “Paintball Locations”.

3. Task Force Paintball

Upon visiting the Task Force Paintball URL, a relevant video begins playing; forcing the visitor to instantaneously engage and interact with the site. Quick links on the left-hand side are immediately visible and contain all the necessary information including: booking, prices, and information packs. Several other links are also available across the top of the page. The black, orange and green color palate of the site allows for a simultaneous sense of professionalism and lighthearted fun . It is very easy to navigate, and contains a bold contact number in the top-right hand corner: making Task Force Paintball appear as an extremely approachable and available company.

4. UK Paintball

A particularly user-friendly feature of this site is the visually-arresting interactive calendar on the right-hand, with drop-down list of geographical areas above it. This makes checking availability across all locations both simple and easy. The feature allowing the visitor to enter their postcode to find their own nearest paintballing site is also a nice touch in this respect. A contact number is clearly visible in the top-right-hand corner, with a colorful slideshow in the middle of the page, along with a series of links across the top. The site also advertises itself as being able to immediately cater for a wide variety of clients by advertising info for “Stag & Hens” and also “Corporate Days”. The site also showcases the gear they provide quite nicely, you can see the Tippmann 98 Customs available for rent in several pictures.

5. Horizon Paintball

Users of the Horizon Paintball site are able to find their nearest paintballing location by entering their postcode, and can also use the interactive map on the right-hand side of the page to determine if their location has a Horizon facility nearby. The centralized slideshow provides colorful and exciting images of the Horizon locations and games, and the price of a day out is immediately visible as soon as the site loads up. The contact number is bright and bold across the middle of the page, and there are several links across the top which guide the visitor to respective areas of the site including: location info, booking, equipment, and game zones.

Make A Difference With Mobile Friendly Designs

As a web designer I started creating websites in the 90s in pure html at a time when you had to manually write every line of html code. Since then I have seen many significant changes over the years. A lot of those changes have vastly improved the user experience on the web, and this doesn’t even take into account the improvements in search engines and connection speeds.

One of the most significant changes in the last 5 years has come through the advent of mobile technology like tablets and Smartphones. At first, companies like Apple focused on making it easier for people to navigate standard websites by zooming in on specific areas. This does work fine, but it was not the most user friendly way to present information. Many people got frustrated and company’s noticed far less user interaction with their web portals from mobile devices than they did from desktop and notebook ones.

This has led to web designers coming up with very innovative solutions, which would now be categorized as responsive. What this means is that a website is designed to respond to the type of device that is trying to connect in different ways. On the one hand you have the traditional computer browser, and on the other hand you have mobile devices. Each one displays a website slightly differently, with the navigation and presentation made easier for mobile devices.

Let’s take a look at some examples. First up is The site is incredibly user friendly on a phone and tablet and it has incredibly fast load speeds. This is achieved by implementation of very regiment responsive design from the core of the website up. Interaction is very simple with the use of very common and well known symbols for social media interaction and connection.

A mediocre example would be the home phone technology site They supple best cordless phones reviews for cordless home and office phone systems. They also offer reviews and tips for better and cheaper home phone services, which means that they are heavily text based. Individual sections are easily navigated to but the text needs to be organized in a better way that makes it more presentable and easier to follow on a small screen. This could be done by splitting articles and posts or by simplifying the content.

One of the most confusing mobile sites I have encountered is the Barnes & Noble one. I like it as an alternative to Amazon, and have used their main site for many years. But their mobile site is not a friendlier version of the main site, where you navigate and browse. It is simple a separate service which makes it easier to search for titles. This is fine if you know exactly what you want, but a lot of people like to browse for new and popular titles.

These are literally just 3 examples that I found when doing some research for this article and I’m sure there are tons of others. Over the years I have seen this many times, technology changes and companies either fail to adapt or they adapt this new technology in a mediocre or counter productive way.

Some UX Tips To Boost Your Site CRO

There is a lot of talk these days about web design and conversions going hand in hand.

What are the things that make unique visitors into customers? Does it matter heavily on the UX (User Experience) of any given site? Is it more of a question about UI (User Interface)?

A lot of these questions come to mind when I surf across the web looking for different site ideas and inspirations for my projects. If you ask me, I don’t think there is any real way to tell unless you have concrete figures to support your conclusions, and even that is limited to your actual site, the topic your site is about, your target market and their respective inclinations, etc.

For this particular post, I spent some time finding some sites that illustrate some points that I may or may not agree with and you can check them out below. Please take note though that these are only my own personal opinions and the owners of these sites are not in any way allowing me to comment on their work per se… what can I say? It’s a free world, right?

My Go To CRO Resource

I read a great book about website conversion by a certain Benji Rahban. It’s called Convert Every Click and argues the point that most webmasters or website owners don’t really maximize the CRO (conversion rate optimization) potential of their sites.

Getting visitors to convert into customers is not as simple as posting up an opt-in and calling it a day! He believes sites should be split-tested and tweaked to be optimized to oblivion and that way you are ALWAYS making the most out of your traffic. Human user experience and technical features on your site should be focused on catering to this in particular before anything else.

The book has plenty of material to sink your teeth into and it comes with great, actionable suggestions that anyone can apply to their website portfolio right away. I suggest you check it out!

Some Live Examples

It makes me wonder about a site like this. It’s obviously out to market a water filter or two but does it really do a good job at keeping the user engaged?

The Good Stuff:

1. It’s simple and straightforward with plenty of breathing room for the user’s eyes (i.e. it’s not tiring to read the text)

2. The overall layout is very clean looking

3. You understand exactly what the page is about and there is plenty of good information available

The Bad Stuff:

1. Lack of video? C’mon it’s 2014… video is some of the best user engagement content out there and thanks to YouTube, it’s all FREE. How hard would it be to include some water filter pitcher videos here? (CLICK HERE)

2. There is no opt-in. Email opt-in may be super old by now but it hasn’t gone the way of the dodo yet!

3. No product descriptions!

Here’s another site. This one is trying to barter off a few wooden porch swings as it may seem!

The Good Stuff:

1. I’m digging the pine wood background against the forest green… nice choice!

2. Again, some great information on the topic available…

The Bad Stuff:

1. Again no video or opt-in

2. No product descriptions either.

3. Overall, if I were a visitor to this site, I may or may not be convinced that this is what I was looking for.


At the end of the day, neither of these sites is terrible. There is some good information that a user may find useful and to be fair, the UX for both of them was smooth enough in my own tests. Going back to the book though, these are great examples of sites that do not maximize UX and UI too well. There is still room for improvement and I am sure that visitor engagement will soon follow once some of these simple tips are applied.

So, to any of the webmasters out there who may be reading along (and the webmasters of these sites in particular!), if you think that you have fully optimized your sites for 2014 and 2015 as well, think again! Another conversion is so close–I can practically smell it.

Thanks for reading! Let me know if you liked these tips in the comments below.

3 Suggestions on having a Visually Appealing Webpage

1. Use images and video appropriately

At Happy Healthy Ellipticals you can see good use of images throughout the page. The image of a smiling woman next to her exercise machine is right there on the page before you even scroll down. It is interwoven with the text and doesn’t distract or take over the page. It is a friendly, simple image, complementing the general theme and design of the page. If you scroll down or look elsewhere on this site, you will see the same thing. There is never too much text without an image somewhere breaking up the visual monotony of too much text content. Embedding a video in a page can be another way to break up that visual monotony, and a relevant video can say more to your viewer quicker than all that content can!

2. Opt for a sleek, modern theme.

You can have this specially designed for you, or if, like most amateur website owners, you are perhaps using a format such as WordPress and will be choosing from a range of readymade themes. You will want to choose something that looks contemporary, and fits with the theme of what your site is about. Digital Mash is my favourite example of this. Because this is a website for a designer, it is more important than ever that the clean aesthetic comes through in his website. You can spend a lot of time exploring this site, as it truly is a beautiful thing.

3. Consider Your Color Scheme

What does your color scheme say about your website. It is about something modern? Something earthy? Is it about space, and light and air? So many different moods can be evoked through a website’s use of colors, so think carefully and choose wisely when deciding what palette to use. Something bold and striking, or something neutral and minimal? give a wonderful example of good color use. They have chosen a lot of light in the background, complemented with grey and shades of green (which of course relates to the website name). The mood created is fresh and simple, reassuring for a site which is about easy ways to manage money. Fresh. Simple.

And finally….

It’s one of the oldest maxims in design, but still people need reminded every day. Less is more. I will repeat that: LESS IS MORE. Every day I see websites that try to cram so much stuff onto every page. The result just becomes a clutter. Not to mention the effect all those photos and moving images and gifs will have on your page’s load time? It slows down your site, and it slows down processing time for the poor viewer. Are you guilty of doing this? If so, go through your sites now and remove everything that is not necessary. If the page looks cluttered, all it will do is put people off. So go clean it up right now!

Aspire ID has some wonderful examples of before and after images from different websites. Compare their sites to yours, and if you look more like the ‘before’ shots than the ‘after’ shots, then you’ve got some work to do!

Top 5 Graphic Design Blogs Of 2014

The world of website design, with its increasing reliance on graphics, is a highly competitive field. One day you could be praised as the best designer in the business, while the next … forgotten. Or, the opposite could be true. You’re an obscure designer creating a logo for a nameless site with a WordPress page. An executive notices the design and hires you as lead-designer for his multibillion dollar company. With the appearance of graphic design blogs, a whole new area of expertise has come into being. To honor those who have dedicated themselves to designing the best graphic blogs possible, here is a list of my top five for 2014.


Originally, Fabio Sasso started this site in 2006 to keep his artwork safe on the internet as a backup after a robbery. Over time, what started out as a simple website, turned into one of the world’s best graphic blogs. Showcasing artwork, interviews with top level designers, as well as case studies and Photoshop tutorials, it is now one of the finest on the internet. It has become a central hub for all graphics designers.

Ultimate Archery HQ

Ultimate Archery HQ started out as a modestly designed informative website about archery. It provided information about the best recurve bows, crossbows, longbows, and compound bows. As Ultimate Archery HQ became more popular, they decided to upgrade the look and design of the website, since the original site was designed with basic HTML and left much to be desired. Today, using WordPress, HTML5, jQuery, and Java, websites can be greatly improved. With these new software tools, Ultimate Archery HQ was modernized to such an extent that it is now one of the sharpest in the outdoor living category.


Designmodo is a full service provider of website design aids. Its main product is Startup Framwork for WordPress. Its slick design and awesome graphics makes it a pleasure to navigate this website. Along with its products, it provides a wide range of information to aid you in your webdesigns.


Baubauhaus is a virtual smorgasbord, loaded with graphics and images of all types. Created by Sefan Lucut and Andrei Don, it is updated daily with photography, fashion creations, illustrations, and designs to help you keep your brain inspired. Sefan and Andrei call their creation a “garden full of images.”

The Logo Smith

Created by Graham Smith and started in 2003, The Logo Smith is a place where Graham shares his take on different company logos and the reason behind their ideas. Fast forward to 2010, a new site upgrade with logos, great looking photos, and killer banners. Though the site has a new look, the quality of his content is still very much the same. He still provides great information and helps out new or veteran graphic designers.

Well, there you have it, folks. These are my five best graphic design blogs of 2014. Even though I have only showcased five, there are beautiful blogs all over the internet. Contact us if you find one that I should take a look at.