10 Best Graphic Design Blogs Today

What makes for a great blog? Great content. Knowing what your readers want and giving it to them is the only way to launch and maintain a popular blog. When it comes to graphic designers, there’s no shortage of blogs with great content. Designers love tips, tricks, tutorials, interviews, inspiration, portfolios, freebies and other material published by many graphic design blogs. And given that many blogs publish the same type of material, it can be difficult to pick which to regularly read. There are hundreds of outstanding graphic design blogs out there, but here are my picks for the top 10 best graphic design blogs today. Do you agree?

1. Grain Edit

Grain Edit focuses on graphic design work produced from the 1950s to the 1970s and contemporary designers who are inspired by those styles. What I like is that you will find designs showcased here that you won’t find anywhere else, so you get a fresh perspective – even if the original styles are dated.

2. Just Creative

The blog of working designer Jacob Cass is a longtime favorite, primarily because Cass offers real-world, real useful information that others leave out.

3. Logo Design Love

Created by expert brand designer David Airey, Logo Design Love has an authentic voice and a penchant for relevance.

4. Designrfix

A mash up of various design topics, often written by guest contributors, Designrfix has a little of something for everyone. Its editors take care to ensure a unique experience.

5. Graphic Design Blender

You won’t find any Photoshop tutorials here. Instead, you’ll get advice about the business side of graphic design – a must-read for any graphic designer who wants to achieve greater success.

6. AisleOne

This blog is devoted to minimalist design, typography, grids and modernism — essentially, contemporary design.

7. Design Observer

If you want premium content, start with Design Observer. The articles are outstanding and written by expert sources.

8. Mark Boulton

Successful designer, publisher, and speaker Mark Boulton lends his unique insight into the world of design and also shares stories about some of his more interesting work on his blog.

9. Speckyboy

At first glance, it might seem like a catch-all; but make no mistake, this blog is well-edited and features articles about web design and more.

10. Naldz Graphics

Hands-down one of the most useful graphic design blogs on the web.

 

What’s your favorite graphic design blog?

 

Top photo plug-in to enhance a WordPress Blog

WordPress is immensely popular among CMS (Content Management System) users because it has a vast number of plug-in. Plug-in helps users to enhance their experience vastly. There is virtually nothing that plug-in cannot do – they can help users to navigate the website with ease, enhance the use of fonts, monitor site performance, help in SEO performance and of course they can make your images and photos look great.

Plug-in can also help to link your blog with social media like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, and even help you optimize your web pages to download faster. This is only the tip of the iceberg, there is more to plug-in than you may have imagined.

Little we need to say about the importance of graphics, images and videos for your website. They not only help to illustrate your writings, but also help you to say everything in a nutshell. Images and photos play a very important role in bringing more visitors to your blogs or website, and more important they must be friendly toward users who may have slow internet connection which can hinder user experience.

By installing special plug-in for photos on your website, you can enhance your WordPress blog by leaps and bounds. You should also consider making your website responsive. By making it compatible with different screen sizes, you will be able to win more visitors, and at the same time be able give them a better experience.

Here are some plug-in you must try on your WordPress blog.

Hammy

The principal object of Hammy is to generate multiple sizes of the images you load on your website. It helps to present the right size to your blog viewers, by resizing them appropriately for their screen. Mobile users will particularly find the feature very useful. Hammy depends on the new WP 3.5 image code for performance and that means it does not have to depend on any external codes to run it.

One of the special features of Hammy is it is compatible with Retina display and re-filters the image every single time, and that makes it compatible with a large number of image sizes. You also get great support for Hammy and it is also easy to install.

Hammy is compatible with WordPress version 3.5 and up to 3.5.1. To download the latest version of the plug-in click here.

Lazy Load

Lazy Load is great when you expect your users to have low internet speed (users with high speed connection also benefit). Lazy Load achieves this by loading the image or photo only when it is visible to the viewer. Installing the plug-in is fairly simple, and all that you have to do is upload the plug-in to the directory and activate it through the Plugins menu in WordPress. You will particularly like the fact that Lazy Load uses jQuery.sonar.

To learn more about the plug-in, installation instructions, screen shots and support click here. Lazy Load is compatible with WordPress version 3.2 and higher up to 3.4.2. More than 35,000 users are already using it. You can download the latest version of the plug-in by clicking here.

Imsanity

The advantage of using Imsanity is you don’t have to bother about resizing the images you upload on your website. It will automatically resize it to a compatible size when sending them to browsers. This can immensely save you time and effort. More than the advantage that accrues to you, it also helps others who may be uploading their images and photos in the same way as it helps you. If you already have a large repository of photos and images, then Imsanity is for you because you can use for bulk resizing as well.

The other features users like are height to width configuration, BMP to JPEG conversion for optimization and scaling. Once the images and photos are resized there is very little attention you may have to give further.

For using Imsanity to work, you should have WordPress version 2.9 or higher up to 3.4.2 running your website. Imsanity has been downloaded more than 20,000 times. The latest version of Imsanity is 2.1.6. To download the plug-in click here.

CW Image Optimizer

CW Image Optimizer is ideal for those who want to resize their photos and images without losing on quality. Another advantage of the plug-in is you can also optimize the images and photos you have already loaded on your blog. The main advantage of using this plug-in is does not compromise on quality in spite of the reduced file size, help make faster backups of images and photos and consumes lesser bandwidth for you and your users. Still a bigger advantage of this plug-in is it does all the processing on your server itself without the need for third-party intervention.

For support and other details click here. The run CW Image Optimizer your WordPress blog must run on version 2.9 or higher and up to 3.5.1. CW Image Optimizer has been downloaded by more than 12,000 users so far. To download the latest version 1.1.9 click here.

PB Responsive Images

No modern website that has mass visitors in mind can ignore this plug-in. If you are already the writing on the walls you must be aware of the fact that blog readers are increasingly using mobile devices to do it. For them images can be problem if they don’t fit well in their screen. PB Responsive Images plug-in solves this problem by resizing the images to fit most handheld devices. Help for using the plug-in is available on the ‘Help’ tab of the plug-in itself. You can make use of the tab for configuring the plug-in to fit your requirements.

Your WordPress installation must be at least version 3.0 or higher and up to 3.4.2. There is a learning curve to the plug-in, but considering the usefulness, you shouldn’t mind that. Users have rated this plug-in high, and you should consider it seriously for your website.

For installation details, screen shots, reviews and information for developers click here. To download the latest version of PB Responsive Images click here.

Your Thoughts

Share your thoughts on which among the listed plugin you have tried & found it to be useful.

Author’s bio:

Kathryn Smith, the author of this post is an all-round blogger, who also identifies various call lookup websites in order to help people stay away from scam calls.

Useful Web Design and Development Tools You Haven’t Seen Before

The new wave of the internet appears to be web apps and services. Combined with the mobile revolution, developers are creating highly functional and user-friendly applications to allow you to be more productive, more organized and less stressed in all aspects of your life.

There are apps for everything from time tracking and invoicing, to fashion recommendations and styling tips, to web design and development apps.

In this post, I’ve rounded up some useful web design and development tools that you haven’t seen before based on web developer tools reviews from other users.

 

Codepen

Codepen is a way for developers to share snippets of code for learning and sharing purposes.

Devrocket

DevRocket is an iOS development panel plug-in that provides Adobe Photoshop with additional iOS specific tools and functionalities that are designed to assist key areas in iOS app design for all iPhone models (including the iPhone 5) and all iPad models.

CSS3PS

A free cloud based photoshop plugin that converts your layers to CSS3.

Responsive IE6

Responsive Web Design is here to stay. Unfortunately, though, older browsers don’t quite understand these newfandagled media queries or whatnot. Just put in a URL, and resize!

Live Form Builder

This is a nice little interactive form builder that lets you generate HTML and CSS for your forms.

CSSHat

CSS Hat turns Photoshop layer styles to CSS3. Instantly.

Button Builder

Like the interactive form builder earlier in this list, this Button Builder is an interactive button designer that generates code for you.

Pixel Plant

Systematically and automatically transform Flash media created in Version 9 and above with ActionScript 3. Animated and interactive “rich media” features are converted into fully editable HTML5 code.

Mocku.ps

Mocku.ps is the ideal tool for designers to present and share their mockups. Precisely.

PSD Organizer

PSD Organizer is a panel that renames all your layers in a clean, structured manner to keep things organized and easy to use.

Your Turn

Share with us which of the tools listed here your liked the most or let us know any specific tools you used during your design & development process.

Keep Your Favorite Photos Safe With These Backup Methods

Whether you’re a casual-yet-enthusiastic street photographer or someone who likes to take pictures of friends and family, keeping your precious photos safe is undoubtedly a priority. However, leaving them on the cameras memory card isn’t the solution.

We suggest using any two of the following methods of backup, to ensure the safety of these cherished images:

 

 

1. External Storage Devices

It’s pretty simple: Take out the memory stick or card from your camera, insert it in your computer and then choose your external storage device of choice:

CD, DVD and Blu-ray Disc: Standard versions of these media use an aluminum alloy in the manufacturing process, which is highly susceptible to corrosion. Buy the gold versions for archive-quality durability and reliability.

Thumb or Flash Drives: These are easy to transport, but don’t offer a lot of storage capacity.

Portable External Hard Drives: Larger storage capacity, less portability.

Make multiple copies and vary your options for optimal storage. If one fails or is lost, you’ll have a backup of the backup.

2. Cloud-Based Methods

Cloud-based methods of backup are exploding in popularity. The cloud enables you to store your documents, images and media safe and secure online. If you’re unsure about how these work, there are ample cloud storage for dummies tutorials available. Simply put, cloud-based backup means your images are stored at a remote location that can be safely accessed online.

By using the cloud and one of the previously mentioned external storage devices, you’ll have a strong combination of backup. Look for easily integrated solutions that offer multiple management solutions. Link the camera to your computer and create a couple of discs with a cloud-based sync. You’ll be a pro at cloud-based backup in no time.

3. Online Galleries

If you don’t have time to use an external storage device and you want an additional method to back up your data, why not use an online gallery? This is another form of online storage. Simply open an account with an online gallery service (think Flickr, Shutterfly or Photobucket) that stores your photos online. Not only does this method provide a backup solution for you, but youll have a mechanism to share and order pictures, too.

Backing up your photos doesn’t have to be difficult or time-consuming; just save them to your desktop, laptop or tablet, and then go for any one-two backup combinations above (if you’re unsure what format you should be saving them in, investigate which format is best for what). If that’s a thumb drive and an online gallery, great; if it’s with a Blu-ray and a cloud-based solution, that works just as well, too. Whether you choose an external device, cloud-based option or a company that offers online backups, you can be assured that your images will be available, safe and easy to access from anywhere.

Tips and Apps for Focusing on What Matters

Finding focus in a demanding job and with many distractions at hand is a challenge. I find sometimes it’s easy to be tempted to visit a social media site. Or, I might ignore a pressing matter to spend time on something that’s not a priority.

However, with the right approach to your workday and a few low-cost tools, you might be surprised at how much more you can accomplish.

Use Distraction-Free Software

Apps for the Windows, Mac OS, and all major smartphone platforms are available that can help you clear out user interface clutter.

  • Cluttercloak and Isolator: These desktop software apps for Windows and Mac help you eliminate distractions by darkening your screen except the window you’re currently working on.
  • DarkRoom and WriteRoom: Available for Windows and Mac, these two word processing programs take over your entire screen, feature no buttons and offer very few text formatting options. Use them to focus exclusively on writing.
  • Browser Plugins: StayFocused for Chrome, LeechBlock for Firefox and Mindful Browsing for Safari enable you to specify websites to be blocked. Once installed, you might be surprised how often you encounter their website-blocking prompts.

Don’t Let E-Mail Rule Your Day

As vital as it is to just about anyone’s job, spending needless time on e-mail can distract you from more pressing matters or interrupt the pace of your workflow.

  • Only Check Your E-Mail Periodically: Unless your work truly does center around e-mail, turn off all e-mail desktop alerts and don’t peek into your inbox at random. Instead, wait for intervals of 30 minutes or longer.
  • Designate a Time to Act on E-Mail: When I do check my inbox and I find e-mails that don’t demand an immediate response, I often leave them there. I won’t respond to them, add any Gmail labels, or archive them. Instead, I use a designated time each morning to take all appropriate actions for these messages.
  • Turn Off Social Media E-Mails: Don’t let new follower/friend requests interrupt your day and tempt you to waste time on social media sites. Instead, sign up for the free service NutShellMail, which will send you a daily digest of all your social media account activity.

Maintain a Task List or Other System

Use a system of one kind or another to keep track of your daily and long-term obligations and goals. Even if that system is not as complicated as Getting Things Done, for instance, you can still achieve focus by knowing what you need to do and what you should be focusing on at any moment.

  • Wunderlist: This free task management system is easy to use and remarkably effective. I use its web-based interface on my home and work PCs. Plus, its smartphone app is available for iOS and Android, so you can stay up-to-date whether you’re using an iPhone or a  T-Mobile best smartphone option.

Share Your Thoughts

We would like to know your ideas & tips on how you focus while working. Share the same in the comments below.

Guest Post by Ashlee

Ashlee McCullen is a staff writer for ApronAddicts.com, a website about kitchen fashion and home style. She also writes about mobile technology and self-improvement.