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10 Reasons Websites Should Not Play Music

A website that starts playing music or talking at me as soon as its first page loads is not such a good idea. It seems that some website creators really don’t think through what they are doing and who they are doing it for.

Are you guilty? Step into my usability courtroom and allow me to present the case for the prosecution…

1. Simply The Best

Look at the most commercially successful websites. Does Amazon play music automatically? Does Facebook? Does Ebay? Does Google? What about Yahoo, or IMDB? The answer in all cases is no. Why? Because they’ve done their research (they can afford to, after all). And their research told them it was a bad idea. Isn’t it great that you can benefit from this research without paying for it?

2. No Accounting For Taste

There is no music that all of your visitors will like. Not everyone likes Mozart, not everyone likes Metallica, and relatively few people like elevator ambient background music. For every visitor that comes to your site and thinks “cool” there will be at least one who will think “ick!” and never return.

3. Mixing It Up

A visitor might be listening to a quiet classical CD using their PC with headphones. They click to your site, which then adds a hip-hop beat to the mix at four times the volume, making their ears bleed. Hitting the back button and remembering your site name takes less time than finding your wierd-looking “stop” or “pause” button. You’ll never see that visitor again.

4. Share And Enjoy

4. Someone may be using their laptop in an open-plan office without headphones, and may have forgotten to mute the sound. Your site may be relevant to their needs, but if the music that suddenly blares out embarrasses them or annoys their colleagues (or worse still their boss), you can bet they won’t visit again or recommend you to others.

5. You’re Nicked

Are you sure you have the right to add that particular track to your website? If you didn’t compose and record it yourself, you’d better be very sure, or start putting a lot of money aside ready for when the Warner Brothers or Sony legal team comes knocking at your door.

6. We Can Multitask

With tabbed browsing, it’s often convenient to middle-click several search engine results and then flick through them. If your site is one of those results, and it starts playing music, and your visitor doesn’t want that music, they have to flick through the tabs until they work out which site is offending them. You can bet they’ll close that tab. And imagine what happens if two of the websites they clicked start playing music – a horrible cacophany that will have your visitor reaching for their browser’s “Exit” button.

7. Of Lipstick and Pigs

You may think it really gives your website that finishing touch of “pizazz”. OK, let’s turn that statement around. You’re seriously saying that your website isn’t interesting enough unless you add automatically-playing music to it? Man, you’re in trouble. Or your designer is.

8. The Science Bit

Assuming you’re still ignoring every point made so far, and you actually get a visitor who stays on your front page while music plays at them, and amazingly enough clicks a further link in your site, how do you keep the audio track from stopping and starting again? That’s right, you’ll be using a frame or iframe. Or your site is entirely Flash-based. Or both. Well done, you’ve just broken the back button and hindered the ability of search engines to find and index your site properly.

9. Money, Money, Money

Any decent length music loop, let alone a full track, will probably use up a higher proportion of your bandwidth than the rest of your site put together. Are you ready for those extra bills?

And finally…

10. Reason For Living

“But it’s a band website!” So, you know how to use a “play” button, don’t you? So do your visitors.

 

Original article here: 10 Reason websites should not play music

Another article on the subject: Why you should avoid background music on your website.

Folklore – Wine Dinner

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Toulouse-Lautrec -style, rough edges

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Modern Style

SEO and SEM

Getting traffic from search engines

A common question we hear is “How do I get higher position on Google?”

seo

Before we get to the how, let’s take a look at the two primary types of results displayed by the major search engines.

Search engines display two different types of results “organic search results” (what shows up in the main body area) and the paid search results (the ads that show up on the right hand side of Google). To have a positive effect on the organic results and rank your site on a search engine like Google, your website has to be considered one the most relevant sites returned for a search term queried. It is very important to understand “relevancy”. Search engines look at a number of factors and put weight on each one of them to determine the sites to put on that first page. Some factors are:

  • How relevant is the content to what people are asking for?
  • How old is the domain?
  • How many years more years until it expires?
  • How many sites link to yours?
  • Do you have a properly formatted site map?
  • and many more factors …

SEO Keywords
If we think about how a prospective customer might begin a search and what phrases they might use, we can determine a keyword list.

We start by working out a proper keyword set, comparing that keyword set with a competitor’s set of keywords. Then we “run the numbers”, we check how relevant the keywords are within users search queries. Basically we see how often people are searching for the keywords. We pick the keywords that drive the most traffic and optimize each page for those. Then we incorporate them into your page titles, body content and in your marketing and PPC. With the right planning we can improve ranking and move more traffic to your site. Generally if we do an organic SEO campaign we can see results within 3 to 4 weeks. That does not always mean that a site shows up on the first page of Google for all of the search terms a client might want, but in time we can significantly improve it.

SEM (search engine marketing)

 

For SEM, paid listings PPC (Pay Per Click) are a much more unique animal. Like traditional advertising, the highest bidder with the biggest budget gets the prime spots and is seen the most on the first page of a search query. Simply put, if you are willing to pay a higher amount per click than your competitors, you will get the top placement above the other ads and even on the top of the organic results under “Sponsored Links”. Setting the right price and putting together the right budget helps you get your ad shown for the duration of a day into prime shopping search times. You have to remember that your PPC budget is based on a 30-day duration. So if you run a Google Adword campaign for $100.00 then your daily budget breaks down to only $3.33 a day. If you pay $.40 per click then you will receive up to 8 people a day. So you are basically playing a percentage game.

Next you will now need to watch “Bounce Rate” in your analytics. This is the rate that your web traffic or users click on your ad or on the description of your site in the search results and “bounce out”. If they come to the page that your directed them to and do not find what they are looking for, or if it is not attractive, or if it does not catch their attention in the first few seconds, they leave. Industry average bounce rate is 40%. Usually our goal is to get you under 30%.

Search engine optimization (SEO) is different from search engine marketing (SEM). So which search tactics will give better results? Actually, both tactics can work together and with a clear strategy achieve measurable results. Okay, now let’s build a plan to make them work together.

Logo Design

logoDescribe what you want ?

To produce the perfect design, our designers need to know exactly what you’re looking for. Be as specific as you can to ensure you attract as many designers as possible – it helps to stand out!

What is your business name?


In a sentence or two, describe what your business does


Select your business industrySelect the types of logos you likePlease choose up to 3 different options you might like explored.

  • E.g., VISA, Coca Cola
    Word mark
    Your company name in a stylised type/font becomes the logo.
  • E.g., Apple, Jaguar
    Pictoral mark
    An image or shape that is easily recognizable is used to represent your business.
  • E.g., Nike, Mitsubishi
    Abstract mark
    An abstract shape or symbol is used to convey the values of your business.
  • E.g., McDonalds, cK
    Letter form
    Letters/initials from your business name are used to create a logo.
  • E.g., Harley Davidson, Starbucks
    Emblem
    Business name enveloped by a pictorial element or shape.
  • E.g., KFC, Johnnie Walker
    Character
    A character or mascot to represent your business.
  • E.g., YouTube, Skype
    Web 2.0
    Representing trends from the internet including gradients, rounded corner etc.

What values should your logo communicate?

  • Feminine –  Masculine
  • Young –  Mature
  • Luxury –  Economical
  • Modern –  Classic
  • Playful –  Serious
  • Loud – Quiet
  • Simple – Complex
  • Subtle – Obvious

Do you have any specific colors in mind? Colors

Common associations in Western culture

Red:
Passion, Anger, Vigor, Love, Danger
Yellow:
Knowledge, Energy, Joy, Intellect, Youth
Green:
Fertility, Wealth, Healing, Success, Growth
White:
Purity, Healing, Perfection, Clean, Virtue
Blue:
Knowledge, Trust, Tranquility, Calm, Peace, Cool
Black:
Fear, Secrecy, Formal, Luxury
Purple:
Royalty, Wisdom, Spirituality, Imagination
Orange:
Creativity, Invigoration, Unique, Stimulation
Gray:
Balance, Sophistication, Neutrality, Uncommitted

 

Where will your logo be used?

  • Print (Business cards, letterheads, brochures etc)
  • Online (Website, online advertising, banner ads etc)
  • Merchandise (Mugs, T-shirts etc)
  • Signs (Including shops, billboards etc)
  • Television/screen

 

Do you have any images, sketches or documents that might be helpful?

E.g.Your current logo, photos, illustrations, content, layout ideas etc.

Anything else you’d like to communicate to our designers?

E.g.Demographics of your target audience: age, gender, location, education etc.

Information about your target audience: interests, lifestyle, behaviour, values etc.

Tip:If you have a slogan you would like incorporated then let our designers know here as well.

Web Strategy – the Basics

Although a successful web marketing plan often starts with a new website, it can really be much more (see diagram to the right). It can be a variety of online activities that create traffic, inspire interaction, use social media and convert marketing into sales. If done well, a website redesign should actually be the beginning of an ongoing process – there’s a reason we call a site “going live“.

services-map5

Six steps to “going live

• Re-assess

Critically examine your unique value propositions to potential customers and evaluate your competition. Re-assess how your website should relate to and support other marketing tactics of your company (like lead generation, for example). What worked in the past might not work well today.

• Re-think

What kind of content would viewers look for on your site? How can we tell your story that goes beyond an online brochure? Would audio podcasts, video or other visual media be more effective? How do we convert web traffic from simple awareness to action? How will results be measured?

• Re-purpose

Let’s be smart with your time and money. You may have photos, videos, articles, marketing collateral or industry information that could be effectively re-purposed without reinventing or redoing everything. We also can pull feeds from other news or industry related sites that give your visitors useful content.

• Re-design

An effective design (or redesign) should be consistent with all your marketing collateral and graphic standards. In short, your website design should make you look good. The esthetics are important, as well as a user friendly navigation and it should work across a variety of platforms and devices. The site should provide clear “calls to action”. In other words, what do you want your visitors to do?

• You know the web is very likely where people look for you.

• Your website is where they might first meet you.

• You don’t want it to be the last place they see you.

• Refine

Once your site is live, it’s important to monitor website stats and refine your site. This includes improving ranking in search engines, gaining higher lead pull-throughs and offering better visitor experiences once they find you.  For example, one website stat that is important is how long they stay. That means improving your site’s sticky-ness. Your site should have reasons to go there, reasons to browse & reasons to return. How? There are many ways, but one approach is informational. Finding information in order to learn is the most common reason that people use the web. Information – useful engaging content, industry updates or share-worthy tips are all part of a good website strategy. By doing these activities, even your social media tactics will have a greater impact. Otherwise you could be wasting your time on Twitter, Facebook and such.

• Continually Re-fresh

When was the last time you updated your current site?

Who really controls your company’s website? How long does it take you to get pages updated, and can you change them today — right now if you wanted? You shouldn’t have to pay for every change. You should be able to easily embed things like videos, forums or polls in your site. Your want a site that’s easy to self manage and offers fresh, updated content. MindActive has solutions for that.  … LEARN MORE about the next generation of Content Management Systems.

Syncrum – Symphonic Theme & Teamwork

 

 

Syncrum Comp 01

El Valor – Comp02

Bullhead Cantina “WANTED” Artists Posters

Sahara Windows & Doors

Case Report

This was a project to move and revamp the site, make it look like their other website American Thermal but changing the color scheme to green

[bra_button text=”Launch website »” url=”http://www.saharawindowanddoors.com/” target=”_blank” size=”small” style=”” color=”orange”]

Services used:

[bra_list style=”star-list”]

  • Web design
  • WordPress
  • Slider
  • Graphic Design

[/bra_list]

Chris Bernacchi – Logo Proposal 01

Logo Set #1

Aerstone Business Cards

Te materials may vary from transparent plastic to metallic paper (as in the last set) to the thickness and the texture.

Comp 1

Comp 2

Comp 3

Comp 4

Inti Raymi

Series of presentations for 2012 for Pachacamak Folk Dance

Windows & Mac Common Fonts.

Windows fonts / Mac fonts / Font family
Normal style
Arial, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif
Arial Black, Arial Black, Gadget, sans-serif
Comic Sans MS, Comic Sans MS5, cursive
Courier New, Courier New, monospace
Georgia1, Georgia, serif
Impact, Impact5, Charcoal6, sans-serif
Lucida Console, Monaco5, monospace
Lucida Sans Unicode, Lucida Grande, sans-serif
Palatino Linotype, Book Antiqua3, Palatino, serif
Tahoma, Geneva, sans-serif
Times New Roman, Times New Roman, Times, serif
Trebuchet MS1, Trebuchet MS, sans-serif
Verdana, Verdana, Geneva, sans-serif
Symbol, Symbol (Symbol2, Symbol2)
Webdings, Webdings (Webdings2, Webdings2)
Wingdings, Zapf Dingbats (Wingdings2Zapf Dingbats2)
MS Sans Serif4, Geneva, sans-serif
MS Serif4, New York6, serif

 

Windows fonts / Mac fonts / Font family
Bold style
Arial, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif
Arial Black, Arial Black, Gadget, sans-serif
Comic Sans MS, Comic Sans MS5, cursive
Courier New, Courier New, monospace
Georgia1, Georgia, serif
Impact, Impact5, Charcoal6, sans-serif
Lucida Console, Monaco5, monospace
Lucida Sans Unicode, Lucida Grande, sans-serif
Palatino Linotype, Book Antiqua3, Palatino, serif
Tahoma, Geneva, sans-serif
Times New Roman, Times New Roman, Times, serif
Trebuchet MS1, Trebuchet MS, sans-serif
Verdana, Verdana, Geneva, sans-serif
Symbol, Symbol (Symbol2, Symbol2)
Webdings, Webdings (Webdings2, Webdings2)
Wingdings, Zapf Dingbats (Wingdings2Zapf Dingbats2)
MS Sans Serif4, Geneva, sans-serif
MS Serif4, New York6, serif

1 Georgia and Trebuchet MS are bundled with Windows 2000/XP and they are also included in the IE font pack (and bundled with other MS applications), so they are quite common in Windows 98 systems.

2 Symbolic fonts are only displayed in Internet Explorer, in other browsers a font substitute is used instead (although the Symbol font does work in Opera and the Webdings works in Safari).

3 Book Antiqua is almost exactly the same font that Palatino Linotype, Palatino Linotype is included in Windows 2000/XP while Book Antiqua was bundled with Windows 98.

4 These fonts are not TrueType fonts but bitmap fonts, so they won’t look well when using some font sizes (they are designed for 8, 10, 12, 14, 18 and 24 point sizes at 96 DPI).

5 These fonts work in Safari but only when using the normal font style, and not with bold or italic styles. Comic Sans MS works in bold but not in italic. Other Mac browsers seems to emulate properly the styles not provided by the font.

6 These fonts are present in Mac OS X only if Classic is installed.

Bullhead Cantina

Case Report

Bullhead Cantina is a Taco & Whisky Bar in Humboldt Park in Chicago. The website uses a single page to show all its pages. An extensive gallery-menu for whiskys, and beautiful images by Bogdan Nastase.

[bra_button text=”Launch website »” url=”http://www.bullheadcantinachicago.com/” target=”_blank” size=”small” style=”” color=”orange”]

Services used:

[bra_list style=”star-list”]

  • Web design
  • WordPress
  • Photography
  • Dynamic galleries
  • Blog for events & promotions
  • Social Media Integration

[/bra_list]

Proposals

True HIP-HOP: The Silver Room

Sittercity’s Compendium

Click on the image for a larger view

HOME PAGE

Comp #2: Home page & Article page

First comp here: Comp 01

True Hip Hop

JK Imaging Craft Website

Case Report

JK Imaging and Crafts is a Fine Arts, Giclee Printing and High Quality Crafts company serving the artists and arts lover community in Chicago IL.

[bra_button text=”Launch website »” url=”http://jk.anagam.com/” target=”_blank” size=”small” style=”” color=”orange”]

Services used:

[bra_list style=”star-list”]

  • Web design
  • WordPress
  • Galleries
  • Business Cards
  • Logo Design

[/bra_list]

NYE Flyer

Business Card for JK Imaging and Craft

Bag2


Pilsen Portal

Case Report

Pilsen Portal is a project of the Pilsen Planning Committee and is part of the Smart Communities Program, sponsored by LISC Chicago and City of Chicago’s Digital Excellence Initiative. The Portal is managed by the Resurrection Project and funded through the Federal Technology Broadband Opportunity. Worked in developing a workflow for the administrators and contributors of the site to reinforce the strengths of the site with the community it serves in the Pilsen neighborhood.

[bra_button text=”Launch website »” url=”http://pilsenportal.org” target=”_blank” size=”small” style=”” color=”orange”]

Services used:

[bra_list style=”star-list”]

  • Website management
  • Copywrite
  • Video

[/bra_list]

 

 

Smoke and the Chickpea – Postcard #1

QR-Code Generator

A QR code (abbreviated from Quick Response code) is a type of matrix barcode (or two-dimensional code) designed to be read by smartphones. The code consists of black modules arranged in a square pattern on a white background. The information encoded may be text, a URL, or other data.
Created by Toyota subsidiary Denso Wave in 1994, the QR code is one of the most popular types of two-dimensional barcodes. The QR code was designed to allow its contents to be decoded at high speed.
The technology has seen frequent use in Japan and South Korea; the United Kingdom is the seventh-largest national consumer of QR codes.

http://qrcode.kaywa.com/

 

AnagaM.com 

Diana Solis – Postcard 2011

 

A BETTER WORLD -The Silver Room

Pilsen Portal 2nd Anniversary

 

 

21 Free Music Players For Your Website

Realizing the increasing demand of useful apps across the web, we regularly feature commercial and free software on Handcut Designs, so decided it was time to bring a roundup of free website music related applications to your attention. Just keep in mind that this list isn’t a ranking list of web apps. So, let’s start with this compilation that every web developer, designer and freelancer should consider. You just need to follow few instruction and you’re all set for Listening music online. In this Post you can find your choice of free music player with all the necessary details.

01. Dewplayer

Handcut Designs - Free Music Players For Your Website Read more

Creativo Framing

Case Report

Creativo Framing is a high quality framing company with custom museum, corporate and personal picture framing, archival matting, mounting, canvas stretching, shrink-wrapping, and art installations for private and corporate clients.

[bra_button text=”Launch website »” url=”http://www.creativoframing.com/” target=”_blank” size=”small” style=”” color=”orange”]

Services used:

[bra_list style=”star-list”]

  • Web design
  • WordPress
  • Photography
  • HTML 5

[/bra_list]

Smoke and the Chickpea

[RFG_gallery id=’1′]

Computer Repair

“WE MAKE COMPUTERS COOPERATE!”

Andrew Abbatiello, MCSE – NT/2000 Computer/Networking Consultant ASA Computer Guys, Inc. Tel 847.590.9250 [email protected] www.asacomputerguys.com

ASA Computer Guys is an Information Technology consulting company serving small business and residential clients in the Chicagoland area.We offer you 20 years of expertise. Our technicians are Microsoft certified. Whether you are new to computers or the Internet, or are a power user and just need a helping hand, your computer guys are here to help you with all your computer needs. Take a look at our Services section to see how we can help you. ASA Computer Guys, Inc. P. O. Box 5366 Buffalo Grove, IL 60089 phone ~ 847.590.9250 [email protected] Monday – Friday ~ 9 am – 5 pm Saturday ~ 10 am – 2 pm

SERVICES

Consulting/Advice Adware/Spyware/Virus Cleanup & Removal Internet Security Troubleshooting, Repair, and Maintenance Technical Support Hardware/Software Upgrades Business Network Installation & Administration Home Networking (wired/wireless) DSL/Cable Modem Setup Data Backup/Recovery On-Site Service Or FREE Pickup & Delivery Business & Residential FREE Estimates

RATES

FREE phone estimates on all calls FREE pickup and delivery Labor Rate:  Flat fee on most calls, Hourly Rate with estimates on projects All scheduled onsite service calls must be canceled one hour before arrival

The Freelancer’s Toolset

The Freelancer’s Toolset: 100 Web Apps for Everything You Will Possibly Need

Running a business for yourself means you have to be inventive and always on the lookout for a new and better way to get things done. Innovation junkies, take note: the Internet has a lot to offer. From invoicing to marketing, these are tools that freelancers need to know about.

Organization

If you’re busy with lots of client work, it’s easy for things to get out of hand. Don’t let your work get away from you; organize information and projects with these tools.

  1. Backpack: Get your projects organized by using Backpack. Create to-do lists, notes, files, images and a calendar with reminders that can be sent via email or to your mobile device.
  2. Central Desktop: Collaborate, communicate and share files with clients and coworkers using Central Desktop.
  3. iOrganize: With iOrganize, freelancers can organize work by keeping notes, ideas and bookmarks in one place.
  4. Viapoint: Viapoint makes it easy for freelancers to store emails and files by client or project.
  5. Stikkit: Use Stikkit’s “little yellow notes that think” to keep in touch, plan and collaborate with clients and coworkers.
  6. Webnote: Webnote users can take notes using a web browser, then save and return to the notes on any computer. This is especially helpful if you’re working on-site with a client and have to use a computer other than your own.
  7. Netvibes: Spend less time searching and more time working by customizing your browser’s start page with email, feeds, messaging, job boards and much, much more.

Calendars & To-Do Lists

Client meetings, important events and a never-ending list of things to do can wear you down if you can’t make them manageable. Use these handy calendars and to-do lists to keep your schedule from taking over your business.

  1. Remember The Milk: Remember The Milk reminds you to take care of important tasks, so you’ll never forget when a project is due.
  2. CalendarHub: Use CalendarHub’s web-based calendar to keep track of deadlines and set goals for your business.
  3. Google Calendar: Google Calendar is a web based tool that allows users to organize their schedule, so you’ll always know exactly what you need to be working on.
  4. Planzo: Planzo’s online calendar keeps freelancers connected to events and things to do. It lets you share your events just about anywhere, get a daily digest and receive text message reminders.
  5. Spongecell: Spongecell is an online calendar made for freelancers with lots of meetings and engagements. Plan events, spread the word and allow guests to add content to your calendar.
  6. Neptune: Neptune’s web based to do list tool helps you keep track of the things you need to take care of every day. It lets you email yourself new tasks, get an email report every morning and upload files to store with your projects.
  7. Ta-da List: When you’re busy with lots of projects, it can be hard to keep track of what you’ve accomplished. Make web-based ta-da lists for yourself or other people, then share them and check items off as you go.

Your Money

Money is what keeps your freelance business going, but managing it can be tedious and time consuming. Sure, it’s fun to see money come in, but does anyone really like sending out invoices? Use these tools to make the process of managing your income easier and more enjoyable.

  1. Wesabe: Use Wesabe to keep tabs on where the money in your business goes, helping you to make better financial decisions.
  2. InstaCalc: InstaCalc is a web based calculator with lots of bells and whistles including spreadsheet capabilities, unit conversions and programming commands. It’s great for freelancers because you can send clients links to any of your calculations, put a calculator on your website or create charts and graphs from your calculations.
  3. XE: If you’re working with an overseas client, you may need to handle foreign currencies. Use XE’s currency converter for accurate calculations with up-to-the-minute currency rates.
  4. Dimewise: Use Dimewise’s web-based convenience to manage your business transactions wherever you are.
  5. FreshBooks: FreshBooks offers a program for “painless billing,” so you’ll never have to spend hours sending client invoices out. Designed with service-based businesses in mind, this software provides a method to manage and send invoices, handle work orders and generate reports with ease.

Storage

Do you have too many client files clogging up your hard drive? Use these services to take a load off.

  1. openonmy: openonmy’s website offers storage for files up to 1GB. These files are made to be accessible from any computer, so you can open them up even when on-site with a client.
  2. Sharefile: ShareFile allows you to create a custom-branded, password-protected space where you can exchange business files with clients easily and securely.
  3. YouSendIt: Have you ever had to clean out your inbox just so you’d have room to send out an email? YouSendIt puts and end to that trouble by sending files up to 2GB to your clients.
  4. Flickr: Save space on your hard drive by uploading your photos to Flickr. It’s a great way to store, share and organize photos for your business.
  5. Box: Create an online file-sharing location for you and your clients on Box.
  6. MediaTemple: Keep your important client files safe on MediaTemple’s servers. They offer innovative hosting solutions for all kinds of websites.
  7. DivShare: Use DivShare’s file hosting service to email files to clients or store them in a folder for shared access later.

Project Management & Productivity

Do you wonder where all of your time goes? Do your clients want frequent status updates? Keep tabs on your time and projects with these tools.

  1. Harvest: Harvest offers web-based time tracking software with simplicity. Track your progress and inform your clients using Harvest’s reports.
  2. Side Job Track: Side Job Track, designed with freelancers in mind, provides software that lets you track and manage project information. Features include job tracking, invoicing and reporting.
  3. Basecamp: Basecamp offers a way to improve project communication. Use it to keep your teammates and clients informed about what’s going on with your projects.
  4. ConceptShare: ConceptShare provides online design collaboration. Invite clients and coworkers to view your design and make comments on your work.
  5. ProjectStat.us: Instead of fielding constant calls about the status of a project, let your customers view the status of their project online with ProjectStat.us.

Writing & Design Tools

Being creative can get expensive. Purchasing icons, stock photos, book publishing and the like can add up fast and eat into your profit margin. Check out these free and inexpensive tools designed to make the lives of freelance writers and designers cheaper and easier.

  1. Writeboard: Have you ever had a client or coworker revise a document and end up wiping out your work? Use Writeboard to share and collaborate while saving separate versions each step of the way.
  2. Lulu: Lulu gives fledgling writers an easy way to get published. Each product is printed as it’s ordered, so you don’t have to build an expensive inventory.
  3. MailBuild: Built for web designers, MailBuild allows users to set up a template for client email campaigns.
  4. MyFonts: Do you want to see how fonts will look on your design before committing to a purchase? MyFonts provides a source for trying out and buying new fonts.
  5. IconBuffet: Find and trade stock icons for your web designs on IconBuffet.
  6. stock.xchng: Add photos to your writing or web design at low or no cost. stock.xchng provides tons of stock photos, many of them royalty-free.
  7. Google Docs & Spreadsheets: Don’t bother spending hard-earned money for the latest version of MS Word. Create, upload, share and edit word and spreadsheet documents online using Google Docs & Spreadsheets.
  8. MorgueFile: MorgueFile’s high resolution photos are has-beens in the stock photography world, but that doesn’t mean they won’t do a great job spicing up your work.

Security & Privacy

Don’t let your work get stolen or compromised. Can you imagine how your business would suffer if you lost files due to a virus? Or worse, if the financial information of your clients got exposed to spyware? These services help you stay safe and secure.

  1. SpamSieve: Fighting spam takes time away from your business and opens your system up to intruders. Use SpamSieve to keep spam out of your Mac email client.
  2. Escrow: Don’t get burned by clients that make fraudulent payments. Use Escrow to protect yourself and your clients from payment fraud.
  3. Cloudmark Desktop: Cloudmark protects your Outlook inbox from spam, phishing and viruses, so you’ll never have to worry about compromising business files when reading your email.
  4. PayPal: Give your clients a way to pay without sharing their financial information by using PayPal.
  5. Moneybookers: Open your business to the worldwide market safely. Use Moneybookers for secure worldwide payment and acceptance.
  6. Spamato: Keep your business email secure by using Spamato with Outlook, Thunderbird or Mozilla Mail.
  7. Spybot Search & Destroy: Make sure your confidential client information is safe from prying eyes by scanning for spyware with Spybot Search & Destroy.
  8. AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition: Protect your business files with a good antivirus program. AVG Anti-Virus offers a free solution for protecting your computer from viruses.

Mobility & Contact

When running a business, it’s essential that you’re able to keep in contact with clients, vendors, coworkers and other important acquaintances. Use these tools to communicate with ease.

  1. Campfire: Campfire is a web-based chat tool that’s ideal for online meetings with clients or coworkers.
  2. Meebo: Don’t miss out on a client just because you don’t use the same instant messaging tool. Get access to every major messaging service on Meebo’s website without having to download anything.
  3. FaxZERO: Online communication is popular, but sometimes you just have to send a fax. But who wants to invest in a fax machine and phone line for something that happens only on a rare occasion? Instead, use FaxZERO to send a fax anywhere in the US or Canada for free.
  4. eBuddy: Don’t miss out on important messages while you’re away from your base of operations. Log on to eBuddy to sign on to online messengers using your mobile device.
  5. K7: FaxZERO lets you send out a fax for free online, but what if a client wants to fax something to you? Enlist the help of K7, a service that assigns users a phone number that accepts fax and voicemail messages, which are then sent to your email.
  6. GoToMeeting: Use GoToMeeting to keep in touch with clients and coworkers via online meetings.
  7. LogMeIn: Don’t let your business suffer because you can’t take your computer on the road. Use LogMeIn to get access to your computer’s desktop anywhere.

Marketing & Networking

You provide a great service and offer awesome rates, so why isn’t the world knocking down your door with business? Perhaps it’s because they have no idea you exist. Get your name out there and find new clients with these tools.

  1. LinkedIn: LinkedIn offers online networking at its best. Find opportunities and contacts based on your work and the people you already know.
  2. askCHARITY: Take advantage of askCHARITY’s database of key media contacts to get the word out about your business.
  3. Craigslist: Craigslist is an invaluable tool for any freelancer. Find clients, sell your work, buy supplies, network and more using Craigslist.
  4. Coroflot: Use Coroflot to post an online portfolio and find design jobs.
  5. ProfessionalOnTheWeb: ProfessionalOnTheWeb hosts a directory of portfolios. Make sure yours is there when clients search for help.
  6. Elance: Use Elance to get connected with clients that need your services on a project.
  7. 37signals Gig Board: Use the 37signals Gig Board to find freelance jobs in programming, design and more.
  8. WebProJobs: Find full-time and freelance web professional jobs on WebProJobs.
  9. Job Pile: Job Pile aggregates popular freelance job boards, so you can spend time working instead of searching.
  10. YouTube: Use YouTube’s viral video to get the word out about your creativity.
  11. CafePress: CafePress offers on-demand printing for promotional items as well as a place to sell your design.
  12. Spot Runner: Use Spot Runner to build a TV advertising campaign.

Business & Legal

Paperwork isn’t always fun, but it is necessary. Forms and agreements can provide legal protection and help you avoid disputes down the road. Check out these tools that help you protect yourself and spend less time on the boring stuff.

  1. MyNewCompany: Get legal and tax protection for your freelance business by making things official. Use MyNewCompany to incorporate or form an LLC online.
  2. Help Me Work: Get the stability of corporate life while still working as an independent consultant. Help Me Work takes care of taxes, client billing, paychecks, benefits, retirement plans and more.
  3. Designers Toolbox: Get set up with all the legal forms your design business may need with Designers Toolbox.
  4. Creative Commons: Use Creative Commons to specify how much or how little legal restrictions you want your work to carry.
  5. AIGA: Protect your business with AIGA’s standard form of agreement for design services.
  6. Nolo: If you’ve got a legal question about your business, head to Nolo. Experts there offer legal advice for independent contractors and consultants.
  7. Creative Public: Head to Creative Public for forms, contracts, pricing guides and more for your design business.

Client Contact & Feedback

Your clients are what keep you in business, so it’s important to check in with them and make sure they’re satisfied. Use these programs to keep in touch with your clients and find out what they have to say about your work.

  1. Breeze: Send out email campaigns to your clients with Breeze’s easy tool.
  2. Wufoo: Use Woofoo to make forms, surveys and invitations for your customers with ease.
  3. Relenta CRM: Keep track of customer relationships using email, contact, document and activity management with Relenta.
  4. Highrise: Don’t lose track of your customers: keep in touch with Highrise’s online contact management system.
  5. ScratchnScribble: Use ScratchnScribble’s service to have handwritten or printed greeting cards sent to your clients.

Website Tools

Clients are looking for your business online. Will you be there? Check out these applications to make sure your business has an excellent online presence.

  1. Big Cartel: Set up an online store to sell your products using Big Cartel’s service.
  2. WordPress: Blog about your business and industry with WordPress.
  3. Inblogit: If you’re a design professional, your blog should be attractive. Use Inblogit for blog functionality with more flexbility in design.
  4. Icebrrg: Create web forms with Icebrrg so that your website can generate customer inquiry and feedback.
  5. XHTMLized: If you’re too busy to build a website yourself, use XHTMLized. They take your design and turn it into a web page that is browser and search engine friendly.
  6. XHTMLiT: XHTMLit offers freelancers another time-saving solution for converting design into HTML.
  7. Userplane: Make your website interactive for your clients by bundling chat, messaging, video, search and live presence with Userplane.
  8. Ning: Let your clients network with each other by creating your own Ning social network.
  9. ExpressionEngine: Impress your customers by having a website with lots of features. Use ExpressionEngine to publish just about anything on your website.
  10. FlashDen: Build a great-looking website that your clients will want to visit. Buy Flash, audio, video and fonts to make your website look good at FlashDen.

Printing & Packaging

When your products look good, your business does too. Presentation makes a difference, so be sure to make a good impression by using these innovative printing and packaging tools.

  1. Jewelboxing: Impress your customers with Jewelboxing’s customized, professional-grade DVD and CD packages.
  2. Qoop: Qoop prints everything freelancers might need: business cards, apparel, promotional items, posters and more.
  3. Moo: Moo prints note cards and mini cards from your photos and design. These can be used for promotional materials or business cards.

Tools to Give & Take

These tools pack a double-whammy of functionality. Use them to get the resources you need or as an alternative revenue stream.

  1. Google AdWords: Use Google AdWords to advertise your business or make money by putting AdWords on your website.
  2. Prosper: Using Prosper’s people-to-people lending website, you can borrow money for business expenses from real people. If you have extra cash, use Prosper to earn interest by lending to others.
  3. Text Link Ads: Generate interest in your website and attract clients with Text Link Ads or earn money by selling space for others on your site.
  4. PayPerPost: Use PayPerPost to have a blogger write about your product or service. Alternately, you can earn money by writing about someone else’s business.
  5. Guruza: Find answers to your business questions or earn money by giving expert advice on Guruza.

Miscellaneous

From office suites to creative stimulation, these tools have a lot to offer for freelancers. Check out these applications that cover anything and everything else you might need for your business.

  1. Zoho: Zoho’s Office Suite includes a variety of software solutions for freelancers: a word processor, spreadsheet, presentation tool, wiki writer, notebook, project management, CRM solution, database creator, calendar, web conferencing, email and chat.
  2. Veetro: Veetro offers another all-in-one solution that specializes in the tools freelancers need the most. This program combines money, document, task and customer management with email marketing, reporting and blog publishing.
  3. Work: Are you clueless about what it takes to run a business in your industry? Work offers guides that show you how.
  4. Pandora: Get your creative juices flowing with Pandora’s fully customizable internet radio.

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PowerPoint Alternatives

Best Online Presentation Software for Business

Online software/apps have several advantages against desktop competitors – they are accessible on every computer that have internet connection and you may forget about difficult installation and configuration process. In this article I want to share some of the presentation applications you can use for your business.

1) Prezi

I love this service! With the help of Prezi you can create very creative an well looking “zooming” presentations to surprise the audience. Check out the introduction video and you will see what I’m talking about.

2) Slide Rocket

Although it is a paid service they have very strong free version with most important features included – unlimited presentations and 250Mb of storage. Try! And if you like this service you can upgrade any time.

3) Zoho Show

Zoho always stands out with very rich applications from the side of functionality and offered possibilities. They have wide range of other business apps so you may want to check them out too.

4) Empressr

Also very good alternative to PowerPoint with many interesting features like easy embeddable content from Flickr, Photobucket, Google and others. Empressr have also nice sharing platform.

5) Google Docs

Best thing about Google products is that they are free, but maybe you will miss some features and will be forced to search for more advanced services. But for purposes to create simple presentation Google probably is the best choice.

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