You would have to have been living under a rock if you have never heard of the term “Photoshop”.

Adobe Photoshop is an advanced photo editing software that is not only popular among professional artists, photographers, and designers but also to the general public. It used to be a simple photo editing program but it quickly evolved to an editing software with an extensive list of tools and functions. Because of this, Photoshop gained rapid popularity among people online as photo editing and manipulation got more and more accessible. Not too long later, Photoshop became such a well-known and incredibly powerful program that it is now practically synonymous with any kind of photo manipulation.

Regardless of what medium of art you focus on, it is generally really useful to know your way around Adobe Photoshop. As a tool for your professional and even personal life, Photoshop has a lot of uses Here are just a few common applications for the software:

  • Photo and image editing
  • Photo manipulation
  • E-commerce photography
  • Graphic design
  • Pattern and texture design
  • Web design
  • Logo design and branding

However, not everyone understands how to work Photoshop. Most people can be a little intimidated by Photoshop’s user interface. With so many menus, buttons, and unfamiliar graphs and symbols, the uninitiated will not know where and how to start. Lucky for you, there are tons of Photoshop tutorials online and we have listed down the best of the best for you to peruse.

With these tutorials, you will be a pro at Photoshop in no time!

Top 10 Best Photoshop Tutorials

  1. Adobe Photoshop Tutorials
    What better place to start than with Adobe Photoshop’s official website? Adobe’s tutorial page offers users a variety of lessons so you can learn the basics of Photoshop. It has videos and step-by-step processes that can really help you navigate Photoshop’s interface and utilize the wide range of tools. You can start with the simple, basic lessons and move on to more complex techniques later. And the best part? The tutorials are available for free!

     

  2. GCFLearnFree.org
    Another site where you can learn the basics of Photoshop for free. It is advised to learn the software from scratch, get the essentials covered so it will be easier to tackle the more advanced techniques later. With GCFLearnFree you will have access to ten core lessons and will even get a quiz that challenges how much you have learned.  

     

  3. Photoshop Cafe
    This website is packed with Photoshop tutorial videos with instructional content. Besides the basics, you can learn photo manipulation, one of Adobe Photoshop’s most popular use these days.

     

  4. Phlea
    Phlearn offers you with a great selection of Photoshop tutorial videos that range from basic lessons, advanced techniques, to a variety of special effects. This website provides you with resources in one easy location. Although a lot of the videos are free to view, you can choose to pay a subscription and get access to even more Photoshop resources.

     

  5. Photoshop Essentials
    Just as the name suggests, this website is focused more on teaching beginners the basics of the photo editing software. The site even has a companion YouTube channel for viewers who learn better from example than from a simple written instruction. While most of the lessons are for basic functions, Photoshop Essentials also offer tutorials for fun photo edits.

     

  6. Trevor Morris Photographics
    Did you know that Photoshop has a long list of keyboard commands shortcuts? For instance, you can switch between tools by clicking on certain letters (V for Move, M for Marquee, and so on). While Trevor Morris Photographics offers only a handful of tutorials, it does have a downloadable list of keyboard command shortcuts. Save yourself the hassle of looking for the right tool by using shortcuts instead. You will be much more efficient.

     

  7. Sleek Lens
    This website is more of a photography blog but it does have some tutorials as well. Sleek Lens is particularly focused on photo manipulation tutorials. Moreover, this site offers great photography advice for aspiring photographers out there. You can get tips on shot composition, lighting, and other practical lessons. Sleek Lens also has camera reviews so if you have got your eye out for a brand new camera but can’t decide on the model, you might want to head over to this blog for some recommendations.

     

  8. DigitalArtsOnline
    For those interested in graphic design and illustration, this website has got you covered. Besides offering lessons on Photoshop basics, this website mostly caters to tutorials on digital art. You can learn digital painting, vector portraits, typography, photo-illustration, and many more.

     

  9. PluralSight
    Previously known as Digital Tutors, PluralSight provides you with a huge selection of Photoshop tutorials, courses, and lessons. Beginners and advanced users can learn a lot on this website since it has lessons for both skill levels. You can learn basically everything Photoshop is capable of in PluralSight.

     

  10. Tutsplus
    Finally, this website has tutorials for more advanced techniques and methods, definitely a great place to visit after you have familiarized yourself with Photoshop basics. Whether it is learning how to do that popular double exposure effect, retro graphical photo style, and other jaw-dropping photo manipulation tricks, Tutsplus is a must-visit if you are looking to really improve your Photoshop skills.

Adobe Photoshop is indeed a powerful and essential tool. While there are other photo editing software and applications available online, few can really compete with Photoshop’s extensive functions and capabilities. It is a versatile software that improves with each new version.

Nowadays, skills like Photoshop can be a real advantage in almost every field. Since people are more reliant on digital information, it makes sense that digital art and photography are also in demand. After all, a pamphlet or website will look bland and uninteresting without some photos and artwork to spice it up.

 Even if you do not consider yourself as ‘creative’ it will do you some good to at least learn the fundamentals of Photoshop. Once you know how its menus and tools work, figuring out the rest will be much easier and you will be able to do some light photo editing of your own. As an added bonus: if you know how to use Photoshop, you will be able to spot faked (or “shopped”) photos online so much easier and that’s definitely a skill worth having these days.

Of all the blogging platforms and Content Management Systems today, WordPress is quite possibly the most well known and the most used. Just about anyone has heard of the platform and has most likely even visited a particular website hosted by WordPress. It is simple to use, accessible, and versatile – easily a lot of people’s go-to choice for building a site.

However, most people are under the impression that WordPress is mostly for pure blogging. Artists like graphic designers and photographers may not consider WordPress as a place to display their portfolio. Designing an online portfolio can be quite complicated, requiring certain extra functionality to effectively showcase the artwork or photograph.

What some people do not know is that WordPress might have been built to be simple but you can download the right plugins to enhance and emphasize your visual content. What is even better is that plugins are easy to find and even easier to use. Whether you are showing your digital art or your photographs, there are plugins that can make your portfolio look and function so much better. Add in some gorgeous backgrounds from PixaBay, a site where you can find the best free and premium high-quality backgrounds, and you will have a stunning visual portfolio in no time.

We have accumulated 8 of the best plugins you can use for your portfolio site. A lot of artists swear by these plugins and perhaps you will find one that will suit your portfolio’s needs.

8 Best WordPress Plugins

1. Huge-IT Porfolio

Starting off this list is a plugin to vastly improve your visual gallery. Huge-IT Portfolio is a freemium plugin which means you get the basic features for free but have to pay for the premium version which offers additional features. Fortunately though, the free option is already more than enough to give your portfolio site that extra kick.

With this plugin, you can show off your works on a neat and organized gallery. Moreover, you can customize how your gallery looks like fixing how large (or small) the thumbnail photos should be and including pertinent information on the project window. Another useful feature is that you can create galleries of photos on a thumbnail. That way, your audience will be given a sneak peek to more of your works without overloading the page.

If you are looking for a simple plugin to organize your portfolio, this is definitely for you.

2.  Grand Flagallery

Obviously, if you run a photoblog or a portfolio site, you are going to need a reliable gallery. One could even say that galleries are center of every WordPress photography and art website. After all, it is with the gallery that you can manage and organize your extensive media files so you can present them on your website smoothly. Grand Flagallery combines a professional photography theme and a gallery plugin for executing high quality gallery experience.

This plugin allows you to upload all kinds of media content and combine your files into single galleries. This maximizes efficiency as well as makes it easier for you to present your work. Grand Flagallery is also compatible with tablets and smartphones so you can check and update your portfolio anywhere. Additionally, this plugin is configured to respond to search engine requests.

3. Speed Booster Pack

One of the drawbacks to having a website that caters mostly image files (or any other heavy media files) is the risk of being extremely slow to load. Users tend to avoid such slow-loading websites so what is a designer or photographer to do? Well, if you want your audience to stay on your site, you will need a plugin that will facilitate faster page loading. Speed Booster Pack is a great plugin choice because not only does it quicken the load speed but also makes your site engaging and functional.

This WordPress plugin automatically minifies your website’s scripts, removes blocking scripts, and optimizes database calls and loading assets. The outcome is that your website will appear to have a lightning fast loading time even with so much media content.

4. Product Catalog

At some point, artists, designer, and photographers will want to open their own e-commerce shops to sell their most popular pieces. Online selling is a pretty lucrative venture so you will want to set up your online shop as best as you can. Product Catalog plugin allows you to list all of your current items on a single page and connects it to the WooCommerce system (a free e-commerce plugin for WordPress).

Besides that, Product Catalog also lets you add custom widgets to your website’s homepage (or sidebar) where you can display your products. That way, even first time visitors will see that you are open to selling your products.

5.  Google Analyticator
You do not need to be a marketing strategist to be able to successfully promote your website. If you want people to find your website and see your work, you can download Google Analyticator to effectively promote your website.  With this plugin, you will be able to easily view Google Analytics on your WordPress dashboard. You will learn the keywords visitors use and you can incorporate those keywords in your next web post. That way, you stand a higher chance of being found in organic search results.

6.  Feed Them Social
Obviously your WordPress website is not the only site where you post your work. A lot of artists make use of social media not only to build their visual portfolio but also to gain a wider audience. This plugin, Feed Them Social, is a great way for you to showcase your many social media feed you want. It supports all major social media including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest, and so on.

The Feed Them Social widgets are incredibly responsive and even looks great on mobile. You can customize your widget and choose where on your page you want to display it.

7. POWr Photo

This WordPress plugin is particularly appealing to photographers and those obsessed with Pinterest. POWr Photo is a freemium plugin that organizes and displays your photos in a Pinterest style gallery. This plugin caters to all types of images from portrait-sized photos to small icon designs.

Moreover, you have the option to customize this plugin’s design and even have a masonry grid style where you can combine different sized images on a single grid and they’ll all fit neatly (just like Pinterest’s layout).

8. Ultimate Image Filters WordPress Plugin

Last but not the least, we have this plugin perfect for photoblogs in particular. Oftentimes, photos need a little bit more tinkering to look as gorgeous and eye-catching as they can that is why people adjust photos with filters. However, when you are a photoblog and work with hundreds to thousands of photos, manually adding filters can be a living nightmare. Ultimate Image Filters WordPress Plugin can help ease your pain.  You can add more than forty filters to your photos all at the comfort of your admin dashboard. Image Filter also allows you to recreate your photos that have filters since the original image will still be available on your server should you decide to switch back.

Final thoughts

WordPress is a haven for bloggers and artists alike. With so many plugins that allow people to enhance their website, it is easy to see why it is such a popular platform. We have listed only a handful of the useful plugins graphic designers and photographers can use for their website. There are countless more available out there. While we’ve only scratched the surface, it is clear that WordPress is a very flexible platform where, with the perfect plugins downloaded, you can do just about anything.

No matter how professional and sleek a website looks, it is nothing without well written and well organized content. However, most of the time, a site’s actual content is overlooked since most people are under the assumption that producing and managing content is easier than developing the website.

While it might seem that way, the truth is that web content requires just as much attention as web design. After all, visitors are not just going to look at the superficial aspects of your site. They are going to read or at least skim what your website has to offer and if they do not find anything worth a second glance, they will most likely click out of the page.

Content management is often taken for granted even though it is a crucial factor to a website’s success. While researching how to create a website, you may have encountered the term a few times. Content Management System (CMS) is basically a software application or a set of related programs that facilitates creating, editing, organizing, and publishing content. CMS content is usually stored in a database and shown in a presentation layer based on a set of templates. Popular examples of CMS are WordPress and Joomla, though there are numerous other platforms being used today.

However, CMS products were not always around. In truth, content management itself is a relatively new concept.

Brief History of CMS

Way back in the early days of the Internet, there was not that much focus on managing one’s web content. Typically, websites relied on static pages being uploaded directly to Internet servers in order to publish their content. You can imagine how strenuous and impractical that method was. Writers could not edit their text easily once their article or blog post was published. They could not keep track of their content, could not organize them neatly for their visitors. Simply put, it was a difficult time for content creators.

Moreover, before Content Management System, content-heavy websites had to maintain hundreds to thousands of HTML files and link them all to the site manually. There was not any kind of relationship between pieces of content and nobody thought of content types or modelling. The Internet’s full potential as a marketing tool had not been realized just yet since you needed an advanced understanding of web design and development to get your website anywhere. And back in those days, not a lot of people knew much about building websites.

The problem of organizing web content grew bigger and bigger until eventually web platforms were developed to fix these specific issues. Although the first officially recognized weblog (now known today simply as “blog”) was launched as early as the mid 1990s, it was not until early 2000s that these types of blogging platforms really took off. WordPress, arguably one of the most popular platforms and CMS software, emerged in 2003 though it parts of the site was in development two years earlier.

As these blogging platforms gained mainstream popularity, more CMS software were developed. Web platforms like WordPress were eventually utilized for more than just personal blogging. With majority of the population slowly incorporating the Internet to their daily lives, companies and small businesses started using open-source platforms for marketing. In fact, in recent years, commercial CMS platforms are more focused on marketing-specific technologies.

How Does it Work?

Using a Content Management System is incredibly simple. You do not need to create a static HTML file or use any type of coding language. With a CMS, all you need to do is click on the menu to create a new post. You will then be directed to an interface that resembles Microsoft Word and other similar word processors.

The text box is where you will write your website’s content and you will find that you can format the font however you want, much like in Word. Displaying an image is also simple. All you need to do is upload a media file on the CMS media library.

After writing your site’s content, you can tag your post accordingly so visitors will be able to navigate your articles easily. Organizing your content is particularly important if your website has a lot of posts published.

It is as simple as that. CMS like WordPress have truly changed the game for creating and managing web content.

Content Management System: Pros and Cons

Much like with everything on the Internet, CMS has its pros and cons that you need to be aware of before you jump into launching your website. While there is not much you can do about a CMS’s weaknesses and disadvantages, it is good to know what to expect in order to plan alternatives and possible solutions.

Pros

Focus on content writing and editing
One of the main advantages of using a CMS is that you do not have to worry about web coding or the technical aspects of the website. The CMS does all the designing and coding for you. All you need to do is create the content and publish it on your website. This way, someone with only a basic understanding of web design will be able to run a website without having to do the technical heavy lifting needed for the backend of the site. You will be able to concentrate on your site’s content much easier.

Compatible with Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
By now you have probably seen this term countless times all over the web. SEO, simply put, is the discipline or process of maximizing one’s website visibility with organic search engine results. CMS are known to be very SEO-friendly. You can learn how to optimize your content with helper plugins with CMS. Moreover, you can publish custom page titles, metadata, and adjustable URLS that will make your content super easy to find using major search engines like Google and Yahoo. SEO writing is rather prevalent in CMS platforms.

Fast post updates
Because it is so easy to publish posts on CMS, you will be able to update your website’s content quickly and effortlessly too. People are usually more trusting of websites that have frequent updates since it appears more active and reliable so being able to post regularly is a huge advantage. Additionally, you can also update the site’s interface components like the menus, sidebars, headers, etc.

Multiple users
Another advantage to using CMS is the option to have multiple users access the website. This way, the website can be kept updated by more than one person. It ensures that, with teamwork and a regular schedule, the website will be active. What is great about it is that every user can have selective access permissions based on their roles. Some users will only be limited to writing and editing their own content while others, like the administrators, will have universal access. By doing so, you can maintain website security while also delegating minor work to contributors. Restricting access also makes sure that consistency is maintained in the website’s design since only a select few can access important files.

Most options are free
Perhaps one of the best parts about CMS is that the basic framework of majority of the popular CMS programs today are free. Of course, those free options have limited customization such as premium design or additional security. This is especially great for those without a considerable budget and still hesitant about getting a website.

Cons

Limitations in function
Although most CMS programs offer a wide array of functions, there are just some processes that a CMS cannot run without having to rewrite code. Some CMS programs have functionality limitations so you need to do some research as to what you need to accomplish to check its feasibility. This is mostly a problem for websites with extra multimedia functions as a draw for its audience. There are ways around it but it might require a little bit of tinkering on your part.

Security threats
Unfortunately, it can be rather easy for hackers to break into the CMS platform. You can take extra security measures like implementing a two factor authentication but if you do not have the resources for that it can be a bit risky. That is why it is advised to keep multiple copies of your website’s content on a hard drive in case your website is attacked by a malevolent entity and takes down your whole site. At least then you will be able to start a new site easier since you already have your entire website’s backlog copied.

Tendency to lag between pages
Most CMS platforms store aspects of a page separately so when you request a specific page, they have to quickly assemble everything. By doing so, your website can seem to lag, especially if your pages have a lot of media files. This can be solved by strong and effective caching but, for the most part, the lagging pages can be really frustrating.

Design problems
Although a CMS program does come with premade templates, it can be tough transforming your website in the exact way you want it to. And if you are a very meticulous person, this can be really problematic. You can overcome this obstacle with the right expertise and skill but you might also need some extra funding as well.

Different Types of CMS

There are three main types of Content Management Systems available online and, in order to choose the right one for your website, you need to understand the differences between the three. Though they have some similarities, each of the different types has their own functions and features that make them suitable for specific purposes. The pricing models are also factors to be considered since each type costs differently.

Open Source CMS

One of the main things you need to know about open source CMS is that you can download the software at no initial cost. License or upgrade fees and contracts are not part of this type of CMS. However, you do have to buy additional services such as: customization beyond the software’s core offering; compatible templates, add-ons, and plugins (free versions are available for some CMS platforms); software support and updates; and technical help upon first installation.

You can even install and manage this type of CMS on a web server. Numerous customization options are available to meet your possible different business needs like plugins for e-commerce sites. You can also download tools to help optimize your content for search engines and you can customize your website with countless web design themes and layouts.

The most widely used and popular Content Management Systems are open source. WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla are just a few examples of this type of CMS.

While open source CMS is the more popular choice because of its accessibility, it does have its drawbacks. One of the main issues people have with this type of CMS is the security risk. An open source CMS is more vulnerable to online attacks since anyone can see the code being used.

Proprietary CMS

Unlike open source CMS, proprietary CMS generally involves buying a license fee to be able to use to software and even paying additional monthly or annual charges for updates and support. Moreover, there is also the costs for customization and upgrades, not to mention ongoing technical support.

Proprietary CMS is also known as commercial CMS and is built and managed by a single company. Generally, this type of CMS is great for agencies to create their own websites to suit a specific market. Sites utilizing a proprietary CMS can be developed to have the functionality some specialized websites require. This type tends to be more user-focused than developer-focused.

Some examples of proprietary CMS include Microsoft SharePoint, Kentico, Shopify, and IBM Enterprise Content Management.

However, this type of Content Management System is owned by one company so you are pretty much stuck with them until you cancel your license or move to another platform. And even if you do move out of the platform, it can be a bit costly for you to do so.

Software as a Service (SaaS) CMS

Lastly, there is the SaaS CMS type where you are only “leasing” the application or a portion of it for your website. Take note that you are paying for the use of the CMS software and not the ownership of it. With this type of CMS, you configure the application for your own use which means you can create templates for design preferences, setup forms, and the like.

This type of CMS is usually priced on a per use and per site basis. When you pay for a SaaS CMS you are paying for storage for your content and data, the amount of data transfer, and also ongoing support.

SaaS CMS is typically great for small and medium sized businesses with a modest budget and not enough resources to develop a custom website. The set-up fee for a SaaS CMS is generally low and the software is accessible from any computer or device. Clients can even access content in real time through stable Internet connection. Moreover, you can add more sites or users as your website’s needs grow.

This type of CMS exists in a hosted or cloud computing environment. It can either be a fully cloud CMS or a partial cloud CMS. Some examples of this type of Content Management System are Box.net, Google Docs, and Acrobat.

Five Common Content Management Systems

Now that you’ve gotten a pretty good idea about CMS, let us talk about the popularly used CMS and their individual features and advantages.

WordPress
This is quite possibly the most popular Content Management System since it is ideal for beginners and experts alike. It has excellent documentation features and incredibly quick installation.

While WordPress is primarily a platform for blogging, countless non-blogging websites have come up from this CMS program, from simple multi-page brochure style websites to functional online shops to legitimate social networks. WordPress is definitely a versatile platform that just about anyone can use.

Moreover, WordPress has a large community of developers with lots of tutorials available for anyone to read in case you ever need help. In fact, WordPress is known for its documentation of customizing nearly every aspect of the platform. There is a huge chance you will find a WordPress tutorial of whatever you are planning with your website. The community is that wide and zealous.

This platform is also free to download but you will have to pay for hosting if you choose to do so. And with thousands of plugins and specialized themes, it is quite possible to make any kind of website. WordPress’ dashboard is also simple and easy to navigate so you will be able to manage your content without a sweat.

While, for beginners out there, WordPress’ user friendliness is an advantage (it is considered to be the easiest CMS to date), it is also a disadvantage when it comes to security. Unless you install additional security measures, your website can be vulnerable to hackers.

Drupal
Although this platform is not as popular as WordPress, it does have a very large community. This platform does not really focus on blogging and is more of a pure CMS. High profit companies (New York Observer, MIT, Sony Music, to name a few) use this CMS platform because of its plentiful features for building internal and external websites. It also has a lot of tools to help you organize your content.

Drupal offers a lot even with a plain installation. You get a ton of optional modules that gives you access to extra features such as user blogs, forums, profiles, etc. You can easily create a website with social features and, with some third party modules, you can even create site clones with minimal effort.

One of Drupal’s advantages is its active community. There are countless forums and even real life events. Like WordPress, you can several tutorials about everything you might ever need in setting up your website.

Another popular feature is the Taxonomy module which allows for multiple levels and types of categories for content types. And if your site is content-heavy, you will definitely find this feature useful.

Joomla!
This particular CMS may not be as user friendly as the previous ones mentioned, it is very reliable and flexible. Joomla is even used by prominent companies, both for websites and for backend networks. Joomla can be used for a variety of purposes and is more advanced in terms of functionality.

Like Drupal, Joomla is a complete CMS. However, it is a bit more complex compared to other CMS platforms. It has a sleek administration interface that is fully functional as well. This CMS also has extensive support for access control protocols.

One of the disadvantages to Joomla is that it does not have as much in terms of high quality free themes like WordPress. If you want better themes, it will cost you a pretty penny.

SilverStripe
This CMS behaves a lot like WordPress though it is designed more for content management instead of blogging. It also has a lot more configurable options than WordPress.

One of SilverStripe’s unique features is its customizable administration area for clients. Besides that, it has content version control and native SEO support. SilverStripe’s development community is not as large as other platforms but there are still plenty of themes, modules, and widgets to choose from.

Additionally, this CMS does not come with a lot of style on their themes so you, the designer, will have more freedom to modify your site accordingly.

Texpatte
Then there is this CMS that is quite beloved by designers thanks to its simplicity and elegance. Texpattern is very minimal with a code base that is effective and simple. This CMS’s backend is also quite easy and intuitive to find your way around.

Texpattern is more concerned with creating well-structured, standards-compliant pages. It does not bother with a lot of extra features that are all the rage with other CMS platforms these days. Instead, Textpattern utilizes textile mark-up in the text areas to create HTML elements within the pages of your website. As a result, the pages generated load extremely fast and are very lightweight.

For those who want to add more functions in Textpattern, you can get third party extensions, plugins, or mods.

In this modern age, it would seem that everyone has their own website of some sort. From large international companies to small start-up businesses to even individuals who want to spread a certain message – there is now an influx of dedicated websites, the likes of which were not even conceivable not too long ago.

Back when the Internet was still in its infancy, there were only a handful of websites that people knew about. Big name businesses had not yet realized the scope of what the information superhighway had to offer. In those days, websites were excruciatingly stark with minimal designs and flourishes. Of course that was because technology at the time could hardly support high resolution images or animations. In fact, most people – viewers and web designers – did not really think much about what the web page looked like as long as it did its job right. There was hardly any competition so visitors were not prone to click away at the first signs of a subpar website.

Nowadays, not only do web developers have to be able to create a fully functioning website, they have to be able to design it as appealingly as possible. People are now (consciously or not) aware of what a good website should look like. A web design that is not easy to look at or understand instinctively will undoubtedly push visitors away. And why would not they when there are hundreds of thousands of similar websites that are most likely much better designed?

Moreover, even those without any type of web development background will know a website is badly designed when navigating it is difficult or when the layout seemingly makes no sense. Not to mention the aesthetic quality of a website can make or break the page.

The rapid rise of technology and digitization has definitely made it a lot more difficult for web designers. Now more than ever, web designers are challenged to construct a page that will not only communicate to the visitor the company’s message and brand, but also package it in a way that will leave positive lasting impression on the visitor. And because more clicks means higher engagement, web designers also have to encourage the visitor to keep on scrolling.

Gone are the days of awkward, clunky, and pixelated websites. People are now used to and expect nothing but visually attractive websites and, this is especially true for businesses big and small, companies need to value appealing and effective web design if they want visitors to keep coming back to the site.

You might feel a little daunted at the prospect of such a complex task. You might not know how and where to start, especially if this is your first foray into anything involving designing a web site. And that is exactly why we are here to help. Optimizing your personal or professional website will take a lot of work and effort so we will lend you a helping hand on how to begin. In this article, we will not only give you tips on how to design a beautiful and optimal website but also show you examples of successful websites to give you a little bit of inspiration.

Back to Basics: Core Concepts of Web Design

First things first, let us cover the basics of web design It is always good to learn about or, for those already adept with the subject, review the fundamentals first before diving into more complex methods.

Color Palette

This deserves an article in itself because of how massive the subject is and how important colors are on a website. This topic covers a multitude of concepts and design applications but in this article we will only tackle the most basic definition.

For the everyday person, implementing the right color scheme might seem mysterious and complex but it is actually quite simple. Understanding color theory, for one thing, requires studying and constant practice. Any designer can learn the basics of finding the best color palette by studying why certain colors and hues work and why others do not. There are color combinations that go well together and others that do not. You should also take into consideration the emotion your website aims to evoke. Certain colors represent certain emotions and ideas, you need to remember that.

Though there are countless of unofficial rules (which you can break as long as you have a good reason for it or you know how to make up for it) when it comes to selecting a website’s color palette, there is one rule that all designers and artists alike would do best to abide to: do not overdo it. This means do not use too many colors on your page. Two or three colors ought to do it. Any more and you risk confusing the website’s visitors. Additionally, these colors need to resonate with your host’s branding.

Choosing the right color palette is very important since most people have an inherent sense of which color schemes “look right” even if they are not aware of it.

Images

You might have noticed a recent trend in web design. A lot of new websites now feature large images on the homepage. This is mostly thanks to faster internet speed and better screen resolutions. And, like they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. Having a nice, evocative photo greeting your visitors can be both minimalistic and effective.

That being said, there are still some things you need to keep in mind when it comes to including images on your website. First, you need to choose your images wisely. Images can take up a lot of space so you the ones that you select must convey useful information or express your website’s message accurately. If you are not careful, visitors might be put off by the images and get frustrated at the lack of content on the page.

Another thing, it is generally a good idea to avoid moving images. They might be flashy but it is better not to use them, unless of course you have a justifiable reason for it. GIFs might look fun but they require a certain skill to handle correctly. High quality GIFs are quite file heavy too so they might cause lag.

Speaking of which, you should also keep your image file sizes small. Images can usually take up more than half of web page’s loading time so it will be incredibly efficient if you make sure your file sizes are as low as possible.

Finally, and this is very important, you need to always be aware of your selected images’ licensing restrictions. While there are resources where you can get high quality images for free, a lot of images are copyrighted, meaning you need to pay in order to use them. You need to always abide license restrictions of all stock images otherwise you could find yourself in a spot of trouble.

Visual Hierarchy

How people read a certain page – be it on screen or on paper – follows a more complex set of rules than one would realize. Reading behaviour is important to keep in mind when you are designing a web page. Visual hierarchy will help cue your readers what part of your page needs to be read first and what needs to be read next. It is the designer’s job to arrange the web content clearly so visitors will know immediately what the website is all about. Page visitors usually have short attention spans and do not focus on every little detail of the page so if you do not organize the content properly, they might get confused and leave the page.

Most people read left to right and top to bottom however, on the internet, people do not read the page so much as scan them. There are a few page scanning patterns you can look into to base where to put the important elements of your website. For text-heavy pages (articles, blogs, etc), you can apply the F-pattern which assumes that the reader will start from the left then stop at the right and again and again until they reach the bottom of the page. The Z-pattern is for other pages and websites that do not have content presented in blocks. This pattern assumes that the reader will read the top of the page for the crucial information, scan the middle of the page diagonally, then reads the lower part for additional information on the website.

Spacing is also important to signal visual hierarchy. Giving certain content space to breathe will draw more attention to it. You audience will be able to read content much easier if there is ample negative space surrounding it.

Grid Systems

The grid, or how text is arranged in rows and columns, determines how we read. Regardless of the medium, designers abide by the basic structure of the grid since it is the best way for people to easily read the text. Many web designers have tried to forego the grid for a more artistic design but they ultimately failed since visitors do not read the accompanying text.

There are several grid systems that you can use in your design and each one has their own pros and cons. It is generally a good idea to choose a grid system that will complement your website’s content and theme. There are simple grids and complicated grids to choose from but you can also design your own grid for a truly unique web design. A word to the wise though, unless you are really adept at how grids work in the first place, it is better to go for a standard design than risk it with an intricate but unreadable design.

Additionally, grid systems should also be applied to smaller screens. Nowadays, people browse the internet on their phone, more often than not. It is vital that your website will still be as appealing and readable on a phone’s screen or tablet’s screen. Naturally, designers need to know how to translate the grid system on a mobile-sized screen.

Fonts

Selecting the most appropriate font is important though sometimes some people take this for granted. Designers know that the face of a web page can look drastically different with just a change of font.

Years ago, in the earlier days of the internet, browsers were not capable of supporting that many fonts. Most fonts that could be used on a webpage were the ones installed on the word processing software. If designers used any other type of font, the website would not be able to show the text properly. These days, however, browsers have definitely expanded their list of supported fonts. Modern browsers have adapted font-face embedding that allow for more web-safe font options.

While it is always good to have more options to choose from, designers can sometimes get stuck on deciding which font to choose. With such a wide array of fonts, it can seem nearly impossible to decide on just one or two. There are a lot of nice free fonts too so it can get quite confusing.

To give you an idea on how to choose, here are a few rules to consider. First, make sure that you use only two or three fonts. The more different types of fonts on a website, the more cluttered it is going to look. Just like with color, your selected fonts need to harmonize with each other. You can’t just choose two types of completely different fonts and think they are going to work. Not all font types go well with one another. It might take some trial and error to get the right pair but it is important that you do so.

Next, serif fonts (fonts with a small line at the end of a stroke) are usually for headlines and titles. Like with every rule, there are exceptions but typically serif fonts make for better headlines since they will be bigger in size. Smaller size serif fonts are harder to read which is why sans-serif fonts are reserved for body text.

Lastly, you should always keep in mind the size of the font files. Do not take up too much space otherwise you might just slow the loading time of your site.

10 Beautiful and Inventive Websites

The quality of websites these days have definitely gone up. Designers have more resources now and more competition to encourage them to go the extra mile to stand out. We have compiled a short list of jaw-dropping websites that are both visually appealing but also extremely functional and clever.

Heliom (heliom.ca)

Unsurprisingly, this website for a web design company is quite breathtaking. Compared to other websites on this list, heliom is minimalistic, relying more on shapes and lines instead of images and illustrations. Because of this as well as its black-and-white theme, the website has an avant-garde quality to it that makes it a delight to explore.

Alchemy Digital (alchemy.digital)

Another web design agency with a superb website. Alchemy Digital has an extraordinary web design that utilizes organic shapes, gorgeous photography, and subtle motion. As you scroll down, the background color changes to reveal new information about the agency. The website is clever yet still simple enough to convey its message as concisely as possible. It is clean and appears deceptively effortless. Alchemy Digital’s web design demonstrates to its visitors exactly what potential clients should expect from the agency.

Superfine Bakery (superfinebakery.com)

When you are in the business of selling a luxury product or service, the best way to attract customers or clients is to show them the best of what you can offer. Superfine Bakery is a custom cake boutique that does exactly that on its website. The emphasis on the stunning photos of their artisan cakes reassures customers of the bakery’s commitment to the craft. The user interface is also easy enough to navigate so anyone – even those who do not frequent the internet as much – can explore the website and place an order.

Distance to Mars (distancetomars.com)

This particular website is quite interesting and unique in this list. It does not appear to be a company website nor a personal blog. Simply put, this website simply informs the visitor how far Mars is if we use pixels to measure the distance. The design and concept is incredibly clever. The small illustrations and pervasive interaction makes this website a real treat for those who love outer space and for web designers. There is not much content or color on the page but it still succeeds in immersing the visitor in its central theme. The way this website executes its message is really creative and could inspire designers to do the same.

Crypton Trading (crypton.trading)

This cryptocurrency trading hub will warm any tech-savvy visitor’s heart with its inventive design. Crypton Trading’s homepage might seem brutally minimalistic (all black background with white text) however the page’s greeting appears on the screen one letter at a time, seemingly as though it was typed by Crypton. Then a small animated arrow pointing down directs you to keep scrolling where you will learn more about the website’s services, accentuated by sharp and colourful illustrations that move the farther down you go. Crypton Trading is highly lauded for its web design and development and anyone who visits the page can see why.

Mad Rouge (madrougebeauty.com)

With so many e-commerce websites, companies (especially small businesses) have to fight to be noticed in the market. There are plenty of beauty product companies as well as kids’ entertainment services but Mad Rouge is an interesting combination of the two. The company offers to teach kids (and adults) the science of make-up at any kind of party. The mostly image-heavy page gives visitors a pretty good idea on what the company. The photos highlight the fun process of learning how to create make-up and entice the visitor to learn more.

Boat Studio (boat-studio.com)

This advertising and web design company’s website has an ingenious way of showing visitors how they can add color to any kind of product. Boat Studio has an arrangement of monochrome images displayed and when the visitor hovers over a certain image, it slowly changes into a colored image. The message is pretty literal enough to understand. It is a simple method but quite effective. The photos themselves are quite artistic and well-executed. Moreover, you learn more about the company as you scroll down, ending with a bright blue footer that tells those interested who to contact and other pertinent information.

Built by Buffalo (builtbybuffalo.com)

Yet another web design and development company with a beautiful website. Built by Buffalo has a modest web design, utilizing a flat design with hexagons to display its recent clientele. The color palette is quite pleasing to the eyes as well with its subdued blues and reds. Additionally, the way the website presents its statistics is creative. The circular data panels that are animated once you scroll down is reminiscent of a car’s dashboard where you can see how fast you are driving and so on. It is little touches like that that give websites an extra punch that leaves any visitor impressed.

Lorenzo Verzini (lorenzoverzini.com)

Another website with a stunning flat design. Lorenzo Verzini is an Italian designer and his website showcases his artistic skill in a different medium. The bright colors blend beautifully, each section is clean, elegant, and creative all at once, and, most importantly, the website is easy to explore. A particularly charming detail added was the small animated eye on the About section of the page. The way the eye blink and peers around gives the otherwise static page life. Scroll further down to the Contact Information section and you will find another small animated illustration, a cheeky bird that also doubles as a locator icon.

JOHO’s Bean (johos.at)

Lastly, we have this gorgeous and interactive website by JOHO’s Bean. The page is a combination of video and sound engineering, each section telling you every step of the coffee bean’s journey. The website is quite immersive and emotional. Anyone would be incredibly impressed by the way this website manages to unravel a compelling story from a simple coffee bean.

Final Thoughts

Web design is undoubtedly very important for any kind of website to succeed. No matter how big your company is or how unique and important your message is, people simply will not think twice about your website if you do not put that much thought on the page’s design. People value a good website so you need to be creative and inventive to earn your audience’s approval.

It may be a complicated task but a well designed website is worth it.

If you have ever considered building a website for personal blogging, your online business, or your portfolio, the main question you probably asked yourself is how and where to start. And if you are not a particularly tech-savvy person, creating a website might seem like an impossible task. There are plenty of online services out there that can help you out but, obviously, their assistance comes at a certain price. And if you are on a tight budget, hiring a web designer might not be the best option. Moreover, a website requires regular updates and maintenance so it is wiser to handle it personally anyway.

Ironically, though there is an overabundance of websites now than there was a few years ago, websites have become more complicated to set up. Compared to a little over two decades ago when there were only a handful of websites available, they were much simpler to create and design. Of course, websites back then did not have as much functionality or flexibility as they do now and not a lot of people bothered to invest that much time on their website’s design. These days, websites are incredibly handy and are a real advantage when it comes to e-commerce.

Still the problem remains: how on earth can someone possible set up a professional-looking website that is simple to maintain and configure? Fortunately for you, pre-made website themes are available for anyone to buy and use online.   

A ready-made website theme is a set of files with already prepared coded layout, functionality, and logic. Web themes are usually tailored for specific content management systems (CMS) such as WordPress, Drupal, and the like. Most of the time, these themes come with additional modules and plugins.

No matter how much (or how little) you know about setting up a website, these ready-made website themes can give you a beautiful design with just a few clicks. You do not need to spend days and weeks learning how to build a website from scratch. You will not have to suffer migraines in poring over lines and lines of code. And, most importantly, you will not have to spend too much on getting your site up and running. With a little study, practice, and patience, you will have yourself a decent-looking website that your audience and potential clients or customers can visit.

Additionally, you can customize your theme to fit your personal preference. Your options will be limited, that much is a given, but you can still give your site a unique flair that can help you stand out from other similar websites.

Now there are a lot of website themes that you can use for free or pay for a certain affordable price. There are plenty of resources online where you can browse thousands of pre-made themes. However, while it is definitely beneficial to have so many themes to choose from, it can also be a real hassle to find the perfect one to suit your needs. Wading through web theme after web theme can be difficult and confusing, especially if you are not sure what you are even looking for. Even if you are just looking for a nice and simple theme, there are literally hundreds of that type of theme to choose from. It can be quite frustrating.

That is what this article is for. Newbies and experienced web users both know the pains of finding that ideal website theme that will perfectly convey one’s message or brand. Here we will give you some tips on how to choose the right website them for you to help make the selection process much easier. We have also listed the latest popular themes to give you an idea on what most people find appealing and useful.

Important Factors to Consider

Before you start hunting up that perfect website theme, you need to decide on a few things first. There are different kinds of websites for different purposes and you need to consider these factors to get you started.

Type of Website
First and foremost, you need to decide what type of website you want to build. A website theme can determine a site’s structure, its overall look and ambience. If you are building yourself a personal or professional blog, you will need to choose a theme that’s capable of handling text-heavy posts. If you are building a website for your online business and need to catalogue your products and/or services, you will want a theme that will emphasize the products and be easy to navigate around in.

Structure
Then there is the website’s layout. You will also have to consider how you want to organize your content. For an e-commerce website, you will want your landing page to display your brand’s core message and products/services to get people instantly interested. Most business websites now prefer a more minimal approach for their homepage. Consider what you want your audience to view first so you will know what section or area of your website to highlight.

Customization
Of course you will want a theme that you can customize to reflect your brand. Some themes have more customization options than others. If you have additional content you want to showcase (images, videos, audio files, etc), make sure your theme has multi-media support. However, if you are not too keen on spending that much time on customizing your website or do not really know how to enhance an existing theme that well, you can always choose simpler themes that require minimal customization.

Overall Design
Finally, you need to decide what you want your website to look like. Do you want your website to exude confidence and professionalism or radiate a certain personality? Do you want a minimalist design or an intricate one? What sort of appeal do you want your website to give off to your audience? Remember, first impression matters, especially on the internet where people’s attention span is severely short. How your website will look is an important factor to consider. And with so many websites available for everyone to peruse, you have got some tough competition. You need to make your website stand out.

Tips on How to Choose an Ideal Website Theme

Once you have determined the important factors of your planned website, you are ready for the next step: finding the right theme Here are a few tips to keep in mind when you are out looking for a website theme.

Simplicity is beauty

While there is definitely an allure to getting an elaborate website theme to immediately impress your audience, most professional web designers would advice going with a much more simple option. Not only will it be easier for you customize and update whenever you need to, generally speaking, flat designs and minimalism are much more preferred these days.

Most websites forego the fancy features, the bright colors, the bells and whistles. Years ago, a website that loud and crowded would have garnered praise from visitors but nowadays people are tired of such obnoxious designs. Modern-day web design are focused on getting the message across instead of the packaging. It makes sense since a minimalistic design would look clean and easy to explore.

Additionally, there is a subtle brilliance to a simple theme. Some people might think that a flat design is too plain and unimpressive but the truth is that a website is more effective if the visitor gets exactly the information they need without jumping through any hoops. The more elaborate the website, the harder it will be for the viewer to find what they are looking for.

Keep it simple and straight to the point.

Platforms and Plugins

One of the key things you need to know before you settle on a theme is the platform you want for your website. You need to choose which platform will be the most suitable for your purposes. Once you have got a platform, then you will be able to narrow down your theme search even just a bit. After that, you can explore the add-ons you want to include in your website.

You have to keep in mind the strengths of the different platforms. For example, Shopify is an unbeatable platform for e-commerce websites. If you are running an online business you might want to choose Shopify since it is way ahead of its competitors and it is a trusted platform for online buyers. Another example would be WordPress which is great for personal use or for generating leads for a small service-based business. WordPress offers an excellent platform for publishing long blog content that can pull in traffic to your site.

If you are looking to enhance your website, no doubt your chosen platforms will have plugins and apps to help you. Most of the popular services you could use with your website has plugins readily available that will make integration simple. You will not need coding or development skills to implement these enhancements.

Cross-browser Compatibility

Years ago, there were not a lot of web browsers to choose from. In fact, the now considered defunct Internet Explorer was the only browser anyone really knew existed. These days, people have access to different web browsers so you need to make sure that your website theme looks good on most if not all browsers. How your theme looks on Chrome might not look as clean on Safari.

Testing how your website appears on different browsers and operating systems is important if you want to ensure equal user experience and functionality. There are plenty of ways to do this. You can utilize free tools and resources online, like Browser Shots which lets you run your website on different browsers at once. There are also paid options if you are looking for a thorough testing.  

Mobile Experience

Studies have shown that a large percentage of people browse the internet with their smartphones and tablets these days which is why it is vital that you choose a theme that will adapt well on smaller screens. You will want a theme that can give users a great mobile experience, one that will look good and function well even on a phone’s small screen.

Even though smartphones are extremely prevalent, there are still some websites that do not offer a mobile version. These sites, when visited using a phone, are a pain to navigate. You have to zoom in on certain areas and have to double your efforts to find menus and links. These websites might look great on desktop but on mobile they are infuriating to explore.

To ensure worthwhile user experience, look for a theme that is adaptive and designed with converting mobile visitors in mind. Choose one that is easy to explore even on mobile. Do not neglect mobile users since there is a high probability first-time visitors will visit your website on their phones. And if they can’t immediately discern the important information on your site, they will leave and might not visit again, even on their desktop.

Search Engine Optimization

One of the main reasons for a website’s success is search engine optimization (SEO) SEO is basically focused on growing visibility in organic search results. Take note that majority of web traffic is driven by popular search engines like Google and Yahoo. For most Internet users, search engines are their primary method of navigating the web. Put another way, search engines are the roadways that provide targeted traffic, directing people looking for what your website has to offer.

While search engines are smart – and getting increasingly smarter over time – they still need help. There is a limit to how search engines operate since the Internet is so expansive and complex. The right SEO will net you more visitors and increase awareness in search engines. If you do not work on your site’s SEO, you risk burying your website deep in the search results where hardly anyone bothers to visit. Statistically, people only bother to click on sites on the first page of the search results.

But where does the website theme fit in all of this? There are some features on a theme that can help with your site’s SEO. For starters, a theme with a lightweight code generally has fewer flaws in its core files. This makes the site rank better and load faster.

Another feature is your content’s accessibility. If you make your website’s content two to three clicks away from the homepage, it will improve your SEO rankings as well as improve user experience.

Then there is the issue of how light or heavy your content is. High definition video files are pretty heavy and can make your site load slowly. This could then negatively affect your SEO rankings. Unless you absolutely have to, try to limit heavy files on your site. Or you could just install third-party extensions that could boost your website’s loading speed.

Current Popular Website Themes

If you are still unable to visualize what you want your website to look like, we have gathered a list of top quality, well crafted web themes that you can use or get inspiration from. These themes are designed for a wide array of website platforms and come at a range of prices.

Enfold (WordPress)
If you are looking for a classy and simple theme for your business website, you might want to give Enfold a try. It is designed to be one of the most user-friendly WordPress themes ever created. It is versatile yet elegant, not to mention fully responsive. You can even set up an online store since this theme has WooCommerce support.

You can customize your own layout with this theme or choose from a stack of ready-made demos. Its regular license might be a bit pricey for some but it is definitely money well spent. Enfold will give your website the bold and minimalistic appeal that is incredibly popular in a lot of quality ecommerce websites these days. This theme is great for online business sites, e-commerce, and even portfolios.

NOHO (Adobe Muse and WordPress)

This extra sleek and modern theme is perfect for creative professionals. Whether it is for an agency’s website or for your own creative portfolio, NOHO is built to be easy to edit and customize. Changing texts and images is quick and simple with this theme so you will not have to spend hours adjusting your website. Moreover, NOHO is built to have zero clutter, allowing visitors to focus on the site’s images and content entirely. It is aesthetically pleasing and functional too.

NOHO comes with a lot of features you can use like image sliders, CSS rollover effects, and parallax scrolling. Its responsive design guarantees that your audience will not have any trouble viewing your website on mobile or tablet. NOHO’s regular license is fairly modest for such a high quality theme.

Newspaper (WordPress)

With such a neat and organized design, it is no wonder why Newspaper is one of the bestselling blog and news themes of all time. If you are running a blog, a news portal, magazine, or even review site, this theme is ideal for you. Its intuitive interface is great for your readers and is super simple to customize. It even comes with a custom advertising spot so you can run ads without worrying about distorting the layout.

Newspaper supports videos from major platforms like YouTube and Vimeo so you can link videos on your page instead of uploading them which has a tendency to increase your site’s load. Additionally, this theme offers a lot of custom widgets that can enhance your website. From social media widgets, social counter widgets, to even weather widgets, Newspaper has got you covered.

The regular license for this theme is a little bit high but you get a lot out of it so it is definitely worth the investment. Publish your articles or blog posts with style with this website theme. Viewers will find your website trustworthy and reliable with such a refined web theme.

Rhythm (HTML5, WordPress, Drupal, Joomla)

This award-winning website theme is perfect for a blog or a portfolio. It is fully responsive and offers a large selection of templates to choose from. The backgrounds are easy to customize, the color schemes are simple to change, and Rhythm even comes with incredibly smooth animation.

One great thing about this theme is that it comes at a relatively low cost yet offers a lot of features and demos you can use. Rhythm even has great browser compatibility, video support, and isotope portfolio filtering. Whether your site is single- or multi-page, Rhythm is a solid theme to choose.

Definity (Bootstrap, WordPress)

This multi-purpose website theme comes packed with features and capabilities. Definity has a clean and modular design perfect for portfolios and online business sites. With the way it is designed, you can move around sections of your pages around until you are satisfied with the way your website looks. Its regular licensing fee is quite affordable too which is great news for those on a limited budget.

Definity is incredibly responsive and uses a parallax effect which is a subtle but effective artistic touch. It even comes with a wide range of icon sets that you can use.

Conclusion

Admittedly, website themes do have a shaky reputation in the web design and development community. A premade website might seem lazy and uncreative to some people. However, not everyone has the time or resources to build a website from scratch. Websites are complicated things and there is nothing wrong with buying and using ready-made themes for your own. Besides, by utilizing a theme, your website will be up and running within a fraction of a time it would have taken to design a custom website. You would save yourself time and energy, plus you can put your focus on more important matters like your site’s content and marketing strategies.

While there are definitely limitations on what a website theme can offer, oftentimes the pros of using themes outweigh the cons.

If you are starting a small business, setting up your agency’s first website, creating your own portfolio, or planning to start a blog, using premade themes are much more practical than a customized website. You do not need to be skilled and knowledgeable in web design and have a wide array of themes to choose from. Get the perfect theme and you will be attracting visitors, potential clients, or avid readers in no time at all.