How to keep up to date with web design trends

A lot has changed in the world of web design in the past few years. For instance, today we use a lot of design terms such as minimalistic web design, intuitive interface, contextual menus etc. All these terms were unheard of or not so common, a few years ago.

Nowadays, there are a number of spectacular websites, which are dynamic in nature. These sites have been designed using some of the latest tools and technologies. Hence, if you too want to be a part of this new world and develop some of the most amazing and innovative websites, then you must be well-versed with the latest web design trends in the market.

Let us take a look at some of the ways how you can stay updated with the latest web design trends doing the rounds.

Take part in discussions with fellow designers

Take an active part in discussions with fellow designers on various forums and blogs or even face-to-face. This allows free-flow of information, which includes the latest design news and trends. For example, on one of these forums, you may get a chance to interact with an expert designer, who has used a certain technology on his/her website and end up getting a tip or two on that particular technology. Later on, you can implement whatever you learnt, on your website.

Make full use of the internet

You get a wealth of resources online, to update your knowledge in the latest web design trends. Let us take a look how you can use the power of internet for your advantage.

Social media sites – Social media sites need no introduction. Such sites are growing by leaps and bounds these days. You can use various social media sites like Twitter and Facebook to keep yourself updated with latest web design trends. For instance, you can visit various design forums, share your work, connect and network with the industry experts and fellow designers, join various groups, attend designer events and do lots more on these sites.

Design blogs – There are endless design blogs and even full-fledged websites dedicated to website design such as Smashing Magazine, Mashable, DesignModo etc. You can go through these blogs and websites and read reviews, comments, write-ups and learn numerous tips and tricks relevant to website design.

Smashing Magazine's logoeBooks – A number of latest web design ebooks penned by expert authors are available online. You can buy a number of such books at discounted rates or download some of them free of cost. Use these books as a reference when you design your sites.

Newsletters and magazines – Subscribe to receive various newsletters or online magazines from different sources. For instance, you can visit various tech-blogs or tech-news websites and sign-up to receive their newsletter/magazines directly in your inbox.

Browse the work of top designers

Whenever you find some time, go through the work of top/expert web designers. Many of these designers have their own sites. View their galleries/portfolios to get an idea about the latest, ongoing trends in web design and take a cue from them.

In conclusion

These are some of the ways through which you can know the latest web design trends in the market and design innovative websites.

How to get great gadgets on a budget

It’s a very easy – and all too common – mistake to see your student loan arrive in your bank account and rush out and spend it all on the latest must-have gadgets. Smartphones, laptops, tablets, printers, they’re all “essential” to student life, (well, in a social capacity in most senses, but to some they’re essential).

Obviously going off to University is an exciting time and you want to go fully prepared for the academic year, and to make an impression on your new friends and flat mates. But you can do all of this without breaking the bank.

For instance there are some great laptop deals for students specifically which enable them to get the computer they want as well as all of the software they’ll need to help with the course, and even discounts on devices like printers and wireless routers.

When you think about it, you can get what you consider to be brilliant deals on your computer, printer and tablet – to name just three you might buy together – getting discounts on all three, but it can still add up to upwards of £1,000. But one of the advantages of being a student is being eligible for a package tailor made for getting you through the late night group projects and the 10,000-word essays that you finish at 4am.

National Union of Students card

An NUS student card

You might not think that some of the devices in the offers are what you would call “top drawer” or even as cool as what your friend has bought, but if you’ve spent £500 and they’ve spent £1,500, you’ve got an extra thousand left in your bank account to enjoy yourself with while taking the necessary “study breaks”, or to keep in hand for emergencies and all-important food shops. There are only so many times you can buy own-brand beans after all!

Budgeting is a key part of Uni life, something you don’t tend to realise until the end of the year (or the end of your third year in a lot of cases) but anything you can save before you start your first term is going to benefit you later on, allowing you to upgrade your gadgets in the future when you’ve got a little bit extra that you can spend without getting into financial difficulties.

The deals on laptops and other tech for students really are worth looking into. A lot of the top brands produce models and packages designed purely for students at prices made for students. If I had one tip, check them out, don’t just splash the cash on the biggest and best because you want to be cool.

Some simple ways to speed up your Windows PC

According to StatCounter in August 2012, globally, Microsoft Windows XP, Vista and 7 accounted for the operating systems on 87.85% of computers around the world. That means that the majority of people own a PC which runs on Windows, as opposed to one which runs on iOS, MacOSX, Unix or another operating system.

An issue many Windows users often find is that after a while their computer seems to slow down. If this sounds familiar, then you should find this article extremely useful, as in it I am going to give you my personal tips on how to keep your Windows PC (XP, Vista and 7) running fast. This guide applies to both laptops and desktop PCs. 🙂

What Slows Computers Down?

The trick to understanding how to make your machine run faster involves working out what slows your computer down. It would be interesting to know what most people think slows their computer down, so if you have an idea, let me know in the comments.

The first and one of the biggest culprits which slow your computer down are background processes. These are things which go on in the background whilst you are doing things. Say you are trying to open up an internet browser, lets take Firefox as an example, then when you click on Firefox, it is very possible that plugins you have installed also try to start up and do things in the background. Until recently an really good example of this was the Google toolbar, which would start up a process to talk to Google and find out if it was up to date.

There are likely to be a lot of programs trying to do things in the background, whilst you are focusing on your task. Java, Apple, Google, Adobe (Flash Player and Reader) are big culprits, always whirring away in the background. If you have anything Google installed like Google Earth, Google Chrome, Google Talk etc. then the chases are it is taking a lot more resources than it needs. Likewise anything Apple like iTunes, QuickTime etc. are also likely to be slowing your PC down.

Another big culprit is disorganised hard disk files. Every time you delete something, move something, create a new file or folder etc. you change the layout of your hard disk and the structure of your files. This can often mean that related files can be put far apart on the disk, which is not optimal, also in order to get to a file, the computer may first have to locate it via following a redirect from where it used to be – this takes time.

The final major culprit I am going to address is unnecessary visual effects. Your computer can often get really bogged down trying to display fancy effects which you don’t really need, meaning you can’t get on and do what you wanted to do.

Now we know three of the main issues, lets fix them!

Stopping Unnecessary Background Processes

A tortoise with a rocket on its backStopping bad background processes is easier than you might think. There are a few ways to go about it, the way I find the most effective is though a tool named ‘MSConfig’. This can be found on Vista and 7 by typing in msconfig into the search box on the start menu, in in Windows XP by typing msconfig into the Run command box.

MSConfig allows you to make a lot of changes to your system, but unless you know what you are doing, I would stick to just two tabs, Services and Startup. To start speeding up your PC, go to the ‘Services’ tab and click ‘Hide all Microsoft Services’, which will stop you accidental stopping anything you need. Now untick anything you don’t feel you need. An example of a service you might want to untick is ‘Google Update Service‘, whilst an example of one you probably don’t want to is your Anti-Virus software’s one.

Remember stopping a service does not stop you opening a program. Say there is an Office service which you stop, it will not run in the background, but you will still be able to run Word, Excel and Outlook.

Now lets move onto the ‘Startup’ tab. Here you can also remove any service you don’t want to run, but this is specifically when you start up your PC. For example, if you have Skype installed, but don’t want it to run when your computer starts, then untick the Skype service. Likewise if you don’t want Google Talk to automatically start running, untick googletalk.exe – the Google Talk service.

Reorganise Your Hard Disk

Reorganising your files is really easy, it just takes time. A disk defragmenter is what you need for this, and Windows comes with one built in for free! There are third party ones available too, some of which are good, and others not so – your choice.

Simply start Windows Disk Defragmenter via searching for it in the start menu, or open My Computer >> right-click on the hard disk you want to defragment >> click Properties >> click the Tools tab >> click click Defragment now.

It may take any amount of time from 5 minutes to 12 hours (potentially more if you have a really big and messy hard disk) and during the process, I would advise against using your computer. Typically it takes an hour or two to defragment a hard disk.

Turn Off Unneeded Visual Effects

If you are happy to loose some of the sleekness your system has then this tip could really boost your computers performance.

First you need to open the visual effects panel. In Windows 7 right-click Computer on the start menu >> click Properties >> click Advanced system settings (on the left) >> then select Settings under the Performance section. In XP right-click My Computer >> click Properties >> click the Advanced tab >> then select Settings under the Performance section.

From here you can remove visual effects you don’t really need. If you like you can remove them all, but that could really change how your PC looks. Animate windows when minimizing and maximising, Show shadows under mouse pointer and Show window contents while dragging are all effects which really slow down your PC, but you are unlikely to miss. Experiment, and see which ones you can live without.

I hope these tips work for you, and have fun with your fast(er) computer!

Got any tips yourself? Why not share them below?