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Another great Norfolk Show this year with plenty of local businesses on show. My personal favorite was the local Saab dealer and their climbing wall – great fun.

Looking forward to next year and hopefully a little more from the online community to see – come on all you Norfolk web design companies.

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Website designers are the people who design websites. Think how many websites there are in the world then think how many website designers there must be. How do you choose a good one? Well the best place to start is to understand what website designers do and how they do it. You can read they key functions of website designers roles here.

An important part of web design are the images.

It’s easy to get carried away with keyword density, search engine optimization and meta descriptions in an effort to dominate the search results.

Free images can be striking but you have to search for them

Free images can grab your attention but you have to search for them

With the millions of web pages out there the competition is tough. This is where striking images come in to play. A compelling image can stop a page hopper in their tracks, grab their attention and then, just maybe, they will start to read the words.

Now, you may be thinking that you need hundreds of pounds for good quality images. Not so. There are many fantastic image library sites out there with great images ranging from free, to a few pounds to hundreds of pounds.

If you are prepared to do the searching then you usually find what you need on the free sights and if you have the cash then the world is your oyster.

To add images to your web design here are 3 image library sites to get you started.

Stock.XCHNG
A huge range of free images. Many great, some not so good. Try here first.

iStockphoto
Great photos for a few pounds.

Getty Images
The best images but the top prices.

Over the past couple weeks I have been holding interviews for web designers. Having seen all sorts of candidates I thought I’d share some of the do’s and don’ts that I’ve seen.

Do’s

  • Bring a CV
  • Bring some printed examples
  • Explain how you were involved in the project
  • Talk about the techniques you used to create the site
  • Show enthusiasm about web design
  • Explain how you keep up with industry developments

Don’ts

  • Say you have skills that you don’t
  • Show web sites that have under construction sections
  • Show web sites that are not cross browser compatible
  • Say you complete work in unrealistically quick times

Sitting in the coffee shop at the back of Waterstone’s book shop in Norwich, Norfolk I am surrounded by a wealth of web design books. The idea of referring to printed books in the world of web design may seem a little low tech in this fast changing industry.

However, there are many fundamental principles of design and usability that could have been written thousands of years ago that are relevant to today’s online world. The software, coding techniques and computers change daily but one thing that remains the same is human behaviour.

Web design books have a place in the modern, online world

Web design books have a place in the modern, online world

A pleasing design will have the same principles weather it’s for a web site, book, map, poster, TV, fashion, a chair, a car or a building.

There are 3 books I reference regularly when web designing and they are as follows.

Don’t Make Me Think!
Excellent, common sense approach to usability – worth reading every time before you start a new web project.

Graphic Design: The New Basics
You need to know the basics – also contains some inspirational design ideas.

Graphic Design School
Contains a number of creative solutions to some typical design problems – good for getting your brain thinking.

While looking to develop new business for Norfolk Days Out we came up with the idea of setting up a Norfolk Gift Shop.

The idea was to create a place on the site where visitors to the county can buy guides, souvenirs and memorabilia.

Working with Amazon seemed like the perfect partner and using their aStore system has proved to be the ideal solution.

Norfolk Days Out Gift Shop powered by Amazon aStore

Norfolk Days Out Gift Shop powered by Amazon aStore

The aStore provides an all encompassing shopping experience which is easy to set up, quick to brand and simple for clients maintain. Commission details and reports are also easy to access and the Amazon brand provides reassurance to consumers.

One desktop application that, as soon as I started to use it, became an essential part of my system set up as a web designer is Google Desktop.

Google Desktop is a small application that runs on system start up. You add ‘gadgets’ to your desktop which range from the fun and wacky to the more useful production apps.

Google Desktop

Google Desktop

These gadgets sit neatly and calmly at the side of your screen and you can dip in and out through out the day. And of course being Google and web based you can log in to any machine with your account details and retrieve your desktop wherever you are.

Here are the top gadgets currently occupying my desktop.

Google Calendar
See all you appointments, deadlines and holidays at glance in the corner of your screen.

Google Docs
All your Google Docs listed and simple click to open them.

Scratch Pad
Notes, phone numbers, flashes of inspiration – get them down quick before you forget them.

Twitter
The most un-intrusive Twitter client I have seen – quietly updates through out the day allowing you to scan the latest happenings.

OK, first up I don’t have an iPhone but I do have an iPod Touch. The apps I use all work fine with the Touch.

Web design apps for the iPhone

Web design apps for the iPhone

It’s surprising how many apps you end up using in your day to day life as a web designer. Here are my top 3.

TweetDeck (for iPhone)
Great for connecting with other web designers, work mates and clients. Essential for spotting upcoming trends and getting the latest web design news first.

ControlPad
This neat little app acts as a remote mouse for your computer – great to use when presenting to clients.

Air Sharing
Turns your iPod Touch in to a wireless¬† hard drive – useful for transporting files around. You can also view doc, PDF’s, pictures and more.

Hi. This will be the official blog for Studio Web Design – web design and development services for Norfolk, UK.

My name is Andy Simmons and I am the founder of Studio Web Design.

With his blog I will be looking to discover, invent, discuss and experiment with all things web design related.

Your comments, suggestions and feedback will be most welcome and I look forward to reading your comments soon.