Category: web design Great for the designer who dislikes the invoice process


If you’re like me, you’d rather be designing instead of invoicing.
I’ve seen Freshbooks publicized here and there by many designers, so I finally got around to setting up my own account.

Some of the things I like:

  • It’s FREE to try out with up to 3 clients.
  • Easily create invoices and send via email, ground mail, or save as PDF
  • Clients can pay online (you just have to set up an online payment gateway, like PayPal)
  • Track time for a project and synchronize with the invoicing.
  • And as with many accounts these days, you can personalize it to match your branding.

Thanks Freshbooks for helping designers be better at invoicing 🙂

My post-Big (D)esign Conference to-do list

I recently attended the Big (D)esign Conference in Dallas and could not say enough good things about it!  I took pages and pages of notes on web design usability and user behaviour and thoroughly challenged by brain to delve deeper into user experience and interactions.  I’d expected to come away with a long list of design websites to look up…but instead I came away with quite a long reading list of books relating to human psychology.

Here are some of the books mentioned by some of the conference speakers (I’ve linked the titles to the books on Amazon):

Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely

What Makes Them Click by Susan M. Weinschenk

Designing Web Interfaces by Bill Scott

About Face by Alan Cooper

Mind Hacks by Tom Stafford & Matt Webb

What is Strategy? by Michael Porter

Cult of the Amateur by Andrew Keen
Phew! That’s quite the summer reading list!


Free screen sharing with, it works great!

As a designer, there are times when it’s just plain easier to show instead of tell.

Adobe’s ConnectNow screen sharing is a really easy to use resource…and it’s FREE!  I learned about it in an Adobe webinar about Creative Suite 4.  You can have up to 3 meeting members and there’s plenty of functionality. ConnectNow is handy because it uses the Flash plugin to run.  Since most users have the a Flash plugin installed, there shouldn’t be any problems to get going quickly.

To get started:

  1. Set up an account and you’ll have your own personal “meeting room” link ex:
  2. To start a meeting, go to and login.  (If you have CS4, you can launch right out of Photoshop, Illustrator, etc.)
  3. Send the link to your participants.  They just create a user name and enter your “meeting room.”
  4. Enjoy your meeting!

There are lots of “pods” within for your use in the meeting, including:

  • chat
  • whiteboard – good for brainstorming, participants can write on it too!
  • webcam
  • audio conferencing

There are also a lot of other great file sharing resources on  Check it out when you have a chance!

This is a screenshot of what the participant will see during the meeting.
This is a screenshot of the participant's interface. The large center area will disply the moderator's screen.

CRM Email Marketing Add-ons..from a designer’s eyes

There are a lot of email marketing tools out there, so be sure you have your list of requirements ready before you try to research.

In this case, I was looking for a third-party add-on for Microsoft Dynamic CRM 4.0 so we could send HTML emails (remember, I’m thinking from a designer perspective)

My email marketing criteria:

  • Fully interated with CRM (so it “looks” like it’s part of the CRM)
  • WYSIWYG editor and template builder (Think of it like the text formatting toolbar in you email, like Hotmail or Gmail)
  • Image/asset library (A place to view and store your images)

If you’re in a similar situation as myself, here are some of my finds:

Exact Target

  • YES Integrates fully with CRM
  • YES WYSIWYG editor & template builder
  • YES image/asset library


  • YES Integrates fully with CRM
  • NO WYSIWYG editor & template builder BUT you can upload your own HTML templates, so if you have a web designer to create templates, then this could work for you.
  • YES image/asset library


  • pricing structure is geared towards companies with large marketing lists, so it didn’t turn out to be the best solution for us.
  • YES Integrates fully with CRM
  • YES WYSIWYG editor & template builder
  • YES image/asset library


  • pricing structure is geared towards companies with large marketing lists, so it didn’t turn out to be the best solution for us.
  • YES Integrates fully with CRM
  • YES WYSIWYG editor & template builder
  • YES image/asset library

I’m sure there are more out there, feel free to add a comment if you think I’ve missed something.

Website Prototypes

I was recently introduced to some website prototyping software: Axure and Protoshare. The main difference is that Axure has to be installed and Protoshare is web-based. If you need some first-hand feedback on both, I’d recommend talking to the owner of, David Crouch, he’s tried both of them (but currently uses Axure). He was a big help to me!  Thanks David!

I chose the trial of Protoshare because it is web-based. As a designer, the advantage of using this software is that you can lay out the site architecture and navigation before getting caught up in design, CSS, or HTML prototypes.  But, you can add in your design and CSS later to give a pretty accurate prototype of the site before going into development.  So far I’m really enjoying this because I don’t create hundreds of Photoshop layers to show variations, nor do I waste my time setting up an HTML page to show modest interactivity.

– web-based, access anywhere
– clients can login to view and interact with prototype, section for adding comments
– easy drag and drop functionality for layout
– can apply CSS id and class tags to give accurate styling
– easy site-map creation

– a little bit buggy, but their Support is very quick to respond 🙂


LinkedIn, more than an online resume

Recently I’ve become addicted to the Question & Answers section of LinkedIn.  If you haven’t checked it out and still rely on the first 10 search results from Google, then you’re missing out. The Q&A section consistently brings me insight into current tools/software that other web development and marketing professionals rely on. I’ve started to prefer it over random web forums as well because you can see more about the background and experience of the person providing the information, thus making the answer more credible.

I’ve used LinkedIn for recommendations on:
– Online printing companies
– Content Management Systems (CMS)
– Web design prototyping tools
– Email marketing services
– Email marketing integration for Microsoft CRM
– …the list goes on. So I’ll let you check it out now 🙂

Camtasia vs. Captivate, my two cents

I’ve been dealing with the same software quandary as others creating e-learning: work with Adobe Captivate or Camtasia?  And it really comes down to, what are you trying to create?  Both products offer different resources, so try to become familiar with what they offer and go from there.

I recently worked on a company orientation project that involved Powerpoint slides and screencast training of software.  At the time, I had to make a hasty decision about which software to use for the project.  I chose Camtasia for the trial, and successfully completed my project.

Once my 30-day trial with Camtasia was up and I prepared to purchase the software, I realized I should give Captivate a trial.  I’ve been playing with the trial of Captivate and reading various forums, but I’m going to stick with Camtasia (see below for links).

A quick list of the elements that swayed me to Camtasia:

– zoom-and-pan effect in screen recordings
– Powerpoint add-on to record the screen
– timeline editor (instead of slides like Captivate)
– multiple options for file formats (MOV, AVI, MP4)
– price – approx. $300

    Here are some resources I’ve found helpful in making my decision to stick with Camtasia for my purposes.

    – An extremely thorough comparison of Captivate and Camtasia by Michael Hanley

    -Summary of presentation on Captivate and Camtasia – be sure to read the comments at the end of the blog, lots of good feedback there.
    – Good example to demonstrate the zoom-and-pan effect in Camtasia