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by reese

Web designers and graphic designers in general constantly need a stream of new ideas and creative input to keep their work fresh and lively. The good ones also learn to be highly efficient in their work because clients and a regular paycheck demand it.

I’m always on the lookout for little tools and tricks to make my life as a web designer easier. Below you’ll find a smattering of some that make my work go faster and creativity come more easily to me:

  1. Kaliber 10,000’s Pattern Library: This website, which is full of design news and reviews, offers patterns that tile seamlessly and are small in file size. Adding a pattern to part of your site is an easy way to quickly add dimension or visual interest without sacrificing download efficiency. Many of the free patterns on Kaliber are royalty-free for non-commercial use, but there are some acceptable for commercial use as well. Although many work great as is, I often take a pattern I like and modify its colors for use in a particular project. This ensures color harmony in my work and also helps combat the possibility that someone else is using the pattern on the web.
  2. Istockphoto.com: If you’re a designer and haven’t heard about istockphoto, you’re in for a real treat. Here you’ll find gorgeous, professional stock photography, vector illustrations, 3-D and even Flash animations for mere dollars. You simply buy X number of “credits” with istockphoto and use those credits to download images. Each image is between 1 and 5 credits (or around $1-$5). If you’re a genius behind the lens yourself or great with illustration, you can submit your own work to istockphoto, and if it’s accepted, you earn credits each time someone downloads your work.
  3. Dynamic Text Replacement as Explained by A List Apart: A List Apart is one of the premier sites for design news and long before the rest of the world embraced CSS as a layout tool, ALA was pushing heavily for it. This particular article is a trick I was hesitant to link because it is so COOL and hardly used. Imagine you are designing a blog or other content-changing site for someone, and you’re sick of the standard choices of “Arial, Helvetica and Georgia” for your title fonts. You want something nicer, something more classy that isn’t an embedded image like you have for the person’s menu. You want this font to display every time a person changes or updates a particular element on the page. Enter dynamic text replacement, as aided by PHP. In short, you upload a true type font to your server, use PHP to tell your site to use this font, and viola! Suddenly Mrs. Eaves All Petite Caps is showing up in all your client’s blog entry titles.







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