Free Vector Pattern: contemporary design

A few weeks ago I had an email from a packaging designer asking if they could incorporate this winter theme vector in the packaging for a set of Christmas bowls.  We exchanged a few emails and I agreed it would be perfectly okay to go ahead and use the pattern. I really appreciated the honesty of this designer ( Vibeke Star of requesting permission upfront to use the design! It makes a refreshing change from those who think it is not a problem to swipe stuff from this site.

So in celebration of all those honest designer out there here,  is another pattern for you, a contemporary little number I like to call bubble alert.


©: 2011 Chicago Web Designer

Syndication: Extending the reach of your blog.

You write to be read … correct? Here are a few simple tips to reach as many readers as possible.

extend the reach of your blog

Your Feed

Make it easy for readers to subscribe to your blog feed (RSS). This will ensure they see new posts promptly and don’t have to visit your blog to read them. Offer your visitors subscription options, e.g. via a reader or by email.

blog feed subscription

Automate Twitter

Set up your feed so  that your Twitter account automatically tweets a link to your new blog post. This is easily done using Google’s Feedburner .  To optimize the effectiveness of this make sure this is not the only use of your Twitter profile!

Automate Facebook

Configure your Facebook Fan page so your blog posts are automatically posted there.  There are various ways to do this either using the Facebook Notes function or an app like Social RSS or networked Blogs.  It is amazing how many additional readers you will get via this approach.

Automate LinkedIn

LinkedIn is another great social network which can be automatically setup to display your blog posts. Log in to your account and select > edit profile,  scroll down to applications and click > add an application.  You will be presented with various apps,  if you have a WordPress blog select the WordPress, all other blog select Blog Link.

Syndicate your RSS where ever you can

There are many sites which allow you to syndicate your blog content e.g Technorati, Blog Catalog and even Amazon has opened it’s door for you to syndicate your blog to the Kindle.

©: 2011 Chicago Web Designer

Coupons and money saving tricks for web designers.

Back in May I wrote a blog post “Extreme couponing for web designers” which listed FREE services and applications any web designer will appreciate. Today I am back with coupon codes and money saving tricks for domain names and web hosting.

Coupons for domain names

Without a doubt GoDaddy continues to offer the best prices for domain names and there are plenty of coupon codes out there to get an even better deal.  For example the code cjc749fat will get you a .com domain name for $7.49 . The deals/codes  changes on a regular basis but a good site with up to date information is

Web Hosting

Here are some ways to can save on web hosting

  1. What type of hosting account do you need for your web site? Most hosting companies offer a number of different packages and the more complex your website the more you will need from your hosting company. If you have a simple web site the basic hosting package will probably suffice… no need to upgrade for features and functionality you don’t need.
  2. Before opening a new hosting account always do a Google search to see if you can find any coupons, for the company you wish to host with or the type of hosting account you need.
  3. Committing to an initial 12 month contract as opposed to month to month, will generally give you a better rate and save you money in the long run.
  4. Set up a reseller account, many hosting companies will give you a discount on every site you host with them.

© 2011 Chicago web designer

QR codes : What how and why

Undoubtedly you have these strange pixeled squares popping up all over the place. What are they and what can you do with them?

What is a QR code

qr codeQR stands for Quick Response and they are  read by a QR reader app you can easily download to your cell phone. The app decodes the graphic and reveals the information they contain.

QR codes can point to a specific url, share phone numbers, text , send a text message (SMS),  share a vcard or vcalendar,  share social media profiles or  give Google maps location information,

This QR code points to my web site

Creating a QR Code

Creating a QR code couldn’t be simpler. There are a number on free online generation site such as Kaywa which allows you to generate a URL, text, phone number or sms QR code, or QRstuff which gives you more options on which information you would like to share. QRstuff also offers a subscription service which give you access to high resolution QR codes suitable for printing.

Why use QR Codes

Simple reason because they make life easier, no more pen and paper to jot down information. With a quick scan the information you want to convey is electronically stored. QR codes offer another avenue with which to engage with your customers.

Where to use QR Codes

  • Business cards
  • Marketing material such as brochures and flyers
  • T shirts
  • Real estate signs
  • Promotional freebies
  • Product labels
  • Store fronts

©: 2011 Chicago Web Designer

Eye of the Chicago web designer: Nature as inspiration for design

I often turn to nature when looking for inspiration for design elements, everything from color, texture, contrast, focus and shape.

Here are a few examples I have shared over the years.

As a designer I am am not alone in using nature as inspiration and yesterday, via another designer,  I came across this wonderful video, nature by numbers. It is definitely worth a watch.