Wednesday, February 29, 2012

1stwebdesigner

1stwebdesigner


How to Use About.me as Your Online Business Card

Posted: 29 Feb 2012 08:00 AM PST

You would probably ask, ” I already use so many services – Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Flickr, YouTube etc on a regular basis, what’s the need for another one?”

Well, about.me is not really just ‘another one’ , it’s a service meant to put together all your other services. It’s a neat way to merge your multiple online profiles scattered across different service providers in one single identity – either for your personal use or for professional purposes.

For me the professional angle sounds more interesting. Imagine if you could have clickable links on your business card to your LinkedIn, your resume, your portfolio, client testimonials etc, about.me is exactly like that. It’s basically your business card online with links to the services which promotes you and gives the visitor an idea as who you are. So next time rather than providing someone with multiple links to your online accounts just direct them to your about.me page.

In this post I will walk you through the story of about.me in brief, then visit some nice about.me pages to gather inspiration and then proceed step by step to create one.

The Story

Launched in December 2010, by Ryan Freitas, Tony Conrad and Timothy Young, the San Francisco-based startup was acquired by AOL within four days of launch. Brad Garlinghouse, President of Consumer Applications, AOL, quoted “about.me is more than just the aggregation of social profiles, it allows people to easily express themselves in an increasingly noisy environment full of disparate social experiences”. The acquisition according to Young will enable the service to “piggyback” on the AOL’s large userbase.

The success of about.me, I believe comes from the fact that a true personal brand identity is associated with the .me domain. The site uses a very simple user interface, allowing users to set  up their page in a few minutes, backed by strong back-end analytics which make it easy for a user to see how many people viewed their profile pages and which social networks they went on to view from there, thus providing users with deeper insight into how to build and market themselves online.

Inspiration

For inspiration you can checkout the pages in the featured section found on the bottom of the first page and the pages of the founders of the site.

Featured pages

Page of Tony Conrad, one of the founders of about.me (http://about.me/tonyconrad)

Page of Ryan Freitas, another founder of about.me (http://about.me/ryanchris)

Creating your own page

Step 1 : Sign up

Start by signing up and creating a unique url for you as about.me/your-name

Step 2 : Register

Register your name, write a short biography about yourself or leave it for later. Choose the tags which you think are appropriate to you or your work.

Step 3 : Customize Background

Your page is now online! Customize your page by changing the background, there are some in-house templates that you can use. However since about.me is all about branding yourself try using a high-resolution image of your own to fill up the entire screen, works pretty well for most of the pages

Step 4 : Biography

The next step is writing a short Biography, here you can write something about who you are and what you do, if you have skipped it in step 2.

Step 5 : Color and Font settings

Edit the colors to suit your background and your taste. Change the font likewise.

Step 6 : Add services

Now this is the most important part of setting up the page, adding the services. There are a few popular services. Choose the ones you are subscribed to and would like to add to your profile. Once you click and choose any of them you will be redirected to the website of the service, where you need to login once and approve permission. You are automatically redirected back to your about.me page once you have authorized the use of the service.

Step 7 : Add contact preferences

Set up your contact preferences using the contact tab. I have selected email contact and AOL chat option, which remains visible on my profile.

Step 8 : Using Analytics

Click on the Dashboard and select ‘Profile Statistics’ to view how many people have visited your website.

Click on the ‘clicks’ tab and you can view the statistics of your added services that were visited in the selected timeframe. I believe this is a very good feature in analyzing which of your online profiles are most viewed, and as I have said earlier it can serve as a useful insight to brand yourself.

Step 9: Find friends

Click on the Account and select ‘Find Your Friends’ option to see who are already on about.me. Once you find your friends from your other networks you can ‘fave’ their profile, and it will be added to your favorites.

Step 10 : Ready to go

The last step is sharing your newly made page with your friends on other networks who are not yet on about.me or are not aware of this service. Inspire them to join or have a look at your page by selecting ‘Share Your Profile’ from the Account tab. You can alternatively send emails with link to this page using the e-mail option.

So there,my friend is my business card online. Its simple, sleek and easy to share.

SliderWall Giveaway: 5 Commercial Licenses of jQuery Image Slider

Posted: 29 Feb 2012 02:00 AM PST

Are you ready for yet another amazing giveaway? SliderWall is giving away 5 commercial licensees to our lucky readers! If you have been dreaming of placing a jQuery slider on your website but can’t find the perfect solution for it, then you’ve definitely come to the right place!

How do you win this awesome jQuery slider? Read on!

What is SliderWall?

SliderWall is a jQuery image slider that is made purely using HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript. SliderWall is a very flexible tool in terms of user customization and responsiveness when it comes to mobile devices. Meaning, it will display just fine on your desktop, tablet, and smartphones, eliminating the worry of cross-platform compatibility.

As mentioned, it is very easy to customize if you know a little about CSS. It has a lot of cool transition effects and many uses.

You can use SliderWall for:

Tours & Presentations

If you have a product to sell or a service to pitch in, you can definitely use SliderWall to tell your website’s visitors everything they need to know about your business, with style!

Image Slider

Are you a photographer, illustrator, painter, or someone along those lines? Then why not show your work to the whole world using this amazing image slider!

Video Slider

Of course this should be a functionality every image slider should have. SliderWall nailed it! Video slider on your website? Now isn’t that ultra cool?

Tab Slider

Now be honest, you want to get your hands on it, right?!

Don’t forget to check out the SliderWall demo so that you can really feel and experience its awesomeness!

Main Features:

  • 15 cool transitions
  • Touchscreen support
  • SEO friendly
  • RSS feed support
  • Video support
  • HTML content support
  • and a lot more!

The Giveaway

SliderWall is giving away 5 Commercial Licenses worth $99 each which our loyal readers can use on a single domain. With a commercial license, the winners can use it on any type of commercial project. All features included!

Can’t wait? You can give it a try right now by downloading the free version of SliderWall.

How to Win

It’s simple, all you have to do is:

  1. Tweet, +1, and Share this so that more people will know about it (spread it across every social network you have!)
  2. Comment here containing the links to your Tweet or +1 (people might start following you, who knows?).
  3. Tell people you know about this amazing tool!

Then the waiting begins. Winners will be announced next week, so check back!

Winners will be selected using Random.org.

Graphic Design Blog

Graphic Design Blog


Interesting Statistics of Top 5 Social Media Sites [Infographic]

Posted: 29 Feb 2012 02:32 AM PST

Analytics

Did you know that there are 2.8 billion social media profiles on the internet? It means that almost half of global internet users are devoted users of the New Media. It also signifies the rising influence that social media has on our personal, communal and professional lives. This is the reason why more and more businesses have increased their presence on various online platforms. Even graphic designers greatly use platforms like Facebook and Twitter to get the right exposure but how does one measure the business value of their Facebook statistics?

Without knowing the important social media statistics, one cannot create any promotional strategies for future. That is why, we at Graphic Design Blog, have complied and created an interesting infographic of 5 major social media sites of 2012. It reveals statistics of top online social media platforms including Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Reddit and StumbleUpon.

So read along some of the most fascinating facts about your favorite social media sites through our animated infographic. Hope you like it. :)

 
Analytics
 

SocialDon – FREE Comparison of Facebook Analytics!

[Inside AdSense] AlloExpat Thrives with Google AdSense

'PubTalk' is a new program highlighting publishers' perspectives on display products and industry trends. In this installment, we hear from Theresa Giovagnoli, co-founder of AlloExpat.com, on the site's 10th anniversary, about why they've worked with AdSense for 6+ years and how they've benefited from implementing simple optimization solutions.

AlloExpat.com is a worldwide expatriate social portal. It addresses the growing global expatriate community by being a one-stop information center and by connecting expats with professional expatriate service providers.

Inside AdSense (IA): What role does AdSense play in your business?

Theresa Giovagnoli (TG): We're a very large portal and have dedicated websites and discussion forums for each country in our global network. We need a solution that effectively targets ads to a wide international audience. AdSense is simply the best and most efficient solution to do this. Thanks to a consistent revenue steam from AdSense, our web development team has been able to dedicate its attention to growing our global audience and content.

IA: What is the one success you've had with AdSense that you'd like to share with other publishers?

TG: One successful tactic we employed was recategorizing targetable custom channels. We are a global site with multiple regions. Earlier, all our regions were combined under one custom channel, but once we defined targetable channels by region, we saw CPC increase by 20%.  I would highly encourage publishers to set targetable custom channels at the level that best defines their site because it allows advertisers to specifically target their website by segment or region which may lead to performance uplift.

IA: Why do you love AdSense?

TG: We have managed to implement AdSense in a non-intrusive way, generating a fair amount of revenue over the years. AdSense has played a key role in our development over the years and still does today. We'd never have come this far without it.

Posted by Jennifer Chan, AdSense Team


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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

1stwebdesigner

1stwebdesigner


Is Paypal Good for Your Online Business?

Posted: 28 Feb 2012 01:00 PM PST

PayPal is definitely the most well-known online user payment service in the world. With its start somewhere in 2000 thanks to X.com and Confinity merging, PayPal quickly became a leader of the market and expanded very fast among eBay users. That is probably why PayPal was bought by eBay in 2002 for just under $1.5 billion.

But PayPal means much more than that today. Tens of millions of users tend to pay with PayPal faster than with their credit card. The company functions as an acquirer and processes payments for online vendors, auction sites and many commercial users – all these for a small usage fee. With such a reputation to handle, we might surely ask ourselves how likely it is for PayPal to be the best payment processor for our online services. If you own a design agency, I am sure you have thought of this at least once.

Today we will put in balance the negative and positive sides of using PayPal for a business and we will try to come to a conclusion by the end. I look also forward to hearing your opinions about the great service PayPal is, but let's wait for that until the end.

What is PayPal NOT?

Well, although it seems like one, PayPal is definitely not a bank. It offers the basic services of a bank, but is has not been classified as one, although it is under rules and regulations which govern a financial institution in the USA. A bank usually uses people's deposits for its own purposes, while PayPal does not. They only store the deposits in their accounts and do not redistribute any of it. Although PayPal is not considered a bank in the US, it has been regulated just like one by the CSSF in Europe.

In order to be able to talk about the advantages and disadvantages of PayPal, it would be a good idea for me to tell you some quick facts about it:

  • PayPal has more than 230 million accounts registered and allows customers to send, hold and receive money in 190 countries in the world. PayPal features support for 24 different currencies.
  • PayPal allows people to start their own businesses and work as a third-party service in the transactions they make.
  • There is a specific limit of money a user can receive per year. If you want to have an unlimited account, you will need to provide personal information and verify the account.
  • PayPal has a service called Students' Account, which permitted parents to give students money on a debit card.

The good

PayPal has some clear advantages over any competitor on the market. First, it is very easy to set up and is very elegant. It doesn’t take more than few minutes to set up an online shop with support for PayPal. The “add to cart” and “view cart” buttons can even be customized by the designers themselves. The service is also very easy to use and the payments very easy to execute. There is no doubt about the fact that paying with PayPal could not be easier. Moreover, there is no setup or monthly fee.

Let’s face it, one of the most important assets of PayPal is its brand and name recognition. Being a company with excess of $2.2 billion in annual sales revenues, PayPal is no doubt the star player of the market. Although people are still reluctant to pay on the internet, they definitely trust PayPal the most if needed to process money online. Moreover, because it functions as a third-party service, PayPal makes sure the customer’s credit card and bank account number do not get in the stores’ databases. Security is extremely important and PayPal seems to take care of it as well as possible.

While many other services sustain themselves by asking for monthly or yearly payments, PayPal asks for money only from the users who sell. This makes PayPal feel like your friend because when you don’t sell anything, you don’t pay anything. Can it be more convenient?

Image by 401K.

With so many users having a PayPal account, there is a huge potential customer base for everyone who uses PayPal for online selling. A good example is eBay. The majority of the sellers do not offer support for MasterCard or VISA, therefore buyers need to have a PayPal account in order to buy something – and this doesn’t affect eBay at all, because as said before, PayPal has a huge customer base.

While businesses use PayPal for commercial purposes, individuals can also use it for personal purposes. PayPal offers multiple account options and a single person can opt for one of them. Each account option offers different privileges and have different rules. There is no fee for transactions between two PayPal users with a personal account for example.

The fact that PayPal offers support in so many countries is another strong asset. Giving the option to use 24 currencies and handle international payments is something not many other services can do. Another impressive feature is the option to pay through credit and debit cards directly, which means the transaction fee is also minimal, set at 3.9 percent for any amount up to $100,000.

If you thought this is all, you are in for another surprise. Although it is not a bank, PayPal works as a great accountant. You can see every payment, withdrawal, every inbound transaction – all these with a single click. It is very easy to find every transactions in the history panel and you can even download a spreadsheet file with details for a period longer than one year. Printing is not a problem for PayPal either.

As mentioned before, PayPal is an eBay service, therefore buying from the American online store has never been easier.

The bad

As any other service, PayPal has its own disadvantages too. One of them might be the fees charged for non-PayPal payments. Although PayPal claims they help small sellers, the hidden fees show no signs of it. The fees might be from 1.9 to 2.9 percent plus $0.30 per transaction – this can get very costly. Some of PayPal’s rules are also very strict due to different regulations. The slightest suspicion about your account might get it suspended and it takes a long time for PayPal to investigate and reopen your account. You might find yourself with your money locked for longer periods than expected.

Talking about customer service, maybe the worst thing about PayPal is the difficulty to solve issues and investigate cases. There have been many issues over time with trying to contact customer service. Even when you manage to get a hold of them, sometimes it just seems there is no one at the end of the line and some emails only get automated responses. There have also been reports of accounts being automatically charged without the knowledge of the user.

Although a quite secure service, PayPal seems to lack high-quality customer support.

Image by protohiro.

There is not even the chance of a third-party jury. When being investigated by PayPal, your account and funds get frozen and the only thing you can do is wait. There is no documentation provided to the user and it doesn’t seem like PayPal puts much consideration into resolving peoples issues.

The verification process is also a hassle. Users have to provide several important pieces of private information such as bills, bank account numbers, social security numbers, address proof and so on. Some users might not even be comfortable with offering such information, but they have to in order for PayPal to lift the funds receiving limit.

Although most eBay sellers have to use PayPal, it seems the protection for them is not excellent. There have been reports of funds refunded to the customer even after the seller has shipped the item! This can become a deal breaker especially when the customer service is not as good as it should be.

Who else?

If for some reason you just don’t want to go with PayPal, then there are some other alternatives out there, although none of them is really that impressive. Google Checkout is an alternative, although it is still an inferior product. The main difference is that Google’s service charges fees depending on the sales volume, while PayPal does not. Checkout also offers fewer features than eBay’s service.

A second one could be MoneyBookers, a very well-known British-based service. They have a customer base of around 10 million accounts, although we do not know yet how many of them are active. They offer services to everybody with an email address and they have a flat fee per transaction.

Besides Google Checkout and MoneyBookers, there is not much else worth mentioning. The other few alternatives, Amazon Payments, OboPay and Paymate are really small and, when people deal with their money, they are not willing to work with companies without a powerful brand.

Bottom line

PayPal is obviously not the perfect solution for buyers and sellers, however it is definitely the best one available right now. They lack support, true, but it’s the most secure online payment service and the one offering the most features. Although PayPal seems best suited for medium-sized businesses, there are not many alternatives out there.

If we look at it from the buyers’ perspective, then there is definitely no better alternative out there. Let’s face it, every service has its own problems; it is just a matter of finding the one with the least of them.

Until next time… what do you think about PayPal? Did you ever have problems with it as a seller/buyer? What is your experience with their customer support and how long did it take for your case to be investigated?

Web Icon Set Giveaway Winners Announcement!

Posted: 28 Feb 2012 08:00 AM PST

A week has passed since we started our Web Icon Set giveaway, and now we’re announcing the 5 lucky winners of Web Icon Set’s Business Subscription which is worth $99 each! What does that mean for the winners? It means they will spend less time searching and creating icons, because why do you need to reinvent the wheel when over 1000 premium icons are already at your grasp, right?

So, who are the lucky winners?

The Lucky Winners:

  1. Matteo Montolii – #49
  2. Christopher – #13
  3. Allyson Beckers — #37
  4. Victor – #22
  5. Andre Candido – #19

Congratulations! You will be contacted shortly about how to claim your prize, so keep on checking your inbox. Don’t forget to tell the world about Web Icon Set!

How did we choose the winners? We didn’t, it was Random.org that picked you. Totally random!

The Prize:

  • 720 Pictograms
  • 398 Stock Icons
  • 500 Mini Icons
  • PNG, PSD Format
  • 24 to 512px in size
  • Access for 3 years for every update
  • the numbers will keep on growing!

You can use the icons for your personal or commercial projects.

Didn’t Win?

You can still get a taste of Web Icon Set by checking out their free icons.

Impressed by the cool icons? You can start investing now and save lots of time for only $99 for 3 years or $49 for a year.

What now?

Now you tell people about Web Icon Set and go on your merry way. And don’t forget to check back tomorrow for another giveaway!

11 CMSs to Help You Create Your Own Social Networking Website

Posted: 28 Feb 2012 02:00 AM PST

This is the era of social networking. Websites such as Facebook and Google+ dominate the time we spend on the internet. Needless to say, most (if not all) of us find them addictive or, to say the least, interesting.

In this article, we will take a look at some of the CMSs that can be used to create  social networking websites.

1. Dolphin

Dolphin is a CMS that lets you create social networks, dating sites and web communities. It comes loaded with video chat, recorder, video player, forums, groups, events, video messaging, emails, file sharing as well as desktop and mobile apps.

Pros: Wonderful mobile apps, good support for multimedia file types

Cons: Update frequency can be better

Dolphin

Dolphin

Demo | Download

2. Jcow

Jcow is a flexible social networking CMS coded in PHP. It features news feeds and ad blocking scripts. The community isn’t very large, so don’t expect instant replies, and the documentation isn’t the best out there.

Pros: No-nonsense interface, easy to get a hang of

Cons: Documentation isn’t up to the mark

jCow

JCow

Demo | Download

3. Oxwall

Oxwall is a swift and easy to use CMS that caters mainly to social networks and communities, but can also be tweaked for usage in enterprises and other collaborative environments. Oxwall can power many types of websites, including educational networks and other specialized genres of sites.

Pros: Easily extendable/scalable

Cons: Slightly less extensions/templates

Oxwall

Oxwall

Demo | Download

4. Beatz

Beatz is another CMS that focuses on social networks and community websites, though it is more apt for social communities related to music and artists.

Pros: Ideal for creating a music social network

Cons: Difficult to extend

Beatz

Beatz

Demo | Download

5. Etano

Etano lets you create a social network, dating website and other collaborative sites. It doesn’t really offer many unique features, but it can surely suffice for a small social networking project.

Pros: Good for smaller networks, customizable

Cons: Slow updates, less readymade extensions

Etano

Etano

Demo | Download

6. PeoplePods

PeoplePods claims to be “a developer friendly social software toolkit”. The CMS is flexible and is well-backed by active development.

Pros: Flexible, easily customizable, good documentation, active community

Cons: Free extensions can be better

PeoplePods

PeoplePods

Demo | Download

7. Elgg CMS

Elgg is a powerful open source CMS that has a strong community and loyal user base. It can cater to different types of sites and is not strictly meant for social networks. Some of the major sites powered by Elgg include UNESCO and The World Bank.

Pros: Active community, great documentation, good update frequency, decent set of extensions

Cons: Can be confusing for a newbie, slightly steep learning curve

Elgg

Elgg

Download

8. MonoX

MonoX is a social networking CMS based on ASP.NET Its documentation, though decent, isn’t really backed by a super-active community.

Pros: Ideal for ASP.NET users

Cons: Community support can be better

MonoX

MonoX

Demo | Download

9. LiveStreet CMS

LiveStreet CMS lets you create social networks and team blogs. It offers many extensions and multilingual translations.

Pros: Awesome extensions, language packs, etc.

Cons: Not the most nimble or swift CMS

LiveStreet CMS

LiveStreet CMS

Demo | Download

10. Pligg CMS

Pligg CMS is one of the easiest to use CMSs that can power social networks and other interactive websites. Just like Elgg, Pligg too caters to different types of websites.We once did a review of Pligg.

Pros: Easy availability of plugins/templates, good documentation, active community

Cons: Most modules are paid/premium

Pligg CMS

Pligg CMS

Demo | Download

11. Hotaru CMS

Hotaru CMS can be used to create social networks and other such websites. It is a robust CMS and offers numerous plugins and themes.

Pros: Good community support, good documentation, nice repository of themes/plugins

Cons: Even though CMS updates are regular, patches/fixes for extensions take their share of time

Hotaru CMS

Hotaru CMS

Demo | Download

With that said, you can also use mainstream CMSs such as Drupal, WordPress or even BuddyPress for powering social networks and collaborative sites. Here are two working examples: DesignBump (Drupal) and Wordtaps (WordPress).

What do you think of these social networking websites’ CMSs? Do share your thoughts with us in the comments!