Thursday, April 30, 2009

Tools to Help Develop (or Feed) your Creativity!

If you were not born with that natural creative knack and you are searching for ways to feed your creativity, then take a look at these online tools. With the Internet at your fingertips, why not take advantage of these tools for ideas and inspiration?  

Color Palette Creation
If you are inspired by color or work with color, these tools will help you find new and creative ways to use colors together.
  • COLOURlovers. Not only can you compare color palettes, but find out about color trends, read color articles, and more.
  • The Browser-Safe Web Palette. Use these tools to create colors that will look great no matter which browser your readers are using.
  • kuler. This tool is versatile and fun. Find colors by images, emotions, colors you select, or by browsing popular combinations.
  • Color Palette Generator. Enter the URL for any website to get the colors used in it.
  • Colorcombos. Get the latest color combinations, search the archives, or select random combinations to find colors to fit any need.
Photo Editors
Use these tools to make the most creative images you can, then share them with the world.
  • Gimp. If you can’t afford Photoshop, try this tool that includes layers, channels, paths, and plenty of painting tools.
  • Picnik. This powerhouse of a photo editing tool lets you get creative and is totally free.
  • Splashup. Modeled after Photoshop, this free tool allows you to edit and manage your photos.
  • Picasa. Organize, edit, and share your photos online with this super easy and versatile photo editor.
  • Flickr. Edit photos and share with others or browse through the amazing number of photos available for anyone to enjoy.
  • Flash Slide Show Maker. Create Flash slide shows quickly and easily with this free software.
Photo Prompts
If you like looking at photos for inspiration, then check out these places on the Internet that will stimulate your creativity.
  • Smugmug. This site has some absolutely gorgeous photos that are well worth browsing for help finding your creativity.
  • elements. Click on the Explore button to generate inspirational photos. Sign up for free to rate, follow, and see favorites.
  • SXC. Find free stock photographs at this site that can either serve as inspiration or you can incorporate into your creative endeavors.
  • morgueFile. These stock photographs are free to use and free to browse through for great ideas.
  • One Photo a Day. Get a new photo every day on this site, or browse through the past days to see inspirational photos.
  • 365 Pictures Prompts. Visit this site each day for a new photo contributed from independent photographers to feed your creativity.
  • The Photographer’s Life. Enter contests or just browse through the inspirational photos here. Be sure to visit the Hall of Fame for some of the best.
  • Every Photo Tells a Story. Check out the images posted here every day for a wide range of photos and pictures.
  • Fotosearch. While these photos aren’t free to use, there are plenty to browse through for inspiration or ideas for your own creations.
Various Creativity Triggers
From checking out inspirational websites to creativity exercises to coming up with fun slogans, these tools will help trigger your creativity when it’s waning.
  • Creativity Portal. Find ideas for arts and crafts, creative living, writing, and prompts–or if all else fails, get creativity coaching.
  • EyeWire Creativity Cards. Print out these cards and use them to spark your creativity when you are feeling less inspired.
  • Favorite Website Awards. The websites showcased here are sure to offer inspiration and appreciation for other’s creativity.
  • An Exercise. Try out this exercise from the book, The Creative Brain, that gets your imagination and creativity flowing.
  • Learn to be MORE Creative NOW!. Get exercises to start the creative process as well as four lessons at this website.
  • Creativity Pool. Add ideas for inventions that should be made or search for ideas that others have contributed here.
  • CREAX. Use this amazing website as a tool to spark your creativity with its links to 841 websites handpicked by the CREAX team and thought to be the best in creativity and innovation.
  • Creative Aerobics. Select online activities from this list that will help you explore topics or concepts, break mindsets, find alternate problem-solving techniques, and much more.
  • Web Lab. Check out the projects going on at this site that all share a goal of bringing new perspectives to important social issues.
  • Mindstreaming. This community shares ideas on how to bring about world peace. Find some creative ideas here that may spark your own creativity.
  • Instructables. This website is full of fun projects you can create yourself. Browse through these projects to get your creative juices flowing.
  • Sketchcast. Create your own sketches you can share or spend some time looking at sketches drawn and posted by others.
  • Sloganizer. Use this tool to create slogans based on keywords or use the slogans generated as a trigger for brainstorming your own.
  • Good Things Should Never End. The fun, interactive graphics on this website are meant solely for entertainment purposes and will likely feed your creativity as you play along the way.
Source: 100 Excellent Online Tools to Feed Your Creativity
Check the full list for creativity in organization, brainstorming, journaling, and more.

Or you can always hire someone to do the creative thinking for you, especially the design work! TBH Creative specializes in creative web design -- Indianapolis web design at its best. Contact us to learn more.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

How to choose keywords for search engine optimization

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of increasing your chances to be included in the relevant search engine results for targeted keywords with the ultimate goal of increasing traffic to your web site.
I often hear my clients say: "I want to come up first in Google."

The problem is: everyone else is trying to do the same thing! Therefore, it is important to understand that search engine optimization and search engine marketing is an ongoing process based on competition for targeted keywords and changes in the search engine algorithms. If your competitor increases what they are doing, you will need to do the same in order to stay ranked. If Google changes they way they rank sites, you will need to adjust your strategy.

What does it take to rank?
Depending on your targeted keywords and their competitiveness, the efforts required to see results will vary. Different companies will tell you different things too, which can be frustrating and overwhelming.
But, first thing, no matter what, is to define the "keywords" you wish to see results for. Choosing the right keywords to base your site optimization around is an important first step. General keywords are usually not the best approach -- it is usually better to be more specific and focus on niche keywords relating to your product or service.

Ask yourself these questions:
  1. Will people search for the service or product on my website?
  2. Exactly which words will they be searching for?
  3. How competitive are my target keywords -- how many other websites are targeting the same keywords?
How competitive are your keywords?
Type your keywords into the search engine and you will see approx. how many other people are coming up for the same term. These are your competitors.


We recommend that you be realistic about targeting highly competitive keywords - you may be better off targeting less popular ones.

Stay tuned for more SEO information, but get started today thinking about your keywords. Learn more about SEO basics here.

Contact TBH Creative to discuss your web site SEO strategy or web design project.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Indiana Health Care Association hires TBH Creative

TBH Creative has recently engaged with the Indiana Health Care Association to manage their web site and online needs. The web site was transferred to TBH Creative today and uses our custom Content Management System. Over the next few months, we will be working with the team at IHCA to increase the site's effectiveness.

The Indiana Health Care Association (IHCA) is an information, education and advocacy resource to health care providers, consumers and lawmakers. The organization is recognized as the authority in the continuum of quality long-term care services in Indiana.

To learn more about how TBH Creative can help with your web site needs, contact us today. Check our portfolio for other samples of work. We specialize in web design, application development, and other online needs.

Friday, April 24, 2009

New blog design for Lydia's Uniforms

TBH Creative was hired by partner, Compendium Blogware, to redesign the blog site for Lydia's Uniforms. We created a design for Lydia's blog that was fun, matched company branding, and called attention to important company promotions. TBH stretched the limits of the Compendium's templated system using CSS to manipulate the typical blog design.
 

Compendium Blogware is a great company is your business has something to say and is looking to increase search engine optimization. Compendium is the only blogging software built specifically for business. Focused on SEO, blogging with Compendium means blogging for results. A Compendium blog enables your employees to create–with ease– relevant content to generate new customers and create demand for your product or service.

Lydia's Uniforms is dedicated to getting you the latest, in-style scrubs and medical uniforms at the best value. They have been selling medical uniforms for 40 years and three generations (all started by their Grandmother Lydia). They emphasize providing friendly customer service and taking care of customers one at a time.

If your company is looking to increase search engine optimization, contact TBH Creative to learn more about what can be done and determine if blogging is a good solution. Or if you already have a blog, we would be happy to assist with a redesign to make it more effective and professional.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Get rid of HTML tables for web formatting once in for all

Many web sites on the Internet today still use tables for lay out. It is time to educate web developers and companies about why using Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) is better. Tables were never intended for web page layout. Rather, the HTML table was designed for presenting tabular data. There are many insidious but huge problems with resorting to tables for web page design.

Quick summary of why CSS is better:
1. Your pages will load faster because of clean code (less HTML is needed to create the page and make it work = less bandwidth)

2. Edits, changes, and redesigns will be easier, less expensive and more efficient (because the design is separated from the content and controlled in a style sheet instead of each HTML page)

3. Better for search engine results (Google can read through your page quicker and will not read useless tags and meaningless spacer images)

4. Good for accessibility and usability amongst users on different Internet browser windows, phones, print views, and even without images.

A more technical explanation. Reasons to avoid tables for layout:
1. If you’re using tables for layout then you’re mixing presentation with content, so your bandwidth usage is higher than need be, as for every page your visitors view, they have to download the same presentational data again and again.

2. Redesigns are a lot harder than they need to be. Since tables can only be laid out on screen one way, if you want to change the layout of a table site, you have to change your tables in every single one of your pages. Not a nice job. With a full CSS site, all you need do is change that one CSS file.

3. Tables really don’t help accessibility for viewers with disabilities. Although your layout may look logical displayed on screen, the order in which it will be read by, say, screen reading software, may be very different. Many countries now have their own laws stating that websites must be accessible to all.

4. Likewise, people visiting your site using PDAs, mobile phones, and the like do not have the screen space that your big flashy table layout demands. A well written CSS site will generally scale far better to smaller and larger screens than a comparable table layout will.

5. Tables are complicated to look at in HTML. Before you even get to any content inside them you’re at three levels of indentation. Embedded tables are especially painful to edit.

6. Tables can hurt search engine ratings. If you’re using a “classic” left hand navigation table, your navigation will be placed before your content in your HTML file. Because Search Engines generally place more importance on the things nearer the beginning of a page, the chances are your content will be largely ignored.

7. Tables can take longer to display correctly than CSS. If you use Internet Explorer, you’ll have seen this many times when loading tabled sites. While everything on the page is downloading, the IE will keep re-rendering, bouncing the contents of the page back and forth until the download is complete and it knows where to place everything.

The purpose of this article is to educate our clients and other developers about the difference between the two common methods of building web pages. More web sites should be built with proper semantic markup.

Think basics: paragraphs will be inside P (paragraph) tags, lists are in UL (unordered list) and OL (ordered list) tags, etc. For bits that your want to move around the page for your actual layout, use DIV tags.

Check out this great article too. The author takes the microsoft.com web page which used tables and spacer gifs abundantly, then removes all of the tables and implements CSS design and reduces the original file size of 62%! "If multiplied out by an average of 38.7 million page views per day, that 25 KB savings per page could add up to about 924 GB in bandwidth savings per day, or 329 terabytes per year."

(Sources: Go Table Free, Why Tables are Stupid, A Fight to the Death, Why use CSS, and plain old experience from building web sites in both ways for many years!)

Contact TBH Creative today for more information about CSS vs. Table layout. We can evaluate your web site and offer solutions. We can re-code your site using proper CSS and validated HTML, as well as provide a full evaluation of your current site.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

New web site for Morales Group

TBH Creative was hired by the Morales Group, Inc. to seamlessly integrate third party software for a robust Job Center to their current web site. TBH Creative assisted with many additional tasks throughout the project to help the company with their online presence including: re-coding the pages to remove the table based code with clean, CSS-driven HTML; reorganizing the navigation structure to allow for second level navigation and one-click pages; and optimizing/compressing the graphics for proper optimization. The new web site launched today -- check out the updated site and new functionality via WorldLink Staff Suite at http://www.moralesgroup.net/.

About The Morales Group, Inc A dedicated team of placement specialists, client service representatives and sales professionals from the U.S. and Latin America who understand the highly productive Latino workforce. This allows their team to better integrate, support and place workers ensuring to meet customer’s temporary and permanent staffing needs. Services include:
  • Aprisa Workforce - Contingent labor for light industrial manufacturing and warehouse jobs.
  • Prima Staffing Solutions - Temporary to permanent labor for light industrial jobs.
  • Solosource - Assembly, packaging, and warehouse services.
  • Aprisa Time - Web-based Time and Labor Management system.
TBH Creative can help your organization integrate a robust third party software application. There are many options available for pre-developed solutions, but the integration is important to keep professionalism and seamless experience for end-users as they navigation pages of your web site. Contact TBH Creative to discuss your online project needs.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

New Song Mission launches new site

TBH Creative is excited for the launch of a newly redesigned web site for New Song Mission. Located in Brown County, Indiana, New Song Mission works to rebuild the lives of children so that they will become joyful followers of Christ Jesus who are full of wisdom, character, and love. TBH Creative was hired to redesign the site for more appeal and to emphasize important information, assist with site architecture, and implement a Content Management System. The revised web site launched today and you can visit the new web site at http://www.newsongmission.org/.

About the Charitable Organization In response to Christ’s calling, New Song Mission offers loving, lifelong homes and a private education for young children whose prospects are severely threatened by dysfunctional family situations. The New Song approach represents a proven alternative to Indiana’s financially hamstrung child care system, and fantastic news for children who deserve a second chance at childhood.

What You May Not Have Known Last year, 23,000 ordinary children in Indiana were abused and neglected by their parents. That’s 442 kids each week or 63 every day who suffer at the hands of a violent batterer or who have been exploited or neglected by parents who disregard their kids’ basic human needs.
In 2003, more than 10,000 children were removed from their homes by the state and placed temporarily in foster homes and facilities; most, from poorer families.

Each year in Indiana:
  • 7,000 children and teens live in temporary foster homes;
  • 3,000 children live in shelters and other state-funded facilities;
  • 200 legal orphans whose parents’ rights have been terminated remain unadopted in state care.
TBH Creative can help your organization build an effective web site. Many organizations need to update pages often, and we offer a custom-developed Content Management System to serve this need. If your organization needs web design assistance, call TBH Creative today to start increasing your online effectiveness.
 

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