Stuck in a rut? 5 tips to get your first freelancing gig

Many people tend to think that freelancing is easy-peasy, that they will just fling their resignation letter into their boss’ faces one day with a dramatic monologue to accompany it and ride off into the sunset where the land of milk and honey awaits.

Reality couldn’t be more different. Freelancing is a tough career to break into and quitting your job to freelance full-time is a surefire way to the poorhouse. The smart way to begin working as a freelancer is to quietly stick to your day job and begin on the side. Usually it takes a while before you can earn enough money to dramatically resign from your day job.

Continue reading

Typography, One of the Most Important Aspect of Web Design

I say, “your web-design is already half done when you’ve taken care of the Typography.” Typography is such an important aspect of User Interface Designs that it would be total folly to neglect it in the underneaths of font-family, font-size and font-weights.

Recently, I went to a casual gathering of WordPress enthusiasts to mark the 10th anniversary of WordPress, and we got talking about themes, plugins, frameworks and overalls of web designs. Amongst the interesting talks on WordPress specific frameworks, themes and general User Interface Frameworks like Bootstrap, Foundation, et al, we also happened to talked about Typography.

Unfortunately, many were not really concerned about it but curious enough that they wanted to know more. This article is the result of that conversation, hoping that other designers would be able to kick-start on the ideas of Typography – explore it and even master it.

Continue reading

Why FCC decided to Reveal High Speed Internet Acceleration Initiative Globally

Technological advancements are being introduced at increasingly fast rates around the world. Several companies, especially those operating in the Information Technology industry, have had to make adjustments to their strategies because being there first can identify you as a revolutionary organization that is known for innovation. Whereas getting there a bit late can label you a follower, which is a label that is extremely hard to shrug off.

As technology advances, examples being cloud technology, an increase in viewers of online television and online gaming follows, and an apparent need was identified by the FCC for significant enhancements in the infrastructure of internet providers to support such advancements.

How Does the Initiative Affect You

Although the advantages are easy to identify, the cons of the operation are minimal but they do affect most consumers. Internet providers are now going to have to make further enhancements that may not have been deemed necessary to sustain, or promote, their business for at least a few more years to come. However, this initiative launched by the FCC requires them to fast track these enhancements, which are unplanned, and rather significant investments for a majority of the internet service providers.

The bottom line is that this investment, although it is one that would very probably be lucrative and beneficial for these organizations in the long run, would most probably have to be incurred by you, the consumer. Most organizations would incur a massive cut on their short term profits. This hit couldn’t have come at a worse time, especially because some of these organizations, who didn’t have much to show their shareholders during the recession, were finally looking to show profits and make up for lost revenue.

But now, with the FCC initiative in effect, these organizations are anticipating at least a couple more quarters, if not more, of slim profits. To increase their margin of profits, these organizations are most likely going to revise their pricing strategy, even if it means the loss of a few customers here and there.

Continue reading

A quick chat about “In50Hrs” with Vijay Anand

Many in the Indian Startup scene knows Vijay Anand or have heard of him. Vijay Anand run The Startup Centre and is very involved with Startups and Entrepreneurs in India.

I recently had the opportunity to meet him in person when he brought In50Hrs to Bangalore for the first time. In50hrs is The Idea-To-Prototype Event. Entrepreneurs, Developers, and Product Designers come together to work on audacious ideas and build working prototypes (MVP) over a Weekend.

Vijay’s been organizing In50Hrs in Chennai for quite a while and he is taking his idea to other cities in India – Delhi, Pune and Bangalore. I asked him few quick questions and he have some thoughtful answers, which I’m sure will be useful to budding entrepreneurs and startups in India.

Continue reading

Adobe & HTML

Honestly, I’m not really impressed with many things Adobe’s been doing lately. Actually, I believe that Adobe is going through some sort of an Identity Crisis. Nonetheless, you cannot really ignore some of the innovative and good things they’re spearheading, specially with open standards like HTML.

Recently, few of us were hurriedly called to the Adobe Bangalore office and we met with Paul Burnett (@pburnett), Adobe APAC Evangelist. I was unable to agree with few things that he showed us but was genuinely impressed with many other initiatives from Adobe.

What I don’t like.

Adobe fought back in many ways when the world was abandoning Flash, they even went ahead to say they love the company that fired the first lethal bullet to the Flash’s Kingdom. When Adobe realized that it was not winning the battle, they went ahead and try to re-create the reign they had with Flash in forms that does not necessarily pronounced “Flash” but doing very similar things that Flash did.

Flash is a good solution for the right purpose and still is. Actually, HTML5 is way behind when it comes to lots of capabilities what Flash can do. But that’s it, let Flash shine where it can and leave alone where it’s not its job anymore.

Edge Animate – really? This brings back unpleasant memories of the Skip Intro days. Do the web need to recreate what Flash did but with CSS? Adobe’s Edge Animate can help you create Flash-esque Animation and spit out CSS and Javascript. The very idea of spitting our machine written CSS and Javascript sounds scary to me – a web full of ‘blings, bells and whistles’ but done in ‘html5’?

I’m of the opinion that you don’t really need that bad to animate elements on a website. In case of websites that needs so many moving parts, they’d rather be doing it with specialized tools or Javascript Experts doing the job, not by a tool that spits out JS codes for you!

Continue reading

Adobe Acrobat XI

Adobe Acrobat XI

Adobe Acrobat XI, besides being the leading PDF converter, is packed with smart tools that give you even more power to communicate – easily, seamlessly, brilliantly.

Until recently, I had the notion that Adobe Acrobat is just a glorified PDF Converter, of course, with a very powerful document management system. However, after attending a special screening of the new Adobe Acrobat XI, here in Bangalore, India, I am impressed with what it can do.

With Acrobat, it becomes so easy to edit text, graphics and the ability to combine multiple PDFs into a single PDF is outstanding. The export capability and online web-creation are pretty nice additions. Of course, the ability to sign documents is brilliant.

The only rant I’ve against it is that it’s rather overwhelming and can scare most first timers. This is a big, well-grown and developed tool.

Continue reading

In50hrs – The Idea-to-Prototype Event

In50hrs is an interesting concept, where ideas meet doer to build something in a short time – a weekend.

In50hrs is The Idea-To-Prototype Event. Entrepreneurs (or Idea Smiths), Developers and Product Designers come together to work on audacious ideas and build working prototypes (MVP) over a Weekend.

In50hrs

In50hrs have few chapters happening across major Indian cities –

  • Bangalore: Nov 23-25, 2012
  • Pune: Dec 14-16, 2012
  • Chennai: Jan 11-13, 2013

I registered for the Bangalore Chapter. I have few ideas and I’ll also be doing the design part – HTML, CSS, Graphics. I can also write codes and be part of the development and help design the product in direct co-ordination with a developer.

If you’re a developer or a student who have good programming skill and have registered for In50hrs, Bangalore, I’d welcome you to contact me to see how we can work together. Do check out my personal page to see if I’m cool enough to be your partner.

Do visit the In50hrs Facebook Group.

Adobe introduces Acrobat XI

In a small, focussed and quite gathering, Adobe unveiled their new Acrobat XI. Acrobat is Adobe’s product suite for creating, editing, and viewing PDFs. It is literally used by all big corps, government institutions and many non-profit organization.

The event was India focussed and Adobe showed some pretty interesting statistic and details on how Indian companies, Institutes and other governing bodies like Passport Offices, Vehicle Registration and Licensing were using Adobe Acrobat to automate document management tasks.

The State of Indian Knowledge Workers

Click on the above Image to see some interesting finding in a survey done by Adobe, amongst 950 odd knowledge workers, representing 775 organizations across India.

Continue reading

Introduction to Gamification for UI/UX Designs

At the WebApp 2012, organized by SiliconIndia, I spoke on “Gamification in UI/UX Designs”.

It was not bad but I won’t called that a very good one either. My gauge of the audience was off the track. I was talking to a crowd who have never heard of “Gamification” and almost all of the audience haven’t heard of CodeAcademy, no clue of the recently popular and viral site Ben the Bodyguard and they were amusingly clueless about – Easter Egg. Next time, I’ll do more research on the audience I’ll be speaking to.

Flipping through the above slides won’t do much justice without reading the notes included with the slide or interacting with me during my session. I tend to have just about 10-13 major slides and I love interacting with the crowd. I’ve lots to learn and I’m learning a lot from the few interactions that I had recently, including this one at WebApp 2012.

This article is more of a re-phrase of my session but with links, examples, and more information, hoping that this will introduce you to the world of Gamification in User Interface and Experience Designs.

First, Gamification is not a new thing, and more importantly it’s not new at all to User Interface and Experience Designs or Web Designs. The term, Gamification, came to prominence around 2010 when it was popularized by marketers and managers to engage their customers.

Gabe Zichermann

Talking about Gamification will be incomplete without mentioning Gabe Zichermann who is regarded as one of the most prominent figure when it comes to propagating Gamification in Products Designs and Development. I was fortunate to see him speak at one of the Founder Institute session and I must say, he is an amazing entertainer. He’s is on twitter and he can be found writing and speaking on behalf of Gamification.co.

What is Gamification?

Wikipedia defines Gamification as the use of game design techniques, game thinking and game mechanics to enhance non-game contexts. It is the process of using game thinking & mechanics to engage audience & solve problems.

Let me tackle some examples as a way to introduce the art of Gamification, which you can start applying to your Websites and Web Apps, right away.

Virtual Badges, Achievements and Accolades

Who would have thought that we will be happy with virtual achievements, digital badges and accolades that have no material or meaningful values in our physical world! However, it’s one of the most sought after and people are very happy, satisfied when they do achieved such badges, titles, achievements and accolades. We love to show off our increasing number, varied, different badges that we earn in our digital lives.

Foursquare does an amazing job when it comes to virtual achievements. We love to become “mayors” of a location, earn badges, etc. Another such example is that of CodeAcademy where you can unlock badges when you complete the courses offered there. The whole experience on CodeAcademy engages you to move forward and when you finally complete and unlock a hurdle, it’s a fun and satisfied experience.

Progress as a tool for Gamification

Progress status, progress bars and progress indicators have been used by Web Designers for ages. It is one such gamification technique that’s been proven very successful. LinkedIn does a good job of enticing you to fill in more information by showing you how filled-up is your profile and how you can achieve that 100% complete profile. Twitter also does a nice job by asking you to follow interesting people, as soon as you sign-up. That helps you get rolling and fill your timeline with interesting tweets.

Parallax Scrolling

Parallax Scrolling is a pretty interesting gamification technique in Web designs. It makes it interesting to use the websites and users tend to stick around longer. Look at some of the interesting websites that uses parallax scrolling to make it a fun experience for users.

Virtual Easter Eggs

A virtual Easter egg is an intentional hidden message, in-joke, or feature in a work such as a computer program, web page, video game, movie, book or crossword. One such very well known virtual easter egg is that of the Konami Code – a cheat-sheet embedded, particularly, in computer games. For other examples, try viewing the source of The Oat Meal, try searching for “Do a barrel roll” on Google or just “tilt” it, and you can scroll to the bottom of Kickstarter and click the scissor till it cuts it all through.

The dark side of Gamification

“With great power comes great responsibility.” Like any technique, Gamification has its own share of dark side and you should not be tempted to wield that power. Do not try to force users to do something via Gamification, just for your gains at the cost of the user.

A typical example is that of some Domain Registrars, which forces you to buy their other offerings instead of allowing you to go ahead and complete your Domain Booking Process. The “checkout” button is smaller (sometimes, it’s just a small link) and option to buy their other products are shown enlarged, right in the middle, trying to force you to buy them.

Get started with Gamification

Well, Gamification is an interesting technique to engage your customers, to make your websites a fun experience for users. It can increase the ROI for your bosses and clients, increase trust and loyalty of your visitors.

Gamification is a means to your end goal. It can only accelerate and move forward your contents and services. You cannot fool the users with bad websites, bad services and bad content. Use wisely. Enjoy Gamification.