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Product design, packaging design, branding and book publishing are all well-established disciplines, filled with plenty of specialist, single-focus agencies. So for a relatively small studio to excel in all of them at once is rather impressive, but Here Design has managed it.

East London agency Here is also notable in the male-dominated realm of creative directors in that two of its three co-founders are women. Driven by a shared passion for creativity in all its forms, Caz Hildebrand, Kate Marlow and Mark Paton continue to fly the flag for multidisciplinary design. We asked Paton and Marlow to tell us more…

How was Here Design founded?

Mark Paton: We didn’t have a written ethos, or any precise definition of what to do. We just shared a broad interest in food and drink, and sharing knowledge. Caz wanted to do furniture design; Kate was interested in textiles; I was doing other things. Initially it was about sharing infrastructure. We had an accountant in common, and just wanted a nice, creative environment to work in. It was really unstructured.

Kate Marlow: It was 12 years ago now. We left our respective jobs: Mark and I were in branding; Caz in publishing, in book design. We wanted to work together in a small environment, designing for brands we believed in. 

As Mark says, there was no master plan, no big idea. We got on well, and had a shared ethos about what good ideas were, and how to articulate them.

How did the studio evolve?

MP: It’s been super-organic, and a huge learning curve: we’ve had to learn about all of decisions we should have made at the beginning. Early on, we pitched to rebrand an organic food shop, and surprisingly we won. That suddenly gave us a body of work that we were working on together, which crystallised the nature of the studio and how we could share our experience. 

KM: As it went on, we got more jobs in than we could cope with just three of us. So, we slowly employed people to help us and it grew very, very slowly. For a very long time, we did all our own project management, finance, everything. We were the receptionists too.We learnt what we could and couldn’t do very well. Thankfully we now have experts in areas like finance, and a head of studio. They do a much better job than we ever did.

Here has published several books including a playful book on punctuation entitled This is Me, Full Stop

How have you structured the agency?

MP: This year we’ve employed a new tier of designer in the studio: design associates. We have four now, each with a portfolio of clients.

We’ve struggled a bit to create a structure without being very hierarchical. We don’t buy into certain job titles. For us, it was important to create our own definition. T

he design associates will take more of a lead on certain projects, while the partners focus on developing the business, thinking about new sectors, and also some smaller projects. It may seem a bit counter-intuitive, but we still want to design, so are happy to pick up speculative work that’d be a burden for the studio to do.

Here’s rebrand of Barcardi taps into the brand’s rich heritage

Have you struggled to stay hands-on?

KM: No, in fact we’ve probably struggled to be hands off. We need to learn to do that more, so the other designers can work their way up. 

We’re passionate about all our projects, and as partners we lead teams and are really collaborative with the design associates and senior designers, right through to the juniors. 

How have you stayed multi-disciplinary?

MP: We have had conversations about whether we need to specialise, but I think part of what makes Here interesting is that we work on such different topics. We very pragmatically believe that if a designer works across a book, a pack, an identity and a digital application, they will become a better designer. 

Here translated the physical geography of the streets around adidas Originals stores into architectural models

How do you choose who works on a project?

KM: Sometimes, one of us is just a really good fit for a client. That might be based on personality, or previous experience – or it might be that one of us actually hasn’t got much experience in that field, and that’s what we find exciting. They could come up with things you wouldn’t necessarily think to do, because they don’t know that genre so well. 

Do you work with external collaborators?

MP: A lot is done in-house. At college you didn’t have the option to commission someone: you had to get your paints out and do it. We advocate the guys having a go, but there are instances where it’s beyond us, so we commission out. But the lion’s share of illustration, for instance, is done in-house.

It’s partly a cultural choice: it’s nice to have people making marks and creating images. It makes for a richer experience.

Here created a beautiful wooden display box for Balvenie whisky 

How do you attract and retain the right talent?

MP: From the moment we started in Caz’s kitchen, we recognised the importance of the moments that weren’t designed. Making lunch together was a bonding experience, which sounds a bit cheesy, but it was important. 

We came from quite ordered environments, and wanted it to feel more homely and casual. When we were lucky enough to design this space, a creative kitchen was the first thing we set up. On a Friday, everyone tries to have lunch together and different people cook. 

The strength of the studio is the people within it. It’s not really us as partners – we are not necessarily the embodiment of the company. We’re just kind of trying to create a way of working that everyone can benefit from. 

Recognising people and allowing them to flourish –almost autonomously – is another thing that happens here that maybe doesn’t elsewhere. A junior designer can come in, be given a live project and see it through. We review things democratically too, so there’s an opportunity for everyone to speak up. I think that openness, and the fact that the opportunities are quite apparent and quite quick, makes people stick around. A lot of people have been here for a long time – we’re very lucky.   

This article originally appeared in issue 277 of Computer Arts magazine, the world's best-selling design magazine. Buy issue 277 or subscribe to Computer Arts.

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The new General Data Protection Regulation – or GDPR – laws come into effect across the EU on Friday 24 May, and it's almost impossible to ignore them, especially if your inbox is filling up with increasingly desperate emails begging you to review privacy policies, or to give companies you can't even remember ever buying anything from permission to stay in touch with you.

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GDPR's a bit of an annoyance if you're an ordinary individual, but it'll at least mean more control over the data that companies hold on you. If you're running a business, though, even if it's just a small operation, you need to be GDPR-compliant. And in the face of complex and seemingly draconian rules, and the possibility of huge fines if you're doing it wrong, you might – quite reasonably – be terrified by the prospect of dealing with it.

However, there's no need to be quite so scared. Even if you haven't quite got around to dealing with GDPR yet, don't worry: you're not going to get slapped with a fine tomorrow morning. There are loads of companies all across the EU, not all of which have got their GDPR ducks in a row, so you're in good company if you're not ready yet, and the worst thing you can expect in the short term is a warning, and realistically you'd have to repeatedly ignore several warnings (see below) before you run the risk of an actual fine.

Don’t worry, you’re probably not going to be fined €20 million tomorrow

So if you want to sleep better tonight, you'll need some easy-to-digest information about GDPR and what you need to do about it. Thankfully the European Commission has produced just the guide you want, in the form of a comprehensive – and great-looking – infographic.

From the basics of what personal data actually is and the reason for the change in the rules, through to practical tips on what your company should do to comply with GDPR and whether you need a data protection officer, this infographic neatly summarises most of what you need to know about GDPR and, with a bit of luck, should soothe any fears that you might have about it.

Need to know what to do about GDPR? This infographic will get you started

Need to know more? You'll find more in-depth information about GDPR over at the European Commission site.

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Climate change is predicted to have catastrophic consequences across the globe. That’s why annual design conference What Design Can Do – in partnership with IKEA Foundation and Autodesk Foundation – launched the Climate Action Challenge, a global competition inviting creatives to use design to combat climate change and its impacts.

Some 400 proposals for helping communities adapt to climate change were submitted from 70 countries across the world. 13 winners were selected to enter a six-month accelerator programme – and the final projects were today presented at What Design Can Do, here in Amsterdam.

The Climate Action Challenge is the latest international online design challenge set by What Design Can Do. The event doesn’t just invite leaving experts to speak about using design as a solution to the world’s biggest challenges – each year it launches a new challenge and invites the global creative community to participate.

Here are the 13 winning projects – along with the lessons each team learned while turning their ideas into prototypes and business models. Read on to find out how 13 design teams translated a gigantic world problem into tangible products and services…

01. Dronecoria

  • By: Lot Amoros
  • Country: Spain
  • Approach: Products and spaces; Systems

Dronecoria is an automatic reforestation project that uses customised DIY drones to disperse seeds. The jury appreciated the open source and readily applicable aspects of this project, which brings reforestation into the 21st century, while mimicking nature’s most efficient way of spreading seeds: through the air. In a world where we lose 27 million trees each day, anything that helps to plant new ones is more than welcome. 

02. Artificial Glaciers 

  • By: Suryanarayanan Balasubramanian 
  • Country: India
  • Approach: Products and spaces

Artificial ‘ice stupas’ store glacial meltwater in a form that makes them melt slower in spring, so that water is available when it’s most needed. To store winter for use in the summer is as unexpected as magic. This project is practical and poetic at the same time. 

03. Desolenator

  • By: Louise Bleach
  • Country: UK
  • Approach: Products and spaces; Systems

This device offers a centralised solution to make water abundant in places where it’s a scarce commodity. It uses the almost infinite power of the sun to turn sea water into drinkable water, which is a key aspect in adapting to climate change. The jury couldn’t resist the company’s goal to make one million people water-independent in its first five years of operations.

04. Backpack radio station

  • By: Iman Abdurrahman, Studio Joris de Groot
  • Country: Indonesia
  • Approach: Products and spaces; Services; Systems

This portable radio station could be a life-saver in remote places where local communities are at the mercy of the forces of nature. The mini radio station and its accompanying mini database can help remote communities become more resilient before, during and after natural disasters, which we will see more and more due to climate change. 

05. Nivara

  • By: Eric Smith, Pushan Panda
  • Country: US
  • Approach: Products and spaces

This open source do-it-yourself solution makes carbon for water purification out of locally available biomass. It’s a really simple solution for an important problem. Thermal solar is still terribly underused even though it has huge potential as a tool for adaptation to climate change, so this project is willingly welcomed by the jury.

06. The Children’s Scrappy News Whether Report

  • By: Lisa Heydlauff
  • Country: India
  • Approach: Communication

This project struck the jury with its clever execution and the energy of the team behind it. It takes the weather report as a starting point for a child’s view on how we should adapt to the changing climate. This ‘Sesame Street for climate adaptation’ puts children in the driver’s seat and might just be an antidote for a world that’s worn down by fake news. 

07. Powerplant

  • By: Marjan Van Aubel
  • Country: Netherlands
  • Approach: Products and spaces

This is a greenhouse that doesn’t just grow food – it also harvests energy from the sun. It’s a beautifully disruptive project ticking all the boxes by bringing together design, technology and engineering. By reimagining something that already exists, this project can turn around an industry that’s extremely energy consuming.

08. Free Wind

  • By: Cassandra Seah, Nik Halim, Amber Lim
  • Country: Singapore
  • Approach: Products and space

This project is at the core of the challenge as it addresses a problem that affects the poorest in the world the most. Heatwaves make thousands of victims in slums. This affordable retrofit acts as unplugged air conditioning, demonstrating that often the simplest solutions can be the most effective.

09. Keepers: rainforest lab and kitchen

  • By: Cascola Collective
  • Country: Netherlands
  • Approach: Communication; Products and spaces

Sharing a meal is a good start for a conversation about where our food comes from, and how the land where it’s produced can best be used and revitalised. Land management is a key aspect of adaptation and bringing together indigenous knowledge, science, cooking expertise and design offers great opportunities for this. We need more crossovers like these. 

10. EvoCCon

  • By: Hugh Weldon
  • Country: Ireland
  • Approach: Communication; Services

Under a name that refers to the Latin word for ‘evoking’ or ‘luring’, EvoCCo aims to offer consumers the information to make better choices. The web-based platform can help change consumer behaviour at the point of purchase, which is potentially a game-changer since consumer behaviour is at the heart of the causes for climate change. 

11. The Vertical University project 

  • By: Priyanka Bista, Aashi Bhaiji
  • Country: Nepal
  • Approach: Systems

Ancient knowledge might be able to restore the damage done to the earth. This university along the slopes of the Himalayas in Nepal encourages its students to learn from local farmers about the deep physical and biological diversity of the landscape. By bringing together landscape, community and knowledge, this project will in the end help to lower the impact of climate change.

12. Twenty

  • By: Mirham de Bruijn
  • Country: Netherlands
  • Approach: Communication; Products and services

This project proposes shipping detergents and other cleaning products without the water they’re usually diluted in. It not only saves transport emissions, but more importantly helps raise awareness. The project could become a powerful symbol for people helping them to rethink their everyday consumption and live a lighter life.

13. The Change Rangers

  • By: Hannah Lewman, Rachel Benner
  • Country: US
  • Approach: Services

Building on their own experience as girl scouts, the students behind this project realised that scouting needs rebooting. Scouts used to learn how to fish, but soon there will be no more fish to catch. Taking the existing scouting system as a starting point for preparing the next generation on how to deal with a warmer world is both essential and brilliant. 

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WordPress is both the world's most popular blogging platforms and the most widely used CMS. One of the reasons for its popularity, is that it happily supports templating and plugins, making it highly flexible and customisable to suit different website needs.

This flexibility, alongside the platform's huge popularity, means there are many thousands of free WordPress tutorials , WordPress themes and plugins available on the web.

That's the good news. The bad news is that sorting the wheat from the chaff can be a real challenge. So check out our choice list of the best WordPress plugins available below, to add functionality to your website. And the best part? They're all available for free!

01. Modula Image Gallery

Modula WordPress plugin

Add a gallery to your site with ease with the Modula WordPress plugin

WordPress ships with some limited abilities to host image galleries, but for a truly customisable and flexible solution, a plugin such as Modula offers a far better experience for both the web designer and website maintainer, and for the visitor to your site. This WordPress plugin offers a host of different options that allows for true customisation rather than forcing you to adopt a visual style that matches every other gallery on the web. 

02. Speed Booster Pack

Speed Booster WordPress plugin

Help your site’s loading speed with the Speed Booster Pack

Website visitors have always been reluctant to hang around for a slow-loading website, and as the primary consumption platform has moved from desktop and laptop computers towards smartphones accessing over 3G and 4G, this has only increased. If you want your visitors to stick on your website, you need it to be quick to load as well as engaging and useful. 

Speed Booster Pack helps with the loading speed by automatically minifying your scripts, removing blocking scripts, optimising database calls and loading assets asynchronously. The results can be quite dramatic, giving the impression of a huge loading-speed boost.

03. Google Analyticator

WordPress plugins

Enable Google Analytics on your WordPress dashboard with the Google Analyticor plugin

If you want your WordPress blog to become more popular, you need to start thinking about promotion. If you know the keywords that visitors are using, you can use those in your post. The Google Analyticator plugin adds the JavaScript code necessary to enable Google Analytics on your WordPress dashboard. After you enable this plugin, go to the settings page, input your Google Analytics UID, then authenticate your Google Analytics account with Google Analyticator.

04. Duplicator

If you’re a web designer, setting up your 100th WordPress site can feel like a real chore. Most designers will have a typical base-build that they use because they’re familiar with the configuration, plugins and options, and they know what works well for their customers. This plugin helps to reduce the installation pain by allowing you to migrate, copy, clone and move a site. Set up a core build, then use it as the source for a clone operation to simplify deployment and automatically generate a new site with the basic environment already configured.

05. The Events Calendar

Quickly add events to your calendar with the Events Calendar plugin

There are loads of different event plugins available for WordPress, but one of the best (and most popular) is The Events Calendar. This module extends the WordPress post types with a new Event class, allowing you to quickly create events and adding functionality such as the ability to render a list, calendar view, search events and integrate maps. If you're running a club or society, or designing a WordPress-powered website for a client that regularly runs events, this plugin will save you a huge amount of time.

06. AMP for WP

Whether or not you feel that Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) project is a good thing, one thing is clear: Google is deliberately showing websites with AMP pages higher up the search results page than those without. With this is mind, this plugin makes it easy to add support for AMP automatically. Grab it, plug it in to your WordPress environment and that’s about it; you’ll find AMP-specific versions of each of your pages, which in turn should lead to more mobile-based traffic.

07. Page Builder

Page Builder is a plugin that allows your content editors to get involved with controlling the page layout, in an intuitive, WordPress-like environment. It works with all themes and plugins, making it simple to generate flexible responsive layouts without the need for any coding knowledge at all. This is ideal for websites that will be managed by a less-technical user, who wants more flexibility than a pre-set list of page templates.

08. Wordfence Security

Help protect your site with Wordfence Security

Security is a massive issue for WordPress websites, just as it is for any site on the web. One of the biggest issues is that as WordPress is such a popular CMS, there’s a lot of knowledge out there about how to compromise it, and exploit security holes. While this WordPress plugin wont solve all of these for you, it does allow you to monitor attempts to maliciously access your site, and adds in support for the likes of two-factor authentication, which is a security must-have in the modern era.

09. JetPack

Blogging plugin JetPack’s features are wide and varied

JetPack brings some of the functionality of WordPress hosted blogs to self-hosted WordPress installations.

The features are wide and varied, and include cloud-hosted stats for your site, email subscription to your site, a built-in URL shortener service, social network-based commenting, inline spelling and grammar checking and an enhanced gallery system.

10. Everest Forms

Create image galleries for your WordPress site with the NextGen Gallery plugin

Practically every website out there features a form of one kind or another, whether it’s a simple Get in touch form, or an online registration form, there’s a definite need for a simple way to create, maintain and manage form construction and layout. This plugin makes it a breeze to create forms using a simple drag-and-drop interface to craft a layout that works just as well on smartphones as the desktop. It even includes options to support multiple languages!

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The manifesto at the heart of this excellent book is that collaboration matters, whether it's between different design disciplines uniting to create consistent brands, or businesses and the creatives they hire fashioning identity systems that are both attractive and effective. “Make it beautiful, but above all else make it work,” advises Jowey Roden, co-founder of London agency Koto. 

The shared DNA of the many, varied projects on display in Graphic Design For… is a rigorous and procedural commitment to problem-solving.

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Responding to questions from Andy Cooke – a graphic designer and creative director at Weather – key creatives divulge their rules of engagement with collaborators and clients. 

“Brilliant ideas do not come from thin air… or Pinterest…,” writer and lecturer Angharad Lewis reminds us in her foreword, but once these ideas are plucked from the ether, it takes imagination, skill and experience to transform tentative briefs into elegant brand identities and campaigns. And while strategies, techniques and theories of creative evolution vary wildly between studios, all interviewees offer equally informative insights that lift the veil from seemingly effortless solutions to reveal the powerful engines beneath.

Cooke tastefully curates each project with crisp, unfussy layouts

Combining aesthetics with function dominates the discussion, along with a weighty sense of the increased value of design as a vital component in the creation of new business, not just a veneer of branding to apply when the product is done. 

“It’s not just about designers providing clients with identity, packaging and marketing tools,” explains Torgeir Hjetland of Oslo-based studio Work in Progress. “It’s designers being used to shape ideas and help build business solutions.” 

Brand building now, more than ever, is about delivering messages at multiple touchpoints. A logo may need to work on stationery, posters, buildings and animations for indents, co-exist with photography or architecture and, most importantly, continue to evolve and adapt, sometimes without the original designer involved. Mutable design systems are as vital as inter-disciplinary skills, and these projects all demonstrate tremendous flexibility.

Rare double page spreads of iconic campaigns make for satisfying pace changers

Cooke’s book also exposes the occasional angst designers may suffer when dealing with Creative Cloud-wielding clients and consumers who, when confronted by less-is-more minimalism, may be tempted to think, or even suggest, 'anyone could design that'. (We all have Microsoft Word, but does that mean we are all successful authors?) Such are the perils of beautifully refined simplicity, but the exposed workings of these projects vividly illustrate the intense experimentation that is required to achieve Zen-like design perfection. 

Non-designers in particular should find the (relatively) jargon-free, frank discussions illuminating

As creative director of Studio Makgil, Hamish Makgill, drily observes: “If [the clients] are design-savvy, they will also appreciate that they aren’t designers.” Collins’ design director Ben Crick is perhaps more gracious when he suggests that “The true value of graphic design is not just aesthetics, but insight and the creation of meaning. There’s no software for that – yet.” 

Non-designers in particular should find the (relatively) jargon-free, frank discussions illuminating. 

It’s almost impossible to choose highlights, as the book is itself a distillation of some of the very best contemporary design (when we spoke to Cooke he admitted that the book “could easily have been twice as long, there’s just so much good work out there”), but Hort’s iconic Nike campaign work , Studio Makgill’s intoxicating design system for G.F Smith and Freytang Anderson’s genius identity for Fraher Architects are all masterclasses in ambitious thinking and faultless execution.

Seven different sectors across 240 pages shouldn’t work, but great curation by Cooke means it does, and proves for a refreshingly broad industry overview 

This is an elegantly edited time capsule of where design is now, which extracts wisdom from some of the sharpest creative minds around and is a beautiful book in its own right that can be endlessly browsed for visual and cerebral inspiration. 

Graphic Design For… is fascinating for fellow professionals, instructive for prospective clients looking to join forces with a design agency, and utterly invaluable for students who want to learn what the industry will expect of them.

  • Buy Graphic Design for Art, Fashion, Film, Architecture, Photography, Product Design & Everything In Between here
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The ability to perform simple cut-outs and masking tasks is a basic requirement of any designer and often forms the backbone of Photoshop work.

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In this post, I'll run through three basic techniques for creating simple selections, and then cover the layer mask options and how they work a little more in depth. Once you've grasped the basics, you'll see how it opens up a whole new realm of creative possibilities within Photoshop. (You can upgrade to Creative Cloud here.) 

01. Magic wand

How to make quick selections in Photoshop


The magic wand is the quickest way to make simple selections

The Magic Wand is the quickest and perhaps simplest way to make simple selections within Photoshop. Product imagery is often supplied on a white background, so the Magic Wand tool is perfect for this job.

Navigate to the Wand tool and then up the tolerance to 30 and click on the white area to make your selection. Now hit shift+cmd+I to invert the selection and hit the 'Add layer mask' button at the bottom of the Layers panel to mask off the product from the background.

02. Pen tool and path selections

How to make quick selections in Photoshop


For more precise selections, go for the Pen tool

When we zoom into the bottom of the watch image, we can see the shadows have not been masked off from the background. For more precise selections, there really is no better tool than the Pen tool.

Select the Pen tool and begin clicking, holding and dragging to create paths and Bézier curves until you're satisfied, then click on the original point to close the path. Now navigate to the Paths panel, cmd+click the path you've just created and a selection will be made.

03. Colour range tool and layer masks

How to make quick selections in Photoshop


The Colour Range tool is good for selecting large areas in similar tones

The Colour Range tool is particularly good for selecting large areas containing a similar tonal range. Simply navigate to the select menu and click to launch the Colour Range panel. Now hover over your image and you'll notice an eyedropper appears. Click on the area you wish to make a selection of and the image within the panel will change.

There's the option to increase the intensity of the selection using the 'fuzziness' slider. There are also a number of standard options to choose from the drop-down menu, such as mid-tones, highlights, shadows and skin tones.

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04. Working with Layer Masks

How to make quick selections in Photoshop


Layer masks are one of the most useful tools in Photoshop

Layer masks are one of the most useful tools to get your head around in Photoshop, and can be created from any selection as demonstrated in step 01. Once you have created your layer mask you can edit it by clicking on the lever mask icon that appears next to the layer in the Layers panel – using black to subtract areas of the layer mask and white to add to the layers mask.

This can result in some pretty cool effects (which we'll cover next) – plus, layer masks are non-destructive so all the layer information remains and the mask can be deleted at any time.

05. Easy layer mask effects

How to make quick selections in Photoshop


Selections and masks can be used to create cool effects like this

Once you've mastered the basics of selections and masks, it's easy to create some cool effects such as the glossy shine on the phones in the above cover.

To create this effect, make a selection of the phone once you've masked it off. Now on a new layer fill the selection with a colour or white. Then, with the Pen tool, draw a curved path. We'll use this to create a layer mask that will give the impression of a hard sheen on the phone. 

Once you've masked off the sheen area, you can alter the opacity to make the effect more subtle, and use a big, soft, round brush to edit the layer mask.

How to make quick selections in Photoshop


Once you’ve masked off the sheen area you can alter the opacity

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Whether you're a freelancer working from home or a small studio owner, something everyone has in common is money. You do the work, you get paid, right? Sounds simple. However, making sure you get paid correctly and on time requires a lot of planning and patience, which many freelancers will attest to. 

There are many things you need to consider when calculating how to price your design services, so where do you start? Earlier today Mitch Goldstein, a professor at Rochester Institute of Technology’s College of Imaging Arts and Sciences, started a thread on Twitter asking creatives to share their valuable insights on money. He also pointed out that the subject was not one covered much in design schools, and so called on 'Twitters' to help. 

And the design world answered his call in droves. Goldstein's conversation now has creatives all over the globe sharing their experiences and offering advice and tips on everything from how best to price your services to things they wish they'd done from the start and what to avoid when it comes to money. 

Below are just some of the tweets that have come flooding in, and these handy tips featured represent just a snippet of the brilliant money advice up for grabs over on this Twitter feed. 

Do you have a money-related question? Or have you got any finance tips for freelancers? Why not join in the conversation and help out your fellow creative folk. 

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In 1999, I built my first website using Web Studio 1.0. Web Studio was a graphic user interface. It was possible to create a new landing page and drag and drop elements into it. I then set up a free domain and hosting with GeoCities and voila! I had a website. Fast forward to 2004, I wanted to go further and so, like many others, I set out to build a band website.

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A lot has changed since then. In this article, I'm going to be taking a trip down memory lane and recreate the same site for the web today.

Get the files for this tutorial.

I built my first website in 1999

So, let's start! First off, generally every new project for me starts with mkd followed by g init. For those of you who know me, at some point, I've probably mentioned dotfiles to you. Dotfiles are files that simply begin with a dot (it took me a surprisingly long time to actually make that connection!) and they can be used for a number of purposes. Two of my favourite dotfiles are .aliasas and .functions. Let me elaborate…

In bash, it's possible to create a new directory using the command mkdir then after that you'd have to change directory cd into the directory that you have just created. Using the code I have in my .functions file, it's now possible to run mkd. This will not only create the new directory, but also have changed into that directory as well. This may seem overkill at first, but I love these micro wins. Over time, especially if running these commands several times a day, they soon add up to a lot of saved time.

The next command, if you're familiar with git, is simply git init, which will enable us to version control the project. I use git a lot, even for shopping lists! So rather than having to type out git every time, adding alias g="git" to .aliases again is a nice, small time saver for me.

These days, there's a plethora of different frameworks and technologies. For this project, I want to keep things simple. I'm going to use HTML, CSS and if required a sprinkle of JavaScript. First up, let's create the basic HTML markup. But wait! Let's stop and think for a minute.

The 2advanced.com site heavily inspired me to learn Flash

Sometimes developers, myself included, can be super-excited about a project and want to get cracking immediately and go straight for the keyboard to write code. However, I find this is often not the best approach. I love to get an overview in mind of the project first. By doing this and having a much clearer vision of the project as a whole, I find it allows for much better decision making. For example, if I dived straight into the code, I might encounter an issue that I'd then have to go back and refactor. There are a few different outcomes with this approach. First, it might be that I have to delete the code entirely and start again; second, if continuing in this fashion I may end up with 'spaghetti code' making it difficult in the future to update, debug and result in performance loss; third, sometimes it does work out okay and you end up with better code, but I'd tend to say the first and second outcomes are far more common.

This project is fairly small; it has a few pages: Home, News, Gigs, Media, Albums, Links and common parts among these pages: header, navigation, typography content, lists, images, videos. When originally building the Flash site in 2004, things were a lot more simple in terms of testing. The site was built in Flash, for Flash on a desktop computer with a mouse and keyboard. These days, mobile and tablet internet usage is more common than on a desktop computer, and this trend is continuing to rise.

In order to make this a better experience for whoever views the site, I'm going to take a few things into account at the start of the project and use a mobile first strategy. To do so, and again, before writing any code, I'm going to get out a good old-fashioned pen and paper. First, I write out the sitemap; in doing so there are some key areas I think can be improved. For example, my original site consisted of different pages for each of the band's albums. At the time they had three albums and so fit nicely in the navigation. Now they have a lot more and potentially more to come, so already in my mind I'm thinking about ways in which to make the site more future proof (an oldie but a goodie is Dan Cederholm's Bulletproof Web Design).

Now I have a rough idea in my head of the sitemap and pages, next up is to create some low-fi wireframes. From previous experience building many responsive sites, mobile comes with interesting design challenges, namely how to create a navigation, but still enable people to view the main content of the site. I'm going to go along with the design outcome we've all grown to love/hate: the burger menu approach. However, I'm going to add a little twist. The original artwork used birds, so rather than the standard burger menu icon, I'm going to use bird artwork that will activate the menu and open and close its wings as a way to indicate if the menu is active or not.

Flash tree navigation in Adobe Animate CC 2018

Things in my mind are now starting to take shape, with an idea of how people will be able to navigate around the site. I'm now going to think about how the pages themselves might look. Starting with the homepage, it's fairly simple, with typography content. Next, news – again typography content, potentially images and then some sort of navigation to view older posts. Gigs – a list of upcoming gigs with links to purchase tickets. For Media, looking back at the previous site, I had 'images' and 'videos' as two different sections, but here I think there's room for improvement and to consolidate as 'media'. Albums, ah, yes Albums – now this is where doing this sort of thing pays off. You see, the Albums page has typography and an image, and is going to need some sort of navigation to view older posts. Sound familiar? Sounds a lot like the same structure as the news page! Having this top level overview I can look at and think things over at a more granular, component, some could even say atomic design level, if you're familiar with the work of Brad Frost.

Now I have an idea of how the site is going to work on smaller devices and reusable elements, it's time to repeat the process with larger devices. As the site is fairly simple, and with the wireframes already created for mobile, I see the larger devices being fairly similar – apart from now we have some extra room, so we can widen the content areas and also include a side navigation.

The side navigation is the bit of the site that from the offset I'm most excited about. Taking inspiration from the band's original artwork, I built the navigation as a tree silhouette with leaves. Each leaf was a button that linked to a different page of the site. Also, as you scrolled in and hovered away from the leaf, the leaf would animate, falling to the ground. Flash was great at this; it was called tweening. You could set an element at one keyframe in the interface on the timeline, create another keyframe further along the timeline and add a path for the element to follow. Taking things a little further, varying the paths, duration and speed of the falling leaves, I ended up with something I was very pleased with.

But now we're not using Flash, so how do we do this? Quite often I'll jump to CodePen or JS Bin. For those of you who aren't aware, CodePen and JS Bin are online services that enable you to quickly code and save. I tend to see CodePen as more design led, and JS Bin more JavaScript focused. For this project I'll be using CodePen to create the tree navigation for a few reasons. First, I want to start building up the main mobile version of the site, and in fact by doing this, if things were time critical, I could end up with an mvp. Although there are enhancements to the site that could be made by adding the nice leaf navigation and animation, this will take longer to produce. An advantage of working in CodePen for the tree navigation means it's isolated from the main site and code base. If things get tricky with completing it, I'm able to save where I'm at, carry on with the main site build, and then come back to the navigation. Sometimes I find that in going away from a problem, or even sleeping on it, my subconscious can carry on thinking about it. Then upon returning back to the problem, a solution presents itself.

SVGs! I love SVGs. Previously in Flash, I drew out the leaf assets in Illustrator. Amazingly I still had a working CD with the original artwork and was able to open it. These days I use Sketch and it did a great job of opening up the file. I now have the leaf assets all ready to be exported as SVGs. Why SVGs? There are a lot of reasons. If we were to use a jpg, or gif on a Retina device, we'd also have to supply bigger assets, otherwise they would look blurred. Also, with SVGs, we can use CSS. This is great and lets us simply change the colour of the SVG using a bit of CSS rather than having to create another image asset. This means it's easier to maintain, and as a bonus it's also more performant. If you're not familiar with SVGs I'd highly recommend reading up on them and the incredible work from my good friend, Sara Soueidan.

Mobile first, responsive navigation menu

With the tree and leaf assets now in place, the final thing to add is the animation. There are a few approaches I could take with this. One would be to stay true to the original Flash path tween I did. This would mean replicating the paths and using SVG and then potentially further SVG work with paths and animateMotion. I quite like this idea from a nostalgic point of view, but CSS has come on a lot over the years, and we now have transform and translate at our disposal, so this could be another approach. Taking things a step further, we could even add some JavaScript that would randomise the falling leaves. 

Both options sound good, but I'm swaying towards the more CSS-led route. Here's another benefit of using CodePen, I can quickly go and try out one approach. If it turns out that it's more complicated than I originally thought, or it doesn't feel right, I can try another approach with little time wasted. In fact this turned out to be a great idea! I'm still looking at options for this – please refer to the project on GitHub for the final result.

With the tree navigation now sorted, I turned back to the mobile first approach, building up the navigation. If you're familiar with Sass, you've more than likely encountered variables. But did you know variables are now available in CSS? They have pretty decent browser support in Chrome, Edge, Safari and Samsung Internet as well! As I'm trying to keep to basic CSS and avoid the need for any extra dependencies, this is great news. So how would we implement this? At the top of the style sheet I declare my variables:

Now that they're declared, I can call them, so for example setting the body background colour would look like this:

Taking this a step further and to help with grid alignment, white space, vertical rhythm, you may have noticed I've also defined a grid size variable. Variables work extremely well with calc and that looks a little something like this:

With the mobile navigation styles complete, let's tackle the functionality for hiding and showing it. For the toggle button we'll apply a label tag, then in the nav tag we'll add an input:

Using the following CSS, we can show and hide the navigation menu; because we want the label in the header, we can use ~ aka tilde or (U+007E) so it works while not being immediately succeeded by the first element.

With the mobile navigation complete, it's time to implement some responsive web design. Adding in the main content for the site, then using the Responsive View in Chrome Developer Tools, I'm able to increase the viewport width until I feel there's enough room to adequately hold the tree navigation. This ends up being at 600px, and for this we can use a media query:

Almost there! Finally for the tree navigation to sit next to the main content area, I'm going to make use of Flexbox:

Now the tree navigation takes up 100% height, with the content doing the same and sitting to the right of it. This means that no matter how long the content becomes, it will never flow underneath the tree navigation. If you'd like to know more about Flexbox, I'd recommend checking out flexbox.io by the one and only Wes Bos. There's a lot it can do!

An example showing ‘display: flex’ preventing content from wrapping underneath the tree navigation

That's all I have time for at the moment, but there are still plenty of things we could do to make this project even better. If you have any questions, or liked the article, please say hello on Twitter or through my site, or send me a pull request on GitHub! 

This article was originally published in issue 304 of net, the world's best-selling magazine for web designers and developers. Buy issue 304 here or subscribe here.

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Cartoon Network has been up and running in the USA since 1992, but it took another year to arrive in Latin America, making 2018 the 25th anniversary of Cartoon Network Latin America. 

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And to mark 25 years of entertaining kids (both young and old) and inspiring the next generation of animators, the ever-popular channel commissioned Buenos Aires studio Le Cube to create this 25th anniversary celebration film.

Designed by Argentinian freelance illustrator Delfina Perez Adan, this wonderfully stylised short brings together a whole host of Cartoon Network favourites from the past quarter of a century, all of them rendered in an eye-catching CMYK palette.

There are so many of them flashing before your eyes in quick succession that you're going to have your work cut out spotting them all. Naturally you'll notice Finn and Jake from Adventure Time – not to mention Ice King – and the eagle-eyed among you won't have failed to notice the likes of the Powerpuff Girls, Dexter and Dee-Dee, Johnny Bravo and Cow and Chicken.

Le Cube’s anniversary short features Cartoon Network characters old and new

After a bit of frantic dashing around and the occasional scuffle, the characters all come together to form a suitably celebratory giant 25. The whole film lasts just over a minute, but there's so much action and so many details and characters to try and recognise that it rewards multiple viewings.

It wouldn’t be Cartoon Network without Finn and Jake

For the team at Le Cube, it's been a joy to produce. "Cartoon Network has always been an inspiration for kids everywhere," they say. "So much so, that even many grown-ups who work in animation do it exactly because of how much they loved Cartoon’s creations when they were young.

"That's why it was such a gigantic honour for us at Le Cube, after we too were not so long ago just kids sitting in front of the TV amazed by what we saw, to create the channel’s 25th-anniversary celebration film."

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Everyone likes a good deal, and if you're after some great deals that can help you in your design career then there's a new free platform that can sort you right out.

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Glug Club is a brand new initiative from Glug, one of the most popular creative events around. It started out as a handful of friends talking shop and showing off their work in an East London pub in 2007, and since then has grown into an international movement with events all round the world and talks from some of the biggest names in the business.

With over 40,000 global members, Glug has found itself in the perfect position to negotiate a stack of killer deals with 45 industry-leading suppliers. Glug Club has been specially curated so that there's something for everyone from young creatives to industry veterans, and members can unlock exclusive offers and perks that they might not be able to access as individuals.

"We've curated the list of products and services based on the experience of a select group of Glug Ambassadors," explains Glug's Malin Persson. "They know what's worked and what hasn't, so we can pass these insights down to the next generation of agency owners and young creatives."

Membership of Glug Club is free, and since its announcement last week, it's already attracted another 3,000 members keen to take advantage of its benefits. And with a who's who of top companies involved, including Adobe, Getty Images, Pantone, Slack, Fontsmith and Microsoft, it's easy to see why.

Glug has been organising informal talks and ‘notworking’ events since 2007

"We've been working on Glug Club for some time, trying to negotiate a range of great deals for our community,"  says Glug founder and CEO Ian Hambleton. "With over 40,000 global members, we're now able to push brands to give our community better rates and services."

Hambleton expects that as Glug Club grows, the range of services and offers it's able to share with its members will grow with it. "Glug Club embodies everything we've tried to build with Glug," he continues. "To help young creatives on their career journey and provide them with useful tips and tools to get ahead. In this case, it's not a speaker talk at an event, but rather an amazing list of tools they should use to get ahead."

Want to get involved and give your career a free helping hand? Head over to the Glug Club sign-up page today.

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