Top 4 Free Courses Online for Designers

Lifelong learning is becoming the new normal in every field, and design is no exception. With new trends and technologies, as well as shifting demands in the job market, designers need to keep their knowledge fresh and their skills up to date. Whether you are a designer just starting out or a seasoned veteran of the field, here are four free online courses that will help you expand your abilities, and also help you develop the skills of 21st century design.

Graphic Design – Visual and Graphic Design

 

Graphic Design – Visual and Graphic Design

Graphic Design – Visual and Graphic Design

This course, for design students and professionals alike, covers the basic elements and principles of graphic design, which form the basis of much design work today. You will also be introduced to various drawing systems and learn how production processes and systems work in the design industry. For a more advanced online course, Visual Design explores how to apply the elements of design (typography, layout, color, etc.) to create a beautiful user interfaces for various contexts, including the web.

Ignite Your Everyday Creativity

Ignite Your Everyday Creativity

Ignite Your Everyday Creativity

While knowing the basic elements and principles of design (and being able to apply them), as well as how to use various design tools (Photoshop, InDesign, etc.) is essential, creativity is also a large part of what makes a great designer great. This course explores the theories and principles of creativity and will teach you how to recognize and nurture your own creativity, including how to develop creative problem-solving skills and create environments that foster creativity. No matter what area of design you are working in, this course will give you a tool to push yourself to the next level.

Design: Creation of Artifacts in Society

Design: Creation of Artifacts in Society

Design: Creation of Artifacts in Society

If you are interested in becoming a better designer, this course is for you. Each weekly module contains a combination of lectures, readings, and challenges that span the design spectrum from graphics to apparel.

You will create your own projects, as well as review the projects of others. The course is intended for everyone—from beginning to experienced designers—though those who have experience with graphic design programs will find the projects easier.

Coding for Designers

Coding for Designers

Coding for Designers

This course, offered by Aquent Gymnasium, addresses the fact that many employers today are looking for designers who can not only design, but also move their designs to the web. Even just a basic knowledge of coding will distinguish you from your peers when it comes to applying for jobs. This course will teach you how to turn your comps and prototype designs into web pages. Don’t worry if code is a completely foreign language to you—this course is intended for people with at least five years of professional graphic or web design experience, including expertise using Photoshop and other graphic design software, but no prior coding experience.

While the basics elements and principles of design are the same today as they were decades ago, technology has greatly impacted the practice of design. These four courses will help you better understand the design landscape of today, and give you the skills you need to succeed.

3 Ways Health Data Will Impact All Marketers

The popularity of smartphones means that businesses are gaining increasing insight into what consumers want – and exactly when and where. Location-based technology allows anyone with a smart device to find the nearest3 Ways Health Data Will Impact All Marketers restaurant, or shoe store, or coffee shop, or even individual items in a particular aisle of a store. People who use fitness or health applications can track their activity levels and other important wellness factors.

Of course, as the prevalence of location-based data rises, so do privacy concerns. Though consumers are certainly warming up to this type of data sharing, there is an overarching fear about what it all means in the grand scope of consumer privacy. This is especially true when it comes to health data. When consumers are tracked in this realm, does it cross the strict lines of privacy that lawmakers have tried so hard to protect through legislation like HIPAA laws?

It’s an interesting debate, certainly. On one hand, better health tracking benefits patients and can save time in the event of an emergency. On the other hand, health data has always been closely guarded because it can lead to things like discrimination.

But what does it all mean for everyone else? What can all marketers understand better about consumers, based on the health data debate? Why should non-health related apps and services pay attention to what happens with the information allowed in health technology? Here are just a few reasons that what happens with consumer privacy regarding health data will impact everyone else:

  • Consumers will become more aware. As the health tracking debate comes to the public surface, consumers who knew very little about how their smart devices track them will start to learn more. They may not like what they learn – and it could spell trouble for marketers in the future.
  • Consumers will expect more. Think of all the things your smartphone already does for you: gives you instant internet access, reads you your texts and emails, reminds you when it is your mom’s birthday or when you need to make an important phone call for work. As each part of our lives gets connected to smart applications, we expect more intuitive measures from everything else. This mentality will be heightened even more if health apps are fully integrated in what we use our phones to do.
  • Consumers will look elsewhere. As the laws in the U.S. are put in place to provide privacy protection on health apps, consumers will learn more about how data is protected in other countries. Expect issues like the right to be forgotten online to surface with more vocal support from the general public.

Overall the adoption of health apps will lift the mobile technology industry by mainstreaming a necessary area into smartphone usage. It’s important for all marketers to understand the implications of health-based apps and what the laws end up looking like surrounding them, because it will impact consumer behavior and expectations.

What do you think the laws should be when it comes to health tracking?

Picking the Perfect Domain Name in 2015 and Beyond

Picking the Perfect Domain Name

When you set out to launch a new website, settling on a fantastic domain name is easily one of the biggest decisions you’ll have to make. At the end of the day, a domain name is so much more than an easy way to find your site. In many ways, it can determine whether or not your site is successful. Use the following tips to select the best domain name possible.

Pick a Name with Staying Power

Domain name fads tend to wax and wane over the years. For instance, it seems like every other site that comes out nowadays dislikes vowels and has to have the letter “R” on the end. Tumblr, Flickr and Pixlr are some of the most egregious examples. Ignore the popular trends and find a domain name that hasn’t been claimed yet without becoming a soon-to-be-dated cliche.

Avoid Confusing Spelling Choices

The worst domain names are the ones that don’t feature a clear delineation between their constituent words. Repeating letters should be avoided at all costs. For instance, something along the lines of “SmartStartup.com” or “RusticCooking.com” looks terrible and can lead to errors when visitors try to type it into their browser bars. Pick a domain name that’s intuitive and won’t lead to spelling errors on the part of would-be fans.

Use at Least One Dictionary Keyword

While the intricacies of SEO are always changing, the focus on major and minor keywords does not. Your domain name should feature at least one moderately specific keyword related to the focus of your site that can be used to direct searchers to your content. Try to get specific but not too specific. For instance, a site about horseback riding should at least feature the word “horse” in the URL.

Make Site & Domain Names Identical

Some sites have domain names that don’t quite jive with their brand name. While that’s acceptable in some cases, it’s best if your domain name and site name are as close as possible. A business called “A1 Stucco Roofs” should use a domain name like “A1StuccoRoofs.com” for its primary website. This helps to eliminate confusion on the part of potential clients and solidifies the brand.

Use an Extension That’s Logical

Lastly, your choice of extension can have a big impact on the success of your site. A customized TLD is easy to get but not always warranted or wise. Most people want to see a “.com” or some other fairly common extension on a reputable site. A “.me” extension is fine for social media sites. Only use uncommon extensions if it makes sense in the context of your domain name.

Finding a Home for Your Domain Name

Once you’ve nailed down a great domain name, the next step is to find a domain registrar to buy from. A good start would be Register.com, one of the outfits online that also boasts superlative customer service. Losing the perfect domain name because you’ve opted for a lousy domain registrar is tragic and ultimately preventable if you exercise sound judgement