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.

How to Deal with Negativity on Your Blog (and the Internet)

 

How to Deal with Negativity on your Blog

Any seasoned blogger or social media marketer will be able to tell you war stories about awful comments, negative feedback, or surprising responses they’ve gotten to content that they have published. Unfortunately, negativity and the Internet seem to go hand in hand. As a blogger, you’ll often get positive responses to your writing, and people will tell you that your writing has inspired them or given them great advice. The same rings true for social media marketers. However, we need to be prepared to deal with the negative comments as well.

Bloggers, celebrities, and everyday people alike have made the news when they’ve decided to quit blogging or participating on social media due to cruelty. Not long ago, Zelda Williams, the daughter of the late Robin Williams, shut down her Twitter account because of a group of people who were tormenting her about her father.

It seems like people sometimes see other humans on the Internet as less than human. Sometimes, we don’t put a face with an online account and don’t feel the need to use common human decency towards others.

Here are a few ways to deal with comments or interactions that are less than desirable on your blog (or otherwise):

Moderate Your Comments

Many blogs and business social media pages allow people to comment freely. However, one rude comment can spiral into a whole thread of negativity. Nip that in the bud by not publishing these comments or by addressing the criticism. This is not to say that you should delete comments that simply disagree with your point of view. A friendly debate isn’t a bad thing.

Have People Sign In to Comment

From what I see, it seems that people are less likely to spew hateful comments when these comments are tied to their name or account. While this isn’t a foolproof strategy, it may cut down on negativity.

Have a Comment Policy

By setting clear boundaries, this spells out what types of comments are deemed appropriate on your blog. This allows you to deal with any comments including spam, racist language, offensive language, off-topic comments, graphics, personal information, or comments containing links just to name a few.

Post Things that are Relevant to Your Industry

Resist the urge to post on your blog or social media page as social commentary on news stories or cultural happenings unless they are directly related to your brand. If you are running a business blog in particular, I find that keeping your voice neutral when it comes to politics or religion can help to keep negative comments to a minimum.

(Photo Source)

Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com. She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources. ChamberofCommerce.com helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.

How to Make a Difference Online

 

When it comes to your time online, you should show your support both to people and businesses. But how do you make someone else’s day a little easier or brighter while you’re spending some time on the (ahem, often time-sucking) Internet?

In my opinion, before the advent of the Internet as an everyday tool, helping others commit a RAOK (random act of kindness) could take more effort. Yes, paying for the person behind you in line when you’re getting coffee or taking a donation to Goodwill is still a really great thing to do, but you can commit these small acts even easier just by using the Web. While we just missed national Make A Difference Day, taking the time to make a difference every day is still an easy thing to do.

Here are a few ways that you can make a difference online:

  1. Offer specific help to a friend or acquaintance. I don’t know about you, but I am guilty of breezing by sad Facebook statuses with just a “aw, that’s no fun.” Instead, take the time to think of something specific that you can do for the person that appears to be having a rough go of it. You can post on their status or tweet them back, or send a private message or text. While yes, sometimes people are posting for attention, sometimes they can really use the help!
  2. Choose people or organizations that you respect to follow. Even if you don’t necessarily have the time or money to contribute, by sharing their statuses or tweets you can potentially help them to find people who are able to contribute.
  3. Share something inspirational. While yes, the Web is now completely overrun by quotes, memes, and Ecards, sometimes they can still be generally inspirational. Don’t overwhelm your fans and followers by posting six quotes a day, every day. But a few here and there can definitely have an effect on someone who is having a bad day and needed a pick me up.
  4. If you do have the resources to contribute, donate to a crowd-funding project that you find worthwhile. Personally, I find that giving money to a cause that’s closer to me gives me the warm fuzzies more than donating to something that’s still worthwhile but more obscure when it comes to everyday life.

These things are not just for individuals either – you and your business pages can do the same. Not only will it perhaps help someone feel better about their day, you’re boosting your online reputation. Just make sure that you are coming from a giving place sometimes, and not always a sales position.

(Photo Source)

Maddie Heinen is a regular contributor to ChamberofCommerce.com. She is a freelance writer who specializes in blogging, content creation, and social media. When she is not working, she is taking care of her two kids, husband, and home in Central Florida. Maddie enjoys reading, shopping, and is interested in real estate. She is currently working on establishing her own internet-based media company, Red Hibiscus Media, which will specialize in both online content as well as print material.