Software Archive

Mastering Photoshop History and Layer Comps

Mastering Photoshop History and Layer Comps


Sometimes the key to moving ahead in Photoshop is to look back.

There are a number of different tools, features and methods in Photoshop that you can and should be using to track and manipulate the history of your designs as they progress.

Today we’ll take an in-depth look at the Photoshop history palette and how it can help you diversify your designs and keep track of various ideas. We’ll also learn how to use the History Brush and those incredibly handy but difficult to figure out Layer Comps.

September 9th, 2010 Posted in Software
15 in-Depth Examples of Addictive User Experience

15 in-Depth Examples of Addictive User Experience

Today we are going to examine 15 bits of user interface and experience design that really heighten the experience of using a site or application.

Use these website, iPhone and desktop application examples as inspiration for creating your own uniquely addicting user experiences.

May 7th, 2010 Posted in Graphics, Inspiration, Layouts, Software
Photoshop CS5: A Sneak Peek

Photoshop CS5: A Sneak Peek


In the last few days there has been a lot of online buzz about the upcoming launch of Adobe’s next Creative Suite (aka CS5) in April 2010. Today I want to briefly run down some of the new features we’ll be seeing in the most beloved of the applications in the suite: Photoshop.

March 26th, 2010 Posted in Software
Take Part in the BaseKit Beta

Take Part in the BaseKit Beta

Various services are available for converting PSD files to HTML code, all competing from a different angle. Some offer a very quick turn-around, others a ridiculously low price. Whilst some designers regularly use them as part of their working process, there are various advantages to completing the process yourself.

BaseKit is a new web service that allows you to maintain control over this process, easily moving from a PSD to a fully marked up website. It’s still in Beta, but we have 50 invite codes to give away. Read on for a preview video of the service in action, and information on how to apply for an invite.

December 12th, 2009 Posted in Articles, Software
GoodBarry Review

GoodBarry Review

GoodBarry ReviewGoodBarry is a system which, rather than simply providing a content management service, attempts to offer all the facilities you need to turn your website into a fully functional online business. These range from e-commerce, to newsletter provision, to a complete customer management system. This review is going to cover what my main likes and dislikes are about the system, along with explaining under what circumstances it is particularly suitable.

Before reading this, it might be worth a minute of your time to watch the introductory video at It gives you a quick flavour for what the system does and how it helps to manage your online business.

October 17th, 2008 Posted in Software
Integrating Flickr With WordPress

Integrating Flickr With WordPress

Flickr and WordPress PluginsWordPress is undoubtedly one of the most popular blogging platforms, so it’s no surprise that there are a huge variety of different plugins to allow you to integrate Flickr with your blog posts. This article does include a sponsored review of iFlickr, but we’ll also be looking at other plugins available to mix these two online platforms together.

iFlickr Review

By way of a basic introduction, iFlickr is a WordPress plugin that allows you to easily find free images on Flickr and insert them into your blog post while automatically putting the attribution link underneath. It can save you quite a bit of time when looking for related images to your blog post, but doesn’t satisfy the requirement you may have for putting your own personal images on your blog (we’ll cover some methods for doing this later on).

Here are some of the various bits we liked and didn’t like so much about iFlickr:

The Good

  • iFlickr makes it very easy to search for images as you’re writing
  • It gives you more flexibility and precision than other plugins which attempt to automatically find related images
  • It’s a very simple way to add some graphical content to a news article or blog post
  • It’s fairly easy to use CSS to customize the way the image appears
  • It’s completely free!

The Annoying

  • iFlickr only works with PHP5. This may be fine, but not all servers come with this by default
  • You can’t choose to only show your own images
  • It can be a bit tricky to get working correctly (it took us a while)

If you’re looking to use an appropriate Flickr photo with your blog posts on a regular basis, iFlickr is definitely a good way to go. However, if you’d like to mix things up in a different way, trying one of the following might be a better option:

Other Flickr/WordPress Plugins

  • WordPress Flickr Manager – This is a very fully fledged offering, which lets you search for both personal and public photos and insert them into your posts. It’s not as simple as iFlickr, but you might appreciate the bigger set of features.
  • Flickr Photo Album – This plugin allows you to add a set of photos to your site as an album. Rather than picking one or two images, you are able to display a whole collection. Great for showcasing screenshots, or your holiday pictures!
  • FlickrRSS – This lets you display a selection of your Flickr images as a sidebar widget. There are some useful advanced options for customising the display exactly as you want it.

We’d be really interested to hear about any other plugins which you find useful for integrating Flickr with your blog – drop us a line below!

July 22nd, 2008 Posted in Articles, Software
The Impact of Firefox 3

The Impact of Firefox 3

Firefox Logo

Since it’s first release in November 2004, Firefox has come a phenomenally long way. Market share has sky rocketed, and a huge community has built up offering extensions and add on software. The third incarnation of Firefox offers something for web developers as well as users, continuing along their previous path of adhering to web standards and supporting the latest technologies.

This article will outline how important it is that your site is suitable for Firefox users, and explain the new features which the browser makes available to designers.

The following chart shows the percentage of users visiting Design Shack from various browsers. It is plain to see the importance of the site displaying correctly in Firefox and offering a great browsing experience to users of that browser:

Design Shack Browser Share

June 18th, 2008 Posted in Articles, Software
Silverback Previews

Silverback Previews


Silverback is a new app which lets you run your own usability tests really easily. It looks set to be a great new tool for designers who want to analyze how users interact with their site. After a recent request for beta testers, a few interesting details are emerging:

  • Read Kyle Meyer’s initial impressions
  • Quicktime movies are created which show the user’s interaction with the site
  • A video and audio recording is also taken of the user, showing their expressions and remarks
  • It can also be used for testing desktop applications
  • It’s Mac only for now, likely due to the standard hardware features of Apple laptops

It’s certainly an application which could bring the idea of usability testing to a large market. There’s no substitute to actually watching someone using your website when testing it. Keep your eyes peeled for a release and give it a try for yourself.

Follow Silverback on Twitter

May 8th, 2008 Posted in Articles, Software
10 Website Statistic Tools

10 Website Statistic Tools

Keeping track of visitors to your website is vital, and these ten tools can allow you to monitor and review traffic in different ways. Some are free, some require a small charge – all of them will help you optimize your website and know exactly who is passing eyes over your design.

1. Google Analytics

Google Analytics

Analytics is a great word, meaning “sophisticated data analysis and modeling, including developing customer profiles, determining customer and merchandise price profitability”. Google Analytics is certainly a great statistical tool, and is completely free. It integrates into your website using a small piece of code and is hosted by Google so it doesn’t require you to install anything. The downside is the inability to install plug-ins to track extra aspects of your site.

2. Mint


Mint is a tool created by a designed called Shaun Inman (who has a great personal site design to boot). It is a locally run piece of software, which means installing it on your web server. The advantages are that it is very customizable and looks great. ‘Pepper’ can be used to add plug-ins and extra features not included by default, created using the Mint API. Mint costs $30, which is a small price to pay for an in-depth knowledge of your visitors.

3. AWStats


AWStats is a different style of tool as, rather than tracking hits in real-time through a piece of code on your site, it reads web server log files to generate statistical reports. There is a good chance that your web server already has AWStats installed and it may just need turning on. A degree of technical knowledge is required to install and configure AWStats yourself, but it can be a useful tool for another perspective on your traffic.

4. StatCounter


StatCounter comes highly recommended by many people as a free, hosted tracking service. They offer a huge variety of different statistics, from entry and exit pages to country/state/city information. It is completely free, so may be worth giving a try to see if it fits well with your tracking needs.

5. Urchin

6. Webalizer

7. The Counter

8. Going Up

9. Omniture

10. Webtrends

We would recommend only using one or (at the most) two of these tools at a time. Most of them slow the loading of your page to an extent, and adding several at a time could impact the experience of a visitor.

April 25th, 2008 Posted in Articles, Software
Ruby on Rails Intro

Ruby on Rails Intro

You’ve probably heard about Ruby on Rails by now, but it might not be something you have ever really got to grips with. A List Apart have published two great articles as an introduction to Ruby On Rails:

Getting Started with Ruby on Rails

Creating More Using Less Effort with Ruby on Rails

They look like an easy way to get started, aiming to to demystify Ruby on Rails and convince you that you can make the leap.

April 22nd, 2008 Posted in Articles, Software