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Carrie Cousins

Carrie Cousins

Carrie is the chief writer at Design Shack, with years of experience in web and graphic design. Sports fanatic. Information junkie. Designer. True-believer in karma.

How to Design With Handwritten Typefaces: 8 Tips

Typography / 5 Oct 2015

How to Design With Handwritten Typefaces: 8 Tips

Plenty of designs – both in print and online — are featuring handwritten typefaces in a big way. From custom options to fonts that you can sync online or buy for print projects, this flair for letting is quite popular. The most trendy use is as a dominant headline element in a hero header-style homepage design.

This style can be tricky to use, though, and is not a fit-all solution. Today, we’ll look at eight ways to make the most of the handwritten typeface trend in your design projects.

7 Tips to Speed Up Your Website Today

CSS / 1 Oct 2015

7 Tips to Speed Up Your Website Today

Everyone loves a cool little loading animation, right? But if that divot lasts more than a second or two, it only brings attention to the fact that the website is loading slowly. And that’s a website killer.

Users expect websites to load quickly and efficiently. It’s your job to ensure that the design is not only visually pleasing but also 100 percent functional. If your site is dragging somewhat, you can stop worrying right now because we have seven tips to help you speed up your website with small tweaks to the design. (Make sure to visit each of the websites showcased in the post; they look great and load lightning fast.)

5 Design Shortcuts to Learn Right Now

Inspiration / 28 Sep 2015

5 Design Shortcuts to Learn Right Now

If you are anything like me, you are always looking for a shortcut or two to make your design life easier. Sometimes the tricks to getting through a project are the little things. While there are some obvious workflow solutions, such as using shortcut keys within software, today’s design tricks require a little more long term thought and planning. (But they are well worth it!)

From sketching to working with software to learning a new concept, here are five design shortcuts that you should learn right now. (You’ll thank us later.)

10 Mistakes to Avoid as a Freelancer

Freelancing / 22 Sep 2015

10 Mistakes to Avoid as a Freelancer

When you’re working as a freelancer, whether it’s been two months or two years, you should step back and evaluate how it is going every so often. From rookie moves to common traps, you want to make sure you are aren’t making any mistakes that can set you or your freelance business back.

Here, we’re going to look at 10 mistakes you’ll want to avoid as a freelancer. (And you can use this list to look at things you might be doing that you need to rethink.)

30 Beautifully Designed Shopify Themes

Inspiration / 15 Sep 2015

30 Beautifully Designed Shopify Themes

Shopify is one of the top e-commerce platforms available for online sellers of any size of type of business. The network provides a single-selling platform to help users build a site, manage sales and connect with customers on social media and through other business growth channels.

A good theme can help you get started with Shopify and get selling that much quicker without having to worry about having to do a lot of web development or design. As with other software-based themes, they can range from simple starter packages to complex design tools with robust features. Here, we are breaking down 30 Shopify themes – including free and premium versions – that are beautifully designed and will help you make the most out of your online shop.

Website Navigation Trends: 10 Tips & Examples

Inspiration / 14 Sep 2015

Website Navigation Trends: 10 Tips & Examples

By now the term “hamburger menu” is something we are all familiar with. Love it or hate it, this little element has been one of the bigger trends in website navigation design this year.

But it is not the only big change that’s been happening when it comes to how we design navigation patterns and elements. From super small navigation – such as the hamburger – to oversized navigation options, providing users with a clear and easy path to information should be a top concern for designers.

Design Banner Ads That Don’t Suck: 15 Design Tips

Graphics / 7 Sep 2015

Design Banner Ads That Don’t Suck: 15 Design Tips

There’s been a lot of recent chatter about banner ads. Are they fading? Are users actually clicking them? Are they dead? Are there better options available?

While it is true that banner ad clicks are in decline, that’s not the end of the popular online advertising format. While you can’t measure it, just seeing an ad helps create a user preference for that item, product or service. (Remember, ads have appeared on TV and in printed materials for decades without clicks to prove their success rates.) Today, we’ll look at 15 ways you can create banner ads that simply don’t suck. Take a look at the examples as well. They are 2015 winner of The Webby Awards for ad and website design. You can click through the images to learn more about each one.

10 Ways Designers Solve Problems

Business / 27 Aug 2015

10 Ways Designers Solve Problems

Designers, by nature, are problem-solvers. Every project is a problem or challenge that involves helping other people understand something. Designers have to see through all the fog and clutter to create a solution.

This creative type of problem solving comes naturally in part, but some of the actions are learned. Have you ever stopped to think about how you work to solve problems? Here we will examine 10 ways that designers do just that with a collection of abstract images to inspire some of that problem-solving thinking.

Long-Term Freelancing: How to Stay Focused

Freelancing / 25 Aug 2015

Long-Term Freelancing: How to Stay Focused

Some days you will wake up with that “I don’t want to” feeling. The difference between working for someone else and working for yourself is often what you do when that feeling strikes. Do you push through anyway? Most people who report to an employer fight the feeling, but it can be a lot easier to stay in bed an extra hour when you are your own boss.

This feeling can strike at any time – on a Monday morning, or right in the middle of a big project that you’ve been working on a long time. So how to you push through and stay focused on those projects when you are running out of steam? The trick is in a combination of things you can do for the project and a few things you can do for yourself.

vCard Websites: 15 Tips to Make Yours Stand Out

Business / 24 Aug 2015

vCard Websites: 15 Tips to Make Yours Stand Out

While you may not be exchanging actual paper business cards as much these days, chances are your digital business card, or vCard, can see a lot of traffic. A vCard-style website typically contains very little content other than a few professional details.

vCard websites are not the same as a portfolio. They tend to be more streamlined with a focus on point of contact, not showcase of professional accomplishment. This style of website can be useful to help users or potential customers find you online and help you promote your professional presence online. When it comes to designing a vCard website, think beyond the paper business card format, or email attachment style cards that have been around for years and make yours stand out.

Monochromatic Color: How to Use It Effectively

Inspiration / 19 Aug 2015

Monochromatic Color: How to Use It Effectively

While the thought of completing a design project with only one color might be intimidating, it can actually result in a pretty awesome aesthetic. Monochromatic color options are also a hot concept and can work for a lot of project types.

Monochromatic color is rooted in color theory and takes more than just picking a color and designing everything with it. You’ll want to consider the meaning and associations of the color you choose and how to make that hue work with other components in the page. Here, we’ll explore ways to help you better understand and effectively use monochromatic color in any of your design projects.

Designing Your Resume: Create the Perfect First Impression

CV & Resume Templates / 17 Aug 2015

Designing Your Resume: Create the Perfect First Impression

Resume design is as much about content design as aesthetics. It’s great to have a resume that stands out and makes a potential employer say “wow,” but that wow factor has to keep flowing as they read through the contents of your work history.

It’s a delicate balance between design and content. Treat developing your resume as you would any other design project. Start with the content first. Develop all the things that need to be on your resume and then let that drive the look of the words on the page. (And we all know resume design can be a challenge because there is so much text.)