Learn Design Archives - Designerly https://designerly.com/learn-design/ Digital Design + Marketing Magazine Tue, 19 Sep 2023 14:47:20 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=6.3.1 https://i0.wp.com/designerly.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/6/2020/11/cropped-favicon.png?fit=32%2C32&ssl=1 Learn Design Archives - Designerly https://designerly.com/learn-design/ 32 32 186359583 The Best InDesign Alternatives: A Breakdown of Top Design Tools https://designerly.com/indesign-alternatives/ https://designerly.com/indesign-alternatives/#respond Thu, 28 Sep 2023 14:17:54 +0000 https://designerly.com/?p=16560

Adobe InDesign has long been the go-to software for graphic designers. It provides some of the best tools for layout and publication design. It has always had a great reputation but is one of many choices.  Some designers opt for alternatives to save money or prefer a simpler interface. Others may choose InDesign alternatives due…

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Adobe InDesign has long been the go-to software for graphic designers. It provides some of the best tools for layout and publication design. It has always had a great reputation but is one of many choices. 

Some designers opt for alternatives to save money or prefer a simpler interface. Others may choose InDesign alternatives due to certain features it may not offer. For instance, you may seek software that caters specifically to your industry. 

While InDesign offers many features, you may seek something more flexible or specialized. If Adobe’s offer does not fit your needs, there are better alternatives to consider.

1. Microsoft Publisher

Microsoft Publisher has a user-friendly layout designer with a wide user base and simplified features. As part of Microsoft’s Office suite, it sits comfortably alongside Word, Excel and PowerPoint. For those that know Microsoft’s systems, Publisher provides a familiar touch. It has an easy-to-use interface like Microsoft’s other applications.

However, when compared to Adobe InDesign, Publisher’s toolkit appears somewhat limited. You may find it’s missing extensive typography options and color management tools. Yet, Microsoft 

Publisher still makes a great choice for small businesses and beginning designers. Its simple nature ensures even those with limited design background can easily use it. If a straightforward design experience is what you’re after, Publisher delivers.

2. Postudio

Postudio offers a refreshing approach to design, as you can use it as an on-demand creative studio entirely in the cloud. This platform has a suite of post-production tools, ensuring creators have access to their projects anytime. 

What sets Postudio apart is its pay-as-you-go model. Whether editing for two hours or twenty, you’re billed solely for the time you spend. It eliminates hefty upfront fees and only charges for actual usage.

From intricate color grading tasks to animation and editing, Postudio has lots to offer. The platform’s flexibility allows for seamless tool switching as required. Moreover, Postudio offers collaboration and security. Teams can work in real-time with live collaboration features through a centralized storage system. This ensures assets are easily accessible and modifiable by permitted users.

3. Affinity Publisher

Without hesitation, Affinity Publisher makes a strong contender against InDesign. Launched in 2018 as the third in Affinity’s suite, its experience feels similar to InDesign. Affinity Publisher provides numerous layout tools for print and digital media. You can even import InDesign files, including raster and vector files. Plus, it has a pre-flight checking system to ensure your designs remain error-free.

However, Affinity Publisher is exclusively for PC and Mac users. Although, it integrates seamlessly with its sibling apps, Affinity Designer and Affinity Photo. While an iPad version is yet to be released, users can still interact with Publisher files through the iPad versions of Designer and Photo. Overall, it has a mix of user-friendly features and affordability, making it a top alternative to InDesign.

4. Scribus

Scribus is an open-source InDesign alternative for those seeking a budget-friendly design tool. As a free desktop publishing software, it compares well to its pricier counterparts. While it may not match InDesign’s full depth, Scribus packs a punch with various features. It has color management abilities, such as color separations, color blindness separations and CMYK. 

Additionally, its PDF support and ability to edit vector illustrations make it versatile. Scribus’s interface also mimics InDesign. Although, mastering its tools may require some time. As a beginner, you’ll appreciate the template options available to help you get started. Plus, Scribus has frequent updates and dedicated support. 

Scribus is ideal for making magazines, brochures and much more. However, its biggest limitation is the inability to import files from other programs like InDesign. 

5. QuarkXPress

QuarkXpress makes a great InDesign alternative. Though Adobe InDesign frequently takes the spotlight, QuarkXpress has a great toolkit and a large following. It has a strong offering of typographic controls, layout and color handling. 

Another thing is the option to buy QuarkXpress outright instead of paying for a subscription model in the Adobe plan. You can purchase it up front, but it has a $299 maintenance renewal plan you must pay to support updates. 

The platform is easy to transition to if you’re an InDesign user since it supports its file imports and offers integration with other design tools. However, you might find it to be a slight learning curve as a first-time user. 

When compared to Adobe InDesign, you’ll also find it rich in features but not as vast as its counterpart’s plugins and resources. Still, it supports web content creation, built-in image editing and illustration. Though they’re somewhat basic, you get the consolidation of tasks within a single platform.

6. Swift Publisher

For those seeking publishing software that’s easy to use and affordable, Swift Publisher makes a great alternative to InDesign. With an intuitive interface, Swift Publisher simplifies your design processes. Users can dive into its library of templates, graphics and layouts for various projects, including newsletters, business cards and flyers.

One standout feature is its clipart and image library, offering numerous quality visuals to enhance your designs. While it may not have as intricate typography or features as InDesign, its cost-effectiveness makes it valuable. 

Swift Publisher suits those on a budget or in small business. Its one-time purchase model makes it a practical choice without compromising design quality.

7. Marq

Marq — formerly Lucidpress — is great for beginners and those desiring a user-friendly alternative to InDesign. This platform has a drag-and-drop interface and offers a large amount of free and paid templates. Therefore, you can ensure you’re creating content efficiently, whether digital or print. 

Marq integrates with Google Docs, Dropbox, YouTube and more for content import and publishing. While it may not be as feature-rich as InDesign, its ease of use makes it an ideal starting point for beginner designers. Plus, the platform’s access from any device sets it apart from tools like Swift Publisher. The free version offers a taste, but a $10 monthly subscription becomes essential to access its full potential.

Making an InDesign Alternative Choice

You can see there are plenty of InDesign alternatives to choose from, but the final choice comes down to your needs and budget. Are you looking for something in-depth or basic and affordable? Consider reviewing the highlights of each publishing software to narrow your options. Take advantage of the free trials and test a few to see which of these you like most. The top selection will come down to your budget, skillset and feature preferences.

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The Best Animation Software for Beginners https://designerly.com/best-animation-software-for-beginners/ https://designerly.com/best-animation-software-for-beginners/#respond Wed, 27 Sep 2023 17:23:41 +0000 https://designerly.com/?p=16585 person creating a digital animation

Although an endless variety of animation software exists, only some are ideal for first-time animators. They should be user-friendly, intuitive, and practical to cater to entry-level individuals. Here are 10 of the best animation software for beginners. 1. Synfig Studio (Free) Synfig Studio is a 2D vector-based animation software for independent artists and small creative…

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person creating a digital animation

Although an endless variety of animation software exists, only some are ideal for first-time animators. They should be user-friendly, intuitive, and practical to cater to entry-level individuals. Here are 10 of the best animation software for beginners.

1. Synfig Studio (Free)

Synfig Studio is a 2D vector-based animation software for independent artists and small creative teams. It’s open-source, so it receives frequent, consistent updates and is entirely free. It’s among the best animation software for beginners because it has clean, clear UI and provides opportunities for customization.

This software has several robust features that make it stand out above the rest. For instance, its soft shading system intuitively applies shade changes to layers or frames. It also utilizes a bone system, making animation much easier for beginners. 

The minimum hardware requirements for Synfig Studio include 2 GB of RAM and a dual-core CPU at 2 GHz. Since it’s lightweight software, it’s perfect for beginners who don’t have top-of-the-line machines. It runs on Windows, macOS, and Linux. 

2. Pencil2D Animation (Free)

Pencil 2D is an open-source 2D animation software for beginners. It is one of the best options because it offers both raster and vector workflows, giving more freedom to people who are starting out. Best of all, it has community support and is free — even for commercial users. 

It offers a variety of tools like color wheels, templates, and dynamic zoom. According to user reviews, Pencil 2D has an incredibly simplistic UI that is very clear — even those who don’t prefer it over similar software compliment its ease of use and versatility. 

The installation and operational requirements for Pencil2D include 4 GB of RAM and a 64-bit operating system. The specifics for Windows, macOS, Linux, and FreeBSD vary but are all reasonable for a beginner’s hardware. 

3. Blender (Free)

Blender is among the most popular 3D animation software choices. It’s open-source, so it’s completely free and offers plenty of community support. It can take time to get the hang of, but its features make the actual animation process very straightforward.

Some of its best features include powerful modeling tools, digital sculpting, and an asset browser for organization. First-time animators may not be familiar with them initially, but they’ll quickly get used to them. While one reviewer says the UI is rather unintuitive, they admit it provides the best learning resources compared to other similar software.

The minimum hardware requirements for Blender include an HD display, 64-bit quad-core CPU, 8 GB of RAM, and a graphics card with 2 GB RAM. However, a 2k QHD display, 64-bit eight-core CPU, 32 GB of RAM, and a graphics card with 8 GB of RAM are recommended. It runs on macOS, Linux, and Windows devices.

4. OpenToonz (Free)

OpenToonz is the free, open-source version of Toonz — the software Studio Ghibli used for some films — that specializes in 2D animation. Users can create digitally or upload hand-drawn works. Since this software caters to traditional artists, it vectorizes them automatically.

It’s even available for free commercial use for those who want to break into the industry but have few resources, making it a fantastic animation software for beginners. Plus, it has amazing features like onion skin, motion tweening, automatic in-between frame creation, animated special effects, bones, and sequence painting. 

To install OpenToonz, a computer must have a minimum of 4 GB of RAM and 500 MB of storage space. It runs on Windows, macOS, and Linux. If users need tech support, they can reach out to the community on the software’s official forums.

5. DigiCel FlipBook ($49.99)

DigiCel FlipBook is an excellent 2D raster animation software for beginners because it’s one of the most straightforward versions available. It’s a digital take on traditional animation — like Disney’s classics — to simplify the creative process. Although the UI looks outdated, the icons are colorful and easy to understand. 

The features of DigiCel FlipBook include lip-syncing assistance, timing adjustment, painting process, and blemish removal. Even though it is incredibly easy to use, the developers provide multiple basic and in-depth tutorials to help users get the hang of the software. In fact, they have an entire YouTube channel dedicated to it.

Unlike other subscription-based software, DigiCel FlipBook only requires a one-time payment of $19.99 for the basic version, $49.99 for the standard, or $99.99 for the pro. While the highest tier offers 500 more frames, special effects layers, and automatic shading, it’s not an essential upgrade.

6. Adobe Animate ($20.99/month)

Adobe Animate is a vector-based 2D animation software for creative independents. It provides an interactive walkthrough for the first animation process, an incredibly helpful feature for people who haven’t used Adobe products before. Also, it has a wide variety of official and user-created tutorials for people who want some extra help.

The intuitive features of Adobe Animate make it rank high among other animation software for beginners. It has a straightforward export process, brush customization, a bone system, an envelope deformer, and a rig edit mode for making modifications without deformation.

The minimum download requirements include 8 GB of RAM and a 1024×900 display. However, Adobe recommends having 16 GB of RAM and a 1280×1024 display. A reviewer suggests users need even better hardware to use it properly. It runs on Windows and macOS as long as you have more than 4 GB of HDD space available for installation.

7. Krita (Free)

Krita is primarily an illustration tool but has a built-in raster animation program for 2D creation. Changing the workspace to “Animation” mode makes the tools appear. Even though it only includes the basics, it provides a practical way for beginners to learn how to animate digitally.

With Krita’s various features, users can view an overlay of previous frames, do minor tweening, and storyboard concepts. Although it has few tools, it has an animation user manual to guide people who need help.

Since Krita saves each frame during the animation development process, it takes up much of the computer’s working memory. Because of this, it limits users to shorter sequences, lower resolution, or fewer layers if they have less than 4 GB of RAM.

8. Cinema 4D ($94/month)

Cinema 4D is somewhat of a commitment for people who are just entering animation, but it’s a good investment. It’s one of the most accessible 3D animation tools, with intuitive features and clean UI. While it may be challenging to master, it’s easy to learn.

This software is among the best animation software for beginners because it caters to many creative approaches. For instance, it has a procedural animation feature to animate with Python programming or the node-based editor. It even has a large collection of tutorials and webinars covering everything from animation basics to specific features.

Cinema 4D runs on macOS, Windows, and Linux. On Windows computers, it requires 8 GB of RAM at a minimum but recommends 16 GB. For macOS, it only needs 4 GB to run but runs better with 8 GB. Additionally, it requires an internet connection to validate ownership.

9. Moho Debut ($69.99)

Moho is among the most powerful 2D animation software on the market — Moho Debut is like its vector-based younger sibling. It’s ideal for beginners since it comes with a built-in guidance system covering the tools and features. It also provides a stock library for props, characters, video, and audio for ease of use.

Even though it describes itself as the most advanced option for 2D animation, it’s fairly easy to learn. It takes a while to master, but the excess number of features makes it ideal for first-time animators who want to try a little of everything. For instance, it has automatic lip-syncing, follow-path tools, and motion tracking.

To install and run Moho Debut, users will need a 64-bit operating system, 2.0 GHz Intel Core processor, 4 GB of RAM, 1.6 GB of HDD space, and an internet connection. The developers recommend having an HD resolution or greater.

10. Animaker ($300/year)

Animaker is a unique 2D animation software that caters to beginners. Instead of giving users the tools to create animations from scratch, it provides thousands of graphics, templates, backgrounds, and icons. Users create a custom character or object and choose from pre-set facial expressions, movements, and scenes to develop their story. 

While Animaker is somewhat limiting since it provides very few custom tools, its unique features like automatic resizing, object moving, and lip-syncing make it ideal for beginners who don’t have much artistic expertise but want to get used to the act of animation.

The pricing tiers range from $150 annually for five-minute-long HD video creation to $468 annually for 30-minute-long 2k capabilities. Since it’s a yearly subscription model, its definitely a significant investment. Still, its extreme ease of use and simplistic UI makes it worthwhile.

Choosing Animation Software for Beginners

It can be challenging to narrow down choices when faced with some of the best animation software available. Before deciding, first-time animators should consider their budget, needs, and career goals.

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Create Postcard Campaigns Like a Pro With a Postcard Maker https://designerly.com/postcard-maker/ https://designerly.com/postcard-maker/#respond Mon, 25 Sep 2023 16:41:52 +0000 https://designerly.com/?p=16583

Have you ever received a postcard from Kohl’s with a coupon for their upcoming sale? How could you ever pass up 30% off a new wardrobe? Like many companies, Kohl’s has mastered the art of direct mail marketing using a high-quality postcard maker. Postcard makers are ideal for companies to create stylish postcards for their…

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Have you ever received a postcard from Kohl’s with a coupon for their upcoming sale? How could you ever pass up 30% off a new wardrobe? Like many companies, Kohl’s has mastered the art of direct mail marketing using a high-quality postcard maker.

Postcard makers are ideal for companies to create stylish postcards for their target audience. If you want to do the same for your business, this guide will walk you through creating an effective postcard campaign.

What Is Postcard Marketing?

Who said direct mail marketing was dead? In fact, postcard mailers have one of the highest returns on investment. According to the Association of National Advertisers, postcards have a 92% ROI — more than any other mail format.

Nearly eight in 10 marketers say direct mail is a critical component of the multichannel campaign mix — most use three to four channels for one campaign. Those who aren’t using postcards are simply missing out. 

Although postcard marketing is an old-school marketing technique, it boosts campaign performance by reaching your target market right in their mailboxes. For instance, printed cards may include announcements, special offers, and discounts. 

One survey predicts U.S. spending on direct mail marketing will reach more than $43 billion in 2023 — a year-over-year increase of $41.7 billion.

5 Online Postcard Makers to Try

You can find numerous postcard makers online to meet your direct mail marketing needs. Here are five of the most popular online tools to help you create stunning print cards for your target audiences.  

1. Canva

Canva has quickly become one of the most favored graphic design platforms worldwide. Its postcard maker is easy to use, with hundreds of stylish postcard templates to choose from.

Upload your own photos and graphics, or use one of the millions of stock images provided by Canva’s library. For those who’d prefer not to spend more money on direct mailers, Canva allows you to share your postcard digitally through social media or email.

2. Visme

According to its website, 20,525,288 marketing professionals from 133 countries use Visme’s postcard maker. Choose from numerous templates and customize your postcards to your liking. Visme has an impressive collection of vector graphics, stock photos, and fonts you can use for free.

Of course, the company will print and mail them directly to your customers. However, Visme will also let you send your postcards in an email or share them on social media. 

3. MailJoy

MailJoy uses a drag-and-drop editing tool to create direct mailers for your marketing campaigns. You can customize your postcard with the many fonts, colors, and templates to stay on brand. MailJoy also provides images, or you can upload your own.

Import your contacts and segment them into lists to more efficiently target your recipients. Name the lists according to the custom campaign to differentiate mailers for your audience.

4. Postalytics

Choose between three different postcard sizes — 4×6, 6×9, and 6×11 — for direct mailers to market your business. Whether in HVAC or finances, Postalytics offers postcard customization features to appeal to your target audience. 

Postalytics will send your postcards into printing and mail them to recipients after you import your mailing list. The website also provides tracking and campaign analysis to measure its success. 

5. Mailchimp

Although known for email marketing, Mailchimp’s postcard maker enables you to create visually stunning promotional prints for direct mail. Marketers can send postcards worldwide to 27 countries while automating recurring mailings monthly or 3–6 months — often a time-consuming, repetitive task.

Marketers can utilize Mailchimp’s address finder feature to find existing and potential customers. Likewise, the company can send abandoned cart postcards automatically within 24 hours if someone leaves an item in their online shopping cart.

Tips for Creating an Effective Postcard Mailer

Marketers must customize postcards strategically. For starters, they must design a recognizable mailer according to their branding. Fortunately, postcard makers provide numerous customization opportunities for designers to create an attention-grabbing mailer. As you flesh out your postcard campaign, remember the following tips.

Choose the Right Postcard Maker

Postcard makers come with different features, so it is essential to compare each package. You must also determine which design package fits into your marketing budget. 

Do you want your postcard maker to include special campaign tools like contact integrations and automatic reprints? Some may also offer a QR code for your prints. Analyze your business goals to choose the right program.

Stylize the Card

A captivating postcard should grab your audience’s attention. Approximately 87% of people believe logos can pass as artwork. Some will hold onto a postcard if it is done well.

Use eye-catching — but readable — fonts, bold lettering, sleek colors, and short text blocks. You don’t want to overwhelm the recipient with long text. 

Add High-Quality Images

While most postcard makers have extensive image libraries for you to look through, you should be your own photographer. 

Align images with your brand. For instance, an electrical contractor might include a photo of themselves wearing a uniform with the company’s logo. Likewise, a retailer should only have images of products available at stores. Travel companies, especially, can have lots of fun creating postcards using high-quality images of dreamy destinations.

Hook the Recipient

Ensure your text is concise and matches your brand’s overall tone. Your postcard is a continuation of your online messaging. 

If you are announcing a new store opening, write “Visit Us at Our New Location” in bold letters. You want your announcement to stand out on the card. Another example is Old Navy, which usually puts its Super Cash amount in bright colors on the front of its mailer so it is the first thing customers see. 

Personalize the Card

Using postcard makers with contact integrations will allow you to personalize postcards to your existing and prospective customers. 

A dentist’s office might send personalized postcards to patients during holidays and birthdays. Meanwhile, an organization might send a personalized “thank you” postcard after receiving a donation.

When customers feel appreciated and are addressed directly, they are more likely to spend more with your brand.

Measuring the Success of Postcard Marketing

There are several ways to measure the effectiveness of your postcard marketing campaign. However, you must clearly define your goals and objectives before setting up the metric. Measure your postcard success and ROI in the following ways:

  • Coupon or QR code: Measure how many responses you get by offering a discount, then see how many people use the postcard discount compared to how many mailers you send.
  • Consultation calls: Determine how many people call the number you provided on the postcard for a consultation or inquiry.
  • Unique URLs: Add a unique URL on the postcard for customers to search for — the link will bring them to a landing page, and you can measure your campaign’s success.

Your approach to postcard marketing highly depends on the type of business you are running. An accountant may use different metrics than a retailer or contractor. 

A Postcard Makers Is a Practical Direct Mail Marketing Tool

A postcard maker is helpful whether you’re a seasoned marketer exploring direct mail marketing for the first time or are interested in creating postcards for friends and family. Create beautiful postcards using an array of pre-made templates and customization options. Of course, injecting creativity is most important for a fabulous mailer.

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A Beginner’s Guide for Navigating the Google Dashboard https://designerly.com/google-dashboard/ https://designerly.com/google-dashboard/#respond Sat, 23 Sep 2023 16:12:00 +0000 https://designerly.com/?p=16605

Few marketing tools are as critical for businesses as Google Analytics — a free analytics web service for anyone with a Google account. Business owners and marketers receive key visitor insights and statistics from the Google Dashboard to understand their website performance. Data includes website traffic, trends, conversions, user behaviors and demographics. Google Analytics and…

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Few marketing tools are as critical for businesses as Google Analytics — a free analytics web service for anyone with a Google account. Business owners and marketers receive key visitor insights and statistics from the Google Dashboard to understand their website performance. Data includes website traffic, trends, conversions, user behaviors and demographics.

Google Analytics and its comprehensive dashboard benefit your business in several ways. For instance, examining consumer behaviors allows you to modify your marketing approach to improve traffic, search results and retention.

Experienced marketers should find the Google Dashboard easy to navigate. However, newcomers may need an overview of how it works. Let’s uncover everything you need to know about your Google Dashboard and how to obtain the most comprehensive information for your business. 

Google Dashboard Overview

Marketers will agree the information on Google Dashboard is invaluable. However, a first glance at the screen may intimidate a beginner. What do all those terms mean, and how do you read the insights? Here’s a breakdown of your Google Dashboard so you can tell how well your business is performing online.


The Google Dashboard homepage delivers an overview of your analytics. You can adjust the report to show you data from specific days.

On the left-hand side of the screen, you will notice additional tabs, including “Realtime,” “Audience,” “Acquisition,” and others. Expect to use these tabs often. 

Realtime Data

The Realtime Data tab tells you how many people are active on your website at any given moment. This section can also inform you about the devices users are visiting from, the pages they are on and how they arrived at your website.


The Audience tab provides information about your website visitors, including the following details:

  • Users: Total website visitors — including returning visitors — within a specific timeframe
  • New users: How many first-time visitors to your website
  • Sessions: How many times people visit your website overall
  • Sessions per user: How many times individual visitors visit your website
  • Pageviews: How many pages users visited during a specific period
  • Pages/Session: The number of pages visited during each visitor’s session
  • Session duration: Average time users spend on your website
  • Bounce rate: How many users leave your website after viewing one page

The average user spends about 54 seconds on a website. Your goal is to find ways to keep users engaged with your website for one or more minutes. 


The first thing you might notice under the Acquisition tab is a pie chart and graph — these indicate how visitors found your website, such as through organic search results, social media or affiliates. A breakdown of the Acquisition report is as follows:

  • Organic search: Traffic derived from search engine results, such as Google
  • Referral: Users who have found your website through a third-party link
  • Direct: People who visited your website by typing in the URL
  • Social: Those who have found your website through social media
  • Affiliate: Often indicative of e-commerce sites, affiliate traffic comes from clicking on an affiliate identification code


If you’re wondering what users do when they visit your website, the Behavior tab will tell you everything you need to know, including:

  • Which pages users visited
  • The number of users visiting various pages
  • Average time spent on a page
  • How many leave immediately after clicking your website

The Behavior tab also tells you the Exit Rate. Unlike the Bounce Rate, the Exit Rate is a percentage of how many people leave your website from a specific page. Users should leave your website from a thank you or contact page rather than another page. Otherwise, your website may not have had the answer to their query.


The obvious goal of an online retailer is to make a sale, while someone in financial services will want users to reach out through a contact form for a consultation. 

The Conversion tab delivers insight into how well you’ve achieved these goals. However, you must first set your goals in the Conversion tab to see results.

Measuring the Performance of Google Ads

Business owners often link Google Ads to their Google Analytics platform to analyze their website performance further. Google Ads strictly delivers information regarding ad campaigns. The key performance indicators in Google Ads are as follows:


You can think of an impression as you would when first introduced to someone new. In Google Ads, an impression indicates a user saw a link to your website in Google Search, News or Discover.

Impressions may not seem like a big deal, but they are a crucial tidbit of information. These metrics are not all created equal, though. A meaningful impression signifies your website offered something of value to the user. Otherwise, you may accrue a higher bounce rate.

Click-Through Rate

The CTR is also straightforward — the number of people who saw your ad to the number of those who clicked on it. CTRs reveal your website’s SEO and ad performance and relevancy. 

For instance, if your ad has seven clicks for 100 impressions, the CTR would be 7%. Use this information to update ad content for higher user engagement.


Google Ads counts every ad click, even if the person doesn’t reach a temporarily unavailable site.

Your CTR will help you determine whether clicks landed on your website. Like CTRs, improving keywords and content can boost the click metric.

Position and Ad Rank

Position indicates where your website lands in Google search results only. You should strive to reach the top spot in local search, if not on the first page.

Conversely, Ad Rank measures where your ad lands on a page so users see it. In some cases, they may not appear at all. Focus on your top KPIs to determine where your ads fall. 


The cost is the average daily budget you have set up to run your ad campaign. You determine how much you want to spend for ads and can edit the amount as you see fit. 


CPC references a bidding campaign in which you pay according to each ad click. For instance, marketers will set up a maximum CPC — the highest amount they’ll pay for daily ad clicks.

Google will run your ads and charge you every time someone clicks on it. If someone clicks on your ad after you’ve met your maximum bid, Google will not charge you anything.

Tips for Optimizing Your Google Analytics

There is a lot for you to learn when you first set up your Google Analytics account. Some business owners may not have the knowledge to utilize its features comprehensively. Fortunately, you can tweak your Google Dashboard to improve tracking and boost your website’s performance. 

The first thing business owners should do is enroll in Google’s free digital marketing course. “Fundamentals of Digital Marketing” has over 40 hours of content in 26 self-paced modules. At the end of the course, you will receive a Google certificate and walk away with basic knowledge of how to maximize your analytics and ads.

Other things you can do to improve your website analytics in your Google Dashboard include:

  • Segment your visitors by location, device, conversions, IP address and more
  • Apply filters, such as dates or unnecessary traffic reports
  • Set up your website objectives to ensure you reach your analytics goals
  • Utilize Google’s annotation features for reminders and notes on specific data
  • Subscribe to weekly or monthly reports of your top insights
  • Link your Google Analytics and Google Ads accounts so your information appears in one place

In July 2023, Google rolled out Google Analytics 4 — a new design to enhance measuring the customer journey, including improved privacy settings and predictive capabilities. Users can still see their Universal Analytics platform but should integrate Google Analytics 4.

Use the Google Dashboard to Maximize Website Performance

Understanding your online target audience is critical. The Google Dashboard has everything you need to understand your reach and boost your website performance. 

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8 Free Illustrator Alternatives You Need to Try https://designerly.com/free-illustrator-alternatives-to-try/ https://designerly.com/free-illustrator-alternatives-to-try/#respond Tue, 19 Sep 2023 14:31:10 +0000 https://designerly.com/?p=16542

Finding a free Illustrator alternative similar to the original is surprisingly easy. There are plenty of great options with better features and usability at no cost, making Illustrator obsolete. Here are some of the best tools available. 1. Vectr If you’re looking for an intuitive, free Illustrator alternative, look no further than Vectr. This vector…

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Finding a free Illustrator alternative similar to the original is surprisingly easy. There are plenty of great options with better features and usability at no cost, making Illustrator obsolete. Here are some of the best tools available.

1. Vectr

If you’re looking for an intuitive, free Illustrator alternative, look no further than Vectr. This vector design tool is web-based, so users can use layers, elements, shapes, brushes, images, snapping, and alignment tools from the comfort of their browsers. 

Here’s what it does best and what it could do better:

  • Strengths: Amazingly, it has generative artificial intelligence tools to streamline the creative process. Its powerful features include a chat function for collaborative work, tutorials for beginners, and dozens of practical templates. 
  • Weaknesses: Vectr is only available with an internet connection. Also, it locks certain features and shows ads to people without a premium subscription. It only costs $10 per year, but most looking for a free Illustrator alternative don’t want to spend anything.

This design and editing software is simple but gets the job done. However, having features locked behind a paywall can frustrate those who want to escape subscription-based services. Users can access Vectr on its website since it’s a web-based tool.

2. SVG-Edit

SVG-edit is a web-based design and editing tool. It’s simple, intuitive, and great for beginners. Users can use the brush, shape, text, image, grid, layers, covert to path, and duplicate tools.

Here’s what it does best and what it could do better:

  • Strengths: It is intuitive, easy to learn, and offers all of the standard tools. 
  • Weaknesses: SVG-edit is bare-bones compared to some of its competitors. While the user interface looks slightly outdated, the icons are recognizable to those who used Illustrator. 

To get ahold of this free Illustrator alternative, simply go to the SVG-edit website and use it. There’s no need to log in or create an account, but the creators encourage users to do so since it lets them save their progress and work.

3. Adobe Express

Surprisingly, Adobe created a rival to its own software. It might seem odd that it offers a free Illustrator alternative, but there’s no need to question a good thing. It has generative AI tools to create images or custom fonts. On top of that, it offers thousands of professional templates, stock images, collaboration capabilities, and customizable brand kits.

Here’s what it does best and what it could do better:

  • Strengths: Its powerful AI, real-time collaboration tool, and ease-of-life features make it a powerhouse software. Since Adobe is behind it, it has a dedicated tech support team.
  • Weaknesses: The UI is overly simple, seemingly because the brand is targeting a younger audience. Also, many features are stuck behind a paywall — a classic Adobe move.

Adobe Express is a great tool for those familiar with the company’s UI, but it lacks many of the more advanced tools they’re likely used to. It has a sign-up page since it requires account creation. Unless users already have an Adobe ID, they can use their Google, Facebook or Apple account to make one.  

4. Inkscape

Inkscape is a free, cross-platform creation and editing tool. Like Illustrator, it utilizes vectors to ensure graphics are scalable and look clean. Its tools include brushes, transformations, alignment, gradients, text, and grouping. Users can easily create logos or illustrations — engineering, marketing, and web design professionals regularly use it.

Here’s what it does best and what it could do better:

  • Strengths: Inkscape gets frequent updates to keep it secure and fresh. Also, it supports uncommon file formats and all color models and has advanced tools like bitmap tracing, node editing, and boolean operations. For beginners, it has in-depth tutorials.
  • Weaknesses: It is open-source software, so no dedicated tech support or customer service team exists. However, there are community-driven help pages on the official website.

It might be the best free Illustrator alternative because it’s so in-depth. Although users have to download Inkscape to use it, sacrificing some storage space is worth having such a powerful tool. As of August 2023, Inkscape 1.3 is the latest version. However, it’s possible to download earlier versions to be compatible with specific plugins.


The GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP) is an open-source, free alternative to Adobe Illustrator. People knowledgeable enough can develop new code to customize their interface. Aside from the personalization features, it has multi-device support and supports many uncommon file formats.

Here’s what it does best and what it could do better:

  • Strengths: It has all the standard tools like layers, painting, text, masking, selection, and brushes. For more advanced professionals, it provides thousands of plugins to add new ones and personalize the experience. For beginners, it has in-depth tutorials.
  • Weaknesses: Volunteers created GIMP, so even though there are dedicated forums, there’s no tech support or customer service team to contact. Also, it’s not very beginner friendly. However, some reviewers claim the single-window mode update makes using it much easier than before. 

Even though GIMP requires a download, users don’t need to enter their personal information to use it. There are separate installation options for Linux, macOS, and Windows, so virtually everyone with a computer can get it.

6. Krita

Krita is a vector-based design tool with a heavy emphasis on illustration and creation. Although people commonly use it to create digital art, its massive array of tools makes it stand out as an alternative to Adobe Illustrator. It’s open-source with a published source code, so users can adapt it to their needs. 

Here’s what it does best and what it could do better:

  • Strengths: Krita has dozens of plugins, themes, brush packs, illustrative assistants, and transformation tools. It also offers many color models, supports uncommon file formats, has tutorials, and supports uncommon file formats. 
  • Weaknesses: The UI is somewhat cluttered and the tools can be fussy — user input can take a second or two to register. 

Users can download Krita on the official website for free — this is important to note, as the Windows, Steam, and Epic stores require payment. It’s set up this way so people who want to support the developers can. Linux, Windows, and macOS versions are available. 

7. Figma

The free version of Figma has mobile support and lets users have unlimited personal files, collaborators, and plugins. The UI is clear and attractive, which is a bonus. Overall, it’s like the Google Docs of the graphic design world.

Here’s what it does best and what it could do better:

  • Strengths: Figma allows unlimited contributors to collaborate on a design. It also provides plugins, reusable assets, templates, and product integrations. It’s an amazing choice for professionals working on a team.
  • Weaknesses: It locks team libraries, prototyping unlimited version history, design analytics, private plugins, dedicated workspaces, and cybersecurity tools behind a paywall. Many fantastic web-design tools are only available with a subscription.

The sign-up page for Figma shows four pricing options for people who want additional features. Those looking for a free alternative to Adobe Illustrator only need to click “Choose Starter” under the “Free Forever” version to get started.

8. DesignEvo

DesignEvo is a free web-based logo maker. Although it lacks many of Illustrator’s features, it is still a powerful graphic design tool. Users can create their designs from scratch or use one of the free templates. 

Here’s what it does best and what it could do better:

  • Strengths: DesignEvo has millions of icons — clicking one of the 42 options on the initial list opens up thousands more. It also has over 10,000 templates to streamline the creative process. The customer support and preview option are useful.
  • Weaknesses: The features are lacking — it’s a self-described logo maker, not a comprehensive Illustrator alternative. In fairness, it does exactly what it says it can.

DesignEvo is great for professionals who design simple graphics or logos. Although it offers a sign-up option, people can use the tool on the website without creating an account. 

Why Use an Illustrator Alternative?

People should consider using an Illustrator alternative because most tools offer the same service for free. It first came out in 1987 and has remained among the most popular computer design programs since. However, the subscription model can feel predatory and confining. 

Many people are joining their fellow graphic designers, marketers, and illustrators and getting a free alternative. Most of the options on this list offer plugins, collaboration, or rich community spaces to elevate the experience — there’s no need to stick with Illustrator when they exist.

Enjoy a Free Illustrator Alternative

Finding an adequate alternative to Adobe Illustrator can seem tricky to people who are so used to its features and UI, but getting the hang of these options is easy. Multiple web-based and downloadable versions exist, so there’s a perfect fit for everyone.

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7 Best Apps for Learning Coding in 2023 https://designerly.com/best-apps-for-learning-coding/ https://designerly.com/best-apps-for-learning-coding/#respond Mon, 04 Sep 2023 13:00:00 +0000 https://designerly.com/?p=16462

Looking for the best apps for learning coding in 2023? We ranked today's top seven coding apps for beginners, kids, pros and more.

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Looking for the best apps for learning coding in 2023? We’ve got you covered! Our team assembled a beginner-friendly guide to the top coding apps for casual learners, beginners, aspiring professionals and even kids. No matter what learning style you prefer, there’s a great coding app out there for you. 

We ranked today’s top seven coding apps based on several factors. These factors included availability on iOS and Android, free content, affordable pricing, quality of content, languages offered and variety of activities. 

What are the seven best apps for learning coding in 2023? 

1. Khan Academy

Khan Academy is a go-to resource for learning virtually any topic on Earth, including programming languages. It’s one of the best coding apps for learning coding in 2023, thanks to its wealth of content and high affordability. 

Khan Academy has a variety of coding courses, including JavaScript, HTML, CSS, SQL and even animation. Every course has informational guides as well as activities and quizzes. Best of all, everything on Khan Academy is free. You can access it online from your desktop or laptop or on your mobile device with the iOS or Android app. 

2. Encode

Encode is a great place to start if you want a beginner-friendly coding course taught in small chunks. It’s perfect for doing a quick lesson on your lunch break or during a five-minute breather from work or school. 

The lessons are short enough to complete in a few minutes while still conveying coding principles and skills effectively. Lessons are followed by practice challenges with real code, not just multiple-choice questions. You can run all of it from the mobile app, too. 

Encode is available on iOS and Android. A lot of its content is free, although there are in-app purchases to access premium, higher-level lessons. 

3. Mimo

Mimo is similar to Duolingo, only for programming languages instead of spoken languages. It’s a robust learning app available on iOS, Android and on the web on desktop or laptop. It includes a wide array of courses for all skill levels, from beginner basics to advanced career prep. 

Mimo has lessons in Python, HTML, CSS, JavaScript and SQL. Several languages are bundled together into a complete web development career path course. All languages include beginner courses, though. 

Your activity on Mimo can sync between your computer and mobile device, so you can pick up a lesson on your phone anytime. Some practice activities are fill-in-the-blank, much like Duolingo. There are also larger practice projects that involve real hands-on coding. 

Overall, Mimo is a highly versatile and flexible platform. It easily earns its place as one of the best apps for learning coding in 2023. It has a fairly affordable price, as well. After a free trial, a monthly subscription costs about $10 per month or you can pay for a full year for about $80. 

4. Codecademy Go

Codecademy is a fantastic learning platform for those who want to build professional coding skills. It started as an online desktop site but has since added a mobile app called Codecademy Go. Both the website and app perform great and offer a wealth of features and learning materials that make it worth the somewhat high price. 

Codecademy Go works best in combination with lessons on the full-scale website. So, it’s not ideal if you want to learn exclusively from a mobile app. 

Codecademy as a whole is a very well-rounded platform for building coding skills, though. Courses in dozens of languages and skill sets are available, from basic Python to video game design. Every course includes a variety of lessons, tutorials and hands-on projects. 

The monthly subscription price is a bit high at $35 per month, but you can take as many courses as you want for that fee. It is also significantly cheaper with an annual subscription or student discount. The pro plan even includes professional certifications and career guidance. So, for those looking for robust career-focused coding courses, Codecademy and Codecademy Go are a great option. 

5. Enki

Enki stands out among the best apps for learning coding due to its unique focus on data science. Many apps can help you learn different programming languages. There aren’t as many that hone in on data science skills and concepts. 

What’s particularly interesting about Enki is its use of AI. An AI algorithm customizes your experience and acts as a personal “coach” that can answer your questions and help explain concepts. Enki has a massive content library, as well, with courses available in dozens of subjects, including high-demand niches like cybersecurity. 

Unfortunately, Enki is free to download but requires a subscription to use. Luckily, subscription rates are fairly affordable. You can purchase a monthly subscription for $7.99 or pay $47.99 for a full year. Enki is available on iOS and Android. 

6. SpriteBox Coding

If you’re looking for the best apps for learning coding for kids, check out SpriteBox Coding and its companion app SpriteBox: Code Hour. Both of these apps are fantastic kid-friendly coding platforms. They teach the foundations of coding through engaging platformer video games. 

The SpriteBox: Code Hour app is very similar to the main SpriteBox app but breaks up play sessions into short one-hour chunks. This setup can make it more appealing to kids who may be new to coding or struggle to stay focused. 

SpriteBox is ideal for kids in grades one through six, particularly complete beginners. If your child or student already knows the basics or is a bit older, Hopscotch may be a better option. Hopscotch is designed for kids aged 10 through 16 and teaches coding through several different video games. 

Both SpriteBox apps are available for free on iOS and Android. Unfortunately, Hopscotch is only available on iOS and is designed specifically for iPad. 

7. Udemy

Some people learn to code best through structured, college-style courses. If this is your case, Udemy could be a good fit for you. Udemy is an online learning platform where you can take a la carte courses on thousands of different subjects. 

Many Udemy courses are taught by real college professors or industry experts. The best even offer skill certificates you can use in your portfolio or resume. Courses are available in everything from complete basics to advanced coding skills for game design or cybersecurity. 

Udemy courses vary in price, length, content and style. They all start at $14.99, though. You can pay for a single course without paying for a subscription, which some users may find appealing over subscription-reliant apps. 

The Best Apps for Learning Coding Today

Learning to code is challenging and requires frequent practice. Mobile apps can be very helpful for getting that practice every day. Many of the best apps for learning coding include beginner content as well as more advanced tutorials. 

If you are looking to expand or kickstart your coding education, remember there are also valuable resources available for free online. FreeCodeCamp and The Odin Project are both popular platforms for learning many foundations of coding at no charge. These websites are a great complement to mobile coding apps. 

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The Best Photoshop Tutorials for Beginners https://designerly.com/the-best-photoshop-tutorials-for-beginner/ https://designerly.com/the-best-photoshop-tutorials-for-beginner/#respond Fri, 01 Sep 2023 13:00:00 +0000 https://designerly.com/?p=16432

Photoshop is one of the most famous graphic design programs in the world — so ubiquitous, in fact, that “photoshopping” has become slang for digital editing. Artists, photographers, and aspiring graphic designers should all learn how to use the software. Here are some Photoshop tutorials beginners can start with. Photoshop for Beginners by Envato Tuts+…

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Photoshop is one of the most famous graphic design programs in the world — so ubiquitous, in fact, that “photoshopping” has become slang for digital editing. Artists, photographers, and aspiring graphic designers should all learn how to use the software. Here are some Photoshop tutorials beginners can start with.

Photoshop for Beginners by Envato Tuts+ on YouTube

This three-hour YouTube Photoshop tutorial walks beginners through the absolute basics. It explains how layers work, teaches students how to crop and resize images, and covers important skills like selecting and masking. It also goes over Smart Objects, color adjustment, retouching, and exporting images. 

The tutorial includes source files so people can follow along and practice their skills in Photoshop. Considering the video is free to watch, it packs in a lot of valuable information and can help lay the groundwork for learning more advanced skills.

Photoshop Tutorials on Adobe

Sometimes, it’s best to learn a skill right from the source. Adobe offers official Photoshop tutorials for beginners on its website. Although these 10 short videos don’t cover everything, they can help viewers get started with the graphic design software by explaining how to work with layers, change image sizes, add filters, and more. 

Photoshop for Complete Beginners by PiXimperfect on YouTube

In eight lessons, students will learn about everything from pixels to blending modes. The instructor perfectly balances contagious enthusiasm and professionalism while offering detailed explanations of Photoshop’s many features. Plus, the tutorial includes files to practice on. It’s free and easy for anyone to access on YouTube. 

Photoshop Fundamentals on Udemy

Education tech company Udemy offers online courses in countless subjects, including graphic design. Its free Photoshop Fundamentals course is a great tutorial for beginners. 

In just 41 minutes, instructor Hardy Fowler covers the very basics of Photoshop — such as the canvas and brush features, filters, and masks — with a specific focus on preparing students for digital painting classes. Students can then progress to Udemy’s more advanced Photoshop painting tutorials. 

Photoshop CC: The Essentials of Photoshop In Just 2 hrs on Udemy

Another free Photoshop tutorial for beginners, this Udemy course teaches students the basics. It covers layers, masks, blending, filters, and other fundamentals of using Photoshop. It even lets students practice their new skills by offering real-world practice projects they can download. 

After taking this course, students should be able to enhance a basic portrait and start practicing digital coloring and painting skills. The course also includes a $5 voucher for intermediate and advanced Photoshop painting classes.

Photoshop Full Course Tutorial (6+ Hours) by Learnit Training on YouTube

This free YouTube video is a valuable way to start learning the ins and outs of Photoshop. Instructor David Casuto calmly walks viewers through moving and transforming objects, using the lasso tool, dodging and burning, adjusting hue saturation, and more. The tutorial includes exercise files so viewers can practice what they’ve learned. 

This YouTube video is six hours and 28 minutes long, but viewers can easily navigate through it using the table of contents posted in the description. This organization makes it easy for people to skip to specific topics they want to learn, like using lens flares or 3D text. 

Amazing Photo Effects in Photoshop on Udemy

In just an hour and 37 minutes, this free Udemy course covers how to create fun photo effects through layering in Photoshop CC 2017. Instructor Enver Gurban also explains how to correct the color and tone of images so they look more realistic. Students may want to take a more basic tutorial first, but this short course is a great place to start when learning how to create photo effects. 

Photoshop CC for Web Design Beginners on Udemy

This free tutorial is geared toward learning Photoshop CC, the updated software version of Photoshop. It introduces students to website graphic design and teaches them how to create a simple, minimal web page design. It also provides plenty of Photoshop files to practice with. 

The course covers basic skills like using layers, groups, shapes, and the paintbrush tool. It introduces students to zooming and panning, different blending modes, and inserting text. It also teaches a few important keyboard shortcuts that come in handy when using Photoshop. 

Master Photoshop in 30 Days by PHLEARN on YouTube

PHLEARN’s YouTube channel features an extensive Photoshop playlist that viewers can look through at their own pace. The playlist features 31 tutorial videos to help people master the basics of Photoshop. The videos are short — with all of them less than 26 minutes in length — which makes it easy to incorporate them into a busy schedule. 

The tutorial starts by teaching viewers the essential skills of opening, editing, and saving files, then moves on to more advanced topics like selecting hair and swapping out skies in landscape photos. It also covers the use of Smart Objects, lighting, and useful tools. The course is easy to follow and users can pause or rewind videos at any time. 

Photoshop CC for Dummies by Peter Bauer

The For Dummies series is a classic among tutorial and how-to books. This title offers a beginner-friendly introduction to Photoshop CC. 

Starting with the basics, the book covers layers, tones, painting, and more, including how to fix common problems. By the end of the book, users should be able to combine multiple images and even apply Neural Filters. It’s a great reference for anyone wanting to learn Photoshop from scratch.

Adobe Photoshop Classroom in a Book by Andrew Faulkner and Conrad Chavez

Another useful Photoshop tutorial for beginners, the official Adobe Photoshop Classroom in a Book teaches readers the software from the ground up. It includes 15 project-based lessons that illustrate step-by-step techniques like creating composites, preparing images for the web, and image enhancement. 

The files that accompany the book let readers work on the projects in each chapter. Additionally, buying the physical book gives readers access to an e-book enhanced with videos and multiple-choice quizzes. 

How Do I Do That in Photoshop? by Scott Kelby

This book is a great resource for quickly looking up how to do something in Photoshop, including the locations of specific tools, features, and shortcuts within the program. The book is geared toward photographers and anyone wanting to edit photos. It uses simple, down-to-earth language and straightforward instructions for navigating the software’s many twists and turns. It’s the perfect adjunct to a more comprehensive Photoshop tutorial. 

Adobe Photoshop: A Complete Course and Compendium of Features by Stephen Laskevitch

Anyone wanting to learn the ins and outs of Photoshop can benefit from reading this book. It starts off by teaching the basics, then goes into greater depth as it progresses. It uses real Photoshop lessons to teach readers how to set up a workspace in Photoshop, utilize different brushes and fonts, use Smart Objects, and more. The book also comes with course files so readers can practice what they learn. 

Learning Photoshop Is a Valuable Skill

Anyone interested in art, photography, and web design should take the time to learn Photoshop. Knowing how to use this graphic design software goes a long way. But it isn’t necessary to take formal classes — today, there are many free and inexpensive Photoshop tutorials for beginners available online and in book form. It’s simply a matter of finding the right one. 

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The Best Photography Books Every Beginner Should Have https://designerly.com/best-photography-books/ https://designerly.com/best-photography-books/#respond Mon, 12 Jun 2023 12:00:00 +0000 https://designerly.com/?p=15690

Starting as a photographer is challenging when you don't know what to do. Read the best photography books for beginners to hone your skills.

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Everyone has to start somewhere. Some pick up a camera and spend hours teaching themselves the basics, but others work smarter and read the best photography books. While the nature of photography entails eventually grabbing a camera and using it, intermingling that practice with learning can help move the education process along. Take this opportunity to learn from the cream of the crop when it comes to a new trade or brushing up on essential skills.

But is there any benefit to reading and not using a camera right away? Use this list to find some of the best photography books to add to your collection, as well as why it’s vital to read them.

1. A World History of Photography by Naomi Rosenblum

While this 750-page behemoth may look intimidating, it is an incredibly worthwhile buy to learn how humanity has utilized photography in the last 200 years. The book spans from the earliest forms of cameras to modern digital means, detailing the history of each photo. Readers will see how photographers used the medium to convey ideas and emotions throughout time, picking up time-tested methods along the way.

This incredible collection and anthology contains nearly 850 photos covering advertising, portraiture, photojournalism and documentation. Budding and experienced photographers of any genre will find this volume a worthwhile addition to their knowledge and shelf. While the most recent edition — the 5th edition — currently hovers around $60, older copies can get as low as $9. Either way, A World History of Photography is a worthy purchase.

2. Digital Photography Complete Course by David Taylor

Ready to learn everything a beginner might need to know about digital photography? David Taylor has written the book to get. He promises new photographers will learn how to navigate their cameras and take amazing shots in just 20 weeks. This 360-page book is full of helpful examples and diagrams that help budding professionals figure out exactly what terms like exposure, depth of field and composition mean.

When the title says “course,” it means it. The chapters have small quizzes so readers can test their knowledge and ensure they’re absorbing every valuable tidbit. Additionally, the pages will have helpful “Need to Know” boxes for short refreshers and photography assignments to test newfound skills. Grab this comprehensive class turned book for a genuine introduction to the art of photography.

3. The Natural Light Portrait Book by Scott Kelby

For a look at how to capture gorgeous portraits from start to finish, look no further than Scott Kelby’s excellent 200-pager. While this book specifically focuses on the art of portraiture, its tips will likely carry over to various photography genres. If the book’s description isn’t enough to convince someone of a purchase, check out the Amazon reviews. Readers have said, “If I had to buy one book, this would be it,” and “…do yourself a huge favor and buy this book.”

This book comprises nine chapters, covering everything from lenses and settings to retouching photos. Newcomers to the trade will find much use out of the chapters detailing how to shoot in direct light, outside and with window light. While those with more than a few years of practice under their belts might not think they need such a book, this quick read may teach them a few new tricks.

4. The Photographer’s Guide to Posing by Lindsay Adler

Portraiture is one thing, but finding poses that complement the subject is another beast. While photographers and graphic designers are first learning the art form, they likely won’t work with people who know how to model. Thus, giving them a few helpful tips so each image turns out stellar is key to building a portfolio. Lindsay Adler’s comprehensive guide gives readers a fleshed-out look at how to style the subject of a photo and how to utilize the camera.

One aspect of the book reviewers found particularly helpful is Adler teaches why particular poses do and don’t work. Giving readers the “why” of successes and growth areas can really help a beginner grow. The first half of the book how a camera will see a subject, what elements a model may need to adjust in their pose and the basics of posing. Then, she dives into how to pose various groupings and settings. For tips on all the essentials of styling models, turn to these 450 pages.

5. Photo Basics: The Ultimate Guide to Great Photography by Joel Sartore

Want to learn from the best of the best? Look no further than National Geographic photographer Joel Sartore’s instructional guide. This book covers everything from framing to archiving the wonderful images new photographers snap. He even talks about how to shoot on a smartphone — great knowledge for newcomers who aren’t sure if they want to invest in a hefty DSLR. Sartore also discusses how to pick a new device and gear, so those looking to make a purchase may find these comments beneficial.

What makes this one of the best photography books for beginners? It covers a range of photography genres, including pets, family, street, nature and travel. Sartore also includes quick tips and assignments so readers can absorb knowledge quickly and get into the field. The practice modules ensure photographers know how to use all the great teachings he shares. Those who want to learn how to shoot nature — as well as other great subjects — will likely love this 250-page work from a true master of the craft.

6. Night Sky: A Field Guide for Shooting After Dark by Jennifer Wu and James Martin

These two authors have more than enough credentials to back up their authority. Jennifer Wu is one of the world-renowned Canon “Explorers of Light” and James Martin has been working in the field since 1989. Both collaborate on this fantastic examination of how to photograph the night sky. While the previous books have explained how to capture sunlight, those who want to shoot the stars will find a lot of valuable information in these 176 pages.

Wu and Martin teach about four critical elements of nighttime photography — the Moon, stars, twilight and star trails. Beginners will learn the different techniques of capturing these celestial objects in gorgeous composition and clarity. While reviewers say experienced photographers might not get much out of this book, beginners should find many of these tips incredibly useful. For those who want to dive into nighttime photography, grab this short read.

Learn From the Greats in the Best Photography Books for Beginners

Should a photographer pick up a book rather than a camera when they’re new to the trade? Instead of doing one or the other, do both. It’s hugely beneficial to learn from those who spent years mastering their craft and can teach what they wished they knew when they were learning. Reading the best photography books is vital because simply grabbing a camera will offer education, but a newcomer won’t know how to capture the best shots possible.

However, beginners must also put their new knowledge into practice. After grabbing one, two or all these fantastic books, remember to carry their teachings into action. Follow their tips, practice the assignments and start crafting beautiful images on the way to becoming a professional.

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Top 10 Web Design Podcasts https://designerly.com/web-design-podcasts/ https://designerly.com/web-design-podcasts/#respond Fri, 28 Apr 2023 14:00:00 +0000 https://designerly.com/?p=15197

Listening to podcasts is a highly efficient way to learn new skills or find a different perspective on life and business. Whether you enjoy pulling up your favorites while taking a morning walk or you like to learn something new when commuting to work or running errands, podcasts keep growing in popularity because of their…

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Listening to podcasts is a highly efficient way to learn new skills or find a different perspective on life and business. Whether you enjoy pulling up your favorites while taking a morning walk or you like to learn something new when commuting to work or running errands, podcasts keep growing in popularity because of their convenience and ability to disperse information easily.

Our Favorite Web Design Podcasts

It’s difficult to put a number on how many web design podcasts there are. Not only do creators release them on various platforms and their own websites, but there are new ones created daily. 

Plug in “web design podcasts” to a search engine and you’ll get around 337 million results to sort through. We know this is a lot, and it’s difficult to know which ones will help you as a web designer. So, we took the time to read reviews, look through descriptions and listen to a few favorites to see which ones we should recommend to our readers. 

It wasn’t easy to narrow down the options. Everyone has a different opinion on which web design podcasts are the best ones available. One person might love the in-depth interviews of a particular host, while a different web designer wants only to know what the person broadcasting thinks about the topic. 

We chose by reading reviews, talking to people who listen to podcasts regularly, checking out descriptions and libraries and then listening to a bit of each show we weren’t already familiar with to gauge everything from the host’s podcasting presence to how engaging the topics were. 

These 10 are our top picks for web design podcasts–in no particular order of preference. We hope you enjoy them as much as we do. 

1. Style Guide Podcast

Anna Debenham hosts this podcast that digs into patterns and style guides to help business owners and fellow designers get the most traction possible in their web creations. We love how this particular podcast has a very narrow focus on style. Many web design podcasts cover a wide range of topics, which can be beneficial, but when you want to ramp your designs up a notch or two, digging into specifics helps.

Some recent shows include topics such as: 

  • Standards to improve usability and accessibility for government sites 
  • Interview with a Microsoft employee on the company’s design systems 
  • Interview with Mina Markham, who worked with a UI pattern library for the Clinton campaign
  • Interview with Jina Anne to talk about Salesforce’s Lightning Design System 
  • Interview with Val Head who talks about animation and how to factor it into a design system

She also chats with various people from huge corporations about how they lay out their style guides, consider modular CSS and various generators. You can grab the podcast from her site or on iTunes.

2. Resourceful Designer

We like that you can listen or read the topics because it is a podcast and a blog–a plogcast. Mark Des Cotes is the host. He covers topics such as how to make more money, find new clients and deal with deadlines. Some recent episodes include: 

  • Why you might be charging too little.
  • Graphic design businesses challenges and how to overcome them
  • Best uses for page redirects
  • How to better monetize your design skills 
  • Why AI-generated art won’t replace graphic designers or other creatives

He doesn’t have a lot of guests on his podcasts but the topics are quite varied. He releases a new one every few weeks. You can listen via Apple, Google, Spotify, Facebook or Podcast RSS. 

3. Creative Pep Talk

We mentioned Creative Pep Talk once before when we chatted about top podcasts for designers, but it’s worth listing again. Designers and other creative types often experience burnout. It’s hard to keep the creative juices flowing for years on end across a wide range of clients and industries. 

Andy J. Pizza is the host of this podcast. He’s an illustrator and public speaker, whose work has been published in The New York Times, The Washington Post and on Google. Topics include:

  • Why perfection backfires 
  • Essentials to survive the creative journey 
  • How to use your inner critic to your advantage
  • Finding your creative battle cry to guide you in your future work 
  • How to dig deeper into your creative work than you ever have before

Topics always focus on creativity in some way, making this another narrowly focused podcast we truly love. Grab the transcript on their site, listen on Patreon or Apple.

4. The Web Ahead

Host Jen Simmons interviews experts around the world about new technology and how it impacts web design and the internet as a whole. If you want a good grasp of new trends, such as ChatGPT or changes in coding, this is an excellent show to listen to.

Some of the recent episodes include topics such as: 

  • Transforming shapes and getting outside of the rectangle and square habit 
  • Preserving the web’s architecture 
  • How page layout is changing
  • An in-depth look at the Internet of Things and how it impacts web design 
  • Everything you ever wanted to know about responsive web design

She also interviews today’s top experts, such as Eva Ferreira, Stefan Tilkov and Jeffrey Zeldman. Listen on the site or on iTunes. 

5. Developer Tea

If you’re looking for shorter episodes you can digest in 15 to 20 minutes, this is an excellent podcast for your needs. Host Jonathan Cutrell digs into technology and how to problem-solve issues. You’ll learn about topics such as: 

  • Cognitive biases
  • Dynamic vs static understanding of situations and what senior developers should be capable of 
  • Why you should always leave margin for extra
  • Reframing your deficiencies and turning them into strengths
  • How to gain confidence as a beginner and why asking questions is a good strategy

The concept is a bit different than many other web design podcasts. That might also be why we love this one so much. Listen in and see what you think. We suspect you’ll walk away with a fresh perspective on web development.  Available through the website or via iTunes.

6. This Week in Tech

Changes in technology impact everything from design work to our daily lives. This podcast gives you insight into what’s popular and might have an impact on what you do. For example, experts estimate the chatbot market will reach $1.3 trillion by 2025. 

Leo Laporte is the host for this podcast.He conducts a lot of roundtable sessions to get insight from industry experts around the globe. Topics include:

  • Apple virtual reality goggles
  • Silicon Valley bank collapse 
  • GPT-4 
  • Learn all about Google Bard and how it can speed up productivity \
  • The issues with ChatGPT and plagiarism

The artificial intelligence explosion is something he talks about quite often and how it impacts industries and daily living. You can listen to his podcast via his website, Apple Podcasts, YouTube, Google Podcasts and Pocket Casts. 

7. Businessology

Jason Blumer is the host of The Businessology Show. He’s a CPA and personal business coach. Some of the topics he explores include: 

  • How to experience failure and succeed 
  • Expanding into entrepreneurial skills 
  • How to survive a recession as a designer
  • How to lead an agency successfully
  • Ways for female agency owners to empower one another and increase in number

Listen on the website or subscribe via iTunes. 

8. The Hacking UI Podcast

Hosts Sagi Shrieber and David Tintner are designer/developer and entrepreneurs. They also love anything tech in nature or that ramps up productivity. They interview leaders from Intercom, Facebook and Invision to get insight into various topics. 

Some of their more recent shows include topics such as:

  • Interview with David Kadavy, the author of the book “The Heart to Start & Design for Hackers.” In the interview, they talk about self-publishing, forming good habits and setting entrepreneurial goals. 
  • Interview with Google’s Design Advocate, Yasmine Evjen, to talk about her thoughts on material design. 
  • How to start your journey toward public speaking
  • Why loving what you do leads to taking massive actions and seeing success 
  • Why free education and building communities of knowledge is so important to the world

Topics are varied but always come back to design and productivity hacks. You can listen on iTunes and get a summary of each show on the website. 

9. The Web Design Business Podcast

Josh Hall is the founder and host of this podcast that looks at all aspects of running a successful web design business. His podcasts have been downloaded more than 450,000 times. Although a bit sales-pitchy, you’ll still find some truly valuable information about starting and running your own web design business.

Hall started out as a drummer but soon fell in love with web design and eventually became a coach for other entrepreneurs wanting to get into the game. Some of the more interesting podcast topics include:

  • The movement toward friendlier web developers who are willing to help others learn and grow 
  • How to grow a client base even if you life in a rural community 
  • Average expenses just starting out as a web designer
  • Common web designer paths and which one is best for your needs
  • Embrace your inner weirdo and build your business to suit your personality

You can tune in via iTunes, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, Amazon Tunein and YouTube. 

10. Learn to Code With Me

Have you ever wanted to learn more coding? Host Laurence Bradford breaks down complex topics and makes them simple enough for even a beginner to understand. Whether you’re just getting into web development or you want to add to your list of design skills, this is an excellent podcast to listen to. 

She interviews people, such as former rugby player Michael Poage, ballerina Kare Luton and administrative assistant Stacey Graham. All of these people once were in vastly different careers than web design and moved to a new job because of big life events. Some topics include:

  • How to code with your voice and no typing 
  • The impact of mentorship 
  • Free resources to learn coding skills
  • Interview with Nikkole Spurgeon, who took a unique path from imprisonment to learning coding during her incarceration to becoming a web developer. 
  • A look at Vue.js with Erik Hanchett

Listen via Apple Podcasts, Spotify or Google Podcasts.

Find Your Favorite Web Design Podcasts

These 10 web design podcasts are a great place to start if you’re looking for ways to enhance what you do and build your knowledge. Don’t forget about supporting topics that might not be directly about web development but will support you as a worker or business owner, such as time hacking, productivity and communication topics.

Find your favorites, subscribe to them and then add new ones as you go along. Who knows? You might just love listening to podcasts so much that you decide to start one yourself.

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The Best Laptops for Drawing in 2023 https://designerly.com/best-laptops-for-drawing/ https://designerly.com/best-laptops-for-drawing/#respond Mon, 27 Feb 2023 13:36:00 +0000 https://designerly.com/?p=14710

Drawing is a form of art that everyone can enjoy, regardless of their skill level. Yet if you’re ready to get serious about it, you’ll want to invest in a laptop that can handle the load of your creative work. Luckily, there are plenty of laptops available that will allow you to do your best…

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Drawing is a form of art that everyone can enjoy, regardless of their skill level. Yet if you’re ready to get serious about it, you’ll want to invest in a laptop that can handle the load of your creative work.

Luckily, there are plenty of laptops available that will allow you to do your best work. Here are the best laptops for drawing.

Microsoft Surface Book 2

The Microsoft Surface Book 2 makes a great choice as one of the best laptops for drawing. Its large screen makes it easy to see what you’re creating with an aspect ratio of 3:2 and 4K resolution support,

Its touch-sensitive surface also makes drawing with a pen feel like using a real pencil on a piece of paper. The Surface Slim Pen 2 supports up to 4096 levels of pressure sensitivity — perfect for gliding while drawing across the screen.

Most 2-in-1 laptops work the same. The screen folds, allowing the computer to convert into a tablet. However, the Surface Studio 2 works differently than your typical 2-in-1 as it has a split-hinge design, enabling the screen to slide off the keyboard and let you use it as a tablet. 

You can also prop it into an easel-like position. Therefore, these features give you the room you need to draw freely.

Acer Spin 5

The Acer Spin 5 may be the laptop you’re looking for if you want something to handle drawing and creative work. With its 14-inch screen size, this laptop is large enough to see your artwork from a better vantage point. And you can literally see your drawings in a new light because of its 2560×1600 screen resolution.

Unlike the Microsoft Surface Studio 2, this laptop includes a stylus with purchase. At 4,096 pressure levels, you get a responsive pen for precise drawing.

In addition to getting more straightforward pen usage, this laptop also detects the angle at you’re writing and adjusts accordingly. So you can draw more comfortably at any angle you prefer.

For whenever you’re feeling creative and productive, the Acer will have an Intel Core i7, 16GB of RAM and 1TB of storage. Therefore, this laptop can run any design software and handle heavy workloads.

Lenovo Flex 5i

The Lenovo Flex 5i makes a great choice for artists and creators. This 2-in-1 laptop is more affordable than its competitors and comes with everything you need to get started in drawing. 

While the Lenovo Flex 5i doesn’t come with its Active Pen, you still have the option to purchase it separately. Yet once you have the pen in your hand, the digital drawing experience is seamless. You can use it to sketch, take notes or doodle your ideas.

It’s also full of robust hardware needed to run professional creation software. In addition, the display has the ultimate clarity when working with images and colors. With a 300-nit display and 60% sRGB, you get crystal-clear imagery and strong color accuracy.

The screen also has a 16:10 aspect ratio, giving you more room for drawing and getting work done.

Microsoft Surface Go 3

Do all your creative work while traveling with the Microsoft Surface Go 3. This small but mighty device is the perfect companion if you work outside your home or the office. Its lightweight design makes it easy to fit inside your bag and bring it alongside without weighing you down.

The Surface Go also has a stunning display — making drawing easy and fun. With up to 11 hours of battery life, this device enables you to work on your art without having to plug it in every few hours.

Though it doesn’t come with a stylus pen, Microsoft designed it with artists in mind. You can sketch more accurately and still feel like you’re drawing on paper.

The Microsoft Surface Go 3 isn’t a laptop at all. It’s actually a tablet that runs Windows 11. You can operate any application for your drawings and designs and save all your work securely with OneDrive cloud storage.

The overall design works well for artists as you can use the kickstand to prop it up. Or, it allows you to push it back in when you need to hold it comfortably in your lap.

This is the lightest Surface ever, and you won’t even realize having it on you.

Asus Zenbook Pro Duo 15

The Asus Zenbook Pro Duo 15 is more expensive, but it’s a great investment if you’re a professional artist who needs something more powerful. This laptop is packed with all the strongest features for drawing and running creative software programs. 

However, the one thing that truly stands out about the Zenbook is its two screens. Its dual-screen design makes it versatile for those who want to draw while running another task on one device.

It has a ‎NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 graphics card, perfect for gaming, video editing and other high-end tasks.

It also has an amazing 1800p OLED touchscreen and 500-nit screen brightness. What’s more, the Zenbook comes with a stylus, so there’s no need to purchase it separately.

It also has a durable build, so if you want a higher-end laptop, the Asus Zenbook Pro Duo 15 makes a solid choice.

Dell XPS 13 2-in-1

The Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 is another high-end laptop with a stunning touchscreen display — making it an excellent choice for artists who like to draw.

Because of its thin, lightweight design and long battery life, you can pack up and take it wherever you go for hours on end. The shell of it is made of aluminum and has a carbon-fiber finish, making it a beautiful and durable design.

It also comes with a 2456×2160 screen resolution for a greatly accurate display. Plus, with its 100% sRGB and 90% DCI P3 color gamut, you’ll have an easier time choosing the right colors that hit the mark.

Aside from being able to draw, you also have the power to do other things like video and photo editing. Yet one thing to be mindful of is that not all XPS 13s have the 2-in-1 feature. So before you make a purchase, check if it has this feature if you want to draw comfortably.

HP Spectre x360 2-in-1

The HP Spectre x360 makes this list as one of the best laptops for drawing as it has a sleek design and comes in various colors. With its 360-degree hinge, you can flip it into a tablet, making it comfortable when drawing.

You’ll also love its 4K OLED display for sharper images and seamless responsiveness.

Its intact keyboard also has a good layout, giving you space to type freely. Additionally, you can expect to work long hours on your device without finding someplace to plug it in since the battery lasts up to 12 hours.

For drawing purposes, you will see that the HP Spectre works exceptionally well with a stylus. It comes with the HP Active Pen, but you may find it less powerful than the Dell XPS.

Lenovo Yoga C940 2-in-1

Another 2-in-1 makes it to the list for a good reason. Artists need malleability in their tech that adapts to their creative process. The aptly named Lenovo Yoga has flexibility for any drawing style and personality with a sleek design to boot.

Included is an Intel Core i7 processor, which is higher than the recommended minimum. The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 GPU allows artists to run numerous things at once without sacrificing speed or visuals. It has a 4K screen on its 14-inch display alongside a 1920×1080 resolution.

It has 1 TB of solid-state storage to store every draft of every project with no issues. Want to edit video too or make 3D models? It can handle it.

A few additional features — it weighs a modest six pounds, so it’s painless to cart around. It comes with its own touchscreen pen so you don’t have to worry about adding peripherals to your cart. And, it’s battery life can be up to 11 hours if you’re smart with your work. It has a higher price tag than some, but it’s a solid choice comparatively. 

Apple Macbook Air M2

For Apple stans, this is the obvious choice. For people unfamiliar with the Apple suite, you might want to consider this laptop. It has 100% DCI-P3 color accuracy for the most authentic art displays, so your pieces always come out shining. 

The M2 processor helps with this. It’s one of the most efficient on the market for its price, which is why it has such astonishing battery life. You could draw for hours and never have a concern, even if you’re throttling the machine. This is perfect for long rides on public transportation or not worrying about carrying additional chargers for a long day at the coffee shop.

Visually, it has a 13.6-inch display with 500 nits brightness. The QHD resolution, sitting at 2560×1664, makes everything beautifully crisp.

A major drawback is its lack of solid-state memory in lieu of integrated memory. Like many Apple products, this isn’t something you can replace — you just have to live with it. However, the other benefits might outweigh this con.

But, those already in the Apple ecosystem can enjoy compatibility with other Apple devices.

Lenovo IdeaPad Duet Chromebook

Not every drawing laptop has to be a bank-breaking investment. Chromebooks are known for their affordability, and this offering from Lenovo can help artists save some money. At the same time, Chromebooks aren’t known to be powerhouses. Artists may want to stick to limited application use, but maybe you already intended to work this way anyway.

It has 4 GB of RAM, which isn’t the most on the market, but you must always consider the price in this equation. It has a 10.1-inch screen in FHD with a 1920×1200 screen resolution. Its touchscreen can have 400 nits brightness. 

Don’t dismiss the smaller screen — it provides the nicety of a tablet-sized machine with Chromebook hardware and functionality. The removable keyboard is another nice touch. It makes it ideal for travelers and nomadic artists. It also has 128 GB storage, which is fairly high for most Chromebooks.

Its battery life is another draw to the Lenovo Chromebook. Because it isn’t running the most intensive hardware, it can save you charging hours.

Choosing the Best Laptops for Drawing

How do you know which of these are the best laptops for drawing? All of these devices make a great option. However, the best choice depends on your budget. 

If you’re looking for a good laptop that’s on the affordable side, consider the Lenovo Flex 5i or Microsoft Surface Pro Go. Both are intuitive and powerful enough to handle daily tasks and run creative applications.

Yet, a laptop that has all the specs for professional needs is the Dell XPS 13 because of its powerful hardware and display. Plus, it doesn’t hurt to have a stylish design if that’s on your list of requirements.

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