solutions by design

Free Image Editing Solutions

It's always a struggle for web site owners, who are not graphics specialist, to manage a website full of images. They are usually put off by the price of image editing software or fear the learning curve for applications like Adobe Photoshop. In todays market keeping you site "fresh" helps build return visits from prospective clients or customers - simply put it keeps the customers interested. Inevitably site owners have to manipulate images on their site or pay some one to do so.

For Graphic Artists/Designers Adobe Photoshop is considered an industry standard and as a designer I work in Adobe Photoshop everyday to create graphic page layouts and custom designs. Its a hefty program and the cost can be substantial ($999 for Adobe Photoshop CS5 extended, $699 for Adobe Photoshop CS5, and $69 for Adobe Photoshop Elements 8). Most of the time however; site owners will not need a full version of Adobe Photoshop. Adobe Photoshop Elements can do most of the common functions site owners need to do on a regular basis. There is still a slight learning curve but its well worth the time.

There is hope for the simple tasks! I am constantly on the look out for resources our customers can use. Cropping images to fit a specific dimension for a banner or content image is usually pretty simple and there are some free applications to make the job even easier. Thats right FREE!

There are some web sites out there that do flash based image editing. They are generally easy to use and usually free (you have to sign up for a user account and some have "premium" pay options). Here are a few I have come across:

  • has been recently acquired by Google and works with all the social networking sites pica, flicr, photbucket, etc. It has quite a few tools available - such as image cropping, resizing, rotate, color manipulation, red eye, sharpen and exposure. Most of the time thats all you need. Not to mention that picknik has already been integrated into web based apps like Vertical Response (a popular Newsletter, Email Campaign Manager).
  • is basically a stripped down version of elements. It is great for resizing and retouching photos. It has some pretty cool effects you can apply to images. It allows users to create and share albums online. Another awesome online app - with one major flaw in my opinion - it does not allow the user to set custom crop dimensions. Thats a pretty big problem for individuals trying to match image sizes for banners in their websites.
    Aviary is a full suite of applications that allow you manipulate and create images, vector artwork (illustrations), and Audio Editing. It has an extensive library of effects and continues to grow from user developed presets. The image editor "Phoenix" is a robust layer enabled editor that behaves exactly like a full version of Adobe Photoshop. Aviary has the same issue as when it comes to cropping/resizing. They both fail to allow the user to set a predetermined custom size to crop the image to.

If you would rather download a free image editing application to use on your computer instead of working off the interweb I would recommend the following:

PC Users
PhotoScape or Paint.Net are both free and will do most image editing tasks without too much of a learning curve.

Mac Users
iPhoto - I know, I know people who know me already think I am a Mac Zealot... maybe I am... But this has to be one of the absolute best free applications out there. Not only does iPhoto handle simple crop and color adjust - it also has facial recognition for sorting you library of photos. It allows you to post albums to flicr and facebook with a single click. It has location tracking, categorize by event, the list goes on. If you have thousands of digital photos and need to organize them efficiently you may want to look into iPhoto. Sorry, iPhoto is for Mac only and comes free with Apples OSX install.

To learn more about how to obtain Free Photo Editing Software and how to use it - Feel free to join us for TechNight on Thursday May 13, 2010 (*** UPDATE Tech Night is now on Tuesday May 18, 2010***) from 6 - 7:30pm at the Lewes Public Library. This is a fee seminar and I will be going into greater detail about how to use the websites and software I listed above.


Search Engine Friendly Websites - How it is done.

While there is a lot that goes into marketing a website - nothing is as important as search engines. Search engines (i.e. Google, Bing, Yahoo and others) bring a large group of visitors who may or may not know about you or your company. As a designer / developer of web site for mote that 12 years I have learned a great deal about how content is crawled and indexed by search engines.

Read more: Search Engine Friendly Websites - How it is done.


The Importance of Updating Your Operating System

Ok, Lets be honest. A lot of people buy a computer, get it connected to the internet and use it until something goes horribly wrong (i.e. virus attack, computer malfunction, new device doesn't work etc.). At which point they are forced to find a technician (I can't tell you how many times friends have asked me to fix their computers) or ,more likely out of frustration, just go out and buy a new computer. This costly decision can be avoided most of the time. It doesn't take much to keep your computer lean and mean. In fact some of the best solutions are free and take little to no time as long as they are done prior to the problems that plague computers today.

Read more: The Importance of Updating Your Operating System


Going Topless

2006 Miata MX5 top replacementI love my neighbor but he has a twisted sense of humor. My '06 Miata top needed some attention and luckily Mr. Matt (the neighbor) does this kind of stuff for a living. While I am at work he sends me this photo of my stripped down car with the note: "I hope I Remember How All This Goes Back". Sooo glad I have a good warranty. Seems overkill to replace the entire top just because the bindings cracked but as long as it isn't costing me $600 for the top and who knows how much for the labor :)... it's all good!

Picking the right customers

Turning a potential customer away in a business situation was never a good idea to me, but recently I have seen that when you choose your customers wisely the benefits to you and your customers can be great. I guess I always looked at work as work and you need to be after the dollar and my personal business as a way to help others and a way for me to have fun and learn... A little conflicted I know but it made sense to me.

Personally I have been doing web sites for almost 10 years now and when I look back on the sites that are still kickin' I see they are the ones I tend to baby and nurture. Sites I do on the side tend to be for people and products I truly care about.

Read more: Picking the right customers