Flat web design is one of today’s most popular trends in the web industry.  The flat web design style essentially refers to design that eliminates drop shadows, textures and gradient features that have been commonly used in web design for many years.  In flat design, typography and the use of solid colors are featured.

Flat design is two dimensional. There is no attempt to add any three dimensional effects or trick the user into thinking they are interacting with anything else than a flat screen.  In flat design there is a lot of white space and a clear interface created by a grid system.

Flat design is minimalistic.  It relies on visual cues, such as color and typography to guide your users and help them reach their goals. The idea is to remove all distracting design elements and really focus on the content. Without distractions, your attention is drawn to the essential parts of the site. It allows goals to be reached in a shorted amount of time.

Like another recent trend, responsive web design, flat design is easily scalable. While realistic images and other design effects can be difficult to scale, flat design elements like color and typography can easily adapt to smaller screens.  With mobile devices becoming so mainstream – this is almost vital in today’s world.

For example, instead of having a highly designed button, in flat web design a colored link is used. Instead of a background image, a plain background color would be used.  Another example would have different content areas done in different colors so they could be easily viewed across many different kinds of devices.

Flat design is being used more and more. Its simplicity and effectiveness is being embraced by many sites and might well be popular for years to come.

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LinkedIn, the popular professional and job networking site has added a new feature intended to make news links and slide shows easier to find.

This week the social media site launched “Channels” – its name for topics on LinkedIn today, its news hub. The “Channels”  include topics such as “social impact”, “the economy,” “your career”. Some of the channels, like “Things I Carry” and “My Best Career Mistake” are based on LinkedIn’s monthly content packages that incorporate themed essays from LinkedIn’s chosen “thought leaders.”

They “Channels”  allow LinkedIn members to customize the news they see based on their interests. Now members can browse, sort, and follow content by category.

LinkedIn is trying to help its members develop professionally and get better at their current jobs – not just find new ones.

In addition to offering more content of interest to users, “Channels” is an important way to get people to use the site more frequently.  This will in turn help LinkedIn build up its advertising business. It could also help LinkedIn build up its database of information about its members. Right now, LinkedIn mostly has data that members share, like their education and employment history. By tracking what news a member views on LinkedIn, it can develop insightful knowledge about them such as their interests outside their immediate professional field or new interests by knowing what articles they read. This information could be used by recruiters – a key customer base for LinkedIn, find not only people with a track record in a particular industry, but not so obvious candidates for jobs.

Previously, LinkedIn’s customization options were more limited: Members could follow companies or industries, as well as LinkedIn’s “influencers”,  high-profile business leaders who contribute articles to the site. The redesign of LinkedIn today adds emphasis on posts from these “influencers” as well.

Currently, there are around 20 channels. The company expects to add more in the future.

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Having an online portfolio is a great way to showcase accomplishments and work – whether you are an individual or business. Creating a portfolio on your site lets you present your work and can illustrate you and/or your firm’s capabilities.  The old saying “a picture is worth a thousand words” applies here.  Why just tell people about what you can offer — show them.

An online portfolio typically includes samples of your best work.  Take the time to look at all of your work and carefully choose the right pieces for your portfolio. You should choose projects that can demonstrate the breadth of your work, but also be selective. Don’t put everything you’ve ever done in your portfolio, because that will overwhelm visitors. It is better to have a portfolio of a few projects that are eye-catching than dozens of projects where some of them are just okay. The gallery should present your image and capabilities in the best light. And be sure to showcase the type of work you want to be doing in the future.

Make your portfolio focused on your target market.  Design the portfolio you think your clients want to see. If you’re speaking to a specific audience it allows you to become a recognized expert in the field easier. Targeting your market can differentiate your services. For example if you specialize in designing websites for law firms or e-commerce – have a section with numerous successful law firm websites and/or e-commerce sites.  It will make it easier a potential law firm or online retailer to choose you over another designer or design agency.

Keep the website design simple, and let the work take center stage. This means simple navigation and the fewest number of website sections necessary.  Simplicity in the interface and visual design of your website will push your work to the forefront, where it should be.

Some portfolios share the back story.  You might consider showing an early version of a project, the final version and the various iterations in between, to reveal the story of how the project was accomplished. A good rule of thumb is to present the whole piece first, followed by more detailed shots to show the precision of your craft.  You want this to be quick reading — you need to be able to glance at it and understand what it’s about. The title, a short paragraph, and first image should be engaging enough to make people want to look at the entire project

So remember find your best work and present it in the best and most simplistic light. A successful portfolio offers a perfect blend of your personality, prominence of work, simplicity, and ease of use that makes your portfolio stand out from the crowd and achieve your goals.

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