Imagination is our power

Archive for February, 2011

Re-thinking Browser Compatibility

Kryptonite is to Superman as the browser is to the web designer. The lives of web designers everywhere would be much better if browsers would render their beautiful designs without a bug or a hitch. But sadly this is and will never be so. It’s our time to re-think the way we work with the browser.

Print and Web

Modern web design is still very infantile compared to print design, where centuries of printed media have crafted best practices. Although a printed design does not vary much in position because of its fixed nature, it can vary widely in other areas such as color or contrast due to paper or press quality. These variables can dramatically alter the message of any design once rendered on paper.

Browsers are the most notorious destroyer of fine designs on the web,  just like old printing machines or poor quality paper products can ruin printed designs. But unlike the print world, web doesn’t have the ability to rely on centuries of proven methods to handling inconsistencies. Another unique property web designers have to handle is the fact that we don’t get to control the quality like print designers. We don’t get to pick which browser everybody will see our site in, we are at the mercy of the users and what browser they are using. At least in the print world, the designer has some control over how the users will see their product.

Different Browsers for Different Folks

Browsers are companies too, and just like any other company in the world they also have competition. If there was some huge web standards organization that forced all web browsers to perform the same then there would be no use for multiple browsers, we’d actually just have one awesome browser – I think we’d call it webkit. But because browsers are fighting for users – just like our web sites do – they build in different features in order attract users.

In the print world, copier companies compete with each other by adding different features and using different color profiles. Plus, they engineer specific features in order to differentiate themselves and market to particular audiences. For example, Canon color printers are more widely used in the commercial printing industry because they have a more standard, higher quality color profile and equipment. Ricoh color printers are marketed toward business color products that don’t require such a robust and complex color profile making them better for internal company publications like reports. If you’re a designer that is making print creatives for a large commercial campaign you’re more likely to us a commercial grade printer rather than a business or personal grade printer.

Browsers are similar. Some browsers are built to handle heavy design requirements and other browsers are built more for rendering documents. To put it another way; webkit and gecko browsers are built for publishing high quality, design intensive web sites, where as older IE and Opera browsers are built for handling readable documents, partially because they are old. Think about the difference between an Apple computer and a PC; Apples are built more for creative development where as PC’s are built for faster, more powerful computing power. Generally, IE will always be built for a more technical or business audience where Chrome and Firefox will generally cater to a more creative audience.

As the web progresses into the next decade browsers are going to do more to differentiate themselves, this means that we need figure out a better way to handle browser compatibility. Long gone are the days of trying to make everything look the same in any browser, eventually it will become near impossible to do, with out some serious workarounds – or just a really plain, boring design. These new browsers will no doubt force us to re-think the way we look at compatibility and what methods we use to handle browser differences.

Introduce Quality Levels

Take a deep breath – its okay for web sites to look different in different browsers and it should be that way. I’m not talking about completely different designs, I’m just saying that we should never design for the lowest common denominator – unless that’s your audience, but we’ll discuss that later. We should always, always, always design for the best quality experience. Print designers do, so why can’t we? This type of design mentality does two things:

  1. Promotes progress by encouraging users to update equipment and software
  2. Allows for the best user experience possible

Print designers have the luxury of always designing for the highest quality experience because they can directly control how their product is being viewed, but this lack of control doesn’t mean that we can not take a similar stance. When a designer takes a print campaign to a fulfillment company, that fulfillment company will provide the designer with a quality rating based upon quantity and price. If you pay less for prints, you get less quality. It’s that easy.

When dealing with clients and users, instead of spinning circles trying to get their site to be the same everywhere – why not give them quality choices. Show them what the highest quality site looks like in the highest quality browser and then show them what it looks like the lowest quality browser, then give them the choice. They can have their site look average in all browsers or it can look really freaking awesome in a few browsers – average in others. I’m down for quality levels, after all I can create an average experience in every browser but I can’t create the best most awesome experience in every browser.

I wouldn’t go as far as designing and coding in each browser just to show them the differences, that would be a lot of work for a simple explanation. If you know browser capabilities really well, a few Photoshop mock ups showing the difference would do just fine. You could even write a generic template that shows the differences and use that to show multiple clients how elements will render in different browsers.

Audience, Brand and Meaning

Gradients, custom fonts, background images or animations enhance your design, but they don’t make it. This extra design flare can be used to create a better experience but with out, they should never break the experience or meaning of your website. Luke W, in his Mobile First presentation talks about how we should design first for the mobile browser and then design for the larger display second. He contends that this allows us to evaluate what is truly important to the site and design. This minimal design method not only allows to us to design a better mobile experience but a better cross-browser experience as well.

A few things to consider when designing for different browsers:

  • Know you audience. Your audience may not require the newest, latest and greatest browser capabilities.
  • Maintain your brand by using colors, logos and consistent styles. The site may add or drop functions and elements but keeping a consistent brand will help maintain the experience.
  • Make sure that the browser doesn’t break the meaning of your site. Content and meaning should always be separated from design and style.

Dreamweaver: Search and destroy rogue code

That’s right, get your bootstraps laced up and put your helmets on — we are marching onward, a mission to search out the rogue code in all your directories, folders, files, documents, and web pages. Okay, maybe not all of your code has rascally elements, tags, or attributes, but when was the last time you checked your directories for files containing outdated code? Maybe you have deprecated code. Remember the HTML 4.01 specification put forth by the W3C? Maybe you have code that needs to be replaced and revisions have been put on the back burner. Or maybe you have redundant, outdated, or trivial content, and it needs to be scoured and removed.

Finding and replacing large amounts of code takes some work, and you can manually streamline the purging or replacing of this code faster with these quick steps using Dreamweaver. Our weapon of choice, the Find and Replace Strip Tag.

A word of caution: Whatever your sandbox, make sure you play nice; so before you start with replacing or deleting any code in your directories, documents, and files, you will want to make sure they are backed up on a development server, or copied from your production or staging environments to a local non-published drive or directory. Preparation before the mission is important!

 

The mission

1. Open Dreamweaver.

2. From the Edit menu select Find and Replace (CTRL+F) (Figure A ).

3. The default Find and Replace dialog box opens and there are several options. The simplest is finding within the current document any source code with the usual find and replace options. But what if you want to search more than one document, or how about code that has attributes also? You want to get rid of all that code, not just the <font> element, for example, but all the associated attributes along with the code. The Find In: options include the default Current Document, Selected Text, Open Documents, Folder…, Selected Files in Site, and Entire Current Local Site. These options provide the ability to scour from the single document level to the entire site level, a broad range of choices.

4. Let’s say we want to search for deprecated code that references the <font> tag and any references to it with attributes as well. Instead of just a single document, I want to search the entire site for any occurrence with the <font> tag. Before I start this process, I am going to copy my suspicious documents to a new folder and name it Suspects. Straight-forward, right? We are on a mission, remember! You can organize the suspect files and directories depending on your situation, as long as you remember where they are to be returned after stripping out or replacing the code.

5. We will select the Folder… option in the Find In drop-down menu, since I’ve gone the route of rounding up all the dubious documents, shown in Figure B. Then, click the Choose Folder Search icon and browse to the Suspect folder and click Select. It’s the little folder icon just to the right of the text field.

6. In the Search for drop-down menus select Specific Tag, and then Font as show in Figure C.

7. Then, click the minus (-) button to remove the With Attribute filter control. This will broaden the scope of the operation to eliminate all instances of the <font> tag, regardless of whether attributes are present or not (e.g., both <font face=”Arial”> and <font face=”Arial” color=”#FFFFCC”> will be eliminated). This is necessary because a <font> tag with attributes is still a <font> tag. Make sure Strip Tag is the Action setting in the drop-down menu and that the Ignore Whitespace option is checked; this ensures that once you execute the procedure that all instances of the code are captured, displayed in Figure D.

8. Now we are ready to perform the mission — clicking on the Replace All button will remove all instances of the <font> tag from every document in the source folder. Dreamweaver will confirm your intention, so we will click Yes, and the task will begin processing all documents, shown in Figure E.

9. The resulting modifications will be displayed at the bottom of the screen, seen in Figure F.

10. All the document files will be stripped of “all” <font> tags and automatically saved once the process is completed.

Once you get comfortable using the Strip Tag feature in Find and Replace, you will want to expand, using and stripping other tags and content from entire local sites.

Introduction to Composing with Light and Color

Composing with Light and Color

There are many articles, blogs, and even whole books out there discussing how to record a composition, and introducing you to the most known and famous rules or guidelines of composition such as the rule of thirds, converging lines, looking for patterns, utilizing surrounding texture, filling your frame, and on and on and on… and I 100% agree with all that. In fact, these are the ABCs of photography, and whether you choose to follow or break those rules, you should be familiar with them to begin with.

What I want to focus on today though is, how you can achieve intriguing results by composing your shots with light and color. The things we’re going to talk about today are meant to give you a lead on how you can creatively make use of a better sense of understanding of light and color to create unique, unconventional, and dramatic compositions that can set you apart from the rest.

Light is the very essential part of photography. Without light there is absolutely nothing. No matter how sophisticated your gear is, how large your sensor is, how long your lens is, it all comes down to light entering the camera traveling through the lens and registering onto photographic film or digital sensor.

Every photographer, regardless of their level of expertise, study the light characteristics of their scene; how harsh or soft, how cold or warm, how high or low, and so on before making the decision of how to pursue.

On the other hand, color is also a very important component of a successful composition. Photographers, unlike painters, find colors rather than create them (at least for the most part!), and this is why they are less informed of color theories, how to use them, and how to intensify existing colors to better serve their needs. Nevertheless, photographers are well served understanding the basics so that they can appreciate why some color images work while others don’t.

To be honest, color is a huge subject of its own that no post or a dozen can give justice to. However, we are going to be looking at the fundamentals of color that can assist us to better understand how we can make the best of it in our photos, and how to utilize it to convey the intended emotional and perceptual responses of our photos.


Light and Key

One important element that supports a successful composition is contrast, and most importantly tonal contrast. Tonal contrast is the difference between the highlights and the shadows in a photograph. The greater the difference, the more contrast a photo is said to have. Tones in between are known as the midtones,and are where most information in a photo lies.

That said, light and dark areas in an image strongly contribute to the feel and mood of it. When the photo is mostly dark, favoring shadow tones, it is low key. When a photo is mostly bright, favoring light tones, it is high key. Maximum contrast demands more or less equal areas of black and white.

high-key
Photo by Diana Eftaiha

high-key-2
Photo by Paul Moore

low-key
Photo by Diana Eftaiha

The level of brightness (key) in an image differs in monochromatic photos from that in color photos. High key is generally harder to achieve or be accepted in a color photo, mainly because of the realism of color photography. When a color photograph is high key, sometimes it’s conceived as being over-exposed or washed out.

Exposing your photo for the highlights (making sure you record the brightest tone in the scene having it just touching the right side of the histogram with no clipping occurring, regardless of the state of the shadows in the photo) adds contrast to a photo and causes colors to appear more saturated and intensified. Sometimes if shadows become much under exposed, ambiguity masks the photo which might give it appeal and create drama under the right circumstances.

exposed-for-the-highlights
Photo by Yoyo1972

ambiguity-with-underexposure
Photo by Diana Eftaiha


The Rembrandt lighting technique

Rembrandt lighting is a technique used in photography and cinematography to create distinct areas of light and shadow in a photo, giving it mood and compelling emotion. It is distinctly used in studio portrait photography, and is achieved by having one side of the subject well lit while the other side underexposed evoking the emerging interactions between light and shadow to create appeal.

Rembrandt lighting, also called chiaroscuro, is achieved by having the subject illuminated by two light sources with differing intensity, or with one light source and a reflector.

The prime light source is placed to one side of the subject at the front, with the other light source or reflector placed half-height to the opposite side. This technique is widely used in portrait photography due to its low cost equipment and intriguing results.

Rembrandt-lighting
Photo by Diana Eftaiha

chiaroscuro
Photo by Diana Eftaiha


Color

Color adds a whole new dimension to photography, and the more it is saturated the greater role it plays in the overall feel of an image. The most important color characteristics are: hue, saturation, and brightness.

It is worth mentioning that there are two types of colors; subtractive and additive. Each type has two sets of its own; primary colors, and secondary colors. Painting, photography, and printing use subtractive colors, and this is our concern in this post. Primary subtractive colors are red, yellow, and blue.

Red is conceived as the strongest and most intense. It tends to advance, and this is why when placed in the foreground adds depth and dimension to a photo. It is perceived as passionate, dangerous, and sometimes hot.

Yellow is the brightest of all colors. It is perceived as dynamic, sharp, persistent, and sometimes cheerful.

Blue recedes more than yellow. It is often perceived as calm, cool, and even aerial due to its common association with the sky.

color-wheel
Photo by Diana Eftaiha

From these primary colors secondary ones emerge, which are: green, violet, and orange. Merging every two consecutive primary colors from the above color wheel produces the secondary color in between. So mixing red and yellow produces orange, mixing yellow and blue produces green, and mixing blue and red produces violet.

Pairs of colors that fall opposite to each other on the above color wheel are called complementary colors. These pairs complement and intensify one another when put together, through what is known as Simultaneous Contrast. Studying the color wheel can give you a better understanding as to how colors affect or complement each other, so that you can use this knowledge to better prevail the correct meanings and messages in your photography.


Exposure and Color

Exposure directly affects how colors appear in a photo. Over exposure weakens the intensity of any color hue, while under exposure – up to a certain point – saturates the color.

Varying the exposure varies the brightness and intensities of colors. At the same time, some colors can only exist in different ranges of brightness. Yellow for example cannot be too darkened, or else it changes to a different color such as ocher. Orange turns to brick-red when under exposed. Purple turns violet when under exposed. Blue on the other hand preserves its blueness under varying exposure conditions. Generally yellow is the brightest hue when fully saturated, and violet is the darkest hue when fully saturated.

It’s important to keep these facts in mind if you’re exposing for color. Being aware of how different colors change intensities under different exposures will help you make the best out of your color photo that is, of course, if your main intention in the composition is color.

If you’re in a situation with varying colors which characteristics are going to be clashing under whichever exposure you decide to go with, it helps to determine your main color or tone in the image and adjust your exposure to retain that.


Black and White

In the past, the only form of photography known possible was black and white. With time more advancement was made in the field, and color photography evolved to become the means to document reality as we know it today. But black and white never died.

Black and white is a form of art like no other. It starts with documenting the reality around us, but it is stripped of all color to stand on its own two feet triggering emotions and perceptual responses which would not have been made possible otherwise.

The lack of color in monochrome photography gives a whole new degree of importance to form, shape, and texture in a photograph and it makes the urge to frame a successful composition even more essential.

mono-landscape1
Photo by Chrisharvey

mono-landscape2
Photo by Tobias Ott

mono-landscape3
Photo by Kato Inowe

It’s also worth mentioning that, black and white photography lends itself well to extreme variations in exposure to create mood and drama. That is because, with black and white there is not the downside of changing colors and shifting hues under varying exposures, which is a thing that becomes of concern in color photography.

The 10 most annoying employees

1: “Trust me”

If you’re a star performer who has proved your worth time and again, you’re one of an elite group of trusted individuals. But if you’re not in that category, saying “trust me” or “don’t worry” to a skeptical senior executive sends up a red flag a mile high. Just don’t do it.

 

2: Fearless risk-taker

People mistakenly think that entrepreneurs, executives, and VCs are huge risk-takers. They’re not. They’re calculated risk-takers. Their job is to minimize risk for their stakeholders in a risky environment. When they see someone dive into the deep end without looking, they don’t just get annoyed, they get rid of him.

 

3: Know-it-all

Everyone hates a know-it-all, but it’s particularly annoying to senior executives who didn’t get to where they are by not knowing what they don’t know. And they know you don’t have all the answers, either. Know what I mean?

 

4: Teflon guy (or gal)

Nothing sticks to the Teflon guy. He won’t engage and he won’t be held accountable. You tell him over and over to take the bull by the horns, and he says okay, but it never happens. When you follow up, all you get are excuses. And the worst thing about it? The crap he won’t deal with ends up on your plate, and that just ain’t right.

 

5: “I can do anything you want”

For some reason, some employees think that no matter what you want or need, all they have to do is smile and say, “Sure, I can do that” — whether they can or can’t. They mistakenly think that’s a “can-do” attitude. It’s not. It’s promising what you can’t deliver. I call that “can-say, can’t-do.”

 

6: Star-struck “yes” person

Say what you will about bosses wanting employees to kiss their butts and kowtow to them. Sure, they exist, but they’re the weak ones. Successful executives want to know the truth, and they want it straight. To them, sugar-coating “yes” people are worthless, period.

 

7: Talk, talk, talk, never shut up

Most executives are pressed for time. They want you to tell them what they need to know, listen to what they have to say, and get the hell out. If they want to chitchat, you’ll know it.

 

8: Drama queen

It’s always something: a personal saga, a coworker’s out to get them, or a litany of excuses. Whatever it is, it’s more important than getting things done. Excuse the gender reference; it’s just an expression.

 

9: Bureaucrat

This type responds to every request with a boatload of inane reasons why he or she can’t do it or arcane things that must happen first. The opposite of a flexible, can-do attitude.

 

10: “This is how we did it at XYZ company”

It’s one thing to apply your experience to new situations. But you can’t just blindly assume that because it worked there, it’ll work here. Every situation is different; there are lots of ways to do things, and one size rarely fits all. Besides, it’s really annoying.

Those are my top 10. What employee behavior annoys you the most?

My Preferred Syntax Style for HTML5 Markup

Use All Lowercase

We’re used to it, it’s easy to read, and it looks cleaner. I think uppercase markup looks amateurish, and that’s besides the fact that it’s more difficult to type it in uppercase naturally. I think most developers (especially those who are used to XHTML) will agree with this wholeheartedly.

And obviously, when I say “all” lowercase, I don’t mean attribute values, which could be mixed depending on the value. Also, I think it’s fine for the word “doctype” to be in uppercase inside the doctype declaration. So, except in the case of the doctype, don’t use uppercase or mixed-case for your tag names and attributes.

Bad:

  1. <DIV id=”main”>
  2. <p>content</p>
  3. </DIV>
<DIV id="main">
<p>content</p>
</DIV>

Good:

  1. <div id=”main”>
  2. <p>content</p>
  3. </div>
<div id="main">
<p>content</p>
</div>

Always Use Quotes on Attribute Values

This one will be more difficult for some to accept in all cases. One of the guiding principles during the creation of HTML has been to eliminate as much unneeded code as possible. If you can eliminate a few extra characters in your page, then this is obviously a good thing. However, in the case of quotation marks around attribute values, I think there is good reason to always include them.

First of all, as in the case of uppercase vs. lowercase, it just looks nicer and less amateurish. But more importantly, there are cases where you have to use quotes. Here are two examples:

  1. <link rel=”stylesheet” href=”screen.css?v=1.0″>
  2. <body class=”no-js ie7″>
<link rel="stylesheet" href="screen.css?v=1.0">

<body>

In both cases shown above, you have to use quotation marks around the values. In the first example, it may not be immediately evident, but because of the inclusion of the query string value with the equals sign, you’re required to use quotes around the value of the href attribute. If you don’t, the HTML5 validator will tell you your code has an error. The equals sign makes it look like there’s another attribute listed, so it gets parsed wrong and doesn’t know what to do. With quotation marks, this problem is avoided.

In the second example above, because we’re using multiple classes on one element, separated by spaces, this requires quotes. If the quotes aren’t present, then only the first class will be recognized by a markup parser, and any subsequent classes will look like value-less attributes.

Thus, because of the need for quotes in certain circumstances, I think it’s reasonable to use quotes on all attribute values. This ensures future maintainability of the code (i.e. you can easily add classes or a query string) and keeps the code consistent.

This is bad:

  1. <div id=main>
  2. <p>content</p>
  3. </div>
<div id=main>
<p>content</p>
</div>

This is good:

  1. <div id=”main”>
  2. <p>content</p>
  3. </div>
<div id="main">
<p>content</p>
</div>

Don’t Close “Standalone” Tags

Here’s another one that not everyone will agree with, and some might even say it’s not in keeping with the call for consistency.

In my opinion, the purpose of a closing tag is to tell the developer or the HTML parser where the enclosed content ends. Maybe that’s an over-generalization of the actual purpose of the closing tag, and maybe there’s more to it, but I think that’s a pretty safe assumption. I’d be happy to correct this if I’m wrong.

So, if an element cannot have any enclosed content, (which means it’s technically a void element), then there should not be a closing tag or closing slash. Some examples of void elements include <meta>, <img>, <input>, and <source>.

In my opinion, it’s redundant to close an element that isn’t really “open”. So, I suggest we leave off the closing slashes on these “standalone” tags.

Keep in mind that some elements are required to have a closing tag, even though they may not have content. One example is the <script> element. It may or may not have content, but it always requires a closing tag–so it’s not a “void” element. I can’t think of any other tag that falls into this category, but it’s something to keep in mind.

This is okay:

  1. <meta charset=”utf-8″ />
<meta charset="utf-8" />

This is even better:

  1. <meta charset=”utf-8″>
<meta charset="utf-8">

Close All Elements That Have Content

When validating HTML5 pages, you’ll notice that you could include stray paragraphs without closing them. Thus, the following is a perfectly “valid” HTML5 document:

  1. <!DOCTYPE html>
  2. <html>
  3. <head>
  4. <title>My Page</title>
  5. </head>
  6. <body>
  7. <p>
  8. <p>
  9. <p>
  10. <p>
  11. </body>
  12. </html>
<!DOCTYPE html>
<html>
<head>
<title>My Page</title>
</head>
<body>
<p>
<p>
<p>
<p>
</body>
</html>

But obviously, “valid” pages don’t necessarily equate to good markup. So I think it’s good practice, and I’m sure many agree, to close all elements that actually contain, or are intended to contain, content. This excludes all void elements, but includes paragraph tags. I’m sure this suggestion is already being followed by most, if not all HTML5 developers.

To be honest, I’m not completely sure why stray paragraphs are allowed in HTML5. This doesn’t seem to be the case for other elements. My guess is that this is related to the desire that HTML5 supports existing content and the fact that many older web documents used paragraphs as breaks, kind of like how we might use <hr> elements today.

This is bad (even though it’s valid HTML5):

  1. Johnny went to the store.
  2. <p>
  3. He wanted to get some gum.
  4. <p>
  5. He had no money, so the clerk threw him out.
Johnny went to the store.
<p>
He wanted to get some gum.
<p>
He had no money, so the clerk threw him out.

This is good:

  1. <p>Johnny went to the store.</p>
  2. <p>He wanted to get some gum.</p>
  3. <p>He had no money, so the clerk threw him out.</p>
<p>Johnny went to the store.</p>

<p>He wanted to get some gum.</p>

<p>He had no money, so the clerk threw him out.</p>

Don’t Quote Boolean (or “Standalone”) Attributes

Some might view this as a contradiction of one of the previous suggestions to quote all attributes, but I don’t think it is. To me, selected="selected" is just plain dumb. Or as Jeremy Keith puts it in HTML5 for Web Designers: “This is brought to you by the Department of Redundancy Department.”

Keith doesn’t necessarily disagree; he’s just pointing out that it’s, well, redundant. I think that’s enough reason to never quote these types of attributes (which are technically referred to as Boolean attributes) and always use the single-word syntax. I would also suggest keeping these at the end of the tag’s set of attributes. This makes things cleaner, less cluttered, and easy to maintain.

In dealing with readability of the code, you might even consider writing these value-less attributes using uppercase, but I don’t know if that’s necessary. It’s just an option, I suppose.

This is bad:

  1. <input type=”text” required=”required”>
<input type="text" required="required">

This is good:

  1. <input type=”text” required>
<input type="text" required>

This is a possibility:

  1. <input type=”text” REQUIRED>
<input type="text" REQUIRED>

What’s Your Preferred Style?

Most other HTML syntax issues are universal to all versions of HTML (indenting, proper nesting, etc). With regards to making the transition from XHTML to HTML5, are there any other things you can think of that need a consistent style?

Also I do realize that much of what I’ve said here is merely my own style decisions. But I do think I’ve given good reasons for making these decisions, and other developers could follow these suggestions without any harm to their markup.

Don’t Take Rejection Personally

A rejection from your peers in high school, a disparaging look from the girl you have a crush on, an unaffectionate response from your mom, disapproving criticism from your colleagues or clients—all have a similar effect on the individual. I respect personalities and behavioral patterns, and here’s why I’m writing this one for you: modifying your personality is possible if you’re conscious of the damage it can do to your professional image. This is a competitive world, boy; get yourself on top and don’t let rejection eat you up.

Every Freelancer Gets Rejected

instantShift - Don’t Take Rejection Personally

Name one person who hasn’t dealt with rejection, and I’ll name ten for you who have—and who have come out every time with guns blazing. Some freelancers have mastered the art of rejection and assumed the right attitude: “So what?”

Freelancers face rejection regularly because they have to start from scratch after every project to get new clients. Then comes being interviewed, having your skills tested and being judged on whether you can do the job. What’s more, a freelancer might get rejected by ten prospective clients before being hired by one. So every freelancer knows what rejection feels like, including me. If you’ve felt the sting, know that you’re not alone!

Being Rejected: Rational or Irrational?

You might say that you like to know why you are being rejected. Fair enough. We all appreciate rational judgment, like when a client tells you that your quote is too high and that he’s going to opt for another firm. That kind of encounter is unlikely to provoke an impulsive reaction. Now imagine you’re being rejected on the grounds that you’re not personally suited for a project. In that case, chances are you’ll be frowning, and your knee-jerk reaction would be to sweet talk the client about how suitable you are.

In both cases, you’ve lost the deal, and if you don’t move on you’ll just get upset.

Opinions Vary

instantShift - Don’t Take Rejection Personally

Success and rejection go hand in hand. How often have you read a blog that is making waves on the Internet only to notice that the responses and comments are a mixed bag of opinions. This is just what happens; everything is a matter of individual preference. You might think you’ve created a masterpiece or have the skill set to do so, but others might not see it that way. Don’t lose sleep over it; opinions vary.

Unique Selling Points, or the Prospect of Invisibility

It’s a competitive world, isn’t it? So, you’ll have to be competitive. And how do you think you can do that? By creating unique selling points (USPs). Thousands of freelancers are on the market, and competition gets tougher by the day. Put a unique spin on the services you provide, and be clear and confident about delivering. That way you’ll carve out a niche, one in which you won’t face rejection so often. Be thoroughly professional, and win your clients’ confidence so that they stick with you.

It’s Business

Take rejection in stride; understand that it’s strictly business. Clients need to get the job done efficiently and with a view to quality, budget and deadline. They should be able to pick and choose with whom they work, right? What would you do in their place? Be reassuring; tell yourself that it was healthy competition and that you happened to lose out once. There’s always other work waiting out there.

It’s Not Personal

instantShift - Don’t Take Rejection Personally

At no point in your career should you take rejection to heart. Tell yourself that you were not personally targeted—and even if your critic was trying to demean you, do you want to end up as the sore loser?

Don’t judge yourself on the commercial success of just one project. You are what you are, and winning or losing one project has nothing to do with your creative talent. Keep personal opinion separate from business dealings. I myself was a victim, and I know it might take a while before you learn to not take rejection personally. I assure you that it is possible with conviction.

In the Moment

It’s not the rejection itself but your reaction to it that gets you into trouble—hence the mantra: take a deep breath before you react. An impulsive nature is difficult to control; reaction is a hasty thing, lacking forethought. How many times in your life have you said or done something on impulse that you regret?

Remind yourself that the guilt and anger caused by rejection last only for a moment. Give yourself time; sit back and count to ten, and you might actually start to see the humor in your situation.

Don’t Call Attention to Your Problems

This is a definite no-no. The more you brag about something, the more it goes to your head, and the more exaggerated the feeling of remorse will be later. Imagine that an old competitor, who is also an acquaintance, rejects you. The emotional pain makes you call them and get into an argument, and things get out of hand before you know it, and it compromises your professional reputation. You could easily avoid getting into such a situation by not bragging about things, by staying humble.

Take a quick break and do your favorite off-time activity if you need to cheer up. After all, “time heals all wounds.”

Stay Positive

instantShift - Don’t Take Rejection Personally

I often come across bloggers and freelancers who begin their day by checking their email and working on a task that was left incomplete the previous day.

I say, relax a little. Let the day go at its own pace, and start with activities that lighten up your body and prepare your mind for the tasks to come. Eat a good breakfast and do the chores. Go for a jog, take in some fresh air, work out a little; do something to create peace of mind. Rejection is worse when you’re not physically and mentally prepared to absorb it.

Don’t Carry Baggage

Funny as this may sound, it’s a cruel reality: when you fail, past experiences flood your thoughts and make the situation tougher than it actually is. My advice to everyone is live for the day. Don’t carry baggage (thoughts and feelings of failure or anything related). Your past demons want to haunt your mind and block your ability to be objective; they slow down your thought process and make you irrational. Your baggage won’t do any good for your present and future aspirations, so let it go.

Move On

Look at it this way: you will either get rejected or get the contract. These are the two sides of the coin, and you have only one chance to call it in the air for the win. When the coin lands, there is no changing the result. Maybe you will lose the contract, and maybe it’s not because you were incompetent; there was just another freelancer who got the better of you this time around. Move on. Move on to the hundreds of prospects waiting out there.

Beware Nasty Emails

instantShift - Don’t Take Rejection Personally

Maybe your prospective client is busy, or maybe the project in question has been pushed back; maybe that’s why they haven’t been in touch with you—but this is not made clear in the emails. Instead, they just hint that they’ll get back to you. Don’t jump to conclusions; you might miss out on future contracts as well. I’ve had this experience in my early days, and I’ve lost contracts because of my impulsive nature. Reread emails patiently and ask for clarification if you need it.

Schedule

Always plan your week’s work ahead of time, and schedule tasks according to priority. Let’s say you get rejected for one of the contracts that you were waiting to hear about, and you start wondering why? and how? and thinking I wish I could have done things different. Then, before you realize it, you end up getting rejected for something else because while you were sulking, you missed a deadline. My point is, don’t dwell on what’s lost.

Be Healthy

I strongly advise you, contrary to the common practice of freelancers, to get up early and avoid staying up late at night to work. You need to be in the best of health, and if you don’t follow a schedule or organize yourself, you’ll likely be irritable and sensitive to problems like rejection. Get enough sleep and stick to a healthy diet—unless you’re running out of time for a project, at which point you might need to loosen up. Be social and spend sufficient time with your family as well; it’s all part of a balanced and peaceful life.

Set Goals

instantShift - Don’t Take Rejection Personally

If you don’t have goals, you’re not doing yourself any favors. Setting and focusing on long-term goals gives you immense strength. Do what you want in your own way, and you’ll build convictions and expertise. The day you achieve what you’ve been striving for, you’ll be proud—and all your stories of rejection will take a back seat.

Love Yourself

I’m not afraid to say that I love myself; it extends to everything I do, and I can’t imagine how I’d deal with life if I didn’t. What I’m trying to say is that not appreciating yourself or having low self-esteem can affect your professional life. Don’t let rejection affect your self-esteem. Appreciate your capabilities; don’t fall prey to phantom worries and the perceptions of others.

Make an Impression

Most people enjoy working with others who are easygoing and personable. Don’t overreact to anything, even when beaten out by a competitor. Life gives more than one chance—and so might the client in their upcoming projects. Be humble and poised, and don’t miss any opportunity to make an impression on prospective clients.

Keep Learning

instantShift - Don’t Take Rejection Personally

Never stop learning. Every experience adds to your personality and prepares you for the future. Be honest with yourself and analyze whether the rejection had to do with a skill you lacked. Make a point of gaining that skill; don’t let a deficiency get in your way twice. Even if you had all the necessary skills for a project, rejection still gives you experience to draw on later.

 

Conclusion

I’ll sum up the entire discussion with a brief statement: no matter how successful you are as a freelancer, you are bound to encounter your share of rejection.

Hopefully you’ll take away something useful from this article. Feel free to add your valuable thoughts and experiences to the comments section.

How to select a color scheme for your website

Your company most likely has a logo or preferred look and feel on its stationery and that’s the first place to start looking for your website’s color scheme. For those of you who are starting from scratch, choose two or three complementary colors and stick with them, and don’t change colors on every page; you want to be consistent throughout the website. But what two or three colors and how are they complementary?

Your pants suit color might match with that blouse you have on, but choosing the right color scheme for websites is a lot harder than choosing clothes that match. Your website will be wearing the same colors for a long time, and changing colors every day is not a viable option. Unless of course you offer viewers the ability to modify their color scheme on the fly, then that added benefit to the end user experience is a big plus.

Many web designers make the critical mistake of using the wrong color schemes that don’t match. Have you seen a darkly colored background on a website with lightly colored text? While some are done well, I find most of these implementations hard to read online; my eyes strain at the sight and immediately click through or close out, and not soon enough.

One cool tool that I like is the Color Scheme Designer; it provides six models to choose from starting with a “mono” selection, on through to the “accented analogic” model. Once you select your model, and primary color hue, you can preview and bookmark the current Scheme ID, then view in a light or dark page example. There are other features as well, such as randomizing the palette, and various colorblind settings, and you can export the scheme as an HTML+CSS table with style sheet. The default screen shot is displayed in Figure A:

The Color Scheme Designer website defaults to the mono color scheme model with the hue tab open and set at 0°, R 100%, G 0%, B 0%, RGB: FF0000. Notice on the top right hand side the Scheme ID: 0011Tw0w0w0w0; this will update as you modify the design model, allowing you to save it as a favorite for future reference once you are happy with your color scheme.

Notice the primary color spot is positioned at the top of the color wheel, thus the 0° inclination, which is also closer to the “warm” half of the spectrum. The primary color hue is modified by clicking and dragging the spot around the color wheel to change the value. Or you can double-click over the spot to enter the numeric value, entering the Hue value from 0° to 360°, as displayed in Figure B:

Sticking with the default mono model, let’s say I want a color that is more toward the “cold” section. I double-click on the spot and enter 233 and click OK. This is the resulting primary color scheme as shown in Figure C:

I could have equally just clicked and moved the spot to the desired location, and the preview pane will adjust on the fly with spot adjustments as in Figure D.

Clicking the Adjust Scheme tab on the bottom left results in the preset scheme settings for Saturation/Brightness, and Contrast. You can adjust the settings manually, or you can choose from a set of predefined presets as shown in Figure D:

If I select the “Light Pale Pastel” preset, the resulting color scheme in preview looks like this as shown on the right side of the page and displayed below in Figure E.

https://i2.wp.com/i.techrepublic.com.com/gallery/6195317-530-444.jpg

Selecting the Color List tab will display the five colors in the scheme with the associated numbers.

One more sub-tab of the Adjust Scheme tab is the Adjust Variants tab. At this point you can go back and make changes to in the variants of the primary colors including the base color, and four variants. This allows updating of the variants for all five of the colors within the scheme, including three hues of text style generation as displayed in Figure F.

Click on the Show Sample Text and you can also see how the text will appear in the selected preview pane as well.

Show Text Enabled on the preview pane as in Figure G:

Selecting the Light page example or Dark page example I can now see if this color scheme fits well with sample content; the dark page example is displayed below in Figure H:

The light pale pastel color scheme works for the body and selection sections; however, should this dark color theme get selected, the text colors would need tweaking. See how this gives you a quick way of determining how your color scheme might or might not fit in, and where you might need to tweak areas in the coding?

I rather like the light page sample shown below — not as hard on the eyes when viewing and reading the text. Again, some text styles still need work, but this still gives me a great starting point for adjusting the text as displayed in Figure I:

If you’re not sure what color scheme to choose, surf the Internet and find a website that you like, take note of its theme, colors, layout, hues, and scheme, and then you can go back to the Color Scheme Designer and  model your color scheme on what is already proven to work; most likely others will like it too.