Freelance Switch: Community and Resource for Freelancers

Since making the switch from chemist to web developer, I can’t tell you how much I enjoy getting up in the morning. Aside from not having to handle toxic chemicals on a daily basis and smelling that ghastly lab-smell, I also don’t miss the commute, lunches from vending machines, unhappy coworkers and office politics. Starting my own business is by far the best move I made so far (after marrying my husband of course).

Launched just a few weeks ago, freelanceswitch.com is a website that offers loads of hints and tips for freelancers. Advice on how to take care of yourself while working long hours, managing your increasingly long list of usernames and passwords and reviews of the different types of pitching and decision-making clients are just a few of the articles that you can find.

It’s a great resource for anyone wishing to quit their job and start working for themselves. Not only is the site full of great information, it’s also beautifully designed. I wish I had access to this type of information when I launched Bluelime Media.

Creating customized error messages

There is nothing more frustrating then getting to a page which no longer exists and getting the dreadful plain looking 404 error page with no explanation of what just happened. These pages can be made much more informative with simple HTML. If you take a look at the following links to pages that are broken you will notice that we’ve made them a bit friendlier:

The folks at the BBC display the 404 error message, but at least they have added some additional information giving you options as what to do next which is not the case over at crap.com.

Of course you can also use humour to display your error messages. Kate discovered this great message when she broke her Twitter.

Twitter Error Message

I think that your website users would appreciate your effort.

RSS – not so simple after all!

RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication but judging from the questions I have received recently, from a user perspective its not really simple at all! Basically, RSS is a means by which information can be published and made available over the Internet to interested parties in one central place. For a user, this means that you can subscribe to information you want from specific blogs, news feeds, e-zines and so on and have this information sent directly to you in real time as updates are made.

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Promoting your passion via the Web

Sharkwater opened in theatres recently. Written and directed by Rob Stewart, Sharkwater is a film about sharks and one man’s passion. Through his film, Stewart manages to show that each and one of us has the tools required to make changes in the world. Others have commented that, following a screening and question period in Toronto, Stewart explained that large organizations are not needed to create change. Individuals can make changes simply by being passionate. He clearly demonstrated this by making his movie.

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Setting Type on the Web to a Baseline Grid

Working with graphic designers is difficult sometimes because of the web’s limitations. Our friends in the print world must be confused when watching us explain why certain layouts are impossible to achieve on the web. In fact its easier to embed a video on the web thatn it is to set up type consistently. At least it was until now.

Wilson Miner at A list apart provides us with a great article which brings us one step closer by offering up a way to work with typographic baselines on the web.

The Principles of Beautiful Web Design

I recently purchased a copy of Jason Beaird’s book “The Principles of Beautiful Web Design“. I must admit that I was skeptical when I purchased it. Unfortunately I’m one of those people who are influenced greatly by design. and thus tend to judge my books by their cover. Having just finished reading “Transcending CSS” which was exceptional, beautifully laid out and with a great looking cover, I didn’t think that a book which such a boring looking one would be very interesting. And the sentence “You don’t need to go to art school to design great looking web sites!” on the back also didn’t make me feel at ease. I know quite a few graphic designers whose face turns purple just hearing that kind of statement.

Thus I had very low expectations for this book and yet I would recommend it to anyone. The book is extremely informative, full of great images and resources and Jason does deliver what he promises. A simple, easy-to-follow guide illustrated with plenty of full-colour examples. This book is ideal for people who are just starting to get into web design, programmers who routinely build “somewhat dull” looking web applications or people like me who have been designing for years. I didn’t go to art school and so don’t know the fundamentals of design. I learned everything from the seat of my pants. I sure wish I had read this book years ago.