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Getting your e-commerce site at or near the top of the rankings for your targeted keywords and phrases can lead to a massive increase in sales. The problem is that SEO can be a real challenge for...

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Knowing how to create a strong brand is incredibly important whether you are a freelancer, own an agency, or have just graduated from school. In fact, for many web professionals, their business brand...

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Choosing the right e-commerce platform for your website is now easy task. There are hundreds of different options available with options in all different price ranges and with varying features. If you're overwhelmed at the process of choosing the right platform for your site, or for the site of a client, the decision usually becomes much clearer once you've determined what is most important for your site. In this article we'll look at some specific questions to ask yourself, or your client, to help lead to the right choice. Make sure that you take the time to make a wise and informed decision,
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because changing platforms down the road can often be a time consuming and costly experience.
General Categories of E-Commerce Options
Before we look at the factors that you need to consider, let's first take a look at the general categories of e-commerce platforms. Most of the hundreds or thousands of e-commerce platforms out there will fall into one of these six categories.
1. Enterprise E-Commerce
Enterprise e-commerce systems like Magento's Enterprise Edition are feature-rich and robust systems that are typically used by large or fast-growing companies. Of course, with the advanced features and capabilities comes a higher price tag.

Magento Enterprise

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You're too busy to go back to school. At least that's the excuse you give for not pursuing additional training in your field.

Well guess what? That excuse isn't any good any more. In fact, it hasn't been good for some time. And it's a good thing too, because you need stay current in your field if you want to stay competitive.

You can get additional training on web design, web development, and many other topics from the comfort of your own home. You no longer have to go somewhere to take a class.

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Many traditional colleges offer online courses. In addition to coursework available online through the colleges, a large online training industry has sprung up in the past decade.

In this post, I'll focus on online training sites. I'll list 14 of the best non-college online training opportunities for web designers and web developers.

If you liked this post, you will probably also like: Learning Web Design: Self Taught vs. a Formal Education.
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Google+ Communities are a great way for freelance web designers and web developers to connect with others.

Joining a community can strengthen your freelancing business in the following ways:

Networking. As a member of a Google+ Community, you have a chance to interact with others with similar interests and a chance to build relationships.
Reputation. By providing helpful insights and tips to other members of the community, you can enhance your reputation as a professional.
Resource. If you have a problem or question you can't solve, ask the community. The insigh
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ts shared by peers can be very helpful.

Social network or online community concept
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Flat designs are taking over quite quickly it seems. I doubt anyone could argue against it being the latest and greatest for (fairly) new trends on the web, in mobile devices, and even in print. The simple description for a flat style of design is one that lacks 3D effects, such as bevels or drop shadows.

The stylistic details of a flat design can vary somewhat, just as with most design styles. Usually, though, a flat design is quite minimalist with primary-ish colors and lots of "white space". The font is usually thin without too much flare. Boxes and buttons are, of course, withou
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t strokes or 3D effects. Some flat designs do contain shadows, but these are usually flat-ish as well.

Whether you are new to flat design or simply need some fresh, new resources for your next project, most should be able to find a few items below to help. The list below is divided into 5 categories: UI kits, icons, templates, WordPress themes, and tutorials. The best part? All are free. The ones that specifically mention "free for commercial use" are noted as well. Have fun browsing and be sure to let us know of any other amazingly free flat resources.
UI Kits
A UI kit is a user interface collection that comes with all the parts and pieces you need to design your own website. Usually they are PSD but sometimes will come with other components as well. While you can use the color scheme in the file, you can create your own color scheme. They also come with patterns, brushes, and much more. Hence, UI kits save a web designer a lot of time, improving workflow and decreasing time spent on projects.
DesignModo Flat UI
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If you're looking to get into the web design/development industry there are loads of resources and courses to help with your education, but deciding which route to pursue is not easy. There are two basic approaches: going to a university for a formal education, or taking a self-taught approach and learning on your own. In recent years a growing number of colleges and universities have added degrees specifically for web design and development, and of course a graphic design/arts degree is also an option.

In this article we'll take a look at the argum
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ents for both approaches, and we'll also provide information on plenty of resources to help you get started with learning on your own if that is the route that you choose. If you're considering a career as a web designer/developer, you'll want to take some time to educate yourself on the options that are available and see what is the best fit for you personally. There is no right or wrong approach, but following a path that isn't the right fit for you can result in a lot of wasted time and money.
Pros of Being Self Taught
When it comes to web design and development you'll often read or hear of someone being "self taught". What this usually means is that this person did not receive a formal education in the field of design or development. In reality, being "self taught" typically involves things like reading books, following online tutorials, watching videos, and plenty of experimentation. The self taught designer still learns from others who are willing to teach, but it's usually by way of informal articles and tutorials rather than a classroom setting. So don't be intimidated at the phrase "self taught" as it does not mean that you will need to figure everything out on your own. With that in mind, here are some of the most convincing reasons why you might want to skip the formal education and just learn on your own.

Smashing Book
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TemplateMonster has offered to give a free WordPress theme or Joomla template to 5 lucky readers of the Vandelay Design Blog! You'll get the template/theme of your choice, and there is a big selection available.

TemplateMonster
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The key to any good blog, regardless of the topic or industry, is content that interests readers and keeps them coming back for more. Although content is the number one priority, part of providing a positive user experience involves having an effect design and layout. With millions of blogs already online, and more coming every day, having a unique or high-quality design is a great way to stand out.

In this post we'll showcase 23 examples of well-designed blogs. These examples should provide you with plenty of inspiration for your own blog designs and for client work. You'll find a
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variety of different types of blogs and styles of design here, so you're sure to find something that you like.

Noel Tock

Noel Tock
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Designers and developers have unlimited potential and opportunities when it comes to side projects. With your skills, knowledge, and experience you can do any number of different things aside from your full-time work to make a little extra money, or just for fun. Some of the possibilities include blogging, designing stock graphics for sale (like icons, vectors, etc.), designing and selling website templates or themes, running a community website, and writing a book or e-book. Of course, there are countless possibilities, these are just some of the more common choices.

Many designers
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choose to take on side projects because they can provide a creative outlet where you get to make all of your own decisions, rather than just following the wishes of a client. They can also help to give you something productive to do during down time between client projects, or for those who are working to build a portfolio they can often serve as excellent work samples. Side projects also have potential to make some money, and in some cases they can even lead to a full-time income. They can even provide some excellent networking and collaboration opportunities. So as you can see, there are a lot of reasons for designers to consider taking on a side project.

In this article we'll take a look at seven keys or tips that will hopefully help to make your own efforts with side projects more beneficial.
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