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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...

Click through to read the rest of the story on the Vandelay Design Blog.
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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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Buttons are an extremely common design element that are used by almost every website. Web buttons are critical for usability and navigation, and they can also be used to help direct the action of the user as you encourage them to add a product to a shopping cart, take a tour, get more information, or contact you.

Creating new buttons while keeping the same style can be very simple by using Photoshop's layer styles. In this post we'll take a quick look at how you can create your own button layer styles to save yourself some time.

You may have had situations in the pa
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st where you found yourself creating multiple buttons for a mockup and adding the same layer styles over and over again. Or you may have wanted to create a new button that matches the style of an existing button, but you can't remember the details of the layer effects that were used. Both of these situations could be made much easier if the button effects were saved as a layer style that could be re-used at any time.

Layer styles are a preset in Photoshop, like brushes, patterns, and custom shapes. Layer styles can be saved as an .asl file and then can be loaded at any time, or distributed with others working on the project.
Creating Button Styles
Let's start by creating a basic button in Photoshop.

Set the foreground color to #166ecc and the background color to #4495ee. Select the rounded rectangle tool with a radius of 10 pixels and draw a rectangle that is 250 pixels wide and 40 pixels high.

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Our friends at W3 Markup have offered to provide free PSD to HTML credits for two lucky readers of the Vandelay Design blog! The first prize winner will get $400 in credits and the second prize winner will get $300 in credits.

W3 Markup
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We frequently showcase examples of well-designed websites in various industries, and we had a reader request a collection of community-oriented websites for inspiration. In this post we've gathered 25 community websites to showcase some examples of outstanding design. The sites come from a wide variety of different industries, but they all share the common focus of bringing together like-minded people in some way.

Brite Revolution

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Navigation menus are a critical part of web design because of their importance for usability and creating a position user experience. Websites with poor navigational structure or a lack of clarity in navigation will frustrate visitors and result in people leaving the site without finding the right pages and content.

Aside from the usability aspect, navigation menus also provide designers with the opportunity to create something attractive. In this post we'll showcase 25 websites that have beautiful menus. You'll see a variety of different styles, which should help with providing ins
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piration for your own designs.

WPZOOM

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When the lighting conditions are right, silhouette photography can lead to some impressive shots. In this post we'll showcase more than 25 examples of beautiful silhouette photography for your inspiration. If you see something you like, click through to see a larger image and more work from the photographer.



Photo credit: Izidor Gasperlin
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Photoshop users can save time during the design process by  making use of layer styles. Whether you are saving your own custom style to be used multiple times throughout your design (such as with a button), or using pre-made styles created by other designers, taking advantage of this feature in Photoshop can greatly speed up your workflow.

In this post we'll link out to a number of useful Photoshop layer styles that can be downloaded for free. Many of them have been created especially for text, others for buttons, and some are more general. Download the styles and apply them to your
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layers for instant results.

Glossy Text Styles

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TN3 Gallery is a new HTML-based customizable image gallery with slideshow, transitions and multiple album options. It's powered by jQuery to give your image galleries and sliders fantastic appearance and usability. They have kindly offered to give three readers of the Vandelay Design blog the Pro License for free. All you have to do to enter the contest is leave a comment on this post. TN3 Gallery comes from the talented people behind Webdesigner Depot, Mighty Deals, and Brush Lovers.

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Many designers choose to work on some projects of their own in addition to work that they do for clients. There are a lot of reasons to dedicate time to personal projects: they can add some diversity to your work, they can allow you to explore your creativity, they give you the chance to be in charge and to make the decisions that you think are best, you can learn new things, you can make some extra money, etc.

Some types of personal projects that are popular with designers/developers are blogs, managing social networking sites, membership sites, e-commerce sites, and designi
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ng stock items. In this article we'll take a look at 11 things you can do to get more out of these personal projects. Hopefully this post will help to illustrate why personal projects can be excellent for your career.

Here are some tips that will help you to get the most out of your time spent on personal projects.
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Design Buzz is a community for all those involved in designing, developing and running websites, web mastering, etc. Here are featured new design trends, news and events, design articles, design software, webmaster tips and tricks, creative tutorials and hand-picked design stuff from all over the world.

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