20 Lessons The Avengers Can Teach You About Design by Lana Lozovaya

Avengers: Age of Ultron is currently the talk of the town, so let’s talk about this famous super-team. There are six distinct characters, each with their own well-established franchise, and each with a unique color scheme, personality, and overall “feel.” And most interestingly, each of them has a few lessons to teach us.

Let’s start with…

3 Lessons from Hulk

Keep it Simple

Hulk’s deal is pretty straightforward: he smashes stuff. Sometimes the solution to a complicated problem can be that simple. So, before you pile a ton of bells and whistles onto a project, make sure there isn’t a simpler solution you’re overlooking.

Design can Speak Louder than Words

Hulk is not famous for his communication abilities, yet everything about him tells his story. His massive stature and muscle make it plain what his powers are. His torn clothing lets you know that he transformed from a normal man, and since green has long been the designated color of radioactivity in fiction, his skin tone immediately clues you in to how he did it.

When you need to convey a large amount of information in a short time, is there any way you can do the same?

IMAGE: collider.com

Practice Self-Discipline

Despite how Hulk is the one who gets all the attention, Bruce Banner is an even more important member of the team. He’s the one who can listen to reason and cooperate with people. Resist the urge to go wild. If you make a habit of self-control, you’ll become the best asset to any team.

3 Lessons from Iron Man

Be innovative and fearless

Designers often have to play multiple roles and there’s always something new we can learn to take ourselves to the next level. Don’t be afraid to push the boundaries of what you can do, or of what your work can be. Get to it.

IMAGE: thesmashable.com

Don’t be Boring

Is Tony Stark rough? Yes. Difficult? Absolutely. A jerk? Admittedly. But you could never accuse him of being boring. In fact, as one of the few self-made superheroes, you could argue that his unwillingness to accept mediocrity is the very source of his powers. Show your fun side from time to time.

Cherish your Online Reputation

Tony is a charismatic philanthropist and he’s always on the news. Grow your influence, build trust, collect testimonials and let your online presence reflect your level of expertise.

3 Lessons from Thor

Be Consistent

Thor’s been doing what he does for a few thousand years now. Being a literal god (and having a talent for fighting) has ensured that he’ll remain good at his job indefinitely into the future. Consistency is one of the most crucial UX principles, so keep it in mind even when working on the most extravagant projects.

IMAGE: squarespace.com

Tame your Ego

Some clients might want a bigger logo. Feel free to stand up and fight for your beliefs, but don’t let your ego endanger the project. Thor sees humanity as small and petty at first, but the other Avengers eventually succeed in bringing him down to Earth and making him appreciate those who don’t necessarily have the same talents as him.

Play by the Rules

Like it or not, there are certain rules and best practices that have to be obeyed. They will help you save a lot of time and effort and get more loyal customers and friendly colleagues.

3 Lessons from Captain America

Adapt to Changes

The design world is one of constant change, where often, just a few years can make a radical difference in the landscape and what tools are used. Many designers who don’t make an effort to keep up with certain changes can end up feeling like they just woke up from a 70-year cryogenic sleep.

IMAGE: wallpaperhi.com

Talk Values

The cap’s a good, reliable man who fights for good, reliable values. Think of how that can be applied in your own life. What do you truly believe in? What additional value can you bring through your work?

Be Patient

Your time will come. Patience is specially required of anyone joining the industry. That rough first year of freelancing can often seem hopeless. You’ll face rejection and the sense that you’ll never get where you want to go. But know that with some determination, everything is possible.

3 Lessons from Black Widow

Use Attractive Visuals

While Black Widow’s look certainly is powerful tool in her arsenal. In design, visual appeal isn’t everything, but it’s definitely an important factor. You have to be careful though and don’t get so caught up in your projects’ raw functionality.

IMAGE: screenrant.com

Know What Rules can be Broken

Black Widow is famously pragmatic and almost amoral, formerly having been a villain in some of the comics, but these days, she employs that pragmatism for good. Think about some rules like that in your own field. What are some design conventions that might be better off broken in pursuit of your goal?

Be Agile and Fast

And think several steps ahead. In the lightning-speed world of web design, it’s important to catch up on all the latest tech news and trends, as well as design apps and sites that can easily adapt to change and be modified anytime. Not to mention plain old loading time considerations. Try making your sites as fast and adaptable as possible.

2 Lessons from Hawkeye

Be Accurate

Remember that the devil is in the details. High precision in estimations and pixel-perfect product are marks of professionalism. Your clients might not always notice, but this is where one of designer’s superpowers is hidden.

IMAGE: craveonline.com

Know your Advantage and Polish it

Clint Barton is neither a wealthy inventor, nor Norse god, nor radiation victim. He built his talent on extreme willpower and practice. What’s your specialty? What are some related fields you can study in order to further leverage what you’re already good at?

3 More from All the Avengers

Tell your story

Storytelling is a powerful and important communication and connection tool. Good stories keep your users engaged, inspired and keen to learn more.

Every Challenge is Different

Every client requires a different approach. This is the most fun of our world. Sometimes, you need new hardware, sometimes – a new attitude.

Never Give Up

This might sound a cliché, but this is a good reminder for any creative professional. The Avengers worked hard and fought through bad times, conflicts, and intense self-doubt. They had to learn how to be decisive under pressure, but there always was one thing that kept them going. An unshakeable belief that this is what they have to do, just because they know it’s good, and that they’ll end up making something worthwhile in the end.

Although a bunch of nicely aligned layers in Photoshop might not equate to saving the world, the drive to constantly create and innovate, just for the sake of it, is heroic in and of itself. So keep fighting the good fight.

Editor’s note: This is written for Hongkiat.com by Lana Lozovaya. Lana is the content strategist and social media manager at PSD2HTML®, the leading PSD to HTML and web development company.

20 Signs Your Web Designer is Terrible By Marvin Russell.

It’s been 10+ years since I built a website for my first client and I’m not ashamed to say that back then I was a terrible web designer. I was terrible for many years and for many different reasons. In fact, everything you’ll see below, I was guilty of. However, I eventually learned how to perfect the web designing process the hard way, through determination, research and lots of experience. Today, I think it’s safe to say I’m a very good web designer. If you don’t believe me, ask Inc Magazine, Crain’s Business, CBS, ABC, and NBC. Because they’ve all asked for my opinion and advice multiple times on this subject.

I constantly see many web designers making the same mistakes I made 10 years ago so I hope this article will help web designers and those who have or are going to hire a web designer. So, if you’re building a new website for your company, here are 20 ways to tell if your web designer is terrible. If you’re a web designer, pay close attention, print this blog post, email it to yourself, or bookmark it as a reference, because here are 20 ways you can tell if you are terrible.

1. The price is under $1,000 bucks

cheap-web-designIf your website is costing you less than a $1,000 bucks, then chances are your web designer is terrible and your website will be terrible too. We all wish we could spend $1,000 dollars and make millions, but if it were that easy everyone would do it.

Stop being cheap, because, you get what you pay for. You could easily buy a car for $1,000 bucks but again, you get what you pay for. If you still think your website should be under $1,000 bucks, eventually you will come crawling back to the web designer that was too expensive. Only now you’ll have to pay for a good web designer + the costs of your really cheap web designer.

Common Question:

How much to build a website?

My common answer:
Well, how much does it cost to build a house?

2. The “Headset Hottie”

Headset HottieA Headset Hottie is a joke amongst digital marketers. It’s a stock photo of an attractive female with a headset on, ready to take your call. This photo can usually be found on your contact page, in a sidebar, or sometimes even in the header. Terrible web designers have been adding images like this to websites for years. A Headset Hottie won’t increase sales or phone calls. It will only make your website look cheap and silly. So be careful, because your website could end up featured on a website like headsethotties.com.

3. No weekly call

Momentum is the energy and excitement that every new website project starts off with. It’s critical to maintain momentum throughout the course of a web design project. The second your web designer loses regular contact is the second you lose the project’s momentum. Your web designer should be in contact with you weekly if not daily, and if they are not, demand it and agree on a meeting time and day each week until the project is complete.

4. You found ‘em on Craigslist

no-craigslistI advertised for business on Craigslist about 6 or 7 years ago when I was still a terrible web designer. From my experience, I learned that Craigslist is where cheap people can find other cheap people. Of course, every rule has it’s exceptions and I do occasionally post on Craigslist’s job board to see what’s out there but very rarely do I get the quality I’m looking for.

So, if you found your web designer on Craigslist you’re probably also breaking rule #1, by being cheap.

…sorry Craig

5. No copywriting solution

Creating content for your new website is the biggest challenge every client faces. It’s also the #1 cause for delays (in my 10 years of experience). A good web designer will be prepared with a solution and warn you about this at the kickoff meeting.

Possible copywriting solutions:

  • Client creates all content (be careful this takes time and dedication)
  • Client offers an internal resource (a copywriter on their staff)
  • Client hires a freelance copywriter
  • Web designer offers an internal solution (a copy writer on their staff)
  • Web designer offers a freelance copywriter

6. Your web designer’s #1 goal is creativity

Creativity should not be the #1 goal for your website. In a survey by HubSpot, 76% of users said that the most important factor in the design of a website is that “The website makes it easy for me to find what I want.” Only 10% of users said, “beautiful appearance” was the most important thing to them. Organization of content was their number #1 concern for websites, not creativity. The more organized your content is the longer users will stay. The longer users stay, the more likely they will buy. So, make sure your web designer’s priorities are correct.

Web Design

7. Your web designer is related to you

web-designer“Never hire anyone you can’t fire.” You should know better than to hire a relative to work for you in the first place, let alone build your website. However, if you do decide to hire a family member to build your website, they will probably give you an “unbelievable” discount. If they’re a pro, that’s great news; however, the bad news is that the project eventually won’t be worth their time, and you will eventually end up on the back burner.

8. Your web designer is YOU!

Peep author at conversionxl.com says, “If you designed your website yourself and you’re not a designer, it sucks”. It takes years of experience to perfect what we do. You can’t learn this trade in a few hours.

Peep, I couldn’t agree more!

9. You built it using a web design tool

Anyone can learn how to use a cheap web design tool in an hour or so but you can’t learn what a good web designer has learned with years of experience. In other words, learning how to use a website builder won’t teach you how to design a web site that will get targeted traffic, conversions, and sales.

In addition, just because you learned how to use Photoshop doesn’t mean you’re a good web designer. I’ve received so many resumes with people who know the Adobe Suite like the back of their hand, but their work sucks. Again, it takes years of experience to not be a terrible web designer.

10. No project management software

basecamp Project management software keeps everything organized and in one central location for everyone to easily find. It assigns tasks, keeps timelines, organizes assets and holds everyone accountable for their responsibilities.  I couldn’t imagine a web designer not using project management software. But if this is the case, dump your web designer, because he or she is terrible.

What’s my favorite Project Management software? Basecamp

11. They don’t ask enough questions

Your web designer should ask you lots of questions, especially before they start working on your project. They should ask everything about your 3C’s (Company, Competitors, and Clients). Questions should start during the initial sales meetings and kickoff meeting, and then continue throughout the strategy phase of your project. No questions is a RED FLAG and the sign of a terrible web designer.

10 sample questions:

  1. What are your primary and secondary goals for your website?
  2. Who is your target audience?
  3. Describe your typical client.
  4. Who are your online and offline competitors?
  5. Are you doing any marketing offline?
  6. Where is your target audience (local, national, global)?
  7. Do you have brand guidelines?
  8. Do you have a content writer available?
  9. What kind of assets will you provide? (photo, videos, images, brochures)
  10. Can we access your current site analytics?

12. They have too many clients

I used to be guilty of this a lot. I had way too many clients and I could not focus properly on any of them. Therefore, they all suffered. I would jump back and forth on different projects, while ignoring others. It was horrible and stressful. Projects were constantly late and clients were not happy.

Solution:

If you’re a web designer and your goal is to make $500,000 this year, focus on getting 10 clients at $50,000 per project, rather that 50 clients at $10,000 per project. This will give you the same revenue, but with less clients, less phone calls, less personalities, and less headaches.

13. No scope of work

A wise man in project management for 20+ years once told me that 80% of the problems that occur during a project occur because of a poor scope of work. A good scope of work details all work to be performed and delivered. It is critical that both parties agree to the scope of work before the project is executed.

14. No architecture strategy

wireframeLet’s say your family decides to build a dream house. Well, before you start actually building this house, you’re probably going to hire an architect to blueprint the house and all the rooms. Custom web design is very similar to building a house. Before designing any pages, your web design team should map out and wireframe (blueprint) each page of your website and get your approval before designing and developing.

15. No conversion strategy

Has your web designer helped you define what your primary and secondary conversions are? A conversion can be a phone call, email sign up, contact form, e-commerce purchase or a button being clicked. Your web designer should help you define what your conversions are.

Primary conversions are actual sales made on the site or inquiries for sales discussions through a contact form. Secondary conversions are typically forms that capture emails. Your web designer should ask how you want to be contacted and how clients typically prefer contacting you. After all, this is why you built your website.

17. They’re in your IT department

I blame clients and web designers for this one. Nothing is more frustrating than someone in IT calling our agency to inquire about a new website. Shouldn’t someone in marketing be calling us? I will never understand why companies associate IT departments with web design. As Ben Hunt of scratchwebmarketing.com and webdesignfromscratch.com “Web design is marketing”, not IT.

Do us all a favor. If you’re in IT and someone in your company asks you to help build the company website, humbly decline and recommend they talk to someone in the marketing department.

17. The handshaking image

hand-shakeThis is a big red flag. If you see this on your site take it down. I’m speaking of course about the infamous hand shake. This is usually a simple picture of two men shaking hands. It’s cheesy, a waste of space and draws wasteful attention.

19. No SEO strategy

Let’s say you wanted to open a new store that required lots of foot traffic. Would you let your real estate agent sell you a very nice storefront without knowing or telling you anything about the neighborhood? Me either. In other words, if your web designer doesn’t do SEO, they are terrible.

19. No CMS

I can’t think of any good reasons why your web developer wouldn’t build your website on a CMS (content management system). Not using a CMS is not going to save you money. In fact, it could be more expensive because a good CMS like WordPress is built on a framework that has prebuilt functionality saving you time and money.

20. They’re in a different country

outsourcing-web-designI’ve been developing professional websites for about 14 years and I promise that you will need experience to work with web designers and developers in other countries. Yes, they speak english and yes they are cheaper but if you don’t understand how to properly vet designers and developers in other countries you will most likely find a terrible web designer who doesn’t do any of the 19 items above, giving you a very frustrating and infuriating experience.

Conclusion

If you’re a web designer and you firmly disagree with anything I’ve said, there are exceptions to every rule. However, in my experience the above hold true a vast majority of the time. If you hire or fire your web designer by the above set of rules I can safely guarantee your website will be more successful and make you a lot more money.

 

 

 

7 Bad Habits That Can Ruin Your Business

It doesn’t matter if you’re self employed, freelancer or if you work for a company, it is always important to stay professional and have awareness of what can go wrong in order to avoid negative impact on your career or business.

Here is the list of 7 most common bad business habits.

1. Procrastination
If you’re procrastinating, stop! It is the worst thing you can do. Plan your work, make reminders, set up an alarm clock, do whatever you need to do to not procrastinate. Emails will keep coming, blogs will keep updating, friends will keep calling. The important part is to organize your activities so that they don’t put your work on hold.

2. Laziness
If you want to kill your business, being lazy is the way to do it. It is one of the worst habits out there. It will affect your desire to work, which will make you put off deadlines, which will affect the quality of your work, which will make your clients leave you.

3. Not caring
If you want to be successful, it is important to be enthusiastic. If you don’t like what you do, it’s probably time to think about a career change.

4. Poor people skills
Another crucial quality is to have people skills. Completing the project on time is not everything there is to a successful business. Let’s face it a smile on the face, or making small talk don’t require too much effort, but it might make someone’s day. We need to remember that we work with people and not robots.

5. Being rude
Now this one goes right along with people skills. It is understandable that you probably think that everyone cares about the fact that you are having a bad day. News flash, nobody does. Clients come to you for quality service, not attitude.
Yes, sometimes we get difficult clients, but it is still our job to stay professional and handle them well.

6. Neglecting mistakes
We are all human beings and we can all make mistakes, and it’s ok. However, it is important to identify the root of the cause. If you lost a client, find out the reasons behind it, if you got a complaint make sure you do everything possible to not make the same mistake again.

7. Ignoring reviews
Most people like to get reviews before they buy something which reveals information about you, your company and the quality of the work that you provide. Having a bad reputation means losing over 50% of your clients. Make sure you always stay on top of what other people say about your business.

Chances are we all make these mistakes sometimes, the key is to acknowledge it and take the necessary precautions. If you have any examples, or just feel like sharing your thoughts, please comment.

For more, visit http://www.psd2html.com

Adopting a Video Content Strategy For Your Business

Just as businesses are catching on to trends in content marketing, with-it content publishers are upping the ante. If you’re still going about content marketing the same ol’ way–posting blogs, retweeting those blogs and participating in the occasional guest post–it’s time to redefine your strategy.

Adopting a Video Content Strategy For Your Business

Adapted from an article at ReelSEO.com. Click here to view the original.

Video content is the freshest way to gain the best kind of exposure for your business, and engaging in video content marketing is not quite as scary as it seems. There are just a few steps you need to take and a few tips to keep in mind to get the most out of video content marketing for your business.

Before you review the steps to follow in creating a worthwhile video, it’s important to understand why you should be video marketing in the first place, and what exactly the public is looking for. Generally speaking, “know thy audience” is the most important factor to any marketing campaign, and this is particularly true in video marketing!

The whole point of creating a video to market your business is to get that video shared across social media platforms. That’s just about all you’re after. For this reason, your main objective should be to create a highly compelling video that holds viewers’ attention and makes them think they’re viewing something more meaningful, entertaining or interesting than an advertisement. That being said, let’s make this clear now: DO NOT, by any means, make your video content resemble an ad. Doing so will crush its potential to be shared socially. Unless, of course, you can top the genius of Kmart’s Ship My Pants.

There are a few simple qualities the public looks for in a video in order to compel them to engage in social sharing, keeping one or more of these qualities in mind will increase your video’s chances of being shared at a higher rate:

Funny (much like “ship my pants”)
Adorable (think kittens, bunnies, puppies, babies)
Sexy (sex sells: resorting to half-naked men or women might be cheap–but it works)
Emotional (a heartfelt story or tear-jerking moment)
Narrative (people love a good story. Telling one in a short video can be really effective)
Random (randomness is endearing, and these days people can’t get enough of it)
Inciting (shocking viewers will get you the attention you’re after. Think controversial)
Uplifting (people are always looking for inspiration, and once they get it they’re likely to pass it along)

Alright, so now that you know the elements the public wants to see in an online video, you’ve got to figure out how to produce a video of your own. If you’re just starting out, aim to produce a short video that strongly makes use of one or more of the social sharing characteristics mentioned above.

Have a Plan

First, you need a plan: develop your story, and have a beginning, middle and end to your video. Take a professional approach–or your video will not get very far–create a story board, engage in preproduction, and HIRE PROFESSIONALS!

For a quality video, you need a quality team of professionals. Do your research and hire a great film crew or animation team. If your video is going to have a spokesperson or voiceover, get a professional with an engaging demeanor or a voice that demands attention. Also, make sure the final product has been edited by a team of experts for a clean, professional approach.

Don’t forget about music! Don’t use cheap sample audio clips, they won’t get you much respect and they’ll make your video seem low-grade. Get some original music created by an expert so your video really stands out in its own right.

Distribute Well

Once you’ve produced a high-quality video, you need to pick the right outlets for distribution. Of course you must make use of all the social media outlets possible, especially Facebook, Twitter, and at least one or two blogs. Also, make sure to put your own video on your business website, that’s a given!

Next, you need to look into YouTube (and you’ll probably need to do that before you can post a link to Twitter). YouTube is great because it’s free, and it gives your video the most chance of going viral because everyone uses it. It’s also by far the least expensive paid advertising medium out there (as of the posting date of this post).

The only bad thing about YouTube is it’s sometimes looked down on because it’s not professional or business related. So now you’ve got to find a well-respected business or industry-centered site that will showcase your video to executives and people in your field. There are many options out there and you’ve got to pick what’s best for your specific content (but you can start with something like Xavy, for example).

Boost Views

Just like your business website, you need to put a little SEO work into your video to encourage viewing. This means you should:

Tag the video with keywords
Incorporate metadata with a good description
Pick appropriate thumbnails
Build links across the Internet that direct back to your video
Use a video sitemap
You’ve got to maximize your video hits and SEO is really the best way to do this. Just make sure not to overdo it or try to be sneaky in any way. Don’t overuse keywords, and stay true to your content.

Fortify Your Hard Work

Finally, keep in mind a purpose and a timely occasion for your video to really underpin its importance. Your video content can be quirky and random, but the video’s release should have a point to make: Plan to launch your video leading up to the unveiling of a new product or service to create industry buzz. Perhaps include a press release with your video’s launch or a transcript of the video to send to executives in your industry.

Also, don’t take the one-and-done approach. Aim to produce a video every month or every couple of months depending on your business and budget. The more videos you have, the more you can improve on your strategy and the more attention you’ll gain for your company and exposure for your business, and engaging in video content marketing is not quite as scary as it seems. There are just a few steps you need to take and a few tips to keep in mind to get the most out of video content marketing for your business.

14 Classic Business Books You Can Download For Less Than $5

Some of the most influential business books are available for next to nothing (or even nothing) in the Amazon Kindle store.

For less than $5, you can gather timeless wisdom from classics like Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” build your economic background with world-changing texts like John Maynard Keynes’ The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money, and get insight from ancient texts like Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations.

A few modern classics, like Susan Cain’s Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking are also available.

If you’ve got a Kindle and a few bucks to spare, it’s time to get reading.

“The Art of War” (c. 6th century BC)

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons/Hinio

Price: $0.99

Sun Tzu’s ancient Chinese military classic has become required reading for executives around the world.

Rick Wartzman, executive director of the Drucker Institute, writes in Forbes that the book’s influence outside the battlefield is due to the focus on the fundamentals of management and competition. It explains how you can outlast an enemy that is more powerful through patience and a focus of energy.

Buy it here >>

“Meditations” (c. 170 – 180)

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons/NoJin

Price: $0.99

Marcus Aurelius was the great Roman emperor known as the “Philosopher King.” His personal writings from the end of his life have been collected as “Meditations,” and have remained relevant for almost two millennia.

Marcus’ reflections offer timeless wisdom into the nature of human beings, as well as advice on how to maintain self-control and determination in the face of adversity.

Buy it here >>

“The Prince” (1532)

Image credit: Santi di Tito

Price: $0.99

The Italian political theorist Machiavelli’s most well-known work has inspired a wildly diverse group that includes Thomas Jefferson, Napoleon, and mobster John Gotti.

Machiavelli’s outline for being a ruthless and manipulative leader has been interpreted in many different ways and remains controversial.

Buy it here >>

“The Way to Wealth: Advice, Hints, and Tips on Business, Money and Finance” (1758)

Image credit: Amazon

Price: $2.51

“The Way to Wealth” is a collection of whimsical yet wise advice from US Founding Father Benjamin Franklin and is the source of many of his most popular adages.

Buy it here >>

“An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations” (1776)

Image credit: Artist unknown

Price: Free

Adam Smith set the foundation for classical economics (supply creates its own demand) in “The Wealth of Nations,” which is an exploration of free markets, productivity, and the division of labor.

Buy it here >>

“The Richest Man in Babylon” (1926)

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

Price: $3.99

George Samuel Clason uses a series of colorful parables to teach the basics of personal finance.

It remains a top seller, especially as a gift for college graduates just starting out in the real world.

Buy it here >>

 

“How To Win Friends and Influence People” (1936)

Image credit: Amazon

Price: $2.99

There have been over 15 million copies of Dale Carnegie’s book sold since it was first published.

It offers timeless advice on how to rise through the corporate hierarchy or establish your business by selling a story and making important connections.

Buy it here >>

“The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money” (1936)

Image credit: Amazon

Price: $1.99

This is widely considered the economist John Maynard Keynes’ masterpiece, and his theories have significantly shaped modern macroeconomics.

Paul Krugman is one of today’s most vocal Keynesians.

Buy it here >>

“Think and Grow Rich” (1937)

Image credit: Amazon

Price: $0.99

Napoleon Hill’s guide to success is one of the best-selling books of all-time.

Its key takeaways on how to be more likable, resilient, and productive will never go out of date.

Buy it here >>

“Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy” (1942)

Image credit: Amazon

Price: $1.99

Joseph Schumpeter was one of the most influential economic theorists of the 20th century, and this is his most widely read work.

Schumpeter is responsible for popularizing the term “creative destruction” and was one of the first to explore the role of entrepreneurship and innovation within capitalism.

Buy it here >>

“The Greatest Salesman in the World” (1968)

Image credit: Amazon

Price: $4.59

Og Mandino tells the story of a poor traveler in the ancient Middle East who works his way to a life of abundance. Its charming story and valuable insight on motivation and salesmanship have made it a bestseller.

Academy Award-winning actor Matthew McConaughey has said that the book inspired him to never take “no” for an answer.

Buy it here >>

“Thinking, Fast and Slow” (2011)

Image credit: Amazon

Price: $2.99

Nobel Prize-winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman splits human thought into two categories: one is fast, intuitive, and emotional, and the other is slow, deliberate, and logical. In addition to exploring this concept, he explains how fast and slow thinking can be balanced to maximize success in the workplace.

The book topped many publications’ best books of 2011 lists, including the New York Times Book Review and the Wall Street Journal.

Buy it here >>

“Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” (2012)

Image credit: Amazon

Price: $2.99

Susan Cain’s book on introversion is a rejection of the traditional idea that only extroverts can be leaders in their fields.

It explains how managers can maximize the value of their quieter and more withdrawn employees and how introverts can best communicate with extroverts.

Buy it here >>

“Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead” (2013)

Image credit: Amazon

Price: $4.99

Men vastly outnumber women in high-level executive positions across the world, and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg says that women need to take charge of changing it themselves.

Sandberg’s book started her “Lean In” movement for female empowerment, which helped initiate a global conversation about women’s equality in the workplace.

Buy it here >>

15 Free Online Learning Sites Every Entrepreneur Should Visit

Being a successful entrepreneur means you have to wear a lot of hats, especially when your company is just starting out and you don’t have enough employees to cover all the areas you need.

Learning the new skills necessary to start a new business can be expensive, but fortunately the initiative for free, high-quality, educational resources online has only continued to grow in the past few years. Below are some of the resources available to learn more about marketing, entrepreneurship, business management and more.

1. CodeAcademy

This great resource offers free interactive programming sessions to help you learn programming languages such as HTML, CSS, Javascript and PHP. You can save your progress as you go with a free account. Learning to code can help entrepreneurs fix bugs if they don’t have a developer, or even go down the road of building their own website or products (such as apps).

2. HubSpot Academy

The free certification program offers courses on inbound marketing, including website optimization, landing pages and lead nurturing. These skills are a must for business owners as they try to grow their business and online presence.

Related: 21 Resources to Make You a Better Entrepreneur

3. Moz

If you want to learn search-engine optimization to make sure your website is as visible as possible, check out this treasure trove of resources from SEO leader, Moz. Besides having the free Moz Academy, there are also webinars (live and recorded), and beginner’s guides to SEO, social media and link building.

4. LearnVest

The most successful entrepreneurs know how to manage their money both on a business and personal side. In addition to having extremely affordable finance classes, LearnVest also offers some of its classes for free, such as “Building Better Money Habits” and “How to Budget.”

5. Niche consultant courses

The Internet has made for a coaching boom, which is extremely helpful to entrepreneurs who want to learn how to start or better a business in a specific niche. Some great coaches and organizations that routinely have free courses and ebooks on building a business include Natalie MacNeil and MyOwnBusiness. Try searching “niche keyword” + “business course” to find one most applicable to you.

6. edX

This free site currently has over 300 courses on a variety of topics, including “Financial Analysis and Decision Making” and “Entrepreneurship 101: Who is your customer?” These courses not only cover business in general, but can also you help learn more skills that are applicable to your industry, such as big data or environmental conservation.

7. Khan Academy

This free learning resource was created to give everyone access to education in math, science, art, technology and more. There are over 100,000 interactive exercises to put your education to practical use. Even though many of the courses are geared toward high school students, there are several courses that would be good for anyone to have a refresher on, such as taxes and accounting.

8. MIT Open Courseware

These are actual courses taught at MIT and offered for free on the site for viewing and reading at your discretion. The school put together an entrepreneurship page that lists available courses that are beneficial to new business owners. Courses include “Early State Capital” and “The Software Business.”

9. Kutztown University of Pennsylvania

This university has almost 100 free on-demand college courses that are extremely applicable to entrepreneurs, including ones that cover business planning, operations and management and small-business tax.

Related: Listen and Learn From These 9 Emerging Entrepreneurial Podcasters

10. Coursera

Much like MIT’s Open Courseware, this site has 114 educational partners that provide free courses to almost 10 million users. One benefit to Coursera is that there are very specific courses that fit perfectly into particular niches, such as “Data Management for Clinical Research” from Vanderbilt University and “Innovation for Entrepreneurs: From Idea to Marketplace” from the University of Maryland. Its wide network of partners allows for a greater selection.

11. OpenCulture

This site isn’t an educational platform on its own, but rather collects and shares free resources from around the web. Its list of 150 free online business courses is a great resource because it offers classes from iTunes U and other lessons on video and audio. The site also has lists of free audiobooks, certificate courses and other online courses.

12. YouTube

It’s probably unsurprising to most users that YouTube is one of the world’s largest search engines, as there are literally videos on just about anything you can imagine. From TED talks to recorded presentations on building a business, it’s a great free resource on just about any topic.

13. Alison

This platform offers free online courses from some of the most well-known names on the internet today, including Google, Microsoft, and Macmillan. With over 4 million users and over 600 courses already, it covers topics such as economic literacy, personal development and business/enterprise skills.

14. Saylor

The Saylor Foundation offers tuition-free courses and also works with accredited colleges and universities to offer affordable credentials. Its course offerings are similar to what you’d see when working toward a bachelor’s degree.

15. Podcasts

Even though it’s not an official course, podcasts are an amazing (and easily digestible) way to become a better entrepreneur. Podcasts can be listened to via streaming on your computer (if that certain podcast offers it) or via iTunes for iOS and apps such as Podcast Republic for Android. Podcasts such as Entrepreneur of Fire already garner thousands of listeners every episode and are a great way to learn the most up-to-date information and strategies possible. Another good list of entrepreneur podcasts include Think Entrepreneurship’s.

Whether you learn best by audio, video or text, this list of 15 learning resources for entrepreneurs can help you learn more about building a business, accounting and getting customers.

Do you have a favorite resource not listed here? Let us know in the comments section below.

10 Things Your Website Needs If You Want to Attract the Wealthy Customer

In his book No B.S. Marketing to the Affluent, business coach and consultant Dan S. Kennedy shows you how to re-position your business, practice, or sales career so you can learn how to attract customers for whom price is not a determining factor. In this edited excerpt, the author reveals what your website needs to contain in order to be an effective marketing tool for your business.

Your company’s website should be a place of vast (current) information. But first and foremost, it should represent who you are and what you do. So often I see websites that are more like static brochures than dynamic, personality-driven, multimedia websites.

To be a marketing website, your site must have these 10 things:

1. Personality.

Most affluent buyers aren’t on the hunt for in-depth technical product knowledge; they’re in search of the go-to experts they can trust to make the best decisions and advise them on the best solutions. Adding personality to your website through photos, video, and your writing is about building that relationship with consumers and solidifying their belief that you’re the person who’s going to make their life easier.

2. Credibility.

Credibility is one of the leading factors in becoming trustworthy. When dealing with the affluent market, you can’t have a website that displays you as a “sleazy salesman.”

What makes you a credible expert? Have you been seen in the media? Are you involved in trade associations within your niche? Are you a bestselling author? All these factors play a vital role in showcasing your credibility.

One of the best ways to establish immediate credibility is through the use of recognizable logos. Displayed correctly, logos from media appearances or trade associations can bring immediate awareness and validation.

3. Testimonials.

Testimonials are a powerful third-party verifier and help make you credible through social proof. Wikipedia defines social proof as “a psychological phenomenon where people assume the actions of others in an attempt to reflect correct behavior for a given situation. Wikipedia goes on to say, “This effect is prominent in ambiguous social situations where people are unable to determine the appropriate mode of behavior, and is driven by the assumption that surrounding people possess more knowledge about the situation.”

The best types of testimonials are ones that not only use text to convey their message but also include the person’s photo or video.

4. Lead capture with auto responders.

When people come to your website, you need to capitalize on their visit by capturing their information so you can continue to stay in touch with them. By providing numerous ways for them to get information, you open up your funnel for leads.

5. Keywords and targeted meta data.

Knowing your keywords and putting them into your meta data (specific pieces of code that tell search engines like Google what your site is about) is vital to get your website ranked in the search engines.

If you’re unfamiliar with what your keywords are, Google offers a free keyword tool that will help you discover the keywords that people are searching for and the amount of competition for those keywords. Ideally you want to use  keywords with high traffic and low competition.

6. WordPress.

If your website isn’t on WordPress, get it there! There are a number of great reasons to use WordPress, but first and foremost, it’s great for search engine optimization (SEO) because it’s built with clean code that makes it easy for search engines to spider and index your website. WordPress also offers endless plugins that can enhance just about every aspect of your website.

7. Current, relevant content.

This is important for two reasons. First, it gives the search engines a reason to continually come back to your website. If you don’t have updated content on your website, you give the search engines no reason to come back.

Second, if people come to your website and it’s outdated, the first question that runs through their head is “Are you outdated?” Developing a keyword-rich blog can be one of the best ways to continually add current, relevant content. Effective blogs are ones that have content that acknowledge a problem that’s currently being faced in your industry, mentioning how you’ve been able to take care of that problem for your clients, then providing a mini CTA (call to action).

8. CTA (call to action).

Good content with no action is going to be just as unsuccessful as a website with no content. CTAs should be used throughout your website to take visitors through a predetermined path. By using CTAs on your homepage, you can connect with visitors’ pain points and lead them to an interior page that will solve their problem.

CTAs should also be used on interior pages to get visitors to take specific action. These types of CTAs should be connected to a lead capture device such as a free consultation or special report. If a person has just read an entire page of copy on your website about a particular service, there’s no better time to ask, “Ready to take the first step in becoming financially free? Download the FREE Special Report ‘10 Keys to Creating the Life You’ve Always Wanted Now!’ ”

Remember, it’s about building the relationship—so capturing visitors’ information is crucial so you can continually market to them and stay in the forefront of their mind. Even if they’re not ready to make a decision that day, creating a relationship with them so you’re their “friend in the business” is vital.

9. RSS feeds and social bookmarking icons.

Both of these allow further engagement with your website. RSS feeds allow consumers to simply sign up for your feed, and every time you add a new piece of content to your website, they’ll get it in their inbox.

Social bookmarking allows users to save links to web pages they like. Unlike a private bookmark within your own computer and browser, social bookmarks are public and tagged by keywords, so they can be a great tool for others to promote the content on your website, which helps increase your traffic.

10. Social media icons.

Social media icons allow users to connect with you socially if they choose. Will everyone want to visit your Facebook page? No, but for the consumer who likes to get their information through social media, it should be an option for them.

For more, visit http://www.entrepreneur.com

How to manage your freelance cashflow

Here’s seven top tips for taking care of the business side of freelance life.

The relationship between art and commerce is a rocky one, and it’s particularly rocky when you’re a freelancer. For all its many joys, being your own boss also means being your own accounting department and occasional bailiff.

Freelancers face three key issues: staying on top of the paperwork, getting paid and ensuring the taxman doesn’t chuck you in prison. Taking care of all that can eat into the time you’d rather spend on designing. So how do others do it?

01. Start a spreadsheet

One of a series of map illustrations by illustrator Elly Walton

Elly Walton has been a freelance illustrator for 10 years. Her client list reads like a who’s who of the advertising, design and publishing fields, but despite her success, she’s been using “pretty much the same old Excel spreadsheet with my incomings, outgoings and tax payable on it” all that time.

Walton also records “the jobs as they come in, how I got them and whether it was a result of promotion or word of mouth,” she explains. “It makes a nice, pretty graph that I look at occasionally to review my marketing.”

Walton uses an Adobe Photoshop template for invoices, prints hard copies – “I like to have a stack of physical paper to check through and stamp a little ‘PAID’ on it when it’s paid” – and invoices jobs on completion.

02. Don’t procrastinate

Hand Lettering Headlines, by Ely Walton

Procrastination, says Walton, is the enemy: “[Tax] isn’t really that painful, but it’s a hell of a lot more painful if you leave it until the deadline.”

If you’re a sole trader in the UK you’ll pay Income Tax on your profits (sales less expenses) as well as National Insurance contributions; limited companies pay Corporation Tax on business profits; and if you’re turning over more than £81,000 per year (it happens!) there’s quarterly VAT too.

It may be worth registering even if your turnover is less: under the Flat Rate Scheme someone in advertising can charge 20% but only pays 11%.

03. Consider an accountant

An architectural drawing, Belle & Bunting, by Scottish illustrator Willa Gebbie

Doing your own tax return isn’t difficult, but if you’re VAT registered or running a company you might want to consider hiring an accountant. It isn’t too expensive and there’s something enormously satisfying about handing over a shoebox full of receipts and never having to worry about it ever again.

Like Elly Walton, beauty, fashion and portrait illustrator Willa Gebbie used a system based around a spreadsheet, in this case Google Docs, but in 2013 she decided to switch to FreeAgent.

“That’s when I finally got around to having a proper business account as well,” she says. Until then she hadn’t felt it was necessary, not least because business accounts come with a plethora of charges after the first year.

“A normal account will do, as long as you keep your work money and personal money clearly separate,” Gebbie says. “As a sole trader, it’s unlikely that you’ll need the benefits (or costs) of a business account, so it’s better saving those few pounds.”

Gebbie is a big fan of FreeAgent. “I love how it completes my tax return for me, it’s truly a godsend,” she says, adding that “it’s really good at assigning bank payments to invoices automatically, so I can tell really quickly who has or hasn’t paid.”

04. Chase payment regularly

One of a series of illustrated New Year’s Resolutions collected via social media.Linzie Hunter NY Resolutions, by Linzie Hunter

While FreeAgent can automatically notify clients of overdue invoices, Gebbie fears that it could look “spammy”, so she prefers to do the chasing herself. “I write invoices as soon as I’ve finished the job,” she says. “Once a week I check payments and chase outstanding invoices. If they’re really late then I’ll start to chase every couple of days.”

Award-winning hand-lettering artist and illustrator Linzie Hunter is another convert to online systems, in her case Wave. As a former “shoebox and Excel spreadsheet” user, Wave has freed up a lot of her time.

“Having a cloud-based system means that I can keep track of payments and invoices easily wherever I am. My favourite feature is the ability to link it to your bank and PayPal accounts, so I no longer need to enter everything manually. It’s also good at showing you exactly where you are financially.”

05. State clear payment terms

Three fashion illustrations by Willa Gebbie

Tempting as it might be, one feature Wave and FreeAgent don’t currently offer is the ability to send drone strikes after late payers. Elly Walton is unusual – “I’ve been lucky not to have had a non-payer” – but stresses the value of clear payment terms.

“30 days is reasonable,” she says. “As soon as that date arrives, start chasing – as politely as possible, of course.”

Willa Gebbie agrees. “Sometimes clients don’t pay on time, but often that’s because of the finance department rather than the art director… it’s probably quite embarrassing for them.”

06. Settle late payments nicely

A hand-lettered and illustrated Label for Noted, by Linzie Hunter

Going in all guns blazing is never a good idea, but if you’re suffering from acute late payment or non-payment, then the Late Payment of Commercial Debts legislation enables you to charge interest and penalties for non-payment. That can be the nuclear option, however, and it’s always best to try and settle late payment nicely first.

07. Be prepared

Stickers and packaging for Peaceable Kingdom by Linzie Hunter

Our illustrators have all experienced the ups and downs of freelancing. What hard-won advice would they pass on? “If you’re only just going freelance, make sure you read up about how self-assessment works and make sure you understand about paying tax on account,” Linzie Hunter advises.

“Otherwise it can be a bit of a shock to find that you have to pay an extra chunk in the first year. And get used to saving every receipt in your wallet automatically from the start.”

Willa Gebbie agrees. “Even if it’ll be some time before you start paying tax, you can offset the set-up cost of your business against future tax. That’s a really useful opportunity to take.”

Keep your work money and play money separate, Elly Walton counsels, recommending that you put a percentage of each payment into a separate account. “I think if all payments went straight into one account, hoping that by the time the tax bill comes around I’ll still have the money to pay it is a risky strategy.” We can say from painful experience that Walton isn’t wrong.

for more, visit: http://www.creativebloq.com

11 useful Tricks to Improve Creative Thinking

In this very competitive society we live in, the need for creative thinking is now more in demand more than ever. Both the corporate and organizational landscape require creativity from their staff and employees, may it be to come up with superbly packaged products, enticing marketing campaigns, innovation breakthroughs or as trivial as solving daily challenges in the workplace. Creative thinking is not for the artistic people alone. People who work in other fields need to fire up their creative thinking to get out of the rut called “creative block.”

Creative block is a phase when an individual seems not able to conjure a creative idea, or because he thinks not creative. That’s not true! Everybody can be creative but like everything you need to practice it. To work out you brain and to get out of this stagnation, applying a few but useful tricks should get your creative juices flowing.

“Creative thinking is not a talent, it is a skill that can be learnt. It empowers people by adding strength to their natural abilities which improves teamwork, productivity and where appropriate profits.” – Edward de Bono

Creative Thinking Creativity

1 – You need inspirational rituals.

One of the best ways to inspire yourself and create every day is to develop rituals that you begin to use regularly and routinely. This will condition your brain for better creativity. For instance, your ritual might be reading in the morning, listening music, meditating for a few minutes or taking several deep breaths.

2 – Try to create something every day.

Create something every day, even if it’s only for 5 or 10 minutes. I try to write articles, I draw mind maps in meetings, develop business models, logos and I also collect and develop hundreds of ideas. I always have 3 projects in the pipeline, lots of them are not developed but they inspire me. My core business is consulting and training but I work on projects that are not related to my expertise. Here are some examples:

  • In June 2013, I didn’t know how to develop and manage a blog, here you are reading this article.
  • In May 2013, I was breeding insects to develop food protein solutions. I stopped because it was not profitable.
  • In 2010, I was in the Himalayas to produce and direct a long featured documentary http://www.introspectus.eu/. I’m now working on a web documentary called Business Changemakers.
  • I’m also working on a collaborative filmmaking platform, an innovation benchmarking software, Fab Lab project…
  • Recently I created the Business Model Academy ( web site in french) to think and work on the business models of my clients.
  • I also launched WISE Cluster an innovation lab and agency.
  • More recntly I launched Lean Six Sigma Belgium to work with organizations in their process innovation management www.leansixsigmabelgium.com
  • In 2014 I created many other project related to entrepreneurship like : www.lean-startup.be and www.agile-scrum.be

All those ideas are inspiring each other and generating new ones. It’s a wonderful feeling. Some people call this luck or planned serendipity.

Now it’s your turn to challenge yourself to create for the next 2 weeks.

3 – Instead of discipline, think devotion.

Luciano Pavarotti, one’s said: “People think I’m disciplined. It’s not discipline, its devotion, and there’s a great difference.”

4 – Take breaks.

When you feel stuck with an idea and you have nowhere to go. You need a breather. Forcing yourself to find a solution will only lead to exhaustion. Try standing up from your desk, walk outside or to the vending machine, grab a coffee, talk to people and look at the scenery outside your workplace. Some inspirations will strike you at the most unexpected places, and you’d be surprised when you get them when you’re actually not working. I find most of my inspiration when I’m cycling in the woods or talking with friends.

5 – Make a list and select your ideas.

Sometimes the opposite of creative block happens – you just have too many ideas! While it’s good, it can also make you confused. You can sort thoughts up by keeping a list. List down each idea that comes to mind and determine which one you think is the best. You can also bring a pen and small notebook wherever you go so you don’t forget the ideas that come to you when you’re riding a bus, having a lunch, reading a book or watching videos in the internet.

6 – Ask the right questions.

When you need to start a creative session, always start with why, how, what, when question and try to answer it.

7 – Have fun with your colleagues or friends.

Having fun with your colleagues or friends is a proven and popular way to generate ideas. It’s a great moment to open up to ideas of others, so you can make your ideas more consolidated. The best way to do it is to listen to ideas without judgment. Passing judgment even without hearing the full concept will breed humility and hostility within the group. Furthermore, the goal of that kind of team building is to generate as many ideas as possible, so make every body’s contribution count. Here is an article showing how some companies have created this fun and creative corporate culture. 

An other way to have fun with your colleagues is to go out for a beer a genarate ideas. article

8 – Take advantage of peak hours.

Some people are more creative and productive in certain hours of the day, while others are more creative at the height of their emotions. Work your heart out at these specific times and let your creative juices flow freely. Creativity can also be improved if you put yourself in a certain place in the room or if you surround yourself with certain music. This release of creativity works from person-to-person. There’s hard and fast rule what time of day, emotion or surrounding you should be to become creative. Just do what works for you.

9 – Build a network.

Get creative and inspiring people into your social circle and interact with them in a regular basis. Listening to fresh perspectives and seeing your issues in different angles may help you reconstruct your ideas. The re-focus will help you substantiate the problem and narrow down solutions. Here is a list of 10 profiles you should work or talk with and an other article with an explanation on How to Build an Innovation Group in your community?

10 – Take Risks.

A risk may be a double-ended sword, but the more you avoid it, the more you are leaving ideas unturned. Risks allow you to think out-of-the-box, look for the unconventional and embrace the difference. Creative thinking doesn’t necessitate you to conform all the time; in fact, most of the ingenious concepts are born from deviating.

11 – Forget talent.

We tend to think we either have it or we don’t. Talent is an overloaded word, don’t focus on what you can do, just do it. Learn by doing. Show up, work hard and support yourself. It’s how you’ll make thing happen every day.

To develop your creative thinking, you need to know how to get your creative juices out. You can do this by:

  1. Build inspirational rituals
  2. Try to create something every day
  3. Instead of discipline, think devotion.
  4. Taking a break and find creative inspirations.
  5. Make a list and select your ideas.
  6. Ask the right questions.
  7. Have fun with your colleagues or friends.
  8. Working on your most productive hours.
  9. Building a network.
  10. Taking risks.
  11. Forget talent.

Some people are born to think creatively but that doesn’t mean you can’t be creative if you’re not showing signs of creativity in the workplace. Creativity can be harnessed as you grow in your organization. Given the right venues, mindset and resources, it is possible to fuel your creative thinking actions.

– See more at: http://www.creativecorporateculture.com

9 tools for creating great animations

These web-based applications will have you creating animations in no time.

Creating animations has always been considered as one of the most complex aspects of graphic design that requires specific software and technological expertise. It is a time-intensive activity that requires heavy software and high speed computers.

However, over the past few years, the emergence of different online presentation and animation tools have simplified the process of creating animations. Most of these web-based tools are very easy to operate and can create animations that are perfectly suitable for everyday applications. Here we’ve gathered together some of the best…

  • Read all our animation-related posts here

01. EWC Presenter

 EWC
More than an animation tool, this is an all-round presentation app and more

The EWC Presenter is not just an animation and multimedia presentation tool. It is any designer’s dream application. It walks you through the whole process of creating stylish animations through its extremely simple user interface and a long list of animation effects.

You can start off with a blank slide and design it from the scratch or choose from a wide range of templates tailor-made for different industries and users. You can add different objects to your slides by using drag-and-drop functions and add a variety of animation effects, from a dropdown list, to your text content, images and objects. And just in case you face any difficulty in understanding this simple application, you can refer to its detailed tutorial videos that will guide you at each step of creating your animations.

The EWC Presenter is an HTML5 based application that runs smoothly on all major mobile and desktop platforms, so you don’t have to worry about any device compatibility issues for your animations.

02. Make Web Video

 Make Web Video
Make Web Video does exactly as it says on the tin

Make Web Video is a specialized online tool for creating high quality animations and HD video presentations in a matter of minutes. It can create highly complex animations in very quick time that would otherwise take hours to design. Users can choose from a number of animation design templates and activate them by adding text content to the templates.

Since Make Web Video is a completely web-based application, users do not need to download any software and can simply create their animations in their internet browsers. This is not an entirely free tool but the amount of time it saves and the quality of output it produces makes it a very good deal indeed.

03. Vcasmo

 Vcasmo
Create stunning HD animations with this tool

Combine HD images, sound clips and videos to create stunningly beautiful presentations and animations through Vcasmo. Vcasmo creates extremely high quality animations that are perfect for corporate and business presentations.

It’s an HTML5 based application that is compatible with all major mobile platforms and allows embedding presentations into any blog or website. It is available both as a free and paid service.

04. GoAnimate

 GoAnimate
Its simple user interface makes creating video on GoAnimate a doddle

GoAnimate is an ideal tool for creating highly engaging and attractive animations for students, teachers and corporate professionals. It is a comprehensive online animation and video presentation solution that makes animation designing an extremely enjoyable experience. It offers a wide range of pre-designed animations tailored for different industries and users. It has a very simple user interface and is ideal for creating high quality animations in quick time.

05. PowToon

 Powtoon
Create impactful animations with PowToon

PowToon is the perfect online application for creating storytelling animations, academic presentations and infographics. It offers a variety of animation effects that users can activate by selecting from a dropdown list. To make things even simpler, PowToon has a number of free templates that can be used to create animations and presentations with minimum of effort. The quality of PowToon animations is immaculate and a number of leading brands use it for creating their animations and video presentations.

06. Mixeek

 Mixeek
Mixeek has a broad range of animation features

Mixeek is a very useful web based animation tool that can be used to create flawless animations with a wide range of effects. It is an online tool that is completely based on HTML5 and runs very smoothly on most browsers. Although it is not the simplest of animation tools available, but the options it offers are extremely flexible and its animation features are rarely found in other free tools.

07. Prezi

 Prezi
Prezi has free and paid-for versions, but the free version is highly capable

Prezi is a stylish online animation tool that creates beautiful presentations through unique animations and graphics. You can create stunning presentations with Prezi by adding images, videos, objects or simple text, and animating them using a wide range of effects. The finished presentations can also be shared directly from Prezi on all major social networks.

Prezi supports all the major mobile and desktop platforms and allows you to run your presentations as executable files as well. It comes both as a free and paid service, but even the free version has all the options you need.

08. Empressr

 Empressr
This presentation tool can also be used to create animations

Empressr is an online multimedia presentation designing tool that offers a wide range of design templates and editing features along with a simple user interface.

It’s a very good tool for corporate presentations and offers a variety of animation effects ideal for business presentations and meetings. It also lets you import content from websites like Flickr to further beatify your presentations. The finished presentations can be shared via email or by embedding into your website or blog.

09. Creaza

 Creaza
This app is aimed squarely at children

Creaza is an animation tool targeted specifically towards school children. It helps you design creative storytelling experiences through highly engaging animations and video presentations. It has 30 built in ready to use themes along with a number of editing tools that can be used to further enhance the look and feel of your animations.

Conclusion

The tools you have will make or mar your animations; just like WordPress is to blogging and IM Creator is to web design, the above are some quality tools for creating beautiful animations.