The 5 Best Movie Websites vol. I

I love movies.

No really that’s it. I love movies. What I don’t understand is why the movie industry is willing to charge us an arm and leg for a movie but not court us with a good website before hand. If a good site was constantly updating with behind the scene photos and cast interviews (That could all be put later on a bonus DVD) you could see word of mouth spread and see larger opening weekends. Well that’s just my point of view. It’s no surprise to me that the leaders in the movie website category are typically all Sci-Fi. These movies want the people of the internet to get behind them so they cater to our whims. I would say it is definitely working looking at the box office numbers (courtesy of box office mojo) for these 5 films and their super cool websites!

  1. Inception – The site offers some great use of flash and is engaging with create your own poster, trailers, character bios. This is a very good site. Box Office (2010) – $287,286,362, #5 on the 2010 year.
  2. Star Trek – This site has a great UI (User Interface), and is best seen in full screen. Box Office (2009) – $257,730,019, #7 of the 2009 year.
  3. How To Train Your Dragon - This site may be targeted at kids but you will love how the different menu options flow seamlessly and you the mini games make you forget that you’re at a movie site. It feels complete and engaging. Box Office (2010) – $217,581,231, #8 for the 2010 year.
  4. Stardust – The only movie on the list with a disappointing Box Office return. The site was groundbreaking when you look at what they accomplished in 2007. This site has games, music clips, trailers, and a wonderful splash screen when the site loads. Box Office $38,350,000 – #71 for the year 2007.
  5. Harry Potter – The only movie on the list not to come out yet. The use of flash on this site is staggering. The burning building reflects in the water below, the clouds of smoke billowing out and across the sky. This is captivating. Box Office ??? – Releases on Nov. 19, 2010

The 5 Things That Should Be On Every Designer’s Bookshelf

People will often post pictures of their workspace to blogs and sites to show off how cool their gadgets are or how messy their workspace is. I find you can learn a lot more from seeing each other’s bookshelves! Here are The 5 Things That Should Be On Every Designer’s Bookshelf:

The Non Designers Design Book by Williams and Tollett – This series of books from Robin Williams has to be one of the best resources for print and web media designers. Williams will show you examples of proper and improper uses of typography, imagery and content. (Link to the book on Amazon)

Don’t Make Me Think by Steven Krug- I have quoted more lines from this book than almost any other. Krug gives great examples of sites showing you mistakes they’ve made and how to correct them. His writing style makes for a great read and his ideas strike home to how important usability is within every website. (Link to the book on Amazon)

The Elements of Typography by Robert Bringhurst – There are many books on the market that cover typography. This paperback version is a must read for all designers regardless of level. Don’t believe me? Just read the first few pages, which are available for free on Amazon, and you will see how this book can improve the function and form of type on your web pages. (Link to the book on Amazon)

Collection of the Visibone Quick Reference Cards/Cheat Sheets – These cards have come in handy hundreds of times. When I find myself struggling to remember a simple rule or trying to remember how to use an element I may have gone years without these cards have been a great reference point. I recommend the style sheet, JavaScript and html to start. (Link to the Visibone Site)

.net magazine (in the US it’s known as Practical Web Design) – I could give you two hours a day, if you could find 2 free hours, so that you can surf the web looking for the latest examples, ideas, sites using the latest trends, and interviews with the major players in our field, or I could just ship this magazine to your door every month. Trust me. This magazine offers more bang for your buck than any other currently on the market. (Link to the magazine’s website)


The 5 Resources for Adding Color to Your Websites

Whenever I start a design project, I try and find a color scheme that will hold all the elements together. Finding the right balance of dark and light colors can sometimes be a daunting task. Sometimes it’s easy to come up with 3 colors but 5 colors, the recommended color palette for a new website, is a little tougher. So here are “The 5″ resources I use when adding color to my websites:

  1. Kuler – The 2 ton gorilla in the room is obviously Kuler. This tool is so popular it has been included in the latest versions of Photoshop. You can constantly find new ideas by using the random feature. If this blog was “The 5 Stars,” Kuler would get all of them.
  2. ColorblenderColorblender is another great tool for figuring out what colors go with what. The site may seem a bit confusing at first so let me help you out. Look below the blank boxes to the area marked Edit Active Color. Here either type in your rgb color you want to use or use the sliders and watch all the boxes figure out what colors match your primary color.
  3. Hex Color Generator - This site is the simplest to use. Watch the wheel, that sounds like a bad carnival ride, and then click on the color that you like. The generator will give you 3 matching colors.
  4. Online Color ChartOnline Color Chart requires the most user input. You have to choose each color. But if you like that much control and just need help figuring our rgb or hex decimal this site can help you in a bind.
  5. Color Scheme DesignerColor Scheme is a great tool. While the other sites seem to pick your colors out of thin air Color Scheme shows you how it chose the colors. Then it gives you the options to change the ways the matching colors are chosen. This is great if you have a popular color and are looking for so unique matches.


The 5 Free Magazines for Inspiration

I often find myself looking through magazines for ideas on what colors are in and ways to make my sites seem more natural. I’ve found the following magazines are great sources for design inspiration and the best part is they are free! Here are “The 5″ Free Magazines for your design inspiration and links to order their catalogs:

  1. Crate and Barrelcatalog request
  2. Pottery Barncatalog request
  3. Williams-Sonomacatalog request
  4. Restoration Hardwarecatalog request
  5. Ikea - catalog request


The 5 Soundtracks You Should Be Listening to at Work

I love music. All types of music. I find that while working on graphics or building a site that I always listen to music. Here are “The 5″ soundtracks that will make your head tingle with inspiration:

  1. Gladiator – Released in April 2000, this soundtrack features Hans Zimmer at his best. You can find 17 tracks on this album and it is only $9.99 on iTunes. Listen Here
  2. Stardust – Released in August 2007, this soundtrack was composed by Ilan Eshkeri. He’s also been involved with soundtracks for Kick Ass, Ninja Assassin, Hannibal Rising, and Layer Cake. You can find 15 tracks on this album and it retails for $11.99 on iTunes. Listen here
  3. Frank Herbert’s Children of Dune – Released in March 2003, this soundtrack features one of the most recognizable tunes in sports on TV today. The third track Main Title (House Atreides), has been used to open up coverage of the Masters, World Series, and Super Bowls. Featuring 15 tracks and is priced at $9.99 on iTunes. Listen Here
  4. The Last of the Mohicans (Original Motion Picture Score) – Released in September of 2000, this soundtrack has a robust feel. This soundtrack helps my head to relax and think large scale. It has 14 tracks and retails at $9.99 on iTunes. Listen Here
  5. Star Wars Episode II – While you may not be a fan of the prequel movies John Williams is not to be blamed. His score for the second prequel movie offers romantic ballads and dramatic sweeping crescendos that help me through many road blocks when working on sites. Released in April 2002 this soundtrack has 13 tracks and retails for $7.99 on iTunes. Just try and make it through one listen without humming along! Listen Here


The 5 Ways to Personalize Office 2007

Last year, I gave 3 seminar talks entitled “How to Upgrade Yourself from Office 2003 to 2007.” Here are “The 5″ ways to personalize Microsoft Office 2007:

  1. Add some Color to your Office – Microsoft realized that not everyone feels “blue” all the time. If you open up Microsoft Word 2007 and click on the Office Button (The round object in the top left of your screen) a drop down menu appears. Click on “Word Options” at the very bottom. From here simply click on the drop-down box next to color scheme. Try out all three choices and find the one that best fits your mood!Word OptionsColor Scheme
  2. Custom Auto-Corrections – One of the simplest ways to customize Office is to include your own custom auto-corrections. Imagine working for the American Telephone and Telegraph Corporation. Typing that into letter heads and emails would get tiresome very quickly. The solution is to shorten your name AT&T for instance. But what if you don’t want people to forget what the letters stand for then what? We can create a simple way for Office to take any short hand and turn it back into long hand. Go back to our word options found under the Office Button. Now click on the proofing option and then the auto corrections button from the right. Now in the replace you can type the abbreviation and in the replace with we type what we would like it to become. Simple check is to type your abbreviation exactly like you did in the auto-correction then hit the space bar. You should now see the full version of the text.Word OptionsAuto CorrectionsAuto Corrections
  3. Smart Art – One of the really cool tools in Office 2007 is the Smart Art Collection. Create a pyramid graph, a Venn Diagram, or an organizational chart. Smart Art offers you incredible free graphics to make a boring report look like something sent out to a marketing agency. To get to Smart Art we click on the Insert tab on the ribbon and then on the Smart Art graphic. From here use the popup menu to find the best solution to your graphical needs!Smart ArtSmart Art
  4. Custom Shortcuts – Ever find yourself constantly going to the office button to open documents, create new documents, and print documents? Did you know you can create a link at the top of the ribbon that cuts out one extra click? Well here’s a quick way to save yourself thousands of nanoseconds a day! Look next to the undo and redo buttons above the Ribbon. Hidden away, just to the right is a small drop down menu. Click on this. From the new drop down menu you can add a shortcut to new documents, print previews, and open documents just but checking and un-checking the different options!Quick Actions
  5. Using Themes – Ever get tired of seeing the same the same PowerPoint presentations at every conference or workshop? A simple way to make sure your presentation isn’t lost in the shuffle is to use the built in themes from Office 2007. Create a simple presentation, 2-3 slides. Next click on the Design option in the ribbon. Here you’ll find a few designs but wait there are more! Click on the small button to the right of the designs. Now choose a theme (Realize that you can always download new themes from Microsoft’s website). We aren’t through yet. Look to the right of the designs and you will notice three buttons: Colors, Fonts, and Effects. This is how you can customize a PowerPoint theme to make it your own!PowerPoint ThemesPowerPoint Themes


The 5 Blogs Every Web Designer Should Be Following!

Here are a list of “The 5″ blogs that make web design fun, interactive, inspiring, and know there stuff! All of there blogs can be found in my Design Blogs link section over there —–>

  1. Chris Spooner – By far and away one of the top web design/graphic design gurus out there. In fact he is so talented he has my #1 and #2 design blogs you should be following, Line 25. Line 25 has some of the greatest written tutorials and site reviews and is constantly updated with new material.
  2. Chris SpoonerSpoon Graphics blog offers resources, tutorials, and even more site reviews. Make sure you take a look at the different freebies like “Hand Drawn Sketchy Icons of Your Favorite Social Sites” as well as great tutorials like “How To Draw a Cute Vector Dog Character in Illustrator.”
  3. Vandelay Design – This site is a dream for anyone who has found themselves in need of some serenity now. The inspiration section is well organized and offers examples of sites like best headers, minimalistic designs, e-commerce, and churches. They also offer some great tutorial finds from around the net!
  4. Jessica Hische – Ever wanted to know what good typography is? Jessica Hische is a world renown speaker on all things typography. Her daily typography letter and awesome steal my ideas are a great read. Watch some of her international speeches and you’ll quickly see why she is in high demand.
  5. Paul Irish – From quick opinions, to resources, and great information on designing in JQuery or for Chrome, Paul Irish’s blog is a great resource for a web designer. Paul offers podcast, videocast, and regular updates to his site. Make sure you read his blog entitled: Introducing…