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freshRonald Brown is a successful startup CEO with an extensive background in technology and consumer marketing. His new book, Anticipate. The Architecture of Small Team Innovation and Product Success is available via iTunes, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo.

Last year, reports said creativity was on the decline in the U.S. However, reports this year indicate that creativity is more important than ever to business success. IBM weighed in with a massive study, interviewing over 1,500 CEOs around the world. Those CEOs collectively agree that employee creativity is the most important talent for the 21st century.

Although it seems to be on the decline, creative capacity is more important than ever. Many large companies deem creativity a major competitive advantage. [ Continue Reading… ]

With an audience that only has an attention span of 8 seconds, don’t give them an additional reason to visit your competitors website. Also, most browsers don’t display flash.

Improve Your Designs
Any media or animation should be used to support your content.

The other element you want to limit the use of on across your website is jargon. No one likes that gobbledygook. Those terms will either mean nothing to your visitors or you’ll make them roll their eyes.

With your screenshot loaded into your image editing application, desaturate the colors completely. The purpose of this test is to find areas of the image that might have a lot of contrast in color but not enough contrast in value (the difference between light and dark). For example, take a look at the portfolio piece in the top center. The number 2 has some well defined yellow edges in the color version, but as soon as it’s black and white, the lines become a bit fuzzy. This particular instance isn’t too bad, but if you run this test and find page elements that appear to blend together (especially text) then you should reconsider the colors and values.

One of the best ways to achieve a minimalist design is to feature a large header on your homepage. The best large headers consist simply of an image with a quick caption.

With only about two seconds to capture a visitor’s attention, a large header featuring a stunning image should do the trick!

Take this concept a step further by turning your large header into a large image slider.

Don’t just start designing your website. To ensure that your website is effectively meeting the needs of your visitors you need to map out your customers journey from the first time they visit your website to the moment they become a customer.

What pages are they going to view, content they’re going to read and what offers are they going to convert on? Understanding that information will help you design a site that helps push leads down the sales funnel.

 

Giving programs and donations to non-profits are generally the first thing that companies scale back on when a struggling economy forces budget cuts. Fortunately there are great no-cost ways for non-profits to continue to administrate and build their organization in spite of leaner times. One simple solution that will shave cost dollars as well as provide opportunities for non-profits to discover new and innovative methods for collaboration and efficiency is to switch to free online office tools.

Featured here are a few online office tools that are tried and true applications – but don’t cost a penny.

7 Free Office Tools to Save Non-Profits Money

OpenOffice.org

If you need a desktop solution for your documents, spreadsheets, and presentations, OpenOffice.org is the leading open source software of free solutions. OpenOffice.org can read or write files from other common software platforms, save and share files in a variety of formats, including .doc, .xls and .odt, and best of all, the software suite is compatible with all common computers. Unless there are very complex features that can only be accomplished by current Microsoft Office products or similar paid software, OpenOffice.org will save money for a non-profit even as the organization grows and more computers are added.

There is also a fork of Open Office available for free called Libre Office.

Google Apps

For non-profit organizations under 3000 employees, the complete Google Apps suite for email, calendars, documents, and more is completely free and very powerful. When used properly, Google’s services will provide non-profits with great tools and a variety of ways to use them. Google Apps provides online, real-time document collaboration, shared and manageable calendars, email, chat, video conferencing, and more — all available for non-profits to use for free. And now that Google Apps users have access to Google + and its possibilities for communication and web presence, there are even more advantages to be found when non-profits integrate some or all of the Google Apps suite into the organization.

Zoho

On its own, Zoho is a suite of comprehensive web-based tools that compete with Google Apps in many areas, like email aggregation, calendars, document creation and collaboration, and more. According to The Economist, in an article covering the debut of the application, “Zoho is the most comprehensive suite of web-based programmes for small businesses.”

Zoho provides more than 25 different applications for business, collaboration, and productivity that are all integrated with each other. Better yet, Zoho is now integrated with and available for Google Apps users, and together offer enough tools to help with almost any aspect of a non-profit’s organization, from CRM to bookkeeping.

Tools for More Specific Tasks

Beyond full office software suites like those listed above, here are a few free tools for more specific purposes and requirements that a non-profit might have, and which will also integrate with the bigger, overarching services like Google Apps.

ThinkFree Online Office offers online creation, viewing and editing of documents in several common formats, along with 1GB of storage and a tool which will automatically sync any documents with the cloud. The product is also very useful for professionals on the go and has an Android application which allows access to and the ability to edit documents.

ScheduleOnce allows clients and colleagues to schedule meetings easily without the need for multiple phone calls, texts, or emails. ScheduleOnce provides a personal schedule page that integrates with Google calendar. Users simply click on a few available time options to schedule meetings with others, which then allows the meeting planner to review and approve the time that works best for everyone. ScheduleOnce will help a non-profit team if group meetings need to happen frequently with people who are never in one place at the same time.

ReqMan is a free online comprehensive project management tool that provides support to get a non-profit’s projects up and running quickly by supplying predefined templates for project types and outlines as well as managing requirements and associated information for any organization.

Gliffy is an online tool for creating flowcharts, diagrams, floor plans, and technical drawings. It is an excellent and free alternative to expensive software such as Visio.

Instagram, the hugely popular iPhone photography app that evokes 1970s style, has announced it’s finally developing an Androidapp.

The company believes its membership base of 50 million could double with its Android launch, CNET reports.

“We have two people working on Android now,” Kevin Systrom, CEO of Instagram said at LeWeb in Paris. “I’m excited to be able to see our numbers today nearly double.”

Instagram Is Coming to Android

Though no additional details or timeline on the Android app’s arrival were revealed, Systrom says the company is still focusing primarily on increasing its membership.

The app’s biggest change to date was the September rollout of Instagram 2.0, which brought live filters, instant tilt-shift, high-resolution photos and a speedier experience.The company also announced at Le Wed that is has plans to introduce ads to the free app.

“Obviously, we didn’t start a business to not make money,” Systrom says. “Our focus now is on growing the network. You really need to build up the network, or no advertisers care.”

Do you think the Android platform will be a game changer for Instagram? Will the app continue to gain popularity?

Google has released its new Currents app for Android devices and iOS. The universal app offers a personalized news experience in a magazine-like format.

Google Currents contains three “editions,” including Publisher, Google trending, and favorites.

In a blog post, Google said:

We strive to give you beautiful and simple ways to experience all the content the web has to offer, such as sharing photos on Google+, watching YouTube videos and discovering books, movies and music from Android Market. Today we’re expanding our content offering with the introduction of Google Currents, a new application for Android devices, iPads and iPhones that lets you explore online magazines and other content with the swipe of a finger.

Google Currents Becomes

Publisher editions include in-depth articles, videos, photos, and slideshows from publishers. These include Forbes, Saveur, Popular Science and TechCrunch.

The Google Trending edition offers the five most recent trending stories in multiple categories such as world, entertainment and sports. Finally, your favorite blogs and feeds are included thanks to Google Reader subscriptions.

Describing a vulnerability in some of its reader software as “critical,” Adobe identified a flaw that could “potentially allow an attacker to take control of the affected system.”

We’re not just talking about your mom’s e-books. Adobe says hackers have used this flaw in targeted attacks against at least one U.S. defense contractor.

Some sharp computer nerds at Lockheed Martin and the Defense Security Information [ Continue Reading… ]

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