Five Things You Can Do With Photoshop

1. Add and organise layers.

One of the most powerful features in Photoshop is its ability to work with layers. Layers allows the user to place different shapes, images and text in different locations and depth within the master document that you are working on. One example is having a rounded rectangle shape with a different colored stroke on the outside that acts as a right or left content region of a Web 2.0 theme. You can add another layer on top and use an image for that layer with rounded corners. Text may be placed on top of that layer, and effects such as a drop shadow and outside glow may be added.

There really is no limit to the amount of layers one can use and Photoshop provides the ability to add folders in the Layer Window to organize your layers inside of. Moving layers within this window is a breeze.

2. Save in various formats including optimizing your design for your website.

A really neat feature that Photoshop has is the ability to automate image files into a high resolution PDF file. This is fantastic for high quality printing requirements. For the website designer, Photoshop can optimize images into JPG and GIF files that are common for viewing on the Internet. The settings can be adjusted for fast viewing online while maintaining good image appearance and quality.

3. Create vector shapes.

Photoshop comes with several preloaded vector shapes. They are quite easy to select and can be enlarged and scaled based on your needs through the transform tool. There are a variety of shapes that can be found online for both free download and for purchase.

4. Slice your design for use in your website.

The slicing tool provides the means to break the design into several areas that can be exported into Dreamweaver which is a WYSIWYG HTML editor. Other online tools are available to transform the layers of your design into a functioning theme for common Content Management Systems. These tools vary, but generally a knowledge of style sheets and CSS is required for optimum use.

5. Create animations.

Photoshop allows you to take several layers and create animations with them, such as mouseovers for text in websites or animated GIF files. Certainly not a substitution for Adobe Flash, animated GIFs, when used in proper context, can be useful, such as creating an animated advertising banner on your website.

Photoshop has come a long way in its development cycles, but certainly is a required tool for those who can master its potential.

Free Website Design Tools

Designing a website can be a costly venture, or not. It all depends on how you go about it and if you choose to use free website design tools.

If you choose to hire a website design firm you can expect to pay thousands of dollars. Even when hiring a firm there is work for you to do. They will need your input, design ideas, content help and your overall knowledge of the business you run or intend to start.

Maybe you want to do it yourself to save some time and learn a new skill. So the first thing you do is start researching just how to build a website yourself. You find out that there a number of ways to do it:

– Write code: This is very time consuming and it’s like learning a new language. If you want to learn, great, but unless you plan on becoming a coding GEEK this is probably not the option for you.

– Computer Software: You can buy software programs to install on your computer that allow you to create a website and then upload it or edit it live when connected to the internet. This is an option but it’s not free and there is a learning curve.

– Online Software: There are many software programs online that you can use to build and host a website. Some are free, some are paid, some are included with your hosting.

So let’s say you pick option three, using online software. Next, let’s explore some of the free website design tools available online:

Website Builders:

Weebly: This is a company that offers a free website builder. The disadvantage to this is that it is hosted on their server, meaning you have less control.

WordPress: WordPress is well known as a blogging platform but it is also excellent for designing websites. You can get high quality templates for free or paid to design a website. WordPress comes free with many quality hosts such as Bluehost.

Photo and Graphics Editors:

When designing a website you usually need graphics to some degree. Photoshop is the program most commonly associated with graphics creation but it is costly. Here are some other options:

Picnik: This is a great online tool to help you add a professional touch to any images you want to include on your website, and it’s free.

Gimp: Gimp is a program you will need to download to your computer but it does a lot of what Photoshop can do, but it’s also free.

There are tons of resources you can find online to help you build your website for free. My absolute favorite for building websites is WordPress.