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Five and a Half Habits of Highly Effective Designers

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We have theories about everything: why the sky is blue, why apples fall, why bees buzz (and do other unmentionable things), why my boss said a certain thing, why that girl in the restaurant looked at me, why didn’t that girl in the restaurant look at me…. We’re wired to theorize. Theories make us feel secure. We can wrap our heads around them and explain them with little diagrams on whiteboards, or with equations, or even graphs. We give theories fancy names like “The Classical Elemental Theory” and “The Flat Earth Hypothesis.”

The bottom line is: we humans love theories. Yet as a wise person once said, “In theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice, they are not.” This article is about practice. It’s about five and a half — yes, half — habits that highly effective designers tend to share and which I’ve observed first-hand in the complicated, non-theoretical, absolutely real world. If practice is your thing, keep reading.

Title in Five and a Half Habits of Highly Effective Designers
This article doesn’t provide an ultimate medicine for becoming a highly effective designer, but it might help you achieve a better workflow.

They Know When To Quit

Some of you might know Vince Lombardi as a football legend. I know him as the guy who ruined the world by uttering seven simple yet lethal words: “Winners never quit, and quitters never win.” You’ll find this unassuming little quotation’s fingerprints all over tragic events worldwide: co-dependent lovers who implode their relationships, leaders of warring nations who refuse to compromise for peace, CEOs who won’t back down from flawed strategies to save their company from bankruptcy, and blackjack players who double-down instead of retreating to their rooms.

Admittedly, Vince wasn’t the real offender. He was just a messenger for the real culprit: our humanness. The urge to persevere despite seemingly unconquerable conditions is as human as opposable thumbs. We’re so awful at cutting our losses that there’s even a technical term for this tendency: loss aversion. We strongly prefer to avoid losses than to achieve gains. It’s central to our inability to quit. Quitting has a bad rep, but it’s often the most rational option.

Maguire in Five and a Half Habits of Highly Effective Designers
Quitting doesn’t necessarily mean pulling a Jerry Maguire, although it did work out well for him in the end.

As Seth Godin writes in a little book about quitting called The Dip, “Winners quit all the time. They just quit the right stuff at the right time.” It’s worthy, practical advice that can curb the runaway idealist in every designer. Bear in mind, we’re not just talking about quitting your job. We’re talking about quitting things on a daily basis. This entails: picking your battles at work; discerning not just your design goals, but your non-goals; relenting to client needs when necessary; and trading off some design idealism for business karma.

Ironically, quitting can be good for your career. So, that’s the first habit: learn to quit. Let things go. Kill your darlings.

They Redesign Processes

I remember when Agile software development methodologies were all the rage. I was working at Amazon as a program manager at the time, and our team was the first to adopt Scrum. Scrum was going to enable us to ship early, with twice the features and zero overhead (at least, that’s how we interpreted Ken Schwaber’s words).

DilbertAgileProgramming in Five and a Half Habits of Highly Effective Designers

It would have been nothing short of a miracle, but then again, most of us were fresh out of school, and miracles, free pizza and unicorns were part of our reality. In the end, we shipped almost a year behind schedule, with fewer than half of the planned features. Worse, over 75% of the team quit within 90 days of launch (which is not necessarily a bad thing, as we just learned). Yippee ki-yay!

What’s most worrisome about failures such as these, though, is that they so often occur despite “gold standard” processes. It happens all the time.

Tomes have been written about why our best practices fail so frequently. For a literary (even theoretical) overview, I direct you to two books: The Design of Design by Fred Brooks, author of The Mythical Man-Month and recipient of the 1999 Turing Award; and The Black Swan, by the brilliant, Larry David-like Nassim Nicholas Taleb.

Awnd in Five and a Half Habits of Highly Effective Designers
A Website Named Desire illustrates (see the screenshot above) the non-linear and highly erratic nature of the web design process in the real world.

To understand such failures from a practical standpoint, we must turn to another book: Predictably Irrational, by behavioral economist Dan Ariely. Ariely’s research confirms that predictable irrationality is often the root cause of process failures. Indeed, as A Website Named Desire illustrates, our biases, prejudices, quiet agendas, irrational actions and diverse portfolio of imperfections are more often to blame than the processes themselves.

Formal processes work when we accept the irrational nature of people and make room for those imperfections. Thus, the key to successful processes lies in how practically we implement and execute them, not in how well we adhere to an ideal.

Highly effective designers embrace and learn processes — and then tweak them to work well in reality.

They Combat Distortions Of Reality

Picture this. You’re reviewing final comps with a set of stakeholders. After multiple iterations, you’re finally feeling great about the design. Then, out of nowhere, a senior manager says, “I think we need to change the blue on the top bar. It doesn’t feel right. I showed it to my wife, who’s pretty good at picking colors, and she felt the same way.” He continues, and then delivers the final blow: “I know you worked hard to find the right color scheme, but picking colors is pretty subjective, right? It’d be worth taking another pass at this.”

Groan.

Oatmeal in Five and a Half Habits of Highly Effective Designers
“How a Web Design Goes Straight to Hell,” a classic post on Matthew Inman’s “The Oatmeal”, humorously depicts distortions of reality.

“Design is subjective” is one among many prevailing distortions of reality — ideas that have gone unchecked for so long that they parade around as facts — in our organizations. You might recognize these other distortions: “Data and logic trump intuition,“ “Design is decoration,” and “More feedback leads to better designs.” Then there are those that hit closer to home, like “The page has a fold,” and (everyone’s personal favorite) “Make the logo bigger.” (Note that there is now much evidence out there against distortions like these.)

These clichés seem benign but, in fact, are extremely harmful. They are the proverbial elephant in the room at the heart of dysfunctional organizations. Highly effective designers work to resolve these distortions in their organizations.

They Find The Right Environment

People are brilliant scavengers. In a world of a million choices, we know exactly where to look when we need something. We’re good at identifying environments that meet our demands, almost without thinking. We instinctively know how to find certain things (keyword: certain).

When it comes to finding slightly more intangible things — true love, a good job, a great employee — many of us spend a lifetime searching awkwardly and failing repeatedly. We can’t wrap our minds around such abstract pursuits. God knows we try, though; how many times have you heard someone proclaim that they have made a spreadsheet to determine a life choice or a good partner?

Identifying a good work environment falls into the same category. We’re usually terrible at it. Here’s a little secret: highly effective designers are most often products of a good work environment and know how to seek them out.

What does a good work environment look like?

The answer is hidden in a brilliant presentation on clients by Michael Bierut. I recommend watching the whole thing, but if you don’t have the time, then watch the four-minute section from 13:00 to 17:00. In it, Michael answers the questions “What do I look for in a client?” and “What should I look for in a work environment?”

Bierut in Five and a Half Habits of Highly Effective Designers
Michael Bierut’s presentation on clients also answers the question “What should I look for in a work environment?”

The simple answer is trust, passion, courage and brains. Each quality has obvious benefits. In a trusting environment, stakeholders can rely on their designers’ gut instincts. Where there is passion, the will to make meaningful progress will flourish. Courage enables designers to take risk and bring cutting-edge designs to market. Brains — not genius, but real-world, common-sense brains — bring it all together.

All four of these qualities must exist simultaneously to make a good environment. Take one away, and the environment will eventually become dysfunctional. For instance, take away trust, and you end up testing 41 shades of blue to find the right one.

They Habitually Rewrite The Habits

In the software industry, we strive to build “perfect” (read: bug-free) things that can’t be improved. This is a worthy goal, but it can have negative side effects. For example, we often conclude that certain practices, processes and lines of thinking have reached their zenith and can’t be modified. We start treating real life like a line of code — a meticulously crafted string, neatly concluded by a semicolon, that reaps a perfect, logical result (needless to say, I’m not referring to Web development here).

Reality — or should I say practice — proves that this kind of thinking is a mistake.

If this article were written a decade ago, it would have listed different habits. A decade from now, I expect some of the habits will have changed; for example, eventually we’ll all agree that “Design is subjective” is a distortion of reality. Heck, if you had written this article, you might have listed completely different habits.

Highly effective designers are aware of this. They’re always questioning, rethinking, improving and refining the dogma. Their methods are best captured by an old Chinese proverb: “All things change, and we change with them.”

There you have it: the final habit. It’s one and a half times as important as the other habits.

Now you know what the “half” means.

(al)


© Nishant Kothary for Smashing Magazine, 2011. | Permalink | Post a comment | Smashing Shop | Smashing Network | About Us
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Upcoming Conferences and Events for Designers and Developers in 2011

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We’re well into 2011, and many designers and developers around the world are planning their travels for the year, including the possibility of attending any Web design or development conferences. To help you out with your plans for the upcoming months, we’ve put together a list of conferences and events that you might want to consider.

This particular post covers events taking place in about a six month timeframe that ends in late August and early September. Later this year, we’ll post another article like this at the end of August that will cover events covering a six-month period beginning in September.

As always, there is no way for us to be able to include every possible event here, but we’ll be glad to update the list if you provide a comment to an upcoming event that you feel would be of interest to Smashing Magazine’s readers. This may also be the chance to eventually meet each other this year.

Choose the month that interests you most:

March 2011 Events

Drupalcon Chicago
“In March of 2011, thousands of Drupal users, developers, designers, evaluators and businesspeople will descend on Chicago’s Sheraton Hotel and Towers for sessions, talks, code sprints, and more at DrupalCon Chicago. Whether you’re already using Drupal or considering it for your company or organization, you won’t want to miss out on this one-of-a-kind event.”

When: March 7 – 10, 2011
Where: Chicago, IL, USA at the Sheraton Chicago Hotel

Events-2011-107 in Upcoming Conferences and Events for Designers and Developers in 2011

FITC Amsterdam
“FITC Amsterdam will feature over 50 presentations and panels covering the Creative, Technical, and Business aspects of Flash and digital media. The conference offers two full days and nights of events, plus one day of optional pre-festival workshops and over 750 attendees anticipated from around the globe.”

When: March 8 – 9, 2011
Where: Amsterdam, the Netherlands at De Meervaart

Events-2011-108 in Upcoming Conferences and Events for Designers and Developers in 2011

SXSW Interactive
“SXSW® Interactive features five days of compelling presentations from the brightest minds in emerging technology, scores of exciting networking events hosted by industry leaders, the incredible new SXSW Trade Show and an unbeatable lineup of special programs showcasing the best new digital works, video games and innovative ideas the international community has to offer.”

When: March 11 – 15, 2011
Where: Austin, TX, USA

Events-2011-147 in Upcoming Conferences and Events for Designers and Developers in 2011

The Big M
“The Big M is a brand new independent mobile focused event aimed at those who want to learn from and connect with the very best people in the industry. Join us in beautiful Bath for two days of sessions and workshops on mobile development, mobile design and mobile business. Hear from leading industry figures, be inspired and connect.”

When: March 20 – 22, 2011
Where: Bath, UK

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SES Conference & Expo
“SES Conference & Expo is the leading global event series that educates delegates in search and social marketing, putting a special focus on tactics and best practices. SES Events provide instruction from the industry’s top experts, including representatives from the Search Engines themselves.”

When: Various dates starting March 21, 2011
Where: New York, Shanghai, Toronto, San Francisco, Chicago

Ses-2011 in Upcoming Conferences and Events for Designers and Developers in 2011

DevConnections
“Join us and explore the latest trends and get the most up to date information and training available. All while networking with your colleagues and building a valuable network of peers in one of the most entertaining cities in the world.”

When: March 27 – 30, 2011
Where: Orlando, FL, USA at the Grande Lakes JW Marriott Resort Hotel

Dc-2011 in Upcoming Conferences and Events for Designers and Developers in 2011

An Event Apart Seattle
“An Event Apart is an intensely educational two-day conference for passionate practitioners of standards-based web design. If you care about code as well as content, usability as well as design, An Event Apart is the conference you’ve been waiting for.”

When: March 28 – 30, 2011
Where: Seattle, WA, USA at the Bell Harbor Conference Center

Aea1-2011 in Upcoming Conferences and Events for Designers and Developers in 2011

Web 2.0 Expo
“Web 2.0 Expo, co-produced by O’Reilly Media, Inc. and UBM TechWeb, showcases the latest Web 2.0 business models, development paradigms, products, and design strategies for the builders of the next-generation Web.”

When: March 28 – 31, 2011
Where: San Francisco, CA, USA at Moscone West

Web2-2011 in Upcoming Conferences and Events for Designers and Developers in 2011

Photoshop World Conference & Expo
“Designed to help you boost your training and experience, the Photoshop World graphic design and photography convention offers three days of pulse-pounding training with classes from renowned experts in the field and a once-in-a-lifetime experience guaranteed to enhance your skill set and help your work soar to new heights!”

When: March 30 – April 1, 2011
Where: Orlando, FL, USA at the Orange County Convention Center

Psw-2011 in Upcoming Conferences and Events for Designers and Developers in 2011

IA Summit
“The IA Summit is the premier destination for those who practice, research and are interested in the structural design of shared information environments. Some call themselves information architects (and many don’t) but all share a common desire to help people live better lives through meaningful experiences with information.”

When: March 30 – April 3, 2011
Where: Denver, CO, USA at the Colorado Convention Center

Events-2011-117 in Upcoming Conferences and Events for Designers and Developers in 2011

Think Vitamin Online Conferences
“Membership includes valuable conferences. You can attend live, watch the video later or view videos of past online conferences. Ask the speakers your questions and chat with the other attendees.”

When: Numerous dates starting March 2011
Where: Online

Tv-2011 in Upcoming Conferences and Events for Designers and Developers in 2011

The Usability Week 2011 Conference
“Many conferences offer cavernous exhibit halls, brief seminars on second-hand discoveries, and a sense of anonymity that can be truly alienating. Usability Week takes a different approach. In place of scattered, shallow talks, Usability Week offers up to 6 days of deep learning as international experts lead full-day tutorials.”

When: Various dates between February 28 – May 13, 2011
Where: Hong Kong, Melbourne, London, Washington, and Minneapolis

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April 2011 Events

FFK11
“The conference offers about 30 sessions about developing and designing applications and Web sites. 10 full day workshops with just 19 attendees in each workshop are available as well”.

When: April 5 – 8, 2011
Where: MediaPark, Cologne, Germany

Ffk in Upcoming Conferences and Events for Designers and Developers in 2011

Scottish Ruby Conference
“The Scottish Ruby Conference rebrands the successful Scotland on Rails conference.”

When: April 7 – 9, 2011
Where: Edinburgh, Scotland at the Royal College of Physicians

Events-2011-118 in Upcoming Conferences and Events for Designers and Developers in 2011

Voices That Matter: iPhone Developers Conference
“Reinforce your skills and discover emerging trends this April at the Voices That Matter: iPhone Developers Conference, where we will connect you with some of the biggest names in the industry, as they teach you how to create effective user interfaces, utilizing exciting design and the latest technology, for the iPhone, iPad, or both.”

When: April 9 – 10, 2011
Where: Seattle, WA, USA at the Bell Harbor International Conference Center

Idc-2011 in Upcoming Conferences and Events for Designers and Developers in 2011

CodeConf
“Coding is about more than code. Whether it’s building a solid community, writing good documentation, or hacking space exploration, CodeConf is about improving the software ecosystem through best practices. Come with an open mind and leave a better programmer.”

When: April 9 – 10, 2011
Where: San Francisco, CA, USA at the Hyatt Regency

Loc-2011 in Upcoming Conferences and Events for Designers and Developers in 2011

360|Flex Conferences
“360|Flex is the first and still the best Adobe Flex developer conference in the world. We’re not a publishing company pushing books, or a media company selling subscriptions. We’re a conference company, focused on community. Our goal is to bring the best and brightest in the developer community together for 4 days of incredible sessions, awesome parties, good times, and learning.”

When: April 10 – 13, 2011
Where: Denver, CO, USA at the Marriot Denver South

Flex-2011 in Upcoming Conferences and Events for Designers and Developers in 2011

Breaking Development Conference
“Join us for two days of quality talks describing how to design, develop, and leverage the mobile web. Our speakers will walk you through mobile strategies appropriate for your company, design considerations for the mobile platform, development techniques, and how to use web technologies to build cross platform applications.”

When: April 11 – 12, 2011
Where: Dallas, TX, USA at the Gaylord Texan in Grapevine

Bdc-2011 in Upcoming Conferences and Events for Designers and Developers in 2011

O’Reilly MySQL Conference & Expo
“The O’Reilly MySQL Conference & Expo is an interactive learning community—four days packed with connections to MySQL developers and open source experts who know their subject inside and out. You’ll gain unique insights from speakers, vendors, project leaders, and other participants who are using MySQL to successfully run the world’s most demanding applications, saving millions of dollars over proprietary software and hardware solutions.”

When: April 11 – 14, 2011
Where: Santa Clara, CA, USA at the The Hyatt Regency

Mysql-2011 in Upcoming Conferences and Events for Designers and Developers in 2011

MIX11
“MIX is a gathering of developers, designers, UX experts and business professionals creating the most innovative and profitable consumer sites on the web. Sessions range from technical, code-based topics to expert advice on content strategy, usability and design. Explore the future of the standards-based web — join the conversation at MIX11.”

When: April 12 – 14, 2011
Where: Las Vegas, NV, USA at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center

Events-2011-122 in Upcoming Conferences and Events for Designers and Developers in 2011

UX London
“UX London is a unique three-day event combining inspirational talks with in-depth workshops presented by some of the industry’s biggest names. Whether you’re beginning your career, or a seasoned professional, UX London is your chance to add core skills, absorb strategic thinking, and learn advanced techniques from pioneers in the field.”

When: April 13 – 15, 2011
Where: London, UK at the Cumberland Hotel

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WebDU
“webDU is the premier Antipodean Web Technology Conference, taking place 14-15 April 2011 in Sydney, Australia. This is the ninth year the conference will be held. The conference offers the opportunity to get hands-on technical training, gain new skills, hear breaking news from the Web Industry, network with peers and industry leaders, and ultimately become more successful developing and delivering web applications.”

When: April 14 – 15, 2011
Where: Sydney, Australia at the Four Points by Sheraton Sydney, Darling Harbour

Events-2011-124 in Upcoming Conferences and Events for Designers and Developers in 2011

Where 2.0
“The O’Reilly Where 2.0 Conference explores the intersection of location technologies and trends in software development, business strategies, and marketing. The source for all things location-aware, Where 2.0 brings together CTOs, marketers, developers, technologists, researchers, geographers, startups, business developers, and entrepreneurs.”

When: April 19 – 21, 2011
Where: Santa Clara, CA, USA at the Santa Clara Convention Center

Events-2011-125 in Upcoming Conferences and Events for Designers and Developers in 2011

The Next Web Conference
“The Next Web brings together the best from Europe and the United States to look at overall Internet trends.”

When: April 27 – 29, 2011
Where: Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Tnw-2011 in Upcoming Conferences and Events for Designers and Developers in 2011

LessConf
“LessConf is a two-day conference with just 225 attendees. Lunch is provided on site. You’ll get the meet the speakers. You’ll get inspired (again). Between speakers and during lunch there are tons of opportunities to meet others in our industry. At LessConf you will hear great speakers, meet amazing people, and develop relationships.”

When: April 29 – 30, 2011
Where: Atlanta, GA, USA at the Georgia Institute Of Technology

Events-2011-148 in Upcoming Conferences and Events for Designers and Developers in 2011

May 2011 Events

JSConf
“JSConf is one of the best tech conferences out there and rightly so, because JavaScript or JS is one of the best languages out there. The core focus of this conference is to present the wonders of JavaScript that are often overlooked. The content of the conference caters to all types of JavaScript developers from client interface to server development to testing.”

When: May 2 – 3, 2011
Where: Portland, OR, USA at the Portland Art Museum

Jsct-2011 in Upcoming Conferences and Events for Designers and Developers in 2011

FITC Toronto 2011
“Now in its 10th year, FITC Toronto is one of the largest and longest running events of its kind in the world. With some of the most unique and engaging presenters from around the globe, FITC Toronto is a three day blitz of presentations, demonstrations, and panel discussions, sandwiched between our legendary FITC parties and abundant networking opportunities. Topped off with the FITC Award Show, it’s three days and nights that will leave you inspired, energized and awed.”

When: May 2 – 4, 2011
Where: Toronto, ON, Canada at the Guvernment

Events-2011-129 in Upcoming Conferences and Events for Designers and Developers in 2011

An Event Apart Boston
“An Event Apart is an intensely educational two-day conference for passionate practitioners of standards-based web design. If you care about code as well as content, usability as well as design, An Event Apart is the conference you’ve been waiting for.”

When: May 2 – 4, 2011
Where: Boston, MA, USA at the Marriott Copley Place

Aea2-2011 in Upcoming Conferences and Events for Designers and Developers in 2011

CMS Expo
“You’re invited to compare the best of the best in CMS and learn first-hand, from leading developers, designers and business minds of our time.”

When: May 2 – 4, 2011
Where: Chicago, Illinois, USA at the Hilton Orrington Hotel

Events-2011-131 in Upcoming Conferences and Events for Designers and Developers in 2011

WordCamp Developers
“The conference will feature 2 tracks, one targeting WordPress UX topics and issues, and the other targeting strictly development issues. The day will also be host to a WordPress Un-Conference where participants are encouraged to pitch talks and join in discussion.”

When: May 5, 2011
Where: Vancouver, BC, Canada

Wcd-2011 in Upcoming Conferences and Events for Designers and Developers in 2011

Make Web Not War
“At this conference, attendees will have the opportunity to learn about the latest technologies and techniques available to the ever-evolving web community. Here we will explore the power and flexibility of new web paradigms, mixed web environments, interoperable applications, and PHP on Windows and Azure. MWNW is about bridging the gap between different platforms, communities, and developers of all trades and backgrounds.”

When: May 6 – 7, 2011
Where: Vancouver, BC, Canada

Events-2011-132 in Upcoming Conferences and Events for Designers and Developers in 2011

J and Beyond
“An International Joomla! Conference.”

When: May 6 – 8, 2011
Where: Kercrade, the Netherlands at the Rolduc Conference Centre

Jab-2011 in Upcoming Conferences and Events for Designers and Developers in 2011

Google I/O Developer Conference
“Google I/O brings together thousands of developers for two days of deep technical content, focused on building the next generation of web, mobile, and enterprise applications with Google and open web technologies such as Android, Google Chrome, Google APIs, Google Web Toolkit, App Engine, and more.”

When: May 10 – 11, 2011
Where: San Francisco, CA, USA at the Moscone Center

Gio-2011 in Upcoming Conferences and Events for Designers and Developers in 2011

UX Lx: User Experience Lisbon
“Three eventful days in Lisbon to learn from world renowned speakers and meet UX Professionals from around the world. Hone up your skills with 16 practical workshops, 26 thought provoking talks and enjoy the city with lots of networking activities.”

When: May 11 – 13, 2011
Where: Lisbon, Portugal at the FIL Meeting Centre

Events-2011-134 in Upcoming Conferences and Events for Designers and Developers in 2011

Mobilism
“In two days we’ll explore the mobile world from a web-centric point of view. All of our speakers are deeply rooted in the web and have at one time or another decided to take their talent to mobile. They will teach you which web techniques work on mobile, which don’t, and which new ones you need in order to keep up with a rapidly changing web.”

When: May 12 – 13, 2011
Where: Amsterdam, the Netherlands, in Felix Meritis

Events-2011-135 in Upcoming Conferences and Events for Designers and Developers in 2011

Web Directions Unplugged
“HTML5 is fast becoming the way to develop not just web apps, but native apps for platforms like Android, iOS and webOS. Join us for two groundbreaking days of practical development and design presented by leading experts in this exploding field.”

When: May 12 – 13, 2011
Where: Seattle, WA, USA at The Conference Center

Events-2011-136 in Upcoming Conferences and Events for Designers and Developers in 2011

Valio Con
“Conference at the beach where it’s all about actual fun and not sitting in a hotel lobby the entire time.”

When: May 13 – 15, 2011
Where: San Diego, CA, USA

Vc-2011 in Upcoming Conferences and Events for Designers and Developers in 2011

RailsConf
“RailsConf, co-produced by Ruby Central, Inc. and O’Reilly Media, Inc., is the largest official conference dedicated to everything Ruby on Rails. Through keynotes, sessions, tutorials, events, and of course lots of hallway hacking, RailsConf is the meeting place for the Ruby on Rails community.”

When: May 16 – 19, 2011
Where: Baltimore, MD, USA

Events-2011-138 in Upcoming Conferences and Events for Designers and Developers in 2011

Future of Web Design
“The Future of Web Design is coming back to London in 2011. Following on from the success of last year we will be bringing you a beautiful three full days of essential web learning.”

When: May 17-18, 2011
Where: London, UK at the The Brewery

Fowd-2011 in Upcoming Conferences and Events for Designers and Developers in 2011

Falsy Values
“A true JavaScript event.”

When: May 18 – 20, 2011
Where: Warsaw, Poland

Fv-2011 in Upcoming Conferences and Events for Designers and Developers in 2011

TYPO Berlin
“To shift is to pick up speed, to push the envelope, to change your perspective. All three are useful strategies for TYPO 2011, in order to bring visual communications in line with the latest developments in technology.”

When: May 19 – 21, 2011
Where: Berlin, Germany

Events-2011-140 in Upcoming Conferences and Events for Designers and Developers in 2011

InDesignSecretsLive Print and ePublishing Conference
“Founded by world-renowned InDesign experts David Blatner and Anne-Marie Concepción, and dedicated to the proposition that InDesign professionals deserve a great learning experience, the Print and ePublishing Conference brings together over a dozen of the leading InDesign experts minds for three days of non-stop inspiration and education!”

When: May 23 – 25, 2011
Where: Alexandria, VA, USA at the Westin Alexandria

Ids-2011 in Upcoming Conferences and Events for Designers and Developers in 2011

Gravity Free
“GRAVITY FREE 2011 is a celebration of excellence in multidisciplinary design innovation. It stars a remarkable cast of world-class designers who are changing the way we see the world, from a diverse group of design disciplines”

When: May 24 – 26, 2011
Where: San Francisco, CA, USA at the

Gf-2011 in Upcoming Conferences and Events for Designers and Developers in 2011

Web Directions @media
“HTML5, CSS3, JavaScript, Mobile, Interaction Design, User Experience, and everything else that’s hot right now—it’s all on the carefully curated Web Directions @media program for 2011.”

When: May 24 – 27, 2011
Where: London, UK at Queen Elizabeth Hall

Events-2011-141 in Upcoming Conferences and Events for Designers and Developers in 2011

mesh conference
“mesh is happening because the five founders (see below) believed that Toronto deserved to have a world-class conference where people with an enthusiasm for the Web could talk about how it is affecting the media, marketing, business and society as a whole.”

When: May 25 – 26, 2011
Where: Toronto, ON, Canada

Mesh-2011 in Upcoming Conferences and Events for Designers and Developers in 2011

WebVisions
“WebVisions explores the future of design, content creation, user experience and business strategy to uncover the trends and agents of change that will shatter your assumptions about the Web. Be ready to network, share ideas and be inspired by an all-star lineup of speakers.”

When: May 25 – 27, 2011
Where: Portland, OR, USA at the Oregon Convention Center

Events-2011-143 in Upcoming Conferences and Events for Designers and Developers in 2011

International PHP Conference
“The IPC is the global recognized event for PHP developers, webworkers, IT managers and everyone interested in web-technology. Again, the conference will focus on main topics for developers and core-technologies for decision makers. We will show how to scale your applications, explain the details of Continuous Integration or evaluate different approaches to NoSQL.”

When: May 29 – June 11
Where: Berlin, Germany at the Maritim proArte Hotel

Events-2011-144 in Upcoming Conferences and Events for Designers and Developers in 2011

webinale
“Business, Design and Technology are the three basic pillars for success on the World Wide Web. This webinar has been prescribed for these three pillars of the first conference in 2007.”

When: May 30 – June 1, 2011
Where: Berlin, Germany at the Maritim proArte Hotel

Webinale-2011 in Upcoming Conferences and Events for Designers and Developers in 2011

June 2011 Events

Interlink Web Design Conference
“nterlink Conference will be a small and carefully crafted 3-day web event that will appeal to all web professionals. This international web design conference welcomes website architects, usability specialists, project managers, marketing coordinators, web developers, website designers and any other online professional that wants to meet others in the industry and get inspired.”

When: June 2 – 4, 2011
Where: Vancouver, BC, Canada at The Capilano Performing Arts Theatre

Events-2011-201 in Upcoming Conferences and Events for Designers and Developers in 2011

Internet Week
“Since 2008, Internet Week has taken place all over the city, thanks to our many partners hosting diverse events in different locations. The result is a critical mass of web-focused events that raises the profile of NYC’s industry as a whole, as well as the partners who participate.”

When: June 6 – 13, 2011
Where: New York City, NY, USA at Metropolitan Pavilion & The Altman Building, and around NYC

Events-2011-202 in Upcoming Conferences and Events for Designers and Developers in 2011

DIBI Conference
“DIBI (pronounced “dibby”), is the annual Design It. Build It. Conference held at The Sage Gateshead in the North East of England. DIBI brings together both sides of the web coin for an unusual two-track web conference. World renowned speakers leading in their fields of work will talk about all things web.”

When: June 7 – 8, 2011
Where: Newcastle upon Tyne, UK

Dibi-2011 in Upcoming Conferences and Events for Designers and Developers in 2011

TYPO3
“We invite you to the North American TYPO3 conference held this year in San Francisco. This will be a great time to learn more about the powerful system we use everyday and to connect with other developers from both North America and Europe. Several internationally-known leaders of the TYPO3 community will be attending and presenting.”

When: June 9 – 11, 2011
Where: San Francisco, CA, USA at the Fort Mason Center

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Flash and the City
“Explore, discover, connect.”

When: June 9 – 12, 2011
Where: New York City, NY, USA

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UXcamp Europe
“The main rule of the conference is: No spectators, just participants! This BarCamp-rule does not mean everybody has to do a Session, but everybody should come prepared to participate in an active manner.”

When: June 11 – 12, 2011
Where: Berlin, Germany at Erwin-Schrödinger-Zentrum of the Humboldt University

Events-2011-204 in Upcoming Conferences and Events for Designers and Developers in 2011

WordCamp Kansas City
“WordCamps are community organized meetings for users of WordPress, the blogging platform and content management system that is sweeping the online world.”

When: June 11 – 12, 2011
Where: Kansas City, MO, USA at Johnson County Community College

Wck-2011 in Upcoming Conferences and Events for Designers and Developers in 2011

An Event Apart Atlanta
“An Event Apart is an intensely educational two-day conference for passionate practitioners of standards-based web design. If you care about code as well as content, usability as well as design, An Event Apart is the conference you’ve been waiting for.”

When: June 13 – 15, 2011
Where: Atlanta, GA, USA at the InterContinental Atlanta

Aea3-2011 in Upcoming Conferences and Events for Designers and Developers in 2011

140 Character Conference
“The #140conf events provide a platform for the worldwide twitter community to: listen, connect, share and engage with each other, while collectively exploring the effects of the emerging real-time internet on business.”

When: June 15-16, 2011
Where: New York City, NY, USA

140-2011 in Upcoming Conferences and Events for Designers and Developers in 2011

Nordic Ruby Conference
“Come to Nordic Ruby 2011 and you will get a two day, single track Ruby conference, featuring the winning concept of 30 minute talks and 30 minute breaks. Very appreciated last year.”

When: June 16 – 18, 2011
Where: Gothenburg, Sweden

Nr-2011 in Upcoming Conferences and Events for Designers and Developers in 2011

Ampersand
“The Web Typography Conference”

When: June 17, 2011
Where: Brighton, UK

Amp-2011 in Upcoming Conferences and Events for Designers and Developers in 2011

HOW Design Live
“What do you call a mega-gathering of thousands of designers, freelancers, in-house managers and—new for 2011—packaging designers, plus a speaker roster packed with some of the brightest minds in the industry? HOW Design Live! Click the links below for more on each HOW Design Live event, then sign up for The BIG Ticket for exclusive access to all four conferences!”

When: June 22 – 27, 2011
Where: Chicago, IL, USA at the Hyatt Regency

How-2011 in Upcoming Conferences and Events for Designers and Developers in 2011

Eyeo Festival
“Three days of inspirational talks, demos, labs, and workshops and opportunities to connect with people whose extraordinary creations are pushing the envelope. The line up is amazing. 30 brilliant individuals, one amazing collection of talent and insight. Add yourself to the mix, and it just gets better.”

When: June 27 – 29, 2011
Where: Minneapolis, MN, USA at the McNamara Alumini Center

Eyeo-2011 in Upcoming Conferences and Events for Designers and Developers in 2011

Future of Web Apps
“The Future of Web Apps is coming to Las Vegas in 2011. The brand new event is a beautiful three full days of essential web learning.”

When: June 27 – 29, 2011
Where: Las Vegas, NV, USA at Meet exhibition venue

Fowa-2011 in Upcoming Conferences and Events for Designers and Developers in 2011

July 2011 Events

Designer/Developer Workflow Conference
“What’s the big deal about workflow? Workflow is something we all do, day in and day out – although you may not even think about it. Do you work with multiple applications during the day? Do you work with team members, departments, clients, etc.? Improving those workflows is what D2W is all about.”

When: July 14 – 16, 2011
Where: Kansas City, MO, USA at the Crown Plaza Hotel

Ddw-2011 in Upcoming Conferences and Events for Designers and Developers in 2011

Front-End Design Conference
“Front-End Conf is an event dedicated to content, presentation and behavior and to the awesome people in the design and development community.”

When: July 23, 2011
Where: St. Petersburg, FL, USA

Fe-2011 in Upcoming Conferences and Events for Designers and Developers in 2011

The O’Reilly Open Source Convention
“OSCON provides a central place to gain exposure to and evaluate the new projects, tools, services, platforms, languages, software and standards sweeping through the open source community and the broader technology industry.”

When: July 25-29, 2011
Where: Portland, OR, USA

Events-2011-211 in Upcoming Conferences and Events for Designers and Developers in 2011

re:build Conference
“re:build is an intimate one-day event hosted in Downtown Indianapolis. We’re busy lining up some of our favorite speakers from all across the country. ”

When: July 29, 2011
Where: Indianapolis, IN, USA

Events-2011-212 in Upcoming Conferences and Events for Designers and Developers in 2011

UXCampLondon
“A one day BarCamp in Richmond, London for anyone involved or interested in user experience design, interaction design, information architecture or usability.”

When: Summer, 2011
Where: London, UK

Events-2011-213 in Upcoming Conferences and Events for Designers and Developers in 2011

August 2011 Events

An Event Apart Minneapolis
“An Event Apart is an intensely educational two-day conference for passionate practitioners of standards-based web design. If you care about code as well as content, usability as well as design, An Event Apart is the conference you’ve been waiting for.”

When: August 8 – 10, 2011, 2011
Where: Minneapolis, MN, USA at the InterContinental Atlanta

Aea4-2011 in Upcoming Conferences and Events for Designers and Developers in 2011

WordCamp
“WordCamp San Francisco is the official annual conference of the WordPress open source project. WordCamp SF 2010 brought together 700+ WordPress users and developers from around the world. In 2011 we’re expanding the programming for publishers, bloggers, and developers.”

When: August 12 – 14, 2011
Where: San Francisco, CA, USA at the Mission Bay Conference Center

Wc-2011 in Upcoming Conferences and Events for Designers and Developers in 2011

Drupalcon London
“DrupalCon is an international event that brings together the people who use, develop, design and support the Drupal platform. DrupalCon London 2011 will feature content from the most influential people and brightest minds within the Drupal community and beyond, in addition to countless opportunities for networking, code sprints, and more.”

When: August 21 – 26, 2011
Where: London, UK

Dcl-2011 in Upcoming Conferences and Events for Designers and Developers in 2011

UX Australia
“The conference covers core user experience design topics – strategy, user-centred design, interaction design, information architecture, information design, service design, content & visual design. It’s not just digital though, and will also include presentations on the design of physical objects and environments.”

When: August 22 – 26, 2011
Where: Sydney, Australia at Four points by Sheraton

Uxa-2011 in Upcoming Conferences and Events for Designers and Developers in 2011

UX Week
“Calling UX professionals (or aspiring professionals) of all levels! Join us at UX Week 2011, the premier user experience conference, for fun times , inspiring sessions on the main stage and roll-up-your-sleeves learning during two full days of workshops. It’s going to rock.”

When: August 23 – 26, 2011
Where: San Francisco, CA at The Mission Bay Conference Center at UCSF

Uxw-2011 in Upcoming Conferences and Events for Designers and Developers in 2011

Related Links

What Event Will You Attend?

Have you attended one of these conferences before, or do you plan to attend any in 2011? Why do you enjoy attending these types of events? Which ones do you recommend and why? Please let us know in the comments.


© Louis Lazaris for Smashing Magazine, 2011. | Permalink | Post a comment | Smashing Shop | Smashing Network | About Us
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Improve Your E-Commerce Design With Brilliant Product Photos

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Product photography could well be the single most important design aspect of any e-commerce website. Without the ability to touch, hold, smell, taste or otherwise handle the products they are interested in, potential customers have only images to interact with. Ultimately, the softer, tastier, flashier and more attractive your products look to shoppers, the more confident they’ll feel about purchasing from you and the better your conversion rate will be.

While any product can look great in a photo (sometimes deceptively so), keep in mind that your images should match your website’s overall aesthetic and your company’s image. Let’s start with a few great examples of how online retailers have incorporated high-quality product photos onto their websites. In this article, we will focus on images of actual items, rather than models, events or landscapes.

[Offtopic: by the way, did you know that there is a Smashing eBook Series? Book #1 is Professional Web Design, 242 pages for just $9,90.]

Examples Of Beautiful Product Photography

Uncrate
Uncrate is probably the best-looking men’s shopping blog, and a lot of the credit goes to the product photos in its posts. One of the criteria for its blog posts seems to be for product photos to be incredibly well shot. This is a great place to get inspired for your own product photography project.

Uncrate-e1279360265543 in Improve Your E-Commerce Design With Brilliant Product Photos

Ties.com
Ties.com has years of experience with dress-tie photography and has improved the quality of its photos over the years. Now it uses a lightbox effect to offer close-ups of its ties. The layout of the website is similar to that of Amazon. As with any website of this nature, super-clear photos are essential to compensate for the customer’s inability to feel the ties.

Ties-zoom-e1278476075853 in Improve Your E-Commerce Design With Brilliant Product Photos

Made.com
Turning to furniture, UK website Made.com does a great job of showing its products from multiple angles and perspectives without cluttering the website or making the images feel redundant. Its lamps, for example, can be viewed up close or at a distance within the same frame, while its tables and desks can be viewed from both eye level and low angles. Again, the selective use of color throughout the website directs attention to the products themselves, while giving the overall design a sleek minimalist feel.

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Harry Winston
High-end jewelry website Harry Winston emphasizes the brilliancy and luxury of its products by integrating them in a relatively stripped-down website. The sharp, vibrant images of colored gemstones and sparkling crystals command the viewer’s attention on every page, without overpowering the other elements of the design. The brilliant reds, greens and oranges of these products contrast with the neutral black, white and gray color scheme, while complementing the refined cursive and rolling script scattered throughout the website.

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Louis Vuitton
Another up-market website, Louis Vuitton also uses wonderful high-res product shots and zooms for its non-clothing items, such as calendars and wallets. While this website predictably has numerous photos of models posing with the products in lifestyle and fashion vignettes, it also does an excellent job of emphasizing the craftsmanship and quality of its items.

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Moben
Kitchen designer Moben has a much busier website, using pictures and videos of its products in various locations. The photos here show potential customers the innovative design and style of these products in a unified setting, while still offering detailed shots of individual items. This is a great strategy for e-commerce companies that sell large products or that sell services that are difficult to visualize.

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Weber
Moving out of the kitchen and into the backyard, Weber, a well-known maker of grilling and other cooking equipment, has a fine product photography area on its website. The website itself is pretty basic, as you might expect, without much in the way of attractive text or icons, but the sharp images and high-quality close-ups add a lot of visual appeal. If nothing else, this is a good example of how good images can help a website overcome a mediocre design.

Sign-171 in Improve Your E-Commerce Design With Brilliant Product Photos

Bang & Olufsen
Turning to a website that at first glance seems a bit less inviting, audio-video manufacturer Bang & Olufsen opts for a harder, more architectural aesthetic than some of the other websites we’ve looked at. While there is plenty of black, gray and white throughout, this website is far from cold and sterile, thanks to the side-sweeping product photos, which are bright but do not compromise the futuristic feel of the design. The pages of Bang & Olufsen’s collection have another nice touch: product thumbnails glow when you hover over them.

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Leica
As you might expect from one of the world’s biggest names in photography and imaging technology, Leica has some high-quality images, especially of its camera equipment. You won’t find a ton of photos here, but in keeping with the brand’s no-frills, no-nonsense approach, the pictures you do see are high-res and sharp, a perfect example of how to do more with less.

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Victorinox
Another brand known for precision equipment, Victorinox has an impressive range of visual content on its website, especially in the product area. The sliding photo gallery in the “Timepiece” section, for example, captures both the mechanical and aesthetic beauty of the brand’s watches: you can really imagine how it would feel to hold and wear the watch, while still being able to see the complexity of its internals. The website is also notable for its great examples of selective focusing and dramatic lighting, which really make the products eye-catching.

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CuffLinks.com
CuffLinks.com clearly puts effort into photographing its vast selection of cufflinks. It offers customers a good view of its cufflinks from all angles. It also shows the packaging or box that the cufflinks will ship in, giving us a well-rounded impression. Fortunately for this company, the size and inflexibility of cuff links make them a relatively easy product to photograph. Take a look at their many other products and the different angles the shots have been taken from.

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Ties ’n’ Cuffs
Ties ’n’ Cuffs is another e-commerce store with a large selection of cufflinks, ties and other accessories. Like CuffLinks.com, it offers a handful of photos for each product. But Ties ’n’ Cuffs lets customers also zoom into its cufflinks, giving a super-clear picture of product details that one might miss in a wide shot and showing how the crystals reflect the light. Browse around this website to see how they’ve implemented their zoom function for many different products.

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Chocomize
Chocomize lets chocolate lovers make their own custom chocolate bars by allowing them to select from a variety of ingredients. Here is a great example of using photos for products that offer a high degree of customization, without bogging down viewers with too many choices and images. The pictures on Chocomize—bright, glossy piles of candy, nuts, berries and decorations that can be added to a milk, dark or white chocolate base—are relatively uniform in size and shape yet distinctive enough to be unique and noticeable. It also has detailed photos of each ingredient.

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Threadless.com
The t-shirt giant Threadless.com has a particular culture, and it has done a great job of keeping that culture intact with its photos, while still keeping the product itself front and center. Check out the many creative ways that it displays its t-shirts.

Threadless-e1279360227481 in Improve Your E-Commerce Design With Brilliant Product Photos

Designbyhumans.com
Another great t-shirt company. It has a super-clean website and keeps the product well in focus, despite the human models (which can sometimes distract from the product).

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Apple
While it sounds cliché, the product photos at Apple would make anyone want to purchase an iPad or iPhone. With a limited number of images and a simple twistable 360-degree viewing mode, the designers behind this website visually sum up Apple’s mantra of simplicity and fun.

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Four Steps Of Product Photography

1. Prepare Product

To take quality photographs, the complexity and time required will depend greatly on the type of product you’re shooting. Some of the easiest products to photograph are solid objects such as cups and toys; you may just have to give them a good polish before shooting.

Clothing, textiles and other items that can bend, stretch and wrinkle are much harder to photograph and could require hours of ironing and arranging to get a perfect result. Details, like whether a shirt collar is straight, will determine whether the photographs look like they were shot in a serious studio or by an amateur with a point-and-shoot camera.

Whatever the product, inspect it carefully for tears, stains, chips and other imperfections before beginning.

2. Light

Lighting in Improve Your E-Commerce Design With Brilliant Product PhotosTo get a great-looking photo, lighting is crucial. Fortunately, with many products, you don’t need much equipment to get a well-lit balanced exposure. For objects the size of a digital camera or smaller, you can use an EZcube light tent with two small 30-watt bulbs on either side. For larger items, such as clothing, two 60-watt soft boxes on either side of the product should suffice. Also consider using a light reflector to get rid of any shadows and obvious highlights.

3. Set Your Camera

Ezcube in Improve Your E-Commerce Design With Brilliant Product PhotosWatch out for noticeable light reflections on shiny surfaces. Even though most product photos look very staged, you don’t want yours to look too artificial.

Obviously, you’ll need a camera to take pictures, so make sure you have one. It doesn’t have to be the best or most expensive on the market, but it should at least have manual focus and shutter and aperture controls. These are all standard on most SLR cameras.

Once you’ve arranged the product and lighting equipment, take a few test shots until you get an exposure that isn’t too bright or too dark. Keep track of the shutter speed and aperture settings of your best photos, and use them again in future to maintain consistency. If you aren’t sure how things like shutter speed, aperture and lens focal length affect images, you might want to do some basic research.

If you understand the basics of photography but your photos still don’t look quite right, don’t worry, because you may have to change several in-camera settings before getting the kind of shots you want.

If your pictures look soft or don’t enlarge well, make sure the ISO setting on your camera is as low as possible. The ISO setting affects the light sensitivity of a camera’s photo sensor. By setting yours to 100 or 200, you’ll get a higher-resolution shot with less grain and pixellation. While you’re at it, change the camera’s image size to the highest possible setting. Most cameras default to a medium-sized resolution (around 1500 x 850 pixels).

Next, make sure the white balance is set to handle the kind of light you’re working in. Most cameras have modes for incandescent, fluorescent, direct sunlight and cloudy environments, and you should adjust your camera’s white balance according to these different conditions. If the white balance controls are off, your images might either look too bright or have a sickly yellow cast, especially if your product is white.

Color control settings are important to consider as well. Most digital cameras allow you to select several degrees of color saturation, ranging from muted to normal to vibrant. If your product is already colorful (flowers, for example), a less saturated setting would probably work better. This is especially true with red, which many digital cameras (even high-end ones) have difficulty processing.

Finally, make sure the image format is appropriate. If you’re just putting the photos online, high-resolution JPEGs are probably fine. RAW files, on the other hand, carry more data because they aren’t compressed like JPEG or TIFF files, and they carry fewer digital artifacts; but they take up more space and require special codices and converters to be viewed and edited. Some cameras have a “RAW + high-res JPEG” setting, which gives you both compressed and uncompressed versions of an image. Do a little research on your camera when deciding which format to use, because some models are automatically set to give a softer focus in JPEG mode.

4. Edit the Photos

This is the final and perhaps most important step of product photography. This is when you really take your photos to the next level and make them pop. If you’ve gotten the lighting right and your camera properly configured, then you are well on your way to great photos. Factors such as unwanted colors and objects that couldn’t be removed during the shoot, though, will require some adjustment.

Surrounding a product in white space is common practice. This makes the photo convenient to use on websites and in catalogs because it won’t clash with other elements. To make a product float freely in white space, you have to remove the background with masking in your photo editing program. As common as it is, it is often done poorly, making an otherwise fine photo look amateurish. Masking properly takes time, especially when you are not working with straight lines. Photoshop CS4 has a great “Refine edge” tool that makes it much easier to correct crooked lines.

Many people also use a variety of artistic effects in Photoshop and other bitmap editors to subtly manipulate their photos. One such effect is the soft or selective focus, which, as the name implies, softens a portion of the photo while leaving other areas sharp. This is great for creating the illusion of depth and size, and the trick is often used for pictures of food, jewelry and watches (see the examples above). Depending on your lens, you can get a similar in-camera effect by setting the aperture low and zooming in on the product from a distance.

Also, depending on the product and the look you’re aiming for, you could also experiment with the perspective controls in Photoshop. Most people assume this tool is only good for tall buildings and scenes with noticeable vanishing points, but you can also use it to make geometric objects such as tables and desks appear overpowering, especially when photographed from a low angle (see Made.com for examples).

Additional Tips

Blend Photos With Design

When putting together a collection of product photos, ask yourself if the images you’re taking will match the color scheme and aesthetic of your website. The easiest way around such a challenge is to just keep things simple and minimalist.

Use a Gray Card

A gray card is a middle-gray reference that you can set your camera to for accurate and consistent color rendering, especially on older cameras that have limited controls for white balance and color. A gray card gives a more realistic depiction of your product’s color and reduces the amount of post-exposure color adjustment you have to make later. They can be bought at any photography store and for about $10. Most cameras have a function for taking gray card test photos; read through the owner’s manual carefully.

Get a Flexible and Sturdy Tripod

Taking sharp, consistent and professional product photos is nearly impossible without a good tripod. It can be any regular tripod, but if you are shooting a product on the floor from above, you’ll probably need a horizontal extension: as the name implies, this tool extends horizontally from the head of the tripod so that you can position your camera directly above and parallel to the product itself. This prevents linear distortion, vanishing lines and uneven image depth.

The tripod you need will depend on the size of your camera. If you have a heavy-duty SLR with a long horizontal extension, you’ll need a solid tripod to support the weight of the camera and prevent shaking.

If you put your tripod in storage, make sure you are able to reset it to the same height and position for your next shoot. Measure the legs of the tripod, and mark with tape where the feet of the tripod should stand on the ground.

Use Light Reflectors

As mentioned, light reflectors give photos an even spread of light and a fresh look. They come in many sizes and shapes. A medium-sized light reflector, one as big as a large pizza, should be more than enough for product photography. Anything bigger is more appropriate for videography or photographs of people.

Reflectors come with three different surfaces: silver foliated, gold foliated and white. The gold- and silver-sided reflectors usually reflect the most light, while white reflectors give a softer, warmer glow.

Light Reflector1 in Improve Your E-Commerce Design With Brilliant Product Photos

Define the Decision-Making Process

If your standard of quality is high or you’re working on a team, the lack of a decision-making process can waste a lot of time. Set clear criteria for what you’re looking for, and make sure your workflow allows all parties to follow the criteria without constant interruption.

Outsource When Appropriate

If your product is easy to shoot, then outsourcing is a great option. The most important points to discuss with the photographer beforehand are quality and their willingness and ability to contribute to the editing process.

The quality of the photos will depend on the time spent editing them. Some photographers don’t want to get involved with this part, feeling that image masking and other such tedious tasks are below them. Cover all your bases before starting with the photographer, otherwise the process could turn out to be more expensive and time-consuming than you expected.

Further Resources

If you liked this article, then read Smashing Magazine’s recent article How to Use Photos to Sell More Online for another look at photography and e-commerce.

Also consider these:

Zachary Lowell contributed to this article.

(al)


© Peter Crawfurd for Smashing Magazine, 2010. | Permalink | Post a comment | Add to del.icio.us | Digg this | Stumble on StumbleUpon! | Tweet it! | Submit to Reddit | Forum Smashing Magazine
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TypeTalk: The Quick Brown Fox

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Where did "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog" come from, and what do these animals have to do with type?

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Scanning Around with Gene: You Too Can Be a Famous Artist

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The Famous Artists School in Westport, Connecticut, cultivated thousands of would-be artists through its extensive advertising and Who’s Who faculty.

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TypeTalk: Change Word’s Line Spacing, Part II

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As long as you're willing to dive into the guts of Microsoft Word, it is possible to change the default line spacing for all new documents.

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TypeTalk: Find Figure Styles in OpenType Fonts

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To designers' delight, many typefaces include several kinds of numbers: oldstyle, lining, tabular, and proportional. But how do you discover which fonts have which styles?

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TypeTalk: Times Roman vs Times New Roman

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What's old, what's new, and what's what when you're talking about Times?

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TypeTalk: Best Headline Breaks

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When headline and subheads are more than one line long, grab the reins and make those breaks manually. Here's what to look for.

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TypeTalk: Point Size and Letter Spacing

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When you make type bigger or smaller, don't forget to adjust the letter spacing, too. The result will be more evenly colored text.

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