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1. Swap Faces in Photoshop
Want to put your face on someone else’s body? This video tutorial will demonstrate how you can easily exchange people’s faces using Photoshop’s Auto-Blend Layers command.
2. Retro Comic Book Effect in Photoshop
Give your photos a fascinating comic book effect by following along this short and simple Photoshop tutorial.
3. Transform a Person into an Alien
This tutorial takes advantage of Photoshop’s Liquify Tool and a custom grunge brush to make Tom Cruise — who you can easily swap out for a photo of yourself or a friend — look like an extraterrestrial being.
4. Bite Me – A Vampire Tutorial
This enjoyable tutorial will show you how to turn your target photo subject into a vampire. You’ll use a stock photo of a crocodile skull to add vampire fangs, Layer Styles to adjust image colors for a more mysterious look, and more.
5. Skull Face Tutorial
Make yourself look like a rotting corpse by doing this Photoshop tutorial. You’ll learn how to change eye colors, blend a subject’s face with a skull stock photo using layer masks, and so on.
6. How to Turn Humdrum Photos into Cinematic Portraits
Give your boring photos a melodramatic appearance that’s reminiscent of movies like Sin City. This Photoshop tutorial on Psdtuts+ has a video version as well as a text version to accommodate your preferred learning style.
7. Grunge Stone Woman Photo Manipulation in Photoshop
This Photoshop tutorial from our archives will give you the ability to make your photo subject appear as if they’re breaking out of a stone prison.
8. Aging a Young Woman: Photoshop Tutorial
Have you ever thought about how you’d look when you get older? Wonder no more if you do this Photoshop tutorial on digitally aging a person’s face. In this tutorial, you’ll discover how to use the Liquify Tool and Warp Tool to make the subject’s face sag a bit, how to add gray hair, and more.
9. Photoshop Tutorial: Give Photos a Retro Distressed Look
In this Photoshop tutorial, you’ll find out how to apply a dramatic photo effect on your otherwise plain photos.
10. Zombie Photoshop Tutorial
This video tutorial on YouTube will demonstrate a method for turning a person into a Zombie using some stock photos, Photoshop’s blending modes, and more.
If you’re not familiar with card sorting at all, especially in the context of usability testing, you can read this introductory guide on Six Revisions: Usability Testing with Card Sorting.
Card Sorting Via Remote (Online) User Testing
For this article, I’m specifically talking about remote user testing.
Why focus on remote user testing?
Firstly, it’s where my experience lies. I build web-based usability testing tools in my spare time and an online card sorting tool is one of them.
But more importantly, card sorting gets many benefits if done through online remote user testing.
I’m often puzzled when I hear of usability studies involving the recruitment of local participants, even when the product is some sort of a web application or web service that will be used by people all over the world.
Unless your website is geographically focused — for example, if you were building an online store that’s targeting only a particular country — why in the world would you recruit participants only from one area?
To me the answer to that question is simple: It’s the way it has always been done. So, if you had some formal training in usability, this is what you were often taught to do.
I do not discard the benefits of observing the reaction of participants and hearing them vocalizing their decision processes as they perform user testing tasks (though this can also be done remotely with web cams). An experienced researcher can spot issues and derive information from a participant’s behavior that may not be obvious when you’re only relying on quantitative data and remote testing results.
But, if we’re talking about card sorting — and we are — I would argue that remote online testing is the best way to go.
For card sorting, the benefits of remote online testing are numerous. Here are a few benefits:
- Participant recruitment is a lot easier because you’re selecting from a larger pool of potential test users.
- Most of the time, recruiting participants online will be much cheaper.
- Participants can do the card sorting exercises in their own time and schedule.
- Often, remote usability testing is the only way for you to collect data from participants residing outside of your geographical area.
- Remote user testing gives you a bigger potential to diversify the sources of your results.
What is Card Sorting Good For?
The primary purpose of card sorting is to help you organize items into logical groups.
In the context of web design, it can aid you in developing your site’s information architecture. For the online card sorting tool I built, the largest use-case I see is the organization of web pages on websites; anything from navigation menu links to content categories.
However, this powerful usability testing technique is not limited to website design. For example, about a year ago, we were approached by an English teacher from New York city who wanted to use the card sorting tool to help his students better understand the characters in the literature he covered in class.
And more recently, a researcher from the University of Amsterdam shared with me that he was using the tool for psychological research and theory building.
So, basically, if you have things to organize you can use card sorting. The limit is your own imagination.
Card Sorting for User Interface Redesigns
About a couple of years ago, I was asked to redesign a financial transaction reporting page.
When the reporting page was originally built, which was years ago, everything was able to fit in only one screen.
But as time passed, new features and sections were added to the reporting page. When I reviewed it, it was 5-6 screens deep.
The reporting page had everything on it, but it was really hard use. The challenge was to rework it in such a way that it became useful again, while not sacrificing any new features.
To better understand the problem, I proposed to start with a closed card sorting activity. We took all the labels from all data fields of the page and put them on cards.
Then we created 4 categories. Each participant could sort the cards in one of those categories.
These were the categories we made:
- "I use it all the time"
- "I use it sometimes"
- "I never use it"
- "I have no idea what it is"
The "I have no idea what it is" category was added as a "just in case" category.
We were quite surprised, however, to discover that there were quite a few cards in the "I have no idea what it is" category after two teams of support engineers participated in the exercise. These staff members worked with the reporting page on a daily basis, so presumably they had the best understanding of it. Yet they didn’t know what some of the items were for.
If you have ever worked in the enterprise software business, you know that new features are added constantly, but the old ones are hardly ever retired. So, even if there were a few items that were unrecognizable to its regular users, we couldn’t remove those items because they served some purpose.
But now — having a better understanding of which items were used the most because of the card sorting activity — we could rebuild the page by ordering the elements by priority, starting with the most important at the top and then tacking on the lesser known sections at the bottom.
Types of Card Sorting
Now that I have shared some of the benefits I have gotten from my experience with card sorting, perhaps you are now thinking about using it in future projects that involve the organization of things.
One of the first steps you will need to get out of the way is to determine what type of card sorting you will do.
There are two main types of card sorting.
Open Card Sorting
In open card sorting, each participant is given a stack of cards. The participant is then asked to group those cards together any way they want. Then they make labels for the groups they created.
Closed Card Sorting
In closed card sorting, the researchers create the labels for the groups. Participants are given a stack of cards and are asked to put each card into a group.
When to Use Open Card Sorting
If you are staring at a new project and have many things to work with, consider doing open card sorting. This way you will not introduce your own biases into the grouping of items and will see the information organized from other people’s perspectives.
In addition, open card sorting also helps you get ideas for category names.
Disadvantage of Open Card Sorting
The downside of open card sorting is that there can be just as many combinations of categories as there are participants, because participants are tasked with coming up with the own grouping system.
For each participant, there can be variations in the number of groups created, as well as what the labels of each group are.
So, in open card sorting, viewing and making sense of the results usually requires a lot of effort. For example, if you perform open card sorting, you might see various labels that mean identical or similar things, such as "Customer Support", "Help", "Support", etc. You might also see one participant having only 2 card groups, while others have 5 card groups. The variability of the results is often the reason many usability researchers skip open card sorting.
When to Use Closed Card Sorting
If you already know what categories you want to sort items in, then closed card sorting is the obvious choice.
Closed card sorting additionally removes the burden from the participants having to come up with their own group labels, which simplifies the activity for them.
Disadvantage of Closed Card Sorting
Using pre-determined group labels gives you less information because the participants’ choices are confined by the category labels you create. That, in turn, limits the chance of you seeing alternative approaches to the categorization of your items.
Using Both Open Card Sorting and Closed Card Sorting
A potential testing strategy is to first do an open card sort to help you determine category names for each group of content, and to understand the different ways people can group the items.
Then, after analyzing the results, you can conduct closed card sorting to validate the interpretation of the results.
How Do You Interpret the Results You Get from Card Sorting?
Honestly, in my experience, this part has always been a challenge. And not all of us are skilled statisticians.
The good news is that we can let our computers do all (or at least most) of the number-crunching work. (There’s a short list of tools and resources for card sorting below.)
And once you get the results organized, analyzed, and interpreted, apply the results to your project to improve its user-friendliness.
Card Sorting Resources and Tools
Here are some tools and resources related to card sorting that will help you learn more about this testing method and to help you perform it in your design and development projects:
- Card Sorting (Usability.gov)
- Card Sorting: How Many Users to Test (Nielsen Norman Group)
- Card Sorting (Interaction Design Foundation)
- usabiliTEST Remote (online) Card Sorting Tool
- Card Sorting (a book by Donna Spencer)
- Card sorting (Kindle edition)
- Usability Testing With Card Sorting
- Card sorting: a definitive guide
* Thumbnail image source: Yandle
Need More Mobile App Website Design Inspiration?
Here’s a list of other content you can read for even more inspiration for your mobile app web design:
- 10 Websites for Finding iOS App Icon Design Inspiration
- 20 Beautifully Designed iPhone Apps
- Beautiful, Inspiring iOS App Icons by Román Jusdado
More Web Designs That Large Photos
If you’d like to see more sites that use large photographic images, check these out:
- Using Photo Backgrounds in Web Design: 30 Examples
- 40 Beautiful Web Designs that Use Photographic Backgrounds
- 30 Websites That Use Beautiful Large Photo Backgrounds
There are no shortcuts to a great logo design; if you don’t put in the work at each step of the design process, you won’t get the most optimal results.
You owe it not only to your clients, but also to your design portfolio, to follow a judicious logo design process so that you can complete the project efficiently and effectively.
Here’s a visual that summarizes the five-step process that I will discuss:
Step 1: Design Brief
The time and effort required to complete a design brief, as well as what content the design brief will have, will depend on the client you are working with.
Some clients know exactly what logo they want and give you all the information you need to produce it without you having to ask. One situation where this can be the case is when your client is also a designer, or has extensively worked with other designers in the past.
Some clients, on the other hand, only know that they need a logo and would rather leave the rest to you. Often, this is the case when you work with non-designers, such as new entrepreneurs.
At this step, your challenge as a logo designer is to get the information you need about the project to enable you to come up with the perfect logo for them.
Some logo design information-gathering questions to ask are:
- What does the company do?
- Who are the company’s typical customers?
- Who are the company’s business competitors?
- How is the company positioned in the market compared to its competitors?
- Does the company have existing design style guides (company colors, typefaces, etc.)?
Interview your client until you are satisfied you have the answers to all these questions.
Tips for Creating a Logo Design Brief
- Formalize the briefing process with your client — if you take it seriously, so will they.
- Make this step easy for your client by providing a design brief questionnaire or template so they know what information you are looking for, and also to give this process more structure.
- Create a web page on your site or a document that discusses the basics, and the importance of, design briefs. You can use your guide to design briefs as an educational resource for your clients.
- At the minimum, strive to cover these fundamental items in your design brief:
- Target market
- Message objectives
- Existing design style guides and parameters (e.g., company colors, typeface, etc.)
- Schedule, milestones, and deadlines
Further Reading on Design Briefs
- Client Questionnaire Template for Logo Design Brief
- The Art of Interviewing Your Client
- How Do You Write a Design Brief?
- How to Write an Effective Design Brief and Get the Design You Want!
- 10 Tips for Writing Graphic Design Briefs
- SampleBoard — Digital mood board editor for creative industries
- What to Ask Your Client before Creating Their Design Brief
Step 2: Research
This step requires you to find out more about the industry your client is in. Consider the historical perspective of your client and their industry, and look at emerging trends in the marketplace.
This is also a good time to do your visual research, which may involve reviewing the logo designs of your client’s competitors. Analyze what you find: What makes one logo good, and others not so good?
If you see a definite trend in logo designs within your client’s industry, decide whether going with the trend or innovating on the trend is beneficial to your client’s business.
Following an industry design trend could potentially improve the association of a business to that industry. The downside of following design trends, however, is that it often means that the logo design becomes stale when the trend fades out of popularity, which is bad for logo designs that are ideally supposed to be timeless and unique.
Tips for Logo Design Research
- Use your client’s resources to learn more about their business. Perhaps you can conduct interviews with some of their company’s staff members or request a meeting with their in-house designers.
- Ask your client for a list of their main competitors during the design brief, and perform online research on these competitors.
- Use logo design galleries for visual research and inspiration.
Further Reading on Design Research
- Logo Design: Conducting Preliminary Research
- Logopond — identity inspiration
- Brands of the World — a library of logos
- Logo Design Inspiration: Top 10 Galleries to Check Out
- Demystifying “Design Research” (PDF)
- A Designer’s Research Manual: Succeed in Design by Knowing Your Clients
Step 3: Build the Design Concepts
Once you have done your research, you can get on to the fun part of the logo design process. Let your ideas run free and get them down on paper. This is the step in which every designer will have his/her own way of doing things.
This is your time to develop an often elusive good blend of great graphics that also convey the right message for your client. In this step, you are trying to encapsulate the diverse and complex nature of a business into a small and simple design, suitable for use in a multitude of different circumstances (business cards, marketing material, website design, and more).
For each logo design concept you create, you can ask yourself these questions:
- Will this logo design work for my client?
- Will this logo resonate with the client’s customers?
- How does this logo fare against the competition?
Tips for Building Logo Design Concepts
- Get all of your initial ideas down on paper and sketch out rough drafts, no matter how far out they seem.
- Spend some time on brainstorming and idea-generation sessions. Read some tips on more productive brainstorming sessions.
- Make sure your logo design concepts match the parameters of the design brief.
- Refine the best logo design concepts into something you can show to others.
Further Reading on Building Logo Design Concepts
- Logo Design Tutorial: How to Create an Iconic Logo Design
- What Makes a Great Logo
- How Do Designers Create Unique Identities?
- Logo Design That Works: Secrets for Successful Logo Design
- Constructing the Perfect Logo
- Ten Logo Design Tips from the Field
- The Design Process: Development Methods
Step 4: Feedback and Review
Step back from your work, take a break, and look at it later or even the next day.
If you have come up with a lot of logo design concepts, focus on the stronger ones and discard the weak ones.
Make changes and let the designs develop; now is a great time to get feedback from colleagues and other designers, and possibly even from your client.
Tips for Design Feedback and Reviews
- No one likes to see his/her work criticized, but constructive criticism will enable you to improve upon your work, so this step is an essential component of design projects. Don’t take critiques personally.
- Be open-minded to the opinions of others and experiment with the changes they suggest.
- Analyze how and why the changes will improve the current design.
Further Reading on Design Feedback and Reviews
- Brands of the World: Critique — You can upload and post your logos on Brands of the World to get comments and a rating from other logo designers
- Free Logo Critiques
- A Few Forums for Logo Design Feedback
- Discussing Design: The Art of Critique — a slideshow presentation
- The Design Process: Targets, Evaluation and Feedback
Step 5: Presentation
Once you have finalized your designs, it’s time for a formal presentation to your client.
They may have asked for a variety of logos to choose from, but this step, in my experience, generally works better if you keep the amount of logo design concepts you present to a minimum.
Hopefully, they will absolutely love the logo concepts you present to them but, as a paid professional, it’s up to you to take on board any comments they might have and resolve any issues if need be through a design revision process.
Tips for Design Presentations
- A professional presentation — whether you do the presentation remotely through a web app and Skype, or face-to-face with a client — is essential.
- A face-to-face presentation will give you the chance to explain your thinking and answer any questions. Take the opportunity to meet in person if possible.
Further Reading on Design Presentations
- How to Present Your Designs to the Client
- How to Make the Perfect Pitch
- 5 Logo Design Presentation Methods to Impress your Clients
- Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery
- The Designer’s Guide to Presentations
- Haiku Deck — free iPad app for creating slideshow/presentations
There’s no mystery to a good logo design. Follow a good design process, put in the work, and, if you understand your client’s requirements, the outcome will surely be great.
To summarize, here is the five-step logo design process:
- Design Brief
- Build the Concept
- Feedback and Review
Do you have logo design tips to share to us? What is your own logo design process? Please share it with us in the comments!