Create mockups using Pencil and Firefox

A screen mockup in under a minute with Pencil
A screen mockup in under a minute with Pencil

Prototyping is the method by which a designer/developer mocks up pages/screens for a web site or some piece of software, to help the design and development team visualize the product. Sketching out on a piece of paper is generally best as at this stage of development there are likely to be many changes and sketching on paper is quick and cheap.

However, if you need to create sketches that are a little more professional, e.g. for a presentation to the Board, then it helps to use a tool like Pencil, a plugin for Firefox, which allows you to build a prototype using actual screen elements e.g. buttons, text fields etc. Using it is dead simple and very quick – just drag and drop elements onto a canvas and edit the properties to suit. I made the one on the right in under a minute.

Get Pencil for Firefox here

currentcodes.com Helps Save Money When Shopping Online

When shopping online, you’ll have noticed most if not all shopping carts have a “enter coupon code here” section before you checkout.

Many online retailers give out, for promotional reasons or otherwise, discount coupon codes to be used in just that spot.

currentcodes.com is a service that researches and maintains a database of discount coupon codes for 1,824 online stores!

To find a code for a particular store just search their database here and see what savings you can make when you’re shopping online!

Run an online survey quick and fast with SurveyMonkey

A great tool that I’m getting more and more use out of is the online survey-manager web site SurveyMonkey.com

As any business person will tell you, “you need to know your market!” Common sense, no doubt, but how exactly does one go about gathering market information without paying oodles of cash to a research company?

Enter SurveyMonkey!

It says on the home page:

Intelligent survey software for primates of all species. SurveyMonkey has a single purpose: to enable anyone to create professional online surveys quickly and easily.

And this totally true – their easy-to-use system makes it possible to get your survey together in just a few minutes! The hard part is who to target and what to ask them! 🙂

Their pricing plan is 3 tiered starting at ‘free’ to $19.95 per month and lastly $200 for a year. Although the ‘free’ plan only allows up to 100 responses, it’s suitable for small surveys and a good way to get acquainted with the online software.

Try it out now at www.surveymonkey.com

The Photoshop Anthology book – Get it completely FREE from Sitepoint

The Photoshop AnthologyIt’s not often a great book like The Photoshop Anthology is given away free but Sitepoint have teamed up with 99Designs to do just that!

The Photoshop Anthology: 101 Web Design Tips, Tricks and Techniques is being given away free as a downloadable PDF from the Sitepoint web site, but only until Thursday 12th June so get clicking here to download it now!

Taken from the offer page on the Sitepoint site:

It’s brimming with tried and tested real-world Photoshop solutions that will add impact to your next web design project. If you’ve ever been stuck for inspiration, have puzzled over just how to create a shiny aqua-style button, or wanted to create that seamlessly tiling background image you saw on a site recently, you need download this book.

99Designs is sponsoring this giveaway to promote their service which “…connects passionate designers from around the globe with savvy clients who need design projects completed in a timely fashion without the usual risk or cost associated with professional design.

Also on the 99Designs site is the opportunity to win a MacBook and a money prize of $55,147. Go there now to check out how to win…

Is Google Phone On The Way?

Google PhoneI’m a big fan of Google and especially its attitude toward making its services accessible to all so I’m getting pretty excited about the rumour going around the Internet that the Google Phone is due out in the first quarter of 2008. Google has already made the web largely accessible to computer users and is now extending their ethos to mobile phones.

But, what is the Google Phone all about? From what I gather, Google will first release software that will be compatible with the hardware from phone vendors before actually releasing it’s own range of phones. This last bit is still a bit foggy but it seems the software release is imminent.

The software will bundle Google Mail, Google Maps, Search and YouTube for video-sharing. However, the best part of this software is that it will be ‘open’ so that developers can actually build additional phone features.

What does this mean for you and me? Just that we’ll get access to some of the best free web applications on our mobile phones.

Apple slashes the price of the iPhone

Apple Corp. announced it’s slashing the price of the iPhone, their uber-cool Internet phone.

Apple has dropped the 4GB version altogether and reduced the price of the 8GB model to $399, approx. GBP197, $200 less than when the phone first launched in July.

Although the 4GB version has been dropped, the remaining stock is still on sale at $200 less than the launch price, at $299!

Check out the iPhone at http://www.apple.com/iphone/