Essential Tools – E.Webscapes Blog Design StyleBy
Essential Keystrokes readers – you are in for a treat today! Grab your cup of coffee and get comfortable. This week’s Essential Tools post is jam-packed with tips and tools from Lisa Sabin-Wilson, the author of the soon to be released, WordPress For Dummies book. I follow Lisa at her blog, Just a Girl in the World and you can also find her beautiful design work at E.Webscapes Blog Design Studio.
Lisa’s Tools For Success
Because Lisa runs two small companies where customer service is a priority, and her own time management and organization skills are seriously put to the test, the one piece of software that she uses on MORE than regular basis is the Isolsoft Help Center. It is a fully automated Help Desk Solution that Lisa uses to provide technical support to her clients at Blogs About Hosting, and also uses it, exclusively, to communicate with clients and potential new clients at E.Webscapes.
Using the help center has almost 100% replaced email communications â€“ which is extremely nice because over the past 5 years of doing business with clients, I no longer have the â€œyour email was lostâ€ or â€œsorry â€“ it got stuck in my spam filters for some reason!â€
The help desk is tied to Lisa’s contact form â€“ so whenever someone sends correspondence via her contact form, it automatically creates a new ticket in the system and the person gets a confirmation email with the access key to their ticket, and Lisa gets an email notification that there is a new request/inquiry. People can also hit the help desk directly and open a new ticket, as well. Isolsoft Help Center is also fully configurable from a design standpoint â€“ Lisa has completely customized the design for the help desk at E.Webscapes to match the branding and design of the main website.
The help desk is web-based solution and it also works extremely well as a project management tool. Lisa uses that aspect of the software for her design studio, mostly â€“ which allows her to add new tickets as scheduled tasks for herself, or any of her designers, to keep projects on schedule. She’s also able to attach files to tickets â€“ allowing her to share graphic mockups with clients with ease. Lisa’s been using it for their help desk for hosting for 5 years, however she just recently installed it at E.Webscapes within the past 3 months and it has boosted her productivity 100%!
Lisa reveals all:
Iâ€™m going to come out of the closet and share with you my dirty little secret as a designer: I am color blind. Its official name is â€œtritanopiaâ€ â€“ or blue-yellow color blindness, so Iâ€™m not completely color blind (monochromatic) – - just certain areas give me troubles. Discerning between shades of blue into purple gives me the biggest issue of all. When I first began designing and clients would tell me they wanted blue as a color choice, more often than not, when I shared the preliminary mock up I would hear this: â€œI really like what youâ€™ve done â€“ but can we go more blue and less purple for the background color? Thatâ€™s really purple.â€ Shades of cream, yellow, tans and orange give me issues – -and discerning between different shades of green sometimes give me pause. Bright, vivid primary colors I can generally do – - itâ€™s when we get down to the shades and variations that I draw total blanks on â€“ and as any designer knows, color is extremely important!
Lisa has several tools that she uses to help make her way through every design that she does:
- Color Cop â€“ A free tool that you install on your system and it sits in the task bar until you want to use it. When clients give Lisa a sample color scheme, or photograph to work off of, she uses color cop to give her the exact RGB or Hex code so she knows she is dealing with exactly the colors they want.
- Adobe Kuler â€“ from Adobe Labs is a neat tool to create color schemes and view schemes created by other users (Lisa then uses Color Cop to get the exact color she needs).
- Color Schemer â€“ similar to the Adobe kuler, but has a downloadable application that is helpful in creating creative color schemes. There is a free online version that is pretty basic, but helpful. Color Schemer also has a gallery of user created palettes that can serve as inspiration.
Every single one of Lisa’s sites are powered by WordPress, naturally. Originally, she started blogging with Movable Type and made the move to WordPress in 2003 and hasn’t looked back once, and now also uses WordPress for non-blogging sites, as well.
5. Graphic Design tools
For graphic design, Lisa uses a variety of products depending on what she is doing (listed in order of how often she uses them): Adobe Photoshop, Corel Paint Shop Pro X, CorelDRAW, Adobe Illustrator.
What’s in your tool box? Have you tried any of the tools that Lisa recommends? Let us know! Leave a comment and join in the discussion.
I am working on a new page for this site that will keep a running list of all the Essential Tools contributors and all of their recommended tools. If anyone has any snippets of code or plugins that might make this task easier, let me know.