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Paul Andrew is a freelance Web designer. He is chief admin for Speckyboy - Design Magazine, a Web design, Web development and graphic design resource blog.

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Free WordPress Themes: 2011 Edition

It’s interesting to look back at our previous WordPress themes round-ups. It’s almost like looking at a visual timeline not only of WordPress’ advances in theme design, but of the rapid development in functionality of the CMS itself. The themes from year to year clearly differ in style as Web design trends have evolved. As each year passes and more functionality is added to WordPress’ core, these improvements are strongly reflected in the themes developed for it.

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Once upon a time, all WordPress themes looked like traditional blogs, with basic functionality and not a heck of a lot more. But as you will see from the themes below, that original “blog” design style is clearly gone, perhaps never to be seen again. It makes you feel nostalgic.

Nowadays, user requirements for WordPress themes are very high. Users expect all themes (including free ones) to have pages for admin options built in, where you can quickly set up your website and personalize it with a minimum of fuss. With the rise of these options pages, niche-specific theme designs (such as for portfolios, blogs or magazines) are no longer required and are, in fact, few and far between.

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100 Free High Quality WordPress Themes: 2010 Edition

It's hard to believe that a year has passed since our last WordPress theme collection, but there you have it — the time has come again. Once a year we feature the most useful and interesting WordPress-themes that we are collecting over months and present them in a nice quick overview. The collections from 2007, 2008 and last year are still useful, but some of the themes are outdated or updated now.

Imbalance

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Looking back over these previous theme articles, you can clearly see how and why WordPress has rapidly matured into the CMS powerhouse it is today. With all of the features that have been added and improvements made with every new WordPress version and with its ever-increasing popularity among the design and development community, the quality of free themes is evident. Developers are continually pushing WordPress' boundaries, giving us today's outstanding free theme collection.

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Free Printable Sketching, Wireframing and Note-Taking PDF Templates

Sketching and wireframing are a specialized style of drawing, used for fleshing out preliminary complex ideas, group brain-storming, a lo-fi method for evaluating interaction concepts, and as a way of roughly perfecting a design technique.

Sketch, Template and Wireframe Printable Paper

Sketch and wireframe paper is essentially drawing paper that is designed specifically for this purpose. You could use it for web page design, web app design, architectural or structural design, graphic design, movie direction, animation... basically any type of design that needs a physical creative outlet or group collaboration.

Not all sketch and wireframe sheets are universal, most are specialized for a particular medium, such as storyboards and specialized grid paper (axonometric perspective templates).

Below you will find a concise collection of ready to print sketching, wireframing and note-taking templates. Most, as expected, are geared towards the design community, but there are also templates that could be used within any industry and for any purpose.

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50 Free UI and Web Design Wireframing Kits, Resources and Source Files

Planning and communication are two key elements in the development of any successful website or application. And that is exactly what the wireframing process offers: a quick and simple method to plan the layout and a cost-effective, time-saving tool to easily communicate your ideas to others. A wireframe typically has the basic elements of a Web page: header, footer, sidebar, maybe even some generated content, which gives you, your clients and colleagues a simple visually oriented layout that illustrates what the structure of the website will be by the end of the project and that serves as the foundation for any future alterations.

Wireframe Resources

This article focuses on actual wireframing tools and standalone applications, as well as resources that you'll need to build your own wireframe: wireframing kits, browser windows, form elements, grids, Mac OS X elements, mobile elements, which you'll use in any typical graphics editor such as Photoshop or Illustrator. ...Or you could use pen and paper.

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Fresh Free High-Quality Icon Sets

The most important aspect of designing an individual icon is that it has to be instantly recognizable, you have to know its function, and you need to know exactly what it is. If you are designing a set, the actual design becomes a lot harder, the designer has to face two initial challenges: Each icon they design has to be individual and distinctive from the other, and, they also have to have similar features to show that they are related, completing the set. Not an easy task.

Open Source Icons - (37signals)

Perhaps that is why we love those small indispensible graphical images so much, it’s an appreciation of the hard work, creativity and talent of the designer. And to think, all those hours spent in front of a laptop crafting these little marvels, and then, allowing everyone else to download them for free. To all icon designers we say: "thank you".

In this post we present a round-up of fresh high-quality icons that are available for free download and (sometimes only for personal) use. Please make sure to read license agreements before using icons in your designs – they can change from time to time.

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A-Z of Free Photoshop Plugins and Filters

The Photoshop community is choc-full of many free resources, tutorials, tips and techniques, .psd files and even Actions. There is one area that it sadly lacks in, and that is free plugins and filters. Of course, Photoshop has been the pioneer in graphic editor development for a long time now, and with each new version (its current version is CS4) has added an endless supply of features and addons, and as a result, perhaps the need for free plugins or filters is no longer required. Or has it been ignored?

Photoshop Plugin and Filters

Traditionally plugins are an amateur photographer's best friend, take your shots, fire up Photoshop, apply some well preset filters, and hey presto you have a reasonably professional image. Professional photographers have been known to use plugins as a base and then tweak and add effects to achieve there own personal professional touch. Plugins are basically an indispensable tool that do not recieve the attention they deserve. And that brings us back to our original mystery, why are there so few free plugins and filters? Do you know the answer? I don't.

In this A-Z of free Photoshop plugins and filters you will find a few plugins that are (almost) as old as time itself, do not fear, they will work perfectly on all versions of Photoshop and the effect they produce are just as useful now as they were then. If you are looking for a simple and easy method to add effects to an image, this is the post for you.

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The Ultimate Round-Up of Fireworks Tutorials and Resources

Fireworks was originally created as an image editing and web design application by Macromedia, for quick web mock-ups, and optimizing images for the Web. It has since been transformed into a powerful environment for designing and prototyping applications that integrates easily with Dreamweaver, Flash and Photoshop &ndash making it, perhaps, the most powerful (that's controversial) and versatile graphic editor.

Adobe Fireworks Tutorials and Resources

Fireworks has always had the reputation of being Adobe Photoshop's little brother and a graphic editor for amateurs. The truth is, some Photoshop users have underappreciated the power of Fireworks, misunderstood its purpose, and seem to be reluctant to move their design workflow to Fireworks.

In this post, you will learn how powerful Fireworks can be and you will see how easily it can be used for any design project, whether you are a graphic designer or web designer. Would you consider changing from Photoshop?

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A Guide to Google Analytics and Useful Tools

Google Analytics is undoubtedly the most widely used web analytics application. Emerged from and based upon the analytics-package developed by Urchin Software Corporation (which was bought by Google in April 2005), the tool has become publicly available for free under the new flagship of Google Analytics. In May 2007 the application was heavily edited, developed and released; the design was simplified and more advanced featured were added. Over years Google Analytics managed to gain on popularity because of its simplicity and many advanced features for curious site owners and professional marketers.

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You probably use Google Analytics on a regular basis, for basic stats tracking the performance of your site. And, just like most GA users, you probably very rarely venture far from the comfort of the reports shown on the dashboard. That’s all the analytical information you need, you may be thinking ... or is it?

Did you know that Google Analytics can generate up to 85 different reports that will help you analyze all possible data about your website traffic. It not only tracks visitors to your site or the number of page views, it can be used to see which content gets the most visits, time on site per visit, which ads are driving the most visitors to your site, it track the performances of your marketing campaigns, including AdWords, Adsense and emails and much, much more.

This post is not a be-all-and-end-all look at GA, but a rough guide to its many under-used features and reports. It is an easy to read guide that will help you understand and use the full power of Google Analytics. Honestly, it’s not that daunting.

You may be interested in the following related posts:

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Perform Better With AdSense: The Ultimate Round-Up

Google AdSense is the easiest and quickest way to make your website, of any size, profitable. Sign-up, generate your ads and copy & paste the code into your web page, and...well, that’s it really. You are earning money. It works by by reading keywords from your content, and then displays content related text and image ads, thus enabling ads specifically targeted to your site and readers.

Google Adsense

Of course, there is a lot more to Adsense, but in a nutshell that covers it. This post is not about Adsense and its simplicity, though. It’s about understanding Adsense and all its rules, optimisation and ad placement, but mainly it’s about maximising your sites potential earnings using the different types of ads that Google offers. You could use text, image or video ads, or you could display ads within your RSS feed, search, mobile content or applications. Yes, there is a lot to cover. I'll try not to bore you.

Please notice that we published the first part of the Google AdSense round-up a couple of months ago (100% Google AdSense); this post presents further useful resources that can help you maximize your ads revenue.

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50 Fresh Useful Icon Sets For Your Next Design

Beautiful and free icon sets always come in handy. Used properly and moderately, icons can be helpful to provide users with memorable metaphors and illustrations that would provide a visual support for otherwise unspectacular text blocks. For instance, in web-applications memorable icons can be very helpful as they can make it easier for users to memorize how to perfom some specific task or where to find some specific functions.

Free Icons Round-Up - Mac Releases Icon Manila Mail

This large collection of recently released icon sets is supposed to help designers improve their designs on their web-sites and in web-applications. All icon sets are free. Please read the license agreements carefully before using the icons — the license can change from time to time. The icons provided below may turn out to be useful and helpful in corporate designs, portfolios, blogs, magazines and in Web-applications. Please feel free to suggest more icon sets in the comments to this post.

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