Insight, advice, news and chit chat

This is again for people who are using Twitter but aren’t entirely sure if they are doing it right. Have a look at the list below – if you feel like you already doing these things, then you may be ready for some of the “advanced” stuff – but we like to take things step by step – and the beginners stuff is actually where most of the magic of Twitter happens! If the words below seem like a strange language to you, comment below and I will answer with further explanations and definitions!

The designer tips I learnt at Top Left Design – by Julien Michot (one of our interns)

Julien is one of the two french students (Julien and Caroline) who spent a 10 week  internship at Top Left Design. In this post he shares with you a few new things he learnt about design.

Here is what Julien wrote

Hi everyone! I’ve just finished my 10 weeks internship here at Top Left Design. Usually I work more with the programming side of things, and have never really learnt much about the design process. I like coding because I’ve learnt a lot about how to do it, and so now it’s easy for me. But during this internship I saw that design is not so different from coding, you have to always keep in mind some key rules and guidelines to create a good design.

Here are the 7 most important rules I learnt at top left design during my 10 great weeks:

Of course, I cant resist mentioning this on our blog. We have talked about these 2 seminars already on Twitter, on our last newsletter e-bulletin, on my Linkedin profile – and now – I have to also blog about it!

So, here goes – ahem – Just in case you didn’t hear – we are running two seminars this month. At the time of writing this blog – we have only 2 spots left on the blogging seminar and 6 spots left on the social media seminar.

Let’s see how the next few days transpire! Very exciting!

Blogging for business - Thursday 20th January 2011

Social Media for business - Thursday 20th January 2011

8 Ways To Increase Your Browser Productivity

We all know that web browsers are getting faster. So what can you do to keep up with them?

There used to be a time when you might have waited 3 minutes for a webpage to open.

Then we got broadband.

Then we only had to wait an average 10 seconds for a page to load.

Then we got Firefox.

Now our new browsers such as Google’s ‘Chrome’ not only load the page in a split-second, but the programs themselves open almost instantaneously. Plus they can handle a metric ton of ‘tabs’ and not slow your computer down in the process!

Here’s 8 tips to give your web-surfing a steroid boost

4 steps to make a custom 404 error page

Welcome to my first tutorial!

In this post, I’ll be showing you how to make your very own custom 404 error page!

Time needed: 30 mins + any time spent designing the page itself
Necessary resources: Notepad, Site FTP access, coffee
Optional programs: Photoshop/Illustrator (for design of the page), FTP Client (for easier uploading)

A custom 404 page is not only a way to expand accessibility on your website, but it also shows that you (or your company) has attention to detail, and can be a way to inject some humour into a website!

In our recent Halloween Newsletter, we ran a survey to gather some feedback on the service we are providing to our clients, and to find out what people would like us to concentrate our efforts on in the future.

The information we received was very informative – we greatly appreciate and would like to thank everyone who took the time to fill out the survey!
We pride ourselves on being a company that listens to it’s clients needs, and asking you questions about our services is the best way to find that out.

But it’s not all serious business here at Top Left Design – we also asked the question: What were you for Halloween?

Here is what you guys said:

1.  Dancing badly

2.  In kerwin rae’s course

3.  The sweets holder!

4.  In a bar.

5.  The same wonderful me since I don’t “do” Halloween

6.  In Lymington at a party

7.  Inside and not answering the door!

8.  Just me I am scary enough!

9.  I will be going to see Steve Reich at the royal festival hall. I have a spare ticket too if you know anyone who’s interested!

10.  A devil

11.  Giving out sweets…

12.  Tired!

13.  Very much out of place if I dress up, as our part of London doesn’t do Hallowe’en at all. But, being a bit of a goth, I’d probably be a witch of some sort.

14.  Pirate of the Low Seas

15.  The wicked witch of the west

16.  At a party

17.  A surprise

18.  Too tired to be anything… if I had the energy – rather than a 17 day old son to feed every two hours – I’d love to be a princess. There – I have it. Sleeping Beauty!

19.  Dinner at a friend’s

20.  Black cat

21.  I’m going to go as the apostrophe in Hallowe’en, just as soon as I work out what a suitably anally-retentive costume would be. And, yes, I realise that I’m a grammar and type fascist.

22.  Pooped – all my spare time is going to redecorate my new house before my father moves in with us next weekend. If I did have time for such shennanigans I’d probably dust off my old glam rock costume, even though I made the shoulder pads/breast plate so big I can’t eat or drink in it because my hands can’t reach my mouth!

23.  Ali-hipo-rhino-croca-dilli-gator

24.  At the theatre

25.  A designer 🙂

26.  Not sure yet!!

27.  Moving my M-in-L to her new house!!

28.  A pumpkin.

29.  Sleeping!

31.  N/A

32.  With my nose? A witch obviously!

33.  A witch…

34.  Myself

Alicia and Keren

We asked Alicia Bell, who worked at TLD a while ago, what skills she learned here which still prove useful to her now that she is working in Canada as a marketing manager. Below is what she said!

What I learned at Top Left Design

Working at TLD was definitely a learning experience, not only did I learn HTML and Photoshop, I learned a whole bunch of simple skills that I have been using in almost every job that I’ve had afterwards.

Effective Email

Email communication doesn’t have to be complicated or take a long time. After writing many emails at Top Left Design, I learned that in order to avoid confusion increase efficiency, emails have to be formatted properly and be clear and simple. First, let’s start out with format. It is so important to start out an email with the person’s name. You could say “Hi Martin” or “Martin,” some sort of introduction. When you start an email out with information it can be confusing and not to mention it can seem a little rude. The rest of the email should be broken up into paragraphs and finish with a sign off like “Thanks,” or “Regards,” or whatever you are comfortable with. As for simplicity and clarity – this is the most important part. Unless you want to be writing back and forth all day with questions, its best to be clear about what you are talking about. This means to get the main points out separately. So, if you have to mention several points and ask questions it is good to group them together. When you are asking questions you have to make it obvious that you need an answer. If you say “I was wondering” and trail off with a long complicated question it isn’t clear in the end what you are talking about. On the other hand, writing an email with a quick one line answer can be even more confusing. If you follow all of these simple rules emailing will be less work and people will appreciate the ease of reading your emails.

File in Style – it takes a while but saves a mile!

Another important part of working with emails all day is keeping them organised. An organised email program on your computer means that you can respond faster to clients, colleagues and have a clear idea of what you are working on and will need to work on. By keeping a clear filing system in your inbox you will be able to find an email quickly and easily if you need it for reference. Not to mention that if you keep your inbox clean you can see what you need to work on and what’s new. Once you are finished working on something you can file it away and not worry about it anymore. If you have loads of emails that are in different stages of being complete you’ll have no idea what you are working on. You could also file based on urgency levels, i.e. 3 being least important (maybe ongoing projects that aren’t client based) and 1 being the most important (projects that have a deadline that is quickly approaching). If you are able to do this you will increase your efficiency level at the workplace significantly.

Mean well with a manual!

Another skill that I acquired working at TLD was manual writing. In any position it is important for someone to pick up a piece of paper and be able to figure out how to do a certain task. If you are the only one who knows how to do a certain procedure at your workplace it can be stressful if you are sick or going on vacation. The best way to work on a manual is to break down the process very clearly into bullet points or steps. Once you are complete try to do the steps based on your own instructions, or better yet get someone who knows nothing about the process to do it. That way you will see whether your manual has holes and how you can fix them. Once you have this information down on paper transitional periods will be much simpler at any job.

Overall, keeping organized is not something that everyone knows how to do. By following these easy steps you will be begin to be more efficient and dare I say happier at work. If you know what you are doing and what track you are on things will definitely start to go your way at the workplace.

Our last intern Maja who came from Germany has now left us – sad!
We asked her to write about her experience and this is what she said:


“When I heard about my internship in web design I was a little bit afraid, because I’ve never worked with HTML and web design before. But in the end I enjoyed it and I now know more about web design and how to present the designs to clients.
To be honest – this is my first internship that I really enjoyed. The whole team was very friendly and open minded and it was a very relaxed atmosphere. I even had my own computer – that was great!

The special things I have learnt whilst on my internship were:

Using Adobe Photoshop, Macromedia HomeSite, Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Indesign
How to make a gradient (using Layers) [ Photoshop]
How a website is designed in Photoshop then built in HTML (Footer, Top, Navigation, font size & Home and Inner, Templates) [ Photoshop & HomeSite]

I had a lot of projects, which was very good – so I could do a lot of designs which made me very happy. Sometimes I thought I was very helpful, so I hope at the end I was very useful to your company.

Every day I tried my best and the whole time in the internship was a very good experience for me. Thank you for giving me a lot of different projects to work on. This was very good and has built on my experiences.

I wish I could stay longer in your company because it was a really good time for me. I really liked this internship. This was the best internship I’ve ever had (seriously!).

In the past the other internships were not as good as here, because the atmosphere was not as good….a couple of my bosses were uptight and not good-humoured like you and your team are.

It was a great time at Top Left Design for me!”


We will miss Maja too!
She was hard working, showed great talent, was quick to learn and helpful. We wish her luck in her future career – keep in touch!