How Web Designers Can Cope with Situations Out of Their Control

Everyone wants to control their own destiny. For web designers, that means layouts that look great, code that works as intended, and clients who pay on time.

While we may wish for each of those things, reality usually plays out differently. Layouts aren’t always pixel-perfect, code breaks and clients – well, they’re human.

But it goes even further. The deeper you look, the more situations you’ll find that are out of your control.

This is especially tough for those of us who keep a tight grip on both our business and projects. When something is out of our sphere of influence, it’s easy to become frustrated. And that can harm virtually every aspect of your work. It may even creep into your personal life as well.

That’s why the ability to cope with these situations is vital. By saving yourself from obsessing over something you can’t control, you’ll have more energy to focus on being positive and productive.

Let’s look at a few difficult-to-control situations that typically impact web designers. Along the way, we’ll discuss some methods for letting go in a healthy manner.

When a Longtime Client Leaves

If you’ve worked in this industry for a few years, you may have gotten an unexpected email from a client that goes something like this:


We wanted to let you know that we are in the process of building a new website. It should be ready in the next few weeks. Could you work with our new designer to help with the transition?

It was great working with you!
Your Ex-Client”

This is frustrating on a few different levels. First and foremost, it hurts that you didn’t get a chance to even discuss the project. On top of that, your soon-to-be ex-client expects you to work on the transition away from your services.

Clients will come and go – that’s just part of doing business. However, it’s particularly difficult when someone blindsides you like this.

As it turns out, you had no warning and zero control. If you had just been able to pitch an idea or two, maybe things would have turned out differently? These are the types of thoughts likely racing through your head after reading such a letter.

How to Cope

True, the damage has already been done. And while you can angrily fire off a one or two-word reply to your client, that’s not going to help the situation.

On the bright side, this could be a great learning opportunity. Reply with a few politely-asked questions, such as:

  • Was there a particular reason you went with a new designer?
  • Did you have any issues with the quality of my work?
  • So that I can continue to improve my services, is there anything else you’d like to share?

Much of what you ask will depend on the client and the project. But this is a solid place to start. The idea is to get inside your client’s head a bit and find out what went into their decision.

And while not everyone will provide answers, the ones who do can prove valuable. You may find that your services were lacking in some areas. Or, perhaps the client’s cousin is the “new designer”. Either way, it’s better than pounding your fist over the situation.

When a Third-Party Provider Messes Up

So much of what web designers do these days depends on third-party providers. That could be anything from web hosting, plugins, themes, or email delivery services. In other words – a big piece of a website’s ability to function or be accessed at all is run by someone else.

A failure at any one of these links in the chain can be disastrous. To illustrate the point, think about what happens when a content delivery network (CDN) has an outage. That could bring down a massive number of websites.

Meanwhile, web designers are left without much (if any) control. On one hand, you have an understandably frustrated client. On the other is a company that dropped the ball. Oh, look – there’s you in the middle!

In this type of situation, every second can feel like an eternity. There might be an opportunity to switch to a different product, but that’s not always feasible. If the issue is prolonged, tension continues to grow on all sides.

How to Cope

Maybe you can’t control an outage or even a troublesome line of code. But there are some things you can do proactively.

Working with the provider’s technical support can at least make you feel like you’re in the game. By getting the status of the situation, there’s an opportunity to pass it along to affected clients.

What’s more, any troubleshooting information you can offer also has value. Who knows? If it leads to a resolution, you can say you were part of the process.

A broken plate

When a Favorite App Changes for the Worse

This one often hurts on a personal level. We web designers tend to fall in love with tools and applications that allow us to get things done. Perhaps it’s a favorite design app like Photoshop or a content management system (CMS) such as WordPress.

When apps change, those changes are inevitably forced onto us, as well. They impact our workflow – and not always in the most positive way.

All it takes is a quick look around support forums and social media to see the frustration. Users go on about how the feature they loved was “ruined” or that things will never be the same. We’ve all seen it and, at one time or another, been a part of that collective disappointment.

How to Cope

The first coping strategy is to give such changes a chance to sink in. Even if your first impression of them wasn’t favorable, it can take time to build a comfort level. A feature that may have frustrated you at first could become positive after more exposure.

Second, you might reach out to the developer and let them know how you feel. Maybe it doesn’t result in an immediate remedy, but at least you get it off of your chest. And if enough people feel the same way, there’s a chance that things evolve more acceptably.

If all else fails, perhaps it’s time to find a suitable alternative. Sometimes, your relationship with a tool simply runs its course.

A person looks at a computer screen.

A Different Take on Control

In a profession where we aim to control all the variables, having the opposite can be maddening.

But, think of it this way: even if you could control every aspect of your work, would you even want to? It’s a major responsibility and more stress than most of us can bear.

Somewhere along the line, you have to put a level of trust in others. Whether that’s trusting a client, a software developer, or a service provider – they are often necessary rungs on the ladder to a successful business.

There will be failures and disconnects along the way. And, while it would be nice to have a measure of control over them, it’s also a bit unrealistic.

However, lack of control doesn’t mean that you have to give up all hope. Instead, look for ways to learn from the situation. The knowledge and experience you gain will serve you long into the future.

The post How Web Designers Can Cope with Situations Out of Their Control appeared first on Speckyboy Design Magazine.

The Top Add-Ons for the Gravity Forms WordPress Plugin

Gravity Forms is one of the most versatile WordPress plugins out there. Yes, it creates forms – and quite well. But its capabilities go well beyond your standard contact form.

A default installation of this commercial plugin can add all manner of conditional logic. That’s pretty powerful in itself. However, throw in the many available add-on plugins, and you have nearly endless possibilities.

Add-ons bring extra functionality to Gravity Forms. You can use them to take online payments, allow users to create an account, run surveys, generate PDF files, and a whole lot more. Really, that’s just the beginning of what can be accomplished.

Today, we’ll introduce you to some free and commercially available plugins that help turn Gravity Forms (and your website) into a feature-packed powerhouse.

Gravity Forms Zero Spam

If you have contact forms on your website, you also have spam. But mitigating this annoyance is easy with Gravity Forms Zero Spam. The plugin has no settings – simply install and activate to start blocking junk mail. It also plays nicely with other spam repellants such as reCAPTCHA.

Gravity Forms Entries in Excel

By default, Gravity Forms will export form entries in CSV format. But that’s not necessarily what you’ll always want. Plus, a site administrator has to be the one to perform the export. Gravity Forms Entries in Excel adds the flexibility of exporting to a more visually friendly Excel format and adding a secure link where others can directly access the generated file.

Gravity Forms Entries in Excel

Event Tracking for Gravity Forms

Want to get more in-depth detail of how your forms are performing? Event Tracking for Gravity Forms ties in various form events with Google Analytics, among other similar programs. The result is that you can more easily track conversions. As a bonus, there are a number of helpful videos that demonstrate how to set it all up.

Event Tracking for Gravity Forms

Gravity PDF

Imagine being able to take a user’s form entry and turn it into a personalized, branded PDF. That’s exactly what Gravity PDF can do. Add your logo, use custom fonts and even email the file directly to users. And, with the use of premium extensions, you’ll gain access to more file templates, the ability to watermark your documents and more.

Gravity PDF

Gravity Forms CLI Add-On

Administering WordPress via the command line allows for both power and efficiency. Gravity Forms CLI Add-On is an official extension that simply adds forms to the mix. Use it to manage forms and entries in pretty much the same way as you would in the WordPress back end. You can even use it to install other official add-ons.

Gravity Forms CLI Add-On


GravityView is a suite of commercial add-ons that enables form entry data on the front end of your website. For instance, if users register for accounts via Gravity Forms, you could use this plugin to allow them to edit their profile data. From there, you can track changes to those profiles or perhaps plot addresses on a Google Map. And this is only scratching the surface of what’s possible.


GravityWP – CSS Selector

Gravity Forms includes a number of helpful CSS “Ready” Classes that allow for more control over field layout. However, you must manually look up (or memorize) these classes and then add them into a field’s settings for them to take effect. GravityWP – CSS Selector takes the guesswork out of the process by allowing you to select from a handy listing of classes, thus saving loads of time.

GravityWP – CSS Selector


Rounding out our list is GravityPerks, a commercial suite of over 30 “Perks” or add-ons that bring some seriously cool functionality to your forms. There are perks for all manner of functions, such as limiting the number of entries (or times a multiple-choice option can be selected), adding word counts to fields, the ability to email everyone who has submitted a particular form, and a lot more. If you require some niche functionality, look here first.


Give Gravity a Boost

Two things really make Gravity Forms stand out as special. First, it offers some outstanding features right out of the box. Second, the plugin is built with extensibility in mind.

This has led to a community of both official and third-party add-ons that enable web designers to implement some mind-blowing functionality with minimal effort.

While Gravity Forms itself and some add-ons do cost money, it should still fit within even the smallest budgets. And for the number of powerful features you can add to your site, it’s well worth the investment.

The post The Top Add-Ons for the Gravity Forms WordPress Plugin appeared first on Speckyboy Design Magazine.

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50 Free High-Resolution Photoshop Brushes

Photoshop brushes let you express your creativity in a completely new way. With thousands upon thousands of Photoshop brushes available for download, you are truly spoilt for choice, so there’s no excuse not to use them.

The demand for high-quality Photoshop brushes is huge. Every designer wants them. Every designer needs them. And as you will no doubt already know, we love to highlight and share as many free design resources as possible.

And today, we take a look at some of the best high-resolution Photoshop brush packs currently available in the design community.

So download these free Photoshop Brushes and install them all. You just never know when you might need them.

How to Install Photoshop Brushes

Here’s a quick tutorial on how to install and use Photoshop brushes.

  • Download the Photoshop brush you want to use and unzip the file
  • On your computer, go to the Photoshop folder and locate Presets > Brushes
  • Move your downloaded brush file to the above folder
  • Launch Photoshop and go to Edit > Presets > Preset Manager
  • Click the Load button, locate your newly added brushes and click Open. You can also use the import presets function to install an entire folder of presets at one time. Once you’ve done that, you’re ready to use the new Photoshop brush.
  • To use a Photoshop brush, go to Window > Brushes
  • Select your brush and then paint over the canvas. You can adjust the size and shape of your brush in the Brush Settings panel

Scribble Art Photoshop Brushes (Free, 39 Brushes)

If you need to add an abstract line or shape to your designs, then this free collection of scribble art Photoshop brushes is for you.

Da Vinci Pencil Photoshop Brushes (Envato Elements)

This high-resolution set contains twenty-five varied hard and soft lead pencil and sketching brushes.

Da Vinci Pencil Photoshop Brushes ABR

Subtle Grain Photoshop Brushes (Free, 6 Brushes)

This free Photoshop brush set from Spoon Graphics will allow you to give your clean designs a hint of texture that will quickly give them a vintage appearance.

Subtle Grain Photoshop Brushes Tools Presets Free ABR

Wavenwater Photoshop Brushes (Free)

The Wavenwater Photoshop brushes is a set of artistic brushes and tool presets for Photoshop. You can freely use these brushes in your projects and let your creativity run wild.

Wavenwater Photoshop Brushes Tools Presets Free ABR

Stipple Brushes for Photoshop (Envato Elements)

If you’re looking to add a modern twist or a touch of pop-art to your art creations, you will love this Photoshop brush set!

Stipple Brushes for Photoshop ABR

The Thrasher Collection of Photoshop Brushes (Free, 8 Brushes)

The Thrasher Collection is a free set of textures and eight Photoshop brushes for giving a grungy and textured effect to your designs.

Mixergraph Texture Photoshop Brushes Tools Presets Free ABR

Elegant Flower High-Resolution Photoshop Brushes (Free, 15 Brushes)

This high-resolution set contains individual brushes of roses, lilacs, dandelions, and more. In total there are fifteen flowers in the free set.

Elegant Flower free photoshop brushes ABR

Watercolor Brushes for Photoshop (Envato Elements)

This tropical watercolor brush set for Photoshop is all you need to create a dreamy tropical watercolor scene. It features 15 watercolor brushes and various watercolor elements and backgrounds.

Watercolor Brushes for Photoshop ABR

Ink Brushes for Photoshop (Free, 28 Brushes)

Download this free collection of 28 brushes if you need to give your designs a watercolor or distressed effect.

Ink Brushes Photoshop Brushes Tools Presets Free ABR

Real Markers Photoshop Brushes (Free, 12 Brushes)

As well as a small selection of linework brushes, this fantastic collection includes a huge collection of permanent and solid marker Photoshop brushes.

Real Markers Photoshop Brushes free brushes ABR

High-Res Photoshop Brushes Watercolor Collection (Envato Elements)

These watercolor brushes feature lovely floral elements. It’s a great set of brushes that will add a dose of elegance to any project. The set contains more than 60 floral, garland, and wreath brushes.

Photoshop Brushes Watercolor Collection ABR

Photoshop Stroke Brushes (Free, 27 Brushes)

Stroke Brushes Photoshop Brushes Tools Presets Free ABR

Martina Palazzese’s Digital Oil Painting Brushes (Free, 6 Brushes)

Martina Palazzese has released her personal collection of brushes so that you can create your own professional digital oil paintings.

Martina Palazzese Digital Oil Painting Brushes free photoshop brushes ABR

Artistic Studio: Watercolor Toolkit (Envato Elements)

This set is perfect if you want to seriously stock up your design library. It contains 35 watercolor brushes for Photoshop as well as dozens of other watercolor elements such as textures, strokes, backgrounds, and more.

Artistic Studio: Watercolor Toolkit ABR

Hi-Res Smoke Photoshop Brushes (Free, 4 Brushes)

Check out this collection of four smoke brushes for Photoshop. The brushes were done in hi-res and you can use them to spice up any design project you are working on.

Hi-Res Smoke Photoshop Brushes ABR

Dispersion Effect Photoshop Brushes (Free, 20 Brushes)

If you’re looking for a quick way of adding the stunning dispersion effect to your designs, then this free collection of twenty Photoshop brushes is what you need.

Dispersion Effect Photoshop Brushes Tools Presets Free ABR

Goldish Kit For Photoshop (Envato Elements)

Try this Goldfish kit for Photoshop if you’re working on a luxury or high-end project. The kit contains Photoshop brushes as well as layer styles, patterns, and textures.

Goldish Kit For Photoshop Extras ABR

Grunge Photoshop Brush Kit (Free, 16 Brushes)

Grunge Photoshop Brush Kit Brushes Tools Presets Free ABR

Mixergraph Grunge Brushes (Free, 5 Brushes)

All five of the individual high-resolution textures in this free Photoshop brush pack have been hand-made, digitalised and then individually edited.

Mixergraph Grunge free photoshop brushes ABR

Watercolor Design Bundle (Envato Elements)

If you’re looking for a way to add artistic elements to your designs, look no further than these beautiful watercolor brushes. The set contains 169 watercolor brushes along with other various watercolor design elements.

Watercolor Design Bundle ABR

Hand Drawn Arrows Brush Set (Free, 80 Brushes)

All created by hand, this free Photoshop brush set contains eighty individually sketched or drawn arrows.

Hand Drawn Arrows PS Brush Set free photoshop brushes ABR

Real Photoshop Brush Strokes (Free, 53 Brushes)

This high-resolution (2500px) set of Photoshop Dry Brushes contains fifty-three brush presets, giving a huge choice of brush effects.

Real Brush Strokes free photoshop brushes ABR

Coffee Paint Photoshop Brushes (Free, 16 Brushes)

If you need to give your project a distressed or rough appearance, then this collection of 16 Photoshop brushes is what you’re looking for.

Coffee Paint Photoshop Brushes Tools Presets Free ABR

Trails Brush Set (Free, 19 Brushes)

This Trails brush set features 19 high quality brushes for Photoshop. The brushes can be used in both commercial and personal project but keep in mind attribution is required.

Trails Brush Set 19 Brushes ABR

Bokeh Photoshop Brushes (Free, 8 Brushes)

If you want to apply a bokeh effect to your design easily, try this set of bokeh brushes. You will find 8 different brushes that can be used in any personal project.

Bokeh Photoshop Brushes ABR

Abstract Watercolor Brushes (Free, 12 Brushes)

This stunning free Photoshop bundle includes twelve transparent watercolor brushes and a free paper background texture.

Abstract Watercolor Photoshop Brushes Tools Presets Free ABR

Charcoal Pencil Photoshop Brushes (Free, 6 Brushes)

This is a free hand-drawn charcoal pencil brush set that includes brushed, gritted, grained, flicked, wacked, and dabbed brushes.

Charcoal Pencil Photoshop Brushes Tools Presets Free ABR

Doodle Birds & Frames Photoshop (Free, 9 Brushes)

This free set contains nine free Photoshop brushes of hand-drawn birds and frames.

Doodle Birds & Frames Photoshop Brushes Tools Presets Free ABR

Water Splash Photoshop Brushes (Free, 11 Brushes)

This package, created by Niño Batitis, contains 11 high-resolution water splash brushes.

Water Splash Photoshop Brushes ABR

Marker Streak Brushes (Free, 20 Brushes)

This set of Photoshop brushes contains 20 high resolution marker streak brushes. The brushes can be used in both personal and commercial projects with no limitations.

Marker Streak Brushes ABR

Realistic Charcoal Photoshop Brushes (Free)

This set of realistic charcoal brushes was born out of an artist’s need for realistic charcoal feel in their designs. The set features various charcoal style brushes and can be used with no limitations.

realistic Charcoal Brush

High Resolution Cloud Photoshop Brushes (Free, 20 Brushes)

In this high resolution (2500px) pack there are 20 cloud brushes. These brushes are free to download and use in both commercial and personal projects.

High Resolution Cloud Photoshop Brushes ABR

High-Resolution Fabric Texture Photoshop Brushes (Free, 20 Brushes)

There are twenty fabric textures in this pack, and are all sized at 2500px.

High Resolution Fabric Texture Photoshop Brushes ABR

Distressed Halftone Brush Strokes (Free, 21 Brushes)

In this brush pack there are 21 hand-painted brush strokes that have been post-processed and bitmapped inside Photoshop, giving them a wonderful distressed halftone effect.

Distressed Halftone Brush Strokes ABR

Lightning Photoshop Brushes (Free, 43 Brushes)

How about adding some lightning to your project? With the help of this brushes, you’re sure to make some electrifying designs! Brushes can be used for personal projects.

Lightning Photoshop Brushes ABR

Oil Photoshop Brushes (Free, 20 Brushes)

If you need oil Photoshop brushes, this set will serve you nicely. The set contains twenty brushes that can be used in personal and commercial projects.

Oil Photoshop Brushes ABR

Splash Photoshop Brushes (Free, 15 Brushes)

Check out this collection of 15 splash brushes for Photoshop. It’s perfect for any grunge project and you can use these brushes in both commercial and personal projects.

Splash Photoshop Brushes ABR

Brush Pack v3 by Fenris31 (Free)

This brush pack by Fenris31 contains various brushes for Photoshop that will be suitable for all kinds of artistic and design projects. Use them in commercial and personal projects alike.

Brush Pack ABR

Photoshop Brushes for Painting Rocks and Water (Free)

If you want to achieve great results when painting rocks and water, consider this set of brushes. You will find various brushes that can be used for both commercial and personal projects. Crediting is not required but greatly appreciated.

Photoshop Brushes for Painting Rocks and Water ABR

Radiate Brush Set (Free, 12 Brushes)

This brush set includes 12 unique & abstract techno style brushes. Great for album artwork, abstract backgrounds and decorating tech style design projects.

Radiate Brush Set ABR

Fairy Tales Photoshop Brush Set (Free, 9 Brushes)

In this set there are 9 high resolution (1000 up to 2500px) brushes. They can be used for creating fantasy backgrounds and textures like rocks and metals.

Fairy Tales Photoshop Brush Set ABR

Old Technical Drawings Brushes (Free, 10 Brushes)

This set of brushes was made from old technical drawings so they are pretty realistic. The pack contains 10 brushes and they can be used for both commercial and personal projects.

Free Photoshop Brush Packs Old Technical Drawings Brushes there are 10 Brushes in the pack

High Res Dry Brush Stroke Brushes (Free, 12 Brushes)

This pack of high resolution brushes contains 12 dry brush stroke brushes. The pack can be used in personal and commercial projects, however attribution is required.

Free Photoshop Brush Packs High Res Dry Brush Stroke Brushes there are 12 Brushes in the pack

Bokeh Brushes (Free, 12 Brushes)

This set of bokeh brushes comes with 12 individual brushes that are perfect for any project that could use a little extra. The brushes are free to use in personal and commercial projects.

Bokeh Brushes there are 12 Brushes in the pack

Rain Photoshop Brush Set (Free)

Create realistic rain effect with the help of the Rain brushes for Photoshop. The pack can be used for commercial and personal projects.

Rain Photoshop Brush Set

TC-EPICA-I (Free, 10 Brushes)

TC-EPICA-I is a set of artistic brushes. It contains 10 different brushes that can be used to apply textures, smudges, and effects to your designs. The pack is free for personal and commercial projects with attribution required.

TC-EPICA-I there are 10 Brushes in the pack

Fiber Brushes (Free, 16 Brushes)

This pack contains 16 high resolution fiber brushes. They can be used in commercial and personal projects and crediting is not required but it is appreciated.

Free Photoshop Fiber Brushes there are 16 Brushes in the pack

Custom Brushes of Tyler Street (Free, 40 Brushes)

With an unusual name like this, you’re bound to find some original brushes for your design project. The pack contains 40 different brushes that can be used for personal and commercial projects.

Free Photoshop Custom Brushes of Tyler Street there are 40 Brushes in the pack

Nature Silhouettes Trees & Grass Brushes (Free, 19 Brushes)

Add a dash of nature to your designs with the help of these nature silhouette brushes. The pack contains 19 brushes and is free for personal and commercial use.

Free Photoshop Nature Silhouettes Trees & Grass Brushes there are 19 Brushes in the pack

Abstract Bokeh Brushes (Free, 24 Brushes)

Now you can easily add lomo and light-leak effect to your photos without recreating this effect from scratch. The pack contains 24 different brushes.

Free Photoshop Abstract Bokeh Brushes there are 24 Brushes in the pack

Grimey Brushes (Free, 5 Brushes)

This pack of 5 brushes will add grime to any design. You can use the pack in personal and commercial projects with no limitations.

Free Photoshop Grimey Brushes there are 5 Brushes in the pack

Watercolour & Ink Photoshop Brushes (Free, 25 Brushes)

These brushes have been created by using either watercolor paints or Indian ink on card. You can freely use them in both your personal or commercial work.

Watercolour and Ink Photoshop Brushes free photoshop brushes ABR

Aaron Griffin’s Digital Painting Brushes (Free, 6 Brushes)

Aaron Griffin Digital Painting free photoshop brushes ABR

Cloud Photoshop Brushes (Free, 15 Brushes)

There are fifteen individual cloud brushes in this set. You can use this free brush set with no commercial restrictions

cloud free photoshop brushes ABR

Spray Splatter Photoshop Brushes (Free, 12 Brushes)

These free splattered spray Photoshop brushes will be perfect for adding a grungy or dirty effect to your artwork.

Spray Platter free photoshop brushes ABR

Smoke & Fire Brushes (Free, 22 Brushes)

There are twenty-two brushes in this free high-resolution smoke and fire set.

Smoke and Fire free photoshop brushes ABR

High Resolution Fire Photoshop Brushes (Free, 20 Brushes)

This pack contains twenty high-resolution fire brushes, perfect for creating fiery text effect, glowing embers, or using them for lighting effects.

High Resolution Fire Photoshop Brushes ABR

Photoshop Smoke Brushes (Free, 13 Brushes)

This pack contains thirteen high quality Photoshop smoke brushes perfect for your next design project.

Photoshop Smoke Brushes ABR

The post 50 Free High-Resolution Photoshop Brushes appeared first on Speckyboy Design Magazine.

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