All Posts By

Tom Chu


20 Really Useful Cheatsheets for Web Designers

Whether you’re a Tokyo, San Francisco, or website design Toronto firm, it’s about time that web designers put away the old textbooks and endless technical manuals and used a better, more simple method of keeping track of information related to web design – some kind of reference that allows them to find what data they need quickly, without going through endless resources that wastes time and energy.

I am not the only person to think so, which is why an enormous number of cheatsheets have been created by people who are eager to provide such lists for other designers to reference quickly. Knowing the shortcuts and loopholes in web programming processes can help create a maximum effective and efficient computer professional. Degrees like an like an instructional technology certification are designed to teach students these shortcuts so that they can carry them on to the professional workplace

The problem is that there are so many, and a lot of them are not as complete or useful as they could be. That is why I went through hundreds to come up with a core list of 20 of the best, within five categories: usability, accessibility, CSS, typography and color.


1. Web Site Usability Checklist
When you need a really quick reference for usability testing, this is a good one. It has a simple, five-point system with full explanation that helps you to give your site an objective once-over.

2. The Essential Website Usability Checklist
A little more in depth, this checklist has 13 primary checks for you to look at. It covers the basics that are good for an initial usability test prior to sending in a first version of a site.

3. Practical Usability Testing
Dry and practical, this checklist takes you through every major step of a thorough usability scenario. From planning the test to checking the legalities, it has everything you need to make sure you don’t miss anything.

4. Top 10 Web Application Usability Guidelines and Checklist
Jayson Online created a simple list of 10 guidelines related to usability that are a little different from standard checklists. This is worth a read along with any others you might use, just to get another perspective.

5. Everyday Usability – 14 Point Checklist for Success
Kimberly Krause Berg wanted to give a guide of daily usability that could be applied to regular updates for the best results. This guide is short but should become a regular part of your routine if you want to ensure usability for every visitor, no matter when they come to your site.


6. W3C Cheat Sheet
This link provides multiple resources through tabs near the top, with an entire section dedicated to accessibility. It’s easy to read, with active links to find out more about each topic.

7. WCAG Cheat Sheet
This three-tiered priority system allows you to expand each topic for more information. It has a great, organized approach toward accessibility in website design.

8. Web Accessibility Checklist Wallpaper
This downloadable checklist wallpaper gives you a couple of the most important elements to keep in mind when making a truly inclusive page for special-needs users.

9. Web Content Accessibility Cheat Sheet
From the same website, this is a more complete cheatsheet that relates to the transition from 1.0 to 2.0 web design. It’s one of the most commonly used and shared cheatsheets on the subject.


10. Cascading Style Sheets (PDF)
This is an extremely useful, two-page resource about CSS, specifically, cascading style 1.0. It comes in a PDF and is a simple one to print out for easier use. It is out of date but still relevant when applied to updates.

11. CSS Cheat Sheet
Somewhat less helpful but still worth having around, this is a simple CSS style guide featuring basic commands on border, font, text and more.

12. CSS Level 1 and CSS-P Quick Reference Charts (PDF)
Another oldie but goodie, this provides users with a good foundation of terminology and descriptions for different properties that are still applied to updated versions of the CSS3.

13. CSS – A Guide for the Unglued
Are you on the verge of flipping your lid? That is a common feeling for the average web designer, especially when a project has proven problematic. That’s why this panic guide was made, to help simplify things and calm you down.

14. CSS Cheat Sheet
Superbasic, this is a single-page printout version of a cheatsheet. It basically covers the simple commands related to style, such as adding margins or capitalizing the first letter of each word. It’s great if you just want a quickie reference at which to glance.

15. Cascading Style Sheets (CSS 3) Quick Reference Guide (PDF)
This is a complete quick reference guide for CSS3, the most recent update of the coding style. Five pages long and in color, this PDF is better suited to save to your desktop than to print or bookmark.

16. Blueprint CSS Cheat Sheet
For those using Blueprint, here is a well made, if outdated, cheatsheet that can still give you the basics that you need for the program today.


17. Common Fonts to All Versions of Windows and Mac Equivalents
This is a quick reference for web designers about the different typography families and the equivalents between Windows and Apple. Because font so rarely changes in any meaningful way, this is still perfectly relevant despite being published in 2008.

18. Web Designer’s Font Card
An extremely expansive font sheet, you can download the free version or get the poster version to keep on your wall to glance at when you need to. It also has a color card. While I normally wouldn’t endorse a paid product, I think the poster chart is well worth the $10 it asks for.


19. Web Safe Color Chart
A must-have for all web designers, this is a supersimple web-safe color chart. Not only does it show the colors and shades but it provides their color codes for easy use, as well. I was impressed by the way it’s presented in such a clear and concise manner.

20. Color Reference Guide (PDF)
This is a more updated version that gets some of the shades in that the other color guide missed. It also provides you with the color code to make it easier to apply them to a design. I love how it gets the intermediate shades that are very similar to the others but still gives a slightly different effect when used.


Yes, there is a lot to remember as a web designer, and it can be enough to make you want to put your head through a wall. But if you want to make it a little easier, all you need are a couple of references to have on hand. These quickie cheatsheets will go a long way toward simplifying the process for you and therefore save time and energy. Check them out!


5 Notorious Online Productivity Killers and How to Avoid Them

Productivity isn’t a simple matter. It is hard enough to keep it up when you sit in an office surrounded by people who check up on you all day. But when you work for yourself, such as for a small online sticker printing company or as a contractor, it is even more difficult – mainly, because you are only accountable for yourself, and with so many ways to distract yourself it can be hard to get anything done on time.

You have probably found yourself scrambling to do what you promised you would after realizing you have frittered away the day watching YouTube clips and posting anonymous comments on blogs that feature funny cat pictures. But it doesn’t have to be that way – not if you are willing to admit you have a problem.

Here are five serious productivity killers and five tools that can help you to beat each one.

1. Procrastination

“I will just finish reading this article, and then I will get to work.” How often do you say this to yourself? More importantly, how often do you really start working after the article instead of finding another one to immerse yourself in the moment you finished reading the first?

This is one of the most common problems people encounter, and it is amazing how quickly time can be wasted. Hours will pass before you even realize you have spent the entire morning reading. Because this is such a frequent problem, I usually recommend Read It Later. This excellent little thing can be associated with an account that is then accessible from your mobile device, browser or desktop, no matter where you are. While it is meant to bookmark articles, it can actually save any web page. So you can use it to keep track of things you want to watch, as well.

2. Distraction

You can be in the middle of work and find yourself distracted in seconds. Maybe it is a link that caught your eye, or you suddenly remembered some lyrics but you can’t remember the title of the song. You might have received an email that doesn’t have to be answered (or even read) immediately, but you just can’t help yourself and open it anyway.

The best thing to do is cut out any distractions, but when you work on a computer that can be hard to do. That is why I like LeechBlock. Made for Firefox, this add-on blocks specified pages – or even all Internet use – for a certain amount of time that you set in advance. You can give times during the day to block or just say how many minutes per hour, several hours or day can be spent on those sites. Every browser has its own version of this kind of program.

3. Over planning

It isn’t the planning that is the problem here, from what I have seen. It is the sheer amount of time people will use finding, signing up for and then customizing elaborate planning programs that then do absolutely nothing at all for them because they stop using them within a day. Spending too much time planning, or just putting in too much detail, is a waste of a lot of time. Instead, keep a simple checklist of what you need to get done and then do it, removing things as you go.

One of my favorite productivity tools is a super easy one that anyone with Windows has: Sticky Notes. You might laugh, but there is no simpler or effective way of keeping a visual list that will keep you moving to finish it than this free program on Windows. The Tasks app on Gmail is also very effective if you spend a lot of time with the page open.

4. Unawareness

Sometimes we don’t know how much time we waste every day, which makes us complacent. You might not even realize how badly your productivity is off. I knew a person who owned his own graphic design company. He got his deadlines done on time, though just barely.

The problem was that he didn’t understand where all his time was going and thought he might have been undercharging hours. So he used RescueTime, a great monitoring and analysis software that works for free, to see where he was going wrong. It turned out he was spending an average of three hours a day on Facebook – most of it spent playing Mafia Wars. Seeing that, he started blocking Facebook while he worked using LeechBlock and found himself finishing projects days, and sometimes even weeks, ahead of schedule.

5. Disorganization

Not taking the time to make sure you are organized can be a really big problem. According to a number of studies, the average person loses a full hour a day when they have not properly organized everything. From making sure you have a clean workspace to being able to find files and have information ready when someone asks for it, you need to be organized and focused.

One of the biggest things to organize is your time. That is why I like Focus Booster. It basically uses the old tried-and-true method of working for 25 minutes without any distractions before taking a five-minute break, only through an actual app. During that 25 minutes you only work on one single thing, avoiding everything else, including email.


These are the five biggest productivity killers for most people. But the tools above can really help you to cut down on wasted time and get more done when you need to, whether you are a business owner, a freelancer, a student or an office worker. Check them out today!

Image Credits: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.


10 Flickr Groups for Motion Photography That Will Inspire You

If you have a penchant for taking pictures, you’ve probably found yourself inspired and intrigued by the wonder that is motion photography. That’s no surprise: The ability to capture a stationary image of life in motion is certainly a skill to behold. If you want to produce the perfect moving image, these fascinating Flickr groups are sure to get your creative juices flowing.

Motion Capture

Flicker’s Motion Capture group claims a modest 55 members, yet the small size of the group plays no reflection on the talent inside.

From this stunning use of colour taken by professional photographer Sade Williams for risque L’Autre Magazine, through to this amusing and artistic use of life in action, Motion Capture is a growing group that’s guaranteed to offer some much needed inspiration.

Motion Distortion

A group dedicated to the use of distortion in motion photography, Motion Distortion’s 400-odd members have grouped together to showcase their work and offer inspiration to those seeking a new dimension to the use of the camera.

Motion Distortion captures an image that is unseen by the naked eye, an almost third dimension if you will, and the aptly named Flickr group is rife with expert examples such as this.

Motion Minimalism

A group created around a similar ethos to Motion Distortion, Motion Minimalism is dedicated to the use of abstract photography techniques with a minimalist twist.

Stand-out photos include this breathtaking example of motion and its use in image distortion as well as this photo, that shows the potential impact of something as simplistic as Christmas lights.

Deliberate Motion Blur: The Best of the Movers and Shakers

Unlike many motion photography groups, Deliberate Motion Blur is a group exclusive to the intended rather than the accidental showcase of image in motion.

Whether this results in a higher caliber of photos is down to debate but its 2000 plus members are a testament to the need for a more discriminative selection.

See here and here for some truly inspiring images.

In Motion – Motion Blurred

As recommended by Deliberate Motion Blur , Motion Blurred is a group that doesn’t discriminate against how or why your photo became blurred, it simply celebrates all things distorted.

However, this in no way reflects the standard of images on show: try this thought-inspiring photo from the 2012 Chinese New Year dragon parade in Philadelphia, and this action filled image for starters.

Motion Design

As the only video focused group on our list, Motion Design shines as a forum for those with a passion for design, creativity and movement.

Showcasing both hand-drawn and digital art along with everything from flip-books to 3D animation, Motion Design is bound to stimulate the creative streak in every viewer.

Stopping Motion – Freezing Life in It’s Tracks!

A group with a little bit of a difference to its theme, Stopping Motion is free of blurred pictures and distorted images. Instead, Stopping Motion celebrates the world in motion by freezing it.

This thirst-quenching photo and this fusion of color and movement capture the essence of the group perfectly.

Poetry in Motion

By integrating the use of another art-form, Poetry in Motion is home to some truly beautiful and poetic images.

Both this and this cleverly integrate art within art and demonstrate with stunning composure how photography does not have to be a lone art form, and instead can be merged beautifully with music, poetry, painting and even dance.


Whilst this innovative group is dedicated to photographs showing exceptional use of light, it also succeeds in offering examples of how light can be used to distort images from the ordinary into the weird and wonderful.

See this image of a man walking for instance. While there is nothing unusual or particularly inspiring about the subject of the image, the use of light has transformed the picture into something of an almost mystical quality.

Lights and Shadows

In line with the theme above, Lights and Shadows focuses on how light in all forms can impact the photos we take.

For instance, this picture shot in the rather unassuming location of an airport uses the combination of natural and artificial light to great effect, while this photo relies on light, shadow and reflection to capture a stunning image of a simplistic subject.

Inspired to try your own hand at motion photography?

Great! Be prepared to embark on an incredibly rewarding hobby that will allow you to immerse yourself in some (or all) of the communities above. However, remember that motion photography is not easy – it’s an art that takes time to perfect and great effort to attain that ‘perfect’ shot. To get you started though, here’s a great article from Digital Photography School.