Category Archives: Web and Graphic Design Training

Web design articles go here. Anything to do with Dreamweaver, flash, php mysql etc

Reasons to learn adobe Illustrator

adobe illustrator training in north londonAs an avid Adobe illustrator user and tutor I have recently had a few people contact me wanting to know if they should consider learning illustrator.

Graphic designers use different programs or software to generate their graphics. Most people agree that Adobe Illustrator ranks as one of the most popular vector graphic design software packages.

However, popularity alone wouldn’t convince an aspiring graphic designer to select illustrator as their preferred software package. Below are some top reasons why you should consider learning illustrator especially if you are into web design, logo design or any other profession which calls for creating graphics from scratch.

It allows you to freely express your ideas

One of the things a graphics specialist wants to do when designing an advert or poster is freely express an idea which connects with their targeted audience. Illustrator allows you to create your designs from scratch which implies that you can create virtually anything as long as you have the skill and knowledge.

Easily create logos

Illustrator is a vector graphic editor which implies that one can easily use it to do their art work which places the programs among the best in logo design. The pen tool allows you to create shapes while the isolated background feature enhances your work. You should however note that logo design requires adept skill and therefore obliges to go through viable illustrator training if they wish to create captivating logos.

Draw your own icons

Illustrator has a powerful grid system which allows you to draw attractive icons using different shapes which are fitted into the grid. After arranging the shapes, it is relatively easy to color them using tools made available in Illustrator. If you are in the process of developing a website, software package or anything else which requires icons for navigation, you will certainly need to familiarize with adobe illustrator.

Come up with great infographics

As the name suggests, infographics are used to represent information on a graphical chart. In most cases, they are used on newspapers and magazines to support the content written in text. Of late, internet marketers now use infographics to capture the attention of their audience on blogs and informational pages on their websites. With illustrator, you can either choose to create an infographic from scratch or you can use the programs templates and create equally appealing charts by just entering data. Remember, how good your info graphic looks depends on your skills which gives another reason why it would it would be worthwhile to take an illustrator course.

Draw maps

With Adobe Illustrator, you realize that you can draw actual maps using the pen and line tool. At first it might prove difficult to use the pen tool but as time advances and with more practice, it becomes easier as you perfect on accuracy.

Always bear in mind that graphic design can be a well paid profession. As a budding graphic designer or web developer, agencies and companies are looking for people with a wide range of skills. You need to develop these to become more marketable. This will probably make you appreciate the importance of learning  Adobe illustrator or enrolling on an Adobe Illustrator course that will help you acquire the necessary skills..

Creating websites with WordPress? 10 excellent tips you must check out

WordPress is not just the choice CMS for nothing. It is user friendly, easy to build web sites with, wordpress-logoeasy to navigate and allows you to include thousands of plugins to improve visitors’ experience. Learning to create websites with WordPress can be a little bit more effective if you abide by some simple rules as follows:

Keep it simple

With so many images, graphics, photos and plugins to play with its usually very tempting for you to want to overdo things. Make your WordPress design as simple as possible so it doesn’t look too cluttered or design heavyartificial. Remember people need the information more than the design.


If you don’t want attackers hunting down your WordPress site then you need to tweak the login details. Delete the default admin account and create a new one; without forgetting to move the old posts. On your blog use a nickname instead of your administrator name.

Choose the right theme
Wordpress sites and blogs are built based on themes.
Whether you are choosing free themes off the many wordpress theme sites or you go to a wordpress training course to learn how to create your own theme to put your site design in the right perspective ensure that you select the right theme. The theme for an entertainment site will be different from that of a business site.

Install the right plugins

With WordPress there is a plugin for everything from managing social network profiles to counting how many people are visiting your site. SEO plugins are very important so don’t forget to add them. Make sure the plugins you’re adding are doing something for you. If not they should be removed.

Use keywords

Every part of your content should have keywords in them. The title, mega descriptions, tags, images, subtitles, article body, videos and URL should all have niche relevant keywords .

Use alt texts for the images

Because the images you upload also counts in search engine optimization you’ll be doing yourself a lot of favours by using alt text to write their description. They appear when the image is not found, but make sure there is no space between the words.


To further protect your WordPress site from attacks try to make use of SSL and force SSL login. This certificate login might cost a little but it will give you peace of mind.


Social media is becoming very much irresistible if not indispensable. To make your WordPress site more visible and popular you must integrate it with the other popular social networking platforms including Facebook, twitter and YouTube.


Sitemaps are great because they help search engines crawlers locate, browse through and index your site. This is good for your SEO ranking and in helping new site users find what they’re looking for, with ease.

Back up

Please understand that no matter how much site security you implement or WordPress training you receive it can never be completely secure. There is no such thing as a 100% secured site. This is why you have to back up all your files right from the start. Depending on the volume of content of your site and your needs you will need a daily or monthly back up plan.

You can get more tips and tricks on  our wordpress essentials  and wordpress advanced training courses

7 Essential Dreamweaver Features that make life a whole lot easier for designers/developers.

 Dreamweaver (DW) is web development software, made by Adobe, that lets web developers code,

dreamweaver generated code

test, run, and preview their programs within minutes. This web development software has tons of features and We’ll explore some of these in this blog.Most of these features are guaranteed to make your Web Development life much easier.

The top 7 features of Dreamweaver IDE:

1. Code Minimization

Whenever you are coding a web page that consists of more than hundreds, and even thousands, of codes, you may get overwhelmed and lost while navigating through different sections of the page. The Dreamweaver code minimization [-] feature makes it easier for you to select a chunk of code and, well, minimize them, so that you don’t have to bother with it until you decide to use (expand) it.

2. Code Formatting

While creating a web project, particularly the bigger ones, it’s not uncommon to see your code and its structure get tangled, disorganized, and clutterred. This clutter may not cause you problems straight away, but later on, especially during code editing and debugging phase, you will definitely wrack you brain because you can’t seem to locate different sections of codes inside the page. But with Dreamweaver’s ‘code formatting’ feature, order is re-established.

Here’s how you format code: Select the chunk of code, and under the ‘Commands’ menu at the top, click on the ‘Apply Source Formatting’ and viola, everything looks clean, organized, and clutter free!

3. Code Navigator

Dreamweaver offers a user-friendly and easy to understand interface development environment (IDE) to code projects, build apps, and create websites. Code navigator, for example, tells you exactly where you are in the site, and above all, styles important elements surrounding it, making it easier for you to navigate around the murky and complex algorithms inside the page.

4. Code Snippets

Web developers frequently use scripts and small programs (code snippets) that intermix together to create a giant working engine. Although coding each of these code snippets would be fun, why not use Dreamweaver’s built-in snippets instead. Not only will you save tons of time, but you’ll also utilize DW to its maximum.

5. Insert Menu

Just like code snippet, DW also offers ‘insert menu’ option that has a bunch of cool pre-written codes to integrate small applications into your web project. For instance, to make your web page SEO-friendly, you can use the meta keyword option, or insert web form and its elements (radio buttons, text fields, hidden fields, and so on) for contact us page, or create a smooth rollover navigation bar. You really don’t have to Google every time you require to use small and simple codes, DW has it all… and its recommended you use ’em!

6. Easily Find Embedded Files

If there are any Stylesheets or JavaScripts you have referenced in the web page, then the new DW IDE will help you access them, easily! This means that you no longer have to open dozens of tabs all at once. Instead, you just have to open the right one, and you’re good to go!

7. Find Replace Tool

During web development, you end up in situations where you might want to add a class to a bunch of list, or remove the class all together from all the files. Instead of opening every single file, all you do is use the Find and Replace tool, select the folder where you want DW to look for the matches, and look…you’re done!

8. Bonus: Live View

Developers often need to see a preview of their coding right away! And opening up the browser and checking for the change would be frustrating sometimes. Don’t worry! DW will let you preview your work live, and also shows the changes right away! Amazing, isn’t it?

To learn more tricks and tips that will make your programming life much easier you can consider joining our Dreamweaver training course.

It’s been quite a while!

Yes. It’s been a while since our last blog.
This always happens at this time of the year.
The new academic year means new syllabuses.
New courses added to the portfolio.
New material to be written.
New trainers to induct.
And so we have had our hands completely full.
Pressure is beginning to ease so you can expect that normal blogging duty will resume soon.

New things to look out for…

CeMAP 2012/13 Academic year material now completed. So for those looking to do CeMAP distance learning can rest assured we will only be sending them current material.

DipFA Coursework and FactFind Training has been going very well. We’ve been closely monitoring the success rates of our students and can only recollect a few that have not passed! We have our new tutor , Paul, to thank for that! He really cares about the students and provides them with a lot of aftercare support. The rave reviews he has been getting are extremely well deserved.

Stocks, Shares and Investments courses and our Day Trading Forex programme has been running smoothly under the management of Umar. He has brought a very practical slant to the courses and his post course mentoring is just first class. It’s no wonder people are queueing up to join his classes.

We’ve also been working hard on a Business Analysis course which is scheduled to kick off October 28th. For this we have recruited the services of a very senior Business Analyst at Amazon. We get so many Software Testing Analysts looking for a career progression route…and for most – this is it!

Our Software Testing Essentials course has had some new additions to it. We’ve added an extra day on to the course thereby incorporating Test automation into the programme.

We now have beginners to advanced WordPress courses ranging from the basics (using to intermediate and advanced levels using and all the benefits of flexibility to looking at how to build your own themes and understanding the php code that allows you to customise your wordpress site even more.

We are also trialling the ACA qualification for those looking to gain Adobe accreditation in either Photoshop or Dreamweaver.
A goal for the Adobe Certified Associate certification is to address the real world, entry-level skill expectations for web communication, rich media communication, and visual communication.

This certification is a credential that validates entry-level skills needed to plan, design, build, and maintain effective communications by using different forms of digital media.

The qualification is open to anyone who takes our Adobe Photoshop Next Step Course and Adobe Dreamweaver Next Step course.

So as you can see there’s lot’s to look forward to at Futuretrend this academic year.

A very gentle introduction to PHP

So what is PHP?
A Server side scripting language – code that is executed before the page loads (the opposite being client-side, JavaScript for example).  PHP can generate HTML and is often embedded directly with HTML to generate dynamic web pages. 

$question = ‘Can we go on break now?;
$time = 1045;
$breaktime = 1100;

echo “<h1>$question</h1>”;

if ($time >= $breaktime) {
echo “<p>Good call, see you in five</p>”;
else {
echo “<p>Computer says no</p>”;

The server will then compute this script. Any ideas on what the output is?

Why PHP?
The snippet of code above demonstrated a conditional – You can automate what HTML is displayed based on certain conditions. You can also store variables, which allows for greater flexibility when writing web pages.

Who’s using PHP?
Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, WordPress, Google, Yahoo, Wikipedia. Alernatives to PHP are (Microsoft Corp) JSP (Oracle) and Ruby (open source)

The amount of data stored in websites these days is impressive – a typical website these days has usernames and passwords. To authenticate a user, you must match their password with the username. It is pretty easy to match two values together (hint: the conditional). Easy right? Yes! So how is it done…?

Members’ email addresses are stored in a database and we’ll grab this information using PHP and store it in a variable (I’ll explain this in more detail later) The code below demonstrates how to detect if the user actually exists:

$members = array(‘John’, ’Mary’, ’Umi’, ’Sarah’, ‘Lucy’);
$login = ‘John’;

foreach ($members as $member) {
if ($member == ‘$login’) {
echo “Hello $login”;

Now if you understood what went on above, well done! You’ve just mastered the loop – the most essential part of programming! The syntax  for PHP arrays is: $members = array(‘John’, ’Mary’, ’Umi’, ’Sarah’, ‘Lucy’);

Items in an array are called elements and if I wanted to output the second element in this array:

<?php echo $members[1]; ?>

That’s no mistake. Array element [0] is the first element, [1] = second and so forth.

To print the entire array:

<?php print_r($members); ?>
echo and print_r are both functions. They do something to the arguments passed to them. The PHP language has many built-in functions and a developer can also write their own. Functions make code easier to read and allows for code re-use. Functions are a lot like people – you feed them something and then they spit something out in one way or another:

function a_human_being($food) {
if ($food == tasty) {
return ‘burp’;
else {
return $food;

If you are confused at this point then give yourself a pat on the back for keeping up. It definitely takes time for the concepts to sink in and I guarantee that by the time you enrol on to the next PHP training course you will be using these concepts as though you knew them all your life. You’ll be making awesome websites in no time!

Practice Makes Perfect

Okay I’ll be realistic, practice may not make you perfect but it certainly will make a dramatic improvement to whichever skill you intended to improve.

Many schools are implementing a method of learning which is sometimes referred to as ‘blended learning’. The idea is that, in addition to the time spent in the classroom engaging with an interactive tutor, the students are also required to spend 1-2 hours a day practicing their academic skills online. This is the primary reason the majority of schools have created a virtual learning area online, this is simply a website designed for the purpose of students being able to practice their academic skills.

Some of you may say ‘Wait, hold on a minute! This is nothing new, students have had to do homework for years’. This is true, but the different between doing your ‘homework’ online rather than by traditional means is that the student is able to receive instant feedback & immediately alter any incorrect habits. This would not be possible by traditional methods as they are slow & sluggish in comparison.

This blend between e-Learning & classroom based learning has achieved vast improvements in the students results.

It is common for people to learn a new skill but as a direct consequence of a lack of use & practice they ‘forget’ them just as quickly.

So, using the above logic it is clear to see the importance in practicing ones skills. I have found that a great way for graphic design & web design students to practice & hone their skills is to complete some of the numerous tutorials which can be found online. This is not only an excellent way to practice your newly learned skills & prevent them from becoming rusty but you will also find that it is a great way to get your creative juices flowing. As an added bonus you will gather a healthy collection of free resources (brush sets, stock images, fonts, etc.) which you will be able to use for your own projects.

I have completed both the Adobe Photoshop CS5  Introduction & Adobe Photoshop CS5: Next Step course at Futuretrend. However for years I only seemed to use Photoshop to resize, lighten or darken images. Nothing more, the majority of the skills I had learned were not being utilized, instead they were being dumped into the recycle bin of my mind.

I decided to follow the instructions in a cool tutorial I found & I managed to create these:

My Completed Tutorial Poster.

My Personalised Tutorial Poster

My Personalised Tutorial Poster










I will admit it wasn’t all smooth sailing, some things in the tutorial didn’t seem to work as they were supposed to so I had to use my problem solving skills & find another way around it. That’s one thing you do learn about expansive software such as Adobe Photoshop there is usual at least 2 or 3 ways to do the same thing. Anyway I digress, once I completed the tutorial & achieved a similar result to it’s creator I had an extremely satisfying sense of achievement & that feeling reignited my creative spark.

So Don’t Let Your Skills Die! Get Creating! Get Practicing!

Why you should learn HTML5 and CSS3

HTML5 Powered with CSS3 / Styling, and Semantics
Love it or loathe it, technology will continue to march on and HTML5 is proving to be the new standard for HTML. The evolution of HTML into the HTML5 specification offers new ways to visualise and engage with information and media. If you are a web designer or developer it’s worth considering investing the time to learn html5… it is the future.

You can use HTML5 to display video including the ability to take a snapshot out of a video,show snapshots of each frame, overlay a video on top of another video, and using a canvas element, to rip a video apart and let each piece continue to play. Very cool stuff, indeed.

Prior to the <video tag, third-party plug-ins had to be installed in order to view streaming video. Now, using modern browsers video can be played “right out of the box.” No “update your flash” messages, no extra downloads, No plug-ins or any kind of messing around is required to watch video.

Then there’s the new canvas element for 2D drawing. This  provides all sorts of design options and richer environments for creating animations, games and presenting information. You can create very cool animated images using vector graphics and the canvas elements.

Do you love creating rounded corners, drop shadows, adding a slide or fade effect to a drop-down menu in your web site designs? You can now do this without getting bogged down in Photoshop.
By learning CSS3 you you will find this is much quicker and easier to implement.

The other good thing is that HTML5 and CSS3 is readable by Google and therefore a whole lot more SEO friendly than our old friend Flash.
With Flash the content is embedded in the file so Google and other search engines see nothing.   With the Introduction of HTML5,CSS3 and all the  advancements in Web 2.0 Technology, many websites have now stopped adopting flash into their websites. HTML5 will is set to become the defacto web animation standard.

The major concern is with the many internet users still using web browsers that don’t support HTML5. Anybody using less than IE9 (all Internet Explorer on WinXP) won’t get a lot of joy viewing of HTML5 content.

However, the HTML5 standard will soon be properly supported by not only browsers but across many platforms.

New courses:WordPress + PHP, HTML5, Systems Design, Business Analysis Training

2012 is going to be a full on year as we launch a number of new courses.
Look out for our new and improved WordPress + PHP course starting soon.
It’s not the run of the mill WordPress course as we add PHP basics to it.; Learning a little PHP goes a long way with WordPress.

With the demise of Flash,  HTML5 is aspiring to be the new “kid” on the block . As there is a trending away from Flash type design (not helped by Adobe’s discontinuing their mobile browser plugin support) and equal richness can be found in HTML5/CSS3; we are looking to be able to deliver this from March 2012.

We are also developing Systems Design and Business Analysis Training courses which a lot of folks that have studied Software Testing/Project Management with us have been asking about.

So exciting times here at Futuretrend. Watch this space for launch dates and news on more courses.

10 Popular Plugins and Shareware for Adobe Illustrator

Adobe Illustrator is a leading vector image editing application, made even better because of its plug-in platform, which allows illustrators to customize the program according to their needs. Currently there are plug-ins that fit almost any requirement you might have. The following are 10 very popular plug-ins used by  graphic designers.

1. Art Files made for Mac – This is a collection of files that makes keeping track of documents, linked images and fonts easy, allowing users to “Point and Click” to select objects. This plug-in supports Illustrator versions 8, 9 and 10 for Mac computers.

2.  Artlandia LivePresets -This plug-in works for both Mac and Windows users. It allows you to insert patterns and symbols that can be edited. Any artwork you link updates interactively.

3.  FlexoStepX – This is a quicker way of repeating the steps and fixing mistakes in label packaging artwork.

4. Hot Door Perspective– Allows users to make realistic compositions with oblique,

FoldUP! 3D - Making dimensional design in Illustrator a whole lot easier!

isometric objects placed over an adjustable background grid.

5.  FoldUP! 3D– This plug-in allows an illustrator to test packaging designs digitally, eliminating the need to create a 3 dimensional test prototype.

6.  Live Pen – Gives you interesting typography and calligraphy options. This plugin is only available for Illustrator CS, CS2 and CS3.

7.  LogoSource -This is a collection of tracing and guide tools that help you edit scanned images.

8.  Vector Scribe-This tool helps you create and edit curve handles. It improves on illustrators measuring abilities.

Edit and create vector artwork faster, smarter and dynamically

9. Path Styler Pro – This plug-in uses paths to make beleveled images that don’t need to be softened.

10. Virtual Mirror Vector Studio – These are 8 tools that include shape editing, texturing, and color editing abilities.


So we’ve had a look at a good number of popular plugins used by designers working with Adobe Illustrator. Most importantly though its essential to learn the various Illustrator features  & how they work. Futuretrend’s Adobe Illustrator training courses provides a good option to help you get started in your quest. Just like you have to learn how to change gears, push on the gas pedal, control the steering, switch on the AC & the fan, etc. in a car, you have to invest some time in learning how features work in Illustrator works before you start experimenting with plugins that can add some serious 00mph! to your work.

Dreamweaver web design learning dillema: attend a classroom course or study online?

Adobe Dreamweaver is the most popular web design tool around as such many small business owners purchase a copy with a view to becoming skilled enough at  web design in order to create or maintain their web sites.

Indeed there are tons of dreamweaver tutorials online which are somewhat useful,comprehensive and competitively-priced but invariably, they seem targeted towards people who want to build really fancy sites for other people as paid website developers, rather than you as a busy small business owner, a hobbyist or a member of staff that just needs to learn how to update the company web site. The learning curve is not just steep but you have to wade through a maze of technology at the same time. Try taking an online tutorial on divs, float settings & the z-index without sending your brain into melt down!

Dreamweaver is now at version CS5 and has changed immensely since the mid-late 90s, when it was much simpler. It has become enormously feature-laden in keeping with today’s advancing technologies. So it can be a real challenge to get your head around the software. Worse still trying to learn it in solitude without the benefit of being able to ask someone in the know when something starts to go wrong (as it oft will do). Remember, your  online video or web design book won’t be able to answer your specific questions!

This is where the clear advantage of intructor-led training kicks in: a few sessions of learning the foundations and various functional concepts behind the programme by a good teacher will set you up nicely…and then you can really start to play around confidently. Further learning will become a lot quicker and easier. You will save a lot more time too.

Still to keep things in balance, many people have no choice but to opt for the eLearning method of training, as they cannot dedicate time for a classroom session or find the travelling involved a deterrent. It is therefore necessary for them to be highly self-motivated and self-disciplined to sit through the various steps of an online dreamweaver tutorial.

The reason for this whole blog was a testimonial received recently from  Theo, one of Futuretrend’s recent  students.  His comments were:

“I’ve learnt more about Dreamweaver from George’s 2 day introductory class than I did from  months of reading online tutorials and books… and to be perfectly honest, I don’t have that much free time to spend reading online courses or tutorials. So I will be coming back when I need to progress to the next level. Thanks!”

Click here to find out more about Futuretrend’s Dreamweaver training programs.