Modern Home Plans – Home Design

Today’s architectural styles have changed significantly, and the home designs available today reflect that. In order to choose a home design, you usually need to first choose a home design company or architect to work with. There are plenty of companies out there to choose from, and finding the most professional company with the latest and most appealing designs will be the goal of any home owner who is looking to renovate or build a new home of their own.

Hiring an architectural service will allow customers to work directly with professionals to create the home designs that they have always dreamed of. Planning and design is essential to get your project right and the best architectural services will understand this. There are modern home plans that are already completed which people can choose from or customize. There is also the opportunity to build a completely new plan that is all their own style. Building a new home is a lot of work, but with the right people to help out it can become a lot simpler.

Choosing a home design is all about determining how much space you need. You can find modern home plans in a variety of shapes and sizes. This means that you can get the space that you need while also getting the design that you enjoy, no matter what that might be. The goal of building your home, after all, is to get the dream home that you always wanted. Hiring an architect will depend on a few things:

  • How much can you afford to spend? Are you willing to pay for the best services?
  • What services are you seeking? For instance, do you need a custom design or do you want to design modern home plans?
  • How serious are you about getting professional services? Is it feasible for your project to go ahead at this stage?
  • Which designers have the styles and plans that you like?

Modern home plans are created en mass to suit the needs of people who don’t want to customize the design of their new home. However, if you have chosen to customize and personalize your floor plan, you can do that too as long as you are prepared to tell the architect what you want. Professional architectural services cannot be replaced when it comes to building a home, so the matter is just to choose the one that suits you.

Software Interface Design

User Interface is the most important aspect of that killer web application or the deployable software product that you’ve just released. The technology component, proper marketing and beautiful packaging often take a backseat when it comes to software user interface. User interface is the first thing that users come across and is that aspect that can make or break the version 1x of your software. I am presenting a list of 11 killer tips for software interface design that we’ve compiled over years of usability design and testing experience. Your web/desktop application development project should get a literal ‘facelift’ from them.

Beta version is way too late

Users are central to user experience. Why not involve your beta list into establishing a feedback loop even before the ‘beta version’ is far. Software products which are kept under wraps till the beta is release gets few eyeballs and these are all internal which means that only the people developing it or getting it developed are seeing it rather than the people who will be using it.

You don’t need everything to be working; it can’t in the first week or first few weeks. Developing a prototype with links and working tabs of initial functionality thrown in, give the prototype the look and feel of a product which users can play with and comment upon. The only thing that you need to ensure is the users are able to get a feel of a product whereas actually it is just a sketch.

The point to take home here is that before you build the 7th storey penthouse; give users a feel of the 1st floor design plan to see if they like it enough.

Get feedback through task-oriented use

Getting beyond the features is important. The feedback loops shouldn’t be about features, they should be about the tasks that need to be performed by the users. Usability can only improve if you test and get relevant feedback on tasks and how the prospective buyers are using the system to accomplish them, rather than features based approach which focuses more on developers than users.

Understand your software from a user’s standpoint
User’s perspectives are more important than anything else and that is where market research and one to one communication comes good. For a software product that helps in decision making, ‘reports’ as a feature highlight not important. The better way to convey is that the reports can help you share your decision making with peers/colleagues or help you in publishing your results online. During prototyping of your product, it is essential that you think the way users think and problem solving is what they are after. Remember that cliché – ‘No one wants a drill; all they want is a hole.

Segment the process into logical chunks
Products are developed in phases, and feedback should be used at every stage to improve the user experience. In terms of getting user feedback, the questions change with each stage and you know that the hurdles have been crossed with each iteration, including changes that are validated by a considerable fragment of your test audiences. Usually these questions will get narrower as the stages are completed.

During the first stage, you may need to ask leading questions link – Is this interface OK, will it work? Workability and proper installation/activation might form questions in the next stage of delivery. Till the time, the final ‘beta’ is ready for your users, you can test the performance, boundary conditions and bugs rather than spend time on tweaking the UI or worse even, asking your target – how does that looks?

The more the feedback, the better

Use your website, paid and display advertising as channels to promote the beta and don’t just limit your test set to that initial contact list that you’d developed.

Audience propose, you dispose

Usually, deciding the features that you’ll develop for your software development project will be a rejection criteria rather than a selection one. And you have to remember that the niceties that you wish to add to the product should be backed by ample evidence of a strong demand. This is essential since each feature requires you to take a design decision along with lengthening your code, documentation and support files and may be adding a few personnel to augment your support staff strength.

Know when to put the brakes on

Some users will request more and more and you assume that satisfying those means you have a super product with a great UI. But you need to ask yourself a question – Is that adding to the ease of use and task completion or is it just creating commotion and users feel as if they’re driving a fighter jet with hundreds of settable options which they don’t know what to do with.

Using a cross departmental approach including the market research people and top management might be a good idea to quantify actual demand. It is essential as it will be an enormous task to pull something out which is already in as compared to deciding if something can wait for the next version release.

Use your UI to give the user a sense of context

The UI/user interface should tell where the users are and at least get them to where they highway is. This highway may be a dashboard, a homepage, a task list or virtually anything that gives them the sense of direction. Enriching the value of this highway will help in an above par user engagement.

Only a sense of direction, no directions please

Dictating the way, users should use the system make your UI/software a dilapidated structure which is about to crumble. You should be better off observing the baby learning how to stand up on its feet rather than helping it. You may give them a hint, a hot links option, related topics or help files but do not try to
spoon feed.

Should problems be fixed? Yes, but with some thought process involved

You can quickly fix a problem based on your users’ feedback. That’s the easy way out, but can you think over the problems to see if the information display or product function design can itself be improved. Usually things inaccessible provoke a presentation change idea, but if that’s the root, information display or assistance in it might be the right answer rather than that ‘quick fix’.

The ball should roll on

User Interface improvement efforts should not stop till the product/application itself has been called off. Users’ feedback should be continually sought after and improvements rendered in a way that enrich the user experience.

The Common Sense Approach For Designing Websites

Think user, usability!

Ever visited a website, which has the most dazzling flash graphics, that takes so much time to load that the aesthetic value of the graphics is just lost on you? Your tired 28.8 kbps dial-up connection at home takes up precious time to load the website, and you want to cause serious bodily harm to the person who did not think of the home user’s needs before designing the website.

This genre of websites lacks basic usability, which causes immense frustration to users who need to interact with websites like these, on a regular basis.

Incorporating basic fundamentals of usability and interactive design can increase traffic in an exponential manner to a website.

Relying on usability inspection to evaluate the user interface of a website, using evaluative feedback on specific elements of a user interface to improve it, and improving upon the ease of interaction for the end user, to eventually reducing the frequency and seriousness of user errors, will all result in a larger number of users visiting your website, thereby generating greater ROI (Return On Investment).

With a lot of research being done in the field of Human Computer Interaction (HCI), many website designers have begun to sit up and take note of the surprising results some of the research has thrown up. Users are increasingly demanding an easier way to interact with a website, and the common sense approach to website designing is fast gaining ground. Early proponents of the common sense approach to website designing (which basically consists of a lot of usability and interactive design related ideas being consolidated, for application to website design) like Jakob Nielsen, Robert Mack, Steve Krug, and Lisa Price, are all working towards improving user experience while interacting with a website.

Practical techniques you should keep in mind before you design (or re-design) your website:
1. Don’t force your users to think. Keep user interface decisions simple enough, so that users can make their decisions, without having to draw workflow diagrams.

2. Integrate usability inspection into the website design lifecycle. If time and resources permit, integrate heuristic evaluation (an informal method, where you have usability specialists judge whether each user interface dialog element conforms to established usability principles), plurastic walkthrough (a scenario where developers, users, and human factor experts walk through a simulated user scenario, and deliberate upon user interface issues), and cognitive walkthrough (have people from different disciplines inspect an interface to see whether they walk through the user scenario the way you expect them to).

3. In the absence of specialized human factor expertise, integrate low cost usability inspection (which would involve you walking through the user scenario or having a few people test the user scenario, and comment upon their experience).

4. Always have people easily figure where they stand in the current scheme of things. Implementing this principle would be as easy as having a page name at the top of the page, or in the case of a website, with very deep branches, have a clearly explained path at the top of the page.

5. Keep the navigation in the same place on every page, so your users don’t have to go looking for it.

6. Try not to overwhelm users with options. If you have a lot of content, organize the options into logical groups to make it seem like there are fewer of them, when your users interact with the options.

7. Organize the site according to what your users are going to be looking for, not according to your corporate organization chart, or even according to your business priorities, unless they happen to coincide with your users’ interests.

Home Automation Changing The Way People Live

Houses today cannot escape the digital lifestyle defining the 21st century. The colonnade may look Doric or Corinthian while the facade could very well be cut stone or a Mediterranean white, but hidden from the naked eye are the wires, the optical cables, the blue tooth devices and the WiFi working 24/7, making sure that the occupants of a new home are kept comfortable and safe.

Home automation or domotics has been used in homes for many years now in its more elementary form. Fire alarms and burglary alarm systems were stand-alone units which functioned in an automated fashion, offering tele-assistance and other such simple services. With the evolution of networking and high speed computing, home automation has seen a paradigm shift in its application and scope. The main thrust for providers of such services has been the integration of the different aspects of a home into a compact gadget that can be operated through human interfaces such as keypads and software.

The vast field of home automation can be broken down into four essential components without which any modern home is incomplete.

Heating, Ventilation and Air-conditioning

This aspect of domotics manages the utilities in the home, optimizing the use of energy and saving large amounts on monthly bills. The controllers turn off or lower heating and air-conditioning automatically when the home is unoccupied, manage humidity levels and operate exhaust systems in kitchens and washrooms. These systems can be programmed to regulate variable temperature settings in different areas of a home such as swimming pools, green houses, basements, wine cellars and coolers.

Stylish Lighting

No home is complete without excellent ambient lighting. Home automation provides the perfect tool to control, regulate and monitor the illumination needs of a house. Dimmers, mode switches and scene switches are some of the products offered by manufacturers. These devices sense human presence and automatically turn on and turn off lighting and other electrical appliances. The sensors can change scenes for dinners and parties and even open and close electric windows and drapes to let natural light in. Many of these systems use radio frequencies, WiFi or even GPRS, thereby eliminating the need for cumbersome wiring.

Audiovisual Components

How would it be to hear music play throughout the house? Connect every room to an iPod and preset the volumes for a party! Or wake up to the news in the morning! The Whole Home Audio system allows all this and more. Manufacturers also provide stand-alone transmitters and speakers that can be connected to your existing system as a cheaper option. The permutations are limitless while setting up a multi-zone entertainment system in a home, providing the residents with true-to-life concert and movie hall-type experiences.

Security and Surveillance

Any standard automated home should come with state-of-the-art security and surveillance units which work in tandem with the other components of the house. Motion detectors, sensors for crystal breakage, cameras, doors and windows with magnetic contact strips and fire, gas and water escape alarms are all part of this integrated system. These units are often connected to the audiovisual and lighting components, and function as surveillance monitors or even alarm systems.

The versatility of these home automation systems lies in their remote access capabilities. The light and thermostat setting, for example, can be automatically controlled and adjusted using a telephone from anywhere in the world. Some companies even offer memory sticks with USB interfaces, which can be plugged into any computer, allowing a home owner to access their home settings over the Internet.

The need for architectural design to keep up with the growing technological awareness of consumers has led to builders providing more than just a telephone and a television jack in each room. The dynamic nature of today’s home buyers, the extensive use of the Internet, home offices and other networking needs have made automation an invaluable tool. Aesthetically designed consoles and user friendly interfaces cater to every unique lifestyle, adding value and prestige to any prospective home. The advantages home automation offers are limitless, affording ease and flexibility, reduced energy consumption and, most importantly, peace of mind!

Bill Weber is the President of Weber Design Group, Inc., a custom architectural design and home plan resource firm that has been in business for more than two decades. His homes feature designs of award winning grace that are seamless in their setting and fluid in their design. The design team at Weber will work to create a custom home unique to your lifestyle.

The Death of the Home Computer

The home computer has come a long way since it was made popular in the 1980s. From clumsy boxes with flickering screens and minimalist interfaces worthy of a bad science fiction movie, to sleek designs with crisp graphics and dizzying specifications. However if the technology has experienced significant performance improvement it has barely experienced any diversification.

In recent years however, the introduction of radically different designs has shaken the very foundations of the industry. Whereas the leaders of the past were Intel and Microsoft, the big names now are Google, Apple and Facebook. Since the golden days of the tower based desktop computer, there has undeniably been a transformation of the market place towards online based software and portable and increasingly specialized hardware. Ironically, it was scientific progress, the workhorse of traditional business models (selling upgraded versions of previous designs), which brought forth the destabilization of existing standards.

So what are these new technologies, and how do they contribute to the extinction of the traditional home computer?

The history of the computer is one of visionary entrepreneurs who were able to make available to the public an evasive technology. The very first computers were not at all user friendly, in fact their use was restricted to the commercial sphere. It was not until Bill Gates invented a graphical interface with Windows that computers took the form under which we now use them.

Since the introduction of Windows in 1981, there has been dramatic improvement in the performance of the machines and their softwares. However the format of the product experienced surprising stability: a box containing motherboard, power supply, optical drives and memory, connected to a screen and to peripherals. Modern computers may have quad cores, gigabytes of ram and hard drive space, graphics card which resemble small power plants, LCDs and surround sound, and they may run Windows 7, but their structure and their user interface are essentially the same as their ancestors’.

Lately however, there has been a dramatic shift in the nature of the products available on the market. The personal computer no longer is a standard of reference, instead there are multiple applications of the technology. From smartphones, to tablets, to picture frames, to intelligent TVs and alarm clocks, to all kinds of interactive surfaces such as digital whiteboards. Furthermore the market for software is also experiencing a revolution, the box based title is becoming less and less popular to the profit of web based platforms such as social networking sites, remote desktops and cloud computing.

The hegemony of Microsoft was challenged from multiple directions simultaneously. On the one hand the explosion of online activity made web based application more attractive, social networking websites became the next milestone in the evolution of human communications. Who would have thought that the telephone was not the endgame in terms of overcoming distance? On the other Apple provided the basis for diversification of the technology by commercializing sleek designs such as the iPod. The effect, brought forth by products made available thanks to technological progress, was to provide alternatives in a market originally organized as a monopoly. Despite the entrepreneurial genius of the industry leaders, the technology build its own momentum of development. Therefore we can argue that what has proved disruptive to the original design was not the introduction of new competitors, it was the natural evolution of the technology.

The problem with Microsoft was that it was unable to adapt beyond the original concept of a computer. Instead of changing its emphasis towards new technologies such as web based applications and diversified devices, it attempted to enforce its trademark against the competing forces by leveraging the power of its market penetration, a strategy which has served well over the previous years. But you cant resist the forces of evolution, ask the dinosaurs, therefore instead of spearheading the technological revolution, and molding its commercial shape for the future (much like it had at the onset of the personal computer), Microsoft was condemned to backtrack against its original strategy and model the technology of competitors once inferior, such as the graphical design of OS X for Windows Vista. Furthermore the company jumped on the web wagon too late, was unable to neutralize Google and is now stuck with Yahoo.

But the real deathblow to the traditional definition of the personal computer came from a most unlikely source and traced what could well be the most dramatic comeback in the history of commercial rivalries. Apple had been struggling with the task of providing a competing platform to an existing standard for decades. After having apparently lost the war for the personal computer, it was reinvented as a provider of superior consumer electronics with the release of its iPod portfolio. Because of the zero sum nature of the PC market, compatibility is the key through which leaders enforce their position. Microsoft had long abused of this strategy and was sued numerous times over their uncompetitive practices of pushing Internet Explorer and other software onto their customers, in effect denying access to the competition. Apple used the exact same strategy to steal back some market shares by distributing their own exclusive operating system requirements through the popularity of their MP3 players: iTunes. It seemed that both rivals would settle for an uneasy truce, but Apple saw much further than that. Apple saw that the public was hungry for new technologies, and that these technologies need not conform to existing standards. In that sense Apple demonstrated the same entrepreneurial creativity which made Microsoft famous in the first place, they were able to anticipate a market which did not yet exist. The iPod seemed pretty harmless when it first came out, but it was much more than a sleek MP3 design, it was the first prototype of a technological standard which would one day revolutionize the industry.

It was the natural development of technology driven by scientific progress which destabilized the market for personal computers by making available competing products and platforms. This transition was amplified by the aggressive commercial strategies of some companies competing for control over a new set of technological standards, and the lack of flexibility of existing market leaders in adapting to a changing demand. But then what are these new technological standards, and what do they indicate in terms of the future of the computer as a product?

The iPad is a shining example of the changing nature of the technology. The fact that competitors are coming up with similar products illustrate how nervous the industry is about its potential. Apple had begun its crusade for functional simplicity long before its latest commercial victories. As such apple products never offered much value to the specialized customer such as the gaming crowd because of their lack of customizability. However they were popular among a much wider audience of people who did not wish to learn how to troubleshoot a computer, but seek a user friendly interface.

The streamlining of hardware activity such as boot sequence, or maintenance routines, has been the trademark of Mac OS since its introduction. With the iPad’s operating system, Apple is taking this philosophy one step further, eliminating all but the most basic navigation features to provide a highly intuitive user experience. The techies among us will call it a mixed blessing, because who doesn’t like to manage performance, but the rest will appreciate the opportunity of using the latest technology without having to understand it.

If the tablet is the laptop of the future, what kind of design features can we expect?

Some companies might have a hard time getting over it, but physical buttons are a thing of the past. When touch screens with multiple points of contact were made popular by the Iphone in 2007, they quickly became the new technological standard for their functional simplicity and their high degree of interactivity. Today the technology is used in all kinds of hardware, from public access information boards, to wall screens, to table tops, to traditional computer screens. Now that touch screen navigation has been established as the next logical step in the evolution of user input technology, there comes a series of necessary modifications to the mechanics of user interfaces.

First because the finger is much less precise than a mouse pointer, all buttons need to become bigger, which reduces the screen space available for other information. This results in two outcomes, on the one hand the style of content becomes more important as the attention of the user must be channelled towards navigation items, and on the other greater attention is given to the composition of the screen as to maximize available screen space. These two outcomes can be said to be desirable in as much as they contribute to design optimization.

Second because of the miniaturization of the technology exemplified by the Iphone’s potential as a computer device, and the resulting restriction of screen space, desktop based navigation (what I would call dynamic navigation) is no longer practical and programmers have to revert to table based, linear flow of navigation (from one screen to the next). This would actually be a regression in terms of technological progress if we were not dealing with a much smaller line of products.

If the user is expected to fulfill all his software needs through a streamlined interface, all software should be designed as a finished product and conform to industry wide functional and aesthetic standards. The software market today is a eclectic mix of professional grade products and artisanal designs, which results in poor continuity across user experience. If the graphical requirements associated with touch screen navigation become the new standard of reference, we can expect a standardization of graphical interfaces across platforms.

Another important aspect of the design requirements of the future is integration with online based services. The explosion of online based activity such as social networking, media and commercial transactions make of the internet the central repository of most human information. We are used to interacting with the internet from a browser window, however the diversification of the hardware makes for some exciting opportunity in terms of interface and web content management. The flawless integration of the Appstore from the iPhone for example, the indexing of social networking resources from the Windows Phone 7, the online component of gaming systems such as Xbox live, are evidence that more and more the boundaries between local and online content are being blurred. The important online platforms such as Google, Facebook and Twitter are in a position to promote their own set of standards which has the effect of providing a generic structure from which to better organize online traffic. The purists will lament about the death of net neutrality, but the users will enjoy improved functionality. The Facebook developer framework for example demonstrates how creative use of web technology can provide an experience similar to that of traditional software.

What these technical considerations entail for the future of the technology is that user interfaces will require simplicity, interactivity, online integration and linearity. No longer will the user be expected to manually reorganize open windows, instead the responsibility of managing complexity will be with the programmer, resulting in software which will be more efficient despite losing some flexibility.

We are experiencing a vulgarization of the technology which was until now only available to the public as personal computers. It has resulted in the commercializations of increasingly specialized products with simplified software and standardized interfaces. More than a technological breakthrough, we are experiencing a change in mentalities with regards to how we understand and use computers. From a scientific device with mysterious powers, to an object of connectivity, to an everyday companion, computers are more than ever permeating every layer of life in society. If there are any lessons to be learned from the evolution of the personal computer as a product, it is not to take existing standards for granted.

Of course the traditional home computer will not disappear any times soon, there are still plenty of applications for its use. All kinds of specialized software for example would not be functional without a mouse and keyboard. Besides the current system suffers from a serious lack of integration; the next generation of handhelds operate with competing and incompatible standards (Android and IOS), and the much flaunted next generation of online frameworks still do not communicate well with each other.

5 Tips That Can Help You Master Your Voice User Interface Design

Voice User Interface design (VUI) at a full swing is gradually turning advanced and popular these days. Digital personal assistants such as Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, Google Now and Microsoft’s Cortana, are regularly advancing to become the best available voice assistant in the market.

Since, the launch of Echo, the voice assistant device by Amazon in December 2014, till today approximately 8.2 million devices are sold, and the return of voice search continues to scale. MindMeld’s Internet Trends Report of 2016, stats that 60% of people last year started using voice search, and in the last six months 41% of people started.

A prediction by BCC research asserts that at an annual growth rate of 12.1%, the global market for voice recognition technologies of $104.4 billion in 2016 will rise to $184.9 billion in 2021.

This wave is being driven by technological advancements and deep learning, which lets the developers build systems that have outstanding accuracy for the tasks like speech recognition, language and image analysis.

Microsoft, in 2016 announced that its most recent speech-recognition system reached equivalence with human transcribers in identifying human speech.

The pace at which voice technology is advancing, it’s changing the way we interact with our devices. Still, several common UX design methods still are in practice – which includes user research, persona making, user flows, prototyping, usability testing, and iterative design – a few differences for voice UIs should be noted.

If you’re planning to begin your first project of voice user interface design, below are five essential tips that will help you throughout –

Conversational – Talking vs typing

It’s essential to ensure that a voice UI recognizes natural speech and should accept a broad range of various inputs.

Typing and speaking one same thing is different, rather using few keywords, use complete sentences or questions.

Visualize your Sunday morning, when you type “brunch nearby” on your phone. A list of all relevant places will appear on your screen. But, when we communicate with a voice service, you’d be more likely to request in a manner like, “Alexa, what are the best places to brunch nearby?”

Ensure the machines are capable of recognizing and reacting to thousands of various commands to simply be successful.

Make recognition intuitive

Nobody likes to learn a hundred of commands to execute particular tasks. Be mindful not to create a system that which is complex, not user-friendly and takes too much time to be familiar.

Machines should be capable of remembering us and becoming more productive with each use.

For suppose, you ask your device for directions, which is like,

“Alexa, can you give me directions to home.”

“Sure, where is your home?”

“You know where my home is!”

“I’m sorry, you’ll need to repeat that.”

This scene creates a disappointing experience for the user which is neither satisfying nor successful.

However, if the system would have retained information about your home address, quickly a list of all the directions would have been provided. Possibly a brief voice response with a visual element like a map and directions. Delivering an experience like this is quickly rewarding and satisfying. Intuitive design, as with GUI or graphical user interfaces, must be done right by the designers.

Approachability – Analyze what users need

Two essential things that make Voice Interactions successfully are the device recognizing the person speaking, and the speaker understanding the device. The designers must always acknowledge potential speech checks, auditory impairments, and every element that can influence the interaction, like intellective disorders. Even language, accent, or voice tone affects how the device interprets them.

As a designer, you should be intelligent about where and how to use design and voice in a manner that anyone can use it, irrelevant to how they speak or how they listen.

Consider the user’s environment surroundings

Saying something on your phone with a loud, busy train in the background is an example, why it’s necessary to recognise how different conditions influence the type of interface you designed. If the primary application is for driving, it is an excellent choice then – the hands and eyes of users are busy, but their voice and ears are not. If you use the app somewhere in a noisy place, it’s better to request on a visual interface, for the surrounding noise makes voice recognition and hearing more challenging.

If the usability of your app is both at home and on a public conveyance, it is essential to provide an option to switch between a voice and visual interface.

Feedback – two side interaction

In a normal conversation one to let another know, that he/she is interested in a conversation by nodding heads, smiling, and some other gestures. Similarly, it should be delivered to the users who interact with your machine. It’s essential to respect this with your design, so the user grasps their device is switched on and pays attention to them.

The system must always inform users about what is happening. Furthermore, it’s critical to regard how your user will understand that the system is conscious in a non-invasive manner. You can feature it with a sound effect or flashlight as per your choice.

User Friendly Software Home Design – Your Custom Home

Although it was released way back in 2005, Your Custom Home still remains to be one of the best and most user-friendly software home design applications around. Designed and developed by ValuSoft, this easy-to-use program offers an exceptional room design feature that will definitely be a hit for beginner users. However, this particular program might not be as fit for serious designers, and those that actually do this for a living.

Tools and Features

What makes Your Custom Home unique is that the first step of designing involves picking the shape of one’s room. That is, the user will need to decide whether he’d like to have a square, rectangular, or perhaps even a T-shaped room. After which, the user will have an option to easily resize the walls, but the program doesn’t allow the alteration of the actual room shape.

One will need to restart the entire process if he realizes that he wants another shape for a particular room. The good news is that there is an additional feature on board that allows users to create their own shapes if they aren’t able to find one that they like in the default selection menu.

However, one of the biggest issues with Your Custom Home is that it doesn’t come with an integrated landscaping program. One will need to purchase a separate application if gardening is included in the remodeling process.

Ease of Use

As mentioned earlier, what sets this home design software apart is that it is very user friendly. Beginners will have a blast with this program as it provides a user-friendly alternative for those that do not have experience in design. Once users go through the extensive tutorials included in the program, designing and modeling one’s own home should be as easy as pie. The tutorials provide step-by-step instructions of the program’s major features. The layout and interface of the application are also quite intuitive, making it quite easy to master after a few hours of practice.

Final Word

Your Custom home is definitely one of the best options for those that are looking for a user friendly application that will be able to deliver usable results. At only $19.99, it also happens to be one of the cheapest in the business. However, serious users would be better off with other mor

Using CAD Design Software For Home Design

CAD design software has made things like drafting boards a relic of the past, maybe kept around the office for the odd job, or maybe just for old times sake. It is almost impossible to imagine designing a modern home without using CAD.

Of course, some old school builders still use some very basic sketches and operate more or less by the seat of their pants. This is great if your house is simple and you have 30 years of experience and the house is built for speculation.

There are also many excellent house plans available to be used as is. If you can find a house plan that suits your needs and doesn’t require extensive modification, this is a great way to go.

For the homeowner, or someone looking into extensive remodeling, using a stand alone CAD home design software program is a great idea. You can buy a very usable program for under $100, complete with many features normally found only in high end architectural packages.

You can save yourself a great deal of cash by learning how to do it yourself. A DIY project such as remodeling can become quite involved very quickly, and something like the Home Designer Suite 10 will make life much easier. There are many products available for under $100, which is remarkable, considering how complete they are.

Features to look for when buying CAD design software

Ease of use is critical. If it takes weeks to learn how to do simple tasks, nobody is really going to endure the learning curve.
Cost is important considering that most homeowners are constantly looking to save a few dollars. After all, why would somebody spend a lot to save a little?
Graphics must be useful and appealing. You cannot normally expect to get high end graphics like an expensive package offers, but you can certainly get close.
Cost estimate capabilities are really important. Considering how easy it is to overextend yourself when remodeling or building, it is good to have some control over expenses.
Libraries of suggested designs, cabinetry, windows, doors, etc. are truly essential. With a few mouse clicks you can change the styles, sizes, locations and more. With true integration of these features you can modify your design and every aspect is automatically changed.

I remember using graph paper and little to-scale cutouts of furniture to do a major remodeling project. In fact, we did this several times, over the years. It works, and gives you a good idea of how things might work out, but compared to a good CAD design, it is so primitive! Now, you can get exact sizes, take a virtual walk-through to visualize the design, get an estimate, bill of materials, send the plan to a builder, look at the inventories of various suppliers, and more.

The amazing thing is that, once you get used to the interface, it takes less time and effort than the manual way of the past.

HGTV Home Design & Remodeling Suite Review

Advanced technology allows us to have more convenient. It gives us more opportunities to explore things, even in the area of home remodeling, redesigning and landscaping.

Many have the misconception that one has to be a professional to come up with great house plans that conforms to architectural rules and interior law of mix and match. But with the right software, you can turn any rugged home into a dream house, or a worn down landscape. One such software program is the HGTV Home Design & Remodeling Suite.

Complex yet complete

Those who have not encountered CAD (computer-aided design) may have a hard time using the program, but then investing time to learn this technology will be useful if you are planning to remodel your home. Unlike the other versions of CAD, this one is a simplified one.

This software has a 698-page manual, and if you are having a hard time online tutorials might do you some good. You will at least need 2-3 hours before you can get a good grasp of the program.

Mixed reviews are written regarding this software. Some claim that the mappings are vague and that it takes too long to adapt to the program. While some say that the software is just a waste of money, others claim that the programs installed are good for those who are learning to use computer-assisted designs (CAD) programs.

For those who have done it before, the program comes relatively easy and complete. It is also programmed for those who are already familiar with the way Ipod applications work. Basically, you will have to put some amount of time before you can get a good feel of the software.

Features and program requirements

You may visualize a brand new kitchen as it shows you how to set it up with cost-efficient appliances. You may also create your own digital images with easy editing options.

Its interface is wizard driven which makes it easy to learn. The software has both video and online tutorials that can teach you how to use the program with much ease. It also comes with a printed manual that basically tells you how to operate the software.

This program is capable of 3D rendering that makes images that you create more realistic. You can also have a virtual walk-through of your plan with all fixtures, appliances and furniture’s that you drag and drop from its database.

The software will work with Windows Vista and XP operating systems. Software costs around $50. You may buy online or directly from HGTV store.

Solid yet Disappointing

Many of those who have tried the program claim that while it has complete options, the program is very hard to use. Most customers are complaining that the software only leads to frustration and disappointment due to its complicated set up.

Many others have found out from personal experience that it was very limited. Like other home design program, HGTV Home Design & Remodeling Suite does not have adequate support to verify conformity with national land and local building codes.

How an Audio Interface Can Help Your Music Career

Everyone who loves making music and wants to make a career out of it needs to record their music. The only way to truly record your own music so that it sounds professional is through the use of an audio interface. An audio interface has come a long way over the past several years, making it more compact and much more affordable so that just about anyone can have their own studio.

When you want to record music, a USB interface can plug directly into your computer so that you can download what you’ve already recorded. The interface itself is very small and contains storage on the machine so that you can take it everywhere you go. If you want to record a live session at a night club, you can do so using the interface.

Once you get home, you’ll use the USB audio interface to plug into your computer and download your jam sessions. Most of these interfaces come packed with their own software to make the downloading very easy. After you’ve downloaded the music, you even have the option of modifying the sound waves, adding techniques, voice overs and much more to customize the sound. You can also designate what kind of file you want to save the music as to make it easier to share online, burn to CDs or send to potential agents.

The audio interface will go wherever you go. It is a fairly small device in most cases – smaller than a shoebox. This allows you to keep it in your backpack, set it in your garage or take it anywhere that you plan on making music. You can plug microphones and instruments directly into it or have the device record from the amp or speakers.

There are many USB interface systems available in the marketplace, so you need to determine which one is right for you. Some will give you a screen so that you can do playbacks right from your interface without plugging into a computer while others depend on the computer for playback. You may also be able to adjust pitch and other parts of the music with controls directly on the interface.

Ultimately, you need to determine how much you want to do with the USB audio interface. If you plan on tweaking the sound in the field, then you will need to spend more money on one of the higher end interfaces that will give you more control. This doesn’t affect the size much, but it will give you more controls and a screen to be able to adjust your settings easier.

The USB interface can help you with all of the digital changes that you’ll do from the computer, too. The software bundled with the interface should be stand alone, meaning that you don’t need to buy additional software. Read through the features of each software program to make sure that you’re getting everything you need to produce the right kinds of sounds. Some programs feature background tracks and synthesizers to adjust your recorded sound as needed.

Once you have the USB audio interface of your choosing, you can start to record the sounds that you or your band are capable of. The only way you can improve your chances for success in the music career is if people hear what kind of music you’re playing. You will be able to create electronic files to share across the internet and send out to anyone so that you can be heard.

How Important the User Interface of Website is For Successful Online Business

The online success of a website in terms web usability depends upon the interface design of a website. An appealing interface not only push a product to a sellable state but also increases its acceptability and market exposure. A good communication between the graphic designer and programmer while developing a website makes it objective oriented keeping in mind the target user and the website’s efficiency. Behind the success of a website or a product, there is always a very good user interface which is only entry point for its target visitors.

The graphics of a interface covers a vital arena of a website and is the most crucial navigational element that allows users to navigate between the pages of a website. The value of a website lies in its ability to communicate with the users. The more it talks sensibly with the visitors the more it could retain the potential customers for the business.

Tips to increase the web usability of a website and earn revenue

1. Quickly Downloadable: The download speed of a website highly affects the users. A lazy site creates a negative effect on its credibility.

2. User Friendly Navigation: It is very important to have links to the home page so that the visitors could navigate easily and through the site quickly.

3. Site Map: The site map is one important parts of a website from user as well as from search engine’s point of view. So make sure to have proper site map on the website.

4. Content Readability and Impact: Where possible try the describe the things in a visual way as it has a great impact on the mind set of users. The contents of the website should also in a readable font and in size. Try to make the page short where possible so that it could give a bird view in a sight.

5. Contact Details: The contact details should be displayed on all important pages of the website so that user could not navigate away from the pages in search of contact details.