In our previous review of Photoshop CS5, 6 Valuable Features Missing in Photoshop CS5, we went over some shortcomings that we think Adobe should rectify in Photoshop. Version CS6 has been out for a while now and we have been using it for several months since this writing. Adobe has made some nice improvements to this new version, but also some glaring omissions.
1. Snap Vector Tools and Transforms to Pixel Grid
A great new feature that allows Photoshop to easily snap vector shapes to whole pixels. For anyone that uses vector shapes, you know that in the past when you draw a shape it can overlap pixels creating a fuzzy edge. This new feature, when turned on, eliminates fuzzy edge syndrome. Unfortunately, this feature is hidden in the app’s preferences. We tend to turn this on and off many times throughout the day as we work. There are reasons for this: the need to nudge existing shapes that do not have crisp edges, freeform drawing with the pen tool, creating clipping paths around photos, etc. Instead of simply having an option right in the toolbar to enable/disable snapping, you have to open the Preferences every single time. This can eat up a lot of time. The only workaround we’ve found for this is to create two actions (one to turn snapping on and one to turn it off) and assign hotkeys to them in the ACtions panel. This works well, but had Adobe thought this out better it would not be necessary.
2. Symbols and Graphic Styles
We’re lumping these two together, since they go hand in hand. These are carry-overs from our Photoshop CS5 wish list. Adobe has still not included a feature for reusable symbol objects in Photoshop. Fireworks has them. Illustrator has them. Photoshop does not. Smart Objects are a great feature, but they are not as flexible or easily updatable as symbols. Nor is there any kind of 9-slice scaling feature for Smart Objects.
Graphic Styles implementation in Photoshop is essentially useless. You can basically save a style to reuse later, but when you apply the style to a layer Photoshop has no memory of it. So, you cannot update a style and then have every layer that the style is applied to update along with it. We could live without one of these if the other was implemented well.
3. Text Styles
Photoshop CS6 finally has paragraph and character styles. We know many people that have been clamoring for this feature. Unfortunately, it is not implemented very well. It works decent when there are only a few text boxes, but once you start getting into a couple dozen it slows to a crawl. Simply opening the paragraph style panel and turning the preview checkbox off literally takes several minutes. This effectively makes the feature unusable. There are many posts about this in the Adobe Forums.
We’ve created a screencast just to show how painfully slow this feature works (warning: it’s a really boring video to watch).
4. Editable Shapes
Now that Photoshop has a Properties panel, it would be great if it included options for adjusting vector shapes. When selecting a vector rectangle or rounded rectangle, it could have options for adjusting the radius on each corner. A star vector shape could have options for changing the number of points and radius of the inner and outer points.
5. Subscriptions…The New “In” Thing
It seems that many companies offer monthly subscription services for their services. Adobe has now jumped on that bandwagon. That is fine. We use their Creative Cloud subscription here and it’s great. We have access to almost every Adobe program and can download an app that we don’t have on the fly if we need it. The problem comes in when Adobe offers the exact same application to both Creative Cloud users and those that buy the standalone version, but then only offer feature updates to the Creative Cloud users, even though the version of Photoshop is not changing to CS7. A perfect example of this is CSS styles in the Layers panel. Creative Cloud users can click on any layer and select an option to copy the CSS code for that layer style so they can use that in the stylesheet for a website. This was an addition to Photoshop CS6. Standalone users do not have access to this feature even though they use Photoshop CS6. Everyone has paid a lot of money for Photoshop, so why not give everyone access to those features?
Overall, Photoshop CS6 is a nice upgrade with some great features. It would be nice if the next version concentrated on productivity instead of always having to try and throw in some “wow” features. Given that Adobe has the Creative Cloud subscription service now, they shouldn’t need to try and sell people with wow features to get them to upgrade. This is the perfect time to streamline the app and make it as productive as possible for everyone.
That almost electric tingle in your fingertips and rapidly growing itch in the back of your brain that lights the fuse on your hand’s afterburners and rockets it to your device. The race is never acknowledged, but it’s always on. The finish line can be anything. And your answer-loaded info-missile is being constructed as fast as your network will allow. For something that hits so frequently, it’s amazing how you still get excited when you can be the fastest one to an answer to whatever question is on your “dot-com generation” friends’ predictably impatient minds. For those gathered, this whole unspoken information retrieving Olympics often becomes a spectator’s sport. Others often just think it’s stupid until the pressure is on and they’re in heat of the moment.
With extraordinary variability across inventory, Auto Parts Cheaper needed a way to decrease click paths and the time it took customers to find the proper part for their vehicle’s specific make and model. In order to ease a buyer toward checkout – without completely overhauling the landscape of their site – Brand Labs implemented our custom-built search refinement.
The advanced, Volusion-specific product filter then allowed customers to display their desired car parts, which stuck with them throughout the site. This enhancement allowed consumers to avoid having to sift through thousands of unrelated products, which ultimately resulted in quicker conversions and a subsequent 10% increase in revenue.
UPDATE: Both the iPhone and Android apps have now been fixed. You will need to download the newest version of the apps to restore proper functionality.
iPhone App: Available now!
Android App: Available now!
Remember when we designed, engineered, and created the amazing Volusion Snapshot App (for iPhone and Android) that brought the power of tracking your stores revenue to a mobile device? Well don’t worry! it hasn’t gotten any less amazing. HOWEVER, it will be down temporarily as some minor code changes on Volusion’s end has required us to make some adjustments to the app.
The updated Volusion Snapshot apps have been submitted for approval to both Apple and Google Play app stores.
Isn’t that a relief?
We apologize for any inconvenience this may be causing, but rest easy in knowing that the down time will be short-lived. We’re committed to constantly improving our Volusion Snapshot App in order to help you run your business as smoothly as possible- and while that sometimes means updates and fixes, it also means we’re always on the job with the goal of making your ecommerce life better, and more profitable!
Haven’t heard about Snapshot? Get in the know, man!
Volusion Snapshot (available in the iTunes app store and the Google Play app store) is a completely free and easy way to watch your sales add up throughout the year. We created Volusion Snapshot to be secure and simple and to provide you with the one piece of data we know you’re looking for: revenue. Volusion Snapshot provides current (refreshable) daily revenue figures as well as monthly data, annual data and year-over-year comparisons. Now you can watch your bottom line while you’re on the go without having to constantly log in to your Volusion dashboard. We’re giving you the gift of freedom.
We can’t explain BOGO Bowl better than they do it themselves:
“We believe all dogs – whether they’re in their forever home or waiting to find one – deserve high quality nutrition. That’s why we make it easy for dog lovers to help at-risk dogs in their own communities by doing something they’re already doing – buying great food for their best friend! By working together, we provide food to shelters and rescues giving dogs the time they need to find the perfect family. How cool is that?”
We think it’s pretty cool. For every bag of BOGO Bowl dog food you buy, they’ll donate a bag to charity! It’s a fantastic way to help out our four-legged friends in need. Visit their new Volusion store to get some great dog food and to do your bit for the world’s needy pooches.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Ecommerce Economic Defense Initiative Extends “Win a New Store” Contest
The Ecommerce Economic Defense Initiative (EEDI) has extended the entry period for its currently-running contest, in which entrants can win a complete online store.
Rochester, MI – Brand Labs, the founding member of the Ecommerce Economic Defense Initiative, announced today that they would be extending the entry period for the EEDI’s first nationwide competition.
The contest was originally set to end in August, but in response to requests from potential entrants, the deadline to enter has been moved to November 16, 2012.
In case you haven’t heard by now, Brand Labs has joined forces with some of the biggest names in online business to offer you the chance to win the ecommerce store of your dreams! One of those big names is Volusion and they were kind enough to post a shout-out about the contest on their blog last week.
Here’s the short version – The Ecommerce Economic Defense Initiative (EEDI) is an organization founded (by us) in order to allow several companies to work together to support to the ecommerce community at large. In order to accomplish that goal, the EEDI is offering over $60,000 in ecommerce prizes, including a $25,000 Brand Labs gift certificate! Think of that… you could make your online store everything you’d ever hoped it would be! You can use the prize in any way you’d like! We can redesign you store from top to bottom! We can custom program that unique feature on your website that would give you the edge over your competition! Together, Brand Labs, Volusion and the other EEDI partners will make your business the best it can be!
Asking if Brand Labs loves ecommerce is like asking if Jeff Bridges makes awesome movies. The answer is obvious. (We are still debating on whether or not the Tron remake did the original justice, but we’re also realists. We understand that even awesome things may not be awesome for everything. For example, The Dude will go down in history as one of the great characters in American cinema, while the whiny, sex-phobic math nerd Bridges played in The Mirror Has Two Faces just makes us sad.) That said, we’re well aware ecommerce isn’t 100% ideal for every, single purchase you make.
To help you avoid any potential problems that could arise from copping certain items off the Internet, here are ten purchases you might be better off making in person. You do remember how that works, right?
Typically, the only time we break out our neckties here at Brand Labs is if we’re dressing up as Gomez during our monthly Addams Family-themed business meetings. On all other occasions, that whole cloth-choker-around-the-neck type deal isn’t really our thing. But, being the ecommerce junkies we are, that doesn’t mean we weren’t intrigued when we heard that Ties.com and Scarves.com had implemented a shared shopping cart experience between their two sites.
According to an article from PRWeb, these two highly-trafficked, accessory-based online retailers have linked together to help customers laterally shop amongst their respective products with ease. Prior to this tag-team effort, certain companies like Banana Republic had implemented similar cross-selling strategies with partners, but what separates these two Wild Attire Inc. properties from their more notable competition is that their customers can seamlessly shop between both sites within the same tab and never lose their shopping cart spot when navigating from one property to another. The functionality is a minor addition to the domains, but has turned out a huge response. Despite launching this e-merger only this earlier this year, referral traffic from Ties.com to Scarves.com has already risen by 50%, while overall sales figures for 2012 could increase average order rates by 25%. Not too shabby for a couple places that sell loose fabric you wrap around your neck, huh?
Although we personally haven’t bought any attire from either of the two sites, we did experiment with the navigation and agree that being able to bounce back and forth between carts while browing is quite nice and would definitely help keep our ideas intact while doing frantic and thoughtless Christmas shopping for ten people at once on December 23rd. Not like we would ever do that or anything.
What do you think, is a cross-selling shopping cart between two ecommerce retailers like this something you’d like to see more shops use? Or, is this just another feature you feel is simply trying to lure you into buying more products you don’t need?
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Ecommerce Economic Defense Initiative Awards Over $60,000 in Prizes
The Ecommerce Economic Defense Initiative (EEDI) will award two separate ecommerce service grants in 2012 – each worth more than $30,000 – in their first-ever ecommerce grant competition.
Rochester, MI – Brand Labs – a studio specializing in ecommerce design, marketing, development and programming – has gathered together an alliance of online professionals with the proclaimed goal of “rescuing” the struggling economy by “utilizing the power of ecommerce.” The assembled group is called the Ecommerce Economic Defense Initiative (or the EEDI).