The Importance of Design and Marketing in the Investment Business – Part 1

Marketing and finance are the cornerstones of a successful business. You might protest and say that, first, you need a good product, but there are countless examples of products that were successful, solely, from marketing, like the pet rock, in the 1970’s. Moreover, marketing is not only the collaborator of finance but is also finance’s coconspirator. Indeed, marketing is more important to the financial industry than finance, itself, something that people outside of the financial industry fail to grasp.

Perception is more important that reality, for what we perceive is real to us. In that regard, from the very bottom of the financial system, money and banks, there is a need to shape perception. Paper money was developed by Italian goldsmiths, in the Middle Ages (actually, China experimented with it as early as circa 900 A.D., but the experiment failed). As gold was, then, the major medium of exchange, people would sometimes need a place for safekeeping, and the goldsmiths kept it for them, in their vaults. In return, gold receipts were issued, and those became accepted as legal tender. Moreover, those same Italian goldsmiths became the first banks and the precursors of modern banking, so-called fractional reserve banking. They discovered that, as keepers of gold and issuers of gold receipts, they always had more gold in their vaults than was needed to redeem receipts to those looking to make withdrawals. Given that, they mad loans by writing more receipts for more gold than they have in their vaults, and that is the essence of modern fractional reserve banking.

In modern banks, most of the money that is deposited is in demand accounts, from which money can be withdrawn at any time. Demand accounts and other restricted savings accounts are on the liability side of the banks’ balance sheets. Then, banks make loans by making book entries into accounts for people borrowing money, and money is created, in the system. Moreover, there is a mismatch in the maturity structure of the assets and liabilities, in that deposit can be withdrawn, almost anytime, while loans, the assets, usually have longer-term maturities. In order to keep this house of cards from crashing down, confidence must be engendered in the depositors, which is tantamount to shaping perception, which is what marketing is. When people lose confidence in a bank, and panic causes a so-called run on the bank, whereby all or a large number of the depositors, all at once, demand that the bank return their money, it can result in bank failure because no fractional-reserve bank could fill all of its depositors’ requests, at once, since, in the normal course of the fractional reserve banking business, banks do not keep a reserve equal to one hundred percent of deposits.

Design also enters the picture, in finance, even at this basic level of banks. Banks offer a safe place to keep your excess cash and to get it out on demand. What actually underlies most banking products are put and call options of one sort or another. For example, you can get the convenience of checking with no interest: you pay for the right of on demand withdrawal with a payment order, checks, by giving up interest. You might be able to get interest on checking by maintaining a minimum balance: by giving up some rights to demand money. For a bit more inconvenience of having to physically withdraw funds, you get a little interest on passbook savings. You have traded the right to payment order banking for a small amount of interest. In both cases, you have, effectively, purchased an option, in the language of finance, to “call” away the funds from the bank, and the cost of the call option manifests itself as lower or no interest. You can receive more interest by promising to keep the funds invested for a longer time. Thus, you give up your right to call away the funds at the beginning of the transaction, but you can repurchase the right, in the future, at a hefty price. This is all financial package design. Marketable CD’s (certificates of deposit) take the design one step further, assuring the bank that the CD cannot be handed in for early redemption, which can be done with a penalty for a nonmarketable CD. Instead, the original buyer has the option of early liquidation by selling it in the financial markets to another investor. These designs offer higher interest or re-salability, in order to induce people to agree to lock up funds for a longer period of time. On the other hand, on the asset side of banking, collateralized loans are the combination of a plain loan with an option to the lending institution to call away the assets from the borrower; alternatively, an option to the borrower to “put” (transfer ownership or sell) the assets to the bank. The effective packaging of loan with option, in that case, results in a lower interest rate. In a loan with an early payment option the borrower, effectively, sold debt to the bank and purchased a call option on the debt, thus, increasing his cost. A loan commitment from a bank to a potential borrower is an option to put debt to the bank at a specified interest rate. Interest rate quotes, themselves, have an element of deign: quotes are usually given as annual percentage returns (APR’s), even though they may be compounded more than once years, instead of being given as the actual effective annual returns that result from multiple compounding.

In the language of the new behavioral finance, we refer to such packaging and design as framing. Framing has to do with how something is presented. For example, a doctor could tell you that you need an operation but that 10 percent of the people who have the operation die. That is one way to frame it, but it, certainly, does not sound very reassuring. However, if the doctor says, instead, that 90 percent of the people who have the operation survive, it sounds much more appealing. A fund manager might say that your portfolio outperformed the market, rather than saying that the market lost 20 percent, while your portfolio lost only 15 percent. Research shows that framing has an inordinate affect on the decision process. The end result is that people are easily fooled, and the finance industry is aware of these facts.

At the next level of the financial industry, stock and bond brokerage houses, marketing and design play an even larger role than at banks. First of all, brokers are just salesmen. Although they might call you and tell you about a hot tip, most of them have no real financial training, and their job is to generate buy and sell orders from customers, which give the firm riskless commission dollars. The same is true for institutional salesmen, but at least they are called salesmen. What might surprise you is that even the analysts at securities firms are, normally, in the institutional sales department, and many of them do no real analysis. A number of them just hug the benchmarks created by consensus of other analysts of the same stocks that they cover. Summaries of analysts estimates are compiled by several services and most analysts do not want to go out on a limb and get too far away from the consensus. It is a matter of safety in numbers. In the end, their job is to write research reports, to give oral reports, and to talk to clients, in order to generate commission dollars. I speak of these things, not from what I have read, but from experience: my first job on Wall Street was as an analyst, and I am familiar with what most analysts do. In the end, much effort, many people, and an abundance of job titles are dedicated to marketing and sales, in the securities industry.

Although stocks and bonds are not the only investments marketed by brokerage houses, it will be instructive to take time to look at the design elements that go into these basic securities. Corporations, their investment bankers, and lawyers continually engage in design of securities, in a number of ways, some subtle and some not so subtle. First, the price per share is considered, by most companies, to be an important design feature of a stock. The reason for that is that normal lots of stock, traded on exchanges, in the U.S. (it may vary for other countries), are multiples of 100 shares. Thus, if a stock is priced in the market at, for example, $25, the smallest normal lot will cost $2,500. If the stock price were, instead, $500, the price per 100-share lot would be $50,000, which is a large amount of money for the average person to put into one stock investment. As a result, companies will do share spits when the price rises above a certain level, in order to make one-lot purchases accessible to a wider investing audience: it is pure design. Another feature that companies may look to design is dividends. Retirees, for example, gravitate towards high dividend yield stocks, and some companies might design their dividends, in order to attract retirees, who are also more likely to hold on to their investments and to align their voting with management. People, in the middle of their lives, are more apt to buy shares of stock of companies that they believe will have potential for capital appreciation, which are usually also companies that retain and reinvest their earnings and pay little or no dividends. In financial theory, this is known as the clientele effect, and companies are aware of it. Moreover, companies are also aware that investors take signals, rightly or wrongly, from changes in dividends, and they are careful, even, at longer term planning of dividend distributions and the growth, thereof.

Bonds, too, have taken on new design features, over the years. From plain old bonds, we have gone to convertible bonds, which are convertible, under certain circumstances, during specified periods, and at a given price, into shares of common stock. Other features that have been designed into bonds are callability and putability, allowing the company to refund early or the holder to ask for refund early, respectively. The latest design feature is infinite life, making perpetual bonds that have a quality of stock, which is also, theoretically, infinite, in life, but which have tax status of debt. The various design features are meant to attract a certain class of buyers and are usually also combined with interest rate differentials from ordinary bonds. These designs can be looked at as packages of ordinary no-frills bonds with put and call options on either the debt or the company’s equity, in the case of convertibles.

It will be useful, at this point in the discussion, to introduce the concepts of replication or financial engineering. Replication looks at a security design, in terms of other basic securities. It is, really, just a more pretentious name for the concept of framing. Indeed, in our discussion of loan and deposit designs for banks, we were, basically, discussion replication, which can also be described as packaging without the mention of packaging: implicit packaging. It all began when Black and Sholes were looking for a means of coming up with a formula to value put and call options on American stocks.

To fill in some of the gaps, let us begin with the concept of another financial product: forward contracts. Forward contracts, called futures, if they are exchange-traded, were the first so-called derivative. A derivative contract or product is one whose price depends on the price of other underlying objects. In order to hedge risk of price changes, in various commodities, including, but not limited to, grain, metals, currencies, and stock markets, forward contracts were originated in the OTC (over the counter) markets, which just means between individuals, rather than through a formal trading exchange. In that regard, if you are a farmer who has planted corn, you know when it will be ready for harvest, you know how much you should have, but you do not have buyers, and the price might vary between the time that you plant and harvest. Therefore, you might search out potential buyers, like corn millers, who are also looking to lock in future supplies for their mills. You enter into a contract for future delivery of a certain amount of corn at a specified price at a certain future date, a forward contract for the purchase and sale of corn, and both parties have eliminated price risk. However, the contract is inflexible: both parties have eliminated risk, but neither can benefit, if the spot price turns out to be very different than the contract price when the future arrives.

The valuation of a forward contract is fairly straightforward: it is a matter of framing. The buyer of the forward could buy the underlying commodity, now, but he sacrifices the opportunity of putting his money into riskless investment and earning interest during the intervening period. Thus, the seller of the contract will be satisfied, if he gets the current spot price plus the interest that the buyer can earn by keeping his money until the contract must be fulfilled. Reframed, long a forward contract is equivalent to short the future value of the spot price, based in the current riskless interest rate. In order to further convince you that this is, indeed, the proper frame for pricing a forward contract, consider a position of long the physical commodity and short a forward contract, symbolically, C – F, where C is the commodity, and F is the forward contract, the negative sign denoting short. Since this is, now a totally riskless position, it should earn a riskless rate of return, or C – F = M, where M denotes a riskless money market investment with term to maturity equal to the time to delivery on the forward. Rearranging the symbolic equation, we get: F = C – M, which is equivalent to another frame: a leveraged position in the commodity, in which one borrows, unrealistically, the whole cost of the long commodity position. Also, in this manner, we have illuminated the previously obscured frame that shows that a forward contract is simply a package of a one hundred percent leveraged long commodity position. Alternatively, we could say that we can replicate a forward contract by buying a long position and fully leveraging it.

As the financial markets noticed a need, they designed a new product, options, in response to the inflexibility of forward contracts. As mentioned, in the previous paragraph, forward contracts take away all of the risk but leave no possibility to benefit, if prices move in a direction that would offer added benefit. For example, the farmer sells his wheat forward, in order to avoid the possibility that wheat prices will fall before he can harvest his wheat. However, he may feel stupid, if the price actually rise, substantially, over the intervening period. Thus, from the OTC markets there arose a new product: options. Options are flexible contracts, and in making a flexible contract, the concept of forward had to be split into a duality: puts and calls. A call option is an option to buy a certain underlying object at a specified price at a certain future date, but there is no obligation to exercise that right. In that regard, if you buy a $50-strike-price call option on ABC stock, and the price moves above the strike price, you will exercise the option, buy the stock at $50, sell it in the market, and make a profit. On the other hand, if the price ends up below the strike price at expiration of the contract, you will not exercise, and you will only lose the money that you paid, initially, for the option. Thus, you can benefit, if the price rises, but you lose only a little, if the price drops: you have limited downside risk and unlimited upside potential. Put options give the buyer the right but not the obligation to sell the underlying object at a specified price by a certain date. Accordingly, you will buy a put to protect yourself or to benefit from a drop in prices, but, if the price goes up, you will only lose the price paid for the contract. In addition, given the dual nature of options, one needs to hedge a position in the underlying by using both. In terms of an abstract symbolic equation, for options on stock, S, the equation for a hedged position is: S – C + P = M, or: long stock, short call, and long put will give you a riskless money market return, M.

As we have described, in some of our preceding discussions, there are a number of financial products, designed by banks and corporations, which are simply obscurely framed packages of more common products and options. When Black and Sholes came up with their options valuation formula, in the mid-1970’s, they did two things. First, assuming, unrealistically, that financial objects represent fair games and are governed by normal distributions, which came from John Von Neumann’s rational-based economic theories, they, with the aid of the physics department at M. I.T., developed a mathematical formula for option valuation. However, it was the other thing that they did, which is much more important: they framed options in terms of the underlying financial instrument and riskless return. That was the beginning of financial engineering, which is better described as frame-obscured financial product design. In the longer run, their mathematical formula has proven to have big problems, especially after the 1987 market crash, which could only have happened once in several billion years, if financial objects were really governed by normal distributions. Their use of frames to describe objects, in terms of other objects, has lead to the explosion in development of frame-obscured financial products over the past few decades, which has also been responsible for our current financial crisis.

The creativity of finance can produce good and bad products. For example, it is observed that the spread between fixed and variable interest rates is higher for blue-chip borrowers than it is for poor credit risks. From this simple situation, which can be reframed as comparative advantage in the markets for debt, arose the interest rate swap, a derivative product involving two assets, not just one. The poor credit person would prefer to borrow at a fixed rate since he is already having trouble with his finances. The better borrower might, for one reason or another, prefer a variable rate loan. In a swap, the poor credit risk borrows in the market where he has comparative advantage: the variable rate market. The better borrower borrows in the fixed rate market, and they swap their interest rate payments on the same amount of principal with an adjustment for risk. The result is that, just like in international economic theory, the two split their comparative advantages, both end up transformed to the markets that they prefer, and both pay lower interest than they would have on their own.

A major theme in the financial business over the last several decades has been, on the one hand, to make new frame-obscured packaged products, and, on the other hand, to bring their massive sales and marketing forces to bear on a growing investing public. People, in general, only became interested in investments, beyond bank accounts, beginning in the 1980’s, first, after rampant inflation, in the late 1970’s, showed them that bank accounts did little to overcome inflation, and, second, after competition, finally, reduced commissions to affordable levels, in the retail securities brokerage business. Thereafter, on-line order entry from personal computers, in the 1990’s, brought even more self-styled investors into the fray. In addition, message boards and on-line “trading systems” allowed even more people to convince themselves that investing can be done by anyone. As a result of those things, a person did not even have to pick up the phone to call a broker for tips and orders. Instead, they could use trading systems, the bases of which they had no knowledge, and listen to people on message boards, even though they no knowing of their credentials. Indeed, we have observed bubbles, in the U.S. markets, in the late 1990’s, and, in China, in the middle of the first decade of the new millennium, that, as far as we can see, were the results of this new mass-whispering, cereal-box-expert trading phenomenon. This new breed of wildcat investor, having no formal education in investment or experience in the profession of investing, is especially ravenous for and opens to newly designed investment venues. In this new era of do-it-yourself investment by self-styled investors, the marketing departments of financial institutions are having a field day, and there has been an explosion of new financial products, over the last few decades.

Financial products can come from needs, as creative solutions to problems, or to take advantage of know preferences and other psychological factors. The next product design that we will discuss may seem surprising: the money market account. Technically, money market accounts are mutual funds and because people are depositing, buying shares, and withdrawing, selling shares, all the time, the fund would have to be in continuous registration, according to the rules for such mutual funds, and issue and refund shares of the fund. However, the securities industry lobbied long and hard to get the government to agree to allow money market funds to have the appearance of demand accounts at banks, and, today, most of us would never even think that they were anything more, nor would we be aware of the battle that went on behind the scenes to make us think, in terms of this frame.

That brings us to the doorstep of our next example of design based on observed behavior of investors. A casebook example of security design based on information about this new breed of investor was the LYON designed by Merrill Lynch, in the 1980’s. What led to the design of these securities was an observation by a member of the firm. The head of the money market department at Merrill noticed that many of the customers who had money market accounts used the earnings from those accounts to dabble in stock options. As a response to that knowledge, Merrill designed, LYONs, liquid yield option notes, which were zero-coupon, convertible, callable, and putable bonds. They were specifically designed to have the appearance of the safety of a money market account, while offering the upside potential of options. By the early 1990’s, investors in LYONs had a rude awakening as interest rates fell, and the bonds were called by the issuer.

These small examples, not only show us the behind the scenes research that goes into design, but also point out how framing is used to focus investors on certain aspects of an investment, knowing that they will ignore others. The “second rule of people” that I teach to my protege and to my assistants is that people are not as smart as you think they are. They do not look at all of the facts or signals that should be apparent, and they do not connect all of the facts that they see. It is the essence of what is being discovered, in studies, in the in the new behavioral finance. We shall take that up in part 2 of the article.

© 2009 Craig Mattoli, CEO, Red Hill Capital Corporation, Delaware, USA, owner, Leona Craig Art, Guangzhou, China: all worldwide rights reserved.



9 Tips To Choose The Best Website Development Company

Web development firms have a greater role in enhancing the client company’s brand name and their reputation online. In short, the success of a brand online often relies on the expertise of web developers. More and more customers are turning in to web to get details regarding the products and services offered by a particular brand. And as the popular say goes, “First impression is the best impression” which means a website should be as catchy and impressive as possible to turn a prospective customer in to a business.

A lot of web design companies are available to create website for your company according to the budget you have. But only a professional web development company can see the bigger picture of their client requirements instead of compromising for their short-term goals. A lot of research must happen before choosing the best website designing and development company. Landing in to the wrong development partner will result in long-term consequences that might be damaging for the reputation of your brand.

Here are a few tips that will help you choose the right website development company.

Are they Receptive?

This is an important aspect in the selection of the right web development firm. You will have to check whether the website design company is serious in handling your queries and returning calls. If they are making delays in replying to your queries prior to establishing a contract with them, then it is desirable for you to avoid them since their responsiveness in the long-term once the site launches cannot be guaranteed at all.

Do they have an advisor to brief you?

Companies offering best web development services will have advisors who will try to understand your requirements and will advise you whether you will have to make any changes in the designing and functionality of the website that you have in mind. Usually if the designing of the website does not match with the services you offer, it might turn out to be a waste of money. An advisor can help you clear this obstacle before the start of the web development process itself.

Take a look at the web development firm’s own website

Most web design companies showcase their own website to draw clients towards them. If their website is not attractive, then how can they make your website attractive?

Does the web development company provide you with repeated suggestions?

These are strong signs of a genuine website development services company. They often serve you as a trusted guide by claiming that some of your ideas are bad and will have the explanations for it too. It is not necessary for most of the brands approaching website design companies to have a thorough knowledge regarding the changes happening across web standards, eCommerce and security standards, web standards and usability experiences.

Have a look at the previous completed projects

It is essential for the client companies to take a look at the previous projects done by the web development firm they are approaching and prefer to speak with those clients to get a feedback about the web development company.

How after sales service are managed?

This is one area where most of the companies feel disappointed at times with their client web development company. The reason, the lack of enthusiasm to help the brand company once the project is over. The best web development company would engage in a long-term relationship with the client by offering uninterrupted round the clock services to them regarding website maintenance.

Whether direct communication is allowed with the web developers?

More than a marketing person, it is the technical person that will be of use during the development stage of your website. Usually a team of web designers and web developers would be involved in the developmental stages of your website and it is only them who will be able to best understand your requirements when it comes to the creative as well as technical thoughts.

Do you or the web development company own the website code?

Most of the website development companies own the website code since they expect the client to approach them in future also if any changes have to be made. But check whether your company will be comfortable with such restrictions. The client website development company can make the changes easily since they have hands-on experience creating your website where as if you own the website code, you will have the freedom to make any changes. But the task would be a bit difficult for the IT department since the code is developed by the client web development company.

Are comprehensive services offered?

The best web development company would offer comprehensive services and thereby takes the entire responsibility of your website design, development and maintenance. The process starts from developing an initial strategy, planning, design, development, testing as well as marketing.

It has to be taken note that most of these firms are also offering mobile application development. Most of the client companies are moving towards developing a mobile application for their products and services in addition to the website development services since a majority of the customers now uses smartphone for online purchases.



Developing the Perfect Home Design

When it finally comes down to building your own home one of the most difficult parts you’ll ever encounter is actually choosing your home plan. Generally you have all these ideas built up in your head of how you’d like your home to look and be laid out, but now it’s getting all those ideas onto paper that could be difficult.  

For those beginning the process of their home building plan you’ll quickly want to consider the actual layout of your lot. This will allow you to have the ability to determine what actual size you can have for your home, meaning you can finally figure out the sizing of all the rooms within the home. You also want to consider how much land you want around your home, such as your backyard and such so you can ensure to leave enough space for all those things you want in your yard.  

When you’ve determined the amount of space you’ll have for your home you can now determine the size of foundation you’ll need, whether your homes going to be one story, two story, etc. It will depend on the number of storys of your home for the actual size of your foundation, and your home builder should be able to explain this to you. At this stage you will also want to determine if you’d like to have a basement or not within your home.  

Now it is time to get into the design plan for your home. When you choose to go with a rectangular option you will see a drop in pricing as it is easier to build a rectangular home then it is to build a home with many different corners to go around. If you want to be outrageous with your design then do it, but please be aware that this will cost you more and could do a lot of damage on your wallet.  

There are many ways that you can cut costs when it comes to designing your home and one of the best ways to do it is by keeping things simple. If you know you won’t need a basement then don’t get a basement, as this can cut thousands of dollars off your home plan. Basements cost a lot of money to build as they take a lot of time to develop, so if you don’t need it then don’t get it.  

One of the best tips ever given by a builder is to leave out all the extra fancy things until later. If there are things you want, but don’t know you can afford then don’t do it. Usually these are things that can be added onto the home in the future but make sure to keep them on your wish list as they could end up happening as your build progresses, especially if you run into a little extra money on top of your budget. A home plan can be expensive, but it can be budgeted if you take the right steps and avoid having all those unnecessary add-ons. Be wise with your home plan and you could save thousands of dollars.



How To Get Free Sailboat Plans

As a keen sailor, I spend a lot of time looking at sailboat plans and designs on the Internet. And, because I always have an eye on costs, I’m always interested in offers of free sailboat plans. If you’re after free plans then, like me, I’m afraid you’re going to be disappointed with what’s on offer. But there is a way, and here, I’m going to tell you how I got the best free sailboat plans I could have wished for.

Free plans are useless

The vast majority, in fact, I’d go as far as saying all, free boat plans on the Internet are useless. They often miss out crucial details. (Whether it’s deliberate, in order to force you into buying the complete plan or just due to sloppy attention to detail, it’s hard to say) or they are old designs that are so old that they’re totally unsuitable for modern use. Some of them are simply scanned copies of old blueprints that are barely visible in many cases. Free sailboat plans? Forget it. There’s a much better way to get the design you want for virtually nothing.

It’s not rocket science

So what is this magic method? Well, it’s simple. You design it yourself. I can hear you now. ‘I can’t design it myself!, I’ve never designed anything!’ Well that’s what I thought at first too. But I can tell you, It’s a whole lot easier than it sounds and a whole lot cheaper than hiring a professional designer too. The fact is, you’re planning to build a sailboat, not an ocean liner or an aircraft carrier. It’s not that complicated. If you have an ounce of common sense and have done a bit of sailing so you know what’s important in a boat, then you can do it.

A beautiful idea

And this is how you do it. You buy yourself a specialized boat design software package and have a play with it for a few hours. You’ll soon get the hang of it and like me you’ll be producing your own designs the same day. The beauty of this approach is that you get the hull shape that YOU want, not something that everyone else is using or that some other anonymous designer has drawn up.

Then, and this is how you get your plans for free, you can sell designs to other members of your club and recoup what you paid for the software. I bought my software last year (it was under fifty dollars) and within a few months I’d sold a dinghy design to a guy in my club ($25) and a speedboat hull design to a neighbor ($30).

Boat plan addict!

This boat design thing is addictive and I’m already working on some ideas for a 28 foot sailboat for the whole family. So my recommendation is to forget all about free sailboat plans and get stuck into what for me has proven to be an absorbing and fascinating extension to my love for sailing.



Landscaping Rear Yard – Here’s A Simple Designing System

The process of landscaping a rear yard starts with the observation of the rear yard or the backyard. You can take notes of the existing features in your backyard on a small notepad that can influence the landscaping design.

There are many factors that will alter the design sketch such as presence of a big tree in the backyard. Also take not of external influential factors such a sunlight, shadows of the house building falling on the ground and their direction, wind directions and wind speeds, etc You do not have to be very scientific about this but these things are important.

After this is done you can note down your requirements in your rear garden This list may include a lawn surface, rock garden, swimming pool, play area for kids, outdoor patio, fishpond, etc. You can even ask your family members their own requirements about this. Even as your kids about it, because sometimes kids come up with great and unique ideas.

Now you have with you the facts about your rear yard and your requirements. The next thing is put a sketch plan on paper that will fit most of your requirements easily. You might have to compromise here some of the requirements. For example if the swimming pool is too big for your rear yard try replacing it with just a small fishpond with a fountain in it. Also while designing the landscaping garden keep an eye on the budget side of garden.

In this way you can go on creating many alternatives for rear yard landscaping design. Show this design to your family members, friends and see what they think about it. After this comes the stage of hiring a landscaping contractor or if you have the skills start executing the garden on your own.

This is just a small review of the kind of process through which you can go. This system will save your money and time by cutting down many disadvantages of poor planning.

Copyright Shrinivas Vaidya



How To Get Desktop Wallpaper – FAQs

Have you always been fascinated by desktop wallpaper but have had questions about how to use them, whether they affect the functioning of your computer or even about what 3D wallpaper is? The fact is that these wallpapers are very easy to install on your computer screen and can be a source of joy and inspiration while you are working on the computer.

What is desktop wallpaper? When you start up your computer and it loads up, the initial screen that you see in the background on which all your program or document shortcuts are placed. In most cases the wallpaper is a single color. However, you can replace this with another image either by downloading one from the internet or using one from your own collection. These images in the background do not decrease the speed or performance of your computer.

How does having a desktop wallpaper help? Is it really needed? While having decorative wallpaper is not necessary or compulsory, it is a choice that many people exercise to add a personal touch to their computer. This is done either through selecting a picture or image that means something to them or even having a quote that is a reminder or an inspiration of one’s philosophy or goals. Many look at it as a style statement.

Can I make my own designs for desktop wallpaper? This is a common question asked by users who do not know how to save an image as their wallpaper. Once you learn the simple process you can use your own photographs of your pet, children or even a favorite place and add it as the background to cheer you up when you are feeling down or low.

How do I add or change desktop wallpaper? The process of changing your wallpaper or background is so easy that once you learn how, you would probably change it at least once a week. All you have to do is select the image or photograph that you would like to use. This can be either free downloaded wallpaper from a website or a photograph from your collection. Once you make the selection, setting wallpaper is easy, right click the image and choose the option to set it as your background.

Once you learn the process and how easy it is, you can experiment with different screen resolutions, tiling or even 3D desktop wallpaper that offers lifelike designs or animations. You can find several websites that offer free downloads of unique designs, high quality images or even 3D animated wallpaper.



The Beauty of Large Wall Clocks

It seems like every time I walk into a really nice home I am sooner or later confronted by one of the hot new trends in interior design: large wall clocks. They are everywhere! And there’s a good reason why: they add a real magnificence to any home in which they appear. I am seriously becoming a big fan of this take on the typical smaller or medium-sized version. Go big, that’s what I say.

The first thing you need to consider if you want to emulate this design trend is if you even have the room to do it. You really only need one thing: a big empty space on a wall. That is all you will need. (And a little cash.) If you are very stylistically inclined then you might be able to kind of wedge a large wall clock in next to some other things on the wall such as photographs or paintings, or even light switches and TV’s. But most people will probably prefer to play it a bit safer and have some space on either side of the clock.

Most people agree that large wall clocks should be classified as being at least two feet wide. This alone is quite big, approximately a third the height of a human. But you may even want a larger one than this. If so, I applaud you. Just make sure you have the wall space and do your measurements before you make the purchase. A lot of us aren’t exactly intuitive when it comes to making visual approximations on measurements. (By the way, two feet equals about 0.60 meters.)

No one can really deny the magnificence of these items. They are a great way to really do something with a big wall. Rare is the person who can make an empty wall look good without doing anything to it. You really ought to make use of this space to show something off. Large wall clocks are a new and modern way to do this. Also, no one will ever forget what time it is! It sort of has the effect of diminishing the consciousness of time in a paradoxical way. It parodies time and our obsession with it. But beyond this it tells everyone who walks into your home that you do things in a big way and you are not afraid to take chances. This is an impression that I think most of us would like to make on our guests and visitors. (It also tells people you are a bit wealthy.)

So that is my little spiel about large wall clocks and how I have become a big fan of them. I suppose not everyone will echo my thoughts, but I just think they are great. The other side of things is that if you take this plunge you will probably want to (at least over time) re-emphasize everything else that is within vision of the clock. It would be a mistake to have your house be overshadowed by one single item.



How to Build Your Own Home – Lesson 3 – Your Plans – Draftsman/ Designer Vs Architect

1. The Draftsman/Designer

Draftsman/Designer’s have expertise with design of interiors, carpeting, furniture, paint, etc., in actuality; draftsmen follow the directions of an architect, engineer or designer to make (vs. create) the plans. They are not licensed, as an architect is, to stamp plans in order to receive city building permits – More on this later.

If you choose to hire a draftsman/designer, be sure to find one that has a good working knowledge of building. I knew a draftsman/designer that designed beautiful country homes but you could tell this designer was relatively new to the industry because some of her designs could not be built the way they were drawn. This is because designers often do not understand how the construction process works. This is a key difference between draftsman/designers and architects. Choose someone that has had experience creating drawings that have been successfully built from by homebuilders, and who comes highly recommended.

Another source for a qualified draftsman/designer is the American Institute of Building Design. You can locate member in your area by visiting their web site. If you see a home that you like, check with the owner to see if they know who designed it. If the home is fairly new, you could go to the building department and possibly see the plans on file, you can acquire the name of the designer from those plans.

2. The Architect

Architects have expertise in design but are especially helpful because of their knowledge of technology and structural aspects of how to put together a building. He or she has gone to school a long time and are licensed professionals who are qualified to offer clients a wide range of services. Working with an architect can give you someone to lean on from start to finish. He/she can help you with your site and landscape plans. He/she can help you select colors, furnishings, etc. as well. The architect can offer several other valuable services to help your construction plan go smoothly. For example, he/she can visit the site, monitoring and observing construction. The architect can be a valuable asset in reviewing contracts and helping you ultimately select a reputable contractor or subcontractor.

Another service the architect can provide is to walk through your plans with the city/county to expedite getting the necessary permits.

Keep in mind that an architect’s fees are going to be higher than those of a draftsman/designer, which makes sense considering all of the additional services and safeguards that you’ll get the benefit of. A good architect can charge anywhere from 7% to 10% of the final cost, or more. Fees may be negotiable, though. For example, I hire very qualified architects in the Atlanta area for less than a third of those figures, which, by the way, is a very cheap price to pay for someone that qualified to create your house, plans and see the job through to completion.

As always, when hiring someone, it is best to discuss the exact services that the architect will provide under the contract, so you know what services to expect for the fee you will be paying. Also, ask for references and examples of his/her work. Not all architects are wonderful artists. Perhaps their style does not mesh with our style, either. If you want an original work of art, a thing of beauty – just because you’ve gone to the expense of an architect does not mean you automatically will have hired an artist. I feel only one in three architects are true artist. For that reason, I have sometimes hired an artistic designer to design a home of beauty, and then I would hire an architect to do the working drawings.

Note: In many areas, you do not have to have an architectural stamp on a set of residential drawings. You could draw them yourself. I’ve seen some builders draw a sketch on a piece of scratch paper, hand it to the framing carpenter and say, “Make it look like the third house on the left!” Find out if you will need stamped drawings from your local government.

In many areas you could build a duplex [two unit building] or a triplex [three unit building] without an architectural stamp on the drawings. However, if you build four units or more, which in many areas is considered multi-family, or if you build commercial or industrial, you would be required to have an architectural stamp or a professional engineer’s stamp on the plans.

If you build anything unusual like a “foam home,” the only way you may be able to pass the local codes and inspections would be to have an architectural stamp or a professional engineer’s stamp on those unusual plans. Having a stamp is no guarantee, because the local government reviews everything and you don’t know what is going to pass.



Revealing The Top 5 UX Design Trends To Follow In 2017

Fads are meant to fade. Trends make entry to exit. Being concerned with the similar fashion, it becomes gruesome to follow the hierarchy of elements that binds a rudimentary design. Since 2017 is on the tip, and web design industry is also ready with the key changes and updates to roll out in the successive year. Here is the list aggregating the User Interface UI design trends that will make the developers think twice before using. Take a sneak peek.

  1. ODD COLORS AND BOLD TYPOGRAPHY

This year we all have used and seen the domination of super rich and bold color tones brightening up the user interfaces, the penchant of these vibrant hues has even confirmed its effortless presence in the leading year, thereby, opening the gateways for more bright interfaces, vivid color palettes, duotones and bold gradients in UIs.

Additionally, Typography is accentuating the tones and styles of the websites by giving the websites a personality. Prediction reveals 2017 will pick up handcrafted types in designs.

  1. MOBILE-FIRST DESIGN

Although mobile-first or responsive design is something which has been around for a few years, what we predict to see over the coming year is an even bigger uptake of responsive with the backing of progressive web apps and accelerated web pages.

Note: Progressive Web Apps describe a collection of technologies, design concepts, and Web APIs that work in tandem to provide an app-like experience on the mobile web.

  1. BESPOKE ILLUSTRATIONS

Forget the days when one had to research stock imagery, videos, and icons to convey a product functionality or service explanation. Today customers and users seek authenticity and immaculateness from the brands they use.

Infographics, vertical scrolling, icons, animated elements, and bespoke illustrations, creative visuals which are playful and friendly enough can add an element of fun while maintaining the authenticity.

  1. VIDEO WILL RULE

A moving image immediately grabs the users’ attention, taking them across the brands constructed message and story. Video is a versatile medium that plays a role of conduit in story-telling, marketing and vlogging. Above all, there is no need to read, search, or scroll for the information with it. It is dynamic and engaging.

  1. RAPID PROTOTYPING

Rapid prototyping is the process of quickly mocking up the future state of a system, be it a website or application, and validating it with the client and broader team of users, stakeholders, web developers and UI designers. Adopting this method saves hours of work and rapidly and iteratively generates feedback in the process, improving the final design and reducing the need for changes during development.

So, basically you will see a shift from prototyping to rapid prototyping, thereby, eliminating any pressing setbacks in the project.

All in all, there will be hundreds of trends going in at this time in order to chase the clean web design movement of 2017. The proliferation of mobile and tablet devices whose screen sizes used to dictate simpler navigation and layout options will now be more simplified to deliver the subdued experience to the users.



NLP – 3 Beliefs You Need to Design the Life You Desire

According to neuro linguistic programming, a belief is not a mere idea; a belief is an idea to which you adhere, an idea to which you consciously or subconsciously said ‘Yes! That’s mine!’ Following are the 3 types of beliefs you need to have to be able to design the life that you envision.

To the events, you give one or several meanings. These meanings give birth to some beliefs, beliefs regarding yourself, others and the world around you. All of this builds a set of convictions that will help you to realize extraordinary things or stop you in the search of excellence.

Following are the 3 types of beliefs you need to have to be able to design the life that you envision:

1. You need to believe in yourself. Self-confidence and self-esteem are often destroyed or lost by our different experiences in life. When one lost his self-esteem, he begins to play the “blame” game. People who have healthy and high self-esteem play the “I know I can do it” game or the “I deserve to be happy and successful” game. These attitudes will ultimately create a system that will attract the good that they desire. The games you play regarding yourself become self-fulfilling prophecies.

2. You need to believe in others. Self-confident people know that they need others to succeed, solve problems, grow, change and communicate. That’s the reason why you need to choose your friends very carefully. They will determine your future. The influence they can have on you can destroy you or create an enormous amount of positive energy that will have you achieve success faster than you ever thought possible.

3. You need to believe in God, the Universe or some higher power. People who are self-actualized believe in some sort of higher power, something or someone who is beyond them, that is in control of everything and that will give them everything they need, for their best and highest good. Believing that the Universe, source of all power, wants you to be successful, will give you the strength you need to pursue your dreams and turn your dreams into reality.

Now the question is: “On a scale from 1 to 10, 1 being the lowest, how much do you believe in yourself, others and the Universe?” Design your life now. Ask and you shall receive. You can apply many neuro linguistic programming techniques to achieve what you really want.