Free software for photo and image editing

Because I am involved so much with web site design projects out of my Los Angeles office, I constantly have to deal with playing around with photos and images for my clients’ websites. Most ecommerce software and content management solutions don’t include sophisticated editing tools. And I am constantly on the lookout for free software to do simple tasks like making color corrections, printing, managing photo albums, or any of 100 other routine image-editing tasks. If you have a budget to spend on your digital photography passions then a commercial program like Adobe Photoshop is a great solution. But if you are low on a budget (hint think of the economy now) and you just need the basics like the ability to resize and crop images then you can find some good free software alternatives I’ve found below on a recent review from download.com.

When working on a recent web design project, I found a quick and easy download for doing some basic editing in a program called IrfanView, The tiny download weighs in at 1.24MB and literally can be installed in seconds. Once you’ve got it running, open the image that you want to edit and select Image > Resize/Resample to edit the size of your photo. To crop, click your cursor in the top left corner of the area you want to crop, then drag the cursor to create a rectangle. Select Edit > Crop Selection, and voila!

Another free application is Resizr, created by Matt Miller back in 2006. Resizr is a free online tool that lets you upload an image from your hard drive or via a URL. You can then rotate, crop, and resize your image, as well as make edits to brightness and contrast. You can even adjust levels and convert PNG files to JPEGs.

Redesign Web Site of EvePearl.com – Beautician to the Stars.

EvePearl.com has that interesting business combination of a products AND services shopping cart / ecommerce platform like WebCart© that could deliver a customized look and feel for each of her product sets. But at the same time she needed a content platform to offer up information related to her makeover services.

Eve – otherwise known as the Makeup Artist to the Stars – was recommended by the visionary Eisenberg brothers at that newly public web conversion and analytics consulting company FutureNow. A good part about the project was that though it complex in scope, she basically knew what she wanted and that made the core of the project relatively simple. First, Eve wanted a new look and feel for her site. Second is she wanted to introduce a whole new level of functionality for her customers to offer them video casts, interviews, an updated high end photo gallery and lots of other web content she could not easily manage with her prior Content Management Solution (CMS) software. Besides adding in all this brand spanking new function set, she also wanted to be able to manage updating the content on her own.

So the short story is that my angry web designer delivered a first draft in 9 days I think and at it’s core, he made it happen. Just to give you an idea of the process. We reviewed over 500 web sites for keywords like cosmetics, beauty supplies, makeup, beautician and makeovers. We built a spreadsheet of best practices in terms of what links were common between most of the closely competitive sites. We looked for common icons that would give her new site the credibility the customers expected. And finally, we looked at color schemes to see what we could efficiently create without requiring customers to learn a whole new site comprehension.

If you review the Case Studies section of my site, you should find a more comprehensive review of the steps we took to redesign her site and then integrate the old content into the new platform. I am very proud of this site because it took a lot of effort from all parties involved and everyone delivered a noteworthy effort. This does not always happen and that is why I am mentioning it now.