Desktop Wallpaper Calendars: August 2015

We always try our best to challenge your artistic abilities and produce some interesting, beautiful and creative artwork, and as designers we usually turn to different sources of inspiration. As a matter of fact, we’ve discovered the best one — desktop wallpapers that are a little more distinctive than the usual crowd.

Desktop Wallpaper Calendars: August 2015

This creativity mission has been going on for seven years now, and we are very thankful to all designers who have contributed and are still diligently contributing each month. This post features free desktop wallpapers created by artists across the globe for August 2015. Both versions with a calendar and without a calendar can be downloaded for free. It’s time to freshen up your wallpaper!

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Constructing CSS Quantity Queries On The Fly

Often within a project, the presentation of our content changes based on certain needs. We see this when we use media queries to change our styles based on the user device. CSS quantity queries follow the same concept of changing the styles based on a condition: the condition within a quantity query being the number of sibling elements.

QuantityQueries.com

An example would be navigation where items are 25% wide when four items are available; yet when there are five items available, the width of the navigation items changes to 20%. This is a common problem with dynamic site frameworks like WordPress or Ghost. A client might not realize the complications that could arise, for example, by adding one more menu item when the CSS is not set up to fit it in.

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Designing Flexible, Maintainable Pie Charts With CSS and SVG

When it comes to CSS techniques, nobody is more stubborn and smart enough to find solutions to any problems than Lea Verou. Recently, Lea has written, designed and published "CSS Secrets", a truly fantastic book on the little CSS tricks and techniques for solving everyday problems. If you thought that you know CSS fairly well, think again: you will be surprised. In this article, we publish a few nuggets from the book, which were also presented in Lea's recent talk at SmashingConf New York — on designing simple pie charts, with CSS. Please notice that some demos might not work as expected due to limited support in browsers. —Ed.

Designing Simple Pie Charts With CSS

Pie charts, even in their simplest two-color form, have traditionally been anything but simple to create with web technologies, despite being incredibly common for information ranging from simple stats to progress indicators and timers. Implementations usually involved either using an external image editor to create multiple images for multiple values of the pie chart, or large JavaScript frameworks designed for much more complex charts.

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How Copywriting Can Benefit From User Research

I’ve often heard there are four stages along the road to competence: unconscious incompetence, conscious incompetence, conscious competence, and unconscious competence. Most of us begin our careers “unconsciously incompetent,” or unaware of how much we don’t know.

User Research In Copywriting

I’ll never forget the first time I moved from unconscious to conscious incompetence. I was working as an office manager at a small software company, and having been impressed by my writing skills, the director of sales and marketing asked me to throw together a press release, welcoming the new CEO.

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Making Time: Redesigning A Calendar Experience For Android

In UX design, few things are more intricate than time and personal time management — only a good arsenal of mobile design patterns and information architecture principles can save you. This is the story of redesigning the UX for a popular calenda tool on Android: Business Calendar. We’ll cover designing systems, interaction design problems, scaling across screens and platforms, research, and big business decisions and their outcomes.

Making Time: Redesigning A Calendar Experience For Android

Business Calendar started out as a side project, a one-man show, and is now run by a team of eight in Berlin. The app was very successful right from the time Android entered the mainstream market, and it now has an active user base of 2 million. But instead of modernizing the design and usability regularly, the developers focused on implementing user requests and customization options.

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Finally: Smashing Book #5 Is Here, And It’s Hot Like Smoking Barrels.

The waiting is over. Smashing Book #5 is here, it's smashing, and it's shipping worldwide — in fact, all pre-orders have just been dispatched. Think of it as a reliable playbook to master all the tricky hurdles of responsive design, well-tested in real-life projects by respected designers and developers. Ah, sure, you can get the book right away.

Smashing Book 5: Real-Life Responsive Web Design

Now, a standalone release post would be boring and predictable, so how about bringing another perspective to the magazine instead? Below you'll find some insights about the writing process by one of the authors of the book, Sara Soueidan, who has contributed an 80-page long compendium of useful techniques, tricks and strategies for dealing with SVG. — Ed.

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How To Moderate Effectively In Usability Research

As UX professionals, we know the value of conducting usability research. But UX research initiatives — even when designed well — are not perfect. A lab study to test a website, for example, would never perfectly capture a user’s actual behavior in the wild. This is because, inevitably, the research protocol itself will influence the findings.

The Importance Of Moderating Effectively In Usability Research

A lab environment can never replicate the natural environment of the participant, and the mere presence of a research facilitator or moderator creates a dimension of artificiality that can thwart the research goals. They must not only facilitate sessions in such a way that the research goals are achieved, but also balance two challenges that are constantly at odds with each other: keeping the participant within the scope of the study, while allowing the participant to be in the driver’s seat in order to make the experience as realistic as possible.

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Smarter Grids With Sass And Susy

If you’re a designer, you’ll know that grids are your friends. More often than not, they’re the vital architecture that holds a beautiful design together; they create rhythm, structure your page, lead the eye, and prevent the whole thing collapsing in a sloppy mess.

Smarter Grids With Sass And Susy

I’m a firm advocate for designing with the browser: prototyping with HTML and CSS has many clear advantages over static Photoshop comps, which have less value for the responsive web. Unfortunately, HTML, CSS and grids aren’t natural bedfellows: the progression of web standards over the years has been lacking in this area, meaning we have to grapple with floats (which were never designed to be used this way) and clearfixes — not ideal when you want to spend less time debugging layout and more time crafting experiences.

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Product Design Unification Case Study, Part 2: “Burger-Driven” Framework

In the first part of the case study about Mail.Ru Group product design unification, I described our first approach — a mobile web framework. Aside from creating a unified visual style and interaction principles for a dozen services, we've also transformed our design process from the classic "prototype → design mock-up → HTML → implementation" approach for every screen, to a modern and more efficient framework-based approach.

Product Design Unification Case Study, Part 2:

In this second part I'll show how we have improved the same technology to embody larger versions of these products and made our "Bootstrap on steroids" more powerful. In the spring of 2012, our business unit acquired 11 content-based projects: Auto, Events Guide, Health, Horoscopes, Kids, Lady, Moto, News, Sports, TV, and Weather. Many of them are very successful in their market niche in Russia; however, they each have their own history, often with outsourced designs that led to inconsistencies.

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Freebie: A Workspace Illustrations Kit (AI, PNG, PSD, EPS and SVG)

Today we're happy to release yet another freebie: a set of 60 lovely workspace illustrations of items that many web and graphic designers use every day: tablet and desktop computers, Apple Watches, cameras, Moleskine notebooks, headphones, pens, pencils, pairs of glasses — even coffee cups and cookies!

The complete set of illustrations

The set has been designed by Anastasia Kolisnichenko, from Minsk, Belarus, and released for free for Smashing Magazine's readers. Feel free to use all these elements and others for your projects. Grab what you need for a poster or website. You can customize everything you want: stroke width, size, color, shape — everything.

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