Looking Back On 2008 With Top Web Designers


The start of a new year is often a time of reflection on the past year, both personally and professionally, as well as a time to look forward to the year ahead. With that in mind, we thought it would be interesting to do a New Year’s group interview with a number of top designers and developers. We put together a big list of questions and posed two in particular to each of the participants.

We think you’ll enjoy the insight this panel provides into 2008 and 2009. There’s a wide variety of topics covered, including favorite resources, trend predictions, business lessons learned, upcoming events for 2009 and more. Let’s take a look at a large group interview with top web designers that takes a look back on 2008 and presents some predictions for the year 2009.

You may want to take a look at the other interview posts we’ve published earlier in our magazine:

Jonathan Snook3

Jonathan Snook4

Do you have any upcoming projects planned for 2009 that you’re particularly looking forward to?
I always look forward to conferences. It’s such a great way to hang out with talented, friendly people. SXSW is at the top of my list, even if I’m not speaking. With the folks from Sidebar Creative5, we’ve got plans for more workshops, especially after the success of our first event, and we’re looking to roll out some new things next year. 2009 is shaping up to be a good year.

Do you have any thoughts or predictions about design trends that may become more popular or significant in 2009?
There’s been a maturation of design, with great usage of illustration and playing with the illusion of light. However, it’s been mostly decorative backgrounds and headers. There hasn’t been much push outside the generic two- or three-column layouts. Thankfully, we’ve seen a smattering of great art direction in 2008, and I look forward to seeing more of that in 2009. Jason Santa Maria6‘s, for example, is a site that I visit outside of my RSS reader every time because it’s unique. It captures my attention, and the content is well written and fantastically integrated.

Simon Collison7 of Erskine Design8

Simon Collison9

Are there any design trends or popular styles from 2008 that you like more than others?
I’m not a big believer in “trends” in Web design as such. For me, in Web design the patterns are rarely widespread enough to be what we could call “trends.” For example, it is easy to see pockets of ideas and copyists and approaches gaining momentum, but look somewhere else and the tide is flowing in another direction. Sure, crap stuff like Web 2.0-esque shiny buttons and reflections, or the great drop-shadow plague, or something good like “Wicked Worn,” they were real trends. What did 2008 give us that equals those?

There is one positive trend I like. More and more people are designing for the subject and audience, regardless of what is perceived as “trendy” — minimal, if minimal is required, or vibrant, if vibrant is required, etc. Now that is a trend I’d like to see spreading far and wide: relevance! I hated that world we lived in where, for example, regardless of audience, a Web app would always have the same visual bells and whistles. Crap. Oh, and as someone who always looks to try to take risks with a design, I’m pleased to see plenty of others still doing the same. More risk-taking in 2009, people!

Have you followed the work of any particular designers during the past year?
I pay attention to every single thing Mark Boulton10 puts out because he is consistently inventive, accurate and well-researched. His transparent redesign for Drupal has been a real eye-opener into his process, too.

I have followed Garrett Dimon’s blog11 because he has publicly documented the design and build of Sifter. Everyone can learn plenty from Garrett.

Obvious one, but Jason Santa Maria1412 killed it in 2008, especially with the art direction approach to his blog redesign, a technique we use a lot at Erskine and hope to see more of next year. Jason is quietly brilliant, a humble genius.

And (cheeky this) our own incredibly talented superstar Greg Wood13. He teaches me new ideas every day and is more talented than he realizes. I advise others to study his code, his ideas, his art direction.

Jason Santa Maria1412 of Happy Cog Studios15

Jason Santa Maria16

What are some of your favorite or most frequently used fonts from 2008?
Soho17 and Soho Gothic18 from Monotype19 are just gorgeous and versatile families. And even though it’s becoming too much of a go-to, I use Gotham20 often when in a pinch for a simple sans serif.

What have been a few of your favorite sources of design inspiration, online or off, throughout the past year?
I’ve really gotten into FFFFOUND!2521 this year. I subscribe to their update feed and love seeing all the random photos and bits of design that come down the tubes. Beyond that, getting away from my computer and taking photos always serves as a good source of inspiration for me.

Veerle Pieters22

Veerle Pieters23

What have been some of your favorite sources of design inspiration, online or off, during the past year?
When I look online, I mostly browse Flickr24 or FFFFOUND!2521 or del.icious26. One of the best offline inspirations is a book called Geometric, by Kapitza27, which I recently bought. It really is a beautiful source of inspiration if you are looking for geometric patterns.

Do you have any design competitions planned for 2009 (like the “What is Graphic Design?” competition from 2008)?
Yes, I am planning on doing another one but haven’t decided on a date yet because it takes much planning up front. This one will be the only one that I will be doing because I believe in quality over quantity.

Darren Hoyt28 of Category 429

Darren Hoyt30

Are there any design-related products, software or accessories on your wish list for 2009?
I’m looking forward to the release of ExpressionEngine 2.0. According to the previews, the way it handles themes should make production easier for us front-end designers. There’s also a pretty major control panel overhaul, which should make it an easier sell to novice clients.

I’m also excited about the official release of FontCase31. Over the years, I’ve used some pretty hacky methods of organizing and labeling key fonts, but FontCase beta has solved a lot of those problems already.

What have been your favorite sources of design inspiration, online or off, during the past year?
Mainly books. The first was Michael Beirut’s 79 Short Essays on Design32, which looks at design in the broadest sense, rather than getting specific about techniques or trends. I liked the big-picture perspective on how design impacts our lives in ways we don’t realize. The writing itself is really entertaining.

The second is Book One33, by Chip Kidd, a huge anthology of his famous book covers. He has a way of marrying strange imagery and playing with your expectations, something commercial Web design doesn’t always allow for. Studying his work is great when you’re stumped for ideas.

David Airey34

David Airey35

Can you tell us something that you’d like to improve on as a designer in 2009?
I want to be more humble and to concentrate on my own faults rather than judging others. When you’re overly concerned about your view of colleagues and acquaintances, you lose focus and productivity. I’m far from perfect, so it’s important to look closer to home.

Are there any designers in particular who you’ve enjoyed following in 2008?
Eric Karjaluoto, through his blog, ideasonideas36. Eric doesn’t publish blog articles very often, but when he does, they’re a sincere, insightful, personal look at the bigger picture, and I believe he’s a great asset to the design community.

Jacob Gube of Six Revisions11937

Jacob Gube38

What frameworks were your favorite to use in your development during 2008?
My favorite JavaScript framework is MooTools39 with jQuery40 being a close second. The choice depends on who I’m working for, who I’m working with and what the requirements are.

Server-side, I’m a PHP guy and Zend41 is my favorite, but I want to mention that you can’t go wrong picking other top PHP frameworks out there, such as CakePHP42 and CodeIgniter43.

For CSS frameworks, I believe in rolling your own framework if you really need to, because I find that the overhead in size and the usual cost of lower semantics in using CSS frameworks don’t justify the benefit, seeing as CSS (with the CSS2 specs at least) is a very simple markup language that really isn’t as verbose or complicated as client- or server-side scripting.

Do you have a favorite design- or development-related book from 2008?
This year, I read a lot of development books mostly to get familiar with emerging technologies like Flex 3 and AIR, as well as to upgrade my outdated ActionScript 2 knowledge to ActionScript 3. Learning Flex 344 is a superb primer.

For design, there is a lot of great content from independent bloggers (such as on the Usability Post45 blog) who produce great design- and UX-related articles, and unfortunately I didn’t find any ground-breaking books to read like Designing Web Usability46 (from 1999) and Don’t Make Me Think47 (from 2005). One book that I’d rank close to the caliber of the two previous books I mentioned is Web Form Design, by Luke Wroblewski48, from Rosenfeld Media. Rosenfeld Media has some nice UX books in store for us next year, and I’m excited to get my hands on those. Additionally, I still think that for beginning developers who are getting into more intermediate-level, standards-based Web design, I would suggest CSS Mastery49 by Andy Budd and Designing with Web Standards50 by Jeffrey Zeldman.

Nick La of N. Design Studio51, Web Designer Wall11752 and Best Web Gallery53

Nick La54

Do you have any favorite designers whose work you enjoyed following in 2008?
I particularly like the tnvacation.com55 series of websites (fall, spring, summer, and winter) designed by designsensory.com56.

What has been your favorite design trend or style from 2008?
My favorite design style is the collage and scrapbooking effect (see 2008 Design Trends57 at Web Designer Wall).

Chris Coyier of CSS-Tricks58

Chris Coyier59

What is your favorite CSS technique that you learned in 2008?
My favorite CSS technique from this past year isn’t a CSS technique alone, but rather learning how to control CSS through JavaScript, specifically jQuery. I already know CSS quite well, and since jQuery uses the same selectors as CSS, learning it wasn’t very difficult. Now I am able to integrate behaviors in websites in ways that were out of my grasp before. I can think “When I click this element, I want this other element’s CSS to change so that it is twice as big,” and I can make that happen quickly and easily. The power of that is incredible to me still.

Who are some of your favorite designers to follow on Twitter?
I love being able to follow all these incredible designers whose work I greatly admire: @jasonsantamaria60, @mezzoblue61, @collis62, @vpieters63, @snookca64, @chrisspooner65, @jessebc66, @elliotjaystocks67.

But even more, I like following my actual friends and people I enjoy conversing with. I am an equal opportunity follower. If you Tweet interesting things, I want to follow you!

Chris Spooner68

Chris Spooner69

Can you tell us a business lesson you learned from starting full-time freelancing in 2008?
One of the things that has surprised me the most is the obscure range of situations that project leads are generated from. When I look back at how my clients found me, I’m presented with a huge range of sources, which include the usual search engine phrases of “graphic designer + location,” but also some more generic and unusual terms that often bring up a related tutorial or article from my blog. Other sources of inquiry have been through seeing an example of my work on Web design galleries, discovering me through an online interview on another design blog and sometimes the subscribers of my blog themselves.

The lesson here is to consider every possibility of exposure and make the most of it. You never know what might come as a result of it.

Is there a particular product, software or accessory that is on your wish list for 2009?
I’d quite like to join the Apple fan club and swap all my computing kit for Mac products. An iMac, Macbook Pro and iPhone would look pretty nice sitting on my office desk! Unfortunately, I went and bought my Windows-specific Adobe software not so long ago, based on the idea that I already had a powerful computer setup. While Windows does the job without too many problems, I remember the overall niceness of OS X when I used to use an iMac at a previous job.

My girlfriend and I are looking to move home in the near future, so I think that would be the perfect opportunity to kit out a brand new office area with a shiny new kit, along with Adobe’s new CS4. I better get saving.

Alen Grakalic of CSS Globe70 and Templatica71

Alen grakalic72

What were a few of your favorite website designs from 2008?
There were many beautifully sites this year. Not actually sure if all were designed this year, but that’s when I first saw them. To name a few:

13 Creative73

13 Creative74

Ali Felski75

Ali Felski76

Viget Labs77

Viget Labs78



Carrot Creative81

Carrot Creative82

Alexandru Cohaniuc83

Alex Cohaniuc84

I loved this site Tomas Pojeta85.

Tomas Pojeta86

Another one of the sites I was absolutely amazed by was actually a Flash site: Level 2 Design87.

Level 2 Design88

Can you tell us something you learned during the past year that has helped you in running your business?
The one thing 2008 taught me was actually something I already knew but somehow keep forgetting: if you are a freelancer, never rely on a single source of income. No matter how cool the deal sounds, don’t work exclusively for anyone.

Randa Clay89

Randa Clay90

What were some of your favorite design trends or styles from the past year?
I love the vintage and retro look. The illustration style and color schemes are really appealing to me.

Do you have any new year’s resolutions for your business in 2009?
I’m not a big one on new year’s resolutions, but my continuing overriding goals are always to exceed client expectations, and to be one of the top developers of custom WordPress themes.

Jon Phillips of Spyre Studios91, and founder of Freelance Folder92

Jon Phillips93

What are a few of your favorite tools or resources for freelancers that you used in 2008?
I used different tools in 2008 (and in previous years), but If I had to choose, I’d pick three: WordPress, because of its simplicity, ease of use, flexibility and great support from the community; Freshbooks Invoicing because they make it so damn easy to keep track of everything, and I also find the iPod Touch app to be very useful; and last but not least, I’d pick Adobe FireWorks, simply because most of what I do doesn’t always require that I open Photoshop. Of course, I used many more tools, but those are the ones I used almost every single day in 2008.

What has been your favorite music to listen to while designing during the past year?
Being a musician myself, I could say I’ve been listening to my band (and I have), but usually when I work on clients’ projects and designs I’ll listen to artists like Fiona Apple, John Mayer, Radiohead, Muse, Guthrie Govan, Tori Amos, and when I need something a bit “stronger,” I’ll listen to Slipknot, Tool, 36 Crazy Fists, Avenged Sevenfold, Meshuggah, Soilwork, etc. It really depends on my mood and what I’m currently working on. Let’s just say I like the sound of an acoustic guitar as much as distortion. :)

Jacob Cass of Just Creative Design94

Jacob Cass95

What was your favorite design course that you took in 2008?
I took eight design-related courses in 2008 while studying Visual Communication at Newcastle University, Australia. These were: Visual Communication Technology II, Animation and Multimedia, Advertising for Design, Graphic Design, Media Production, Visual Communication Imaging, Typography and New Media. My favorite and most hated course would have to be Typography. It was the most challenging and eye-opening course I have done on design, and since taking it I have realized that so much of design and communication is purely based on typography. I actually wish to do another course in advanced typography, however my uni does not offer it (yet).

What aspects of your work would you like to improve on in 2009?
Glad you asked me this. It may lead to some new year’s resolutions. I would like to learn more about complex illustration in Illustrator, and I also want to learn some new techniques in Photoshop. I am also trying to improve my typography and further my skills in logo design. But in saying all this, this does not mean I will not try to improve on any other aspect of design. As a designer, you have to continually improve and learn new things to keep up to date in the industry.

Brian Gardner96 of Revolution Two97

Brian Gardner98

Can you tell us something that you learned that helped you improve your business in 2008?
The one thing I learned this year is how powerful a community can be. In October, I decided to take Revolution and open-source it, and I was amazed at how many supportive users there were. More importantly, users have generously given their time on the support forum to help others. Building a product that people believe in can go a long way.

Are there any products, software apps or accessories on your wish list for 2009?
Truthfully, the only thing I want is a 3G iPhone, as my current one runs just fine, so need to go out and buy another one!

Elliot Jay Stocks99

Elliott Jay Stocks100

Can you share with us a business lesson you learned from going out on your own in 2008?
Great question! There are two main things: the first is that I massively underestimated the time it would take to do admin stuff when I first started out. I don’t have too much paperwork to do, but things like reshuffling the calendar to fit in projects, liaising with clients, keeping track of expenses, etc., all that stuff takes a lot of time, and I was totally unprepared for it to begin with.

The second thing is that you should only take on projects you care deeply about and that are going to keep you interested. I did a couple of projects in 2008 that I really didn’t enjoy by the time they came to a close, because I’d lost interest in them. And that only happened because, deep down, I was never really interested in them in the first place. Turning away work like that because of a personal point of view can be a financial risk, but it’s something I’ve started to do, because the only way I’m ever going to produce decent work is to have a passion for the projects I’m involved with.

Do you have any upcoming projects for 2009 that you’re especially looking forward to?
I have quite a few, actually! :) In January I’m going to take a break from client work and pick up recording of my new album (which I meant to do in December, before deadlines got shifted). So that’ll be great fun to do, and I’m really excited about releasing it. It’ll also be nice to have a complete break from designing and writing for a while so that I can come back refreshed.

The second thing is the next version of my personal website. I’ve been working on the redesign on and off for a few months now, but it hasn’t really gone anywhere. I’m hoping that I can dedicate a couple of weeks of solid work in early 2009 to get that nailed.

I’m also really looking forward to a huge number of speaking events and the traveling that goes with them. I’ve got lots lined up for next year, including a few I’ve yet to announce. In January, I’m going to announce a very big one that I’m doing later in the year! :)

Jay Hilgert of Bittbox101

Jay Hilgert102

What are a few of your favorite or most frequently used fonts of 2008?
Stainless103, Dispatch104, Myndraine105, Kontrapunkt106, Dirty Ames107, Turbo Ripped108, Immoral109, Myriad Pro110.

Are there any new graphic design techniques that you learned or developed in 2008 that stand out to you as being especially useful?
I’ve by no means mastered it yet, but I enjoyed learning about the gradient mesh tool technique in Illustrator. It immediately struck me as being useful in many ways, like for creating photo-realistic icons in 100% vector format, for example.

Fabio Sasso of Abduzeedo111

Fabio Sasso112

What have been some of your favorite products, software and accessories you have used in your work in the past year?
My new MacBook Pro and my iPhone 3G are definitely my favorite products. But in terms of software, I think the new Pixelmator113 was a great surprise.

What are your favorite design trends or styles from 2008?
For me, one of the coolest design trends in 2008 was mixing modern lighting effects with an ’80s style.

Noura Yehia of Noupe114 and DevSnippets115

Noura Yehia116

What were some of your favorite design-related online resources that you came across in 2008?
I read and skim a lot of design and graphics blogs, but there’s only one blog I read on an almost daily basis and that’s Smashing Magazine, which I do because I think every single post is a piece of work. Besides that, I also often check in to Web Designer Wall11752, NETTUTS118, Six Revisions11937 and DesignM.ag120.

What has been your favorite online design community during 2008?
There are so many great design communities out there to keep any designer in a creative mood to work. I would definitely start with DeviantArt121, having such a huge collection of well-crafted artwork all in one place. I also quite like checking Behance Network122, Computerlove123, Design Float124 and the Popular Bookmarks on Delicious125, which send me to more places

Steve Smith of Ordered List126

Steve Smith127

What have been some of your favorite sources of design inspiration, online or off, throughout the past year?
Online, I find a lot of my design inspiration these days from screenshots posted to Flickr by my friends. Patrick Haney128 posted a set on Design Inspiration that’s a great look-through if you need a couple ideas for layout or colors.

Offline, I’m drawing a lot of inspiration from architecture. Architects have to think in multiple dimensions, something we Web designers don’t have to worry about. But I think the metaphor is valid, in that we need to think not just of the design aesthetics, but of the dimensions of usability, and accessibility as well. The website needs to look good from every angle.

Are there any current design trends that you would like to go away in 2009?
I’d have to say that one of the things I think is becoming a little cliché is the hand-written note, or the post-it note, or the paper-clipped scrap-paper effect. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure this effect has its place. I think it just happens a lot more than it needs to these days. That said, a website should meet the needs of the project, not be designed to current fads in a vacuum.

Related articles

You may want to take a look at the other interview posts we’ve published earlier in our magazine:



  1. 1 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2007/04/20/35-designers-x-5-questions/
  2. 2 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2007/09/05/50-designers-x-6-questions/
  3. 3 http://snook.ca/jonathan/
  4. 4 http://snook.ca/jonathan/
  5. 5 http://sidebarcreative.com/
  6. 6 http://jasonsantamaria.com/
  7. 7 http://www.colly.com/
  8. 8 http://www.erskinedesign.com/
  9. 9 http://www.colly.com/
  10. 10 http://www.markboulton.co.uk/
  11. 11 http://garrettdimon.com/
  12. 12 http://www.jasonsantamaria.com/
  13. 13 http://www.greg-wood.co.uk
  14. 14 http://www.jasonsantamaria.com/
  15. 15 http://www.happycog.com/
  16. 16 http://www.jasonsantamaria.com/
  17. 17 http://www.monotype.co.uk/soho/
  18. 18 http://www.monotype.co.uk/sgMF/
  19. 19 http://www.monotype.co.uk/
  20. 20 http://www.typography.com/
  21. 21 http://ffffound.com/
  22. 22 http://veerle.duoh.com/
  23. 23 http://veerle.duoh.com/
  24. 24 http://flickr.com
  25. 25 http://ffffound.com/
  26. 26 http://delicious.com
  27. 27 http://kapitza.com/shop/geometric-book
  28. 28 http://www.darrenhoyt.com/
  29. 29 http://www.category4.com/
  30. 30 http://www.darrenhoyt.com/
  31. 31 http://www.bohemiancoding.com/fontcase/
  32. 32 http://www.amazon.com/Short-Essays-Design-Michael-Bierut/dp/1568986998
  33. 33 http://www.amazon.com/Chip-Kidd-Book-Work-1986-2006/dp/0847827852
  34. 34 http://www.davidairey.com/
  35. 35 http://www.davidairey.com/
  36. 36 http://www.ideasonideas.com/
  37. 37 http://sixrevisions.com/
  38. 38 http://sixrevisions.com/
  39. 39 http://mootools.net/
  40. 40 http://jquery.com/
  41. 41 http://framework.zend.com/
  42. 42 http://cakephp.org/
  43. 43 http://codeigniter.com/
  44. 44 http://www.amazon.com/Learning-Flex-Internet-Applications-Developer/dp/0596517327
  45. 45 http://www.usabilitypost.com/
  46. 46 http://www.amazon.com/Designing-Usability-VOICES-Jakob-Nielsen/dp/156205810X
  47. 47 http://www.amazon.com/Think-Common-Sense-Approach-Usability/dp/0789723107
  48. 48 http://rosenfeldmedia.com/books/webforms/
  49. 49 http://www.cssmastery.com/
  50. 50 http://www.zeldman.com/dwws/
  51. 51 http://www.ndesign-studio.com/
  52. 52 http://www.webdesignerwall.com/
  53. 53 http://bestwebgallery.com/
  54. 54 http://www.ndesign-studio.com/
  55. 55 http://tnvacation.com
  56. 56 http://designsensory.com
  57. 57 http://www.webdesignerwall.com/trends/2008-design-trends/
  58. 58 http://css-tricks.com/
  59. 59 http://css-tricks.com/
  60. 60 http://twitter.com/jasonsantamaria
  61. 61 http://twitter.com/mezzoblue
  62. 62 http://twitter.com/collis
  63. 63 http://twitter.com/vpieters
  64. 64 http://twitter.com/snookca
  65. 65 http://twitter.com/chrisspooner
  66. 66 http://twitter.com/jessebc
  67. 67 http://twitter.com/elliotjaystocks
  68. 68 http://www.spoongraphics.co.uk/
  69. 69 http://www.spoongraphics.co.uk/
  70. 70 http://cssglobe.com/
  71. 71 http://templatica.com/
  72. 72 http://cssglobe.com/
  73. 73 http://www.13creative.com/
  74. 74 http://www.13creative.com/
  75. 75 http://alifelski.com/
  76. 76 http://alifelski.com/
  77. 77 http://www.viget.com/
  78. 78 http://www.viget.com/
  79. 79 http://www.jivesoftware.com/products/clearspace
  80. 80 http://www.jivesoftware.com/products/clearspace
  81. 81 http://carrotcreative.com/
  82. 82 http://carrotcreative.com/
  83. 83 http://www.alexcohaniuc.com/
  84. 84 http://www.alexcohaniuc.com/
  85. 85 http://www.pojeta.cz/
  86. 86 http://www.pojeta.cz/
  87. 87 http://www.level2d.com/
  88. 88 http://www.level2d.com/
  89. 89 http://randaclay.com/
  90. 90 http://randaclay.com/
  91. 91 http://spyrestudios.com/
  92. 92 http://freelancefolder.com
  93. 93 http://spyrestudios.com/
  94. 94 http://justcreativedesign.com/
  95. 95 http://justcreativedesign.com/
  96. 96 http://www.briangardner.com/
  97. 97 http://www.revolutiontwo.com/
  98. 98 http://www.briangardner.com/
  99. 99 http://elliotjaystocks.com/blog/
  100. 100 http://elliotjaystocks.com/blog/
  101. 101 http://bittbox.com/
  102. 102 http://bittbox.com/
  103. 103 http://new.myfonts.com/fonts/fontbureau/stainless/
  104. 104 http://new.myfonts.com/fonts/fontbureau/dispatch/
  105. 105 http://www.dafont.com/myndraine.font
  106. 106 http://www.kontrapunkt.dk/news/ddprize_typeface_of_the_year_2004
  107. 107 http://www.dafont.com/dirty-ames.font
  108. 108 http://www.dafont.com/turbo-ripped.font
  109. 109 http://www.dafont.com/immoral.font
  110. 110 http://new.myfonts.com/fonts/linotype/myriad/
  111. 111 http://abduzeedo.com/
  112. 112 http://abduzeedo.com/
  113. 113 http://www.pixelmator.com/
  114. 114 http://www.noupe.com/
  115. 115 http://devsnippets.com/
  116. 116 http://www.noupe.com/
  117. 117 http://www.webdesignerwall.com/
  118. 118 http://nettuts.com/
  119. 119 http://sixrevisions.com/
  120. 120 http://designm.ag
  121. 121 http://www.deviantart.com/
  122. 122 http://www.behance.net/
  123. 123 http://www.cpluv.com/
  124. 124 http://www.designfloat.com/
  125. 125 http://delicious.com/popular
  126. 126 http://orderedlist.com/
  127. 127 http://orderedlist.com/
  128. 128 http://www.flickr.com/photos/splat/sets/981332/
  129. 129 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2007/04/20/35-designers-x-5-questions/
  130. 130 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2007/09/05/50-designers-x-6-questions/

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Steven Snell is a Web designer and blogger. In addition to maintaining his own blog and writing for a number of other top design blogs, he also manages an online shop that offers premium graphic design resources.

  1. 1

    Nice! Chris is my fav

  2. 2

    I was hoping for a series of screen shots, not just photos..

  3. 3

    Yessssss! Moar screenshots! >:3~

    I was hoping for the same too actually.

  4. 4

    Good reading material and collection of links here. Please do more posts like this in the future… quality lists of nice designs and predictions of trends are always welcomed.

  5. 5

    Fantastic post! Great insights, and from respected people in the community too. I really appreciate this post, SM :)

  6. 6

    Some great designers are in that list. You can really learn a lot from these people.

  7. 7

    Thank you for the inclusion Steven. Reading through the others now :)

  8. 8

    It’s always great to hear some insight from fellow designers. Looking forward to ’09!

  9. 9

    Wow, nice collection. I am following most of them on twitter, they are very popular around the web, for me :)

  10. 10

    A lot to inspire… A lot to get smashed.

    Some of them my inspiration and some of the just superb.

    Thanks for summing up together… Nice Collection !!

    DKumer M.

  11. 11

    Its nice to see their faces. They will all be an inspiration but I need to pick one to be my mentor. hehehe.

  12. 12

    nice overview!

  13. 13

    If there’s one guy in this group I think all these designers should look to, to learn something from and incorporate into their own lives in 2009 it’s Chris Coyier, cause he comes to the table without a self-righteous ego, and as a result can communicate very well what he’s trying to, without getting angry at the world. Being a nice guy ain’t all that bad guys.

  14. 14

    Nice list, although there are many more…

    One thing you might want to correct Brian Gardner’s name. You have it as Brain!
    Let’s hope he has a sense of humour!

    Good list though represetning some of the best designers around at the moment…

  15. 15

    Hi Steven,

    It’s a great pleasure to be shown amongst such design talent — thanks so much for considering me. Many of your interviewees have skills I aspire towards, and I hope that you, and everyone else, has a fantastic 2009!

  16. 16

    Hey Steven, thanks for thinking of me for the interview, definitely appreciated! It’s a good feeling to see my name alongside such talented designers! Always cool to read what other designers think :) Cheers

  17. 17

    Thanks for including me Steven. It feels great to be in a such a good company.
    Great answers from great people.

  18. 18

    José Maria Barros

    December 30, 2008 2:56 am

    Great article! I congratulate all the team from smashing magazine for the excelent material that you present here!!

    I wish you an amazing new year full of good surprises!
    Thank you

  19. 19

    Half of my day gone… Great article, great inspiration.

  20. 20

    Yay! You used the “×” character! Nice typography!

  21. 21

    Jacob, David, Alen and Jon,
    Thanks for your contributions to this interview!

  22. 22

    Thanks Steven for taking the time to do such interesting interview, pleased to be part of it and having me among such great designers :)

  23. 23

    this is the kind of posts that should be created in the future

  24. 24

    love this list. quite inspirational in some way to me. make you want to push yourself just a tad bit more.


  25. 25

    what an awesome way to breed inspiration amongst developers! i’ve always wanted a closer peek at web celebs, what they’re thinking and more importantly who they are!

  26. 26

    Great resources… Also like to check out Nick La’s BestWebGallery.com once a week.

  27. 27

    Wow! Really wonderful designers. Great list. Thank you.

  28. 28

    I had seen that Level2 one you featured in the main article before and did a double take. Really interesting use of space and captivating detail. Also enjoyed perusing the other sites. Inspiring list for sure. Thanks!

  29. 29

    Wow, favorite designers in one article. Great way to end 2008. Happy New Year to all Smashing Magazine staffs and readers

  30. 30

    I think this is one of the best article this year !

  31. 31

    Thanks for the shout out, it’s so great to be in the company of such exceptional work!

  32. 32

    Thanks for the mention, Steven and Smashing. Awesome to be in the company of these great designers – hope everyone has a great 2009!

  33. 33

    razer maharjan[raj kumar maharjan]

    December 31, 2008 3:21 am

    Dashing designer of the years I am loving it heeeeeee

  34. 34

    Fantastic collection of info! It made for a really interesting read.
    Huge thanks for the inclusion along with such talented names in the industry.

  35. 35

    Finally to met this great people hiden behind gorgeous design!! Thank you for this amazing list and info :)

    Happy New Year!!

  36. 36

    so these guys are the best of “web design” thing? i dont like their works.

    hey who is designing sites like nyt.com, cnn or those great animated sites in the FWA?

  37. 37

    best smashing article ever!

  38. 38

    Nice read through Steven =)

  39. 39

    Not to knock Smashing Magazine (which I love), but someone needs to research
    the background on one “so called designer” included with this great group of people. It
    is an insult to include Brian Gardner with the likes of Veerle Pieters, Jonathan
    Snook, Jacob Cass, and all the other great people behind these gorgeous designs.
    He doesn’t design, he hires others to do the work and then takes credit for their
    design. Shame on you!

  40. 40

    When i saw the title of this post in my rss reader i was dead sure Veerle would be on the list. And presto! Someone please tell me what on earth she did that earns her such a reputation? I must assume that she’s a constant favorite of the editors otherwise she wouldn’t make it to all the lists they put out. I’ll give credit where credit due but frankly there’s a plethora of highly skilled and talented designers out there who’d deserve more attention. OK that she runs a blog but that’s pretty much it. I don’t see her body of work being so influental to today’s design scene.
    I think we got enough Veerle for the next 5 years. I’d be enermously grateful if i saw her name mentioned less often in 2009. I really have no problem with her personally, she’s just a bit too much.

  41. 41

    dog – i’m in the same boat as you.

    i knew as soon as i saw the title that david airey and jacob cass would be mentioned. airey i don’t have a problem with, he’s very talented, produces some interesting work and runs a very informative and successful blog. but i’m not too sure about cass yet. his blog is a little similar to airey’s, his design talent is a little bit thin and i believe there’s far more talented designers out there who i would be celebrating. this article just seems to be a thankyou to all the bloggers who’ve vigorously linked to smashing magazine articles over the last year.

  42. 42

    Some of this guys are more into the blog scene than the web design industry, some cases very noticeable are Jacob Cass or Chris Spooner, they have a good blog but in my opinion their portfolios are quite weak, even amateurish.

    Portfolio piece from Jacob Cass: http://justcreativedesign.com/wp-content/gallery/logo-design/combinedmotorcyclesticker.jpg I just cant believe it :O

    I would split your list, in one hand real designers in other one bloggers.

  43. 43

    Love the beautiful web designs

  44. 44

    This is a garbage list. Its just a list your mates! The title should have been “Looking Back On 2008 With Some Average Web Designers Like Most People On This Site”. You haven’t touched on anyone who has done anything really really cool, or push the medium to the limit. What happened to the days of Joshua Davis, Yugo Nakamura and Eric Natzke and such. No offence, but this is a sad state of affairs when these monkeys make the list of Top Web Designers, if they are in the “Top” category, add me their too.

  45. 45

    Great article. Very inspiring work done by some amazing designers.

  46. 46

    I think you have a problem of ranking graphics. Some of the people in this list that you call “2008 Top Web Designers” shouldn’t even get close to it. It must be a joke, or the ones that should’t be here are your friends.


  47. 47

    Great to see the faces with name! Impressive list.

  48. 48

    I really like Chris Coyier. He has a great site and is very helpful. Twice I have emailed him and he has replied each time. I have a great deal of respect for him and hope to learn a lot from in in 2009.

  49. 49

    Errrr, Darren Hoyt’s site…. errrr.. I’m not sure if this guy should be here and that Category 4 website looks ugly

  50. 50

    Try checking that Darren Hoyt site in a larger screen – background cuts off like shit!

  51. 51

    It seems a lot of people are nt happy with the list here.

  52. 52

    @Anwar: a lot of people seem to be, but it’s probably cause they’re jealous they are not on the list themselves.

  53. 53

    @Jack: jealousy has nothing to do with it champ, its a matter of (for lack of a better words) journalistic integrity. kind of like an advertorial, written as tho the author is completely objective, only that its been paid for, hence utterly worthless. The people on the list didn’t pay to be listed here (or maybe they did), but its obvious they’re mates because half of them couldn’t be considered to be “top” designers, and the other half haven’t done anything extraordinary at all. how about talking to some pioneers? guys that did something first? pushed interactivity/coding/design to a new level?

  54. 54

    Everything else looks great but I am not sure about Category 4 site http://www.category4.com/ (it looks like a site from the 1990s) and that Brian Gardner site http://www.briangardner.com/ (it looks so dull and that thing that looks like a bouquet looks so gay and somewhat reminds me of a funeral parlor)

  55. 55

    good stuff

  56. 56

    Excuse me. The first duty of a revolutionary is to get away with it.
    I am from Algeria and learning to speak English, give true I wrote the following sentence: “Find the cheapest flights and airline ticket prices on bookingbuddy.”

    :-( Thanks in advance. Elaine.

  57. 57

    Hi Great Article, I’m new to Sharepoint and this is a great reference to have for our implementation and my planning

    IT solution

  58. 58

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  59. 59

    I am very pleased with the content articles on your web site. I get so many thoughts that helped me to.

  60. 60

    That was great list. I believe these guys are the leaders in the web design and development industry.


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