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Cameron Chapman is a professional Web and graphic designer with over 6 years of experience. She writes for a number of blogs, including her own, Cameron Chapman On Writing. She’s also the author of The Smashing Idea Book: From Inspiration to Application.

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Principles Of Minimalist Web Design, With Examples

Minimalism is achieved by reducing a design to only the most essential elements. Expressions of minimalism span multiple disciplines, as well as other art forms such as music and literature. For website designers, though, minimalism can be intimidating and difficult to master.

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But anyone can master minimalism. Essentially, minimalism is about breaking things down to the barest elements necessary for a design to function. It's about taking things away until nothing else can be removed without interfering with the purpose of the design. Below are a number of principles of minimalist design, as well as an exploration of current trends and additional examples.

You might also enjoy our previous article "Showcase of Clean and Minimalist Designs."

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A Short Guide To Open-Source And Similar Licenses

Many developers and designers want to release their work into the world as open-source projects. They want others to be able to build on and share their code. The open-source community is vibrant because of this. Open-source software is available for virtually any application you could think of. Most designers use open-source software or code on a regular basis (WordPress, Drupal and many other CMS' are open source).

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But many developers and designers don't have a clear picture of what the different open-source licenses really mean. What rights are they relinquishing when they choose an open-source license? Without knowing exactly what the licenses mean and how they're best applied, developers can't make informed decisions about which is best for their work.

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Best Practices In Modern Web Design: The Ultimate Round-Up

Web design has evolved at such an extreme rate over the past ten to twenty years that it's often hard to keep up with current trends and best practices. It wasn't that long ago that table-based designs were considered cutting edge and CSS was unheard of. And to compound the problem, finding up-to-date information on what the "right" way to do things is can be nearly impossible at times.

Showcase of Design Elements - De-clutter Your Interface With Hover Controls

So we've collected more than 100 best practices for designing modern websites, from blogs to portfolios, covering everything from CSS and coding to images, graphics, and typography. Along with the practices themselves are resources for more information and examples of the practices themselves to help you visualize what we're talking about.

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Showcase of Academic and Higher Education Websites

College and university websites have a lot of roles to fill. They need to provide information for prospective students (both new and transfer), parents of students and prospective students, current students, and alumni. In many cases, they're also the gateway to the school's intranet and the public face for both academics and athletics. They often need to include reams of information in a way that makes everything easy to find. It's a huge challenge.

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And the truth is: most collge and university websites are horribly designed. Either they look like they were designed fifteen years ago and then forgotten about, or they're so overloaded with information that it's almost impossible to find what you're looking for.

But not every college or university website is horrible. There are some excellent sites out there, and below are some of them. If you know others, please share them in the comments to this post!

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Applying “A Pattern Language” To Online Community Design

A Pattern Language is a book about architecture that was written in the 1970s, before the Web as we know it was even conceived. But the book provides hundreds of valuable patterns for community planning and architectural design, many of which can easily be applied to online communities and social networking websites.

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Niche social networks are popping up online all the time, with many designers and developers taking advantage of pre-built social network platforms and making little modification. It makes sense, after all: why reinvent the wheel when perfectly good ones are available?

But if you step back and really consider how your social network or online community is set up, you might be able to improve the user experience and overall user satisfaction by leaps and bounds. Looking to other fields, such as architecture and civil engineering, is one way to gain new ideas without having to reinvent the wheel.

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Finding Inspiration in Uncommon Sources: 12 Places to Look

Inspiration can be a fickle thing. Most designers, when lacking ideas, turn to design galleries to find ideas. But there are a few problems with that approach. The most obvious is that when taking inspiration from similar mediums, there's a fine line between "inspired by" and "copied". To some extent, looking at established website designs can also be somewhat limiting, especially if you're looking for a fresh solution to a problem.

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There are so many things designers could be turning to for inspiration outside of design galleries. We've cataloged a dozen of those places below, along with where you can find inspiration for each of them. Share any other inspirational sources you might have in the comments.

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Color Theory For Designers: Creating Your Own Color Palettes

In the previous two parts of this series on color theory, we talked mostly about the meanings behind colors and color terminology. While this information is important, I'm sure a lot of people were wondering when we were going to get into the nitty-gritty of actually creating some color schemes.

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Well, that's where Part 3 comes in. Here we'll be talking about methods for creating your own color schemes, from scratch. We'll cover the traditional color scheme patterns (monochrome, analogous, complementary, etc.) as well as how to create custom schemes that aren't based strictly on any one pattern. By the end of this article, you'll have the tools and skills to start creating beautiful color palettes for your own design projects. The best way to improve your skills is to practice, so why not set yourself a goal of creating a new color scheme every day.

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Color Theory For Designers, Part 2: Understanding Concepts And Terminology

If you're going to use color effectively in your designs, you'll need to know some color concepts and color theory terminology. A thorough working knowledge of concepts like chroma, value and saturation is key to creating your own awesome color schemes. In Part 1: The Meaning of Color of our color theory series, we covered the meanings of different colors. Here, we'll go over the basics of what affects a given color, such as adding gray, white or black to the pure hue, and its effect on a design, with examples of course.

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Hue is the most basic of color terms and basically denotes an object's color. When we say "blue," "green" or "red," we're talking about hue. The hues you use in your designs convey important messages to your website's visitors. Read part 1 of this article for the meanings conveyed by various hues.

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Color Theory for Designers, Part 1: The Meaning of Color

Color in design is very subjective. What evokes one reaction in one person may evoke a very different reaction in somone else. Sometimes this is due to personal preference, and other times due to cultural background. Color theory is a science in itself. Studying how colors affect different people, either individually or as a group, is something some people build their careers on. And there's a lot to it. Something as simple as changing the exact hue or saturation of a color can evoke a completely different feeling. Cultural differences mean that something that's happy and uplifting in one country can be depressing in another.

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This is the first in a three-part series on color theory. Here we'll discuss the meanings behind the different color families, and give some examples of how these colors are used (with a bit of analysis for each). In Part 2 we'll talk about how hue, chroma, value, saturation, tones, tints and shades affect the way we perceive colors. And in Part 3 we'll discuss how to create effective color palettes for your own designs.

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My Website Design Was Stolen! Now What?

Designers spend hours perfecting websites, whether their own or their clients'. When you've invested anywhere from a few days to months in a website, the last thing you want is for someone else to steal the design without even giving you proper credit (or compensation). And if you're a template or theme designer, it's an even bigger problem. After all, if your templates are available online for free, a lot of people won't bother paying for them.

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So what can you do if you've discovered that one of your designs has been ripped off? What should you do? Read on for a complete guide to steps you can take to protect your intellectual property.

I am not a lawyer, nor do I pretend to be one on TV, so the advice here should not be taken as legal advice. Before taking any of the actions mentioned below, check with a lawyer or other legal expert to see what is allowable in your state or country or to see if additional options are available to you.

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