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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.

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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.

Level 2 Design

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.

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The Ultimate Collection Of Photoshop Custom Shapes

Photoshop users are able to benefit from the vast amount of high-quality resources that are freely available to the community. Brushes get a lot of attention, but custom shapes are also extremely useful in the right situations. Finding a custom shape that has already been created can save you some time and headaches in your design, and fortunately there is a very wide variety of custom shapes available.

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This post highlights 80 different sets of custom shapes (over 2,500 individual shapes) in several different categories. If you plan to download and use any of these shapes be sure to check to terms and conditions set by the creator of the shapes.

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Movable Type Developer’s Toolbox

Because we have published several other comprehensive resources for developers of other content management systems (CMSs), we didn’t want to forget Movable Type. Like the other CMSs we have featured, Movable Type is a popular choice for bloggers, website owners and those developing websites. Over the years, Movable Type has made many advancements and had many changes in its system. The current version is even capable of creating social networking websites with many users.

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The most recent version, 4.21, is available open source for developers. Individual bloggers (those who are not incorporated) can download Movable Type for free, while there are a few different licensing options for businesses.

This post provides you with a large collection of resources for working with Movable Type, whether you’re just getting started or have plenty of experience. We’ll feature some official resources, such as documentation, as well as plenty of tutorials, sources of inspiration, the best places to find plug-ins, resources for working with templates and styles and more.

For similar resources related to other CMSs, please see:

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Online Advertising And Its Impact On Web Design

In recent years, advertising has become a major revenue source for many websites. Not too long ago, online ads were often met with disapproval from visitors, and advertisers were unsure about their value or effectiveness. Today, most visitors have come to expect ads on commercial websites, and advertisers have recognized the potential of various online ad opportunities. Ads have long been a part of print publications, such as magazines and newspapers, and now they essentially have the same role in online periodicals and publications.

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Although advertising is a concern for website owners and those pushing products or services, it is also has an impact on Web designers, because they have to be able to design and develop websites that can produce ad revenue and still meet the needs of visitors. Clients with websites that depend on ad revenue need a design that provides the necessary screen space and a proper layout for selling ads, and advertisers need placement that will get them the exposure they seek.

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100 Free High-Quality XHTML/CSS Templates

If you haven’t taken a look at the (X)HTML/CSS templates that are available for free from a variety of sources, you may be surprised by the quality you can find. WordPress themes tend to get a lot of exposure and attention in the design community right now, but there is also a wide variety of high-quality (X)HTML/CSS templates that are free of charge.

Template Screenshot

In this post, we’ll showcase 100 free high-quality templates. Hopefully some of them will save you some time in your design and development. While they are generally free for personal or commercial use, always remember to check the license first for any restrictions or guidelines.

You may want to take a look at other collections as well (some are from Smashing Magazine, some are not):

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Billboard Top 40 Design Showcase

When searching for web design inspiration it's easy to get caught up looking at the same portfolios, blogs and the typical sites that appeal to fellow designers. However, as a designer there is a strong need to be able to create a website that truly works for the client and their visitors, not simply a site that fits into our ideals.

From time-to-time it's helpful to step out from the familiar sources of design inspiration to see what is being used in a particular industry. The music industry is obviously big business, and as artists and record labels struggle to make the transition from declining CD sales to more profitable uses of technology, examining band and artist websites can be a practical learning experience.

Katy Perry

You can tell a lot about the band or artist's target market based on the style of design. You'll see in the screenshots below that even for those bands with whom you are not familiar, you could probably identify the audience fairly accurately based on the style of the site. Whether the style appeals to us as designers or not is of course not nearly as important as if it appeals to its target audience.

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Newspaper Website Design: Trends And Examples

News websites can be intriguing to examine from a design perspective. Regardless of what type of news they cover, they all face the challenge of displaying a huge amount of content on the home page, which creates plenty of layout, usability and navigational challenges for the designer. The lessons that can be learned from examining how news websites address these challenges can be valuable for designers who work with other types of websites, including ones with blog theme designs.

NY Times

Monetization is also a major factor for news websites, and it’s interesting to see how they integrate advertisements in the design. In some cases, the ads are somewhat intrusive or excessive, but most news websites are able to use ads without turning readers away, in part because of the content that’s available.

For the purposes of this article, the term “newspaper website” refers to any news-related website that has the editorial focus of an online periodical. Many of the websites mentioned here are the online versions of major newspapers, but others are standard news websites and some blur the line between news website and blog.

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