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Co-Founder of Smashing Magazine. Former writer, web designer, freelancer and webworker. Sven is now writing Science Fiction Stories.

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On-Stage: Free Vector PSD Icon Set

We are always looking for creative and talented artists and designers. Once we find them, we ask them to cooperate with us and release something for free. We provide them with the full freedom to showcase their professionalism and express their creativity. Every release helps to make the Web a nicer place. In fact, the results are quite often pretty impressive. You can find our previous releases in our section Freebies.

Smashing Icon Set

Today we are glad to release a icON Stage icon set. The set contains 49 free vector icons including PSD which can be useful for both corporate and personal setting. You can use the set for free — without any restrictions whatsoever.

The icons are available in the .png-format in the resolution 128×128px. 100% pure shape-based layered PSDs are also included in the package. This icon set was designed by Deziner Folio especially for Smashing Magazine and its readers.

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30 Free High Quality WordPress Themes

Free professional WordPress themes always come in handy. Whether you are looking for some design inspiration or professional coding solutions — in both cases you can learn a lot, you can apply them and you can build customized designs upon them without reinventing the wheel all the time.

Wordpress Themes - Colourise

In this article we present over 30 fresh free high-quality WordPress themes. All themes can be downloaded, customized and used for free — in personal or/and commercial projects. Please read license disclaimers carefully before using the theme in commercial projects — they can change from time to time.

You might also want to take a look at our previous selections:

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The <hr /> Contest

What is <hr />? Basically, it is an old HTML-tag which has been used since the very beginning of the Web. hr stands for the horizontal rule and represents exactly what you would expect — a horizontal line or a horizontal divider.

By default, web browsers render hr as a simple horizontal line. In terms of semantics the tag is supposed to clearly separate content blocks. This is often used in design of footers, but also makes sense in other situations — for instance, if you want to separate two blog posts or make the divisions within the content structure sharper.

Wacom Tablet

Similar to our blog header contest we’d like to create a smashing gallery of freely available <hr /> graphics. The winner will get a Wacom Intuos3 9X12 USB Tablet.

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Design Showcase Of Creative Online-Shops

Times when online-shops were boring and unattractive are over. To attract customers' attention designers tend to design online-shops according to the atmosphere it has to create. An online-store in which retro-products are offered is designed in a retro-look. And shops which are aiming to attract young customers are designed in vibrant colors and modern style. Furthermore, interactive browsing through the store, implemented with Flash and JavaScript, gains on popularity as well.

Online Shop Screenshot

This post showcases 45 examples of creative and unusual designs of online-stores. Being creative doesn't necessarily mean that the designs are successful since unconventional approaches often increase the time users need to climb the learning curve and figure out how they can achieve their goals. Still, how can you present your products in a distinctive way and how to design a truly unique online-store? Let's find out.

Please notice: we don't know if creative design approaches result in better sales. This post is supposed to provide you with some interesting ideas and approaches which you can use in your future projects, not with recommendations for the most effective online-store-designs.

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Write a Guest Post and Win Apple MacBook Air

As you may know, we are looking for motivated, talented and professional guest authors. And we are paying each author $100-300 per post — depending on the quality of the delivered article. If you think that you are one of them contact us — we want you, we need you, we can't live without you and we would really be happy to have you in our Smashing team.

MacBook Air

And to spark your interest for writing we've decided to announce a guest author contest — write a small guest article for Smashing Magazine and win one of dozens of attractive prizes waiting for you.

Best guest articles will be published on Smashing Magazine with the link to the author's site. The best guest post will be determined by the editorial team and will be awarded with Apple MacBook Air, a compact, ultrathin 13.3" laptop (1.6 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo Processor, 2 GB RAM, 80 GB Hard Drive) released by Apple few months ago.

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Textures and Patterns Design Showcase

Textures and patterns are used more often than one may think. The reason why we don't see them is because they usually remain in the background, supporting the overall design, replacing a standard background color and creating a more inviting atmosphere. But they almost never stand out. Used primarily for background images, they need to fit to the overall design making the content easier to perceive. In fact, wood textures seem to have become so popular that designers suggest that wood is the new glossy style and wood is the new white.

Well, we don't think that wood is a new revolutionary trend — after all, it was used and explored for years. However, since wood isn't used everywhere — in correct and wrong contexts — experimenting with it makes perfectly sense. Still, there are a number of options beyond wood: e.g. fabric patterns, tiles, ground, stone, walls, bricks, stiches, cardboard, ceramics, decay, rust, old tapes, illustrations, plastic and glass.

Texture Background Screenshot

In this post we present a showcase of sites using textures and patterns— we want to focus designer's attention on design options available beyond wood. Reason: we strongly believe that vibrant, realistic background images are becoming a new trend. If it sounds familiar to you, you are absolutely right: we've seen the same trend 8-10 years ago. The sources for the background images are usually either photos (e.g. you can download free textures in the Smashing Texture Library) or illustrations created with Photoshop, Illustration etc.

You may want to take a look at the related articles:

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55 Free High Quality Icon Sets

We love free icons. We love to smash things. And we respect hard-working designers. Therefore we are regularly looking for talented artists and creative designers and we are glad to support them by showcasing their work in our magazine. If you are going to create an icon set and experience any problems releasing it or spreading the word — let us know, we may figure something out.

Freebies Icons

In the overview below we present 55 more excellent, free and professional icons for desktop and web design. Some of them can be used for both private and commercial projects. You may always use them for free in your private projects. Nevertheless, it is always worth to take a look at the license agreements — they can change from time to time.

You can also scan through the icons-related articles we’ve published before:

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Style Switchers Contest Results

Three weeks ago we have announced the Style Switchers Design Contest where we've presented some ideas for style switchers design and encouraged our readers to create a style switcher for their own web-sites. One of the participants was to be awarded with an Apple Cinema 20 Flat Panel Display. Over 60 designers participated and — as in all of our earlier contests — the results are indeed pretty smashing. Now it's time to review some of the best designs and, of course, announce the winner.

Screenshot

Screenshot

This contest has proved one thing: there are a number of possibilities for creative use of style switchers in your designs. They don't have to be boring and can combine functionality with a beautiful and engaging design. Style switchers are back now; and we are glad that so many designers have participated in our contest learning how to use them and apply them to their designs.

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Favicon Episode 7

Every now and again we showcase beautiful favicons — tiny pieces of art you’ll usually find in your browser's address bar or when searching through your bookmarks. Favicons are important as they provide visual indicators to visitors and help them to easily associate the content with a bookmark in their browser. Besides, favicons are just nice to look at and there are way too many sites which don't make use of them. We like to change things. Which is why here is the 7th episode of the favicons series.

Favicon
Favicon
Favicon
Favicon
Favicon

Below you'll find 70 outstanding favicons. Please notice that the favicons weren’t chosen simply because of their beauty; it’s been important to us that the favicon perfectly fits to the overall site design. All favicons are linked to the sites where they are used — you can click on them to get more insights into how favicon design can be related to the layout design.

We’ve written enough about favicons in our recent posts. If you’d like to find out more about them, feel free to take a look at our previous posts:

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CSS Editors Reviewed

We continue to review text and source editors for designers and web-developers. After a thorough consideration of WYSIWIG- and source code editors now it's time to take a closer look at applications for advanced CSS-coding. Reason: while numerous HTML-editors offer more or less advanced CSS-support there are also allround-CSS-editors which offer a sophisticated integrated development environment for CSS-coding.

Of course, real CSS ninjas accept nothing but a minimalistic Notepad or some sophisticated source code-editor. In fact, CSS-editors are often considered to be unnecessary and superflous — after all, you can do the same in your favourite text editor. And sometimes this is true — while there are some really bad HTML-editors there are also some even worse CSS-editors. Particularly code autocompletion tools are extremely good at bloating the code to extremes, making the resulting stylesheet unnecessary complex and hard to maintain. Why would someone purchase a CSS-editor to raise the maintenance costs afterwards?

CSS Editor Screenshot

Yet CSS-editors can be helpful; furthermore, you can effectively use them in different settings by developers with different skills. Web professionals can use a CSS-editor to improve workflow and get all useful CSS-tools provided by one single application. Newbies can easier learn CSS by analzying stylesheets and using live-editing to understand how the design is built up and what is actually going on behind the scenes. In either case you should make sure you know what you are doing and not end up producing quick'n'dirty stylesheet.

This post presents an overview of 15 established or rather unknown CSS-editors; you’ll probably find “usual suspects” — your favourite editor or the editor you’ve once been working with. But you’ll also find some rather unknown alternatives which are definitely worth considering when choosing an optimal source code editor.

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