Author: Sven Lennartz
Sven is the co-founder and former CEO of Smashing Magazine. He's now writing at his Conterest Blog, where he focuses on blogs, content strategy and publishing — all in German.
It's not hard to design a weblog, but it's getting harder when you try to achieve a unique weblog design. It doesn't matter what weblog-engine you are using — frequently used themes tend to become boring over time, and they also don't necessarily reflect the unique identity of the blogger.
To create an original design you need fresh ideas and creative design solutions. However, you don't need to go too far with your design experiments. Basically that's a close attention to finest details which makes a weblog stand out and gives it a fresh flavour and soft touch visitors can recognize immediately.
We've selected more of them — over 30 excellent weblog designs with unusual design approaches; these blogs don't only have a unique voice, but they also pay close attention to the finest design details.
There are more browsers than you are probably aware of. Apart from Firefox, Opera and Internet Explorer there is a number of promising alternatives which can improve your flexibility, increase your productivity and enrich your browsing experience.
In fact, there are over 100 existing (although not widely used) browser applications. Most of them make use of the rendering engines Trident (Internet Explorer), Gecko (Mozilla Firefox), WebCore (Safari) and Presto (Opera 7 and above). However, some of them offer large fields for experiments and exploration — e.g. 3D Engines, but also really useful browsers with advanced functionalities such as desktop-tools integration.
Recently we've selected over 20 Win/Mac/Linux-browsers, installed most of them, tested them, compared them and now present the results below. Let's take a closer look at some rather unknown, forgotten, advanced or experimental browsers. What else do we have on the horizon? What should we use? And what might we be willing to use? Apparently, between Firefox, Opera and Internet Explorer there is enough room for creative and unusual approaches.
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Structure and hierarchy reduce complexity and improve readability. The more organized your articles or web-sites are, the easier it is for users to follow your arguments and get the message you are trying to deliver. On the Web this can be done in a variety of ways.
In body copy headlines and enumerations are usually used to present the information as logically separated data chunks. An alternative solution is pagination, a mechanism which provides users with additional navigation options for browsing through single parts of the given article. Parts of the article are usually referred to by numbers, hints, arrows as well as "previous" and "next"-buttons.
Search engines almost always use pagination; newspapers tend to make use of it for navigation through the parts of rather large articles. And there are situations when pagination is also necessary for weblogs. Additional navigation can simplify the access to some site pages — e.g. make it easier for users to browse through the archives of the site.
In most cases pagination is better than traditional "previous - next" navigation as it offers visitors a more quick and convenient navigation through the site. It's not a must, but a useful nice-to-have-feature.
Let's take a look at the good practices of pagination design as well as some examples of when and how the pagination is usually implemented.Read more...
Since mouse cursor is an essential element of user interaction, designers rarely risk to modify its presentation. Usability might keep you away from using experimental solutions in practice, however creative solutions and experiments are worth consideration and always nice to look at. In today's part of our Monday Inspiration series we'd like to showcase some examples of unusual approaches used for design of... well, mouse cursors!Read more...
RSS is extremely simple and yet so powerful. Not only does every weblog need it for content syndication; the number of RSS subscribers is a metric for weblog's popularity and its success in the blogosphere. However, although millions do use RSS, hundreds of millions don't. That's no good news, since RSS offers a bunch of advantages that can boost your productivity and improve your information consumption in a quite elegant and easy-to-use way.
In this article we give an overview of what RSS is and present best design and usability-practices for design and placement of RSS-buttons on a web site. We also showcase dozens of free RSS-icons and provide you with references to related tutorials and how-tos.
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With Flash you can do more than just displaying videos. You can create stunning visual experience and offer your visitors incredible user interaction. Although Flash is definitely not the favourite medium for usability and accessibility advocates, it has its advantages and it empowers the Web with functionalities which make it an incredibly interactive medium. With Flash designers can achieve results which simply aren't possible with (X)HTML and CSS.
The results can be creative, impressive, beautiful and fascinating. Under two conditions: 1) if designers find the right mixture between graphics, animation, video and sound and 2) if designers follow the guidelines of usability and user interaction.
However, since there is a number of things that can go wrong in Flash, it's easy to get it wrong. In fact, there are thousands of examples where it is the case. In Flash any experiments with navigation and layouts are possible and in most cases it's extremely hard to find a creative yet intuitive approach. Flash is commonly used by designers, agencies, advertisers and interactive web sites, and not on the sites where simplicity and quick access to information are important.
In this post we present 65 examples of outstanding Flash designs with excellent use of graphics, visual elements, interface design and graphics motion. This showcase (mostly) presents "pure" web designs; we've tried to avoid Flash-based games and advertising.Read more...
Can you shoot photos of things that don't really exist? Matt Stuart is a professional photographer. He lives in England and is fascinated about people and the way they live their lives. But what is really interesting is that Matt shots photos from perspectives which create an illusion of objects and situations that don't exist in reality.Read more...
Calendars always come in handy. Whether you are planning a schedule for your next project, manage your appointments or simply want to keep track on events you are going to take part in — to get things done in time you need a clear, simple and user-friendly time line. The more flexible your calendars are, the more effectively you can work with them. E.g. setting up your milestones, defining your deadlines and shifting your time line once unexpected problems occur. Besides, if you can get notified once the deadline is coming up or update the data once you stuck in the traffic then your calendar can turn out to be a real life-saver and boost your effectiveness.
Online calendars can also be useful if you'd like to publish your schedule or share it with your colleagues instantly — instead of sending hundreds of e-mails via a mailing list. Or if you'd like to provide your visitors with a date picker — e.g. for your web form. In fact, online calendar services, scripts, tools and software applications are useful for everybody.
This post presents a detailed overview of calendar scripts (Ajax, PHP, DHTML etc.), applications, tools and related services, including CSS-styling of online calendars and web-services you can use to generate a printable weekly planners and monthly and yearly calendars for free.
The beginning of the week is always tough. Coffee breaks are tedious. The aftermath of weekend is still evident. And conversations with your colleagues aren't that enlightening. Yet there is always a number of tasks you need to get done until the end of the day. To spark your imagination and help you to get through monday's creativity block we are going to provide you every monday with "Monday Inspiration"-posts — brief pointers to appealing design approaches, interesting ideas and unusual solutions.
Today's monday inspiration is all about some really colorful pages. Be prepared for some extreme colors.Read more...
In many situations web designers should avoid Flash and prefer usual text-based presentation. For instance, in most tasks related to pure text presentation Flash is neither necessary nor user-friendly, and it also has some serious accessibility problems: in fact, "pure" text is easier to maintain and easier to copy and paste.
However, if you'd like to present some multimedia-content, particularly images, Flash can often be a feasible solution, with flexible image management for web designers and impressive visual presentation for users. Used moderately, Flash-based galleries can give the presentation a fresh spark and create a rich visual experience you might want to offer your visitors. In this post we present some of the free, attractive and flexible Flash-based galleries you can use to present your images more effectively.