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.
Yes, sometimes we do. Should we use them? No, we probably shouldn't. Splash screen (or splash page) is a front page of a web-site that don't provide the actual content, but offers visitors some kind of intuition or background information for what the site is about. Designers use splash pages in their portfolios to impress potential clients with eye-candy. Companies tend to make use of them to draw users' attention to their latest products. And users literally can't stand them, because splash pages usually take a long time to load and provide (almost) no navigation options — except of "entering the site".
Depending on designers' creativity, splash pages use more or less attractive visual elements, sometimes with interactive Flash-movies which sometimes start to play automatically. Splash pages usually have a very simple structure — mostly just an image with few text lines and links. The design of these pages sometimes isn't related to the overall site design. And although most sites don't use them, splash pages are sometimes necessary and therefore remain popular. In fact, there are some situations in which we might want or might even need to use them. Even although we shouldn't — for our visitors' sake.Read more...
Long, long time ago screensavers have been used to prevent the so-called screen-burn-effect — a permanent disfigurement of areas on a CRT display caused by non-moving text or graphics being displayed continuously for long periods of time. To avoid this effect, screen savers have been used to blank the screen or fill it with moving images or patterns when the computer was not in use. Today, screensavers don't serve their original purpose and are primarily used for entertainment.
In fact, we don't need screensavers any more, however we tend to use them as eye-candy for our coffee breaks. Particularly complex and colourful 3D-screensavers are extremely nice to look at. But also if you'd like to lift your spirit with some calm and relaxing animations screensavers can definitely be just what you are looking for.
However, if you are tired of the default screensavers brought to you by your OS you might start searching for the fresh ones in the Web. And you'll quickly find out: the choice is enormous; freeware is usually supplied with adware, and there are literally thousands of commercial solutions. What screensaver to choose? Most companies have limited demo- and shareware-versions, but they are almost always rather disturbing than helpful and will only get on your nerves.
In fact, there are only few pearls - amazing screensavers you'd be really ready to pay for once you've tested them. We've downloaded and installed a hell of a lot of them, we've had many problems (mostly adware) with them, but in the end we've tested all of them. And we've selected the most beautiful, interesting and unusual screensavers for you. Among them Flickr-, RSS- and time-screensavers - in the overview below both free and commercial solutions are presented.
You don't have to write the same CSS-code or (X)HTML-Markup over and over again. Whatever project you're starting to work with, at some point you have to define classes and IDs you've already defined in your previous web-projects. To avoid unnecessary mistakes you might want to start not from a blank file, but from an almost "perfect" scratch. The latter might contain some basic definitions you'd write in your code anyway. However, once you've decided to create such a scratch, you need to make sure it is really bulletproof — besides, if the stylesheet also sets up optimal typographic rules and basic form styling you manage to kill two birds with one stone.
And this is where CSS Frameworks and CSS Reset are becoming important. Using them, you can get yourself a perfect default-stylesheet and markup, save your time and ensure the best quality of your code from the very beginning. But what are CSS Frameworks? And why do you need the Reset for?
Let's take a look at the idea behind CSS Frameworks, their advantages and disadvantages, most popular CSS frameworks and dozens of default-stylesheets you can use designing a new web-site from scratch.Read more...
In modern logo-design leaves stand for fresh ideas or - more generally - for an innovative way of thinking. In Web they are mostly used to communicate light-weight solutions as well as clean and unobtrusive designs. In fact, leaves, plants or ornaments which appear to be related to the nature can be found almost everywhere; it's a trend that will probably be reversed soon, due to an extreme overuse of the theme in modern designs. The sites themselves, using leaves for their logos, mostly do not have a relation to foliage - and even although often green color is used, that is not necessarily the case.
We'd like to present you some of them. The following logos aren't supposed to represent the quality of logo designs with leaves, but the trend we observe on the Web. The images can be clicked and lead to the sites from which the logos have been taken. You'll also find tutorials you can use to learn how to create "leaf logos". Please notice that this post features only those logos which are related to the Web.
What do you think? Is an extensive use of leaves in logos a current Web 2.0 hype which will disappear soon or are the leaves here to stay?Read more...
The protection of visual identity is probably one of the most important issues when it comes to developing concepts in which corporate identity (CI) is used. Both in web design and in print - corporate identity manuals are supposed to give designers precise guidelines on how logotypes, colors and typography should be used. Basically for one simple reason: to promote the visual identity in the most convenient, consistent and efficient way and make sure no mistakes are done. E.g. the logotype remains readable and the whitespace around the logo gives it the space it needs to breathe and be effective - throughout various projects.Read more...
Designing a blog is easy. Whatever engine you are using and whatever style you prefer, you'll always find a number of templates you can apply to your weblog in seconds. No styling is necessary, no playing with colors is needed and no mind jogging about content presentation is required. However, not every weblog should look like a typical blog. After all, not every blogger wants his or her site to look exactly like hundreds of other ones. In fact, there is a small bunch of creative, outstanding and individually designed from scratch blogs.
In this post we didn't try to showcase some eye-candy (although sometimes eye-candy is indeed offered); the designs listed below were selected for their attention to small details. Pretty and colourful header-graphics doesn't make a good blog. The blog needs a solid visual structure, a profound hierarchy of site elements; it also has to be able to build some kind of a bridge between the content and its presentation. To do this, you need to think about precision, minimalism and sound use of illustration. These criteria were the ones we've used to select the designs listed below. All these aspects make the designs we've selected look... well, not always beautiful, but outstanding, almost excellent in their own kind. Mostly it's the idea the designers used to make the weblog as usable as possible - not the implementation of this idea - which we've been after.
Below you'll find 45 excellent blog designs which impress with creative approaches and attention to details; hopefully you'll find new ideas you can develop further in your own designs.
Notice that the screenshots we've provided may give you a wrong impression about the whole design of the sites; in doubt you should take a closer look at headers, footers, comment-areas, site structure and further site elements. Please also notice that you can click on screenshots to get to the sites from which the screenshots have been taken.
We've missed something? Definitely! Let us know in the comments!Read more...
You don't have to do everything by yourself. If you are running out of time or simply aren't that enthusiastic about the coding process, you might be willing to consider special "coding services" to get your job done in time. Particularly since there are dozens of such services, the price is usually quite reasonable and worth the time you save, headaches you avoid and further projects you can keep working on. However, whether the result is sophisticated or not, is the matter of personal experience - at least it should be.
The companies and designers listed below do not design web-sites; instead they convert drafts and sketches (mostly in the Photoshop-format, .psd) into the (X)HTML-Code (with CSS-styling). The prices depend on the desired processing time. The faster you'd like to get the work done, the more expensive the coding will be. Some service providers offer optional extras - for instance, AJAX-Scripting and further interactivity.Read more...
Depending on bloggers’ needs and skills, the choice of a weblog-engine is usually the choice between flexibility, simplicity and functionality. In fact, most popular engines out there don’t manage to find the right mix between all of them and consequently offer perfect solutions for special groups of users. But although these perfect solution work, they don’t necessarily provide what you expect them to provide.Read more...