Author: Sven Lennartz
Co-Founder and former CEO of Smashing Magazine. Sven is now writing Science Fiction Stories and looking for a publisher ...
The value of icons lies in their ability to communicate with visitors or users in a more intuitive and effective way. Jakob Nielsen, the maestro of usability, postulated few years ago that "recognition rather than recall" is one of the basic heuristics for user-friendly design. In fact, it's necessary to "minimize the user's memory load by making objects, actions, and options visible. The user should not have to remember information from one part of the dialogue to another. Instructions for use of the system should be visible or easily retrievable whenever appropriate."
Icons are supposed to achieve just that. And this is why it's useful to actually use them both on your desktop and in your web design. They can reduce the complexity of the design and make it easier to get from point A to point B.
In the overview below we present some of the fresh high-quality free icons which you can use for your desktop; we also showcase free professional icon sets, buttons and vector graphics you can use for your web designs. You might know some of them, but hopefully not all of them. Not all listed freebies can be used for commercial projects, however you can use all of them in your private projects of for you personal purposes. Please read the disclaimers carefully before using the icons - they’re changing from time to time.
You can also scan through the icons-related articles we’ve published before:
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.
Please note that
This is Swiftweasel, an optimized build of the Mozilla Firefox web browser for Linux.
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.
Please notice that
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...