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Co-Founder and former CEO of Smashing Magazine. Sven is now writing Science Fiction Stories and looking for a publisher ...

Logotrend 2007: Leaves

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.

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Logo with leafes

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?

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Corporate Identity Manuals & Guides

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.

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45 Excellent Blog Designs

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.

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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.

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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!

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(X)HTML/CSS Coding-Services

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.

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Mephisto: Elegant and Powerful Weblog-Engine

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. For instance: Expression Engine1 is the first-class engine for professionals; if you’d like to achieve the highest level of flexibility and have the full control over the outer appearance and structure of your weblogs, EE is... Read more...

Wanted: Your 404 Error Pages

Every day you visit one of them. The pages, which don't exist any longer, have moved to a new server or have never existed at all. Once you've missed your intended destination, either through a bad or outdated link, or a typo in the page you were hoping to reach, you'll hopefully get an internal error message from the server. However, by default these messages aren't that helpful - after all, you are looking for the information, not for the reason you can't find this information.

Good news - it doesn't have to be this way. You can style server error messages just the way you style any other pages. It's not only a more elegant way to deal with errors, but is also extremely useful for keeping users on your web-site, finding new clients or communicating with the old ones.

404 Errors - Wanted: Creative and Usable 404 Pages

We'd like you to create a beautiful, functional and user-friendly 404 error page for your own web-site. We'll collect the most creative, usable and elegant solutions and review them in one of our next posts.

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Exploring Design: Outstanding Start Pages

Designers have only a fraction of a second to attract users’ eye and win over their loyalty. Clear visual structure, thought-out typography and moderate use of images are extremely important - as they can drastically improve the scanning process for the users. Consequently, to achieve a lasting positive impression, it’s common to make use of basic rules of usability.

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However, classical solutions can be boring; creative solutions can be appealing. Therefore to impress visitors, designers risk unusual and innovative approaches. After all, between standards and creativity there is a lot of room for design experiments. We observe these experiments. We explore new approaches. And we collect them, so you don’t have to.

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And since no page is equally important as the start page, it’s interesting to know, which approaches designers come up with, developing an innovative design for start pages. Let's take a look. Unusual, remarkable and outstanding start pages - in a brief overview. Read more...

Time-Savers: Code Beautifier And Formatter

Well-documented and readable source code is essential for every collaborative project. Logically structured, well organized and nicely formatted, the code can speed up the bug hunting and help to keep the code clean, minimal and still functional. These facts are particularly important if the code is being developed by a group of developers: in this context a common scheme for source code presentation is necessary. You don't have to do everything by hand; in fact, there are many tools which can save a lot of time - for you and your co-workers. The tools and services we've collected below aren't validators. They format and beautify the code; some of them can remove redundant elements. Using them, you have to make sure you have a backup, so your data can always be restored. Screenshot Screenshot Let's take a look at code beautifier and formatter which can save you a lot of time and help to maintain a clean and readable source code. Read more...

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