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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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Online Calendars and Date Pickers

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.

Compact Calendar

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.

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Extreme Colors

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.

Kashi Wasato Screenshot

Today's monday inspiration is all about some really colorful pages. Be prepared for some extreme colors.

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Flash-Based Galleries For Your Images

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.

Polaroid Flash Gallery

In this post we present some of the free, attractive and flexible Flash-based galleries you can use to present your images more effectively.
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Splash Pages: Do We Really Need Them?

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".

Splashpage Screenshot

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.

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Screensavers – Best Of

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.

Screenshot

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.

Please notice:

  • in the overview below you won't find enormous screensaver collections such as Screensaver.com (10 points for the first user mentioning this site in our comments). We've also tried to avoid sites filled with advertisements, pop-ups and hidden ad blocks. We also ignored cheap "discount screensaver providers" — mostly they offer just image galleries, and not real screensavers;
  • screensavers are executable programs. Therefore: caution, Windows-users! We've tested the software presented below, still: use them at your own risk.
  • some screensavers don't work properly on dual-monitors;
  • you might also be interested in Selected Wallpapers For Your Desktop we've presented few weeks ago.
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CSS Frameworks + CSS Reset: Design From Scratch

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.

Tripoli

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.

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Creative Favicons: Tiny Artwork

Since visual elements are easier to remember, they can be used to draw visitors' attention to the brand identity of the site. As visual indicators, favicons can establish the communication with visitors and make a web-site easier to remember and get back to once you need it - for instance, once the visitors look for the site in their bookmarks. Still most sites don't make use of them - just like 404-error-pages, favicons are often forgotten or simply ignored. It's time to change that, folks. Every once and again we present some of the most creative and beautiful favicons — to prompt you to design them for your sites. In fact, we are willing to do that until the trend is finally established. The design of favicons might look like a simple task; however to
  • make the design recognizable,
  • keep it simple and
  • combine visual identity with
  • visual clarity
  • within a 16x16 rectangle
is a creative challenge you shouldn't underestimate. The details build the foundation of a successful logo, and to take care of the smallest details is extremely important for a usable and visually appealing favicon. The images below can be clicked - apparently, they lead to the sites from which the favicons have been taken. The examples show not only how a well-designed favicon might look like, but also which creative approaches can be used to give a favicon the freshness and clarity it deserves. The examples also demonstrate how favicons can support the overall design of the site it is being used on. You can find further favicon-showcases and some more information in the posts we’ve published before: Favicon Favicon Favicon Favicon
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