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Vitaly Friedman loves beautiful content and doesn’t like to give in easily. Vitaly is writer, speaker, author and editor-in-chief of Smashing Magazine. He runs responsive Web design workshops and loves solving complex problems in large companies. Get in touch.

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Web Form Design Patterns: Sign-Up Forms, Part 2

Last week we have presented first findings of our web forms survey. The main objective of the survey was to provide designers and developers with some intuition of how effective web forms are designed; we also presented some guidelines of how an effective and user-friendly web form can be achieved.

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We have focused on sign-up forms as we wanted to consider further crucial forms (e.g. checkout forms) separately. Afterwards we've gone through each and every one sign-up form of the selected sites and analyzed the design approaches implemented in these forms. Below we present the second part of our findings — the results of our survey among web-forms of 100 popular web-sites where web-forms (should) matter.

Please notice that this post is not about checkout forms — that's a topic for another discussion, we may consider them separately in one of the upcoming posts. We would like to thank Wufoo for providing us with a framework to conduct our survey.

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Table of Contents: Creative Examples

Table of contents is often considered to be one of the most unspectacular design elements ever invented. Because of its simple, usual form, table of contents is often not given the attention it may deserve — after all, it is just a list of the parts of a book or document organized in the order in which the parts appear. But why not use exactly that and surprise the reader of a booklet, brochure, annual report or a book with some beautiful and original table of contents? In fact, many creative approaches are possible. And this post attempts to prove exactly that.

Table of Contents Showcase

This post showcases creative and/or beautiful tables of contents. We have tried to include creative, visually appealing and interesting design solutions. Hopefully, everybody will find something interesting and unusual for herself or himself. Please take a look at the references section in the end of the article — there you may find further examples of interesting and unusual tables of contents.

You may want to take a look at our related posts

Please notice: some photos look not beautiful at all — here the idea matters more than the quality of the screenshot. The showcased tables of contents aren't necessarily useful in practice as they may be hard to read; they should serve as the inspiration for your future works and show you that even in the design of table of contents some unusual approaches are possible.

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Web Form Design Patterns: Sign-Up Forms

If you want to maximize the revenue of your service you need to maximize completion rates of your web forms. Unless you have some revolutionary ideas to impress your visitors at first glance, it is not enough to simply enable users to sign up on your site. To make it possible for the service to reach a maximal exposure we, designers, need to provide users with a good user experience. We need to invite them, describe to them how the service works, explain to them why they should fill in the form and suggests the benefits they'll get in return. And, of course, we should also make it extremely easy for them to participate.

However, designing effective web forms isn't easy. And it has one simple reason: nobody likes to fill in forms — neither offline nor online. Therefore, as designers, we need to figure out sound design decisions to make the form completion easy, intuitive and painless.

Web Form Design Patterns

But how exactly can we figure out these decisions? Where should the link to the form be placed in the layout? How should we design it? How should we highlight the labels and how should we align them? How do web form design patterns look like in modern web-sites? These were exactly the questions we've asked ourselves. And to get the answers we've conducted a survey.

Below we present findings of our survey of current web form design patterns — the results of an analysis of 100 popular web-sites where web-forms (should) matter. We have decided to start with sign-up forms first. We present the first part of our findings below; the second part of the survey results will be published next week.

Update: the second part of the survey results is now also published: Web Form Design Patterns: Sign-Up Forms Part 2.

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Should Links Open In New Windows?

No, they shouldn't. At first glance the decision to open links in new windows or not depends on the given site and the preferences of its visitors. Visitors of the sites with heavy linking are more willing to have links opened in new windows than open dozens of links in new windows manually. Visitors of less-heavy-linkage-sites are more likely to open some specific link in new window to remain on the site and continue to browse through it afterwards. However, this is not true.

Open links in new tabs

Users also don't like to deal with dozens of opened tabs and some visitors tend to quickly become angry with the disabled back-button. Furthermore, some visitors may not even realize that a new window was opened and hit the back-button mercilessly — without any result. That's not user-friendly and that's not a good user experience we, web designers, strive for.

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Creative Calendar Designs

How many creative solutions for calendar design are out there? If you take a look around you'll find out that most calendars are designed in a "standard" linear fashion. Calendar cards usually have the same structure: the month is designed in bold while the days are placed below within a rigid grid structure. Well, it doesn't have to be like this. In fact, there are a number of creative approaches one can consider when designing calendars.

Indeed, designers sometimes risk unique design solutions. However, unusual design is not necessarily a good design. It is important that your calendar design reveals function and remains usable. Function is more important than the design. In fact, some designs listed below may be not that user-friendly, but they may serve as a nice starting point and give you some fresh ideas for your future designs.

Sexy and Creative Calendar Designs

This post showcases creative examples of calendar design. We have tried to include creative, visually appealing and interesting design solutions. Hopefully, everybody will find something interesting and unusual for herself or himself.

Please notice: this post is rather about information visualization than nice graphics design. Some nice calendar graphic designs have already been collected. Our goal was different: to present some creative concepts for calendar designs and calendar systems.

You may want to take a look at our related posts

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Beautiful Brochures and Booklets

In corporate design brochures and booklets are a standard tool for promotion and advertising. They are tiny books or magazines which lay around in conference halls, offices and waiting rooms. Sometimes they contain an annual report of the company or showcase the portfolio of an artist. Brochures can also be included in CDs and DVDs; however, usually they are given away as freebies (e.g. they may contain a calendar or some poster inside).

In either case, booklets serve advertising purposes and since they are usually short (max. 25-30 pages) they need to look good and be informative in order to focus users' attention and effectively convey the message. Unfortunately, only few brochures are indeed designed with close attention to details. However, there are a number of options for creative and appealing booklet and brochure design.

Booklets and Brochures

This post showcases beautiful examples of brochure and booklet design. We have tried to include creative, visually appealing and interesting design solutions; the booklets presented below are nice to have in the hand and take with you. Hopefully, everybody will find something interesting and unusual for herself or himself.

You may want to take a look at our related posts

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Free Fonts Of The Month: Anivers, Gentium, Fresco

Every now and again we take a look around, select “fresh” high-quality free fonts and present them to you in a brief overview. The choice is enormous, so the time you need to find them is usually the time you should be investing in your current projects. We search for them and we find them, so you don’t have to.

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This month we are glad to present you the updated Anivers, Gentium family and Fresco Semi Bold. Please read the license agreements carefully — they can change from time to time.

  • Free Fonts Of May features Freebooter Script, Cora Basic Regular, Walkway and Karabine.
  • You can find over 80 more free fonts in our section Fonts.

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Beautiful Black and White Photography

If you've been following Smashing Magazine for a while, you know that almost all posts from the Monday Inspiration series are pretty colorful and eye-catching. This post is an exception. Compared to colorful designs where catchy colors help the design to stand out, in black-and-white designs the ability to stand out depends only on its ability to communicate rather than on its appealing visual presentation.

Black and White Photography

Indeed, beautiful black and white photography doesn't attract with its play of colors. Here close attention to composition, lighting, perspective and the context it is shot in are important. Hence, before considering the photos presented below please prepare some patience and time. This post presents some truly excellent examples of beautiful black-and-white photography.

Notice: this post isn't supposed to showcase the best black-and-white-photos of world's best photographers; please see it as a modest attempt to inspire designers for experimenting with black and white instead of using a variety of vibrant colors all the time. Hopefully, everybody will find something interesting and unusual for herself or himself.

You may want to take a look at our related posts

All photos belong to the respective owners.

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