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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, online workshops and loves solving complex performance problems in large companies. Get in touch.

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Innovative Designs and Devices

Steve Jobs stated once that the “design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” While this statement has proven to be crucial over thousands of years, one shouldn't misinterpret it by emphasizing the functionality despite the design. When it comes to product design, the significance of aesthetics of a given device, the way its design looks and feels, determines the choice of the customer once the functionalities of multiple devices are more or less similar. If supported by sound user interface and a well-tested, clean implementation, innovative design solutions can drastically enhance the user experience.

Maximus Keyboard

Maximus Keyboard

This article presents innovative, futuristic gadgets, devices, designs and concepts. Unless explicitly specified, none of these cut-edge concepts is currently being manufactured. None of them is available for end-users which is why neither the price nor links to the stores are mentioned.

Please keep in mind that the main idea of this article is not to do the sell-talk for trendy products, but to showcase innovative design solutions and futuristic devices which can become reality in 2008 or over the next few years.

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Funny and Creative Animated Videos

The new year is just few days away; however, not all parties are planned, not all presents are packed and not all work is done. If you feel under the weather, bored or overwhelmed by the late shopping or working chaos, it's just the right time to take a short break and get into the right mood.

To help you to achieve just that we've collected some excellent, funny and touching animations and videos — for you, your colleagues, your friends and your family. You probably have seen some of them, but it doesn't make them less funnier. You can also click on the images — they lead to the sites from which the screenshots have been taken.

For The Birds

Enjoy the last days of the year 2007. Smashing 2008, folks!

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Creative Workplaces

Your workplace and the atmosphere surrounding you determine the way you work and explore your imagination. The more inspirational your workplace is, the easier it is to break the creativity block and discover new ideas. And apparently there is a number of things you can do to improve your personal workflow.

As a part of our Monday Inspiration series we present a dozen of creative and unusual workplaces; in the end of the post you'll also find references to related resources, among them office design galleries and Flickr pools. They can serve as an inspiration once you've decided to spice up your work environment.

Desc

You can also click on the images — they lead to the sites from which the screenshots have been taken.

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Free Fonts Of The Month: Relato Sans, Droid Family

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.

This month we'd like to present you Relato Sans and the Droid font family. Please read the license agreement carefully - it can change from time to time.

  • You can find over 60 more free fonts in our section Free Fonts.
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User Experience Of The Future

Over decades we've used to adapt our habits, behavior and mindset to technology. We've improved our productivity by using tools and devices designed especially for the tasks we have to deal with regularly. But we've also constrained our abilities to the features of the very tools and devices we've become dependant on.

We've got used to a number of things. To traditional mouse-keyboard user interaction, to 2D windows-based user interface and to a rather unspectacular user's workflow which enables one user interact with only one application at a time. For instance, while you're browsing in your web browser you can't scale your text and resize your window simultaneously — unless you are a keyboard-shortcut-master.

Cheoptics
Multi-Touch

Good news: it can be different. Below we present some of the outstanding recent developments in the field of user experience design. Most techniques seem very futuristic, and are extremely impressive. Keep in mind: they can become ubiquitous over the next years.

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Screen Resolutions and Better User Experience

In order to work well, designs have to be optimized for simplicity, transparency and, consequently, optimal user experience. The user experience itself is, however, in many cases just an elegant term employed with false intentions and wrong approaches.

Optimal user experience is rarely achieved by visual design elements, although some stakeholders are strongly convinced that it actually is the case. What actually matters is the fact that the content is accessible and legible — and although visual design can support the content and help to communicate with your target audience in a more effective way, it is not a solid foundation to build a successful web-site upon. (In fact, to compromise stakeholders' understanding of design solutions is your primary task if you strive to be a professional web-developer.)

Chart Screenshot

Whatever stages you are going through in your design process, to perform well you need to make sure that your design works for most visitors, whatever screen resolution they use. It's not about the graphics visitors see; as stated above, it's about the content they are looking for.

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Typography In Motion

In most designs typography is used to present information in a rather static way — after all, it has to be read by users. However, it doesn't have to be like this. What effects can be achieved if typography is set in motion? What happens if letters are suddenly floating, jumping and dancing around while sentences are actually interacting with the readers?

Typography in Motion

Where motion is involved, video is necessary. Below we present some excellent examples of typography embedded into movies and videos — be prepared, "dynamic" typography can be breathtaking.

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3D-Experience in Flash

Used effectively, Flash-based designs can achieve astonishing presentation and impressive user interaction. (In fact, we've already showcased some outstanding examples earlier.) When supported by intuitive design, a mix of visual effects can create a rich user experience. Flash-designs with 3D-effects can be used to do just that. As a part of our Monday Inspiration series let's take a look at some examples of incredible 3D-experience in Flash.

Ikea
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40+ Excellent Freefonts For Professional Design

The importance of typography in design can't be overestimated. The accuracy, precision and balance of geometric forms can give letters the elegance and sharpness they deserve. Besides, elegant fonts can help to convey the message in a more convenient way. In fact, while there are many excellent professional fonts (we've presented some of them in our article 80 Beautiful Typefaces For Professional Design) there are literally thousands of free low-quality fonts which you would never use for professional designs.

Quality costs. The price of "bulletproof" fonts usually reflects their quality and starts at 50$ per typeface. However, before purchasing a font you will probably use only once in your designs you might want to take a glance at outstanding free alternatives first.

Mido STF

Over the last year we've been observing typo-designers and their works; we've regularly collected high-quality fonts available for free download and free to use for personal or/and commercial projects. In this article we'd like to present an overview of over 40 excellent free fonts you might use for your professional designs in 2008. What is your favourite?

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Tag Clouds Gallery: Examples And Good Practices

Compared to conventional navigation patterns tag clouds don't necessarily offer a more convenient and intuitive navigation. However, used properly, they can provide visitors with an instant illustration of the main topics, giving a very specific and precise orientation of the site's content. Since human beings tend to think in concepts and models, it's easier to get an idea of presented content if the main concepts are given straight away — in digestible pieces, and prioritized by their weight. In fact, the main advantage of tag clouds lies in their ability to highlight the most important or/and popular subjects dynamically which is not the case in conventional navigation menus.

Tag clouds offer a quite interesting approach for site navigation; although the technique is sometimes considered to be an "alternative", it shouldn't replace the "common" navigation but support it giving users additional clues about the content of the site. Due to their "cloudy" form the design of tag clouds sets them apart from other design elements on a page. And although designers don't really have that much choice in designing them, they still find their ways to break through the bounds of creativity and come up with some unusual approaches and solutions.

Screenshot Tagcloud

Screenshot Tagcloud

This article offers some selected examples of tag clouds, its shortcomings and also some suggestions for tagging data and links in a more profound and effective way.

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