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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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Showcase Of Creative Flash Preloaders

When it comes to Flash, images, animation, videos and sound effects are often used on large scale. Consequence: in most cases Flash takes quite much time to load and requires a good dose of patience from users. Users know it and are often willing to give a Flash-site some time to load. However, to count on user's patience, Flash-designers need to inform site visitors how much patience is actually required. If it isn't done, the latter have no anchor point to estimate how much more time is needed and consequently close the browser window thinking that the site simply doesn't work properly.

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In this post you'll find some creative Flash-preloaders which may serve as an inspiration for your Flash-projects. Please notice that sometimes you need to look closely and precisely in order to find the preloader. Depending on the server load and your connection preloaders may quickly disappear. In most cases it's not a disadvantage — well, at least it shouldn't be.

Please notice that

  • you might also want to take a look at the article 65 excellent Flash-designs we've published earlier,
  • this selection is not ultimate and isn't supposed to be the best of; it is intended to provide you with some ideas for creating your Flash-preloaders once you need to — please share your favourite Flash-preloaders in the comments to this post.
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35 Fantastic HDR Pictures

Applied carefully, High Dynamic Range-technique (HDR) can create incredibly beautiful pictures which blur our sense of the difference between reality and illusion. In graphics HDR imaging is a set of techniques that allow a far greater dynamic range of exposures than normal digital imaging techniques. The intention is to accurately represent the wide range of intensity levels found in real scenes, ranging from direct sunlight to the deepest shadows. This is usually achieved by modifying photos with image processing software for tone-mapping. And the results can be really incredible; in fact, many artists and designers come up with some pretty fancy results.

HDR Photos - Sparkle in Her Eye - HDR

This post covers 35 extremely beautiful and perfectly executed HDR-pictures. Some of them might look surreal, too colorful, even magic or fake, but they are not — keep in mind that they've all been developed out of usual photos, and not a single image is an illustration.

Please notice:

  • the selection isn't supposed to be complete which is why we encourage you to post links to further excellent HDR images in the comments to this post;
  • there is no ranking, all pictures have been selected due to their outstanding quality and excellent execution;
  • you can explore further works of the designers and photographers we've featured below by browsing through their sets on Flickr;
  • all screenshots are clickable and lead to the pages from which they've been taken,
  • you might want to take a look at the article (Really) Stunning Desktop Wallpapers we've published earlier.
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Free Fonts Of The Month: FF Unit, M+ Outline, GeoBats

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.

M+ Outline

This month we're glad to present you M+ Outline, GeoBats, FF Unit Rounded Bold and IPAP Fonts Family. Please read the license agreements carefully - they can change from time to time.

  • You can find over 80 more free fonts in our section Fonts.
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35 (Really) Incredible Free Icon Sets

When it comes to icons, web designers and graphic artists have an excellent opportunity to showcase their craft, prove their experience and explore their creativity. A sweet, nice icon set is a perfect showcase of designer's work and a powerful instrument to build up your reputation online.

In fact, designers make use of it, creating absolutely amazing icon sets and offering them for free download. The result: hundreds and hundreds of sets available almost everywhere, usually not that well executed and often duplicated from other sets. However, there are indeed free high-quality icon sets. And this post is supposed to prove exactly that.

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Below we present 35 incredible free icon sets which you can use for your web designs or your desktop to spice up your posts with some nice illustrations or enrich your desktop with outstanding dock icons. Some of the listed icons can be used in web designs, some of them are supposed to be primarily for desktop. So hopefully everybody will find something useful.

You might want to take a look at the following articles we've presented earlier:

Please notice: 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.

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Navigation Menus: Trends and Examples

Navigation is the most significant element in web design. Since web-layouts don't have any physical representation a user can stick to, consistent navigation menu is one of the few design elements which provide users with some sense of orientation and guide them through the site. Users should be able to rely on it which is why designers shouldn't mess around with it.

That's why in most cases it's where simple, intuitive and conventional solutions are usually the best option. However, it doesn't mean that they need to be boring. One year ago we've presented modern approaches of navigation design. Let's take a look at what's different now, which trends one can observe and what ideas you can develop further in your projects.

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This article presents recent trends, examples and innovative solutions for design of modern navigation menus. All images are clickable and lead to the sites from which they've been taken. We've missed something? Definitely! Let us know in the comments!

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Breathtaking Typographic Posters

You can't design without type. However, yon can use only type (or mostly only type) to create breath-taking designs. In fact, many graphic designers and artists take exactly this route to communicate their ideas through their works. The results are sometimes crazy, sometimes artsy, sometimes beautiful, but often just different from things we're used to. Thus designers explore new horizons and we explore new viewing perspectives which is what inspiration is all about.

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This post showcases over 50 breathtaking typographic posters designed by artists across the globe. We feature Oriental, Iranian, Hebrew, Japanese, Chinese and Russian typographic posters as well as a number of further references. This isn't a "best of", there is no ranking and the collection isn't supposed to be complete; it's rather subjective and quite random. All screenshots are clickable; however, links not always lead directly to the corresponding image (e.g. it's impossible in Flash-based sites) — sometimes you'll need to search for it.

You may also want to take a look at the article Typography In Motion we've published few months ago.

So what can be achieved out of simple letters and symbols? Please be patient, some screenshots are huge.

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Powerful CSS-Techniques For Effective Coding

Sometimes being a web-developer is just damn hard. Particularly coding is often responsible for slowing down our workflow, reducing the quality of our work and sleepless nights with pizza and coffee laying around the laptop. Reason: with a number of incompatibility issues and quite creative rendering engines it sometimes takes too much time to find a workaround for some problem without addressing browsers with quirky hacks. And that's where ready-to-use solutions developed by other designers come in handy.

One year ago we've published the post with 53 CSS-Techniques You Couldn't Live Without where we provided references to the most useful CSS-techniques which are often used in almost every project. Over the last year we've been observing what's happening with the CSS-based web-development, and we collected most useful CSS-techniques we've stumbled upon — for us and for our readers.

CSS-Technique

In this post we present 50 new CSS-techniques, ideas and ready-to-use solutions for effective coding. You definitely know some of them, but definitely not all of them. Some technique is missing? Let us know in the comments to this post.

Thanks to all developers who contributed to the CSS-based design over the last year. The community appreciates it.

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