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 UX, front-end and performance problems in large companies. Get in touch.
Professionalism is built upon knowledge and experience. To become or remain professional, you permanently need to improve your design and programming skills, be aware of new approaches and now how other designers and developers achieve both beautiful and effective designs. And to improve your design and programming skills all the time you need bulletproof sources to learn properly and to learn from masters who have a profound understanding of the field they're working in. Renowned books from well-known designers, developers, artists and authors might be just the right thing - serving as the inspiration or helping you to stay in touch with popular techniques in your field.
Over the last weeks we've selected over 40 expert books in the fields of typography, color, graphic design, brand identity, inspiration, web design and programming, Web 2.0, usability, data visualization and simplicity.
We've ordered most of them (some books were unavailable). And we'd like to give them all away - to you and for free - as the appreciation of your trust, your interest and your support of Smashing Magazine over the last year.
How can I participate?
To participate, you have to
answer the question "What is the best thing to start a perfect day with?" in the comments to this post (one word is enough),
choose one book in the table (not in the list!) you like most and post the number right after the answer (on the next line).
We've all been there: a typical task web-developers permanently have to deal with: how to communicate with clients in an effective and convenient way? How to make sure that the best compromise between designers' professional decisions and clients' personal interests is indeed found? The more organized and convenient you handle the communication issue, the more conflicts and additional work you can avoid.
The answer is actually quite simple: you need to listen to your clients, although you shouldn't follow their wishes blindly. Clients don't always know what they really want and even more often they don't know, whether the changes they'd like to introduce are effective in some way. You also need to make sure that your clients are listening to you, which is why you also have to build up the trust and respect for your professionalism and your work.
To achieve both goals, you need to discuss your concepts, ideas and sketches in a simple, descriptive and convenient way. You also need to receive a precise feedback on what details your clients would like to change or improve, and - more importantly - why they'd like to do that. Sending screenshots via e-mail often causes conflicts and misunderstandings, particularly because clients can't articulate directly and have to describe with words what they actually mean.
Good news: there is an effective all-in-one-solution which can make the communication process much easier. ConceptShare is an optimal web-based idea and design sharing and collaboration tool you can use for virtual workgroups with clients, customers and colleagues.
User-friendly icon sets are always nice to look at and useful to have ready to hand. Since effective designers guide their users' attention using visuals, icons can (and probably should) be used in almost every project you are or will be working on. Whether for an illustration, sketch, site or weblog - used moderately, icons can point users' attention to the key-aspects of an article or specific site sections and communicate the message of the site in a more effective way.
This is why web designers need them. And this is why we look for them. Regularly.
Let's take a look at over 20 free, beautiful and fresh icon sets as well as references to further free icon libraries. Some of the sets can be used for free only for private projects, however most of them can also be used in commercial projects. In both cases - before using icon sets please read the license agreement carefully; it can change from time to time.
Creative thinking is an essential part of design workflow. Whatever sketch you are working on, at some point you find yourself in the situation where you simply need some fresh ideas to find your path around the creativity block. Going away may help. Listening to the music may help. But particularly the works of the famous graphic artists may help. In fact, studying them very closely, you can not only explore new ideas, but also learn the smallest details - they form the profound foundation of every masterpiece.
In this post we'd like to present you an ultimate breakthrough for your creativity blocks; over the last weeks we've been searching for the most popular graphic designers, illustrators and artists around the world. We've selected some of their works to give you an idea what style they have and what details of modern design you can expect and learn from them.
So what do we have as result? Over 100 breathtaking illustrations from some of the best contemporary graphic designers, illustrators and artists; besides you'll also find references to further (mostly unknown) sources for inspiration you can use on a daily basis.
Once you've selected the artist whose works you like, click on the image to get to his/her portfolio and explore his/her work in more depth. Please notice that most artists listed below are well-known in the worldwide design community (and so are their works); hopefully you know not all of them.
Please be patient, it may take a while until the images are loaded. Please be aware that it also may take a while until you've seen most of showcased images.
Three weeks ago we’ve showcased some of the most beautiful, creative and user-friendly 404 Error Pages; we’ve collected some interesting ideas one can use to help out the visitors once they got lost ony your page. We’ve also asked our readers to design their own 404 pages and promised to present the best solutions afterwards.
We’ve received over 100 entries. The choice wasn’t easy, so evaluating the quality of the entries we’ve considered - among other things - the communication with visitors, precise and clear navigation, the use of graphics, creative ideas and some outstanding solutions. Some of the solutions presented below might not be as helpful as they could or should be, however they include some creative approaches you should be aware of designing your 404 error pages.
We’d like to thank to everyone who participated, your input means a lot for us and for web-designers worldwide. You help to improve the quality of the Web. Don’t underestimate it.
So here is what you’ve come out with: over 45 working examples of user-friendly, creative and outstanding 404 error pages - in a brief overview.
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 too.
This month we've found two of them - FF Good and LTR Datamine Segoe UI. It's not quite clear if one is legally allowed to use Segoe UI, which is also presented below. Please read the license agreement carefully - it can change from time to time.
Automatic tests, checks and analysis services can be extremely valuable if you’re looking for bugs or try to avoid them. To make sure everything is just the way you think it should be, you need validators. To improve the value and quality of your content, you need to be able to analyze the behaviour of your visitors. And to perform better in the future you have to know exactly, what your competitors are doing, how they’re doing it and what you should learn from them.
You don't like to scroll? Be prepared. (We warned you.)
Every now and again designers stumble upon the very same problem: the choice of a unique and beautiful typeface which manages to fulfill three basic tasks. Support the corporate identity, enrich the visual appearance and is compatible with the overall design. However, usually there are simply too many options you can consider, which is why you need time to find the option you are most comfortable with. Although the choice usually depends on clients' requirements, it is necessary to have some pretty starting points for your font decision.
So which typefaces are "bulletproof"? What fonts can be used effectively in almost every Corporate Design? And what are the options for unique, but still incredibly beautiful typefaces?
We have answers. Over the last few days we've browsed through dozens of type foundries, read dozens of designers' articles about typography, analyzed font rankings and visited bookmarked font-related suggestions. So this post has 'em all. Well, OK, at least many of them.
Let's take a look at over 80 gorgeous typefaces for professional design, based upon suggestions from designers and web-developers all over the world. Most screenshots are taken from the foundries and provided specimens - particularly on Veer.com and Fontshop.com.
Data presentation can be beautiful, elegant and descriptive. There is a variety of conventional ways to visualize data - tables, histograms, pie charts and bar graphs are being used every day, in every project and on every possible occasion. However, to convey a message to your readers effectively, sometimes you need more than just a simple pie chart of your results. In fact, there are much better, profound, creative and absolutely fascinating ways to visualize data. Many of them might become ubiquitous in the next few years.
So what can we expect? Which innovative ideas are already being used? And what are the most creative approaches to present data in ways we've never thought before?
Let's take a look at the most interesting modern approaches to data visualization as well as related articles, resources and tools. Read more...
Apart from Floats, the CSS Specificity is one of the most difficult concepts to grasp in Cascading Stylesheets. The different weight of selectors is usually the reason why your CSS-rules don't apply to some elements, although you think they should have. In order to minimize the time for bug hunting you need to understand, how browsers interpret your code. And to understand that, you need to have a firm understanding on how specificity works. In most cases such problems are caused by the simple fact that somewhere among your CSS-rules you've defined a more specific selector.
CSS Specificity isn't simple. However, there are methods to explain it in a simple and intuitive way. And that's what this article is all about. You'll understand the concept if you love Star Wars. Really.
Let's take a look at some important issues related to CSS Specificity as well as examples, rules, principles, common solutions and resources.
You can find the most important things you should know about CSS specificity in a brief overview at the beginning of the article.