Category: Design

This category features articles on general design principles, Web design, typography, user interface design and related topics. It also presents design showcases and practical pieces on the business side of design. Curated by Alma Hoffmann.

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Making Your Mark On The Web Is Easier Than You Think

We who work on the Web live in wonderful times. In the past, we did of lot of trial-and-error learning, and the biggest hurdle was getting people to understand what we were on about. Over time, companies like Google, Yahoo, Skype, Facebook and Twitter managed to get the geeky Web into the living rooms of regular people and into the headlines of the mainstream press.

Future of Web Design Conference in London, 2010
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Now more than ever are there opportunities on the Web for you, as a professional, to be seen and to be found. I am a professional Web spokesperson for a large company, and I spoke at 27 conferences in 14 countries last year. I write for several magazines and blogs and have published a few books. When people ask me how I got to where I am now, my standard answer is: by releasing stuff on the Web and by listening and reacting to feedback. And you can do the same.

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Why Design-By-Committee Should Die

No matter where you go in the known universe, there is design-by-committee. It has become a pecking order of disaster for the society that used to pride itself on being a mover and shaker and that allowed its mavericks and dreamers to innovate their way to success. In a business climate fueled by fear and the “Peter Principle,” as it is today, a decision not made is a tragedy averted. So, decision by committee provides a safe and often anonymous process for finger-pointing down the line… inevitably leading to the creative, of course.

Wikipedia describes it thus: The Peter Principle is the principle that "in a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence." It was formulated by Dr. Laurence J. Peter and Raymond Hull in their 1969 book The Peter Principle, a humorous treatise which also introduced the "salutary science of Hierarchiology", "inadvertently founded" by Peter. It holds that in a hierarchy, members are promoted so long as they work competently.

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50 Powerful Time-Savers For Web Designers

Being a web designer is not easy. Not only do we need to have a good understanding about visual design, typography, information architecture, psychology and a plethora of other disciplines; in our work, we need to take care of so many details, so that our job becomes more and more time-consuming, requiring dozens of tools, attention span and an effective workflow for beautiful, timely and functional results.

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And this is where small time-savers become handy. Be it a handy checklist, batch installer, dummy image generator or converter from Excel spreadsheet to HTML — all these things can save us a couple of minutes every day, making our work easier and more efficient. And this is why we keep collecting them for Smashing Magazine's readers. Whether you like lists or not: this one will probably help you find those little nuggets out there that will help you avoid headaches and stress. Below we present useful time-savers for web designers.

You may want to subcribe to Smashing Magazine's E-Mail Newsletter (32,600 subscribers) to keep updated about new useful tools, techniques and resources. The newsletter is sent out once every two weeks.

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Web Designers, Don’t Do It Alone

Whether freelancers, small agency founders or website owners, too many of us work alone. The downside of the digital revolution is isolation. The Web allows us to do alone what previously would have required a team of people. It also frees us from the constraints of geography, allowing us to work from home. But while these are benefits, they also leave us isolated.

Depressed dog

Over time, working in isolation (even if you function as part of a team) can prove harmful to your mental health, business and website. In fact, even if other people are working on a project of yours, if they are junior to you, you can still feel isolated.

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How To Use Photos To Sell More Online

As a photographer and UX designer, I pay particular attention to the effectiveness of photography when I'm testing with users. Regardless of the context, users rarely fail to comment on or be influenced by photography when shopping online.

Person walking across a wet rock in sandals

This article pulls together principles from psychology, marketing, UX design and photographic theory. It provides a set of principles to follow when commissioning and editing photography and when planning and designing profitable e-commerce user experiences.

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The Ultimate Guide To A/B Testing

A/B testing isn’t a buzz term. A lot of savvy marketers and designs are using it right now to gain insight into visitor behavior and to increase conversion rate. And yet A/B testing is still not as common as such Internet marketing subjects as SEO, Web analytics and usability. People just aren’t as aware of it. They don’t completely understand what it is or how it could benefit them or how they should use it. This article is meant to be the best guide you will ever need for A/B testing.

A/B testing example

At its core, A/B testing is exactly what it sounds like: you have two versions of an element (A and B) and a metric that defines success. To determine which version is better, you subject both versions to experimentation simultaneously. In the end, you measure which version was more successful and select that version for real-world use.

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The Beauty Of Typography: Writing Systems And Calligraphy, Part 2

The beauty of writing systems is that each has something unique from which to draw inspiration. Two weeks ago, in the first part of this article, we covered Arabic and East-Asian languages (Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese) and a few Indic scripts (Devanagari, Thai and Tibetan).

Calligraphy82 in Hebrew and Cyrillic

We are now back for the second (and last) part, which is a bit different but just as interesting. You will see that some features of the languages presented here clearly correspond to our Latin-based system, while others are unfamiliar. The point of this second part is to complete our look at writing systems of the world and to think more generally about what they signify. We'll cover Hebrew, Modern European scripts, Mongolian, Inuktitut and International Phonetic Alphabet.

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Applying Interior Design Principles To The Web

Web, industrial, interior… You name it and there are designers for it. We're all trained in our particular areas (as we should be), but it would do us some good sometimes to look beyond our borders for new approaches to design problems. For a fresh perspective, here we'll apply several principles of interior design to Web design and see what ideas would help change some of our stuck-in-a-rut design practices.

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In interior design, balance breaks down into two kinds: formal and informal. Formal balance is simple. It is achieved in a room when objects on one side of a room are a mirror-image of the other side of the room. It focuses on symmetry (creating a mirrored effect) and is the easiest to create — just think of two nightstands on either side of a bed or two sconces on either side of a fireplace. However, it can become overwhelming with too many objects or a busy color palette. Too much can make a good design concept ugly.

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Design Better And Faster With Rapid Prototyping

The old adage, "a picture speaks a thousand words" captures what user interface prototyping is all about: using visuals to describe thousands of words' worth of design and development specifications that detail how a system should behave and look. In an iterative approach to user interface design, rapid prototyping is the process of quickly mocking up the future state of a system, be it a website or application, and validating it with a broader team of users, stakeholders, developers and designers. Doing this rapidly and iteratively generates feedback early and often in the process, improving the final design and reducing the need for changes during development.

The rapid prototyping process: prototype - review - refine

Prototypes range from rough paper sketches to interactive simulations that look and function like the final product. The keys to successful rapid prototyping are revising quickly based on feedback and using the appropriate prototyping approach. Rapid prototyping helps teams experiment with multiple approaches and ideas, it facilitates discussion through visuals instead of words, it ensures that everyone shares a common understanding, and it reduces risk and avoids missed requirements, leading to a better design faster.

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Designing The “World Of Programming” Infographic

Information graphics (or infographics) are used to display information in ways that are more creative than plain old text. These days, they surround us in the media, published works, road signs and manuals. Lately, the Internet has been flooded with infographics on various topics, ranging from science and technology to society and culture. In this article, we'll look at the process of designing an infographic about programming.

What does the infographic show? The infographic exhibits pioneers in the field of programming, along with the history and current statistics of various programming languages. Also included are some random facts and algorithm diagrams to make the infographic more visually appealing.

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