As a Web professional, you can get great inspiration from a good conference session. While conferences may not bring value to all industries, the Web industry is stacked high with inspirational experts and quiet little geniuses beavering away from small home offices. A good Web conference shines a light on these clever souls and promotes professional growth and shared knowledge.
The number of conferences surrounding the Web design and development field continues to grow as new processes, techniques and other shared experiences, turned learning opportunities, are always presenting themselves throughout the industry. The problem becomes, with so many conferences that are out of reach for one reason or another, how does one catch the highlights from the conference that won't fit into a 140 character tweet?
The humble screengrab, staple component of a million personal and agency portfolios, can now retire with thanks for years of sterling service showing snippets of work done for a particular client or project. The screengrab always reflected a mythical state in time where the website looked just as the designer intended it, not how it typically ends up after a week or two when the client has been adding their own ad banners, stock photos of business people shaking hands or several poorly worded press releases.
As designers and developers, we spend a great deal of time and effort getting a project just right for a client, yet often we don’t do it justice when we display the extent of our involvement and the various component parts that go into the whole thing. So many personal and agency portfolios simply display a couple of screen grabs of a project along with a few hazy bullet points saying things like "HTML & CSS"; or "WordPress CMS development." These tell us very little about the effort that’s gone into a project and aren’t really very helpful to visitors who might be looking to your portfolio with a view to working with you on a project.
We tend to think of navigating a website as clicking from page-to-page via some kind of global navigation that's always visible. When it comes to a single page, we often think scrolling is the one and only way to move from one end to the next. Sometimes global navigation and scrolling are the best, most appropriate ways to move about, (however, they aren't the only ways).
The websites in this article let you scroll, but they also provide alternative ways of finding cues and means for getting around. In several cases the designs encourage exploration, which is both more engaging and also teaches you how to navigate at the same time.
Stefan Sagmeister is a designer who has been following his instinct and intuition to the fullest, having gained recognition for his unique, and often provocative, visual explorations. It’s possibly his very personal and almost self-centric way to design that leads to his original approach. On May 31, 19 years after starting his NYC studio he once again surprised the crowds with renaming to Sagmeister & Walsh in a ‘trademark’ Sagmeister fashion - naked in the studio.
A bit of history. When the Austrian-born Sagmeister moved to New York, he made it his mission to work for the legendary designer Tibor Kalman (1949-1999), at M&Co before starting his own studio in 1994. Sagmeister inc. Kalman, one of the two names that changed graphic design in the 80’s—as AIGA proclaims—was well respected for his social responsibility polemic and then as the editor-in-chief of Colors magazine.
As with most designers, being sure that we explore and select the most successful, memorable and stimulating designs is a vital aspect that underpins every project we undertake. For us, the beginning of a new challenge has never been as simple as asking ourselves what might be the best avenue to take and then sitting down at a computer and attempting to fulfill that idea.
After researching the subject matter, we will almost always begin with a sheet of paper and pencil and draw out a variety of design options to help bring together and develop the breadth of ideas that are maturing in our minds. In this article, we will explore the use of drawing and mark-making as an integral part of the creative process.
There is an old story of blind men and an elephant. The blind men all meet and are asked to describe the elephant. One says that an elephant is long and skinny like a snake. The other says that the first doesn’t know what he is talking about and says an elephant is like the trunk of a tree, round and thick. The third says they are both wrong, that an elephant is wide and circular like a giant disc.
In some versions, they stop talking, start listening and collaborate to “see” the full elephant. When a sighted man walks by and sees the elephant, they also learn they are blind. It doesn’t take us very long to figure out that each of the men is talking about a different part of the elephant (trunk, leg and ear, respectively). The men are blind, so they fail to take in the whole elephant. Because their experience was limited to a certain part of the elephant, they assumed that the elephant was the part they could see. One could only feel that the elephant was a trunk, so he thought it was like a snake.
I am sure that my day job as a designer has a lot of similarities to that of the entire Smashing community. I create wireframes, mockups and concepts. I craft HTML and CSS using methods that I hope are fluid and adaptive. At the same time, my coworkers and I serve over 100 clients and 13 million users on a single platform.
Each client has the ability to design their website as they see fit, but we have an unbalanced ratio of designers to clients. I do not have the luxury in my day-to-day work of spending months working through a design process as part of a client’s implementation. However, this scenario of limited time hardly strikes me as rare among my design peers.