Do you remember back in the day when you were asked that question at a party, “So, what do you do for a living?” After you cautiously mumbled something like “webmaster” or “webadmin”, you probably felt embarrassed and were disappointed by the wilting expression of your discussion partner. After all, everybody knew a kid in the neighborhood who was a “webmaster”. Of course, things have changed for Web designers over the years, but you still get that disappointed look every now and then, don’t you?
We, as Web craftsmen, shape virtual space for everybody to use, and work hard to make our creations as good as they can be. We have an exciting, difficult job — a craft full of responsibilities. A craft that requires a high level of professionalism and dedication to be able to build accessible, beautiful and user-friendly online experiences. Next time you get that disappointed look, explain why being a Web designer is fantastic, rewarding work. Because that’s what you love to do all day long. And then one day, someone will come up to you, look you squarely in the eyes and say the magic words that you will never forget: “I want to be a Web designer when I grow up.”
As always, our aim is to help you to stay up to date with the current trends and techniques to keep you improving your Web skills. In this newsletter issue, we’re giving away tickets to the HOW Interactive Design4 conferences — one ticket for each event. Send us a tweet using the hashtag
#smhow to which location you would rather go, and why you like to be a Web designer!
The Smashing Team
Table of Contents
1. Science Is Cool
Thanks to “The Big Bang Theory” as well as other other geek-chique shows, those among us who have always been nerds are finally cool and come out of the nerd-closet, shouting: “I love science!”. If you enjoy reading Scientific American or National Geographic, or like watching science shows, It’s Okay To Be Smart13 should have you rubbing your hands in anticipation.
Joe Hanson15‘s blog differs from most by injecting wonder and creativity back into the general understanding of science. You can find short clips, informative articles and even Q&As—just in case you aren’t an expert in every scientific discipline. Joe’s website is a wellspring of information, trivia and even mirth! (jc)
2. Rolling Up Your Inbox
You turn on your computer, open your inbox, and are flooded with email newsletters, subscriptions, spam, and sometimes hidden away, one or two personal emails. Unroll.me16 is offering a simple solution to the e-garbage dilemma.
The team has come up with an idea of a “rollup” interface that allows you to end unwanted subscriptions, and rolling up the rest into a single, organized and prioritized overview mail. You can select the emails that are overloading your inbox and let the tool automatically unsubscribe you all at once. And if you change your mind, there’s also an option to re-subscribe.
The intuitive rollup lists the subscriptions according to category and allows you to quickly choose what to keep (and what to kick to the curb). At the moment the tool supports only Gmail, but the creators are working to support other email providers, too. (jc)
3. Secure Shell In Your Browser
If you spend most of your time developing Web applications (or managing servers), chances are high that the terminal is your good friend. However, if you just want to check something on the server, compile your code after a quick lookup on the Web, then switching back and forth between terminal and browser might be a bit… unnecessary (especially if you are using Vim). Secure Shell Chrome Extension18 might be just what you are looking for.
The extension is a terminal emulator and secure SSH client, similar to PuTTY on Windows and ssh command-line applications on Mac OS X and Linux systems. It uses Native-Client to connect directly to SSH servers without external proxies. The extension is developed by the Google Chrome team and is still in the development phase (so bug reports are highly welcomed). Right now you can play the good ol’ Zork right in your terminal, within your browser! (sw)
4. The Fabulous Tale Of The Web
Evolution Of Web 20 might appear to you like the multi-colored tentacles of a magical cuttlefish gliding alongside planet orbit lines in deep space. In fact, you’re looking at the fascinating development of Web browsers and technologies in the span of time from 1991 until 2012. By scrolling on the names of the technologies, you can get a comprehensive overview of the support for numerous features that evolved over time in the Web landscape.
The color bands represent the interaction between Web technologies and browsers, which brings to life the many powerful Web apps that we use daily. The dense scenery between 2008 and 2012 demonstrates clearly (and with great visual impact) how intense the interplay and mingle of technologies has recently become. While this impressing visualization is taking effect on you, don’t forget that this universe is still in its infant stage. (ea)
5. Stationery Design Inspiration
Whether they are die cut or laser cut designs, letterpress notes, cards using embossing or engraving techniques, silkscreen cards, or just good ol’ pencil-work, there is something special about stationery design… isn’t there? The pleasure of seeing and feeling the design can be breathtaking, and with modern technology, special printing processes and uncountable paper qualities, creativity has no limits for designing exceptional paper sets.
The blogs Lovely Stationery23 and Oh So Beautiful Paper24 celebrate the diversity of stationery design techniques and feature state-of-the art examples. Lovely Stationery focuses on corporate identity design and business cards, while Oh So Beautiful Paper focus on notes, cards and invitations. What about producing a couple of beautiful stationery designs for your portfolio during the next weekend? (tts)
6. Excel-Like Tables For The Web
Excel is a great option if you need to create a spreadsheet or a table. But if you want an editable spreadsheet or table on your website (e.g. for your clients’ dashboard), you might need a different option—especially if you want it embedded on a website. With Handsontable25 jQuery library, you get an editable table with Excel-like features.
Handsontable provides quite a few useful features that Excel is well-known for. The library allows you to use auto-expanding and auto-complete as well as add new rows and columns. It also includes a legend, scrolling (so as your table grows, it won’t take up your entire page and become unwieldy), context menus, conditional formatting and other features. You can even set it to track changes made to the table! And, all the data you enter in Handsontable can be copied and pasted to Excel, Google Spreadsheet, or LibreOffice. The library has extensive documentation and a couple of advanced demos that are worth checking out as well. Developed by Marcin Warpechowski and licensed under the MIT license. (cc)
7. What’s The Last Great Thing You Saw?
With the huge amount of information streaming towards us online, sometimes it’s difficult to find truly original, exciting, interesting things (and not necessarily online, but also offline). What if someone kept track of these things that creative designers, developers, writers and artists worldwide find or stumble upon? That’s exactly why The Last Great Thing27 is one step ahead.
Each day, for 20 days, the authors of the website had asked smart and creative minds on the Web what was the last great thing they saw. Whatever it was, it had to be accessible on the Web (and not behind some paywall). It had to be great, special, unusual, provocative, moving, or just memorable. The submitted items ranged from videos, songs, an ovation, a forgotten sci-fi novel and a recommended play. A fantastic idea which could be extended to a “one great thing a day” kind of project. (ml)
8. Is Your Portfolio Up-To-Date?
When you’re reading the menu in a restaurant, or staring at a flyer in the town center, you might think of how beautifully designed they were—how unique and distinctive the designer’s style is. You wonder where you could find more examples of the designer’s work, and if he or she might be a great fit for your next design project. How disappointing is it, when after searching on Google, you find out that the designer’s portfolio is outdated or unavailable?
A comprehensive portfolio can be just what a potential client is looking for before sending that design inquiry your way. A beautiful example of such a portfolio is Owen Davey’s website30. The designer tends to use vibrant, strong color schemes and incorporate animals into his illustrations. Yet if you look at the different projects by Owen, you’ll find out that they have his unique design signature written all over them. If you’re an artist and still don’t have your work online, this will surely motivate you to either start your own or update what you have! (tts)
The authors in this newsletter are: Jan Constantin (jc), Swetlana Senkevitch (sw), Esther Arends (ea), Talita Telma Stöckle (tts), Cameron Chapman (cc), Melanie Lang (ml), Iris Lješnjanin (il), Vitaly Friedman (vf), Sven Lennartz (sl), Christiane Rosenberger (research), Elja Friedman (tools), John von Bergen (proofreading).
- 1 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/the-smashing-newsletter/
- 3 http://www.flickr.com/photos/opensourceway/5392982007/
- 4 http://www.howinteractiveconference.com/ehome/index.php?eventid=39587&
- 5 #a1
- 6 #a2
- 7 #a3
- 8 #a4
- 9 #a5
- 10 #a6
- 11 #a7
- 12 #a8
- 13 http://www.itsokaytobesmart.com/
- 14 http://www.itsokaytobesmart.com/about
- 15 http://www.itsokaytobesmart.com/about
- 16 http://unroll.me/
- 17 http://unroll.me/
- 18 https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/pnhechapfaindjhompbnflcldabbghjo
- 19 https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/pnhechapfaindjhompbnflcldabbghjo
- 20 http://evolutionofweb.appspot.com/
- 21 http://evolutionofweb.appspot.com/
- 22 http://ohsobeautifulpaper.com/
- 23 http://lovelystationery.com/
- 24 http://ohsobeautifulpaper.com/
- 25 http://warpech.github.com/jquery-handsontable/
- 26 http://warpech.github.com/jquery-handsontable/
- 27 http://lastgreatthing.com/
- 28 http://lastgreatthing.com/
- 29 http://www.owendavey.com/
- 30 http://www.owendavey.com/