Unlike many other industries, the web design community is all about sharing knowledge and experience. Each of us is very lucky to be part of such a great and useful learning environment, and it is up to us to embrace it — to embrace our learning experiences, and also to embrace our ability to share.
Not only are case studies a great way to explain the design process of an agency, but they also help designers and developers to learn from each other. Seeing how designers work, create, build and play is great, and furthermore, you can learn how to write a great case study yourself and how to use one to spice up your portfolio1.
In today’s overview of useful case studies, we’ve featured studies that have recounted decisions made about particular design elements, as well as studies of full overhauls and their accompanying technical challenges. Most of them provide interesting insights into failures and successes, stories, workflows and design decisions made and rejected.
We must admit that this post is quite a long one, so we’ve decided to divide it into two parts to make it easier for you to navigate. Now you should be well prepared for a couple of late reading sessions over the next weekends!
Here is a quick list of the categories covered:
- Illustration, Graphics and Logo Design2
- Advertising, Promotion and E-Commerce5
- Redesigning Elements and Features6
- Complete (Re)branding and (Re)design7
- Content and Storytelling8
- Technical Challenges and Solutions9
- Workflow and Optimization10
- Last Click11
Illustration, Graphics And Logo Design
“The Design Process of my Infographic About Women Cycling for Grinta!14,” Veerle Pieters
Pieters shares her experience of the design process behind the infographic on women’s cycling that she produced for Grinta magazine.
“The Great Gatsby”
Like Minded Studio collaborated on the branding of “The Great Gatsby“. The aim was to develop a bespoke Deco styled logo reflective of the roaring 20s and Fitzgerald’s masterpiece. They also created a display typeface to acompany the main branding. Additionally read more about it following this link.24
“My ‘Tour de France’ posters27,” Veerle Pieters
Pieters created posters for the 100th edition of the Tour of France. She mainly used the French landscape which she had used for the ‘Tour de France Infographic’ as a starting point.
“Designing Type Systems29,” Peter Bil’ak
To create truly useful designs, typographers need to examine not only how characters relate to each other within a style, but also how different styles relate to each other within a family. Peter Bil’ak discusses how to achieve this.
“The Development of the Signage Typeface Wayfinding Sans Pro33,” Ralf Herrmann
Herrmann describes the development of the Wayfinding Sans Pro, a signage typeface that can be read from a long distance.
“Type Study” series, Adobe Typekit
Typekit features a whole series of case studies of typography:
- “Hi-DPI Web Typography39,” David Demaree
- “Typographic Hierarchy40,” Frank Chimero
- “Pairing Typefaces41,” Aura Seltzer
- “Sizing the Legible Letter42,” Ethan Marcotte
- “Stereo-Typography43,” Dan Mall
- “Choosing Fallback Fonts44,” Josh Brewer
- “Techniques for Using Novelty Fonts45,” Meagan Fisher
“Usability in Icons48,” Peter Steen Høgenhaug
Icons are used to illustrate a particular function, anything from information to actions. This article explains what needs to be considered when designing them.
“iOS Icon Design: A Designer’s Exploration,”
iOS icon design is not only difficult, but requires a lot of experimentation. David Killoy shares his experience of designing the icon for his note-taking app Notorious.
“Designing Facebook Home52,” Julie Zhuo
On May 8th, the designers behind Facebook Home (Justin Stahl, Francis Luu, Joey Flynn and Mac Tyler) presented a behind-the-scenes look at their work at the Bluxome Street Winery for a small crowd.
Advertising, Promotion And E-Commerce
“How to Make Your Own App Promo Cards54,” Mike Swanson
Swanson was inspired by Starbuck’s promo cards for giving away free apps and decided to make his own for an upcoming event. Learn how you can do one, too!
“How to Launch Anything58,” Nathan Barry
Barry has launched five products in fewer than nine months. Read about the strategy that helped him generate over $200,000 in revenue from online products, starting from scratch.
“Increase Online Sales on Your Ecommerce Website61,”
Headscape increased sales on Wiltshire Farmfoods’ e-commerce website by over 10,000% in only five years. What makes it even more special, the target audience is over 50 years old. Paul Boag shares his experience.
Redesigning Elements And Features
“Visual Exploration Behind Signal vs. Noise63,” Mig Reyes
37signals share the process behind making its blog special. This study is about how the company visualized noise and styled its blog categories in a unique way.
“Reinventing Our Default Profile Pictures 65,” Jamie
Jamie talks about the process of finding the right default profile pictures for the 37signals website. It’s a great new approach to a very basic element.
“Login Screen Design: Behind the Scenes67,” Simon Tabor
Good UX is not just about the main content, but also about little details such as log-in (and error) pages. GoSquared shares how it made its log-in experience exceptional.
“Save for Later69,” Brian Groudan
All browsers support two functions: searching and revisiting. Groudan worked closely with Mozilla’s user experience researchers and designers to rethink how Firefox could better offer “saving for later” functionality in the browser.
“Reinventing the Investment Calculator73,” Alex Bendiken
Drawing from the book Money for Something, Alex Bendiken built a tool that lets users experiment and create a unique investment plan. It’s a UX study in turning a boring financial calculator into something you’d actually want to use.
“Getting Down to Business75,” Teenhan+Lax
The Globe and Mail is Canada’s national newspaper of record. It serves millions of readers everyday with in-depth journalism and informed comment. Learn how Teenhan+Lax helped refresh and enrich the way users experience and engage with the news today.
“The Anatomy Of A Successful Logo Redesign81,” Belinda Lanks
Lanks summarizes how Jessica Hische had freshened up the new logo for MailChimp with a slight facelift. The new logo now looks new and fresh — more refined but just as playful.
“In Praise of Lost Time85,” Dan Hill
Dan Hill talks about Facebook’s Timeline as an exemplary bit of interaction design that does little to advance the timeline formally. Yet it might alter the nature of human memory itself.
“Designing the new, fully responsive Wired.co.uk article pages,” Javier Ghaemi
This article is about redesigning the Wired.co.uk article website to provide a more content-first and immersive experience.
Complete (Re)branding And (Re)design
“How to Approach a Responsive Design87,” Tito Bottitta
This article shows the design process behind The Boston Globe’s website, one of the most famous examples of responsive designs. Read about how Upstatement approached its first responsive design.
“Responsive Design Case Study89,” Matt Berridge
This case study outlines the entire process of constructing the South Tees Hospitals’ website, a large responsive design containing over a thousand pages.
“Rebuilding a University Homepage to Be Responsive. Twice. In Less Than a Year91,” Erik Runyon
This slideshow discusses how and why Notre Dame University’s home page was rebuilt twice in less than a year. You will find a recording of the talk below the slides.
“Yes, You Really Can Make Complex Web Apps Responsive,” Daniel Wearne
Wearne shares his experience in creating Adioso’s web app, a complex yet accessible project. He covers the framework, responsive mixins, tables and future challenges.
“Designing a New Playground Brand93,” Ryan Bannon
This case study shows the design process of Playground’s new brand. It covers the logo, overall website and vector animation process, as well as the core values and personality of the company. The extensive study comes in three parts.
“Colorado Identity97,” Berger & Föhr
Imagine someone hiring you to define your own identity. Berger & Föhr was hired to help create the new identity and visual brand of Colorado, the place they call home. Have a look at the work and logo they came up with.
“Building the New Financial Times Web App99,” Wilson Page
Page talks about building the Financial Times’ new app, a challenge that many on his team believed to be impossible. He covers device support, fixed-height layouts, truncation, modularization, reusable components, Retina support, native-like scrolling, offline support and the topic of ever-evolving apps.
“Find Your Way to Oz103,” HTML5 Rocks
This very detailed case study looks at the “Find Your Way to Oz” demo, a Google Chrome experiment by Disney. It covers sprite sheets, Retina support, 3-D content and more.
“The Making of the Moscow Metro Map 2.0105,” Art Lebedev Studio
This study is about the design process behind the Moscow Metro map, a complex project that needed to meet the requirements of both Web and print.
“The Design Thinking Behind the New Disney.com109,” Bobby Solomon
Solomon shares the process of creating a Disney website that is flexible enough to showcase the widest range of offerings imaginable — in other words, a website that can do everything.
“Responsibly Responsive: Developing the Greenbelt Website119,” Rachel Andrew
Andrew writes about her front-end design decisions in rebuilding the Greenbelt Festival’s website.
“The Digital-Physical: On Building Flipboard for iPhone and Finding the Edges of Our Digital Narratives121,” Craig Mod
Mod walks through the process of building the Flipboard app for iPhone and of finding the edges of its digital narratives.
“Page-Flip Effect From 20 Things I Learned123,” Hakim El Hattab
This study shows how this team found the best way to achieve the feeling of a real-world book, while leveraging the benefits of the digital realm in areas such as navigation.
“Behind the Scenes of the New Kippt134,” Gannon Burgett
This interview about the work behind the new Kippt app covers the redesign process, the design principles and problems that the team faced, insights into the new era of web app design, and where Kippt will head in the future.
“Music Video ‘Lights’: The Latest WebGL Sensation148,” Carlos Ulloa
Interactive studio HelloEnjoy built a mind-blowing 3-D music video for Ellie Goulding’s song “Lights.” Creative director Carlos Ulloa explains why the team chose WebGL and how it created various immersive graphic effects.
- “Is This The Future of The Airline Website?158”
- “The Story of Ramayana: Brought to Life by Google Chrome159”
- “Sony: Connected World160”
- “USAToday.com: Redesigning One of America’s Most Popular News Sites161”
More Case Studies! Link
Perhaps you are more interested in case-studies on copywriting, content and storytelling, technical challenges, or just workflow and optimization tips? Well, off we go to the second part of the overview163. Now you should be well prepared for a couple of late reading sessions over the next weekends!
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- 62 http://blog.mailchimp.com/twitter-promoted-tweets/
- 63 http://37signals.com/svn/posts/3316-visual-exploration-behind-signal-vs-noise
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- 157 http://www.f-i.com/work/all
- 158 http://www.f-i.com/fi/airlines/
- 159 http://www.f-i.com/google/ramayana
- 160 http://www.f-i.com/sony/connected-world/
- 161 http://blog.f-i.com/usatoday-com-redesigning-one-of-americas-most-popular-news-site/
- 162 http://www.f-i.com/work/all
- 163 https://www.smashingmagazine.com/this-is-how-we-built-it-case-studies-part-2/
Hold on, Tiger! Thank you for reading the article. Did you know that we also publish printed books and run friendly conferences – crafted for pros like you? Like SmashingConf Barcelona, on October 25–26, with smart design patterns and front-end techniques.