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Today, too many websites are still inaccessible. In our new book Inclusive Design Patterns, we explore how to craft flexible front-end design patterns and make future-proof and accessible interfaces without extra effort. Hardcover, 312 pages. Get the book now →

Author:

Sven is the co-founder and former CEO of Smashing Magazine. He's now writing at his Conterest Blog, where he focuses on blogs, content strategy, writing and publishing — all in German.

Twitter: Follow Sven Lennartz on Twitter

Google Profile: https://plus.google.com/+SvenLennartz-sf/posts

Sideblog Material Design Icons, Goodies And Starter Kits

It's always great to have a little toolbox with just the right tools waiting for you when you need them. What if you are about to start working on a new project which should apply the material design language introduced by Google last year? What if you had just a good starter kit with everything you need to dive into the creative process without being distracted by routine tasks?

Material Design Principles

We're here to have your back — with a little selection of handy goodies, icons, templates and tools to help you get off the ground faster. This post is one of our first shorter "Sideblog" pieces where we highlight some of the more useful and helpful snippets and goodies every now and then. We'd love to hear your feedback in the comments to this post.

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50 Fantastic Favicons: Episode 9

Every now and again we showcase fantastic favicons, those tiny pieces of art that you’ll find in your browser’s address bar or when rifling through your bookmarks. These little gems are important because they serve as visual indicators to help visitors easily identify content in their browser. That aside, favicons are just nice to look at, and way too many websites don’t make use of them. We want to change that, which is why we are presenting what is now the ninth episode in our favicons series: a small article with tiny images and fast loading time… for a change. [Content Care Nov/11/2016]

illu_favicon09

Any picture's merit is debatable. But notice that these favicons were chosen not simply for their beauty and originality; it was important to us also that each fit the overall website design and logo. Pay attention to the details of the design.

All favicons are linked, of course, to the websites from where they were taken (if they still exist). Click on them to get more insight into how favicon design relates to overall layout design. The order here does not indicate any ranking.

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30 Free Photoshop Swirl Brushes

Today we are glad to release 30 Swirl Brushes, a set with 30 high-quality swirl Photoshop brushes with an average size 2000px. These brushes were created with Adobe Photoshop CS4 and also work with the version CS, CS2 and CS3. This set was designed by Thomas Béal especially for Smashing Magazine and its readers.

30 Swirl Brushes

You can use the set for all of your projects for free and without any restrictions. You can freely use it for both your private and commercial projects, including software, online services, templates and themes. The set may not be resold, sublicensed, rented, transferred or otherwise made available for use. Please link to this article if you would like to spread the word.

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The Mystery Of CSS Sprites: Techniques, Tools And Tutorials

CSS Sprites are not new. In fact, they are a rather well-established technique and have managed to become common practice in Web development. Of course, CSS sprites are not always necessary, but in some situation they can bring significant advantages and improvements – particularly if you want to reduce your server load. And if you haven't heard of CSS sprites before, now is probably a good time to learn what they are, how they work and what tools can help you create and use the technique in your projects.

CSS Sprites Screenshot

The term "sprite" (similar to "spirit," "goblin," or "elf") has its origins in computer graphics, in which it described a graphic object blended with a 2-D or 3-D scene through graphics hardware. Because the complexity of video games has continually increased, there was a need for smart techniques that could deal with detailed graphic objects while keeping game-play flowing. One of the techniques developed saw sprites being plugged into a master grid (see the image below), then later pulled out as needed by code that mapped the position of each individual graphic and selectively painted it on the screen.

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Smashing Highlights 2008

2008 was a successful year for us and for Smashing Magazine. Reviewing what has happened on Smashing Magazine over the last year, we could have told a couple of impressive stories that happened here and there, but we won't do that. Instead, we would like to take a rather critical look back and discuss what we've done and what has changed in 2008.

Smashing Alien Icon

We genuinely thank our readers for your attention, criticism, ideas, suggestions and numerous emails and links over the last year. We have tried our best to improve the quality of our articles and increase its value for designers and developers. In this post, we review what has happened on Smashing Magazine over the last year: smashing highlights, setbacks and small sensations of 2008, in a brief overview, month by month. [Content Care Oct/30/2016 - this is a memorial, no links here anymore]

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A Short Story About “Back To Top” Links

Often it is the close attention to small details that makes a design outstanding. During the development of a website, designers tend to quickly forget about small details and focus on major design elements, such as navigation, typography and layout. If done properly, the result is usually a solid, impressive and highly professional design that communicates information. However, it is not memorable. The reason is that such designs often do not have a memorable voice: they may look visually appealing, but they don't provide a vivid anchor for users to remember a website after leaving it. [Content Care Oct/31/2016]

Screenshot - Top Link

In this post, we showcase the design of "Back to top" links, a forgotten and rarely used link that helps users jump to the top of a given page. A visitor can achieve this effect by pressing the "Home" button on his or her keyboard; however, not every user is aware of that shortcut, and most probably use the vertical scroll bar in the browser for that purpose. As designers, we can help our users out by adding a stand-alone "top" link to our designs.

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The Big Horizontal Line Archive – Download your <hr> line now!

We have encouraged our readers to participate in a contest by designing beautiful and creative horizontal lines. It was necessary, since this design-element was slowly disappearing and was often neglected in web design. But it is going to change now. We have received 1290 images and source-files from 384 designers across the globe. The result is an impressive collection of horizontal lines that designers can use for free without any restrictions whatsoever. [Content Care Oct/20/2016]

hr-line

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hr-line

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On-Stage: Free Vector PSD Icon Set

We are always looking for creative and talented artists and designers. Once we find them, we ask them to cooperate with us and release something for free. We provide them with the full freedom to showcase their professionalism and express their creativity. Every release helps to make the Web a nicer place. In fact, the results are quite often pretty impressive. You can find our previous releases in our section Freebies.

Smashing Icon Set

Today we are glad to release a icON Stage icon set. The set contains 49 free vector icons including PSD which can be useful for both corporate and personal setting. You can use the set for free — without any restrictions whatsoever.

The icons are available in the .png-format in the resolution 128×128px. 100% pure shape-based layered PSDs are also included in the package.

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Textures and Patterns Design Showcase

Textures and patterns are used more often than one may think. The reason why we don't see them is because they usually remain in the background, supporting the overall design, replacing a standard background color and creating a more inviting atmosphere. But they almost never stand out. Used primarily for background images, they need to fit to the overall design making the content easier to perceive. In fact, wood textures seem to have become so popular that designers suggest that wood is the new glossy style and wood is the new white.

Well, we don't think that wood is a new revolutionary trend — after all, it was used and explored for years. However, since wood isn't used everywhere — in correct and wrong contexts — experimenting with it makes perfectly sense. Still, there are a number of options beyond wood: e.g. fabric patterns, tiles, ground, stone, walls, bricks, stiches, cardboard, ceramics, decay, rust, old tapes, illustrations, plastic and glass.

Texture Background Screenshot

In this post we present a showcase of sites using textures and patterns— we want to focus designer's attention on design options available beyond wood. Reason: we strongly believe that vibrant, realistic background images are becoming a new trend. If it sounds familiar to you, you are absolutely right: we've seen the same trend 8-10 years ago. The sources for the background images are usually either photos (e.g. you can download free textures in the Smashing Texture Library) or illustrations created with Photoshop, Illustration etc.

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