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Smashing Conf Barcelona 2016

We use ad-blockers as well, you know. We gotta keep those servers running though. Did you know that we publish useful books and run friendly conferences — crafted for pros like yourself? E.g. upcoming SmashingConf Barcelona, dedicated to smart front-end techniques and design patterns.


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.

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Grunge Style In Modern Web Design

Most design trends come unexpectedly, evolve over time, become pointless and finally disappear from the design landscape. This holds particularly for web design, which is — just as every other creative field — prone for over-hyping and over-usage of trends. Being used excessively (sometimes properly, but mostly without any reasonable purpose), trends lose their ability to communicate information, express something unique or innovative and consequently lose their visual appeal.

Web 2.0 style is an excellent example for this evolution in design. In the last months of 2007 we've observed a clear example of design abuse, as glossy buttons, colorful reflections, 3D-effects, rounded corners and xx-large font sizes could be found almost everywhere (and we've presented some examples a year ago). However, currently we've been observing a new step in this evolution. Web 2.0 elements start to disappear; they become more subtle, more user-centric, more content-oriented and less loud. Is it a sign for coming changes?

Texture Screenshot

Below we've collected everything you would ever need for a perfect design in a grunge style — design examples, free fonts, icons, textures, brushes and even few tutorials.


Isn’t it sweet? Mascots in Web Design

The more emotional a site design is, the more likely it is to evoke positive feelings within its visitors. To achieve a lasting impression, designers tend to use visual cues and offer some eye candy for hurried and hectic users. E.g. vibrant color schemes, photos and illustrations can be used to draw user's attention to some specific site section.

But are there any further options? Yes, there are. Actually, mascots are traditional for sports competitions such as Football World Championship or Olympic Games. Mascot is a more or less nicely designed creature which is symbolic for something and is supposed to evoke sympathy and strengthen the sense of belonging to one single team. [Content Care Oct/11/2016]

Mascot Screenshot


Paper Strips Menus

The beauty of an excellent design lies in designer's attention to smallest details. Conventions are our friends; however, to stand out, a design needs a creative spin, an elegant play of colors, some unique flavour — a small detail that would make a big difference.

Where the boundaries between traditional solutions and unusual approaches become fuzzy, designers tend to get creative. However, to come up with unusual ideas isn't that easy, particularly if you are dealing with some daily routine-tasks.

Paper Strips Menu
Deb Sofield sticks posts on a paper pile.

Still, nothing is impossible. Even if you're designing a navigation menu there are a number of possibilites you can explore. For instance, have you ever thought of... navigation in form of paper strips?


Pagination Gallery: Examples And Good Practices

Structure and hierarchy reduce complexity and improve readability. The more organized your articles or web-sites are, the easier it is for users to follow your arguments and get the message you are trying to deliver. On the Web this can be done in a variety of ways.

In body copy headlines and enumerations are usually used to present the information as logically separated data chunks. An alternative solution is pagination, a mechanism which provides users with additional navigation options for browsing through single parts of the given article. Parts of the article are usually referred to by numbers, hints, arrows as well as "previous" and "next"-buttons.

Search engines almost always use pagination; newspapers tend to make use of it for navigation through the parts of rather large articles. And there are situations when pagination is also necessary for weblogs. Additional navigation can simplify the access to some site pages — e.g. make it easier for users to browse through the archives of the site.

In most cases pagination is better than traditional "previous - next" navigation as it offers visitors a more quick and convenient navigation through the site. It's not a must, but a useful nice-to-have-feature.

Apple Store

Let's take a look at the good practices of pagination design as well as some examples of when and how the pagination is usually implemented.


Splash Pages: Do We Really Need Them?

Yes, sometimes we do. Should we use them? No, we probably shouldn't. Splash screen (or splash page) is a front page of a web-site that don't provide the actual content, but offers visitors some kind of intuition or background information for what the site is about. Designers use splash pages in their portfolios to impress potential clients with eye-candy. Companies tend to make use of them to draw users' attention to their latest products. And users literally can't stand them, because splash pages usually take a long time to load and provide (almost) no navigation options — except of "entering the site". [Content Care Oct/11/2016]

Splashpage Screenshot

Depending on designers' creativity, splash pages use more or less attractive visual elements. Splash pages usually have a very simple structure — mostly just an image with few text lines and links. The design of these pages sometimes isn't related to the overall site design. And although most sites don't use them, splash pages are sometimes necessary and therefore remain popular. In fact, there are some situations in which we might want or might even need to use them. Even although we shouldn't — for our visitors' sake.


50 Designers x 6 Questions

Some months ago we’ve selected 50 prominent designers and design companies, contacted them and asked to answer five design-related questions, sharing their knowledge and experience with fellows developers. 35 designers have responded then. For each of 5 questions we've received 5 precise answers. The result was 35x5 professional ideas from some of the leading web-developers all around the world. Good news — planning the celebration of our 1st anniversary, we've decided to do some more math. We've selected 6 questions, which main purpose was to give fellows designers more insights in practice, and in the experience prominent designers gained during their work over the last 5-10 years. So this time we wanted it to be not about useful coding suggestions or clever CSS-techniques, but about the practical knowledge and personal experience developers would share with us and our readers. What are the things you should know before starting designing / programming? What things should you be aware of? How to get your project done? In fact, we wanted to take a close look at some practical answers to these questions - from the worlds' best designers.

First Three Questions

Since we've received many answers, we've decided to divide the article in two parts; as you might suggest, each part will cover designers' answers to three (out of six) questions. Here are the first three questions we've asked. As in the first survey, one single text line would have sufficed.
  • What is one typical myth about web-development (which is not true)?
  • What is one bulletproof method to get over creativity block?
  • What is one thing you wish you knew before you've started programming/designing/... ?

50 Designers x 3 Questions

In August we've contacted over 70 renowned designers, and asked them even more — six — questions. 65 of them agreed on answering the questions in time, however not all of them managed to send the answers till the deadline. This time over 50 world leading designers, developers and experts have participated, however, not everybody answered all six questions. So the result is ca. 300 professional suggestions and facts one can learn only from his/her own experience. We'd like to thank all designers and developers who participated in our survey and/or were willing to take part it. Among them are Eric Meyer, Shaun Inman, Veerle Pieters, Carole Guevin (Netdiver), Jakob Nielsen, Patrick Griffiths (HTMLDog), Oliver Reichenstein (, Meryl K. Evans, D. Keith Robinson, Jonathan Snook, Jina Bolton, Daniel Mall, Cameron Adams, Andy Rutledge, Carolyn Wood (Digital Web Magazine), Andy Peatling, Andy Budd, Christian Montoya, Garrett Dimon, Jason Beaird, Luke Wroblewski, Mike Davidson, Richard Rutter, Dan Rubin, Matt Brett, Paul Boag, Roger Johansson, Russ Weakley, Mark Boulton, Jesse Bennett-Chamberlain and many more.
35x5: Reloaded
Thank you!
  • Please feel free to post your own ideas, suggestions and tips in the comments. Share your knowledge with fellows developers!
So, let's move to the answers, shall we?

Logotrend 2007: Leaves

In modern logo-design leaves stand for fresh ideas or - more generally - for an innovative way of thinking. In Web they are mostly used to communicate light-weight solutions as well as clean and unobtrusive designs. In fact, leaves, plants or ornaments which appear to be related to the nature can be found almost everywhere; it's a trend that will probably be reversed soon, due to an extreme overuse of the theme in modern designs. The sites themselves, using leaves for their logos, mostly do not have a relation to foliage - and even although often green color is used, that is not necessarily the case.

Logo with leafes

We'd like to present you some of them. The following logos aren't supposed to represent the quality of logo designs with leaves, but the trend we observe on the Web. The images can be clicked and lead to the sites from which the logos have been taken. You'll also find tutorials you can use to learn how to create "leaf logos". Please notice that this post features only those logos which are related to the Web.

What do you think? Is an extensive use of leaves in logos a current Web 2.0 hype which will disappear soon or are the leaves here to stay?


45 Excellent Blog Designs

Designing a blog is easy. Whatever engine you are using and whatever style you prefer, you'll always find a number of templates you can apply to your weblog in seconds. No styling is necessary, no playing with colors is needed and no mind jogging about content presentation is required. However, not every weblog should look like a typical blog. After all, not every blogger wants his or her site to look exactly like hundreds of other ones. In fact, there is a small bunch of creative, outstanding and individually designed from scratch blogs.


In this post we didn't try to showcase some eye-candy (although sometimes eye-candy is indeed offered); the designs listed below were selected for their attention to small details. Pretty and colourful header-graphics doesn't make a good blog. The blog needs a solid visual structure, a profound hierarchy of site elements; it also has to be able to build some kind of a bridge between the content and its presentation. To do this, you need to think about precision, minimalism and sound use of illustration. These criteria were the ones we've used to select the designs listed below. All these aspects make the designs we've selected look... well, not always beautiful, but outstanding, almost excellent in their own kind. Mostly it's the idea the designers used to make the weblog as usable as possible - not the implementation of this idea - which we've been after.


Below you'll find 45 excellent blog designs which impress with creative approaches and attention to details; hopefully you'll find new ideas you can develop further in your own designs.

Notice that the screenshots we've provided may give you a wrong impression about the whole design of the sites; in doubt you should take a closer look at headers, footers, comment-areas, site structure and further site elements. Please also notice that you can click on screenshots to get to the sites from which the screenshots have been taken.

We've missed something? Definitely! Let us know in the comments!


Time-Savers: Code Beautifier And Formatter

Well-documented and readable source code is essential for every collaborative project. Logically structured, well organized and nicely formatted, the code can speed up the bug hunting and help to keep the code clean, minimal and still functional. These facts are particularly important if the code is being developed by a group of developers: in this context a common scheme for source code presentation is necessary. You don't have to do everything by hand; in fact, there are many tools which can save a lot of time - for you and your co-workers. [Content Care Oct/10/2016] The tools and services we've collected below aren't validators. They format and beautify the code; some of them can remove redundant elements. Using them, you have to make sure you have a backup, so your data can always be restored. Screenshot Screenshot Let's take a look at code beautifier and formatter which can save you a lot of time and help to maintain a clean and readable source code. Read more...

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