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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.

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 and publishing — all in German.

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

Isn’t it sweet? Mascots in Modern 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.

Mascot Screenshot

Should Smashing Magazine have a mascot? We’d like to know your opinion. If yes, how should it look like? Please let us know in the poll below and in the comments!

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Adobe Photoshop Tutorials – Best Of

When it comes to graphic design, Adobe Photoshop is usually the first option to consider. However, the software itself is a quite tough nut to crack — and definitely extremely hard to master. For instance, the concepts are not always intuitive and it's not always clear when to use what tool and how to use it effectively. In fact, in Photoshop it usually takes pretty much time to achieve something you have never done before.

However, you don't need to muddle through numerous Photoshop features and extensions for every design problem. You can use professional suggestions instead, e.g. professional step-by-step tutorials which provide excellent results and thus can save you a lot of time.

Photoshop Tutorial Screenshot

One year ago we've presented a hand-picked collection of Photoshop tutorials. Now it's time for a fresh portion of healthy Photoshop learning material. This article provides professional Adobe Photoshop tutorials which can enrich your design skills and improve the quality of your works. Although the authors of the tutorials rarely provide the information about the used version, we tried to pick only those tutorials that can be used with both CS 3 and older versions of Adobe Photoshop.

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Hand-Drawing Style In Modern Web Design

The most valuable and innovative ideas had all been handwritten first. That's no big news, since designers tend to produce first sketches as paper prototypes anyway; still it's important, because web design is different from "usual" design. Of course, it also has a personal note and it is hand-made, however users can't see that. As CSS is "boxy but good", designs tend to have a rather limited appearance — they are too boxy and too right-angled.

If designers want to achieve a different design, they have to draw their sites by themselves — or at least some parts of it. And in fact, this is done quite often: whether a blog, a shop, an ad, a private page, or some collaborative project — doesn't matter whether with Flash or (X)HTML. The main purpose of hand-drawn elements lies in their ability to convey a personality and an individual note in times when colorful, sharp and rounded Web 2.0 elements can be found almost everywhere.

Screenshot

How impressive can the results be? And when can the hand-drawing style be used? Let's take a look at some excellent examples of hand-drawing style in modern web design. All screenshots can be clicked and lead to the sites from which they've been taken.

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Smashing Highlights 2007

Although Smashing Magazine is quite young, a number of things happened in 2007. Aside from dozens of articles, we've organized few contests, re-designed our weblog and we also have released two WordPress-themes and a Smashing free font.

Smashing Magazine Highlight 2007

In this post we revise what happened on Smashing Magazine over the last year. Smashing highlights, setbacks and small sensations of 2007 — in a brief overview, month by month.

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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?

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30 More Excellent Blog Designs

It's not hard to design a weblog, but it's getting harder when you try to achieve a unique weblog design. It doesn't matter what weblog-engine you are using — frequently used themes tend to become boring over time, and they also don't necessarily reflect the unique identity of the blogger.

To create an original design you need fresh ideas and creative design solutions. However, you don't need to go too far with your design experiments. Basically that's a close attention to finest details which makes a weblog stand out and gives it a fresh flavour and soft touch visitors can recognize immediately.

Screenshot Weblog-Design

We've selected more of them — over 30 excellent weblog designs with unusual design approaches; these blogs don't only have a unique voice, but they also pay close attention to the finest design details.

  • You might find not all of the designs listed below beautiful; but that's not what it's about. They are beautiful in their own way as they are both well-structured and originally designed.
  • you can find further blog designs in the post 45 Excellent Blog Designs we've published before;
  • you can find even more designs in our Design Showcase section.
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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
Misal
Flickr

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.

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Crazy Cursors

Since mouse cursor is an essential element of user interaction, designers rarely risk to modify its presentation. Usability might keep you away from using experimental solutions in practice, however creative solutions and experiments are worth consideration and always nice to look at. In today's part of our Monday Inspiration series we'd like to showcase some examples of unusual approaches used for design of... well, mouse cursors!

Screenshot

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65 Excellent Flash Designs

With Flash you can do more than just displaying videos. You can create stunning visual experience and offer your visitors incredible user interaction. Although Flash is definitely not the favourite medium for usability and accessibility advocates, it has its advantages and it empowers the Web with functionalities which make it an incredibly interactive medium. With Flash designers can achieve results which simply aren't possible with (X)HTML and CSS.

The results can be creative, impressive, beautiful and fascinating. Under two conditions: 1) if designers find the right mixture between graphics, animation, video and sound and 2) if designers follow the guidelines of usability and user interaction.

However, since there is a number of things that can go wrong in Flash, it's easy to get it wrong. In fact, there are thousands of examples where it is the case. In Flash any experiments with navigation and layouts are possible and in most cases it's extremely hard to find a creative yet intuitive approach. Flash is commonly used by designers, agencies, advertisers and interactive web sites, and not on the sites where simplicity and quick access to information are important.

Cubamoon

Flash Screenshot

In this post we present 65 examples of outstanding Flash designs with excellent use of graphics, visual elements, interface design and graphics motion. This showcase (mostly) presents "pure" web designs; we've tried to avoid Flash-based games and advertising.

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