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Smashing Conf New York

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 New York, 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

Matt Stuart

Can you shoot photos of things that don't really exist? Matt Stuart is a professional photographer. He lives in England and is fascinated about people and the way they live their lives. But what is really interesting is that Matt shots photos from perspectives which create an illusion of objects and situations that don't exist in reality.

Matt Stuart Portfolio

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Flash-Based Galleries For Your Images

In many situations web designers should avoid Flash and prefer usual text-based presentation. For instance, in most tasks related to pure text presentation Flash is neither necessary nor user-friendly, and it also has some serious accessibility problems: in fact, "pure" text is easier to maintain and easier to copy and paste.

However, if you'd like to present some multimedia-content, particularly images, Flash can often be a feasible solution, with flexible image management for web designers and impressive visual presentation for users. Used moderately, Flash-based galleries can give the presentation a fresh spark and create a rich visual experience you might want to offer your visitors.

Polaroid Flash Gallery
In this post we present some of the free, attractive and flexible Flash-based galleries you can use to present your images more effectively. Read more...

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".

Splashpage Screenshot

Depending on designers' creativity, splash pages use more or less attractive visual elements, sometimes with interactive Flash-movies which sometimes start to play automatically. 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.

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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 (Informationarchitects.jp), 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? Read more...

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.

9rules
30Logo
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?

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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.

Screenshot

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.

Screenshot

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!

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Exploring Design: Outstanding Start Pages

Designers have only a fraction of a second to attract users’ eye and win over their loyalty. Clear visual structure, thought-out typography and moderate use of images are extremely important - as they can drastically improve the scanning process for the users. Consequently, to achieve a lasting positive impression, it’s common to make use of basic rules of usability.
Screenshot
However, classical solutions can be boring; creative solutions can be appealing. Therefore to impress visitors, designers risk unusual and innovative approaches. After all, between standards and creativity there is a lot of room for design experiments. We observe these experiments. We explore new approaches. And we collect them, so you don’t have to.
Screenshot
And since no page is equally important as the start page, it’s interesting to know, which approaches designers come up with, developing an innovative design for start pages. Let's take a look. Unusual, remarkable and outstanding start pages - in a brief overview. Read more...

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. 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...

Inspiration Package: 50 Usable & Elegant Designs

We all love beautiful, usable and impressive web designs. To achieve them, web developers need to focus on many aspects, but basically it all boils down to the question, how well the content is presented and how easily the information can be perceived. Harmonic color schemes are as important as solid and consistent typography. Precise visual structure and intuitive navigation are essential for both usability and accessibility. In fact, mostly it's a keen attention to small details which gives web-sites a profound and enduring nature.

Beautiful Designs - Oaktree Creative: The pixels, prose and portfolio of Chuck Mallott

We've selected some more of them. Over 60 elegant, usable and impressive designs with a well thought-out color scheme, typography and visual structure. Their beauty lies in the way the information is presented. Their usability lies in the way they communicate presented data. That's what makes them different.

Beautiful Designs - 31Three - The Design Studio of Jesse Bennett-Chamberlain

Next week we'll present the .pdf-version of this showcase. You might be willing to check out further showcasese we've presented before.

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