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The Smashing Book #5

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. new Smashing Book 5 features smart responsive design techniques and 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

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.

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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.

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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.
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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.
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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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30 Scripts For Galleries, Slideshows and Lightboxes

Family photos, vacation snapshots or creative artistic works: whatever images you have to present, you can present them in a variety of ways. On a big screen, in slide shows or in a thumbnails gallery. However, to convey the message of presented data effectively, it's important to offer it in an attractive and intuitive way. Furthermore, the presentation itself can make images more valuable and simplify the browsing through hundreds of slides.
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There are literally hundreds of solutions for web-based galleries out there. We've selected 30 scripts of impressive slideshows, lightboxes and galleries you can use for effective presentations of your images. Most of them don't have any technical requirements, so you can use them right away. Let's take a look. Read more...

Online Converters

Online converters always come in handy. Once you need to perform some operation with your files, they can save your time achieving the same results online, without installing some specific software. In fact, there are many online tools, which convert formats, files and code snippets for free. Some of them are quite specific tools aimed for developers, but some are common "all-rounders", which manage to convert almost every format to a more popular one. Using them, you can generate .pdf-documents out of images, images out of texts or RSS-feeds out of web-sites. You can also convert any audio- and video-files immediately - the results can be received via e-mail.

So what can you use? What should you use?

This overview of online-converters for users and developers might give you some useful starting points and improve your productivity.

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Adobe Dreamweaver Tutorials

With the growing popularity of CMS, Wikis and Weblogs, WYSIWIG-editors lose their users. However, many of those editors offer many advantages, such as Integration of SVN, FTP Clients, Developer's extensions and programming environments. Using them, you can save your time and increase your efficiency. Not every code has to be written in Notepad, not every problem has to be solved manually. Therefore some good starting points for improving your WYSIWYG-skills can be useful.

Adobe Dreamweaver Tutorials

In the list below we tried to cover some of the most useful references, tutorials, ideas and sketches related to Adobe Dreamweaver (initially called Macromedia Dreamweaver).

You might be willing to use at least some of them for your next projects. Particularly video-tutorials are amazing, don't forget to check them out.

PS: You might also be interested in

we've reviewed recently.

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42 Design/Tech Magazines To Read

Regardless of what it is that you're selling, in order to remain competitive, you have to know exactly, what's going on in the field you're working in. More than that - actually, you have to know what happens next, which trends are coming up and which technologies will become big in the future. Achieving that is a solid foundation for successul development and right decisions at the right time.

What is right for business, is also right for online business. To catch up with the latest developments in design, development and web-related areas, it's reasonable to read design/tech-related online-magazines. However, the choice is huge, and the quality of magazines isn't always as good as you'd probably like it to be. Therefore decent references can be extremely useful, particularly if you don't know where to start from.

This overview of over 40 established international design/tech-related sources is supposed to give you an overview of magazines you should read or at least scan from time to time. Some of the sources are well-known by (almost) everybody; hopefully not all of them.

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Inspire Yourself: 58 Creative Logos

Logotypes stand for Corporate Identity. The better a logo is designed, the greater is the probability that your potential clients will remember your CI and get back to you once your service is needed. Consequence: designers have to be creative and put many efforts in designing beautiful, unique and catchy logos. And the results they come out with are sometimes stunning and spectacular. Both in graphic design and web design.

This isn't just another collection of logotypes. These are 58 creative logos you can inspire yourself from. Nevermind how different the logos are - they show the current trend in modern logo design. The logos we've selected below have been created and optimized for Web.

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