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Vitaly Friedman loves beautiful content and doesn’t like to give in easily. Vitaly is writer, speaker, author and editor-in-chief of Smashing Magazine. He runs responsive Web design workshops, online workshops and loves solving complex UX, front-end and performance problems in large companies. Get in touch.
Compared to conventional navigation patterns tag clouds don't necessarily offer a more convenient and intuitive navigation. However, used properly, they can provide visitors with an instant illustration of the main topics, giving a very specific and precise orientation of the site's content. Since human beings tend to think in concepts and models, it's easier to get an idea of presented content if the main concepts are given straight away — in digestible pieces, and prioritized by their weight. In fact, the main advantage of tag clouds lies in their ability to highlight the most important or/and popular subjects dynamically which is not the case in conventional navigation menus.
Tag clouds offer a quite interesting approach for site navigation; although the technique is sometimes considered to be an "alternative", it shouldn't replace the "common" navigation but support it giving users additional clues about the content of the site. Due to their "cloudy" form the design of tag clouds sets them apart from other design elements on a page. And although designers don't really have that much choice in designing them, they still find their ways to break through the bounds of creativity and come up with some unusual approaches and solutions.
This article offers some selected examples of tag clouds, its shortcomings and also some suggestions for tagging data and links in a more profound and effective way.
Right, it's the 31st of October. In spirit of the coming Halloween parties we'd like to spark some design flavour by showcasing Halloween redesigns we've stumbled upon over the last few days. Pumpkins, skeletons, dark colors and spiders can be found almost in every Halloween design. In some cases designers replace some of the logo elements by visual elements (images or Flash-movies); other designers tend to add dark background colors and an according Halloween theme to the web-site's header. And sometimes the whole design is completely replaced with a Halloween theme.
Last week we've presented some beautiful wallpapers and tutorials in our Halloween Roundup: Wallpapers And Tutorials and asked our readers to send us their redesigns of our Smashing Magazine logo. As a result we've got a number of Smashing Pumpkings which we'd like to present in this post as well. And we've also replaced our logo with the Halloween logo designed by Marian Buhnici (first logo in the list below).
The Halloween is coming. The preparations are running. Pumpkins are being carved. And skeletons are being packed out from the closets. Since you probably want to set a perfect mood for your coming Halloween party, you might want to set up the party on your weblog as well. So if you are planning on some little redesign you might need some Halloween icons. Besides, what is the Halloween without a scary Halloween wallpaper on your desktop or some fancy decoration for your laptop?
To help you to set the scary mood we've decided to present some of the most beautiful wallpapers, icons, Halloween art works, modding methods, costumes, recipes and tutorials for your tuesday's party. Furthermore we'd like you to collect the best Halloween logos you'll find in the Web over the next week and you can change the Smashing Magazine logo as well.
Every now and again we take a look around, select “fresh” high-quality free fonts and present them to you in a brief overview. The choice is enormous, so the time you need to find them is usually the time you should be investing in your current projects. We search for them and we find them, so you don’t have to.
This month we can present five excellent free fonts. It’s not quite clear if you are allowed to use MyriadPro (Bold, Semibold), Helvetica (Bold) and Humanist Gill 521 (Bold), which are also presented below. Please read the license agreement carefully - it can change from time to time.
You can find over 50 more free fonts in our section Fonts.
Have your e-mails already been flagged as spam, although you've sent a seemingly legitimate proposal to your client? Have you ever wondered why the efficiency of your newsletter campaigns suddenly dropped down? In both cases you deal with a problem which is harder to get done with than you think it is: bulletproof e-mail delivery.
The main problem with undelivered mails is that both sides — sender and recipient — don't really know what happened. Was the e-mail sent? Is the task done? Was the e-mail delivered? Most recipients will never know that an e-mail flagged as spam was sent to them — they just don't receive the e-mail. And most senders will never know that an e-mail flagged as spam wasn't delivered — they just don't get a response.
This article suggests over 20 bulletproof techniques, best practices and related services you can use to ensure best e-mail and newsletter delivery rates.
The main advantage of excellent typography lies in its ability to be both attractive and functional at the same time. Although images communicate more vividly, text presentation can impress visitors with its sharpness and precise geometrical forms and curves. Consequently, chosen wisely and used carefully, it can be very effective — and there are dozens of outstanding examples of how the latter can be achieved.
However, web typography doesn't have to support the overall design. It can dominate. It can be loud. It can be bold. And it can be everywhere on a web-site. In many situations it's reasonable to give the typography the prominent position it deserves, leaving visual cues in the background or removing them at all. Doing that, you have to risk large font sizes surrounded by a generous amount of white space. What comes out of it? Elegant web sites with a unique form, style and sense of precision.
In this article we present over 35 examples of big, "loud" and yet elegant typography in web design; some listed designs are Flash-based, and in some cases designs are based not only upon typography, but also upon some visual elements.
You don't have to agree upon everything. As a professional web developer you are the advocate of your visitors' interests and needs; you have to protect your understanding of good user experience and make sure the visitors will find their way through (possibly) complex site architecture. And this means that you need to be able to protect your position and communicate your ideas effectively — in discussions with your clients and colleagues. In fact, it's your job to compromise wrong ideas and misleading concepts instead of following them blindly.
In this context nothing can support you more than the profound knowledge of fundamental issues related to your work. But even if you know most of them it's important to know how to name these concepts and how to refer to them once they appear in the conversation. Furthermore, it's always useful to have some precise terms ready to hand once you might need them as an argument in your discussions.
In this article we present 30 important usability issues, terms, rules and principles which are usually forgotten, ignored or misunderstood. What is the difference between readability and legibility? What exactly does 80/20 or Pareto principle mean? What is meant with minesweeping and satisficing? And what is Progressive Enhancement and Graceful Degradation? OK, it's time to dive in.
Sometimes you just want to get the information you're after, save it and move along. And you can't. Usability nightmares — which are rather the daily routine than an exception — appear every now and again; usually almost every time you type your search keywords in Google. In his article "Why award-winning websites are so awful" Gerry McGovern points out that "the shiny surface wins awards, real substance wins customers" and that is absolutely true.
Nevermind what design you have, and nevermind which functionality you have to offer — if your visitors don't understand how they can get from point A to point B they won't use your site.
In almost every professional design (except from special design showcases such as, e.g., portfolios) you need to offer your visitors
a clear, self-explanatory navigation,
search functionality and
visible and thought-out site structure.
And that means that you simply have to folow the basic rules of usability and common sense. You want to communicate with your visitors, don't drive them away, right?
In this article we take a look at some of the usability nightmares you should avoid designing functional and usable web-sites. At the end of the article you'll also find 8 usability check-points you should probably be aware of.
If you can't live without a nice wallpaper on your desktop you might need to invest many hours in the search for the perfect one - that fits to your resolution and has an appealing theme. The quality of the desktop images is often not the one you'd praise over and over again looking at your desktop. The best wallpapers aren't cheap photos, but are works of art in their own right.
In the third part of our collection you'll find many different types of background images - beautiful wallpapers, devkits, Flickr pools, Widescreen and HD-monsters and even wallpapers-related social communites and wallpapers for gamers.
You might want to take a look at the previous collections of wallpapers we've already put together: