You know, we use ad-blockers as well. 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. our upcoming SmashingConf Barcelona,
dedicated to smart front-end techniques and design patterns.
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 front-end/UX workshops, webinars and loves solving complex UX, front-end and performance problems in large companies. Get in touch.
“Be agile; release early; release often.” We know the drill. But is it strategically wise to keep rolling out features often? Especially once a product you’re building reaches a certain size, you probably don’t want to risk the integrity of your application with every new minor release.
The worst thing that can happen to your product is that loyal users, customers who have been using that one little feature consistently over the years, suddenly aren’t able to use it in the same convenient way. The change might empower users more, but the experience becomes less straightforward.
Design patterns often have a bad reputation. They are often considered to be quick, lazy, off-the-shelf solutions that are applied blindly without consideration of the context of a problem. Solutions such as the almighty off-canvas navigation, the floating label pattern or carousels for featured products are some of the prominent ones.
This article isn’t about these patterns, though. This article features some of the slightly more obscure design patterns, such as responsive car-builder interfaces, mega dropdown navigation, content grids, maps and charts, as well as responsive art direction. Please note that this article isn’t technical; it explores interesting UX patterns out in the wild, rather than code samples. Beware: You will not be able to unsee what you are about to see, and that’s probably a good thing.
So how do you sell a design system to the client? How do you establish a shared commitment within the company to put a pattern library on the roadmap? As designers and developers, we often know and see the benefits of an overarching system that radiates consistency throughout the different experiences of a company. But sometimes it's seen as a very unpredictable investment, and the value isn't necessarily visible right away.
In his article on Selling Design Systems, Dan Mall suggests to illustrate how fractured an organization is by printing out its different presences online and putting them on a large board as an example of all the wasted money and effort that goes into making sites from scratch, one-by-one, needlessly reinventing the wheel every time.
You know how it works: you spend hours trying to find a workaround for a problem that you have encountered, just to realize that it doesn't quite work in, you know, that browser. Finding little techniques and tricks to help you get to results faster can immensely improve your productivity, so you don't have to waste time on solutions that will never see the light of day.
I love finding those little useful front-end goodies that make our lives easier. Since technologies emerge and evolve permanently, keeping track on what's going on is often difficult, especially since specifications change and so does the browser support. For a replacement talk at SmashingConfOxford last week, I've decided to collect some of the useful techniques from various articles, conversations and my workshops in a slide deck — and since it proved to be useful for many front-end developers I've spoken to after the talk, I'm very privileged to share it with the entire community as well.
Desperate times call for desperate measures. In attempts to fight back against the growing adoption of ad-blockers, many publishers and ad-dependent websites adopt all kinds of techniques from introducing "light" paywalls to limiting access to the site to fully blocking ad-blocker users from accessing the content altogether.
It seems a bit ironic that a website would send away potential customers that are taking measures to actually access the site faster, and read the content published on the site without annoying distractions. Don’t get me wrong: publishers need to earn money, and in most cases advertising is still the most efficient way of doing this. We know it better than anybody: with our smart tech-savvy audience, the ad-blocker usage has grown from 12% in 2012 to 55% today (as of March 2016). That’s a huge growth, and it’s a tendency that hurts us massively.
Guess what: those tricky mystery riddles are never easy to design. The idea has to be evaluated and brought into life, just to be crashed by painful user tests and then adjusted over and over again until it's easy enough to solve — but difficult enough to not solve fast.
When we started out with riddles, we wanted to have an entertaining yet challenging game that wouldn't be easy to crack, and would keep our dear readers busy for quite some time.
In many projects, responsive images aren’t a technical issue but a strategic concern. Delivering different images to different screens is technically possible with srcset and sizes and <picture> element and Picturefill (or a similar) polyfill; but all of those variants of images have to be created, adjusted and baked into the logic of the existing CMS. And that's not easy.
On top of that, responsive images markuphas to be generated and added into HTML as well, and if a new image variant comes into play at some point (e.g. a file format like WebP or a large landscape/portrait variant), the markup has to be updated. The amount of extra work required often causes trouble — so if you have a perfect product shot, you need to either manually create variants for mobile and portrait and landscape and larger views, or build plugins and extensions to somehow automate the process.
Nothing is perfect on the web. We can't make sure that our websites always work as intended, but we can try our best to design resilient and flexible websites that aren't that easy to break — both in terms of interface design and security. Yet neither resilience nor flexibility are usually reflected in our deliverables and mock-ups.
In practice, mock-ups usually represent a perfect experience in a perfect context with perfect data which doesn't really exist. A good example for it are “optimal" usernames which are perfectly short, fit on a single line on mobile and wrap nicely, or perfect photography that allows for perfectly legible text overlays. It's not realistic. We need to work with dynamic content in our prototypes, with both average and extremes being represented.
Yep, one of those mysteryriddlesagain? To celebrate the launch of SmashingConf NYC, we’ve prepared yet another riddle, and this time it will be a matter of patience and following clues. As usual, we've hidden secret keys hashtags in a series of animated GIFs.
Below you'll find the first animated GIF, containing a location clue. To move to the next level, you have to find a hidden hash tag and follow a link in a tweet containing it. Once you've reached the last level (you'll know when), just tweet all of the keys in one single hash tag (or a screenshot if there isn't enough characters left!) to @smashingmag on Twitter! Not that difficult, right?
Some books deserve a spot at your desk. The brand new Hardboiled Web Design by Andrew Clarke is one of them. In its 5th anniversary edition, Andy explains how you can use HTML/CSS efficiently in responsive design — and how to reduce wasted time in the process with developers, designers and clients. No fluff, no theory — just insights into his own experiences with clients such as ISO and WWF.
If you get a printed copy (free worldwide shipping), you'll get the eBook for free — available in PDF, ePUB, Amazon Kindle. All printed copies will ship from Dec 8th. Softcover, 441 pages. Jump to the table of contents. Proudly published by yours truly Smashing Magazine.
Exactly 9 years ago we published the very first article on this very website. Many things changed since then, but one thing remained the same: our obsession for publishing valuable, practical quality content. We proudly stand behind our work — the books, the eBooks, the conferences; our craft is ours, but our work serves the community and belongs to everybody.
As a team, we are happy and privileged to do what we truly love, and we know that this wouldn't be possible without your kind and generous support. So thanks for sticking around. Now, a birthday calls for a birthday party, so we've prepared a little something for you to celebrate the day: a free chapter on responsive design patterns (PDF), a Mystery Riddle, a new free eBook and a birthday special: if you grab the hardcover of the Smashing Book 5 today, you'll get five Smashing eBooks as a gift for your kind support.
Ah, these mysteryriddlesnever stop, do they? To celebrate our ninth birthday, we’ve prepared yet another riddle, and this time it will require a bit more teamwork. We've hidden secret keys in different (physical) locations across the world. To move from one level to another, you'll have to find a hidden print-out in all (four) locations. Watch out for GIF file names.
To find the key password, you have to follow the clues and hints in a series of animated GIFs. Once put together, the keys will add up to a secret Twitter hashtag. Below you'll find the first animated GIF that contains a location clue. Identify the location, go there (yourself, or ask a friend, colleague or a total stranger) and find a hidden print-out.