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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.
This category features articles on general design principles, Web design, typography, user interface design and related topics. It also presents design showcases and practical pieces on the business side of design. Curated by Alma Hoffmann.
Five years ago, when, for the first time ever, I was invited to speak at one of the best front-end conferences in Europe, I had quite a mixture of feelings. Obviously, I was incredibly proud and happy: I had never had a chance to do this before for a diverse audience of people with different skillsets. But the other feelings I had were quite destructive.
I sincerely could not understand how I could be interesting to anyone: Even though I had been working in front-end for many years by then, I was very silent in the community. I hadn’t contributed to popular frameworks or libraries. I was just average. So, the feeling of a mistake having been made, that I did not deserve to be at that conference, was very strong, and I could not believe that I would indeed be speaking until I had bought my plane ticket.
Editor's Note: We’ve been closely working with Maya on this article, and we’re happy to see the final result now being published on 18F. We highly encourage more teams to share the lessons they learned when building design systems or pattern libraries, and we’re always happy to support them in writing, editing and shaping that article. This post is a re-post of Maya’s final article.
Today, there are nearly 30,000 U.S. federal websites with almost no consistency between them. Between the hundreds of thousands of government employees working in technology, there’s nothing in common with how these websites are built or maintained.
Words are the primary component of content for the web. However, until a short while ago, all we had at our disposal were but a few system fonts. Adding to that, those system typefaces weren’t necessarily coherent from operating system to operating system (OS).
Fortunately, Windows, macOS and Linux made up font-wise, and since then, all modern fonts have been compatible across those OS’. There’s no question, the future of web typography looks promising.
If you’re stuck in a job you hate and have dreams of becoming a designer and working in a creative role that fills you with excitement daily, the road to entering this completely new industry can feel daunting.
Making a major career shift late in life to follow your passion is scary. Not only is it sometimes difficult to know where to start to learn about an expansive field like design, but it can also feel risky, especially if you’re working a secure job.
Design doesn’t scale as cleanly as engineering. It’s not enough that each element and page is consistent with each other — the much bigger challenge lies in keeping the sum of the parts intact, too. And accomplishing that with a lot of designers involved in the same project.
If you’re working in a growing startup or a large corporation, you probably know the issues that come with this: The big-picture falls from view easily as everyone is focusing on the details they are responsible for, and conceptions about the vision of the design might be interpreted differently, too. What we need is a set of best practices to remove this friction and make the process smoother. A strategy to scale design without hurting it.
For many people, a map of a transportation network is a given, an expected part of the system, something that just is — like a fire-escape plan in a building. So, when I say that I design transportation maps, they don't understand. What is there to design even?
Well, let's take the London underground map as an example. Designed by Harry Beck, it was the world's first transportation map to use the principles of electrical circuit drawings. All line segments were put to the angles of 45 or 90 degrees. The distances between stations were equalized.
Whether you're into good ol' drawing and painting, or quick editing in Photoshop or Illustrator, one thing's for sure: they're all creativity's best friends. Some draw pictures all day, while others find their inspiration in uncommon sources in order to break out of the box.
Whatever it is that you decide to do, it's good to challenge yourself more often and get out of your comfort zone. If you don't, you may never discover something that you love doing, or perhaps even worse, never learn a whole lot about yourself.
How do you keep a team engaged? How do you make sure the team gets up to date with everything that’s being released? How often do the team members talk to each other face to face? Do they have enough support to finish their tasks or to pursue their growth?
These are questions that popped in my head once a design team started to grow quickly in front of my eyes. As a team leader, I was faced with a new challenge: making sure there’s enough recurrence in my team’s communication to facilitate the team’s development. Enter the weekly design meetings.
Lettering and calligraphy are quickly becoming desired skills in a designer's toolbox. Designers such as Marian Bantjes, Jessica Hische, Sean Wes and Martina Flor, just to name a few, have become not only an inspiration to the rest of us, but also a standard.
Their work is not only client-based; they have become their own brand by providing products to their followers as well. Other designers have followed suit, and now it would seem that lettering and calligraphy are everywhere.
Design patterns. An almost mythical phrase that often inspires either awe or resentment. As designers, we tend to think of design patterns as generic off-the-shelf solutions that can be applied to various contexts almost mechanically, often without proper consideration. Navigation? Off-canvas! Deals of the day? Carousel! You get the idea.
Sometimes we use these patterns without even thinking about them, and there is a good reason for it: Coming up with a brand new solution every time we encounter an interface problem is time-consuming and risky, because we just don’t know how much time will be needed to implement a new solution and whether it will gracefully succeed or miserably fail in usability tests.
Joan is applying for a small loan on all-online-loanzzz.com. She's becoming frustrated with the number of financial-disclosure forms she has to fill out. She's thinking about visiting her local bank to ask for a loan instead.
While waiting for a page to load, the application presents a cartoon image of a person wearing a business suit sitting in a jail cell. The image caption says, "Hey, everyone hates disclosures. We know you do, too. We're doing our best to keep everyone out of jail. Please bear with us for a few more clicks. You won't regret it, and our loan officers will stay out of jail." Joan smirks at the image. She might not appreciate the number of forms she has to complete, but she understands the serious nature of applying for a loan.