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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.
There’s no avoiding those Angry Birds. They are, quite literally, everywhere: toys, snacks, cartoons, plush toys and that wildly addictive game that seemingly everyone has downloaded at some point — 1 billion of us last year alone.
2012 was another landmark year at the Angry Birds aviary, otherwise known as Rovio. The Finnish-based developer not only released a slew of tie-ins — from Green Day to Star Wars — but also went social.
With the rise of web fonts as well as affordable hosted web font services and ready-made kits, typography is reclaiming its title as design queen, ruler of all graphic and web design. At the same time, for far too many designers, the main concern about typography today seems to be aesthetic in nature.
The problem is, we tend to use typography and lettering as two interchangeable terms, which they are not. The allure of well-executed lettering — and, boy, I could spend hours just looking at lettering portfolios! — can affect the way we view typefaces, because both typography and lettering share common visual concepts.
When I think about where we are with the Web in comparison to other media in history, pinpointing it is really hard. Is it like when the Gutenberg Press was just invented and we’re experimenting with movable type, or are we still embellishing pages and slavishly copying books by hand?
Our knowledge of building digital things changes rapidly, taking us from newborn to adult and back again every couple of years. It’s both exciting and frustrating, because just when you think you have it all figured out, it completely changes. But if you’re like me, learning something new keeps things interesting.
How do you make sure all the software products you spend time building are something that your customers will actually want to buy? It's one thing to spend a few weeks coding your next big idea. But are you sure that you have an audience of customers that want what you've built?
The last thing you want is to create something, invest in Adwords, only have your potential customers arrive non-plussed, and then navigate away, never to return again.
The history of the Internet has been a steady march towards websites that are richer, bigger and more interactive. As websites have become more robust, we — as designers and developers — have often placed the burden on our users to make more decisions, each of which distracts them from their wants and needs.
However, by using a combination of technical solutions and some careful decision-making on our part, we can often remove interface barriers for our users.
Do you remember those “10 Useful Legal Documents for Designers?” Well, it turns out that you, designers who read Smashing Magazine, liked one in particular: a plain-language, straightforward “Contract of Works for Web Design” which is based heavily on Andy Clarke’s “Contract Killer”. Since Mr. Wong published that template eight months ago, almost 1,500 designers have downloaded it on Docracy alone.
Why is this legal template so popular? Does it really work better than other contracts? Can it help you close that job faster and protect you from getting stiffed? Could it become an industry standard, like grid systems and agile development?
The ambigram is one of the few modern letterforms that engage both your intellect and intuition simultaneously. It reads as a word while also communicating a deeply familiar pattern. This is something beyond the ambigram’s obviously clever construction. I’ve thought quite a bit about why I love this word-image hybrid, and I’ll set out here to uncover just what it is about the ambigram’s design and structure that makes it so captivating.
My primary design background is as a symbolic logo designer, so I begin with what I know: symbols. I look to nature to create my work as a matter of practicality as well as aesthetics, because symbols are derived from nature and are the first language of all humans. Symbols engage us deeply as expressions of the organic principles and forms that life embodies. Nature is common to everyone, and when it is used symbolically in visual language, the chance of creating a relationship with the audience is significantly elevated because it mirrors the relationships within and around us. Nature even embeds symbols that mirror universal processes directly in our DNA.
As a Web professional, you can get great inspiration from a good conference session. While conferences may not bring value to all industries, the Web industry is stacked high with inspirational experts and quiet little geniuses beavering away from small home offices. A good Web conference shines a light on these clever souls and promotes professional growth and shared knowledge.
The number of conferences surrounding the Web design and development field continues to grow as new processes, techniques and other shared experiences, turned learning opportunities, are always presenting themselves throughout the industry. The problem becomes, with so many conferences that are out of reach for one reason or another, how does one catch the highlights from the conference that won't fit into a 140 character tweet?
The rapid pace of UX design in the agile world can lead to shortsighted design decisions. Focusing on addressing the immediate needs of particular user stories within the limits of a sprint can lead to neglect of larger design questions, which can come back to haunt UX designers later.
Sometimes, UX practitioners just need some time to work through big design issues that don’t fit neatly into an existing user story or an individual sprint. This article will explore one answer to these problems — namely, design spikes, an agile approach that I have developed for large projects. Design spikes, which are bubbles of time that allow designers to focus on complex UX issues, can fit comfortably within the scrum framework and can be an effective tool for designers who have holistic design questions whose answers could potentially invalidate the work being tackled by the team.