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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.
The practice of using a large letter to mark the start of a text has been around for almost two thousand years. Illustrated caps increased usability by marking important passages and guiding readers through the text. Unlike their historic counterparts, drop caps on the Web don’t add value in terms of usability or readability—and they are hard for Web developers to control, often rendering differently across browsers.
Yet, front-end designers and clients often want to use drop caps as decorative elements. How should we implement them? Just as scribes, artisans, and early printers had a variety of methods for creating initial capitals, we Web designers have multiple methods to choose from. We can use an image of a letter, create a class to enlarge and place a letter, or use a first-child:first-letter to enlarge and place the first letter of the first paragraph. But which method should we use? Which method remains consistent across browsers? Which is most accessible?
When users look for information, they have a goal and are on a mission. Even before you started to read this article, chances are you did because you either had the implicit goal of checking what's new on Smashing Magazine, or had the explicit goal of finding information about "Navigation Design".
After a couple of seconds of scanning this article, and maybe reading parts of the introduction, you may have started to ask yourself whether the information that you’re consuming at the moment is actually relevant to you—the user. Unfortunately (and as certain as death and taxes), if users cannot find the information they are looking for, chances are they will abandon their track, never to return.
Good typography shouldn’t have to rely on ornamental crutches to stand tall. Yet despite all the tools and knowledge available to us, we readily embrace a flourishing, decorative typography, with cheap tricks used in a misguided attempt to make it “pop”. This ancient art may rapidly be gaining popularity, but are we paying it the respect it deserves?
Take a snapshot of the visual culture that surrounds you—magazines, movie posters, packaging, websites—how much of it relies on typography? How much of the typography around you is actually well considered?
I spend a lot of time buying and testing iPad apps for kids. To be more specific, I lovingly do this for a certain two-year-old girl who is currently on a very successful #OccupyiPad mission in my house. Through extensive observational research, I’ve discovered what works and doesn’t work for my daughter, so I’m going to shamelessly generalize my findings to all children and propose four essential guidelines for developers who work on iPad apps for children.
Most apps for children show a bunch of different things on the screen that you can touch to make stuff happen. Cows moo, windows open and close, honey pots need to be collected, etc. But most of these apps give no indication of which elements are interactive and which are not. This usually results in a frantic and frustrating game of whack-a-mole to find the elements that actually do something.
In 2011 we saw the rise in popularity of two relatively new trends: responsive Web design and the use of HTML’s canvas. While some websites had experimented with both, in the last 12 months we’ve seen these trends move from the fringes firmly into the mainstream.
Responsive Web design is more a concept than a technology — an ideal that many new websites aspire to. Canvas, on the other hand, is an HTML5-based technology that opens the door to a new wave of interactivity.
Finally some good news from the media industry: digital subscriptions are growing. We see positive reports from newspapers like The New York Times and magazine publishers like Conde Nast: announcements about increases in their digital content sales and paywall members.
When you have fantastic and original content, ensuring your readers have the best possible experience is critical to building and keeping your audience. The following suggested practices can help you design your content to create a better experience for your readers.
As Web designers and developers, each project we work with has a unique set of goals and requirements. But one goal we have for all of our projects is that we want them to make an impression on people — we want the websites that we create to be memorable.
A fun experience is often an enjoyable one and an enjoyable experience is usually a memorable one. Therefore, it stands to reason that one of the ways to create a memorable experience is to make it a fun experience. In this article, we'll take a look at how adding a bit of "fun" into the mix can help us produce more engaging, and hopefully more successful, websites.
Have you ever looked at a bizarre building design and wondered, “What were the architects thinking?” Or have you simply felt frustrated by a building that made you uncomfortable, or felt anger when a beautiful old building was razed and replaced with a contemporary eyesore?
You might be forgiven for thinking “these architects must be blind!” New research shows that in a real sense, you might actually be right.
Like most well-designed things, the magic of an iPad app comes from a union of usefulness, usability and meaning. Games aside, the app must be useful by solving a problem that people actually have through the right set of functionality at the right time. It must be easy to use and, just as importantly, easy to get started using, without a lot of pesky setup and learning steps. And it must hold meaning for the user through visual beauty, an emotional connection, personal insights, etc.
In this article, we won’t outline the entire design process for creating an iPad app, but we will explore 10 of the key things to think about when designing your app (and planning the design process).