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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.
Almost every Web designer can attest that much of their work is repetitive. We find ourselves completing the same tasks, even if slightly modified, over and over for every Web project. Following a detailed website design and development process can speed up your work and help your client understand your role in the project.
This article tries to show how developing a process for Web design can organize a developer's thoughts, speed up a project's timeline and prepare a freelance business for growth. First of all, what exactly is a 'process'? A Web development process is a documented outline of the steps needed to be taken from start to finish in order to complete a typical Web design project. It divides and categorizes the work and then breaks these high-level sections into tasks and resources that can be used as a road map for each project.
Productivity is a crucial asset of professional Web designers and developers. We regularly look for new resources, tools and services to make the search of these ever-growing techniques easier. Once we have a reasonable number of useful resources, we prepare them in a handy overview for your convenience. In this post we present some of the useful resources and tools for designers and Web developers.
Please don’t hesitate to comment to this post and let us know how exactly you use these tools in your workflow. Please do avoid link dropping and share your insights and your experience instead. A big thank you to all designers and developers out there for releasing and producing useful, valuable resources for all of us to use. We sincerely appreciate it.
The Web is full of creative and practical resources that we can use to improve our projects. Photography, fonts, music and code are perfect examples. Finding stock objects and existing implementations is often quicker, cheaper and more practical than producing your own.
Whether free or not, these resources normally come with a license to ensure fair use. For professionals, understanding the limitations of a license is critical; with this knowledge, you’d be surprised by what’s available. Understanding copyright and licenses allows us to do what we do best: be creative.
For a long time, art has been heavily influenced by the social and political landscape. Searching through history, we find that while the social views of a certain period may no longer be relevant, the art and design of that time often are. Designers today constantly draw inspiration from history, consciously and unconsciously. Being aware of that history and knowing what has come before in your field can help you better convey the meaning in your work and forge deeper connections to your environment (artistic, social, political, etc.).
Looking back to the beginning of the 20th century and the styles and movements that ruled the art world at that time, we will look for influences and ideas that have evolved into what has been known since the mid-20th century as “Scandinavian design”. This article also offers some thoughts on how to incorporate its principles in your work today.
As a veteran designer, developer and project manager for more websites than I can count, I’ve identified a common problem with many Web projects: failure to plan. The same issues come up repeatedly in my work, so I’ve written this guide in order to help clients, other designers, businesses and organizations plan and realize successful websites.
This guide is written in relatively non-technical language and provides a broad overview of the process of developing a website, from the initial needs assessment through the launch, maintenance and follow-up. If you’re building a four-page website for your family reunion or a 5000-page website for a Fortune 500 company, then this guide might not be for you; it will either be too detailed or way too short, respectively.
The thing that makes navigation difficult to work with in Web design is that it can be so versatile. Navigation can be simple or complex: a few main pages or a multi-level architecture; one set of content for logged-in users and another for logged-out users; and so on. Because navigation can vary so much between websites, there are no set guidelines or how-to’s for organizing navigation.
Designing navigation is an art in itself, and designers become better at it with experience. It’s all about using good information architecture: “the art of expressing a model or concept of information used in activities that require explicit details of complex systems.”
Content strategy is a beast with many heads, names and trajectories. To approach it is to be sucked in full force. Even so, as crucial as content strategy is, conveying its gravity to a big audience, or to key administrators, is often hard. Being so inherently complex, it’s often easiest to tackle by example.
My first job as a Web content writer involved creating a campaign that promoted holiday spending and travel. I came up with clever tag lines that incorporated lyrics from Bing Crosby Christmas jingles. I thought I was doing great work, and when I got an email from my boss to discuss the campaign, I assumed I would get a pat on the back.
Nothing ruins a great website UI like people using it. At least, it often feels that way. You put in days or weeks building the interface, only to find that a vast majority of visitors abandon it partway through the process that it supports. Most of the time, visitors leave because they’ve hit a roadblock: a problem that lets them go no further. They typed their credit card number wrong or clicked the wrong link or mistyped a URL. And it's not their fault.
A good design assumes that people make mistakes. A bad one leaves visitors stuck at a dead end because they mistyped one character. The best professionals account for this with smart, defensive design strategies (also known as contingency design).
I recently had to design a couple of teaser pages for a client and a personal project, and this led me to think about what exactly makes for a good teaser page — or to be more precise a “coming soon” page that companies often put up before they’re ready to launch their product. After careful research and many scientific tests in the brand new field of teaserology, I’ve developed a patented Teaser Effectiveness Analysis Matrix™, consisting of four elements.
The perfect teaser page must score high on all four axis of the following: memorability, virality, desirability and data collection-ability. I know that “data collection-ability” is not proper English, but inventing new words is one of the perks of being a scientist. As we’ll see, most teaser pages focus strongly on two or three of these elements but rarely hit all four.
I remember when we first met. We hit it off instantly, and it didn’t take long before I was in love. I introduced her to my family, and they all loved her, too. Hell, I even convinced my wife that she was perfect. We’ve been happily together now for years. I spend a good portion of my day with her and, yes… sometimes she joins my wife and I in bed. Although, not much sleeping gets done; I’m typically too busy studying curves.
Save your scarlet letter. If you’ve read part one — Relationship Engineering: Designing Attraction — you know that I’m not talking about some affair. I’m describing my relationship with Apple and their slew of gadgetry. Even when it’s not practical, I still find myself wanting the latest Apple iWhatever.
In this article I'll be reviewing a few techniques that will help Web designers and UI professionals to improve their error pages in order to engage visitors and improve overall website experience. As C. S. Lewis once said, “Failures are finger posts on the road to achievement”. Web designers should take this to heart.
I’ll be focusing on error and maintenance pages, both from tracking as well as usability perspectives. I’ll also be providing a good number of examples on how to use analytics and defensive design in order to optimize user experience for such pages. First, let’s go over the error pages and cover the questions on how to optimize them efficiently.
There are many ways to design sign-up and log-in forms. Most designers are familiar with the conventional ways. But understanding and applying a few innovative techniques could make your forms simpler and more efficient to fill out. In this article, we'd like to present a couple of new ideas that might be useful for your next designs. Please notice that before using these techniques, you should make sure that they make sense in the context in which you are going to use them. We'd love to hear about your case-studies and usability tests that affirm or dismiss the suggestions proposed below.
The purpose of every sign-up form is for users to complete it successfully and send it in. However, if the form is long and complicated, then the user’s excitement for your website could turn to displeasure. Here are a few innovative techniques that will make your forms faster and easier to fill out.