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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.
Web professionals have to be both flexible and creative to meet the needs of each client — and these characteristics often transcend the design and development process. Each of us has a unique approach to our work. The particular mindset and methods by which each of us turns a mental image into a delightful and usable website is worthy of investigation.
In this article, we'll discuss three approaches taken by many Web designers and developers. While a creative individual usually falls into more than one of the three categories, each of us is still likely more heavily weighted towards one. These approaches might help determine what paths someone is best suited for and might shed light on how they achieve their goals. So, without further ado, we introduce you to the artist, the scientist and the philosopher.
Despite its privacy issues, Facebook clearly has a key role in global Internet activity. It has become a kind of universal social network, being used for both personal and business needs. For many individuals, companies and organizations, Facebook has become an integral part of their branding strategy and promotional campaigns. Facebook provides many tools for maximizing the effect of your presence on the social network, most of all by means of business pages, also known as fan pages.
Using a variety of applications and Facebook API tools, one can get creative not only with the page content, but with the design, too. In this post, we'll give you an idea of how to use Facebook for your business and self-promotional efforts. Below, you will find best practices for custom Facebook fan page designs, with various approaches to creating an attractive, descriptive and engaging Facebook business page. In addition, the selection of tutorials and resources for Facebook fan page development might help you get started with your own effective Facebook presence.
Logo design has been a controversial subject in the design press lately. One branding professional recently claimed that logo design is not that hard to do and another said that logos are dead; some rebutted while others concurred. Why all the fuss? [Links checked March/06/2017]
We live in a Brand Era, where branding is in, and for some, aspiring to the Paul Rand style of logo craftsmanship is about as hip and contemporary as writing your invoices with a quill. Yes, logo design is only one facet of the powerful force that we call brand identity. Yes, a branded design environment can communicate sophisticated brand meaning without much (any?) usage of logos.
But some 'brand gurus' or 'brand evangelists' (translation: 'bastions of corporate pretension') seem to enjoy making hyperbolic pronouncements just to sound shocking or cutting-edge. Logo design is not dead. The technological advancements and tumultuous industries of our century are causing its role in our culture to evolve.
We who work on the Web live in wonderful times. In the past, we did of lot of trial-and-error learning, and the biggest hurdle was getting people to understand what we were on about. Over time, companies like Google, Yahoo, Skype, Facebook and Twitter managed to get the geeky Web into the living rooms of regular people and into the headlines of the mainstream press.
Now more than ever are there opportunities on the Web for you, as a professional, to be seen and to be found. I am a professional Web spokesperson for a large company, and I spoke at 27 conferences in 14 countries last year. I write for several magazines and blogs and have published a few books. When people ask me how I got to where I am now, my standard answer is: by releasing stuff on the Web and by listening and reacting to feedback. And you can do the same.
No matter where you go in the known universe, there is design-by-committee. It has become a pecking order of disaster for the society that used to pride itself on being a mover and shaker and that allowed its mavericks and dreamers to innovate their way to success. In a business climate fueled by fear and the “Peter Principle,” as it is today, a decision not made is a tragedy averted. So, decision by committee provides a safe and often anonymous process for finger-pointing down the line… inevitably leading to the creative, of course.
Wikipedia describes it thus: The Peter Principle is the principle that "in a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence." It was formulated by Dr. Laurence J. Peter and Raymond Hull in their 1969 book The Peter Principle, a humorous treatise which also introduced the "salutary science of Hierarchiology", "inadvertently founded" by Peter. It holds that in a hierarchy, members are promoted so long as they work competently.
Being a web designer is not easy. Not only do we need to have a good understanding about visual design, typography, information architecture, psychology and a plethora of other disciplines; in our work, we need to take care of so many details, so that our job becomes more and more time-consuming, requiring dozens of tools, attention span and an effective workflow for beautiful, timely and functional results.
And this is where small time-savers become handy. Be it a handy checklist, batch installer, dummy image generator or converter from Excel spreadsheet to HTML — all these things can save us a couple of minutes every day, making our work easier and more efficient. And this is why we keep collecting them for Smashing Magazine's readers. Whether you like lists or not: this one will probably help you find those little nuggets out there that will help you avoid headaches and stress. Below we present useful time-savers for web designers.
Whether freelancers, small agency founders or website owners, too many of us work alone. The downside of the digital revolution is isolation. The Web allows us to do alone what previously would have required a team of people. It also frees us from the constraints of geography, allowing us to work from home. But while these are benefits, they also leave us isolated.
Over time, working in isolation (even if you function as part of a team) can prove harmful to your mental health, business and website. In fact, even if other people are working on a project of yours, if they are junior to you, you can still feel isolated.
As a photographer and UX designer, I pay particular attention to the effectiveness of photography when I'm testing with users. Regardless of the context, users rarely fail to comment on or be influenced by photography when shopping online.
This article pulls together principles from psychology, marketing, UX design and photographic theory. It provides a set of principles to follow when commissioning and editing photography and when planning and designing profitable e-commerce user experiences.
A/B testing isn’t a buzz term. A lot of savvy marketers and designs are using it right now to gain insight into visitor behavior and to increase conversion rate. And yet A/B testing is still not as common as such Internet marketing subjects as SEO, Web analytics and usability. People just aren’t as aware of it. They don’t completely understand what it is or how it could benefit them or how they should use it. This article is meant to be the best guide you will ever need for A/B testing. [Links repaired January/15/2017]
At its core, A/B testing is exactly what it sounds like: you have two versions of an element (A and B) and a metric that defines success. To determine which version is better, you subject both versions to experimentation simultaneously. In the end, you measure which version was more successful and select that version for real-world use.
The beauty of writing systems is that each has something unique from which to draw inspiration. Two weeks ago, in the first part of this article, we covered Arabic and East-Asian languages (Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese) and a few Indic scripts (Devanagari, Thai and Tibetan).
We are now back for the second (and last) part, which is a bit different but just as interesting. You will see that some features of the languages presented here clearly correspond to our Latin-based system, while others are unfamiliar. The point of this second part is to complete our look at writing systems of the world and to think more generally about what they signify. We'll cover Hebrew, Modern European scripts, Mongolian, Inuktitut and International Phonetic Alphabet.
Web, industrial, interior… You name it and there are designers for it. We're all trained in our particular areas (as we should be), but it would do us some good sometimes to look beyond our borders for new approaches to design problems. For a fresh perspective, here we'll apply several principles of interior design to Web design and see what ideas would help change some of our stuck-in-a-rut design practices.
In interior design, balance breaks down into two kinds: formal and informal. Formal balance is simple. It is achieved in a room when objects on one side of a room are a mirror-image of the other side of the room. It focuses on symmetry (creating a mirrored effect) and is the easiest to create — just think of two nightstands on either side of a bed or two sconces on either side of a fireplace. However, it can become overwhelming with too many objects or a busy color palette. Too much can make a good design concept ugly.
The old adage, "a picture speaks a thousand words" captures what user interface prototyping is all about: using visuals to describe thousands of words' worth of design and development specifications that detail how a system should behave and look. In an iterative approach to user interface design, rapid prototyping is the process of quickly mocking up the future state of a system, be it a website or application, and validating it with a broader team of users, stakeholders, developers and designers. Doing this rapidly and iteratively generates feedback early and often in the process, improving the final design and reducing the need for changes during development. [Links checked & repaired March/06/2017]
Prototypes range from rough paper sketches to interactive simulations that look and function like the final product. The keys to successful rapid prototyping are revising quickly based on feedback and using the appropriate prototyping approach. Rapid prototyping helps teams experiment with multiple approaches and ideas, it facilitates discussion through visuals instead of words, it ensures that everyone shares a common understanding, and it reduces risk and avoids missed requirements, leading to a better design faster.