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The Smashing Book #5

We use ad-blockers as well, you know. We gotta keep those servers running though. Did you know that we publish useful books and run friendly conferences — crafted for pros like yourself? E.g. new Smashing Book 5 features smart responsive design techniques and patterns.

Category: Design

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.

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Applying “A Pattern Language” To Online Community Design

A Pattern Language is a book about architecture that was written in the 1970s, before the Web as we know it was even conceived. But the book provides hundreds of valuable patterns for community planning and architectural design, many of which can easily be applied to online communities and social networking websites.

mainimage

Niche social networks are popping up online all the time, with many designers and developers taking advantage of pre-built social network platforms and making little modification. It makes sense, after all: why reinvent the wheel when perfectly good ones are available?

But if you step back and really consider how your social network or online community is set up, you might be able to improve the user experience and overall user satisfaction by leaps and bounds. Looking to other fields, such as architecture and civil engineering, is one way to gain new ideas without having to reinvent the wheel.

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How to Create a Promotional Snail Mail Campaign

It’s important to promote your design business. This is especially true when economic times are challenging, you’ve got news to announce, or you’re simply hungry for growth. Many forms of promotion are available to the modern designer – with banner ads and Google AdWords among the most popular. In this digital age, it’s easy for web and graphic designers to overlook one of the most effective and fun forms of promotion: the mail campaign. In an era when people are accustomed to communicating electronically, the value and meaning of something you can hold in your hands is greater than ever before.

3D Mailer by Ultra Design Co.

The promo mailer is perhaps most popular among illustrators and graphic designers working for editorial clients, which means that it is a powerful, untapped resource for some web designers. Likewise, it was probably a much more common practice ten years ago than it is today due to the rise of online promotion techniques – but those who ignore its potential are missing out on a tool with the power to gain new clients, increase web traffic, and attract publicity for your business and events.

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Common Questions About Design Professionalism

The design profession is full of happy folks, and understanding why so many designers enjoy their work is not hard. But not all are so happy. If you’re not careful, the joy of getting paid to pursue your passion can be tainted by the less joyous realities of the professional world. You see, no matter how skilled you are as a designer, unless you are equally prepared in professional matters, your prospects will be limited and your circumstances compromised. This is true whether you work freelance, for an agency or in-house with a company.

Design is craft

Every week I hear from designers who are struggling to come to terms with these realities. Unhappy with their current circumstances, they write to ask for advice on improving their lot. Usually, they either claim not to understand how things got so bad, or they lay the blame somewhere other than at their own feet. In every case, however, the sole cause is their poor choices and lack of professional acumen. It needn’t be so.

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Handy Tools and Tips for E-Commerce Websites

Running an e-commerce website is a never-ending task, from trying to squeeze that extra bit of conversion rate out of the check-out page to figuring out which referrers give you the best traffic. There's also a plethora of tools out there to help you achieve your goals. But which ones do what, and why should you use some of them? This article introduces some of these tools and offers a tip or two on how to use them.

Wordle image of rob-smith.info

If you own or operate an e-commerce webs, you'll find one or two things that you haven't tried before. If you're new to e-commerce, this article should give you insight into some of the possibilities available to you as you enter the market. A plethora of merchants out there could benefit from lower-cost e-commerce help and advice. Covered in this article are analytics tips, visualisation tools, product page tips, checkout tips, testing tools to try right now and a final tip.

This article is only the tip of the iceberg. If you have any tips on usability, the check-out process, product pages, analytics or testing, please add them to the comments, so that this article becomes even more useful to readers.

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Print Magazines for Web Designers, Digital Artists, and Photographers

Although much valuable information for all sorts of web and print professionals can be found online, it is often difficult to weed through all the noise and find good quality content. I believe it's vital that professionals in different creative fields supplement their online learning and research through well-edited and high-quality print publications.

.net / Practical Web Design .Net / Practical Web Design

Print magazines, more often than not, are well-researched and are headed by top-notch editorial staff, usually containing information and resources on the cutting edge of their respective industries' trends and happenings. To that end, to help you fulfill part of your offline research needs, I've compiled a list of print magazines that are of interest to professionals in three different categories: Web Designers, Digital Artists, and Photographers. And be sure to comment so you can tell us your personal favourite print magazine, if you don't see it listed here.

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Art Manifestos and Their Applications in Contemporary Design

The way you express yourself with words is a crucial extension of your creative identity. Professional designers are usually busy focusing on the visual aspects of their craft, but visual arts and literary arts collide and coincide regularly. The two fields meet not just in typography, but also in press releases, social networking communication, slogans, promotional materials, ‘About Me’ pages, marketing strategies, and every single pitch, contract, and email you’ve ever sent to a client.

What might happen if you injected some of those materials with a healthy dose of poetry, humor, or bravado? Obviously, doing so will not be appropriate in some forums, but when it is, this may be a good way to express yourself and differentiate your brand from the crowd.

<em>Fortunato Depero's book </em>Depero Futurista,<em> 1927.</em>

Some of the most electrifying examples of writing about art and design come in the form of the manifesto. The manifesto has played a pivotal role in some of the most important creative movements of the previous century: Futurism, Surrealism, and Cubism among them. Most graphic designers working today will probably not require their own manifesto, but it can be helpful to write a mission statement or expression of your creative goals. Likewise, most of us probably don’t intend to launch a full-scale ‘movement,’ but this genre of writing may inspire you to reconsider the literary content of your creative work and its public representation.

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Email Newsletter Design: Guidelines And Examples

The email newsletter is a powerful marketing and communication tool that has various useful functions. It reminds your users about you; it informs users about your products; it tells them what you have been up to; and it helps you build a unique relationship with them. Users like email newsletters if the newsletters bring them value.

Southern newsletter

The fundamental rule for creating an email newsletter is to give it interesting, relevant and up-to-date information that is enjoyable to read. Users sign up for newsletters hoping be informed about things that they would not otherwise be able to find out about. In this article, we'll discuss some guidelines for designing and distributing email newsletters. Each point will be accompanied by both good and bad examples.

You may be interested in the following related posts:

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The Definitive Guide To Styling Web Links

Hyperlinks (or links) connect Web pages. They are what make the Web work, enabling us to travel from one page to the next at the click of a button. As Web Standardistas put it, "without hypertext links the Web wouldn't be the Web, it would simply be a collection of separate, unconnected pages.". So without links, we'd be lost. We look for them on the page when we want to venture further. Sure, we pause to read a bit, but inevitably we end up clicking a link of some sort.

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When you style links, remember that users don't read; they scan. You've heard that before, and it's true. So, make sure your links are obvious. They should also indicate where they will take the user. Let's start by looking at CSS selectors and pseudo-classes.

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The Life, Times (and Death?) of Internet Explorer 6 (Comic Strip)

In recent years Internet Explorer 6 has become the browser web designers love to hate. Security issues, JavaScript errors and inexplicable CSS rendering quirks have made it the brunt of many jokes. With IE6 in its twilight and big companies like Google dropping support, it seems like a good time to take a fond look back at our old foe. In this post we're looking at what Internet Explorer 6 used to be and why its image changed over the years. You can also see the comic in a larger version.

Do we need to review our projects in Internet Explorer 6? Can we stop supporting IE6? If not, how do we handle those users who are still using IE6? And if yes, how can we prompt IE6 users to upgrade? Or how do we convince those who don't allow their employees to get rid of the legacy browser to upgrade? What do you think? We are looking forward to your opinions in the comments to this post!

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Applying Mathematics To Web Design

“Mathematics is beautiful.” This may sound absurd to people who wince at numbers and equations. But some of the most beautiful things in nature and our universe exhibit mathematical properties, from the smallest seashell to the biggest whirlpool galaxies. In fact, one of the greatest ancient philosophers, Aristotle, said: “The mathematical sciences particularly exhibit order, symmetry and limitation; and these are the greatest forms of the beautiful.”

Fibonacci sequence

Because of its beautiful nature, mathematics has been a part of art and architectural design for ages. But it has not been exploited much for website design. This is probably because many of us regard mathematics as being antithetical to creativity. On the contrary, mathematics can be a tool to produce creative designs. That said, you don't have to rely on math for every design. The point is that you should regard it as your friend, not a foe. For illustrative purposes, we created a couple of web designs that present mathematical principles discussed in this article. We are also giving away a couple of PSDs that you can use right away in your next design.

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