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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.
To badge or not to badge? That is the question. Because badges — and a lot of stuff designed for conferences — often look the same. But if you have a little, different conference, you need different kinds of things. Badges included.
It all started in 2013 with the first Kerning conference. I was asked to design the official notebook: we ended up with a really typographic design for the cover and a funny pattern on the back. And an Easter egg on the cover — more on that later. It was a really funny project, so when my dear friend Cristiano Rastelli, a member of Kerning’s organizing committee, asked me to design the notebook and some printed materials for Kerning 2014 I immediately said “Yes, let’s start!”
Many modern software development best practices draw on influences from the industrial era and concepts like specialization, where individuals with specialized skills worked in an assembly line to mass-produce physical products. These practices from the world of manufacturing have come to influence how things are done when designing and building software products as well.
Lean thinking is one of the latest approaches software development companies have adopted to maximize value and reduce wasted effort and resources. It does so by breaking down an objective into a series of experiments. Each experiment starts with a hypothesis that is tested and validated. The output of each experiment informs the future direction. This is similar to the idea of “sprints” in the agile world, where the overall product roadmap is divided into smaller and meaningful bodies of work.
This article is the first part of a series of articles on emerging responsive design tools. Today, Richard Knight explores the advantages of Webflow and how you can use it today to build responsive websites — perhaps a bit faster than you would build them otherwise. – Ed.
New tools have emerged to address the challenges of responsive web design — tools such as Adobe Reflow and the recently released Macaw. Today, we’ll look at one that I have tested extensively in the last few months. Though not perfect, it’s been a leap forward in productivity for the team that I work with. Its name is Webflow, and it could be the solution to the problems you face with static design comps produced in Photoshop and Fireworks.
This article will take you step by step through the process of creating a responsive website layout for a real project. As we go along, we’ll also identify Webflow’s advantages and where it comes up short.
This is the second and final article on how to sell and profit from digital products. In part 1, we covered many of the benefits of digital products over physical goods as well as the marketing philosophies to help you build an audience for your products. Today, we will be discussing more of the tactics required for a successful digital product business. There's also a dark side to this world, which we'll get into towards the end. Let's jump in.
Remember how one of the best things about digital products is that you don’t have to ship anything? Your profit margins are much higher, and fulfilling orders is so much easier! You still have to deliver the product to the customer, but e-commerce software will do that for you, so you don’t have to be involved at all.
A/B testing, also known as split testing, is the method of pitting two versions of a landing page against each other in a battle of conversion. You test to see which version does a better job of leading visitors to one of your goals, like signing up or subscribing to a newsletter. You can test two entirely different designs for a landing page or you can test small tweaks, like changes to a few words in your copy.
Running A/B tests on your website can help you improve your communication with visitors and back up important design decisions with real data from real users. With the multitude of tools available (detailed later), split testing has become easy for even non-technical people to design and manage.
At the end of 2012, I was talking with a good friend of mine who runs a small custom woodworking company. We were discussing business over the last year and a few things we learned. While his business did about double the revenue that mine did in 2012, I made considerably more profit.
That’s when it sank in how unusual my business really is: Instead of having a 10 to 20% profit margin like many businesses, I had an 85% profit margin in 2012. That actually could have been much higher, except that I spent some money on equipment (I needed that 27-inch display) and hiring freelancers. After creating each product, I have only 5% in hard costs for each sale. And the product can be sold an unlimited number of times.
If you see graphic design as a process of arranging shapes on a canvas, then you’re only seeing half of what you work with. The negative space of the canvas is just as important as the positive elements that we place on the canvas.
Design is an arrangement of both shapes and space. To work more effectively with space, you must first become aware of it and learn to see it — learn to see the shapes that space forms and how space communicates. This is second part of a series on design principles for beginners. The first part covered an introduction to gestalt; the rest of the series (including this post) will build on those gestalt principles and show how many of the fundamental principles we work with as designers have their origin there.
The BBC’s Programmes website is huge, and is intended to be a rolling archive of everything that the BBC broadcasts on television and radio. Originally released in 2007, it now has pages for over 1.6 million episodes, but that’s barely half of the story. Surrounding those episodes is a wealth of content, including clips, galleries, episode guides, character profiles and much more, plus Programme’s newly responsive home pages.
The new responsive home pages, known as “brand” pages, join the schedule and A–Z lists in a broader responsive rebuild. 39% of users (and growing) now use mobile and tablet devices to visit these pages; so, making the pages responsive was the best way to serve a great experience to everybody while keeping the website maintainable.
Having started his career studying under some of the best typographic minds in the world, Khajag Apelian not only is a talented type and graphic designer, unsurprisingly, but also counts Disney as a client, as well as a number of local and not-for-profit organizations throughout the Middle East.
Even more impressive is Khajag’s willingness to take on work that most people would find too challenging. Designing a quality typeface is a daunting task when it’s only in the Latin alphabet. Khajag goes deeper still, having designed a Latin-Armenian dual-script typeface in four weights, named "Arek", as well as an Arabic adaptation of Typotheque’s Fedra Display.
This article is part of a new series about design principles that can serve both as a refresher for seasoned designers and reference for newcomers to the industry. Hopefully, the content covered here isn't too obvious and self-explanatory, but it's always great to have a nice quick refresher every now and again, isn't it? — Ed.
In 1910, psychologist Max Wertheimer had an insight when he observed a series of lights flashing on and off at a railroad crossing. It was similar to how the lights encircling a movie theater marquee flash on and off.
I want to let you in on a secret — writing a book is a scary experience. You pour your heart into it and then wait for the reaction when it is published. You can be certain of only one thing: You will be criticized.
My book Digital Adaptation will soon be officially released, and I know a lot of clever people are going to disagree with what I have written. They are going to argue that I focus too much on digital and its characteristics and its implications and its impact on business and on the way we work and organize teams, when ultimately digital is just a tool.
If you’re a graphic designer, you will often have to work with off-the-shelf material created by others — for instance, combining ready-to-use fonts with images from a photographer or stock website. Also, you’ll often have to follow the branding already developed by someone else.
It’s OK; it’s a part of the job, and you shouldn’t be bothered by it. But the part of a project that almost every graphic designer likes and is proud of the most is something that you can do from scratch, something that you have control over and can sign off on confidently: illustration.