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Check out all of the posts in ‘Inspiration’ below. If you still can't find what you are looking for, try searching using the form at the top of the page.
Textures have become more popular and been put to greater use in recent years. They're not limited to Web design either; textures of all kinds are used in print design, illustration, traditional art, TV commercials... you name it! Texture is one of the best ways to add depth to your design, whether it's subtle noise on a clean vector illustration or a lot of grunginess throughout a layout.
Over the last weeks we collected numerous examples of beautiful textured Web designs to inspire you, followed by a small collection of links to help you get started in using textures in your own designs.
Inspiration is vital for any designer. This is why so many CSS galleries, design galleries and artistic showcases are floating around on the Web. Designers use these at certain times for a quick fix of inspiration, especially when the pressure of deadlines prevent them from seeking out offline, or "alternative," forms of inspiration, as important as they are.
No designer should ever feel that taking time to find true inspiration is time wasted. This article explores offline sources of inspiration and discusses how they can be treated as a part of the design process. Furthermore, we'll look into a few methods of deriving this inspiration, so it becomes an active part of creativity and be done more effectively.
Call to action in web design — and in user experience (UX) in particular — is a term used for elements in a web page that solicit an action from the user. The most popular manifestation of call to action in web interfaces comes in the form of clickable buttons that when clicked, perform an action (e.g. "Buy this now!") or lead to a web page with additional information (e.g. "Learn more...") that asks the user to take action.
How can we create effective call to action buttons that grab the user's attention and entice them to click? We'll try to answer this question in this post by sharing some effective design techniques and exploring some examples.
If you've been assigned to design or provide the architecture for a large e-commerce project or other information-heavy website whose success depends on content findability, it is vital that the design and layout of the search functionality for that website is considered carefully.
The search results page is the prime focus of the search experience, and can make or break a site's conversion rates. Therefore, bridging the gap between a user and the content or products they seek is a crucial factor in the success of any large website. The responsibility to design an effective search results page is best considered after a thorough examination of some of the features and functions found on search results pages from a number of popular niches.
In this article, we'll look at a number of trends and practices incorporated on a variety of websites. From this examination, we'll conclude with a summary of the best practices learned from the examples those sites have set.
Portfolio websites are critical for designers who want to get exposure for their work and attract new clients. While all portfolio sites will showcase the work of the designer, some have chosen to provide additional information about the project through case studies.
In this post we will be featuring more than 30 portfolio sites to show how they are using case studies from their own design projects to communicate with potential clients. Not all of them are referred to as "case studies" on the site, but all provide much more information than just giving a screenshot with the client's name.
If you are considering ways to make your existing work more relevant or appealing to visitors who may be potential clients, providing case studies is one option. Take a look at the sites featured here and you may come up with some ideas of how they could be used on your own site.
Government websites are generally considered to be boring and unattractive in terms of design. While this may be true of the majority of government websites, there are some notable exceptions. In this post we will feature some of the best websites from government agencies and from politicians involved in government. This represents a small sample showing the most appealing sites, although there are hundreds and thousands of different government sites in existence from many countries (a report from 2008 revealed that there may be as many as 2,500 government sites from the UK alone).
Regardless of whether a site uses an attractive design or not, government and political sites typically will contain large amounts of information, and that content must be the priority if the site is to effectively serve its purpose. Some government sites serve as portals that direct visitors in different directions in order to help the find the sites of specific agencies or entities that will include the information that they need. Other sites serve a specific purpose, such as providing information about a museum, a park, or an exhibit. Of course, politicians and political parties also have their own websites to spread their messages, communicate with their party members, and to help find new supporters.
The time has come for the first showcase of music night club websites here on Smashing Magazine. We've scanned the Web up and down to find the most original and interesting online club identities. As usual, we have Flash websites and CSS eye candy. Please notice that the aim of the post was to showcase current web designs of music night clubs, so the gallery doesn't necessarily showcase most usable or most beautiful night club web designs out there.
As we observed in the early Showcase of Fresh and Well-Designed Online Shops, the most obvious trend is the use of big bold pictures, either as backgrounds, headers or just side graphic elements thrown in the design mix. Most of them start playing music automatically (which is extremely annoying from the usability point of view), but in this case it's not weird or off-putting because they are music club websites after all.
Another trend is the use of bright, vivid colors and intense color schemes, borrowed from the clubs themselves. Also, Flash clearly dominates in such web-sites, presenting some very unconventional navigation menus and very distinctive layouts that aren't intuitive at all at the first glance.
The horizontal navigation menu has become a mainstay in Web design. It is safe to say that nowadays most websites use some form of horizontal navigation to facilitate content browsing. The dominance of horizontal navigation over vertical (i.e. down a sidebar) is obviously due to the design and content limitations of the latter. Notably, CNN discovered those limitations before switching from vertical to horizontal a few years back.
There are, however, many styles of horizontal navigation in modern Web design. Some offer usability advantages for certain types of websites, while others are aesthetically better. In this article, we will focus on a variety of techniques and best practices to improve the usability of horizontal navigation bars, and we will note less effective styles. We'll also look at several trends that developers can choose from when working on the navigation design for their next project.
In this article we'll take a look at designing websites from a quite different perspective. We'll discuss some pearls of samurai wisdom from the book “Hagakure” by Yamamoto Tsunetomo and we'll learn to apply them to our Web-based, computer-bound Western life to become true samurai designers. We'll also get to know impressive examples of artworks that exhibit the samurai approach.
“Hagakure” (In the shadow of the leaves) is a collection of writings compiling the narrations of the samurai Yamamoto Tsunetomo (1659-1719), who in his late years retired from his occupation and, as a hermit, recounted the wisdom of his warrior caste. Largely unknown for centuries, Hagakure became prominent in the 1930s and is considered today one of the most authoritative sources on the ethics of the samurai.