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The Smashing Email Newsletter

We love useful stuff, and we love quality writing, that’s why we send out an editorial email newsletter twice a month with useful tips, tricks and resources for designers and developers — thoroughly collected, written and edited by us exclusively for our readers. Once subscribed, you’ll receive a small token of appreciation — a free eBook just for you.

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If you’re looking for older issues of the Smashing Newsletter, we’ve prepared all of them in a downloadable ZIP file19 (226 MB) for you starting from Issue #14.

Last Newsletter Issue #182

This newsletter issue was sent out to … newsletter subscribers on Tuesday, May 23rd 2017.


Designing and building responsive components? Sure, we’ve got this! Crafting flexible, responsive layouts? Not a problem! Performance issues? We’ve got a set of performance techniques and practices20 to make anything fast! But, have we discovered a really efficient responsive workflow? Oh well, it seems like we aren’t quite there yet.

Whether your company has committed to agile or something between waterfall and agile, the handoff from design to code remains one of the issues that slow down the entire workflow. Unless designers on your team have front-end skills or developers have design skills, there still is a cut-off point when deliverables trade hands. No wonder that we see attempts on both sides to bridge that gap, e.g. by rendering React components into Sketch21 or integrating front-end views into design tools with Zeplin22, Sympli23, Invision Craft24 and Avocode25.

React Sketch App26
React Sketchapp27 allows developers to render React components straight into Sketch.

In that light, the old question “should designers code or should developers design” seems to be a wrong question. We all can benefit from learning how to move to HTML/CSS prototyping as early as possible. It’s not that developers need to learn Sketch or designers have to learn Node.js, but knowing just enough to make simple adjustments could go a long way.

P.S. Design workflow, tooling and front-end strategies — we’ll be looking into all of them thoroughly at our upcoming SmashingConf NYC28 in just a couple of weeks. No theory, just practical, useful tips and techniques. Perhaps see you there? ;-)

Stay smashing,
Vitaly (@smashingmag)

Table of Contents

  1. How To Design Avatars That Make Sense29
  2. Unveil The Front-End Superhero Inside Of You!30
  3. Community-Curated Spreadsheets For Startups And Web Professionals31
  4. A Security Checklist For Web Developers32
  5. New Tab, New Perspectives33
  6. Tools For Collaborative Coding And Designing34
  7. Free Sketch Plugins To Make Your Workflow More Efficient35
  8. Women Who Draw36
  9. Upcoming Smashing Workshops37
  10. New On Smashing Job Board38
  11. Smashing Highlights (From Our Archives)39
  12. Recent Articles On Smashing Magazine40

411. How To Design Avatars That Make Sense

Avatars. They are supposed to represent us online, but not seldomly do they exclude users because of their gender or ethnicity. Even efforts to make avatars gender and race neutral often backfire as the default avatar still uses rather male and white-type imagery. How can we do better? Well, Michelle Venetucci Harvey, product designer at Lyft, shares some valuable ideas in her all-in-one guide to better avatars42.

Design Avatars That Make Sense43

Identicons, for example, like the ones that GitHub is using, are based on a hash of a user’s ID or IP address and, thus, get along without any physical characteristics. Animals, initials, simple smiley faces, symbols made up of brand colors, even aliens and monsters also provide neutral (and fun!) ways to design avatars that don’t leave anyone out, as Michelle’s article nicely illustrates. So, as a designer, don’t rely on generic solutions, even if they seem to be easiest. Choose to be creative instead! (cm)

442. SmashingConf New York Is Coming!

What could be better than learning from people who know their craft and, as a result, enhancing your superpowers? Well, SmashingConf New York45 is soaring into the New World Stages on June 13th and 14th, playing host to hands-on, practical sessions by some of the most respected members of the community. Plus, on the second day, we have a Mystery Speaker on stage — probably somebody you’ve heard of. ;-)

I feel like Superwoman46

The conference experience is all about learning, networking, and having a wonderful time. Now, to round out your journey in New York City, why not attend one of the SmashingConf workshops47 the day before, or the day after the conference, too? (aa)

483. Community-Curated Spreadsheets For Startups And Web Professionals

We all collect resources to make our work easier, be it useful templates and tools, handy checklists, or great links, for example. The toolkits we put together this way are invaluable. And, let’s be honest, they are too good not to share, right?


That’s what the folks behind SpreadShare thought, too, and so they created a platform where web professionals can explore community-curated spreadsheets50 full of precious resources. Resources to get press coverage for your startup, for example, lists with recruiting contacts, tool comparisons, addresses of co-working spaces, expense sheets, learning resources, and everything else that might be interesting for web workers. A treasure chest. (cm)

Anything you download during the trial is yours to keep and use forever, royalty-free. Impress your audience and blow your competition away with stunning visuals. You can download 20 free images a day. Happy downloading51!

524. A Security Checklist For Web Developers

We learn from our mistakes, but some mistakes are more painful to make as others — especially when it comes to the security of our web applications. Michael O’Brien knows from his own experience. After creating secure web applications for over 14 years, he has now published a handy Web Developer Security Checklist53 to help prevent his fellow developers from common security pitfalls.

Web Developer Security Checklist54

The list covers everything from authentication and DOS protection to validation, cloud configuration and setting up your infrastructure. It’s by no means complete, as Michael points out, but considering the aspects seriously, is a huge step towards making your web applications more robust. (cm)

555. New Tab, New Perspectives

These days, algorithms decide what we see. Advertisements that are tailored to our interests, articles we might want to read, even people we might want to follow on social media — we’re trapped in the bubble of our own interests. That’s what inspired Steve Jain to a little project that can help us escape that bubble for a moment so that we can discover new ideas and perspectives, as well as thoughts we wouldn’t have stumbled upon otherwise. And could there be a better occasion to do so as each time we opened a new browser tab?

100 Million Books56

Steve’s browser extension 100 Million Books57 presents a quote from a book each time you open a new tab. From fiction to nonfiction, old to new, science to literature: the aim is to open our minds and inspire us to see things in a new light. (cm)

586. Tools For Collaborative Coding And Designing

Collaboration is key to bringing outstanding results forth. However, working together on one project, also means that there can be quite some friction involved. Just think of version control. If you’re a designer working together with a team on a UI design, the interface design tool Figma59 could help ease some of that friction.


It works right in the browser, so you won’t need to worry about uploading or downloading the newest versions of your files. Instead, you can just share design files with a link, and your team can participate: marketing can edit the copy, for example, while engineers inspect the design. Figma also lets you build a component library for your team, it notifies you of changes, and comments make it easy to exchange opinions and ideas. The tool can be tried for free, while regular team plans start at $12 per editor and month.

Now one for the front-end developers: Have you already heard of CodePen’s Collab Mode61? The CodePen feature lets you and your team edit a Pen at the same time. All collaborators will see the changes in real-time and can communicate in the live chat area. To enable it, just go to the Editor View of your Pen, and switch to “Collab Mode” from the “Change View” menu. Please note that the owner of the Pen needs to have a Pro subscription in order to be able to invite others to a project, though. Perfect to tinker with new ideas or to explain a concept to a fellow developer. (cm)

627. Free Sketch Plugins To Make Your Workflow More Efficient

You love Sketch? Well, the folks at InVision put together a list of 30 free Sketch plugins63 that’ll help you get even more out of the app. In this collection, you’ll find all sorts of plugins to close existing gaps or automate tedious actions and make your Sketch workflow more efficient.

30 Free Sketch Plugins64

Whether it’s baseline aligning text layers, batch creating symbols, renaming layers, creating charts, or making gradients more beautiful, the use cases of the plugins solve the big and small everyday challenges smoothly. Definitely worth checking out. (cm)

658. Women Who Draw

Living in 2017, gender inequality isn’t completely a thing of the past, unfortunately. While illustrator Julia Rothman was once skimming through back issues of a prominent magazine, she made an alarming discovery: Out of 55 covers done in 2015, only 4 had been created by women. Together with fellow illustrator, Wendy MacNaughton, she decided that something had to be done to change that, and so they brought Women Who Draw66 to life.

Women Who Draw67

Women Who Draw is an open directory of female illustrators, artists, and cartoonists. It’s aim: To increase their visibility and make it possible for publications, art directors and editors to find female talent more easily. Today, there are more than 2,700 women (a focus also lies on trans and gender non-conforming artists) listed on the site, and the number is growing. (cm)

689. Upcoming Smashing Workshops

With so many techniques, tools, style guides, design patterns, strategies, abstractions, frameworks and boilerplates available nowadays, what do you really need to know to keep your workflow fast, smart and efficient? That’s exactly what our classes are all about: practical front-end and RWD workshops that will help you become better front-end developers and designers, today.

Smashing Public Workshops69

Workshops at SmashingConf New York — June 12

Workshops at SmashingConf New York — June 15

Workshops at SmashingConf Freiburg

Public Smashing Workshops

Or, if you’d like to run an in-house workshop at your office, feel free to get in touch with Vitaly at vitaly@smashingconf.com84 and briefly describe what problems you’re facing and would like to solve. Don’t worry about the costs — we’ll find a fair price for sure. Get in touch — it’s that easy!

8510. New On Smashing Job Board

Here are the recent job openings published on our Smashing Job Board86:

  • Director, Web & Mobile Marketing Products87 at Randstad USA (Atlanta, GA)
    “As the Director leading mobile and web for Randstad USA, you will define, build, educate and own the mobile and web experiences for B2C and B2B. This leader will build an unrivaled mobile and web customer experience for job seekers and businesses seeking our unique offering.”
  • Software Development Engineer (UI)88 at Tesco Technology (Welwyn Garden City, UK)
    “The Software Development Engineering team are responsible for the full software development lifecycle. They work with Product Managers to help shape the backlog and future direction of the products we build. They implement and test features to a very high quality and support the product or service in testing and live environments.”
  • Senior Front End Developer89 at Ventura Associates (Lausanne, Switzerland)
    “Ventura Associates is a fast expanding swiss sourcing firm. A tip-top global player seeks a senior front-end developer for a permanent position in Lausanne.”

9011. Smashing Highlights (From Our Archives)

  • How To Enhance Your Creativity – Taming The Wild Mind91
    Myths have developed around and researchers have studied how the human brain juggles creativity and organization. Popular theory tells us that the left brain is structured and logical, while the right brain is artistic and imaginative, and that all human beings use predominantly one side of the other.
  • Quick Course On Effective Website Copywriting92
    Many dismiss copywriting as something that ad agency people do. Truthfully, all of us need to pay close attention to copywriting if we want to achieve our business objectives.
  • Designing With Audio: What Is Sound Good For?93
    Our world is getting louder. Consider all the beeps and bops from your smartphone that alert you that something is happening, and all the feedback from your appliances when your toast is ready or your oven is heated, and when Siri responds to a question you’ve posed.

9412. Recent Articles On Smashing Magazine

Design Articles

Coding Articles

Inspiration, Freebies, Misc.


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The Smashing Editorial prepares bi-weekly newsletter issues with lots of love and appreciation for the good ol' web with the latest tips and tricks for designers and web developers. Vitaly Friedman, Smashing Magazine's editor-in-chief, started this project back in early 2010. Today, we can't imagine a better way of informing and communicating with our fans and readers!

  1. 1

    I’ll subscribe

  2. 2

    Nice and useful!

  3. 3

    done deal.

  4. 4

    Rudra Ganguly

    April 21, 2010 6:19 am


  5. 5

    I’m there :)

  6. 6


    May 17, 2010 4:32 am

    have subscribed…. now let’s see…. how useful is it? I’ll be patient…

  7. 7

    It is really awesome to have all these issue. I am enjoying a lot, thank you very… very much.

  8. 8

    Richard Diamond

    June 5, 2010 4:38 am

    I am trying to subscribe to your newsletter which was forwarded to me by a friend. You need to “confirm my address by having me click on the link in the email you just sent me”, but that is not clear, and does not seem to work for me. Can you help?
    Thank you.

    • 9

      Vitaly Friedman

      June 27, 2010 4:22 am

      Exactly. You should receive an e-mail with a confimation link. Once you clicked on it, your subscription will be confirmed and you will receive the next issue of the newsletter.

  9. 10

    Of course !! :)

  10. 11

    One of my favourite newsletters. I look forward to it every fortnight!

    Keep it up guys :)

  11. 12

    thank you for being so useful, cheers :)

  12. 13

    I like it a lot, so much so I forward your recent newsletter to a couple of friends who I’m sure will sign up for it also!

  13. 14

    Smashing is one of the best magazine i have ever come across. Thanks, i lyk it guys.

  14. 15

    I just found out about this and I’m so excited! Thanks.

  15. 16

    Yay, Subscription Confirmed! :D

  16. 17

    Speaking of good design, enjoyed the article, but it’s not easy to print. You may want to think of having a print icon at the top and bottom of the article/ print friendly version that doesn’t include the comments. Great work on the content though.

  17. 18

    Subscription done..You are really good to miss out..:)

  18. 19

    On holidays at the moment and stumbled over your website while reading up on colour theory it’s fantastic thank you! Cheers

  19. 20

    im in here do smash me :d

  20. 21

    I’ve read many of your articles and I like the way they’re written and the info provided and that is the reason I am subscribing.

    Thanks! :)

  21. 22

    Oh, I always thought it’s just another way of receiving your blog articles. Good to know that the newsletter contains exclusive information! :)


  22. 23

    I find newsletters useful and generally interesting. They are a way to go beyond my inbred work inviornment.

  23. 24

    I’m happy to be here today, I had no idea that you guys sent out a newsletter! Now I’m a grateful subscriber.

  24. 25

    i am a regular visitor of Smashing MAG and i love it like anything. It acts as a supplement to my creative thrust. Although i have zillions of ideas bouncing inside my gray head, most of them are quenched and remaining pondering for something more. So i always want to be in touch with SM…. u ROCK!!!!….

  25. 26

    Great Work Guys but, Please keep the Subscribe option in an easily locatable place. I spent 10 Mins to find it.

  26. 27

    Exceptional straight forward subscription process. Also, sharing the .vcf is a great idea to forestall false-positive SPAM. Looking forward to you next issue, thanks!

  27. 28

    Its odd that I missed the last two edition, issue 35 and 36. Can you guys check my subscription status. My email is the one i used for this very comment.

    Thank you.

    • 29

      Vitaly Friedman

      July 4, 2011 11:06 pm

      Hi Joe,

      The status is perfectly fine. Perhaps your mail server marks our emails as “spam”? Could you please double-check it? Please make sure that our newsletters are whitelisted!


  28. 30

    Javier Gomez VE

    July 16, 2011 7:59 am


  29. 31

    Every single newsletter beats its reader count from the one before … amazing.

  30. 32

    Love your creativity, will follow through. Thumbs up!

  31. 33

    I love how well they express their ideas! geek ever!

  32. 34

    Strange for such an excellent site and webdeveloper-oriented bunch of geeks to have such an appalling email-signup process… ever heard of Campaign Monitor, guys?
    Just kiddin. I’m quite busy tuning MailChimp myself for some clients and it is a bit daunting to say the least. Didn’t expect to see default stuff coming from Smashing Mag though.

    cheers Peter Emil

  33. 35

    You guys just passed the 100k subscribers mark.

  34. 36


  35. 37

    you are a super team!!! great work!!!!

  36. 38

    Landon Cahow

    March 9, 2012 4:36 pm

    I’ve been subscribed to the Smashing Email Newsletter for a while now, it’s always full of great info and I look forward to getting it every time.

    Keep up the good work guys!

  37. 39

    Stefan Hansel

    April 23, 2012 9:40 pm

    Thanks for the great magazine! I’ve been reading your articles for a long time. And the Smashing Network has been a great resource too. Where has it gone?

  38. 40

    Dear Smashing Magazine , i can’t find anymore the smashing Network section !!! is it canceled ?

    Thanks in advance

    • 41

      You “have” to subscribe to get back into the network, still cant find a way round it.

      I am on my work PC, having already subscribed at home, seems like I cannot get into the network without re-subscribing….

      The smashing newsletter is great but I do not agree with the, seemingly, forceful way of gaining subscribers.

  39. 42

    Werner Swiegers

    April 26, 2012 11:33 am

    Yeah, what happened to the smashing network?

  40. 43

    Subscribed :)
    Got your Tweet

  41. 44

    Is there a way to update the emails for the subscription, I want to reroute the old email address and replace it with a new email address. The “cancel your subscription” link is not working today.

    Also is there a way get the older newsletters resent mailed, to your re-confirmed new address, just found I missed a few when they changed the work spam filters, I want the complete set in my mailbox. The newsletters are that great.

    • 45

      Vitaly Friedman (editor-in-chief of Smashing Magazine)

      December 18, 2012 3:29 pm

      The “cancel your subscription” link is actually working. Could you please try again, Eric? Thanks for your kind words!

  42. 46

    wow, looking at this list I realise just how many newsletters there have been! I signed up for the very first newsletter and have had them coming to my inbox for more than 2 years. How time flies!

    Always looking forward to the next newsletter, good stuff!

    ~ Steven Noble
    Graphics Cove

  43. 47

    done :D

  44. 48

    Heather Slabosz

    May 4, 2013 8:38 pm

    I was interested in receiving your newsletter (that I just signed up for) on this kindle fire (which I have not purchased yet) Is that possible? I will definitely not be running a data plan with it. I would just like to download to the kindle and read from there.

    I understand I can purchase the ebooks and use them on my kindle – but I am wondering if I can do the same with your newsletter.

    Much thanks, Heather

  45. 49

    How can i get regular update on activities, is there any subscribtion ?

  46. 50

    I’m trying to subscribe. I’m being sent to a wordpress login page for your domain which states that “this plugin is already installed” when i enter my email and hit the subscribe button

    • 51

      Vitaly Friedman (editor-in-chief of Smashing Magazine)

      July 26, 2013 1:05 am

      It must have been a temporary issue! Please try again, Meag!

  47. 52

    3 words, count me in.

  48. 53

    Let’s say we have an interesting article to share, could we post it for review somewhere?
    Would be nice to have to people read or opinion and tips / tricks.

  49. 54

    Jose Almonte

    March 21, 2014 6:46 pm

    I was jsut looking for some pdf books and free templates to practice what i´m learning about Semantic Web, SEO, HTML5, CSS, Prototyping, Responsive Web Design and i´m sure i´ve came to the right place.

    Thanks for sharing this wonderful content. Best regards to all.

  50. 55

    I’m surprised I can’t find anything on this! Any chance to subscribe to your newsletter by RSS?

  51. 60

    Hello, I downloaded your WP theme, but I have a problem with it. WordPress said that there is no style.css stylesheet
    Where can I get it?

    Kind regards Judith

  52. 61

    This is great! Thanks!

  53. 62

    Fakultet Gashi

    March 18, 2016 8:02 pm


    I can’t find any text about using your data on other websites. I’m gonna create a website and I want to use some of your articles. Can I do that or not ?


  54. 63

    Renata Jourdan

    June 26, 2016 8:16 pm

    Please!!! When can we have workshops in Lisbon!! :)


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