There is something magical in finding helpful little tools that help you remove just a little bit of friction you encounter in your work every single day. This issue is all around little helpers that might be just what you always wish was out there!
As you are moving into a slightly less busy time of the year, perhaps you’ll find some time to revisit your workflow and explore new options. There are 15 things I always revisit by the end of the year — to ensure a smooth start of the year. It’s a great time to turn off all notifications, adjust your meeting availability times, finetune your calendar, edit your signature and clean up your desktop, among so many other things!
And as always, we are sending a lot of positive energy, optimism, strength and love from the very bottom of our hearts here at the Smashing team. Stay safe and healthy, and bring a lot of good vibes and positive thinking into 2023, everyone!
— Vitaly (@vitalyf)
1. Keyboard Shortcuts
There are probably a handful of applications that you use daily in your work. For each of those, there are probably a few repetitive tasks that you’ve been doing over and over and over again for weeks or perhaps even for years. What if there was a magical way to boost your productivity with a couple of keystrokes? Indeed, keyboard shortcuts are wonderful at just that. But how to find the right ones?
Fortunately, UseTheKeyboard.com collects and showcases useful keyboard shortcuts for plenty of applications, from Gmail and Notion to Figma and Adobe XD, both for Windows and Mac. Of course, remembering them is a hassle, though. A little trick: write down 4–5 useful keyboard shortcuts on a sticky note and stick it to your screen or laptop case to be reminded of them every now and again. Or go the extra mile and get keyboard shortcut stickers straight on your keyboard. Just imagine the incredible amount of time you would save! (vf)
2. Writing For Engineers
As engineers, we spend most of our time thinking but much of our time writing. We write code, documentation, onboarding guides, and plenty of emails as well as Jira comments. But how do we write better? And how do we produce high-quality documents on a deadline?
In Writing for Engineers, Heinrich Hartmann has summarized useful tips and guidelines around writing and the practice of writing. He explains the process from the outline to ironing out all the fine details and things to keep in mind during the process. And just in case you’d love to improve the quality of code reviews, too, How to Make Good Code Reviews Better and How to Make Your Code Reviewer Fall in Love with You have got your back. (vf)
3. Tech Teams App Stacks
What would be one of the better tooling choices for your company? That’s a tricky question to answer, and sometimes it might be a good idea to see how similar companies in your industry have been trying to find an answer to that question.
Companies.Tools tracks what apps tech teams around the world use for research, design, code, support, gathering feedback and marketing their products. There are 300 listings already available on the site, and you can also discover what companies are using some specific apps, as well as the toolbelt that they have developed on their own. (vf)
4. Upcoming Online Workshops
That’s right! We run online workshops on front-end and design, be it accessibility, performance, or design patterns. In fact, we have a couple of workshops coming up soon, and we thought that, you know, you might want to join in as well.
As always, here’s an overview of our upcoming workshops:
- Successful Design Systems Workflow
with Brad Frost. Jan 10–24
- Designing For Complex UI Masterclass UX
with Vitaly Friedman. Jan 19 – Feb 2
- New Front-End Adventures, 2023 Edition DEV
with Vitaly Friedman. Feb 8–22
- Universal Principles of Typography Masterclass UX
with Elliot Jay Stocks. Mar 2–16
- Interface Design Patterns UX Training UX
with Vitaly Friedman. Mar 10 – Apr 7
- Jump to all workshops →
5. AI Tooling For Designers
We all are probably getting tired of all the illustrations, photos, videos and headlines tirelessly produced by AI tools and tirelessly posted all around social media. The results are sometimes spooky, sometimes odd, sometimes cold, and sometimes absolutely incredible.
We’ve put together a list of some useful AI tools for designers, from AI portraits to AI video generators to AI copywriting and AI eye-tracking tools. Surely there are plenty of other AI tools available out there, and Futurepedia features 100s of small and large AI tools that might come in handy for a project. And if you are looking for a showcase of specific AI outputs, there is a growing repository of AI Prompts as well.
It’s worth remembering that AI isn’t producing new results out of thin air; it synthesizes and refurbishes work produced by real humans without any credit. It might be a wonderful tool for research, but without human input, we wouldn’t get any meaningful output. (vf)
6. Terms of Services and Licenses Explained
Nobody has the time to read lengthy, elaborate legalese in terms of services and software licenses. Yet we might want to be aware of some of the limitations of the licenses or products we are using. Fortunately, there are two useful resources that might save you quite a bit of time and headache down the road.
Terms of Service Didn’t Read summarizes terms of services of popular online sites and tools and provides you with a quick overview, links to related documents, and even a search for a particular service.
Software Licenses In Plain English summarizes popular open source/software licenses at a glance, giving short and concise information on what can be done and what can’t. Summaries are peer-reviewed, and most visible licenses are even checked by a lawyer. Might be worth bookmarking! (vf)
7. Smart Interface Design Patterns
We’ve just updated and added a few new videos to “Smart Interface Design Patterns”, a 9h-video course with Vitaly Friedman, focused on fine little details that make for smarter interface design — from complex navigation to filters, tables and web forms. Check the free preview.
The course is created specifically for interface designers, UI engineers and developers who’d love to be prepared for complex UI/UX challenges. There is a live UX training that with UX certification that happens twice a year. Ah, there are just a few early-bird-tickets left! Jump to the details. (vf)
8. Free Performance Analyzers
There are quite a lot of potential performance pitfalls that stay unnoticed easily. Code duplicates or inline images, for example. DebugBear offers some quick and easy tools that help you uncover common performance bottlenecks like these.
One of the tools is the HTML Size Analyzer. You can paste your HTML code or enter a URL, and the analyzer will analyze the HTML size to catch bloat like inline images, large React hydration state or code duplication. The Browser Resource Hint Validator checks if your resource hints are working correctly and whether there are unused hints that you may want to consider removing.
If you are experiencing a slow site, the problem might not always be the site, though. Browser extensions can have a negative impact on performance, too. The Chrome Extension Performance Lookup shows you the impact that the top 1,000 Chrome extensions have when loading a website. Three useful tools that you might want to keep close. (cm)
That’s All, Folks!
Thank you so much for reading and for your support in helping us keep the web dev and design community strong with our newsletter. See you next time!
This newsletter issue was written and edited by Cosima Mielke (cm), Vitaly Friedman (vf) and Iris Lješnjanin (il).
- Little Helpers
- UX Playbooks
- Open-Source Icons and Fonts
- Design Systems
- Getting Ready For 2023!
- Color and Data Visualization
- Psychology and UX
- Front-End & UX Advent Calendars
- Interface Design
Looking for older issues? Drop us an email and we’ll happily share them with you. Would be quite a hassle searching and clicking through them here anyway.