So 2024 is here. With it come new hopes and new goals, new challenges and achievements, and perhaps new and better ways of working together. Our very first newsletter this year is just about that: new ways of working on digital products — with helpful pointers and tools along the way.
It’s a good time to get ready for the upcoming adventures in 2024. If you are looking for unforgettable experiences in 2024, we’ve got a few friendly SmashingConfs coming your way — with early-bird tickets and friendly bundles for teams.
- SmashingConf Freiburg 🇩🇪 — Sep 9–11
- SmashingConf New York 🇺🇸 — Oct 7–10
- SmashingConf Antwerp 🇧🇪 — Oct 28–31
- Smashing Online Workshops on UX, design and front-end.
As always, we are sending a lot of hope, optimism, good vibes and positive energy your way. And we look forward with hope and optimism for peace and better times ahead.
1. New Ways of Working
Changing the ways of working is hard. Usually, it’s a slow, painful process that requires a lot of patience and persistence. But it’s possible. In New Ways Of Working: Playbook For Modern Teams, Mark Eddleston has been putting together a growing library of helpful practices and working patterns used by progressive modern organizations.
In the Notion hub, he covers everything from roles and meetings to decision-making and conflict resolution — with templates, books, and key takeaways. It turns out small changes can have a big impact — as long as you have passionate people willing to carry these changes with you. (vf)
2. UI Stack For Product Designers
Every screen you interact with has multiple personalities: blank state, loading state, partial state, error state, and ideal state. In “How To Fix a Bad User Interface,” Scott Hurff highlights strategies to avoid awkward and confusing UIs with the UI Stack, carefully designing personalities for every screen.
We start with the ideal state. It’s the zenith of your product's potential. We then explore the error state when things go wrong, with unexpected problems, error messages, and input validation UX. From there on, we move to the partial state — when the page is sparsely populated. Our job here is to prevent people from getting discouraged and giving up on our product.
In the loading state, we must avoid frustrating rage taps/clicks. We need to avoid an entire page takeover, but rather lazy load content panes or use inline loading. Finally, we improve the blank states by using skeleton screens where we show the structure and layout early. A great reminder that UX is not just what happens when everything goes as planned. It’s also what customers experience when things break unexpectedly. (vf)
3. New Videos in Smart Interface Design Patterns
Roll up your sleeves: it’s time to boost your design and UX skills! Over the years, Vitaly has been working on Smart Interface Design Patterns, a growing video library of design patterns for everything from multi-level navigation to enterprise-grade data tables and filters UX. Free preview.
We’ve just added 4 new videos on search and filtering UX, design patterns for better search experience and autocomplete UX. If you already have the course, new videos are waiting for you in your dashboard — free of charge, of course!
And if you haven’t signed up just yet, it’s good timing to do just that — use the coupon code
NA2024 to get a friendly 15% off the regular price. And perhaps you’d like to join the live UX training as well! Happy learning, everyone! (vf)
4. Figma Manager For Frames And Components
If you have to deal with hundreds of frames and components in Figma, you know very well just how tiring that experience can be. FrameHop is a friendly Figma plugin for bookmarking frames and components, quickly jumping back and forth between them, and keeping a history of recently selected frames, components, and component variants.
You can type the keyboard shortcut ‘hop’ to quickly hop backward or forwards in your frame history list. A neat little tool to jump back and forth without having to refind the right frame or component over and over again. Kindly released by Addison James. (vf)
5. Upcoming Workshops and Conferences
We have plenty of online workshops on frontend and UX, be it accessibility, performance, or design patterns. A couple of workshops are coming up soon, and we thought that, you know, you might want to join in as well.
As always, here’s a quick overview:
- Deep Dive On Accessibility Testing Dev
with Manuel Matuzović. Jan 8–22
- UX Strategy Masterclass UX
with Vitaly Friedman. Jan 23 – Feb 6
- Interface Design Patterns (Spring 2024) UX
with Vitaly Friedman. Mar 8 – Apr 5
- Resilient & Maintainable CSS Dev
with Miriam Suzanne. Feb 26 – Mar 12
- Scalable CSS Masterclass Dev
with Andy Bell. May 9–23
- Smart Interface Design Patterns Video Course UX
10h-video + Live UX Training with Vitaly Friedman
- Jump to all workshops →
6. “How To Work With Me” Manuals
We always have assumptions about how other people work. But what if you shed some light on your preferences, how and when you wish to receive feedback, and how you communicate? That’s the idea behind “How To Work With Me” manuals — typically just a Google Doc, a Notion page or a Miro board, made visible to everyone in Slack’s profile.
What I find most valuable about these templates is how humane they are. They show personalities but also set expectations and help avoid misunderstandings. Everybody is different and has their own priorities and preferences. If we could just respect it a bit more by understanding each other a bit better, it could create an incredible culture of collaboration and support. And this can move mountains.
If you need a few ideas and template to get started, I’ve put together a few templates and guides to get started. A great little practice to include in your work as part of the onboarding to help everyone understand each other just a bit better. (vf)
7. Working With Colors Simpler And Faster
So you have an idea, but you’re not sure where to start? Sometimes, the first step can be to begin with engaging your visual thinking by picking a few colors. You can then bring your ideas and visions to life with tools that make working with colors simpler, faster, and downright enjoyable.
Perhaps one of the most comprehensive color tools platforms available is ColorDesigner.io (created by Wojciech Banaś). It currently offers 11 various tools that allow you to effortlessly create tints, shades, harmonious color palettes, and more. You can even find and install add-ons for Figma and Adobe Photoshop/XD, so you can delve into the world of color and explore the endless possibilities. It’s a designer’s playground — enjoy exploring! (il)
8. Free Custom-Color Elements
Without a doubt, there isn’t a shortage of SVG libraries out there, but if you happen to still be looking for a library of custom-color SVG elements that can be used freely on personal or commercial projects, then the SVG Hub library is a great one to bookmark. It’s worth having a look — we promise — you can customize the colors and copy them to your clipboard instantly!
A couple of months ago, we collected a comprehensive guide to SVG generators, breaking all tools into sections and groups. We keep updating the guide, adding even more generators regularly. And if you know of one that is missing there, please let us know on Twitter (@smashingmag), and we’ll add it right away. Happy SVG generating! (il)
9. News From The Smashing Library 📚
Promoting best practices and providing you with practical tips to master your daily coding and design challenges has always been at the core of everything we do at Smashing.
In the past few years, we were very lucky to have worked together with some talented, caring people from the web community to publish their wealth of experience as printed books. Have you checked them out already?
- Understanding Privacy by Heather Burns
- Touch Design for Mobile Interfaces by Steven Hoober
- Image Optimization by Addy Osmani
- Check out all books →
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 Geoff Graham (gg), Cosima Mielke (cm), Vitaly Friedman (vf), and Iris Lješnjanin (il).
- UX Research
- Sustainability In Front-End and UX
- Dealing With Legacy
- Interface Design
- Accessibility and Inclusive Design
- Goodies and Freebies
- New Ways of Working in 2024
- Meet 2024
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.