Our partner site, 13 Styles have just launched a new addition to their range of free CSS menus. It comes pre-built in red, orange and grey, working in all major browsers. Best of all, it’s completely free for you to download and use!August 16th, 2008 Posted in Articles, Navigation
WordPress is undoubtedly one of the most popular blogging platforms, so it’s no surprise that there are a huge variety of different plugins to allow you to integrate Flickr with your blog posts. This article does include a sponsored review of iFlickr, but we’ll also be looking at other plugins available to mix these two online platforms together.
By way of a basic introduction, iFlickr is a WordPress plugin that allows you to easily find free images on Flickr and insert them into your blog post while automatically putting the attribution link underneath. It can save you quite a bit of time when looking for related images to your blog post, but doesn’t satisfy the requirement you may have for putting your own personal images on your blog (we’ll cover some methods for doing this later on).
Here are some of the various bits we liked and didn’t like so much about iFlickr:
If you’re looking to use an appropriate Flickr photo with your blog posts on a regular basis, iFlickr is definitely a good way to go. However, if you’d like to mix things up in a different way, trying one of the following might be a better option:
We’d be really interested to hear about any other plugins which you find useful for integrating Flickr with your blog – drop us a line below!July 22nd, 2008 Posted in Articles, Software
The well known international beer, Becks, have recently run a contest in the UK to find a set of new artistic designs for their beer bottles. We’ve got an exclusive preview of the winning bottle designs, which you can pass your eye over as a designer to let us know what you think.
The designs have been put together by students at the Royal College of Art and Design, in London. Whilst it’s a big step away from what we consider to be ‘contemporary design’ online, it does capture the essence of the UK and Britain to an extent – with an abstract twist.
Personally, I’ve never been a huge fan of very abstract artwork, but I think these could prove to be an interesting talking point – and a great stepping stone for the new artists (such as Tom Price, below):
It showcases the vast differences between product design and website design. However, the idea of using contemporary thinking and new talent to re-design a corporate brand is a great one, and something that could move across equally well to online design.
What are your thoughts?July 17th, 2008 Posted in Articles
This is a short interview with one of the minds behind the new stock photography startup – Cutcaster. It’s a great insight into some of the thinking behind a site such as this, as both a business concept and a well designed web application.
Cutcaster offers unique royalty free images, stock photos, stock footage and stock photography for advertising, publishing or web design. We have combined a Flickr-type community with a Getty-type licensing model but turned the old licensing model on its head. In my old job trading stock on Wall st. I saw what electronic markets and cutting out the middleman did to our markets and I applied those efficient market elements to what I saw as an outdated licensing model.
We are the first licensing platform to let people set their prices for a high resolution file, use a patent pending algorithm to help them find the correct market price or let buyers buy ala carte, on demand or bid on content they want so they can name their price or licensing terms directly with a seller. That seller has the option to accept, reject or re-submit a new offer back to that interested buyer. We also offer buyers a way to request custom content from the community of Cutcaster members through our ProjectRequest area. Cutcaster is an open platform and anyone can join, learn and participate in the community and marketplace.
The site has been researched and developed over the last 3 years but we launched our Cutcaster beta site in April of this year. We are a very new service but have been growing extremely fast. I left my trading job on Wall st. in January of this year to focus on Cutcaster full-time as the demand and time commitment became too much to try to do with two jobs.
I am proud of how easy our site is to use but I am very proud of our negotiation platform called My Marketplace, which allows buyers and sellers to seamlessly negotiate on pricing and licensing terms much like a stock exchange. Sellers can now get hard data on how to price their content and where demand lies for their work. Buyers can directly buy or bid for content which allows them to name their price or buy extended rights like exclusivity over a certain time period or geographic region. The platform is simple to understand, easy to use and the negotiations happen very quickly between buyers and sellers.
I also really like the layout of our media details page which clearly lays out the details surrounding any media file uploaded to the site and is set up to allow users to easily interact with the different features of the site like immediately buying, bidding for content, adding content to lightboxes (we call them clipfolders at Cutcaster), reporting copyright infringements, downloading comps to show clients, requesting different file sizes and the ability to virally send your work to multiple networks to get more traffic and sales. Here is an example of one of the media detail pages, http://www.cutcaster.com/viewmedia/view/100027215/Photo.
Almost all websites contain some sort of copyright notice in their footer (e.g. Copyright © 2008 Apple Inc. All rights reserved.). But what’s the best way to do this? We’re going to take you through the requirements for your copyright notice, and a nifty JS (or PHP) trick for ensuring that your copyright year is always up to date.
The humble copyright notice is always useful to show in the footer, as a way of stating your claim over a site. Interestingly, however, it is not required for you to have copyright over the graphics, content and artwork of your site. This comes into place as soon as you’ve created the content and placed it in the public domain. Placing a copyright notice is still advisable to deter potential plagiarists and stake your claim. The generally accepted format is:
Copyright © 2008 Design Shack
There are a couple of points to make:
If you have specific requirements for how people can use certain content of your site, using a Creative Commons License would be advised. This allows you to select how content can be used in a more official and controlled manner.
When creating a website, it can be incredibly tempting to simply drop in the basic requirements, and not think too heavily about future proofing your site. One of the most telling signs that a site isn’t regularly updated is an out of date copyright year. This can be very easily made automatic, through the use of a simple piece of PHP or JS code:
Stick with one of these methods, and you’ll never be kicking yourself in February again for not updating the copyright year!July 8th, 2008 Posted in Articles, HTML
Thanks to all of you who entered the contest! We have randomly picked out the four lucky winners and contacted them today. They include:
Thanks again to UK2 for sponsoring the contest. Updates may be a little slow for the next week or two as we’re on holiday (but don’t worry, you will still be treated to a couple of great new CSS designs every day!). Everything will be back to normal soon with some great new articles scheduled.June 24th, 2008 Posted in Competitions
Since it’s first release in November 2004, Firefox has come a phenomenally long way. Market share has sky rocketed, and a huge community has built up offering extensions and add on software. The third incarnation of Firefox offers something for web developers as well as users, continuing along their previous path of adhering to web standards and supporting the latest technologies.
This article will outline how important it is that your site is suitable for Firefox users, and explain the new features which the browser makes available to designers.
The following chart shows the percentage of users visiting Design Shack from various browsers. It is plain to see the importance of the site displaying correctly in Firefox and offering a great browsing experience to users of that browser:
June 18th, 2008 Posted in Articles, Software
We’re pleased to announce a new competition on Design Shack, in partnership with UK2. Four hosting packages are up for grabs with a total value of over $450. One “business” and three “home” hosting packages are being given away. Each is completely free for one year, comes with one (or more) free domain names and would make a fantastic home for your site.
Please read on to find out more about the prizes along with how to enter. Be sure to use a valid email address so that we can contact you if you are a winner!
Top Prize: A 1 year business web hosting package. Includes free setup, 3 free domain names, £30 Google AdWords voucher, SSH, 100GB disk space and 1000GB bandwidth.
Runner Up Prizes (3): A 1 year home web hosting package. Includes free setup, 1 free domain name, £20 Google AdWords voucher, 3GB disk space and 100GB bandwidth.
The competition closes on Monday 23rd June and winners will be chosen completely at random. The lucky few will be announced on Design Shack the day after. We’ll be in touch with details on how to claim your prize.
Entering the competition is simple, and will help Design Shack evolve over the coming months. All you need to do is fill in the following form telling us:
We’re looking forward to hearing your ideas and hope to be inspired from you, our readers!
The competition is now closed!
UK2 have been a major player in the web hosting industry since 1998, today having sold over a million domain names. They host thousands of websites and dedicated servers for customers in various countries. UK2 are one of the biggest and fastest growing web hosting companies in the UK, offering services including domains, dedicated servers and e-commerce packages. You can read more about UK2 at their website.June 18th, 2008 Posted in Competitions
Apple have recently announced a new suite of online applications called MobileMe. The aim of the development is to allow you to keep all your information in sync between several devices (e.g. your iPhone, Mac and Windows PC). In addition, Apple have created a new online site at me.com, which will hold a suite of applications including email, calendar, address book and photos.
We’re going to take a quick look at the design and layout of this new online service, and explain what works well and what we think could have been done better.
This section of the service has done a great job of emulating a desktop application. The existing .Mac webmail application was already excellent, so porting this across has not changed a great deal. Design features which stand out include:
It is interesting to point out the lack of branding running through the site – nowhere is the ‘MobileMe’ logo featured, and the user is free to use the service without being confronted with too much Apple-centric branding. This is a distinct step away from Microsoft or Google online applications, which both use branding extensively.
There are a plethora of modern AJAX galleries online, all with their own pros and cons. Apple’s now integrates with the iPhone, iPhoto and your Mac, along with offering different viewing methods.
The addition of reflections to the photos looks typically Apple, but seems to make reading the caption underneath more difficult. It raises the eternal dilemma – at what stage do superfluous effects become more of a hinderance to the user than a positive addition. That said, there are several design elements which are notably good:
Considering the lack of any Flash, the gallery pages do a great job of showing content in a dynamic and appealing way. The technologies used are nothing new, but have been used to very good effect.
The previous online calendar on .Mac was relatively poorly designed, with little to no interactivity and various restrictions. The new version offers not only a much more accessible and practical design, but also a variety of new features.
One inconsistency found here is the difference in design of the ‘settings’ screen when compared to the equivalent in the gallery section. It would have made sense to standardize this across all the various online applications. However, on the whole we think that the design of the online calendar is actually better than the desktop version, and hopefully some of the interface features (increased line spacing, less rounded corners etc) will be brought to the desktop version in a future update.
The pink/purple icon for the iDisk is, to be frank, awful. The contrast between the two colours clashes and could certainly have been designed better. I’m not sure why a departure from previous aluminum drive icons, or the iDisk globe, was needed – either of these would have been more aesthetically pleasing.
However, the layout and view options look good and files/folders are clearly defined. There isn’t a great deal to say in relation to this section – it’s straightforward and does what it says on the tin.
Do you have any other comments and opinions on this new service? Let us know below!June 11th, 2008 Posted in Articles, Inspiration
Classic 404 error pages are prone to being relatively useless. Whilst a well designed page can provide a means to find what they are looking for, wouldn’t it be great if you could find out more about what went wrong? This tutorial will show you how simple it is to have an explanatory email sent to you whenever a visitor hits a 404 page.June 4th, 2008 Posted in Accessibility, Articles