Articles Archive


Optimising Front End Performance for Mobile Devices


Most front-end developers will be familiar with at least some of the options available to them when it comes to enhancing front end performance. Performance in this sense is not referring to the speed at which a given page loads, but instead how smooth and responsive it feels when a user interacts with it. A specific example would be the frame rate a user experiences when scrolling down your home page; if it’s consistently high, then performance is considered good.

There is a chance you may not have experienced a need to address performance issues before. Maybe you haven’t worked on a site that has suffered from such issues, or maybe removing that small bit of lag or recovering those dropped frames just isn’t at the top of your priorities. Either way, with the increasing amount of animation and complex styles being built into modern websites coupled with the adaptation of responsive design, there is a high chance you’ll run into sluggish mobile performance at some point. This article will suggest a few things to consider when working on websites and web apps that need to balance complexity and performance when running on less powerful mobile devices.

January 29th, 2014 Posted in Accessibility

Understanding Design Copyrights and Trademarks


Not that long ago we entertained a discussion about design plagiarism here on Design Shack, but what does it mean if your work is stolen? How do you even know if your work is protected? And moreover, what can you do about it?

That’s where the protection of copyrights and trademarks come in. But what are they? And how do they apply to your designed work? Let’s take a look.

January 27th, 2014 Posted in Business

This Week in Design: Jan. 24, 2014

week in design

Today, we are starting a new feature at Design Shack and plan to bring you a roundup of everything new, cool and fun in the creative sphere each week. We’ll take a look at major product releases and upgrades, tools and tricks and even some of the most popular things you are talking about on social media.

And we’d love to hear what’s going on in your world as well. Have we missed anything? Drop me a line at

January 24th, 2014 Posted in This Week in Design

Customize Your Own MailChimp E-Mail Newsletter Signup Form

tutorial screenshot mailchimp customize css howto optin form

If you’ve ever signed up for an email subscription you should know about MailChimp. It’s a company which helps webmasters and marketers deliver newsletters and other similar campaigns. They provide some HTML templates to use for signup forms and confirmation pages, but these are so generic that most subscribers are bored of this same interface.

I’d like to demonstrate how to customize the MailChimp signup form into something more unique. Everything is based off the original MailChimp HTML/CSS code and the form submission will use Ajax. It sounds complicated but the whole process is simpler than you might expect. Take a look at my sample demo to get an idea of the full tutorial.

January 22nd, 2014 Posted in CSS

Design Dilemma: Is Freelance Design an Unprofitable Business?


An interesting but really disturbing question came up the other day. I can’t help but feel it was timed for maximum 2014, new year, hope and fresh major depression. It was more a postulation than question, but was one of those biting truths that haunt you for a while.

Most of those who have written in with a design dilemma keep in touch with me, especially if their dilemma was an ongoing problem. One past participant was really pouring her heart out to me the other day. End of the year blues, when most people look at their income and expenses and wonder or dread what the new year will bring. Join us as we delve into another Design Dilemma, helping to answer your questions, queries and concerns about the murky world of design…

January 20th, 2014 Posted in Design Dilemma

Build a Sliding Client Testimonials Carousel With jQuery

clients slider testimonial carousel tutorial screenshot

Many portfolio websites include a list of previous clients to build trust from other potential customers. Reading what other people have said about a service or product is one way to garner support from visitors who have never heard about your company before. (Of course, this design technique only works if you have previous clients to draw from!)

In this tutorial I want to demonstrate two distinct styles of rotating carousels. The first is a testimonial box which includes a small quote talking about the services. Then I’ve constructed a long horizontal carousel that rotates through a list of company logos. These would normally be companies you have done business with – but may also include corporate partners or resources.

January 15th, 2014 Posted in JavaScript

Why You Should Be Sketching (Even if You Can’t Draw)

sketching and design

The first part of any project, print or digital, should start on paper. Sketching can be an integral part of any design process — even if you can’t draw.

But who needs to sketch? Just artists and illustrators are required to put pen to paper, right? Wrong! Today we’ll take a look at why sketching can be an integral part of everyone’s design and brainstorming process.

January 13th, 2014 Posted in Inspiration

Design Dilemma: What to Do When Your Ideas Aren’t Credited to You


There were several letters this month that asked about problems with retaining credit for ideas people had, that were ultimately taken by or given to others. It’s actually a huge problem, especially for those who are creative (the “crazy ones” as Steve Jobs referred to us) and formulate the ideas. Of course, there are ways to stamp your name on your brain babies.

So, how do you retain credit for your ideas? Join us as we delve into another Design Dilemma, helping to answer your questions, queries and concerns about the murky world of design…

January 9th, 2014 Posted in Design Dilemma

The Startup Framework: Simple Web Mockups


Today we’re going to be taking a look at the Startup Framework from Designmodo — one of the most polished and professional component frameworks we’ve seen for a while.

It’s a set of graphics, blocks, and components that are designed to help you plan and conceptualise your design, without spending weeks on starting from scratch. We’ll take a look at what’s on offer in the framework, and share a few examples!

January 7th, 2014 Posted in Graphics

Creative VIP: Where We’ve Come in 2013


Creative VIP is a membership service we launched for designers and creatives in July. It’s been growing steadily, and I’d love to share some of the progress we made over the latter part of the year.

We’ve added plenty of new partners, a slew of design resources, and sent out dozens of lovely creative goodie bags to our members. So join us as we recap some of what’s now on offer for the lovely creative folk we’re proud to call members.

January 6th, 2014 Posted in Design Shack