Here’s to the design minimalists. Here’s to focusing on functionality, simplicity and basic design principles. Kick the tires all you want on these sites today – you’re still going to love using them tomorrow.
This is our roundup of 35 stunningly simple, marvelously minimal web designs. Enjoy!August 5th, 2009 Posted in Inspiration
Designing business cards can be tricky, because it’s always difficult to make one which stands out from the hundreds of others in circulation! Letterpress definitely brings a new dimension to business cards.
If you are looking to have a few printed, here are a range of catchy letterpress designs for inspiration. The idea of depth and an embossed logo add a completely new element, and could well be the best way to really make an impression.June 5th, 2009 Posted in Articles, Inspiration
Typography is beginning to come to the fore as one of the most crucial elements of web design as people start to understand its importance. There’s no doubt that if you perfect the size, style and position of type on your page, the rest of the design will flow much easier.
In part one of our 2008 roundup, we saw some of the most useful graphic design tutorials of the year. This second section will walk you through a selection of the best typography related resources and articles of 2008 – tutorials, downloads, fonts, and everything you need to perfect the use of type in your design.December 22nd, 2008 Posted in Articles, Inspiration, Typography
As we arrive at the last month of yet another year, it’s time we revise and reflect on all the goodies this year had to offer. At the same time it’s great to practice the tips and lessons learnt for the years to come! We have brought together a series of what we feel are some of the best tutorials of 2008 from around the web.
We’re starting off with the most useful graphic design tutorials of the past year. In no particular order, read on to see 33 that have stood out in particular.December 16th, 2008 Posted in Articles, Graphics, Inspiration
I just thought I’d take a moment to mention a new designer forum which launched recently. Design Forums has had a really successful first month, with over 180 members and some 1500 posts. I’m not generally a huge forum fan, preferring to frequent design sites and blogs which have better ‘crafted’ content and articles. That said, I’ve read a few very well thought out posts with some excellent discussion over the past month.
It’s a UK based site, which means that it may not be perfectly suited to US readers (though to be perfectly honest, most of the content is very general).
Take a look and do let me know your thoughts. Are there any other design forums which you frequent regularly?November 14th, 2008 Posted in Articles, Inspiration
A project we have been working on for a while launches today – Design Top 10. The site will be updated every month, featuring the best website designs, tutorials and resources published in that period. Hopefully it will grow into a great place to find inspiration and keep up to date with the best content produced online.
The design stems from a notebook style layout, as the site is a ‘scrapbook’ of discoveries and inspiration on a monthly basis. I feel that it fits the profile of the site well and I’m really happy with it.
Please take a look at the site and, if you find it appealing, write a post about it or drop me a comment – I’d love to hear what you think. I hope you find Design Top 10 a useful source of inspiration!November 3rd, 2008 Posted in Inspiration
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
Believe it our not, your office environment as a designer can have a huge impact on the quality of work produced. Whether it’s in a cluttered office, a contemporary apartment, or even a caravan; the standard of your design creations (even your CSS code!) can really be impacted by the surrounding. This article will take a look at some inspiring workplaces, desks and gadgets to give you a few ideas.
When you spend any length of time in one particular place, it is worthwhile making it somewhere you feel comfortable, at ease and productive. A study or office can often feel to be a confined area, prone to becoming strewn with papers and wires. Having a simple, clutter free place to work can help because:
A driving instructor needs a comfortable car, a professional sportsman requires the latest, supportive trainers and a clown would be lost without his face paint. In the same vein, a good quality, well organised desk can help hugely with the workflow of a designer. Here are a few examples of really great workspaces:
Whilst it may not be possible to have a completely “paper-free” desk, restricting yourself to one or two notebooks and some post-its is usually an achievable goal. Many designers swear by Moleskine note books and the classic Fisher Space Pen. Finding tools which you work well with is the first step towards a really productive workflow.
The larger environment of your room is also worth considering. Whist constrictions are obviously always imposed by size and layout, the following are important aspects to get right:
Here are a couple of examples of very different, but very well laid out working environments:
Finally, the dilemma of how to keep the clutter away from the desk top and into well organized piles, drawers and filing cabinets. We’ve put together a five step plan to getting closer towards this goal:
Once you have a relaxed working surrounding and are feeling in-control, you’ll start to see yourself working more efficiently, feeling more motivated and being more creative. When you don’t need to worry about when your next electricity bill is due, or where that important client brief is (under a pile of papers on your desk), it frees you to focus on what you love – designing.
Do you have any other examples of great workspaces? Clutter saving tips? Please do let us know in the comments – we’d love to hear them.May 26th, 2008 Posted in Articles, Inspiration
Most designers are familiar with the relative pros and cons of different publishing tools – but what about the websites of the blog platforms themselves? We all know that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but I would argue that there’s no harm in looking…
We’re going to take a look at the homepage for four popular platforms: WordPress, Textpattern, ExpressionEngine and Blogger. Which ones are beautiful enough to compel you to use their platform, and which ones have the design aesthetic of a hello kitty toaster? Hopefully through a critique of these designs you can take home some good pointers for use in your own work.
The WordPress homepage has recently gone through a complete re-design for the release of version 2.5 of the software. Whilst the site does have a huge amount of content, the homepage is simple and easy to read.
What doesn’t work:
Textpattern is the most basic of designs and does not go a very long way to ‘selling’ itself to potential users. However, with all the focus being placed on textual content it does live up to it’s name. We use Textpattern to publish certain sections of Design Shack and we’re more than happy with it!
What doesn’t work:
Blogger differs from the other platforms we are analysing as it is a hosted service. Powered by Google, it allows completely non-technically minded people to start publishing a blog with great ease.
What doesn’t work:
As the only commercially sold platform in this analysis, Expression Engine has a different motive to persuade publishers to use their software. This leads to a design more reminiscent of other commercial software sites.
What doesn’t work:
We hope you enjoyed this “design analysis” concept and found it to be useful. Please feel free to give your two cents on the above designs in the comments.May 10th, 2008 Posted in Articles, Inspiration