Articles Archive

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Tips and Ideas for Designing With Blurred Images

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“The supreme accomplishment is to blur the line between work and play.”
– Arnold Toynbee

The topic of today’s discussion is blurry photos. No, not the kind that you accidentally take because your kids won’t sit still. The intentional kind, the use of which can serve several practical purposes in design.

We’ll learn all about how to use blur effects to help make text more legible, direct the viewer’s attention, and just make backgrounds more fun. We’ll also take a look at some different types of blurs and how to properly apply selective blurring.

December 15th, 2011 Posted in Layouts
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Four Simple and Fun CSS Button Hover Effects for Beginners

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Today we’re going to take a step back from advanced discussions about CSS preprocessors and return to some good old basics. We’ll work up four super simple CSS buttons, each with a unique animated hover effect.

Follow along with me and create your own fun button styles. Also feel free to grab my code and use it on your projects. If you’re a CSS newbie looking for a good way to make your buttons more interesting, this article is for you!

December 14th, 2011 Posted in CSS
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Extends and Control Directives: Two Crazy Things Sass Can Do That LESS Can’t

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LESS and Sass are aimed at accomplishing the same thing, and are indeed so similar that you could easily confuse the two, but are they really created equal? Is there anything that one can do that the other can’t?

On a feature to feature basis, each syntax has one or two things that the other doesn’t. However, despite the fact that I was initially drawn to LESS’ simplicity, in the long run I couldn’t help but be sucked in by a few key features that make Sass really powerful. Follow along as I blow your mind with some of the amazing and unique features of Sass.

December 13th, 2011 Posted in CSS
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Designing Engaging Header Images: Think Outside the Box

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One of the first things you do in designing a site is to decide what that first chunk of pixels that users will see looks like. You’ve got to grab their attention and communicate your message above the fold or risk that person moving on to their next open tab.

Unfortunately, many of us fall into predictable patterns for this piece of the site. We use the same old tricks, shapes and plugins and come up with a result that might look great, but isn’t really that exciting. Today we’ll take a brief look at how you can make your header images more interesting. Along the way we’ll see some live examples from sites that have implemented these techniques successfully.

December 12th, 2011 Posted in Layouts
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Weekly Freebies: 20 Fantastic Free PSD UI Kits

Designing user interface elements from scratch is a time consuming a laborious task. Don’t get me wrong, it’s incredibly fun and I highly recommend the practice, but for those occasions when you just need a good mockup or even want to spend the core of your time on other aspects of a design, using a pre-built UI kit can be an awesome time saver.

Today we’ve got a collection of twenty awesome free UI kits that have been meticulously designed down the the last pixel. Each represents hours of work and is sure to help make your design look great.

December 9th, 2011 Posted in Freebies
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Hands on With the New Twitter Design

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Twitter launched a radically new layout to users Thursday. The first to see the new look were mobile users through the Twitter iPhone and Android apps. After updating those apps, the new look of Twitter became active on those users’ computers as well. All other users will begin to see the updated Twitter look over the course of several months.

The results are mixed. The new look and interface is great for mobile users and the sleek interface is cool. Features on the computer version mix the super-sleek interface with a few bonuses but also a few misses. Pages have more pop but still have the look and feel you would associate with Twitter. The site also rolled out branding pages for companies that have a nice look but could change the organic feel that has brought people to Twitter.

Visually, Twitter has reinvented itself consistently across various platforms. Aside from slight, device-specific tweaks the interface looks the same on the website, on a tablet and on a smartphone (no update for the Mac app as of yet). The biggest plus for designers and other visual professionals is an enhanced use of images to push you toward content. Twitter is starting to define itself as more than just a 140-character platform.

December 9th, 2011 Posted in Reviews
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Get 5 Smashing Magazine eBooks for Only $20!

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This week on Design Shack Deals we’re brining you something that’s simply too good to pass up. We’ve teamed up with the venerable Smashing Magazine to bring you five amazing books from the Smashing Ebook library at over 46% off their normal price.

Read on to see a summary of each book and to learn how you can take advantage of this sweet offer before it’s too late!

December 8th, 2011 Posted in Deals
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Popular Web Design Trends in 2011: Over 50 Inspiring Examples

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December is here and it seems we’re finally wrapping up 2011. It’s been a year filled with new and exciting forefronts for the web. CSS3, HTML5 and responsive design were at the top of the most-discussed topics. We also mark the passing of the old ways. Flash, Silverlight and similar proprietary plugins received an all out assault in 2011, one that they may never recover from.

To end the year with an informative retrospective, we’ve scoured the web in search of patterns and trends that emerged or became increasingly popular throughout 2011. Follow along as we examine over fifty websites in an attempt to spot similar tricks and themes. I guarantee it’ll be difficult to read without spotting a few trends that you jumped on in your own projects this year!

December 8th, 2011 Posted in Layouts
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Typography 101: Understanding the Anatomy of a Letter

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Every designer, whether you’re in print or web, should possess a basic understanding of fonts and type. Using the right typeface and understanding how a font will impact your design can add that extra pop to print and digital projects and will set them apart from all others.

One important area to understand is the anatomy of type. Ascenders, descenders and serifs may sound like words from another language but are the basis for understanding the style of a typeface and how if relates to your project. Today we’ll take a brief run through of some terminology that you should know.

December 7th, 2011 Posted in Typography
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3 Things You Never Thought to Do With Media Queries

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You already know how to use media queries to create a responsive design, but have you tried to use them for anything else? Is it possible that media queries can be used natively to improve your workflow?

Follow along as we completely break from tradition and hijack media queries to help us test and tweak a design. You’ve never seen media queries like this before!

December 6th, 2011 Posted in CSS
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