Articles Archive


Design Study Into Mac OS X App Websites

Apple has always demanded the highest calibre of work from its employees even since its founding in the late 1970s. Many designers have just recently moved into the OS X environment, and most fall in love at first sight. Mac OS X Lion offers so many features that you just can’t find elsewhere – most notably of which may be the App Store.

From here you gain access to a slew of applications both free and paid. These are all built for OS X Lion and can be downloaded directly into Launchpad. In this case study I’ll be looking into design trends for Mac app websites. These are specifically geared towards OS X and do not include iOS apps… the styles are very different. Along with these tips I have also compiled a small showcase gallery of my favourite Mac app sites to share a bit of inspiration.

October 26th, 2011 Posted in Layouts

The Ins and Outs of Dynamic Navigation Menus

All web designers go through phases struggling with creative ideas. It’s a natural part of the creation cycle, but it can become frustrating as you’re stuck on a website project for more than a few days. There isn’t any one-size-fits-all solution. But we can take a moment to analyze the design process for better solutions.

The main goal of any website is to lead visitors through your pages. This is accomplished via a navigation of some type, most commonly links. You can build tab bars, banners, block elements, or even float a nav menu off to the side.

Follow us in the guide below as we look through common trends in web navigation menu design. Both designers and developers have come up with tricks for expediting the process of building websites. And we hope to do the same by offering some unique tips for UI navigation.

October 25th, 2011 Posted in Navigation

What Is CSS? Back to Basics


This is the third article in our back to basics series where we’re taking a look at the absolute beginning concepts of web development. If you’re a designer with little to no knowledge of web programming, this series is for you.

In our first article, we went over what HTML is and in our second article we outlined the basic anatomy of an HTML document. Today we’ll jump to a new topic and answer a very important question: What is CSS?

October 24th, 2011 Posted in CSS

10 Great Google Font Combinations You Can Copy

The average man considers which flavor of Doritos will taste good with his Heineken. The sophisticated man considers which cheese will pair well with his choice of wine. The designer of course considers which two fonts will look great on the same page.

Today we’re going to use the Google Font API as a playground for mixing fonts and finding ideal pairings. You’ll be able to skim through and instantly grab out selections that you think are appropriate for your projects. The best part? You need only to copy and paste our code to implement these fonts on your site. It’s completely free and there are no downloads required.

October 23rd, 2011 Posted in CSS

Tips for Designing Sleek iPhone App UI Layouts in Photoshop

Graphic design for the web has been a popular trend for ages. And with the invent of Apple’s iPhone back in 2007 the app store has grown a tremendous amount. Now we have iOS app designers and developers coming together to build some really fantastic conceptions into reality.

iPhone 4 Home Screen - App Display

But if you’re not fond of learning Xcode and programming Objective-C, Photoshop may hold more interest. Below I’ll offer some of the tips I’ve picked up for designing killer iOS app mockups. And since there are always new trends emerging the design community is constantly redefining how to create apps. Think of this as more of a beginner’s resource guide to designing for Apple devices.

October 20th, 2011 Posted in Graphics

Design Shack Is Evolving!

If you’ve taken a look at our site design in the past few hours, you might have noticed a few changes! We’ve taken the design paintbrush for a spin, streamlining and simplifying the layout and re-focusing on the parts of Design Shack that we particularly love.

All this comes hand-in-hand with a change to the Design Shack brand, and a funky new logo courtesy of Aaron Mahnke. Read on to find out a little more about the design, branding, and the changes we’ve made to the site.

October 18th, 2011 Posted in Design Shack

50 More Beautifully Designed Tumblr Themes


Way back in 2009 we posted a collection of 30 Beautifully Designed Tumblr Themes. Back then the Tumblr library of themes was much smaller than it is today and in light of the huge growth in the platform as a whole we decided to bring you fifty more themes perfect for anyone with a designer’s eye.

This time we’ve switched things up by not only featuring a ton of great free themes, but an additional selection of premium themes for anyone who needs to go that extra mile. Let’s take a look!

October 18th, 2011 Posted in Inspiration

Running Your Internet Business With Google Products

Google has become a powerhouse industry for digital professionals. It seems just a decade ago Gmail was still a newcomer to the field. And now in-browser webmail is commonplace, along with IM Chat and file storage/upload in your browser as well!

View over Tokyo - Business Central

For the average webmaster these tools provide a very powerful and free resource to setup as your backend. Google can be used to fuel your company and track visitor stats, revenue, plus tons of other metrics! We have gone over some of the most prosperous services and how you may benefit from them. With just a single Google account you have access to all of their apps completely 100% free. Talk about a sweet business deal.

October 17th, 2011 Posted in Business

Is This Spec Work? Should Designers Be Asked to Prove Their Worth?

Let’s discuss a topic that gets your blood boiling: spec work. What is it and why do designers hate it? This will give us a foundation to discuss some legitimate practices that many are labeling as spec work hiring tactics.

Do you think a designer should be asked to prove himself/herself before being hired? Is this debate an example of employers going too far or designers not willing to go far enough? Let’s find out.

October 13th, 2011 Posted in Business

Establishing a Hierarchy of Goals for Everything You Design


What one thing above all else makes for a great design? Where should your focus lie? More importantly, is it possible or even desirable to focus on a single goal at the expense of others?

Today we’ll take a look at why goal-oriented design is good design and discuss how being a designer means weighing several competing factors. We’ll also discuss how to decide which goals are the most important and how establishing a hierarchy for each project will make for a better experience for the client, the user and the designer.

October 10th, 2011 Posted in Business