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?
The menu is completely free to download, use and customize, contains no images (it’s all CSS) and should work in any browser or operating system you use.
Please let me know if you find any problems or would like to contribute a menu in the future.
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!
Thank you to all who participated in our 3D Spiral giveaway. We have randomly selected three winners, who are:
Congratulations! We have contacted each of you with information on how to claim your free copy of the 3D Spiral flash component.
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The 3D Spiral is a Flash gallery component that displays images on an interactive 3D rotating spiral. You are able to obtain different layouts by changing the height and width of the spiral. The viewer can scroll, move up/down and zoom the spiral freely.
GoodBarry is a system which, rather than simply providing a content management service, attempts to offer all the facilities you need to turn your website into a fully functional online business. These range from e-commerce, to newsletter provision, to a complete customer management system. This review is going to cover what my main likes and dislikes are about the system, along with explaining under what circumstances it is particularly suitable.
Before reading this, it might be worth a minute of your time to watch the introductory video at GoodBarry.com. It gives you a quick flavour for what the system does and how it helps to manage your online business.
As far as online web design magazines go, A List Apart has been around for as long as I can remember. Their regular articles never cease to probe into new areas of design, or express existing techniques in a new and forward thinking way.
A new post today is celebrating A List Apart’s 10 year anniversary, looking back at how the project started out and evolved over a decade. It also gives an insight into how article submissions are processed and filtered, along with who edits and designs the site today.
If you’re a regular reader, or interested in contributing to A List Apart in the future, it is an article well worth a read.
Alex, from Blogsessive, has released a minimalist WordPress theme called Simple Balance 2. Full information about the theme and download information can be found over at the release post.
Simple Balance features a whole host of customizable options, and it’s great to see a free WordPress theme offering what usually would be paid for features:
GuiMags are a new concept, taking the idea of designing on paper down an innovative route. They comprise a set of magnets, created to stick to a whiteboard, made of material which allows you to write on them with dry-wipe markers.
I have been trying out a sample of these for a few days and am going to share the aspects I feel that work well, and the areas that still need improvement.
When designing a mockup, I work differently depending on who the site is for. If it is a personal project, working on paper and then Photoshop is perfect. If the design is for a client, commonly there is a need to express ideas in a collaborative environment. This could be done with a projector/laptop, whiteboard or a flip-chart. These all work well, but a common problem is that when using a whiteboard you find yourself drawing and re-drawing common components of a site (form fields, tabs, buttons etc).
GuiMags solves this problem, allowing you to focus on designing the structure without worrying about the small fiddly pieces. Designing forms, in particular, becomes a much more enjoyable process.
These are the various magnets available, comprising a selection of most common website components:
There are two main problems with GuiMags which could stop them being an overnight success. Firstly is the fact that you need a magnetic whiteboard to use them. From my experience, the majority of whiteboards I have used are non-magnetic and wouldn’t work with these gadgets. To be truly practical, they need to work at every client’s office – professionalism takes a hit when you have to start hunting round the whole building for an appropriate whiteboard.
The second issue is the design aesthetic of the magnets. Whilst the chunky look and feel is certainly appropriate, the choice of blue as a background limits the ability to use them in any mockups which illustrate colour. Future possibilities could be to offer a range of colours, or provide a black and white set to ensure they don’t over-power any other colours on the sketch.
Designing mockups and prototyping alongside a group of people has always posed a challenge. GuiMags goes some way to solving the problem, allowing you to create sample designs and forms with greater speed and ease. However, at $100, these magnets don’t come cheap and you may also find yourself requiring a new magnetic whiteboard (anything from $20 to $100 depending upon size). They are a great concept and a forward thinking idea, but some of the initial drawbacks need to be addressed before they are versatile enough to become a dominant tool in my design workflow.
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.
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?