Joshua Johnson

Equal parts editor, writer, designer, & photographer. Hit me up on Twitter, read my Mac tutorials or check out my photos.





CSS / 4 Sep 2012

A Beginner’s Guide to Leaner CSS

Don’t repeat yourself (DRY). It’s a simple concept with the ability to completely change the way you write code. If I look back to my early days with CSS though, I don’t think the concept meant much to me. Sure, all right, don’t repeat myself, thanks for the advice. How does that translate to applicable advice though?

Today we’re going to look at the very core concepts for how to rethink the CSS you’ve been writing by trimming the fat and reducing the redundancy. The result will be leaner CSS that’s easier to author and maintain.

CSS / 3 Sep 2012

Code a Mountain Lion Style Notification Window With CSS

This one is for my fellow Mac nerds. Apple’s newest desktop operating system, OS X Mountain Lion, has a built-in notification system similar to what we’ve had on iOS for years. Today we’re going to build one of the notification windows using CSS.

To pull this off, we’ll use some basic HTML and a little bit of fancy CSS3. To finish it off, we’ll add a touch of jQuery magic to allow the user to drag the window around. It’ll be tons of fun, so boot up your favorite coding app and follow along!

CSS / 28 Aug 2012

Semantic Grid Class Naming With Placeholder Selectors in Sass 3.2

CSS frameworks are known for taking a club to the idea of semantic HTML. This is such a problem that developers everywhere have entirely sworn off the idea of grid-based frameworks solely on the principle that it leads to non-semantic class names.

With Sass, it becomes quite easy to work around this problem and use a predefined grid without resorting to wonky class names. In fact, the latest version of Sass (3.2) has a new feature that makes this task easier than ever. Read on to see what it is and how it works.

Inspiration / 27 Aug 2012

25+ Awesome Responsive Blog Designs

One of the very first steps that you should take in any major redesign is to get a feel for the state of the industry by taking a look around at what others are doing. When used properly, good inspiration drives you to your own unique ideas.

This is especially helpful when embarking on your first responsive design project. Today we’re going to hone in specifically on blogs and take a look at how some of the early adopters in responsive blog design have approached the challenge. If you’re thinking about taking your blog responsive, you won’t want to miss these 25 sites!

Critique / 24 Aug 2012

Web Design Critique #86: WPMU

Every week we take a look at a new website and analyze the design. We’ll point out both the areas that are done well in addition to those that could use some work. Finally, we’ll finish by asking you to provide your own feedback.

Today’s site is WPMU.org, a site for WordPress enthusiasts. Let’s jump in and see what we think!

Graphics / 23 Aug 2012

The Greatest Print Campaigns of All Time: Volkswagen Think Small

You’re a web designer living large in the 21st century. Your job is defined by screens and software. What in the world could you possibly learn about design from a bunch of old dusty print ads? The answer of course, is “a ton.”

Today we’re kicking off a new series that examines some of the most famous print ad campaigns of all time. First up is my personal favorite, the Volkswagen “Think Small” campaign. How did a funny looking car that was named after a bug, known for being slow and manufactured in factories built by Nazis ever become iconic to a generation of post-war Americans? Great design and fantastic marketing.

Business / 21 Aug 2012

How to Find Work When It Doesn’t Find You

Freelancing for a living is flat out nuts. Some days you’ll be so buried in work that you never think you’ll see the sun again. Other days will make you wonder how in the world you’re going to make rent this month.

This article will focus on the latter situation. You’ve reached the end, you’re finished. There’s no more work, the economy sucks, no one’s calling, now what?

Inspiration / 20 Aug 2012

10 Free Color Palettes From 10 Famous Paintings

If you want to learn a thing or two about color, why not look to the true masters whose artistic work has stood the test of time? Great painters almost always possess a keen understanding of color that is truly impressive when you stop to appreciate it.

Follow along as we pull color palettes from ten of my favorite artists and paintings and learn a thing or two about art history in the process. You’ll be able to download each palette as an Adobe Swatch Exchange file that you can pop right into Photoshop.

CSS / 13 Aug 2012

Master Responsive Web Design With Gridset

Let’s face it, responsive design is hard work. Web design was difficult enough when we were only considering desktop platforms, but the challenge of seemingly infinitely varying screen and viewport sizes has really added to the complexity of website layout.

Whether you’re completely new to responsive design or consider yourself an expert in the area, the tool that we’re going to look at today will blow you away. It’s called Gridset and it’s amazing.

Critique / 10 Aug 2012

Web Design Critique #85: Sonic Electronix

Every week we take a look at a new website and analyze the design. We’ll point out both the areas that are done well in addition to those that could use some work. Finally, we’ll finish by asking you to provide your own feedback.

Today’s site is Sonic Electronix, a consumer electronics company. Let’s jump in and see what we think!

CSS / 9 Aug 2012

5 Design Lessons That I Learned From Writing 85 Web Design Critiques

Here at Design Shack we offer a simple but useful service called a web design critique. It’s basically a consulting service that you can take advantage of for a mad cheap price in exchange for letting us post it on the site as an educational tool.

I’ve personally written up a whopping eighty five of these things thus far (#85 will be posted later this week). That’s a whole lot of design advice! Read on to see what I’ve learned about web design in the process, both from the good examples and the bad.

CSS / 8 Aug 2012

Which Is Right for Me? 22 Responsive CSS Frameworks and Boilerplates Explained

CSS frameworks have been around for years now, but the arrival of responsive design practices has rendered many of our old favorites useless. Fortunately, lots of really talented developers have jumped in to fill the gap with the next generation of CSS frameworks and boilerplates.

There’s already a ton of these things floating around. Everyone has a list, but no one really walks you through how each framework and boilerplate differs from the next so that you can make an informed decision. That’s our goal today. Follow along as we take a look at what makes each of these 22 responsive CSS frameworks and boilerplates unique.