Category: Articles

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Reviews / 14 Jun 2012

Use the Print Handbook and Never Screw Up a Print Job Again

Print design is an entirely different beast than web design and it comes with its own set of unique challenges. You might think it sounds simple, but the knowledge required to pull off print jobs with a high degree of success is staggering. You have to understand how different inks will be affected by various types of paper, whether or not small type will be readable in the color that you’ve set it, how to set up your file properly for commercial printers, and a lot more.

Whether you’re a seasoned print pro or a complete beginner, it’s actually pretty easy to screw up a print job, and unlike digital design, there’s no undo or simple updates. Today we’re going to check out an awesome tool that will help you get it all right the first time around: The Print Handbook.

CSS / 13 Jun 2012

CSS Hat: A Magic Button That Turns Photoshop Styles Into CSS

Taking a design from Photoshop to the web in a click is not even a remotely new idea. For as long as there have been “web designers” there has been the dream of such a workflow. Today we’re going to look at yet another tool that makes this promise: CSS Hat.

CSS Hat is different than other apps that you’ve seen though. It’s not a full blown WYSIWYG aimed at allowing you to build an entire site without writing code, rather it’s a way to bust out a few quick CSS3 styles on a single element using the process that you’ve used for the past decade or more, right in Photoshop. Spoiler alert: it’s good. Really good. Read on to see why.

Business / 12 Jun 2012

You’re a Designer and Don’t Have a Website? Get Started Now

It is still hard for me to imagine that there are print and even web designers who don’t have their own websites. It is imperative in today’s business climate that everyone has a digital portfolio and that it is up-to-date. The hard part is just getting started.

What you don’t need is a world-class website filled with animations and color and gimmicks. What you do need to have is a clean, easy to navigate site that showcases your work. You can go all out and design a site from scratch or for a quick fix, use one of the many (and often free) host sites available to create get your portfolio and be online by the end of the week.

Graphics / 11 Jun 2012

Twitter’s New Logo: The Geometry and Evolution of Our Favorite Bird

Recently, Twitter unveiled its brand new logo. It’s certainly not the first time this has happened, but the company seems insistent that this is going to be the last change we see for a while.

Join us as we take a look at the new logo, discuss why it’s better or worse and analyze the interesting geometry that was used to create the icon. Is there some hidden magic in using circles to create your logo? Read on to find out.

CSS / 7 Jun 2012

Build an Animated Photo Wall With CSS

Today we’re going to embark on the adventure of building yet another awesome and fun CSS demo. This time we’ll create a big, seamless wall of photos. When the user hovers over an image, a transparent black overlay will fade it out as a text label fades in and the image zooms.

The result is pretty slick and I’ve also thrown in a bonus second version for those that make it all the way through the tutorial. Read on to get started!

Layouts / 6 Jun 2012

Vector vs. Raster: What Do I Use?

With all of the image options and file formats out there, it can be a little overwhelming when you are choosing what file type to use (and send to clients). Compatibility is always a concern when you are working with different file types, but when it comes to graphics and images the type of computer graphic format you use is essential to how the image renders.

There are two types of digital graphics files – vector and raster. Vector images are made of hundreds of thousands of tiny lines and curves (or paths) to create an image. Raster images are composed of pixels. But how do you know what format is best for your next project?

Competitions / 1 Jun 2012

Winners Announced: Win a Copy of Jon Duckett’s HTML & CSS Book

Back in April, we reviewed the best beginner’s web development book that I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading: HTML & CSS by Jon Duckett. This awesome book is not only extremely informative, it’s flat out gorgeous.

If you’ve been itching to get your hands on a copy of this book, I’ve got some awesome news for you. This week we’re giving away three copies to our readers. Read on to learn more.

Inspiration / 31 May 2012

Best and Worst Design: 50 U.S. State Websites

In the past, we took a look at fifty of the best and worst university websites from around the United States, a post which launched an interesting discussion about how web design projects can be destroyed by committees and politics, even if talented designers are leading up the team.

Today we’re following that up with a similar discussion on official state websites. Which U.S. states have the absolute best looking websites and which have sites that look like they haven’t been updated since Clinton was in the Oval Office? Read on to see how your state ranked.

CSS / 30 May 2012

Code a Simple Folded Corner Effect With CSS

This week we have yet another fun and simple CSS project for you to hone your coding chops on. This time around we’ll be creating the illusion of a page with one corner that has been folded over.

With the power of pseudo elements, we’ll create some CSS triangles that we can then push into place to create our page fold. Once we’re all finished, you’ll be able to simply apply a class to any div to add in the effect.

Layouts / 28 May 2012

Think About Images and Text Together

Good design centers on good content. Good content needs good design to survive and stand out among all the other choices out there. The most successful design projects come together because of content-driven design.

It is easy though for designers get stuck in an image or text rut. This frequently happens because people tend think about text and images on their own. What we should be doing is writing copy with images in mind and preparing design projects with the text in mind. Think about how images and text will work together as you plan your next project.

Business / 25 May 2012

What if I Don’t Like the Work? Dealing With a Design Project Gone Wrong

Typically, the articles that I write on Design Shack are from the perspective of the designer. One topic that comes up regularly is how to deal with clients on various issues. However, today I’d like to flip things around and jump to the aid of the other team.

Designer/client relationships go both ways and just as often as there is a frustrated designer, there’s a disappointed client. Today we’re going to tackle the question of what to do when you hire a designer and just don’t like the work that resulted.

CSS / 24 May 2012

Framework Fight: Zurb Foundation vs. Twitter Bootstrap

In the vast world of rapid prototyping CSS frameworks and toolkits, there are a ton of different options to choose from, but ever since Twitter’s Bootstrap hit the scene it seems like it has largely gobbled up this market. Is there room or reason for anything else?

The folks at Zurb think so and aren’t about to abandon their widely successful Foundation project. Having written about Bootstrap several times in the past, I’m going to jump into Foundation today and see what I think.