Browse our articles, inspiration, news, and tips for the design community.

Design Dilemma / 12 Jun 2013

Design Dilemma: Which Is Better — Staff or Freelance?

Jill K. writes: I’m graduating art school (yay!) and can’t decide if I should freelance or take a staff position. Which one is better?

Well, congratulations, Jill! I’m guessing none of your teachers discussed the possibilities of a future in the industry. Yet another art school fail. But, the question is valid although you may not have a choice as a new graduate. Let me go over the strengths of each, as well as the pitfalls, and discuss what you will find are your immediate options.

Business / 10 Jun 2013

Do I Need to Design With SEO in Mind? a Guide for Designers

You’re probably tired of hearing it, but search engine optimization is important. It can dictate and influence who visits a site, and how many people make it through to see your beautiful design work.

It should be a part of the design process from the planning stages forward. So designers, unplug your ears and make it a priority to learn how you can start thinking about SEO in the design process. Let’s dive into the topic a little more today.

Building CSS3 Notification Boxes With Fade Animations
CSS / 6 Jun 2013

Building CSS3 Notification Boxes With Fade Animations

Modern web design techniques have allowed developers to quickly implement animations supported by most browsers. I think alert messages are very commonplace, because the default JavaScript alert boxes tend to be pretty intrusive and poorly designed. This leads developers down a path to figure out which solutions would work out better for a more user-friendly interface.

For this tutorial I want to explain how we can put together CSS3 notification boxes which appear at the top of the page body. Users may then click on the notifications to have them fade away and eventually remove them from the DOM. As a fun added feature, I have also included buttons where you may click to append a new alert box into the top of the page. Check out my sample demo to get a better idea of what we’ll be making.

30+ Innovative New jQuery Plugins
Freebies / 4 Jun 2013

30+ Innovative New jQuery Plugins

Many web developers are jumping into the sea of open source code projects. New plugins and frameworks are released almost every day. And when you are busy at work it can be tough keeping up with all the newest releases.

In this showcase I have put together over 30 different jQuery plugins worth a mention to all web developers. Developing a website interface can be tough and certainly requires careful precision. Developing on top of any open source project means that you are not reinventing the wheel. Plus you’re not the only one left to catch bugs in the code. And since jQuery is one of the most stable JavaScript libraries available, these plugins often work hand-in-hand to provide a seamless user experience.

Create a Modal Window Login Form Effect Using jQuery
JavaScript / 3 Jun 2013

Create a Modal Window Login Form Effect Using jQuery

The hidden modal window technique is a great solution for dealing with interface elements which are not particularly necessary on the page. Social networks can use modal windows for private messages and forms which are only being used by members of the site. This is also true for blogs and magazines which have an author login page separate from the main website. Modal windows are much easier than creating new windows in JavaScript because everything is displayed in the same window using HTML markup already on the page.

I want to demonstrate how we can build a custom modal window based off the jQuery plugin leanModal. The plugin is completely open source & free to use under the MIT general license. I like this plugin more than others because it just gives us the “bare basics” without too much customization. This leaves room to update the modal window via CSS and still utilize some extra parameters in jQuery.

Business / 30 May 2013

Tips and Advice for a Design Portfolio Review

For every member of the design community – designers, photographers and illustrators – the portfolio is an essential tool when it comes to getting new clients or changing jobs.

The portfolio review can be one of the more stressful parts of your career. It can be tough to take criticism and hear things you may not want to about your work. A good portfolio review will make you better and it is just as important to understand how to receive a review as well as give a good one.

Design Dilemma / 28 May 2013

Design Dilemma: How Do I Fire a Client… Legally?

Sebastian M. writes: My client has turned my latest project into a nightmare. At this point, I just want to walk away but I’m afraid they’ll sue me for ruining the project, which has a ridiculous deadline (although they keep delaying it with change after change and all for a flat fee)! How do I get out of this clean and legally?

This is a common problem (just glance at some of the things clients demand on Clients From Hell) and most designers just suffer through and swear they will walk out the next time it happens… but rarely do. There are, however certain things you can do to end a project cleanly and not worry about retaliation. Join us as we delve into another Design Dilemma, helping to answer your questions, queries and concerns about the murky world of design…

Creating a Portfolio With the All-New Dunked
Software / 27 May 2013

Creating a Portfolio With the All-New Dunked

As a designer, I am often overwhelmed by creating a portfolio. I want something that is simple, easy to navigate and showcases a variety of work, including print and digital projects.

I should also be able to update the portfolio easily and don’t particularly want to fool with the hassle of coding. Dunked is the new portfolio solution that meets all of these needs and more. Let’s take a look at it today.

Inspiration / 22 May 2013

Pinterest for Designers: Using It to Your Advantage

Design inspiration is all around us. And every day there are new tools popping up to help us collect and share that inspiration. One of those great tools is Pinterest. The image collection platform is a fantastic source of design inspiration, from typography to print, web or packaging design.

Newer additions to the service, such as boards for business and hidden boards make the tool even more useful. Haven’t gotten on board with Pinterest yet? Not sure how to make it work for you? Read on.

Graphics / 20 May 2013

How to Choose Effective and Attractive Icons in Your Designs

Icons can be considered one of the universalities of web design; almost any website benefits from the addition of at least a few of them. So it’s tempting to assume that if you sprinkle in a handful of these little pictures, your job is done. But there’s a lot more to it than that: good icons should feel like they’re visually integrated into the group of images that they’re in, as well as into the site design as a whole. They need to have a conceptual clarity and purpose that goes beyond being mere eye candy. Any icon that doesn’t serve a stated purpose, or doesn’t convey the right concept in its imagery, is one that needs to be reconsidered.

Of course, there’s room for interpretation and generalization with any kind of imagery, but icons are not mere illustrations that are used purely to break up space and add interest: they’re visual metaphors that can invest meaning into a subject at a single glance; and as such, they’re a powerful tool for improving user experiences.

Design Dilemma / 15 May 2013

Design Dilemma: Dealing With Professional Jealousy

Diane L. Writes: I can’t help but feel jealous of other designers. I feel like they’re better designers, they have better clients, they’ll become famous and I’ll be a nobody forever. Is that wrong?

Yes, Diane, it’s wrong, but human. It’s not a feeling that is limited to just designers but it’s something you really need to overcome. Maybe some real truths about the design industry will help you see that jealousy is not only unwarranted but is getting in the way of your own success. Hmmmm, where do I start? Join us as we delve into another Design Dilemma, helping to answer your questions, queries and concerns about the murky world of design…

Graphics / 13 May 2013

How to Build a Brand Bible & Visual Style Guide

Every brand, from the smallest website or startup, to corporate giants such as Nike or McDonald’s, need a set of branding guidelines and rules to maintain their identity. This document, which can range from a couple of pages, to several hundred, is the thread that holds together what the public sees from a company.

A brand bible establishes the voice and personality of a company, as well as who the public will see, and it governs every aspect of communication from the company. The brand bible is the basis for all interactions on behalf of a company – personal communications, social media, advertising and design. While a brand bible focuses on many things, we are really going to look at how it affects design.