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Critique / 20 Apr 2012

Web Design Critique #79: Chique Drupal Theme

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 Chique, a premium Drupal template from More Than (just) Themes. Let’s jump in and see what we think!

CSS / 18 Apr 2012

Everything You Never Knew About CSS Floats

What do floats really do anyway? How do they affect the box model of the elements involved? How do floated elements differ from inline elements? What are the specific rules governing the position of floated elements? How does the clear property work and what is it for?

Floats can trip up even experienced developers and understanding their behavior can really set you free from many of the woes that you face with CSS. Even if you think you already know all about floats, we’ll dive deep enough that you just might learn something new!

Reviews / 17 Apr 2012

Duckett’s HTML & CSS: A Beginner’s Web Dev Book You Can Actually Read

You’ve no doubt seen some buzz about a new book from Jon Duckett titled HTML & CSS: Design and Build Websites. Books on how to build websites are a dime a dozen. They fill entire sections of every book store around while many of us ignore most or all of them in favor of web-based learning.

So what makes this book so different? Why is it gaining so much attention? Does it live up to all of the hype? Read on to find out how Duckett is changing the way we think about web development books and why it’s hands down the best book I’ve ever read experienced on introductory HTML & CSS.

CSS / 16 Apr 2012

Sass vs. Stylus: Who Wins the Minimal Syntax Battle?

Today we’re going to pit two CSS preprocessors head to head. You’ve no doubt seen lots of discussion about how SCSS compares to LESS, but where does Stylus, the new kid on the block, factor in? Can it possibly match the power and versatility of SASS?

We’ll jump head first into both syntaxes and compare them side by side to see which is more logical and versatile. We’ll also talk about features and give you a clear argument for why one preprocessor is more powerful. You can rest assured, we’re not going to wuss out and give you some crap about a tie, there will be a winner!

Articles / 13 Apr 2012

How to Sell Your Design Idea

Sometimes getting others to visualize your great idea is not so simple and takes some “selling” on your part. It may even take advance (or free) mock-up work to help some of the non-visual people in the room get on the same page with your idea.

Here are a few things you can do to help you get your idea on the fast-track to approval and how to really sell your design concept.

Critique / 12 Apr 2012

Special Web Design Critique: The New Google+

Yesterday Google rolled out a massive redesign of its social network, Google+. They didn’t merely shuffle around a few objects, they completely redefined the entire visual experience. Such a major refresh merits a special edition of our web design critique series.

Let others talk about boring old feature lists, join us as we jump in and take a look around to see what’s better and what’s worse from a designer’s perspective. We’ll pick apart every piece of the interface and see if there’s anything to be learned.

Inspiration / 11 Apr 2012

200+ Pinterest Boards for Designers to Follow

If you love design inspiration, you should be on Pinterest. This free service has really taken off and designers everywhere are using it to collect and archive examples of great design. Whether you’re a typography nut, need some ideas for design books to read, or want some inspiration for out of the box brochure ideas, there are designers on Pinterest who are no doubt pinning exactly what you’re looking for.

Much like, Twitter, the key to enjoying Pinterest is to find and follow users that share your interests. The trick here is that while every user has multiple “boards,” only some of them are actually design related. We’ve spent hours and hours hunting and have found over two hundred of the best Pinterest boards that designers should find useful. Read on to check them out!

CSS / 10 Apr 2012

What’s the Deal With :Target in CSS?

I’ve been seeing a lot of tutorials lately that utilize :target in CSS to perform some fancy feat so I thought I’d take the time to really dig in and discuss how and why this syntax works. Instead of blindly following someone else’s code, you should be able to wield this tool with the knowledge of what’s happening how it affects browser support.

Read on to learn all about the basic functionality associated with the :target pseudo class and how you can stretch that ability to perform all kinds of crazy stuff with pure CSS. Along the way we’ll build some great navigation and slideshow examples for you to learn from.

CSS / 9 Apr 2012

Facebook Exclusive Article: How to Center Anything With CSS

We’ve decided to reward our faithful fans with an exclusive treat. Anyone that “likes” Design Shack on Facebook can download a free, in-depth CSS tutorial!

To follow up last week’s article on the difference between absolute and relative positioning, this week we’re taking a look at an extremely basic question with an incredibly broad reaching answer: How do I center something with CSS?

Read on to get a glimpse of the tutorial and see how you can claim your download today.

Articles / 6 Apr 2012

10 Tips for Writing for Designers

Ever get that feeling that some members of your creative team just aren’t quite with the program? It is entirely likely. Sending out communications and messages that will reach your whole team can be somewhat tricky because of the differences in how people think.

Creatives sometimes tend to be a little more free-thinking and less-structured than some of their office counterparts. Research has shown that people who use more right brain functions, such as designers and creative thinkers, also respond to and process the same information differently than left-brain thinkers, who tend to be more organized and logic-oriented. (Some studies have even shown that the highest rates of dyslexia, which affects reading and comprehension, have been found in right-brain thinkers.) With just a few tweaks, you can more effectively get your message across to everyone.

CSS / 5 Apr 2012

3 Free Apps for Testing Your Responsive Designs Online

Responsive design has brought about a whole new list of challenges for web designers who have decided to take the plunge and leave static design behind. Creating a layout that works well at not one but several, or even all, possible widths requires patience, creativity and of course, lots of testing.

Nothing replaces checking out your design on the actual devices that you’re targeting, but as you’re building, it’s nice to be able to get a quick peek of the layout at various widths right on your computer. You could resize your browser window manually, but this gets ridiculously tedious if you’re shooting for precise pixel dimensions. Fortunately, several talented developers have already built some great tools to aid you in this process. Join us today as we take a look at three of them.

CSS / 4 Apr 2012

The Lowdown on Absolute vs. Relative Positioning

When I was first learning web development, the style side of CSS seemed straightforward and fun, but performing layout feats seemed like a confusing mess. I sort of felt my way around without a solid understanding of how things like positioning and floats worked and as a result it would take hours to perform even simple tasks. If this situation sounds familiar, then this article is for you.

One of the real revelations that I had early on was when I was finally able to wrap my head around how positioning contexts worked, especially when it came to the difference between absolute and relative positioning. Today we’re going to tackle this subject and make sure you know exactly how and when to apply a specific positioning context to a given element.