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10 Website Background Ideas for Your Next Project
Inspiration / 21 Jan 2011

10 Website Background Ideas for Your Next Project

One of the most frequently asked questions we receive is a variant of what kind of background someone should use for their site. These designers have the basic content and the layout pretty much nailed down, but the background is either too boring or too busy and they don’t know how to fix it.

Today we’re going to take a look at a few live sites to grab some inspiration on how to effectively add interesting backgrounds to a web page. Bookmark this article and come back to it the next time you’re stuck on a background decision.

Best and Worst Design: 50 University Websites From 50 States
Graphics / 20 Jan 2011

Best and Worst Design: 50 University Websites From 50 States

If you hail from the U.S., which state are you from and how would you rate the level of design from the schools there? Today we’re going to jump into this topic by examining 50 website home pages, one from a university in each of the fifty states.

We’ve divided the schools up into the best and worst and didn’t pull any punches when it comes to calling out bad design practices. Let’s see how your state fared!

Photoshop Reflections 101
Graphics / 19 Jan 2011

Photoshop Reflections 101

Today we’re going to learn all about how to make convincing reflections in Photoshop. Text reflections, 3D reflections, product shot reflections, all kinds of crazy reflections. We’ll discuss everything from custom transforms to blending modes and beyond. Whether you’re a beginner or a pro, you’ll probably learn a thing or two.

You might be thinking that reflections were all the rage a few years ago, but are currently losing a bit of steam, and you’d be right. However, you can still see plenty of them in practice on Apple.com and other sites. You should definitely beware of over-using them and adding to bad web 2.0 trends, but also know that once in a while they can add class to a boring item.

Weekly Freebies: 10 Rocking Retro Fonts
Typography / 18 Jan 2011

Weekly Freebies: 10 Rocking Retro Fonts

When you’re working on a retro design, one of the key elements that you have to nail is the typography. Each typeface has an implicit suggestion of a decade and having a full arsenal of fonts helps you prepare for all kinds of design scenarios.

Below we’ve compiled ten of our favorite free retro fonts from around the web. They’re all really beautiful and definitely worth a download.

Web Design Critique #34: myRepono
Critique / 15 Jan 2011

Web Design Critique #34: myRepono

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 myRepono, a website backup service.

Design Meets Psychology: Putting Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs to Work
Business / 14 Jan 2011

Design Meets Psychology: Putting Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs to Work

In the past, we discussed at length Why Designers Can’t Ignore Marketing. For the most part, commenters agreed with idea that designers should familiarize themselves with basic marketing principles.

Today, we’re going to put this idea into practice and discuss Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, a model born in humanistic psychology and adopted by many marketing professionals as a way to understand consumer behavior. We’ll go over what the model is, how popular companies like Coco-Cola put it into practice and why any of this is relevant to you as a designer.

Designing a Church Homepage Without the Clutter
Graphics / 13 Jan 2011

Designing a Church Homepage Without the Clutter

Church home pages tend to suffer from many of the same problems that we recently saw with band websites. There’s so much content that gets thrown onto these pages and it all competes for attention to such a degree that most or all of it loses any intended visual significance.

Today we’ll learn how to battle that by designing a dramatically simple and attractive church homepage that still has plenty of room for various messages, announcements and more.

Easily Create a Full Screen Photography Slideshow Website Without Flash
JavaScript / 12 Jan 2011

Easily Create a Full Screen Photography Slideshow Website Without Flash

Photography websites nearly always run on Flash. Adobe’s increasingly notorious technology simply does an excellent job of displaying imagery in a dynamic way that’s perfect for photography showcases. However, there are a few downsides.

First, it’s not always easy to find a quality, free slideshow template to start from, and if you’re not a Flash developer, this could lead to significant costs. Secondly, the world is in quite the love/hate relationship with Flash at the moment, with many developers switching to JavaScript, CSS3 and HTML5 where possible.

So today we’re going to build a beautiful, Javascript-powered photography site with a full-screen slideshow. Literally all of the heavy lifting will be done by an awesome free jQuery resource so our job will be mostly customization. Let’s get started!

Weekly Freebies: 10 Brilliant jQuery Plugins
JavaScript / 11 Jan 2011

Weekly Freebies: 10 Brilliant jQuery Plugins

This week’s collection of awesome free resources includes some of our favorite jQuery plugins. Utilizing these in your site designs can save you loads of time in development and will help ensure that both your code and design is top-notch.

There are a few random plugins for tooltips and Twitter widgets but most of the resources you’ll find below help with image presentation. Whether you want a 3D carousel or a fullscreen slideshow, there’s something here for you!

Web Design Critique #33: Trade & Lateral Development
Critique / 8 Jan 2011

Web Design Critique #33: Trade & Lateral Development

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 Trade & Lateral Development, an email marketing firm.

How Much Money Do Designers Make?
Business / 7 Jan 2011

How Much Money Do Designers Make?

Design isn’t about money, it’s about something higher. It’s about loving what you do, making the world more attractive and satisfying your never-ending need for intellectual stimulation. Good designers don’t see design as a job, but a lifestyle. We think about design constantly while looking at the things around us, our hobbies are design-centric, we read and write about design; on and on.

Who needs money when you have a passion like this? Me, that’s who. Don’t get me wrong, lots of that mumbo jumbo above describes me pretty accurately. But let’s face it folks, we all have mortgages, bills, student loans and other factors that ensure our need for green stays intact. Today we’re going to have some fun and see how much money we should be making!

Illustrator Typography: Using the Appearance Palette
Graphics / 5 Jan 2011

Illustrator Typography: Using the Appearance Palette

Adobe Illustrator is a fantastic app for creating complex vector typographical arrangements. The application is so big and complicated though that it can take years to figure out how to recreate some of the cool effects that you’ve seen elsewhere without coming up with complicated workarounds.

Today we’ll remove some of the mystery of working with strokes and fills by diving into the appearance palette to see not only how it works, but how to manipulate the items within to create some really cool effects.