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

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.

Meet CodePen: Dribbble for Coders

CSS / 20 Jun 2012

Meet CodePen: Dribbble for Coders

If you follow Chris Coyier on Twitter, then you have no doubt seen quite a few mentions go by in recent months of a not so secret project called CodePen. Chris promised us that this new tool would join the ranks of jsFiddle and Tinkerbin, serving as a sort of online playground to experiment with and share CSS, HTML and JavaScript demos.

Like a kid in December anxiously awaiting Christmas day, I’ve been dying to see what Chris and his team would come up with. Fortunately, Christmas has arrived. CodePen is a live project and I can’t wait to tell you all about it.

Ode to the Option Key: 30+ Cool Option Key Shortcuts in Photoshop

Software / 23 May 2012

Ode to the Option Key: 30+ Cool Option Key Shortcuts in Photoshop

The Option key (that’s Alt for you PC folks) is an amazing little helper for the Photoshop user. For the most part, you can probably get along without it but when you learn to wield it well, you open up tons of time saving features.

Why is it so great? What are all these great things you can do with the Option key in Photoshop? Read on to find out!

10 Tips for Awesome Tumblr Theme Design

Inspiration / 16 May 2012

10 Tips for Awesome Tumblr Theme Design

Here at Design Shack, WordPress is our bread and butter, but in the world of blogging platforms, we have lots of love for Tumblr as well. It’s simple, gorgeous, and simply enjoyable to use.

Today we’re going to take a look at what makes a great Tumblr theme. With thousands of options in the Tumblr theme garden, it can be difficult to stand out.

Why do some themes catch so much attention while others are ignored? Good design holds the answer. Not all themes are created equally, and knowing what aesthetic cues to look for can help you choose a Tumblr theme that will serve you well.

Interesting Trends in UI Design

Graphics / 25 Apr 2012

Interesting Trends in UI Design

I’m always on the lookout for new design trends. It’s fascinating to me how certain ideas get picked up by so many designers and implemented in countless different ways.

Today we’re going to specifically explore the world of user interface design and see if we can spot any currently popular trends. Almost more than any other area of design, interfaces are extremely subject to the ever changing whims of designers and if you’re not in the loop, you could find yourself creating UI that feels outdated. Read on to see what’s trending!

200+ Pinterest Boards for Designers to Follow

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!

Weekly Freebies: 20 Really Cool Retro Web Elements

Freebies / 18 Feb 2012

Weekly Freebies: 20 Really Cool Retro Web Elements

Every week we search all over the web and bring you a handpicked selection of the finest design freebies around. We do all the research and you reap the benefits!

This week’s collection of freebies contains twenty irresistible retro and vintage web design elements. We’ve got everything from icon sets to badges and background patterns. Be sure to add these to your collection of resources so you can bust them out the next time your design needs to resemble something from a bygone era.

5 Online Playgrounds for HTML, CSS and JavaScript Compared

CSS / 3 Feb 2012

5 Online Playgrounds for HTML, CSS and JavaScript Compared

Local coding environments are great, but it’s often the case that I don’t want to crack open Espresso and spend a few minutes setting up to code when all I really want is to test out an idea or work on a bug. Also, sharing options for most local coding apps are limited and typically require integrating an outside app like Dropbox.

Online playgrounds or sandboxes such as jsFiddle solve this problem by providing you with an instantly ready coding environment for you to begin experimenting in as soon as the page loads. These tools let you combine CSS, HTML and often even JavaScript to create and share coding examples. I’m completely addicted to these things and have extensively tested every one I can get my hands on. Today I’ll go over my five favorites and discuss not only why what I like about each option, but also where they fall short.

The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Using Scatter Brushes in Photoshop

Software / 28 Dec 2011

The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Using Scatter Brushes in Photoshop

In web design we often focus on using Photoshop to create pixel perfect designs that are meticulously shaped and layered until they’re absolutely pristine. Repeated patterns, tiny strokes, complex gradients and reflections are trademarks of this design style.

But what if you’re going for something more organic? How can we use Photoshop to create complex and random particle arrangements that don’t look cheesy and contrived? The answer of course is to utilize scatter brushes. This awesome tool seems fairly simple on the surface but there’s a ton functionality and limitless possibilities to explore so even if you’re a Photoshop pro, read on to see some great ideas for how to use scatter brushes in your work.

Designing Engaging Header Images: Think Outside the Box

Layouts / 12 Dec 2011

Designing Engaging Header Images: Think Outside the Box

One of the first things you do in designing a site is to decide what that first chunk of pixels that users will see looks like. You’ve got to grab their attention and communicate your message above the fold or risk that person moving on to their next open tab.

Unfortunately, many of us fall into predictable patterns for this piece of the site. We use the same old tricks, shapes and plugins and come up with a result that might look great, but isn’t really that exciting. Today we’ll take a brief look at how you can make your header images more interesting. Along the way we’ll see some live examples from sites that have implemented these techniques successfully.

The Evolution of Apple.com

Layouts / 1 Dec 2011

The Evolution of Apple.com

The Apple design team is widely regarded as one of the most talented group of designers in the industry today. The trends that they set are followed by not only every other major tech company, but by web designers in every conceivable product and service niche.

Follow along as we embark on an exciting journey through time and witness the evolution of Apple’s design style. You’ll get several amazing glimpses at Apple.com dating all the way back to 1997 as we witness the rise and fall of several important design trends.