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Topic: Design

Visual communication, art direction. Web layouts and typography. Graphic design, interface design, user experience design, illustration, photography, artwork. Creative, strategic, and technical approaches to crafting great interfaces. Visual styles, influences, and trends.

  • Why Aren’t You Asking Questions?

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    As a designer, your job is to understand your client’s needs. Listening to what they tell you is a good place to start, but it doesn’t end there. You gain much more insight by asking the right questions. Of course, it also helps to ask the right people and ask in the right way. Janice Gervais offers some tips to turn you into a better designer/detective.

  • Adapting to Input

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    The rise of mobile devices made us confront the reality that we can’t control the size of the viewport, and we adapted. Now it’s time to face up to another reality: web input modes are proliferating and we have no control over which ones a user has and prefers. Seasoned developer Jason Grigsby has some advice on adapting to the way the web is now.

  • Never Show A Design You Haven’t Tested On Users

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    User testing doesn’t have to be expensive or time-consuming—and it should never be skipped entirely if you don’t have “permission” to do it. Injecting real feedback early and often affects how we design our work, communicate, and even present concepts to the client. Testing should be a habit, even when it doesn’t seem possible. It just requires a little ingenuity.

  • Designing the Conversational UI

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    In the second of a two-part series, Matty Mariansky turns to the practical aspects of designing conversational interfaces. He discusses some of the challenges that he and his team encountered along the way and offers guidelines for translating specific design patterns into a conversational form. These guidelines are loose principles rather than hard-and-fast rules; best practices for designing conversations will form, break, and form again. It’s an exciting time to be a pioneer.

  • All Talk and No Buttons: The Conversational UI

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    Conversational interfaces have been around for a while, but they’ve only recently begun to spread into the mainstream. The entire field of visual interface design—everything we know about placing controls, handling mouse and touch interaction, even picking colors—will be affected by the switch to conversational form, or will go away altogether. In the first of two parts, Matty Mariansky sketches out a road map for this brave new world.

  • Let Links Be Links

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    The notion of the web as an application platform has never been more popular. Single-page frameworks like Ember and Angular make it easy to create complex applications that offer richer, more robust experiences than traditional websites can. But this benefit comes at a cost. Ross Penman tells us what we can do about it.

  • Letter to a Junior Designer

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    When you’re starting out in design you hunger to fix all the things. Your imagination and passion are boundless. So what turns a junior designer into a seasoned pro? It’s more than experience—it’s an ability to be in the moment and be a whole person.

  • Creating Style Guides

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    A style guide, also referred to as a pattern library, is a living document that details the front-end code for all the elements and modules of a website or application. It also documents the site’s visual language, from header styles to color palettes. In short, a proper style guide is a one-stop guide that the entire team can reference when considering site changes and iterations. Susan Robertson shows us how to build and maintain a style guide that helps everyone from product owners and producers to designers and developers keep an ever-changing site on brand and on target.

  • Inspiration

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    In the design world, asking about one’s “inspiration” is often code for “where do you pinch your ideas from?” But the act of copying needn’t be wreathed in euphemisms: just like in art class, we learn by copying the work of the masters. The trick is using the experience to learn and then making the technique or pattern your own.

  • Good Taste Doesn’t Matter

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    Do we truly believe beauty is in the eye of the beholder? Or do we actually seek out some external standard of good taste in design (and then try to impose it whether it leads to the best solution or not)? We may be happier, and better designers, if we let go of that notion.

  • Delivery Logistics

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    A client isn’t necessarily wrong to specify a PSD as the design deliverable they expect, but part of the design process is making sure we’re communicating with them in the clearest way possible—which could include helping them reexamine their assumptions. Client specs could be based on outdated or secondhand experience.

  • Start Coding with Wireframes

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    As a designer or UX pro, you’ve long suspected you ought to learn to code, but where to start? How about making your next wireframe responsive? When you build wireframes with simple code, you create a deliverable that can be reused while you become more knowledgeable about the inner workings of the web.

  • The REAL Real Problem with Facebook

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    The Facebook news feed: featuring the perfect lives and perfect kids of people you barely know, and sometimes glimpses of weird opinions from friends you thought you knew perfectly. Maybe our understanding of identity has outgrown the design of our virtual interaction spaces.

  • The Silent Subcontractor

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    Subcontracting for an agency can sometimes leave a freelance designer in the shadows, unable to talk directly with the client during the project, and unable to show their own work in their portfolio later.

  • He Ain’t Snowfalling, He’s My Brother

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    Not many newsrooms have the wherewithal to produce their own “Snow Fall,” and that, some say, dooms the NYT’s experiment to becoming a mere blip in the history of periodical web design. But it’s not all about per-article cost-effectiveness. The ambition that drives these efforts is exactly what the publishing business needs.

  • Good Designers, Good Clients

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    In the web community, it often seems like client work is what people do when they need money to fund the projects they really care about. I might be considered an oddball for not aspiring to work in a hip startup or create a product out of a side project. I love working in client services.

  • Findings from the Web Design Survey, 2009

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    The findings are in from the survey for people who make websites. Once again, we have crunched the data this way and that, figured out what the numbers were telling us, and assembled the sliced and diced data-bytes into nifty charts and graphs for your edification and pleasure. As in years past, what emerges is the first true picture of the profession of web design as it is practiced by men and women of all ages, across all continents, in corporations, agencies, non-profits, and freelance configurations.