There are many lists out there which tell you the best design resources of the month. They’re great for keeping you up to date on the latest tips and tricks.
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This list is gives you the best 50 resources out there. Period. Stay inspired, increase productivity and workflow, and use the coolest tools to create awesome designs.
- Toptal Hiring Guides: Toptal just did everyone a solid, explaining the difference between UX, UI, Interaction and Visual Design. Employers, take note. Designers, breathe a sigh of relief, then check out the guides to make sure you’re up on all the skills you should be.
- 7 Unbreakable Laws of User Interface Design: The title says it all. Read these and abide by them.
- itize.us: The goal of this site is to be a “a painstakingly curated presenation of the most well designed apps.” They’re achieving it.
- Smashing Magazine: This list wouldn’t be complete with mention of this incredibly influential resource. Founded in 2006, it continues to churn out some of the best articles on general design principles, typography, UI, and the business side of design.
- Web Design Tuts+: Web Design Tuts+ covers HTML&CSS, Photoshop, Design Theory, and Site Elements in extremely helpful video tutorials.
- Freelance Blog: Their hiring guides are just the start. Follow to tap into the thinking of the world’s top freelance designers.
- Bad User Design is Death by a Thousand Cuts: If you learn best by knowing what not to do, this article is for you. It walks you through the large consequences of small usability issues. After reading, you’ll be sure not to let the little things slip by anymore.
More Daily Inspiration.
- Little Big Details: Floris Dekker’s blog cranks out new tidbits of design inspiration each day. Read with morning coffee.
- Pttrns: Pttrns claims to be the “finest collection of design patterns, resources, and inspiration.” That’s a big statement, but it’s pretty hard to counter. The site provides a massive and well-organized collection of UI patterns to get the creative juices flowing.
- Google Design: Read up on what new tools Google’s using.
- Site Inspire: The blog with no articles, Site Inspire provides well curated eye-candy.
- DesignTaxi: DesignTaxi was named as one of Forbes “Top Five Sites for Keeping up With Creativity and Design” back in 2012. It remains a great one-stop shop for inspiration, attracting 6 million views each month.
Prototypes, Wireframes, and Mockups.
- Pixate: Acquired by Google in July, this visual prototyping platform does a phenomenal job helping designers create 100% native prototypes for IOS and Android.
- Affinity: Serif’s Affinity has been called “the photoshop killer” because it makes handling images so much easier. Here’s one sneak peak: while Photoshop lets you zoom 32,000 percent, Affinity gives you 1,000,000 zooming capabilities.
- Marvel: Marvel is a prototyping tool that lets you create mobile and web prototypes without having to code. It integrates with your Dropbox and Google Drive so any changes you make to design files are automatically updated in the prototype.
- Origami: Used to build Facebook Messenger and improve Instagram, Facebook’s Origami is all about helping you quickly put together a prototype, run it on your mobile device, and export bits of code for your engineers to use.
- Moqups: An HTML5 App that makes stenciling easier than ever before, Moqups helps you create high resolution mockups and wireframes on Chrome.
- Balsamiq: Perhaps the direct competitor to Moqups, Balsamiq is another web based wireframing tool that focuses on usability.
- Protosketch: Made just for iPad, if you priviledge finger-design over the mouse, this is the prototyping tool for you.
- Form: Form uses Google’s Material Design principles to help you design native prototypes on your computer that will instantly pop up on your phone.
- Themify Flow: Themify Flow is a free framework that allows you to design responsive themes within WordPress from a drag-and-drop interface.
Kits, Templates, and Libraries.
- Motion UI: Motion UI is a Sass library that helps designers create flexible transitions and animations (CSS3 Transform, Transitions, and Animation). Public access just became available this November. Snatch it up.
- A1 UI Kit: Brought to you by Behance, A1’s landing page says it all.
- S. Web Design Standard: Built by the U.S. Digital Service and 18F Designers, this is an open source UI and visual style guide which provides free access to the prototyping tools used for federal government platforms.
- Workspace Illustrations Kit: Designed by Belarusian Anastasia Kolisnichenko and released free by Smashing Magazine, this vector kit provides designers with 60 illustrations of workspace items ranging from Apple Watches to Moleskins. You can use an illustration as they are or customize its stroke, color, thickness, or pretty much any other element.
- Flat UI Pro: Made on the basis of Twitter Bootstap, The Flat UI Pro kit provides many basic components, icons, and glyphs which will help you create stunning flat-style designs.
- Vonn Mobile Material Design UI Kit: Android app designers, this one’s for you. The Kit features 100 drag and drop UI templates that will make your life a whole lot easier.
- Relay: Relay is a collaboration tool that makes it easier for Slack users to share work across various programs such as Adobe CC, Sketch, Chrome and OSX.
- Skala Preview sends lossless and color accurate image previews from photoshop or adobe to your iOS or Android device.
- Stark UI Kit: Another great and free UI PSD kit for you, featuring 200+ components and 90+ elements for 10 different categories.
- Font Library: This open-source project lets you tag, organize, and browse Google Fonts.
- Dribbble Infographics Freebie These 10 infographic vector templates for Adobe Illustrator are editable and premium quality.
- Chapter Three: Check out this robust wireframe template for Sketch. It features a 12-column grid based on Twitter Bootstrap, an array of typography styles, icons, and UI elements and 3 levels of mobile navigation.
- UIKit Fundamentals: Same goes here – if you’ve designed a couple apps, but don’t feel like you have the skills to take on more sophisticated projects, enroll in this free course to learn everything you need to know about the iOS User Interface Library.
Color, Type, Icons, and More.
- A Guide to Typography and UX: If you’ve had a hard time figuring out what type of typography is best for your design, this guide is for you.
- Material Palette: This web app helps you generate your own material design color palette, download it, and use it as you build an app or design its buttons.
- 4 Tips on Typography in UI Design: Here’s another tool for optimizing typography.
- Design UI Elements: If you’re new to UI design or in need of a refresher, you can develop your photoshop skills with this short course on creating user interface elements.
- Device Metrics: As its name suggests, Device Metrics lets you check the screen size, resolution, and aspect ratio for all devices you’re working with in one place.
- co: Another tool for making powerful color decisions, Material designers map out their material design colors and icons as well as flat design colors. The palettes start with primary colors and fill in a spectrum to give over 500 options to work with.
- Bootswatch: Bootswatch lets you browse and download themes that are all up to date for the latest version of Bootstrap. The themes are maintained by the GitHub community, and updates are made a breeze.
- to[icon]: This amsterdam-based team creates icons oriented for action with pixel perfection, easy searches, and awesome colors.
- The Noun Project: Its motto: Drag, Drop, Done. Search and download over 100,000 icons for Mac.
- The Design of Everyday Things: Don Normann takes you through the psychological aspects of user experience in this book about how and why some designs attract customers while others frustrate them.
- Don’t Make Me Think, Revisited: This is the follow up to Steve Krug’s wildly successful Don’t Make Me Think which was published back in 2000 and became one of the most influential web design books in existence. Like the original, this focuses on designing for usability. It is such a witty read you’ll forget that you’re reading a technical book.
- HTML and CSS: Design and Build Websites: Now here is a well-designed book on design. Jon Duckett created a book that is equal parts visual inspiration and technical guide for beginners and experienced designers alike.
- Open Design Now: If you want to about the future of design –and you should– read this. You’ll understand “why design cannot remain exclusive” and how open design changes the industry completely.
There you have it. 50 resources to help designers at any stage stay inspired and up to date when tackling any project.
4 Uncommon Design Tricks That Improve User Experience 100%
Everyone’s concerned about improving conversion rates. The general consensus is that user experience is the place to start.
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There are several ways to improve user experience on your blog. Most strategies center on tweaking the design of your website, but sometimes it’s how you organize your navigation. You’ve probably made basic changes like switching to WordPress or alphabetizing your drop-down menu’s items.
Here are some strategies you may not have tried:
1 – Color-code your menus with matching page color schemes
If you’re like most bloggers, you probably created a workable color scheme for your site and called it a day. If you want to improve user experience, that’s not enough. Consider coordinating the colors between your main menu links and each of your pages.
In an article describing why color-coded, hand-written notes improve efficiency of thought, blogger Kevin Purdy reveals that “color improves recall time for graphs and charts, and can be a very effective performance factor if not overdone.” The article also summarizes the work of Michael Tipper, a speaker and consultant on mind mapping and organizational software. Tipper says that color-coding the branches of a mind map stimulates the creative side of your brain, and visually separates distinct themes (which improves recall).
This same idea can be applied to your website for optimal results. Improve user experience by color-coding your main menu with a matching color scheme for each page you link. For instance, Pioneer Seeds implements color coordination extremely well. From one side to the other, all mega menu drop-downs have a unique background color that matches the color scheme of the pages listed within that particular section. There are no complicated color schemes. Each page presents one solid color.
The continuity of matching colors feels good, it’s easy on the eyes, and it helps people keep track of what section they’re viewing.
2 – Hire a design agency to create a custom design from scratch
The era of templates is here to stay, but not without consequence. Templates are easy and cheap (sometimes free), but they lack the flexibility you need to create an impactful and smooth user experience.
For example, most templates feature a gigantic header that encourages you to create an enormous header you don’t need. The most popular templates today force users to scroll endlessly through horizontal sections containing nothing but large icons with a few words underneath. You can change a template, but not without effort and the frustration of having to settle for “good enough.” This is especially useful for anyone trying to making their mobile site look similar to their desktop experience. This is best accomplished when having a fully responsive theme in place for all platforms.
A design agency can give you exactly what you want from the beginning. When your website design is created from scratch, you don’t have to spend hours tweaking a template only to find out your final tweak – the one that matters most – isn’t going to work.
Men With Pens is a well-known design agency that has created custom WordPress themes for years. They specialize in design, and know exactly how to create a better user experience. Their website embodies their expertise in user experience.
Check out their tips for bloggers and see if you notice anything unique about the page design. The design fills the entire page, and the graphics extend outside the lines and boxes. When you land on the page, you’re engaged right away. Capturing a visitor’s attention is your first priority to improve user experience. If you don’t have a user’s attention, they won’t have an experience at all.
3 – Simplicity
Simplicity never goes out of style. Simplicity in design embraces the approach that “less is more.” It’s a cliché, but it’s true.
Nobody knows simplicity better than Steve Pavlina. He’s been publishing articles on his personal blog for over a decade, and until recently, his site was as plain as plain can be. He recently switched to WordPress, but managed to maintain the simplicity responsible for his success.
Simple designs are easier to read, navigate, and interact with. Less menu items, less distractions on the home page, and minimal or no sidebars is what simplicity is all about. A simple design draws attention to what’s important.
4 – Create a unique design for mobile
Don’t just optimize your website for mobile users. Create a custom design for mobile users based on your original design. When you optimize your existing design for mobile, you often sacrifice important aspects of your desktop design. Using code, you can program your site to display a different design based on a user’s device.
Statistics show that 83% of people say a seamless experience across all devices is important. By creating a custom mobile theme based on your existing theme, you give mobile users that seamless experience. It’s the best of both worlds. Just be sure to include all of your navigation links. Some people suggest limiting selections for mobile users, but that will crush the seamless experience.
How to Best Prepare Your Site for Design Success!
User experience can be improved not just by tweaking your design, but by applying principles of color, navigation, and organization. Instead of chasing the latest revelation in conversion gimmicks, invest your time and money in fact-based strategies that improve user experience. Shift your focus away from the minutia of testing every tiny design element, and toward creating a psychologically-sound foundation for your users.
Fotor Photo Editor – The Perfect Graphic Design Tool for Bloggers
As bloggers and content creators, it’s important to always have visual content built within our best articles and site designs. Infographics, clip art, stock photos and more… but customized and original images will always grab the most attention.
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When it comes to actually creating such visuals, you will have many different options to choose from. Whether you are looking for a free application, one that is browser-based, or even if it’s a premium software you need to download and pay for — it’s important to know what’s out there.
Today we are going to be looking at Fotor photo editor which is a free and powerful tool that lets anyone get started with their own graphic design in just a few short minutes.
This tool allows anyone to start using it through a web browser or even with their mobile application. Whether you need to edit a photo, make a collage, or create a custom and original design, it can all be done through the power of Fotor.
The most popular features of this tool are it’s one click filters and fixes that allowed anyone to make their images pop and stand out like never before.
Let’s take a look at some of the many benefits to using Fotor photo editor for your website, blog, or just everyday life.
With most people looking to customize their mobile screenshots on photos with a few simple click of a button, and this is exactly what fotor photo editor will allow you to do. It will also allow you to create custom YouTube banners that can be used to liven up your channel as well.
You can see a few of these examples in the screenshot below.
When comparing Fotor to other graphic design applications like Photoshop, you are going to find many similarities, but it’s also important to note that premium applications like Photoshop are much more advanced, but also more costly in the process. The software is free to use, you can upgrade to Fotor Pro and find even more upgrade and options available.
What makes this design application and tool great for site owners and bloggers, is that it has a unique set of design tools and features — which are what most content creators are looking. In short, it provides users with what they need, while not overwhelming them in the process.
Fotor also offers a nice selection of design templates to choose from, which makes the process of creating new and original content even easier. These template designs scale across the many different design themes, sizes, and concepts on the site.
In addition to everything else mentioned, there is also a nice collection of resources, guides, and tutorials that can be found on their site blog. Such resources will provide users what the information and walk-through processes to get the most out of Fotor.
If you are currently looking for a new design editor to improve the look and feel of visual content on your site, be sure to give Fotor a try.
4 Essential Elements of Web Design (No.3 Will Shock You!)
If you’re a small business owner take note of these four elements of web design. They’re essential for boosting your online presence. Click here for more info!
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Have you ever wondered why most business websites tend to look the same? It’s like you’ve seen one and you’ve seen them all.
The truth is a lot of business owners prefer the easy route. That means going for a website builder, which offers templated designs.
If you want something different, you’ll have to go custom. But that takes a lot of time. Plus, you’ll have to look for a skilled designer/developer.
Whatever route you choose, you need to understand the elements of web design. After all, it’s your website. If you choose to hire a pro, you need to know what to ask for.
And if you opt to DIY it, then you can steer clear of cringe-worthy web design. That said, here are 4 web design elements that will help boost your online presence.
1. User Journey
You can scroll through countless website design guides and you’ll never see one that says, “ignore what users think.”
Consider mobile apps. Would you download something that’s hard to use and has a lot of annoying ads?
When you design your website, put yourself in your visitors’ shoes. Is your website hard to navigate? Does it load fast?
But how do you know if your user interface is good? Aside from consistency, it has to be simple, intuitive, responsive, and flexible.
This is why it’s good to test different designs first before committing to one. It saves time and eliminates the need for major changes later on.
Designing for the web doesn’t stop when you have a “pretty” website. Sure, your target customers will appreciate nifty graphics and all. But if your content doesn’t offer value, users will leave your website.
Now, this doesn’t mean huge blocks of text that will drown your visitors with information. Opt for conciseness. Give your target audience content that’s easy to digest so they can process it better.
Depending on what CMS you are using, content creation is usually the easy part. This is especially the case when using platforms like Weebly, WordPress or Wix. Since most of these platforms are drag and drop, it’s simply a matter of getting familiar with each platform, and knowing how to create great content. There are no programming or design skills required.
Did you just check the title again? If yes, you may be wondering why this would be shocking. Shouldn’t this be part of any website designing guide?
The thing is there are plenty of websites that use low contrast for text because it’s trendy. But you have to take into account users who have vision problems.
There has to be enough contrast between text and background. And you also need to choose your colors well. You don’t want to alienate color-blind and blind users who use assistive technologies.
Some people approach website design as a separate entity from search engine optimization. But there’s a way to be strategic about the process so that design elements improve the SEO of your site.
The easiest way would be to outsource to an all-in-one design company such as https://www.databerry.com/. When they build your site, they also take care of the backend coding stuff. This ensures your title tags, meta tags, etc work for better search ranking.
Want to Know More About the Elements of Web Design?
Knowing the elements of web design is your first step to a website that looks and functions well. But getting them all right takes a bit of trial and error.
For more web design tips, don’t forget to check out our other blog posts.
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