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iOS 7 IconAs Apple announced last Tuesday, iOS 7 will be here September 18, and everyone with an iPhone or iPad will be seeing drastic aesthetic changes to their device. The redesign also inspired quite a bit of controversy and argument, but at this point there is little use fighting the new “almost flat” design requirements for apps and the Apple interface. The new iOS will be here in a few days, and designers have to either get on board or get left behind.

With a new iOS comes a complete redesign of most apps as well. Apple has already released guidelines for users to update their apps, and many have already shown drastic changes. But, many designers are still trying to figure out how to adapt their old app to the new style and interface requirements. But, there are many tools to help you along with the redesign. Alvaris Falcon compiled 10 of the best high quality tools and UI kits that will speed up the whole process. Best of all, all of the tools listed are free.

Many of these tools are designed to help you with the entire process all at once. The iPhone GUI from Teehan+Lax, for example, included everything you could need to update an app for the latest version of iOS. Others are more specialized. There is Home Screen, which offers an editable iPhone mockup, complete with home screen designs and icons. The App Icons Template similarly offers a simple template which aims to ensure your new icon looks great and fits all the requirements.

There are plenty of other options at your fingertips and it is up to you to choose the best tools for the way you design. Some will want to rely heavily on complete toolkits, while other designers are only looking for templates and inspiration for their creative jumping off point. Either way, if you choose any of the resources listed by Falcon, you’ll know you’re using a quality tool.

iPhone GUI

Flat design has officially become commonplace, but it is hard to tell how long its offspring, long shadow design, will last. At first glance, it seemed long shadow design would just be a small isolated derivative from the popular flat style, but it seems to have taken on a life of its own by providing a sense of depth while still maintaining a flat and minimal aesthetic.

For those who have yet to run into the style, it is characterized by appearing largely similar to flat design, but with a 45 degree angle that extends much further than any standard dropshadow would. Onextra Pixel estimates the shadow is around 2.5 times the size of the object normally.

If you want proof of long shadow design’s spread through the web design community, look no further than the number of free resources being released to make implementation quick and easy. Onextra Pixel has highlighted two over the past week alone, and there are many more included in theirs and other sites’ weekly round-ups of resources.

The first resource is a simple set of icons created by Christopher Behr that cover all you basic needs from music, settings, messaging, mail, and social media icons. They are all clearly inspired by the Apple icon style, while bringing long shadow aesthetics to the table.

The other free offering comes from a Bucharest based design and development studio called Responsive. They are giving away a complete long shadow flat UI kit which will make development a breeze.

Who knows if long shadow design is going to pass out of favor in the coming months, but it is currently riding high on the back of flat design. It certainly offers a solution to flat design’s complete rejection of depth while still providing a sleek and clean design.

Long Shadow UI Kit

Easy Infographics Graphic

 

It is undeniable that social media has completely changed the ways we share information. Gone are the days when loaning a book was the best way to help your friends learn about a topic. Even long form blog posts are often smothered by easy-to-understand content delivered in direct and immediate formats that are fun to read and tempting to share.

This is clearest when you look at the infographic, poster styled graphics aimed at informing people in depth on topics, similar to the way some of the more detailed posters you find in schools function. The difference is that infographics tend to give much more information than any of those posters ever could, thanks to the removal of site constraints.

Infographics engage users and attract them with stylish graphics and colors, which make readers more interested in the information that would normally be boring. Because of how easy it is to digest the information and get excited about what they present, infographics are incredibly popular on Facebook.

For a while, creating one of these infographics basically required a dedicated designer on staff, as no one gets interested in equally boring or sterile graphics without any of the style that bring infographics to life. That has changed much over the past year however, with a lot of credit belonging to the number of free tools and web applications that quickly help put together infographics with minimal design knowledge.

Crazy Pixels shared 10 of these free resources for businesses or bloggers hoping to share a lot of information in an exciting way. Of course, if you just slap something together on one of these applications, it is still going to come out bad. But if you take the time to compose the graphic and market it towards the proper audience, the rest will take care of itself.

grid4

 

Apple’s keynote event earlier this month made news across the world, and few were impacted by the announcement of the new mobile operating system iOS7 more than designers and developers. While consumers will be receiving an updated user experience and new aesthetics on their phones and iPads in the next few months, designers are rushing to update apps and icons to keep their content up to date and optimized for the new operating system.

These designers won’t be forced to redesign from the ground up, however. There are already numerous resources available to help update to the new iOS. Designmodo is gradually collecting the best of these resources, and they recently highlighted two different icon grids for iOS, which are templates which you build icons on top of.

Beyond offering a few simple grids to assist the icon redesign process, there are also tons of examples of updated icons to help get designers steered in the right direction before the public has even gotten a hands-on turn at the operating system.

Tools, templates, plug-ins, and script libraries are all a huge part of web design. If we create absolutely everything from scratch, we often end up spending way more time than necessary to get the same results. We keep complete creative control, while streamlining our process to keep our work fast enough to keep clients happy and stay competitive.

So many tools come out every month, that some websites run weekly round-ups of all the new fancy toys we can use to make beautiful websites without draining all of our time and energy on individual products, but this also means many great tools get lost in the mix, or downloaded to be used once and forgotten.

To keep you from wading through duds, out-dated tools, and countless versions of tools that achieve essentially the same thing, Speckyboy collected 50 of the best resources and tools that have been released over the past year. Time is priceless to designers and all of these tools strive to make sure every minute you spend designing counts.

Reading a BookOver the weekend, I got on a reading kick, but often the biggest challenge in those instances is picking the best book to start up. Of course, you could always try to trudge through A Song of Fire and Ice, or some other fiction, but lately I’ve been hoping to get a little more out of my reading.

Thankfully, there are practically an unlimited number of books for designers and developers that there is no shortage of information or discussion for me to choose from. The best part is, the most recent wave of books have almost entirely been ebooks that cut out all the production costs and are available for free.

You can look into any design topic you want and almost certainly find a book focused on that idea. Whether you want to learn a new coding language, research the latest trends, or learn some historical perspective to inform your designs, there is undoubtedly a book on it. Rather than making you do a lot of Googling and vetting to pick the best book for your interest, Paul Andrews put together a list of 19 free ebooks that cover everything you want to know.

Some of the ebooks are simple guides like Mobile Web Design Best Practices from Mobify which (as the title suggests) walks you through 50 of the best ways to build the best mobile site possible. Similarly, you could check out Web Design and Mobile Trends for 2013 from Awwwards if you are looking to catch up on what is all the rage right now.

There are also much more in-depth texts you can dig into such as Learning JavaScript Design Patterns by Addy Osmani. The ebook teaches designers how to write beautiful, organized, and most importantly, maintainable JavaScript through the application of classical and modern design patters to the language.

Whether you’re looking to pick up a new skill or refine and improve your existing ones, there’s an ebook that will take you from start to finish with half the headaches of digging into a myriad of tutorials and online articles from a whole bunch of conflicting sites and writers.

Flat Design IconsFlat design doesn’t seem to be going away. The popular use of pastel colors and minimalistic layouts is getting bigger every day, and even the biggest proponents of skeuomorphism (ahem, Apple) seem to be caving to the new focus on designing for the screen rather than designing based on the physical world.

For many designers, this might mean an entire overhaul of your site if you are trying to stick with the trends. However, before you go banging your head against the wall about having to build your site from the ground up, remember that any big web design trend probably has tons of free resources already available to help speed up the conversion.

This is obviously the case with flat design, and while there are scripts to help with making a flat web site responsive or managing navigation, there are also free sets that will help you fill out the details of your site with any icon you need in a style that will match your new page.

Speckyboy recently compiled twenty free icon sets that will help with navigation, social sharing, or payment methods that your users will be seeing. Designmodo also created their own personal set of icons they shared wih their readers designed specifically for social media and sharing.

The icons are all high quality, resizable PNGs or PSD files, and you won’t have to worry so much about the tiny details while you’re working on the bigger picture of your site. Oh, and don’t be confused if you think many of them look like app icons. Rounded corners and geometric shapes are a big part of flat design.

Like most designers and web design bloggers, I try to keep up to date with the latest tools and resources available, and I try to pass them along when I get the chance. One of the best places to find the latest and greatest tools, extensions, apps, and kits is Web Designer Depot’s monthly compilation for designers and developers. Most of them are free, and almost all of them can be of use in your workflow.

This month’s wrap up has everything from web apps, jQuery plygins and JavaScript resources to wireframing kits and coding resources. As always, there are also some awesome fonts, most of which you can get on a budget.

WireKitOne of my favorite resources, though one of the least directly usable on this list, is a free ebook called The Productivity Manifesto, which is filled with tips on upping your productivity. All you have to do to get the ebook is sign up for the free newsletter.

If you’re looking for more practical tools, you’ll like WireKit, a set of Photoshop shape layers for iPhone apps, or the interactive usability checklist Userium that comes with categories for user experience, homepage, accessibility, navigation, and every other facet of site usability.

Those couple tools are just scratching the surface of what is offered at Web Designer Depot this month, and I highly advise you check out everything else they are showcasing this month. You’re bound to find at least one tool you like.

retinize-it

Making “retina-ready” images isn’t exactly difficult, but it is definitely tiresome and far from fun. No one likes looking back on all of their website’s images and having to painstakingly go through and rescale and resave individual images all day. That’s exactly why web design tools are so popular. Designers aren’t quite lazy, but boy do we hate doing tedious tasks.

Artiom Dashinsky from Tel-Aviv was the designer who decided this issue needed a free tool to speed up creating high definition images for high density “retina” screens. His creation, “Retinize It” is an automated set of two Photoshop actions.

As Noupe explains, the first action slices a selected layer or group into a single image, then opens the dialog for saving the image for the web. The second one does the same, scaled the sliced area up 200-percent, and reopens “Save for Web” so that you end up with two differently scaled versions of the same image almost automatically.

Before you use Retinize It, you should always make sure your image relies on shapes or has been turned into a smart object. Traditional pictures will just be pixelated by the simple upscaling.

Dashinsky’s tool is far from revolutionary, and won’t accomplish much that any competent designer wouldn’t be able to do for themselves, but it cuts down on wasted time spent manually reworking individual images.

Responsive Screen CaptureYou’ve heard all about the pros and cons of responsive web design. You know it creates a consistent experience across different devices, and how it will save you from developing many different versions of the same site, but you’ve also heard that it “isn’t easy.”

Well responsive design may not be something a toddler can do, but Kendra Gaines has a way to make responsive design easy enough for almost every competent web designer out there. Thanks to the endless tools, frameworks, and plug-ins, responsive design is possible for everyone without too much fussing over the little details.

Gaines gathered 13 different responsive design tools you can use, and if you implement them all in your work flow, making your site responsive will be a simple matter you don’t have to fret over.

Even better, normally when you trade pure hard design work for tools, scripts, and other free resources, you end up sacrificing control and precision. The wide selection of these tools as well as the niche abilities of many of them make it so that you don’t have to compromise any longer.

Responsive websites are quickly becoming the standard, so it is imperative to learn how to adapt your sites to the new design world. You can still get away with your special, mobile-optimized websites if you so desire, but you are giving away consistency and features. Don’t give users a lite version. Use these easy resources to make your full website fit into anyone’s pocket.