Tag Archive for: resources

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

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.

Gumby 2

A month after their last version of the responsive front-end framework, Gumby, was released, Digital Surgeons has launched a complete re-imagination in the form of Gumby 2. There are of course tons of new features, and it was rewritten in Sass to make the tool framework more customizable.

As Speckyboy Design Magazine tells it, the original version of Gumby came out of frustrations with trying to migrate to a responsive web design process. Gumby 2 takes their initial solution and makes it more efficient and useful for a variety of different front-end development problems.

One of the new changes in full integration with Google WebFonts which makes embedding custom fonts into your prototypes and sites a breeze. Rather than dealing with licensing and hosting issues, all you have to do now is drop a link or create a custom build. You can have all the typographic flair you have always wanted without all the old hang ups.

It also comes with a UI Kit so that you can build numerous UI elements quickly. Buttons, tabs, forms, and navigation can all be prototyped and customized to fit your site and Gumby 2 offers different styles so that you can pick what best suits your design.

Gumby 2 also helps you hop onto design trends such as Symbol or Icon Fonts. These fonts are sets of symbols to be used for navigation or general iconography. Instead of maintaining huge databases of different icons in various sizes, symbol fonts can be resized endlessly in the same way font characters can be. Gumby 2 comes with the symbol font Entypo by Daniel Bruce, which should cover all the needs of most websites.

Another useful trend that Gumby 2 integrates is responsive image capabilities so that mobile users and computer owners with high density displays see a pretty layout instead of pixelated, blurry images. Responsive frameworks tend to take care of all the layout needs, but they generally leave images and iconography behind. Gumby changes that by making the use of retina images intuitive with a simple attribute on an image tag.

While some frameworks may handle individual problems better, especially for more development minded people, Gumby 2 offers a wide solution for many problems which designers trying to transition to coding will doubtlessly appreciate. It saves time and helps ease you into the world of development without too much pain.

They say a picture is wort a thousand words. Every designer knows how tired that cliche statement is, and just how true it is when you use the right pictures. But, sometimes designers don’t have access to a quality staff photographer or a subscription to Getty Images or a similar stock photo collection website. How is a designer supposed to find quality images to use?

Some designers will settle for using lower quality images they find elsewhere, or using a confusing stock photo with little connection to the content. Neither actually improves content or web designs. Thankfully, there are collections of great free stock photos designers and bloggers can use without using the little money they have.

Stephen Jeske collected ten websites which offer high-quality free stock images. I’ve used one of the sites, Stock.XCHNG, for months and you can always find photographers willing to share their images through it. It is well organized, and easy to use, but no one stock photo site will have pictures for your every need.

When using any sort of images you didn’t create yourself however, it is always essential to make sure you are following the licensing terms and attributing the creator of the image, if you can find out that information. Read the licensing terms for every image you plan to use, and if you are unsure of any details, ask the author of the image.

TypelateWeb designers can never have enough tools and kits for making their websites look great quickly. With the rise of typography, there are numerous kits coming out that help designers catch up to the huge advances in a robust area of design. In the past, designers were limited to a select few fonts, so extensive knowledge of typography wasn’t necessary. Now, there is a steep learning curve when it comes to using text to enhance your design.

Smashing Magazine just released a new free-range and open-source typographic starter kit to help designers do just that. The goal of the framework, called Typeplate is to assist designers without forcing them into any sort of mold. Pattern libraries quickly make a design look good, but they tend to have generic results, and normal web frameworks force you to code “their way.”

Instead, this “starter kit” helps give your project a jump start, but making no assumptions about how you write code. Typelate lets you set base styles with conventional typographic features, created with solid markup and extra flexible styling. It isn’t meant to be a framework you add a little information to and expect a finished product. Instead, it is meant to be extended and customized while allowing designers to make the process of instituting typography onto their page a little faster.

High quality images are one of the best ways to make a website look great, but they pose a problem. No matter how nice a website looks, if it takes too long to load, your audience won’t stick around to see it. Images are one of the biggest slow downs on a websites loading time, but there are ways to optimize your images so that they don’t kill your speed.

Gisele Muller found a few tools that help lessen your images’ load on your site. They all are mostly simple, like TinyPNG which uses smart lossy compression techniques to make your PNGs smaller without destroying the quality of the image. Most function by removing the unnecessary information included in every photo, such as color profiles or comments.

No matter what, if you want a gorgeous site, you are going to want to use quite a few images. If you want people to actually use your site, you will have to find ways to optimize those images so they don’t slow you down and hold you back.

Source: Flickr

Browser plug-ins can be a huge help or a major hassle, depending on what is installed. Many of us still have nightmares about asking to use a friend’s computer, only finding Internet Explorer, and opening the program to see toolbars and add-ons clogging up half of the window space.

With time (and better browsers) however, many browser extensions have risen that actually help improve productivity. Google Chrome, for example, has tons of great free extensions in the Chrome Web Store, and Awwwards.com has cherry-picked some of the best for designers and developers.

One extension seems almost magical for us designers who have seen a fantastic font online, and then spent hours looking through collections of typefaces trying to find the closest match. WhatFont quickly inspects fonts on webpages just by hovering over them, no fuss or hassle.

Resolution Test, on the other hand, is an extension that allows developers to test web pages in different screen resolutions, simulating testing on various devices.

Some plug-ins aren’t meant to replace tools like the two listed above, but instead are intended to add to other tools. Firebug Lite for Google Chrome isn’t intended to replace Firebug or Chrome Developer Tools. It works together with them to provide rich visual representations developers are used to seeing in Firebug.

Awwwards have twelve more tools many designers and developers will find useful. Everyone loves free tools and resources, and these plug-ins can help streamline your work process without taking up hardly any space on your computer.

Design isn’t for everyone. There are plenty of programmers who can attest to that. It is absolutely required for people to believe your site looks credible, but design is intimidating and confusing.

For programmer Anna Powell-Smith, design was scary because the rules are complicated and often contradictory, as well as completely unwritten. It also requires a sense of taste “possessed only by a black-clad elite.”

Being intimidated by design doesn’t change that your site needs to look attractive if you want other people to see it and take it seriously. That is why there are plenty of tools to try to make design doable for those that don’t get design. Of course, having a professional designer work on the site will probably have better outcomes, but these resources will at least help you spruce up what you have.

Powell-Smith collected eight of these resources to make a sight look great with just programming knowledge at 24 Ways. No design instinct required.

Every designer or developer wants to find ways to make their life easier. That’s why we are always on the lookout for new great tools. This is why Cats Who Code writer Jean-Baptiste Jung compiled a list of all of his favorite tools for front-end development.

Almost every tool he lists is free, more than anything they will make your job easier and quicker to accomplish. One of my favorites made the list, as Colllor helps any designer out with color associations and creating beautiful color palettes becomes really easy.

I won’t waste your time walking you through each one, but I advise checking out at least some of the tools. Unless you like your work being difficult, that is.

Creating a responsive website design from the ground up can be exhausting and costly. Thankfully, for those of us without the time or money to completely build a brand new site, there are lots of frameworks or boilerplates you can use.

Chris Spooner from Line25 compiled a bunch of these free frameworks, from the most popular, Bootstrap which was made by the guys at Twitter, to some more obscure but helpful frameworks. They also all have the complicated grids and layouts prepared so you can almost completely customize them.

Responsive design has never been so easy.