50 fantastic freebies for web designers, October 2014

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thumbnailWe’re back with another fresh set of freebies for your delectation. This month we’ve included trendy fonts, icon packs, useful JS and jQuery plugins, plus some other great and handy tools.

And, as always, if you think we missed one of your favorite new freebies, let us know in the comments.

Free tools icon set

A set of 15 minimal icons with tools such as hammers, brushes, screwdrivers and so on. Provided in PSD, AI and PNG formats for your convenience.

50 fantastic freebies for web designers, October 2014

 

Free sweets and desserts icon set

A delicious pack with many icons related to candies and desserts, coming in both B&W and color versions in PNG, PSD and AI formats.

50 fantastic freebies for web designers, October 2014

 

Free outline icons

A giant set with 12000 icons coming in a simple minimalist style with two different versions, each including their respective PSD files.

50 fantastic freebies for web designers, October 2014

 

20+ free flat icons

A set with over 20 icons featuring a modern, flat look. You will find social networks, media playback and web design elements in editable PSD format.

50 fantastic freebies for web designers, October 2014

 

iPhone 6 mockup

Simple, flat styled mockups for the new Apple products: The iPhone 6 and its big brother, the iPhone 6 Plus.

50 fantastic freebies for web designers, October 2014

 

iPhone 6 Plus PSD flat mockup

A flat-styled mockup of the new iPhone 6 Plus in PSD format.

50 fantastic freebies for web designers, October 2014

 

Rubber stamp PSD mockup

A hyper-realistic rubber stamp that you can use to display your corporate brand with style. Just put your design in the smart layer and you’ll be good to go.

50 fantastic freebies for web designers, October 2014

 

Business card template

A nice business card template with strong dark colors for a sober look, although you can always modify the included PSD. High DPI for clear printing.

50 fantastic freebies for web designers, October 2014

 

iPhone 6 and Apple watch design resources

With the introduction of a bigger screen size and a tiny new device, designers need some getting used to. These resources might make that a lot easier, though.

50 fantastic freebies for web designers, October 2014

 

Free data visualization elements

A fantastic UI kit full of data visualization items created with Sketch and also exported to SVG and EPS formats for easy handling.

50 fantastic freebies for web designers, October 2014

 

Watercolor logo templates

An interesting trio of logos carrying a watercolor background and hand drawings, producing a neat lo-fi, artistic appearance.

50 fantastic freebies for web designers, October 2014

 

Bella PSD and HTML email template

Email templates are good for promoting your products and services. Bella comes in both PSD and HTML formats for your convenience.

50 fantastic freebies for web designers, October 2014

 

Flat mobile app UI

A kit of user interface elements to build a mobile application with a modern, flat look.

50 fantastic freebies for web designers, October 2014

 

Mail app template UI

A pretty template for a mailing app, making good use of dark colors, contrasting them with vibrant tones in buttons and icons, as well as good spacing between elements.

50 fantastic freebies for web designers, October 2014

 

The Amsterdam user interface

A beautiful UI kit implemented with pure code. It features a neat color palette and multiple icons, creating a very pleasant experience.

50 fantastic freebies for web designers, October 2014

 

Table of contents generator

A tool for generating good looking tables of content for any area in your project. They come with modern styles and smooth animation alternatives.

50 fantastic freebies for web designers, October 2014

 

Neythal Tamil free font

A font that resembles handwriting, featuring multiple languages and special characters.

50 fantastic freebies for web designers, October 2014

 

Zodiaclaw free font

A luxury font inspired in the claws of a lion. It makes for a good typeface in product titles and logos, combining traditional and modern touches.

50 fantastic freebies for web designers, October 2014

 

Hans Kendrick free font

A fantastic typeface with great readability, compatible with many languages around the globe.

50 fantastic freebies for web designers, October 2014

 

Snazzy maps

This tool enables you to add fantastic new colors to Google Maps in order to match your design better and produce a unique feel.

50 fantastic freebies for web designers, October 2014

 

Lottery website template PSD

An awesome lottery-oriented PSD template from the guys at Becommie.

50 fantastic freebies for web designers, October 2014

 

Lithium: HTML5 one-page template

A neat single paged template with SCSS and CoffeScript files. The multiple divisions and soft animations make it easy to create interesting experiences with it.

50 fantastic freebies for web designers, October 2014

 

Artica one-page web template

A one-page website template, perfect for portfolios or agencies that need to showcase their content. Pixel perfect design and help file included.

50 fantastic freebies for web designers, October 2014

 

Pillow WordPress theme

An organized WordPress theme aimed at interior design websites. Its simple, yet attractive look is something to appreciate.

50 fantastic freebies for web designers, October 2014

 

Goran WordPress theme

A handy multi-purpose theme that can adapt to any need. Useful for quick company sites.

50 fantastic freebies for web designers, October 2014

 

TopMobile WordPress theme

A free WordPress theme aimed at mobiles and technology. As you’d expect, it is completely responsive.

50 fantastic freebies for web designers, October 2014

 

Enigma WordPress themes

A multipurpose, responsive WordPress theme created with Bootstrap. It looks good on retina displays and offers various page layouts and page templates.

50 fantastic freebies for web designers, October 2014

 

Seller WordPress themes

A WooCommerce oriented WordPress theme with responsive design, slider and many more features. You can even use for non-commercial sites if you wish.

50 fantastic freebies for web designers, October 2014

 

Knight theme

A classy multipurpose theme created with Bootstrap. It features elegant colors, responsive design and looks great on retina displays.

50 fantastic freebies for web designers, October 2014

 

Lonely Bootstrap template

A simple HTML Bootstrap template created to show a short bio or contact page including animations, icons and lightboxes for images.

50 fantastic freebies for web designers, October 2014

 

Resto Web template

A nice restaurant template created with HTML5 and CSS3. Perfect for your business’ online presence.

50 fantastic freebies for web designers, October 2014

 

Squadfree

A neat HTML template for creatives designed with the Bootstrap 3 framework.

50 fantastic freebies for web designers, October 2014

 

Daisy: Corporate Portfolio Web Template

A free responsive template with flat styling, intended to be used for corporate portfolios. As usual with W3Layouts, it comes in both HTML and PSD forms.

50 fantastic freebies for web designers, October 2014

 

Radial chart

A colorful set of radial charts, based on the ones seen on the Apple Watch.

50 fantastic freebies for web designers, October 2014

 

Scroll detection

A simple piece of code to detect how much the user has scrolled down a page.

50 fantastic freebies for web designers, October 2014

 

50+ CSS3 animation effects demos

A hefty set of over 50 animation effects created with CSS3 and JavaScript. They vanish right after you check them, making for easy and organized viewing.

50 fantastic freebies for web designers, October 2014

 

Square aperture-style menu

A checkered pattern with a button in the middle. When clicked, the pattern animates open, revealing a menu behind it.

50 fantastic freebies for web designers, October 2014

 

Continuous scrolling background of sticky header

This concept allows the header image to keep scrolling at a slower pace one the user has gone past it.

50 fantastic freebies for web designers, October 2014

 

Click and drag checkbox toggle

This clever code snippet allows user to select multiple checkboxes by clicking and dragging over them.

50 fantastic freebies for web designers, October 2014

 

Colorful CSS gradient background generator

A super useful gradient background generator that helps you create gradients with the colors you want and then gives you the full CSS code for them.

50 fantastic freebies for web designers, October 2014

 

Mapbox

An impressive tool to create vector based maps with great customization options.

50 fantastic freebies for web designers, October 2014

 

Check a site: Scan websites for quality problems

This tool allows you to enter any website and see if it has any problems. Quite useful for comparing or testing websites.

50 fantastic freebies for web designers, October 2014

 

CakeMail: Stay in touch with the people that matter

CakeMail offers a great set of tools so you can reach you customers. Give it a try and spread the word.

50 fantastic freebies for web designers, October 2014

 

jQuery alerts

Here we have a hefty package of tools to show quick information through websites or apps in classy, interactive ways.

50 fantastic freebies for web designers, October 2014

 

jQuery typeahead search plugin

This simple jQuery plugin aids your visitors by suggesting results depending on what they type on the search bar.

50 fantastic freebies for web designers, October 2014

 

Hello.js

This client-side devkit enables authentication with OAuth2 while responding to well-known APIs.

50 fantastic freebies for web designers, October 2014

 

Animsition: Animated page transitions

A cool jQuery plugin that makes heavy use of CSS3 in order to produce impressive animated page transitions that affect the whole website.

50 fantastic freebies for web designers, October 2014

 

Prezento: jQuery plugin to showcase your website designs

This jQuery plugin allows you to show your creations to the web, offering multiple viewing techniques and mockups for responsive designs.

50 fantastic freebies for web designers, October 2014

 

CSS & jQuery image comparison slider

A tool that lets you compare two images by moving a slider in ”before and after” fashion.

50 fantastic freebies for web designers, October 2014

9 Classic, Vintage, Retro, Grunge Fonts – only $24!
50 fantastic freebies for web designers, October 2014

Source

Let’s Talk About It

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Many of us struggle silently with mental health problems and many more are affected by them, either directly or indirectly. It’s {Geek} Mental Help Week1 and we would like to help raise awareness with a couple of articles exploring these issues. – Ed.

Talking about mental health can be awkward and embarrassing, but it really shouldn’t be. Mental health is just an illness, like any other. When we talk about mental health, we do so in hushed terms. We whisper, “Don’t mention it, he or she isn’t ‘all there.’”

I believe this approach — sweeping the problem under the carpet, hiding it from view, or stating, “Let’s not talk about it” — is a problem. Mental health is an issue. It affects our industry, in particular and confronting it head on is important. We need to talk about mental health more openly, and I’m happy to be one of a growing number of people in our industry who are helping to bring this subject out into the open, where it should be.

Mental health is an issue, it shouldn’t be a stigma. If more of us address it, openly, we’ll be able to address some of the problems we face collectively. Our industry is, in many ways, unique in its approach. We share what we learn, pooling our knowledge for the betterment of all. We can apply this approach to greater issues, like health, particularly mental health, and in so doing win the battle of the mind.

A Broken Elbow

Four years ago I broke my elbow. I left my house, on the west coast of Ireland, intending to take a short cycle ride and, barely a few minutes from my front door, managed to throw myself over the handlebars, bounce down a steep hill and break my elbow into what felt like a million pieces.

It was a stupid mistake. I wasn’t wearing a helmet — note to self, that’s never a good idea — and when my body, frail as it was, impacted upon the tarmac and gravel, it suffered immense trauma. Covered in cuts and bruises and bleeding profusely, I tried to pick myself up off the ground, only to discover that my left elbow was, I’m sad to say, almost beyond repair.

Fortunately, my wife, Cara (who — it has to be said — has supported me for an inordinate length of time), happened to be following behind me moments later in a car. She pulled in, gathered me up and took me to the hospital. I’m not a hospital person (I have a real phobia of hospitals), so this wasn’t the greatest day of my life, but I was soon taken care of and dispatched to Belfast, where I was admitted to yet another hospital for an operation to fix my broken elbow.

Unfortunately, all of this coincided with my end-of-year student assessments. I work as a senior lecturer at the Belfast School of Art, and my students, after many years of hard work, were just about to graduate. It was a difficult time, but, thanks to the generous support of my colleagues, I was able to assess my students from the relative comfort of a hospital bed, all thanks to technology. (iPhones are just the ticket when you’re assessing students from afar.)

I returned to work a fortnight later, my arm nestled in a sling. I wore that sling like a badge of pride.

A Broken Mind

Barely two years later, I would find myself in a hospital again. This time, I awoke in a hospital bed feeling exhausted, disorientated and ashamed. The day before, I had tried to kill myself. I didn’t wear that like a badge of pride. Indeed, outwardly, you wouldn’t have seen any evidence that I had even been in hospital at all.

I suffer from depression.

I find myself all too often overwhelmed by life, questioning the point of it all. I wonder, “Is there an easier way out of this?” The answer, for me at that time, was simple: It’s time to exit.

At that time, with my elbow on the mend, my mind was in a terrible place. I couldn’t see the point of anything; I could only see a way out. Try as I might to rationally address my worries, my mind was cast adrift, and my thoughts were illogical. I had had enough. The rational — or, rather, irrational — solution was to end it all.

I am married and I have two wonderful children. I love my wife, Cara, and my children, Ross and Caitlín, dearly. They mean the world to me. When I look back on that time, I am ashamed of myself. I was ready to leave; I had had enough.

These words are the hardest I’ve written. They are almost impossible to write and to share. How can you state that you were ready to abandon your family? That’s the worst thing anyone could put down on a page.

Anxiety: one of the most prevalent mental health problems in the industry.2
Anxiety: one of the most prevalent mental health problems in the industry.

When I feel great, I feel great. The world is my oyster, and the world is filled with opportunity. I am filled with hope, and I see the boundless possibilities that life offers. When the fog hits me, however, I cannot think rationally. The world is a black place, somewhere I wish to leave. Rationally, of course, I understand the devastation my choice will incur, but my mind is nowhere near working in what we might call a rational manner.

At that point, there is no badge of pride, only a badge of shame.

Managing A Mind

My last year has been one of change. I’ve regrouped and focused on trying to live a healthier lifestyle. I’ve also resigned myself to the fact that I cannot be all things to all people. The edges of my day had blurred: 9:00 to 5:00 had become 8:00 to 6:00 and, not long after, 7:00 to 7:00 (and worse). This kind of ever-increasing workload, where the balance between work and life switches, is not uncommon.

I’m sure we’ve all spent evenings or even whole nights just “catching up.” At the risk of stating the obvious, this is extremely unhealthy. We need to wake up, look at ourselves and ask, “Is this what life is really all about?”

Over the last two years, I’ve read a great deal to try to understand how the mind works. That journey has been an interesting one, and I’ve learned a great deal. I’ve found books to be the most helpful. Alain de Botton’s Status Anxiety3 is excellent, as is Viktor Frankl’s incredibly moving Man’s Search for Meaning4. Both are well worth owning.

If you can afford to buy just one book, however, get Steve Peters’ The Chimp Paradox5. Peters’ ideas on mind management are invaluable, and if he can help athletes win Olympic gold medals, then he can most certainly help you.

Books are great — as an educator, you’d expect me to say that — but we in this industry share something greater: a strong sense of community. Unlike in many other industries, we share our knowledge freely. Let’s share our knowledge about more than just design and code. Let’s share it about the issues we face in life.

You Are Not Alone

I’m not alone in writing about the issues I’ve faced. A growing number of others have, too, many of whom have been inspired to share their experience as a result of Geek Mental Help Week6. Geek Mental Help Week affords us all an opportunity to address these issues head on. We work in an industry that is relentless. Keeping up with change can be a challenge.

A year ago in my journal, fsck, I wrote7:

I believe, as an industry, we focus all too often on the headlong excitement of endlessly moving forward. That’s fine, but there’s a flip side. Relentless progress brings with it relentless pressure. It can be difficult to keep up, and the pressure to stay on top of everything can at times prove debilitating.

That remains the case.

Our industry is constantly evolving. It’s developing at an unprecedented rate, and it is intimidating at times. New technologies emerge yearly, monthly, weekly, even daily. Maintaining a knowledge base that is fit for purpose is incredibly time-consuming.

Keeping up is hard, and sometimes the stress of trying to stick with the pack (a pack that always seems to be pulling away from you) is frustrating. The older I get, the harder I find it to keep up with the pace of progress.

No one can do everything; we need to remind ourselves of that from time to time. AngularJS, Ember.js, Node.js; Bower, Grunt, Yeoman — I have no idea how any of these things work, and that’s fine. I have a skill set — I’m essentially a creative director and a mentor — and I’ve slowly come to the realization that my skill set is more than adequate.

I hope, as an industry, we can learn to let go a little. A wonderful world exists inside the machines we work with, but — equally — a wonderful world exists outside of those machines. Look up. Step away from the computer. Go for a walk in the park. That’s where you’ll witness what life is really all about.

We are all struggling. Even those who seem to effortlessly accumulate knowledge are struggling (though they might not admit it). Together, we can confront the challenges we face, as we do so many other challenges. Let’s not forget that.

(al, ml)

Footnotes

  1. 1 http://geekmentalhelp.com/
  2. 2 http://www.danielemilana.it/wp-content/plugins/wp-o-matic/cache/ab18d7cd89_anxiety.jpg
  3. 3 http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/0141014865/monographic-21
  4. 4 http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/1844132390/monographic-21
  5. 5 http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/009193558X/monographic-21
  6. 6 http://stuffandnonsense.co.uk/blog/about/announcing-geek-mental-help-week
  7. 7 http://fsck.monographic.org/fsck.php

The post Let’s Talk About It appeared first on Smashing Magazine.

When Flowers Start To Bloom, It’s A Sign That SmashingConf Oxford Is Coming Soon!

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Crafting a good front-end is no piece of cake. When tough budgets and ambitious goals interweave, you need just the right expertise to make just the right decisions. That’s why we create heavily practical Smashing Conferences, and the upcoming SmashingConf Oxford 201531 isn’t going to be an exception.

Yes, we’re coming back to the UK: SmashingConf Oxford 2015 will be as practical as usual, taking place in March 16–18th. Get your ticket!2
Yes, we’re coming back to the UK: SmashingConf Oxford 201531 will be as practical as usual, taking place in March 16–18th. Get your ticket.4

About The Conference

We don’t care about volatile trends, but we do care about things that work and don’t work in real projects, and why, and that’s exactly what the event will be focusing on. With practical talks, lots of networking, jam sessions, a personal, intimate atmosphere and spectacular surprises (lasers5, anyone?), this is a conference you probably won’t want to miss. A valuable, affordable community event for designers and developers who love their craft. Seriously.

No fluff, no basics, but real actionable insights that you can apply to your work right away. First speakers are already announced6, including Jake Archibald, Zoe M. Gillenwater, Tom Giannattasio, Natalie Yadrentseva, Richard Rutter, Paul Lewis and Peter Bilak. And we’ve got a few hands-on Front-End + RWD workshops7 as well, you know.

£289 / €349
Get your ticket.198350 tickets available, and they’re selling fast.

First Confirmed Speakers

We thoroughly curate every single talk and work alongside our speakers to make sure that each presentation fits nicely within the overall theme of the conference. For the Oxford conference, we’re very happy to welcome the first confirmed speakers:

First speakers at SmashingConf Oxford: Natalie Yadrentseva and Jake Archibald9

  • Jake Archibald
    (Front-End, Google)
  • Zoe M. Gillenwater (+ workshop)
    (Front-end, Flexbox)
  • Tom Giannattasio
    (Front-End, Macaw)
  • Natalie Yadrentseva
    (UX, Data Visualization)
  • Seb Lee-Delisle (+ workshop)
    (Creative JavaScript)
  • Richard Rutter
    (Web typography, Fontdeck)
  • Meagan Fisher
    (Front-End, Visual Design)
  • Paul Lewis
    (Rendering Performance, Google)
  • Lorna Mitchell
    (PHP, Open Source Evangelist)
  • Peter Bilak
    (Typography)
  • Rachel Simpson
    (UX, Google)
  • Yoav Weiss (+ workshop)
    (Responsive Images Group)
  • Polle de Maagt
    (Creative UX, KLM)
  • Christopher Murphy (+ workshop)
    (Designer, Educator)
  • Bruce Lawson
    (Opera, Standards)
  • Mystery Speaker
    (Someone you definitely know.)
  • …more speakers will be announced soon!
To keep our tradition of holding conferences at unique places, we did not choose lovely Oxford randomly. The venue for the SmashingConf Oxford is the amazing Oxford Town Hall, just like last year.10
To keep our tradition of holding conferences at unique places, we did not choose lovely Oxford randomly. The venue for the SmashingConf Oxford is the amazing Oxford Town Hall, just like last year. (Image credits11)

Seven Valuable, Hands-On Workshops

Conference talks are one thing, but a full-day hands-on workshop another. Why not add a practical workshop on top of your conference experience and come back to your office with a bag full of useful findings, learnings and perhaps even skills? Well, that’s what our workshops are all about! And we’ve got a few pretty, pretty good ones prepared for you:

Get your ticket.198Conf + Workshop ticket? You won’t be disappointed.

Fair Pricing: £289 / €349 For Two Full Days

We want to make sure that the conference is affordable for everyone, and this is reflected in the pricing for the event. The regular price is £289 (€349) for two full days (incl. UK VAT 20% and all booking fees), but if you are quick, you can snap one of the 50 early-bird tickets20.

Besides, if you get a workshop ticket, too21, you save £100 off the conference + workshop price. Student discounts (25% off) are available on request as well. Quite smashing, isn’t it? We thought so!

Beautiful SmashingConf sketchnotes by Elisabeth Irgens. She’ll be joining us in Oxford as well.22
Beautiful SmashingConf sketchnotes by Elisabeth Irgens.
She’ll be joining us in Oxford as well. (Image credits23)

Location And Hotels

Of course we didn’t choose Oxford randomly. It’s perhaps the quintessential English city: a gorgeous maze of winding streets, ancient college buildings, eccentric traditions and some very fine hostelries. Every inch of the city centre is packed with history, and no route you choose will disappoint. Made famous by its world-class university, Oxford is just wonderful for exploration and inspiration. And open areas by the flowing Isis river, ponies grazing and some of the best sunsets out there are within walking distance. It’s very, very lovely in Oxford.

Come and learn amongst the dreaming spires of Oxford!24
Come and learn amongst the dreaming spires of Oxford! (Image credits25)
One of the historic workshop rooms in the City Hall of Oxford.26
One of the historic workshop rooms in the City Hall of Oxford. (Image credits27)
The view of the stage in the main hall.28
The view of the stage in the main hall. (Image credits29)
Yummy Smashing Cat cupcakes!30
Yummy Smashing Cat cupcakes! (Image credits31)

Just like last year, we’ll set up an open-stage session a day before the conference, so you can publicly speak about your own experiences and discuss what worked and hasn’t worked for you. We’ll also put a list of all attendees on the website, so you’ll know beforehand who is coming and perhaps even organize a trip to Oxford together.

Sponsors, Dear Sponsors

We pour our heart and soul into creating a friendly, memorable and inspiring community event for everybody involved. Our goal is a valuable community event with practical talks, neatly packed with lots of learning, sharing and networking opportunities.

We keep ticket prices affordable for everyone, and we’re happy to welcome sponsors to help us make the conference smashing in every possible way. If you’re interested in sponsoring the event, please drop us an email at cat@smashingconf.com32.

Questions?

So here we go! More speakers will be announced soon, and since it’s a Smashing conference, you should expect a few surprises, but we’re not going to reveal them just yet. If you have any questions, send us an email at hello@smashingconf.com — we’d love to assist you in every possible way and would be humbled and happy to welcome you to Oxford in March!

Ah, and make sure to bring an umbrella with you, of course. But that goes without saying, doesn’t it? Cheers!

Footnotes

  1. 1 http://smashingconf.com/oxford-2015/
  2. 2 http://smashingconf.com/oxford-2015/
  3. 3 http://smashingconf.com/oxford-2015/
  4. 4 http://smashingconf.com/oxford-2015/registration
  5. 5 https://vimeo.com/89624072
  6. 6 http://smashingconf.com/oxford-2015/speakers
  7. 7 http://smashingconf.com/oxford-2015/workshops
  8. 8 http://smashingconf.com/oxford-2015/registration
  9. 9 http://www.smashingconf.com/oxford-2015
  10. 10 http://www.smashingconf.com/oxford-2015/
  11. 11 https://www.flickr.com/photos/deebeejay/13295503754/in/photostream/
  12. 12 http://smashingconf.com/oxford-2015/workshops/zoe-mickley-gillenwater
  13. 13 http://smashingconf.com/oxford-2015/workshops/guy-pordjany
  14. 14 http://smashingconf.com/oxford-2015/workshops/seb-lee-delisle
  15. 15 https://shop.smashingmagazine.com/smashingconf-oxford-workshop-idea-factories.html
  16. 16 http://smashingconf.com/oxford-2015/workshops/yoav-weiss
  17. 17 http://smashingconf.com/oxford-2015/workshops/vitaly-friedman
  18. 18 http://smashingconf.com/oxford-2015/workshops/marko-dugonjic
  19. 19 http://smashingconf.com/oxford-2015/registration
  20. 20 https://shop.smashingmagazine.com/smashing-conference-oxford-2015-eb.html
  21. 21 https://shop.smashingmagazine.com/smashing-conference-workshop-ticket-oxford-2015.html
  22. 22 http://elisabethirgens.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/2014oxford-16-tyler.jpg
  23. 23 http://elisabethirgens.com/2014/smashingoxford/
  24. 24 http://www.danielemilana.it/wp-content/plugins/wp-o-matic/cache/7fa7d9dbfd_oxfrod-cupola.jpg
  25. 25 https://www.flickr.com/photos/simononly/7988394843/
  26. 26 http://www.danielemilana.it/wp-content/plugins/wp-o-matic/cache/2ebe88d95a_Smashingconf-Oxford-workshop-room.jpg
  27. 27 https://www.flickr.com/photos/marcthiele/13217092874/
  28. 28 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/scott-kellum-stage-opt.jpg
  29. 29 https://www.flickr.com/photos/deebeejay/13295150495/
  30. 30 http://www.danielemilana.it/wp-content/plugins/wp-o-matic/cache/ab18d7cd89_Smashingconf-Oxford-muffins.jpg
  31. 31 https://www.flickr.com/photos/marcthiele/13264531553/
  32. 32 cat@smashingconf.com

The post When Flowers Start To Bloom, It’s A Sign That SmashingConf Oxford Is Coming Soon! appeared first on Smashing Magazine.

Feeling Stuck? Design What You Don’t Know

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Many of us struggle silently with mental health problems and many more are affected by them, either directly or indirectly. It’s {Geek} Mental Help Week1 and we would like to help raise awareness with a couple of articles exploring these issues. – Ed.

Where is it?! It has to be here somewhere. It use to be so easy. What happened? Somewhere, somewhere, somewhere. That idea is somewhere. It’s here, it has to be. This is where I’ve always found it. But there’s nothing. The only shapes I find here are well worn and boring, dints still obvious even with fresh paint. Oh so boring. So boring and so often used because they’re just “fine.” Too easily used. Too easily reached for and offered up as if they were new again.

Didn’t this used to be easy? Didn’t fresh ideas arrive without being asked for? Why did I have to wait until the last moment to even notice, wait until moments before these old dented ideas have to be presented?

Wasn’t this a passion? Wasn’t this a calling? Wasn’t this something I sprung from bed every morning to race to the studio to do?

Now it’s none of these things. Now it’s different. Now it’s quiet with muted color. Now it’s something I just do. No, it’s worse. Now it’s a job. It’s not my work, it’s my job.

It’s a job, and the ideas don’t arrive like they used to. I keep designing what I know. I’m stuck.

What Stuck Is Really Like For A Designer

Sound familiar?

We often think about being stuck as not having anywhere to move. But for a designer, this is what stuck really looks like. It’s emptiness followed by panic, days before a concept or first proof is due.

It’s reaching for old familiar ideas, ones used far too often simply because they’re reliable, even if they make for boring shapes. Whatever solutions might be offered up to the client’s problems are often interchangeable. Client names and logos could be swapped and the difference would be indistinguishable.

Without being creatively stretched, our skills take little time to silently atrophy. Before long, memories of excitement become all too distant. The misguided hope that the next project will be better starts to kick in, but the same situation is repeatedly found, so the same solutions are repeatedly used.

Being stuck means no movement, and no movement means that the creative waters of our minds grow stagnant.
Being stuck means no movement, and no movement means that the creative waters of our minds grow stagnant. (Image credits2)

Luckily, this can be solved with the most boring and obvious of things.

What Causes A Designer To Feel Stuck?

The longer we work, the bigger our box of tricks gets. We start to learn what will work for a client almost every time, what most clients don’t like, what most clients are fine with.

When desperate, we rely on those tricks in place of exploration and research, just to get the work finished and out the door. But before long, we are relying on them too heavily, then perhaps completely, rendering our creative legs useless as we find height atop of our empty little tricks. Alternatively, such stagnation may settle over us because of arrogance. We might allow our ego to fill up the space in our brains left for new knowledge and consider ourselves full.

We might think that we’re done with our education because we’ve graduated, won an award, gained some recognition or simply found a job. We forget how our skills developed in the first place — within a storm of unknown outcomes and a thousand wrong solutions. We forget that we need to understand and challenge our limits, that learning means being willing to be wrong and to try again, over and over.

We stop learning; we get bored. We fall into a rut and get stuck. What we need in our work is a little novelty. No tricks, no work made up of shortcuts alone and no ego — no, none of these — we just need some curiosity.

Want To Get Moving? Design What You Don’t Know

Writers are often given the advice to “write what you know.” Weaker wordsmiths would consider this justification to simply write what’s in their head. Their ego will suggest that they already have within them what’s needed for the next great novel.

Smarter writers, the ones who take their craft seriously, understand that to write what they know means to know many things, and to know many things means to deliberately subject themselves to a barrage of experiences. It means visiting the country in which a short story is set to understand the culture found there, not just relying on weak memories or a few Google searches. It means calling the local pharmacy to ask a few questions about how certain drugs work in the body if it’s central to how a main character dies.

It’s to put yourself in unknown places and routines so that you can find new sources from which to draw inspiration. The advice should almost be “write what you don’t know.”

I’ve always been amazed by the similarities between writing and design. They’ve often felt like two sides of the same card to me, and the advice for one often translates well to the other. So, what of the advice to write what one knows? What good is this for the designer?

Design what you don’t know.

A blatant copy, but it makes our point well. Design what you don’t know. Find your limits, push them with education and experience, and perhaps avoid that burnout and stagnated-career feeling.

Seek Out Your Limits, Know Them, List Them

Do you know what your limits are? Do you know what you don’t know? Do you have them in front of you? It’s not enough to have a vague idea of what you’re not comfortable doing. You have to make a list, to plan your education and your efforts.

A list: That’s our not-so-obvious obvious solution.

Such a list can provide an enjoyable stability and direction. It’ll stop you from stumbling through ignorance, wildly throwing your arms out hoping to clutch some knowledge to keep from falling again.

Go wild. This is your fantasy list; this is all the things you ever wanted to learn about your profession. Leave nothing out, include big and small, and cover the whole gamut. Write fast and with passion.

Patterns will emerge, little groupings and relationships. You’ll see what little classes you can structure for yourself, and you will play both student and teacher. You’ll be lucky for it — being both will make you better at both. Add to it every time something comes up during a project that you avoid because it confuses you, anything that makes you genuinely nervous to think about. Be specific. “Make website responsive” isn’t specific, but “How do I target specific resolutions?” is.

The benefit of getting granular isn’t just that it helps you avoid easily stumbled-upon distraction, but that it gives you things to test and to develop a very short feedback loop around. It let’s you test-break-repeat. We have to seek out the difficult and uncomfortable if we wish to grow. This is what has to be on our list — not the things we know how to do well already; there’s little to learn in practicing such things repeatedly.

In practice, concepts are defined, given shape, can even be manipulated, all while being tested. Don’t fall too hard into the trap of reading without doing, of adding items to the list without ever crossing them off. Make sure as soon as you have even the roughest idea of how something might work that you start trying to make it do so.

You have to do things, even when you do them poorly — especially when you do them poorly. Like those well-considered writers who know their stories well because they’ve lived them, because they’ve focused on what they don’t know so that they could write about such things like it was old knowledge — like them, we need to focus on designing what we don’t know, what we don’t understand.

Push Your Limits To Never Feel Stuck Again

All it takes is one thing from our list to lift a project from dull to interesting. Just one tiny thing. The first project you do might only benefit from your learning one small thing, but the second will be improved by what you learned previously and the new task that you’ll tackle for it.

One new thing per project. Some might consider it selfish to use clients’ projects as a means to give yourself an education, but I think it’s a perfect testing ground. It will give your daylight hours more meaning, something to bounce out of bed for.

Personal projects are a great place to learn, too, but the energy available to us outside of our normal office hours is fleeting. If you’re to work on client work anyway, why not derive more benefit from it than just a bit of money?

Cross off the items on your list as often as you can, as quickly as you can, with as much fury and energy as you can muster. It might not feel like much, learning one small thing at a time, but it’ll add up quickly, and it’ll give you a fun little challenge to solve every day. It’s a wonderful thing to experience.

Joyous Ignorance And Worlds Of Possibility

When we’re learning something new, we feel as if a world of possibility has opened before us. We’re wonderfully ignorant of any boundaries. But as we learn more, we make that world smaller. No wonder we can sometimes feel uninspired and stuck.

We rely too easily on what we’ve learned that we don’t add to our mental “need to learn” list. But it’s in lists that we can escape that stuck feeling and once again expand the world of opportunities. Exploring othis list gives us new glasses through which to see the world before us, enabling us to open new doors and gain new experiences. Boredom has never been found when exploring exciting new worlds.

This is all a bit circular. It sounds as though I’m suggesting that shortcuts, which is really knowledge well known and experienced, aren’t to be trusted, and so what you should do is focus on what you don’t know until it’s… well, a shortcut.

The truth is that nothing is wrong with shortcuts. It shows experience and knowledge. The problem occurs when one relies on the same set of shortcuts, the same set of tricks, never adding to their set of skills. For whatever reason, once our skills reach the point at which they are no longer challenged by our clients’ requests, we tend to let them stay where they are.

Few clients are sophisticated enough to know how complex our work can be, so they ask for simple solutions. Our human-natured desire to find the easiest path gives our ego the excuse it needs to simply let these sleeping dogs lie. Why try harder? But before long, the ego that granted us the easy path starts to gripe when we walk down it too often. Somewhere in the pit of our souls, it begins to cry havoc that we aren’t being used for worthy problems.

Vibrant Waters Of The Creative Mind

The waters of the mind stagnate when no new currents of knowledge pass through them. The silt, which is movement made visible, falls to the bottom when undisturbed. The waters sit still and before long are rendered lifeless.

Only through knowledge and new experiences will the waters once again come alive, allowing a vibrant crop of new species, new ideas, to grow and call your mind home. It’s only through the introduction of new ideas that our mind can transform from stagnant pots of water into vibrant ecosystems.

This requires work, a constant and caring tending — not great movements once a week, nor month, nor year, through hollow and meaningless retreats, self-development programs or committees or, worse, the occasional reading of a how-to article, quickly forgotten.

No, only through gentle stirrings daily will the waters of your mind remain lively and fruitful.

How does this work start? The short version is easy enough:

  • List everything you want and need to learn.
  • Read just enough to start experimenting with these listed curiosities.
  • Always find a place in your current project to apply a new experiment.

Write your list, tend to it regularly, and the waters will never go still. If you’re lucky, you might never find yourself stuck and bored, browsing your library of those faded and dented shapes.

(al, il)

Footnotes

  1. 1 http://geekmentalhelp.com/
  2. 2 https://unsplash.com/

The post Feeling Stuck? Design What You Don’t Know appeared first on Smashing Magazine.

Some More Subtle Hover Effect Ideas

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HoverEffectsUpdated

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We’ve updated and added some more effects to the Hover Effect Ideas. The second set contains some fresh styles that include the Font Awesome icon font and SVG backgrounds for some effects. The structure of the demos was a fullscreen grid before, but now we’ve adjusted it to contain single rows of figures where it’s easier to see how an effect looks in its normal state and when hovering.

As in the previous set, we try to make the effects as smooth as possible, not using any transition on properties that affect layout or painting. But trying out new things (like we do with SVG in the second set), there could be some glitches in Firefox on Windows (tiny border of SVG shown).

Please note that the effects have been tested in the latest versions of modern browsers. They might not work as expected in older browsers; you’ll have to provide a suitable fallback if you’d like to support those.

Read the original and updated article here: Ideas for Subtle Hover Effects

We’ve also corrected some small issues; thanks to everybody for the valueable feedback in the comments and the GitHub repo.

Demos

We’ve added a second set of effects:

The images in the demos are from Unsplash and the icons used in the first set are from the Feather icon set by Cole Bemis.

Some More Subtle Hover Effect Ideas was written by Mary Lou and published on Codrops.

This is a demo store for testing purposes — no orders shall be fulfilled.