For months now, web developers and designers have flocked to Mashable to learn from and share our how-to guides, analyses, videos, lists, videos and galleries.

Below, we’ve assembled 33 of our favorite resources since January and separated them into three easily digestible lists: inspiration, design and development.

To keep up to date with news and resources about the topics listed below, feel free to follow Mashable‘s dev & design channel on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.


Inspiration



Design



Development


For more news and resources on the topics covered in this post, you can follow Mashable‘s dev & design channel on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.

More About: features, web design, Web Development

For more Dev & Design coverage:

design image

Lisa Wehr is the founder and CEO of Oneupweb, a leading digital marketing agency representing some of the nation’s most recognized brands for more than 15 years.

We’ve all heard the expression “The customer is always right,” but what about making the customer experience on your website so thoughtful that they don’t ever feel unappreciated, forgotten or neglected?

According to AnnoyingDesign.org, the average time a user spends on a site is only 56 seconds. You have just 56 seconds to turn your site visitors into customers. Is it possible? Certainly, and app design shows us the way.

What’s the cornerstone of app-influenced design? Action-oriented design components, which create immediate functionality. It’s the purposeful construction of obvious pathways that creates user friendly navigation. Focusing on visuals, placement and interaction can transform your site and your business.


Visuals: Symbols and Icons and Pictograms, Oh My!


Take a look at the two major printing sites shown here. The first site’s homepage is heavy in text and provides only its logo as imagery. The company’s product selection is displayed in a simple column on the left-hand side of the page, providing some sense of organization, but is it user friendly? Unfortunately, it’s not. The content-dense site may be highly visible to search engines, but it’s time-consuming to navigate, which is likely costing them business.

The second company’s site follows the same structure — listing its popular products in the left navigation — however it outdoes the first company by having a much more accommodating design. The site offers visual icons (very similar to apps) for each of their services. The main navigation consists of miniature color-coded pictograms (images used in place of concepts, objects and actions), which also provides app-like usability.

print place image

Apps are all about pleasing the user by making navigation easier so people can achieve results faster. It’s more engaging and effective for a user to view primary navigation and action paths with supporting pictograms, as opposed to those that only contain text. For instance, the pictogram of a shopping cart on a navigation menu translates to “view order,” which resonates with users instantly. Not only are pictograms instantaneous, they’re also usually independent from language, allowing a global audience to confidently carry out tasks.

Below, Domino’s Pizza illustrates exactly this notion of making a task more enjoyable and better yet, faster (even speed readers combine symbols with text). Dominos.com requires specific user information from individuals as they complete online orders. The pizza company focused on the pragmatics (relations between the meaning of symbols and their users) as they made the often tedious task of filling out location information more visually appealing and less time consuming for users.

dominos image


Placement: Laying Down the Obvious Pathways


“Location, location, location” is key real estate, and should also be the golden rule of your homepage. As soon as your site appears on a user’s screen, they’re ready to go… but where?

Make all key actions on your site clearly accessible from the homepage. Unlike an app, your website is larger and has more room to fill. The main navigation of your homepage should be an ultimate go-to zone, so visitors don’t have to scroll down to find what they are looking for. The American Red Cross illustrates this tactic below. In the upper right-hand side of AmericanRedCross.org, users are provided with a search field [Figure 1], donation button [Figure 2], location finder [Figure 3], and various primary navigation items directing them to popular motives (in this case: “Give Blood,” “Volunteers,” “Take Classes” and more) for visiting the site.

red cross image


Interaction: Give the User a Bit of Control


Apps give users a feel of piloting — whether it is customization or creative routes of gathering desired info. Biggby Coffee offers customization by letting users choose the background skin of Biggby.com. Look to Adidas.com as an example of letting users run with their curiosity while still providing fast results.

Adidas’s homepage is filled with imagery, which visitors can scroll over to view multiple options [Figures 1 and 2], like voting on favorite sports players, connecting to Adidas’s social channels and shopping Adidas sportswear. And for visitors who have a precise agenda and aren’t in the mood to gallivant on Adidas.com, the company has wisely created a main navigation with pictograms for users with straightforward missions.

adidas image


Looking Ahead


Good websites in 2011 will be all about task-accommodating design, just like apps. Get ready to see revamped websites that are more visual, easier to utilize and more accessible. Here’s to a happy and user-centric year in design.


More Dev & Design Resources from Mashable:


4 Predictions for Web Design in 2011
HOW TO: Get the Most From Crowdsourced Design Competitions
HOW TO: Get More Out of Your Fonts
10 Predictions for Web Development in 2011
5 Free Annotation and Collaboration Tools for Web Projects

Disclosure: Oneupweb is a Mashable sponsor.

Image courtesy of David Salafia

More About: business, design, web design

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Nowadays, we are all content creators. Whether it’s work or a school project, the next blog post, or even that next tweet, we all suffer from writer’s block from time to time.

Traditional advice suggests taking a break from your monitor and getting some fresh air. That’s great old school advice, but it isn’t a useful suggestion for anyone tied to their computer. We’ve pulled together some top ideas, tools and services for beating writer’s block in an online environment, so you can break through that barrier without leaving your desk.

Have a read below for our quick tips to help you beat writer’s block online and let us know in the comments about any methods that have worked for you.


1. Get Inspired


Staring at your choice of word processing program is not likely to inspire you. If you can’t physically get outdoors, why not let the outdoors come to you. Take a virtual break — hop over to YouTube and refresh your brain with a seascape video, or stimulate your senses with the sounds of a forest.

Alternatively, music can help with creativity, but don’t just hit play on the usual suspects. Why not try some classical music that can lift your spirits without the distraction of lyrics. Or how about a foreign language radio station far removed from your usual choice of music to offer your brain some different input.

Images can also trigger a creative response. Flickr offers slideshow functionality — just tap in a keyword, hit the “slideshow” option on the top-right of the screen and let your mind wander as you view the images.

Finally, reading some classic literature is a great way to kick your brain into writing mode. You’ll find classics and more available to view for free at sites like Project Gutenberg and Google Books.


2. Improve Your Focus


If you are stuck in an office and can’t tailor your work environment to suit you, you can at least make on-screen changes to try and make you more productive and get rid of the many distractions of Web 2.0.

If you just need to sit down, get over the creative blockage and for goodness sake type, there is software available for both Mac and Windows users that can help. Writing is all about the text — you can worry about frills and formatting later on. Full-screen, no fuss text editors offer no distractions from other programs you may have open. There’s no on-screen clutter to hinder you and it can be a great way of forcing yourself to write.

Paid-for software WriteRoom is the seminal distraction-free writing tool for Mac users, while Windows users can try DarkRoom or WriteMonkey.


3. Use Language Tools


Sometimes writer’s block can strike when it comes to one line of text you can’t move past, or even just the one word you need to complete the perfect paragraph. There are online tools that can help. Rather than the obvious standard online dictionaries and thesauri, you may find alternatives can better help your creative process.

You can take advantage of a rhyming dictionary, an urban dictionary for slang and street speak, an online graphical dictionary or a visual thesaurus.

Lastly, a semantic dictionary might be the answer if you’re not even sure exactly what it is you’re looking for. Princeton University’s WordNet project groups words into sets of synonyms and then shows the semantic relations between those sets. It is arguably more intuitive than traditional methods, and might just be what you need to grab that bon mot out of the ether.


4. Develop Ideas


If idea generation is the problem, then going back over your old, similar work (especially the successful stuff) is a worthwhile exercise.

“Brainstorming” software can also help develop loose ideas into something concrete by giving structure to your thought process. As shown in the screengrab above, Bubbl.us is a good example of such a tool done right — it is so simple to use you can concentrate on your ideas rather than how to use the software.

If you like the ability to draw freehand, as well as create flowcharts, then DabbleBoard might be the service for you. It also lets you upload images and documents and share your screen with others.

LanguageIsAVirus.com is more suited to creative writers, offering a ton of tools for idea generation, including writing games like the “random line generator,” a text collage and a poem engine.


5. Get Social!


Two brains are better than one. And 10 are better than two. If you are really stuck then don’t be afraid to reach out to your social circle. Whether it’s fact or opinion-based help from Q&A services such as Quora or Aardvark or a quick bit of crowdsourcing on Twitter or Facebook Questions, your online buddies are there to help — just as you’d assist them in return.

If you’re lucky enough to have longer term collaborator(s), you can always employ some software to help the feedback process. Wridea is ideal for this use. You can note down, categorize and search your ideas on the web service and then share them with friends for feedback.


More Productivity Resources from Mashable:


18 Online Productivity Tools for Your Business
HOW TO: Choose a News Reader for Keeping Tabs on Your Industry
HOW TO: Use a Start Page to Stay Organized
HOW TO: Use Social Media to Connect with Other Entrepreneurs

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, Pgiam

More About: blogging, blogging tools, flickr, inspiration, List, Lists, online, productivity, writers, writing




In today’s highly competitive job market, creating the right video resume to accompany your traditional CV can make you stand out from the crowd. The wrong one, though, can make you a laughingstock.

Getting it right can be pretty tough. If you’re considering going down the video resume route, we’ve got some advice for you from pros in the know, as well as real-life examples of great attempts from clued-in job hunters.

Take a look at our five must-read tips for creating a video resume and please let us know which examples you like (as well as any tips you’d like to share) in the comments below.


1. Make Sure It’s Appropriate


Don’t just create a video resume because you can, create one because it’s relevant to the job you want to do.

If you’re applying for a role in the online, media, social or creative professions, then it’s more likely a decent video resume will have the desired effect, i.e., getting you invited for an interview.

Don’t send a video resume to a more traditional type of company that won’t “get it.” You might do your chances more harm than good.

Graeme Anthony, from the example above, is a public relations executive. His cleverly thought out online content adds an extra wow factor to his already outstanding experience.


2. Don’t Just Read Out Your Resume


The whole point of a video presentation is to offer a potential employer greater insight into you than a traditional resume can, so just reading aloud the contents of your CV is a waste of everyone’s time.

Use the video to help the employer get a sense of not just what you have achieved, but what you are capable of achieving in the future.

“Tell them why you would be the right person to hire and what you can do for them,” says Mario Gedicke, account manager at Mayomann.com, a video employment platform.

You can, however, highlight particularly relevant info from your resume. “Focus on your experience and skill set (and possible education/training) especially relevant to the position,” advises Tyler Redford, CEO of resumebook.tv, an online resume management system.

And if it’s appropriate and relevant to the job (as in the example above), then don’t be afraid to talk about your passions.


3. Keep it Short


“Keep your video resume short,” says Gedicke, who advises that a one-minute mark is ideal. Redford agrees that a video resume should be “short and sweet.” He suggests staying within two minutes.

“Keep in mind that recruiters would likely want to use the video resume as an initial filter for applicants,” Redford says. “However, recruiters do not typically want to use the video resume in lieu of a real, in-person interview.”

Think of your video resume as your own personal teaser trailer. In the example above, the clip is less than one minute and 20 seconds in length, while the extra time is made up of a bloopers reel accompanied with credits, a clever way to show off your personality (and that you don’t take yourself too seriously).


4. Don’t Be Afraid to Be Creative


If you’re opting for a video resume, then go the whole hog and make it spectacular. Be creative, whether that’s with the concept of your pitch, use of humor, clever production values or brilliant editing.

However, stay classy. “Be creative, but professional. Do not deviate too much from the demeanor you would have in the workplace,” says Redford. Gedicke suggests this should extend to your wardrobe too: “Dress professionally, just as if you are going to an in-person interview.”

In the video above, James Corne creates a spoof AA-style confession, but maintains a certain veneer and dresses like he was headed to the office. This demonstrates creativity and humor whilst showing him to be a professional person.


5. Make Sure It Passes the Share Test


As with all online life, don’t put content out there that you wouldn’t be prepared to see go viral. It’s unlikely your video resume will become an overnight Internet sensation, but imagining that scenario is a good test to make sure you could cope if it did.

Imagine your friends and family watching the clip. If the thought of that embarrasses you, then don’t submit it.


Digital Marketing Job Listings


Every week we put out a list of social media and web job opportunities. While we post a huge range of job listings, we’ve selected some of the top digital marketing opportunities from the past two weeks to get you started. Happy hunting!


More Related Resources from Mashable


4 Digital Alternatives to the Traditional Resume
Top 9 Job Sites to Bookmark for Your Career Search
19 Resources to Help You Land a Job in 2011
5 Ways to Get a Job Through YouTube
5 Tips for Aspiring Social Media Marketers

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, oleg66

More About: career, career guidance, career hunting, careers, job search, job search series, jobs, resumes, video, video resumes




Dave Sloan is CEO of Treehouse Logic, which offers a hosted design tool solution that enables customer co-creation. You can reach Dave at dave@treehouselogic.com and follow him on Twitter.

Do you have good taste? Feeling inspired? Lots of new fashion startups want to tap into your creativity. These new fashion sites are not your grandfather’s fashion brands. Instead, they invite anyone with design aspirations to co-create their own clothing or outfit.

Here are three ways to get started in fashion design from the comfort of your own computer.


1. Design and Sell Fashion Online


Garmz’s goal is to activate fashion talent. Based on a crowd-sourcing business model, designers upload their best designs and the community votes on favorites. The most popular designs get produced and put up in the Garmz online store. Profits from sales of the designed garment are shared with the designer.

Fabricly has set out to help you, the designer, launch your own clothing line. If you want to design for Fabricly, you simply submit your sketches via e-mail. The Fabricly team evaluates submissions and selects designers it wants to promote. Fabricly takes care of sourcing, production, PR and shares profits with the designer. “In short, Fabricly takes the pain and financial risk out of growing a fashion label.”

Both Garmz and Fabricly are in the business of democratizing the fashion world by giving creative, up-and-coming designers access to the fashion industry. As Garmz and Fabricly attract more designers and publish more unique content, they will grow the community of designers and shoppers. These sites give designers a platform to design, produce and sell their products online.


2. Design and Inspire


Instead of asking designers to sketch out free-form designs, Polyvore provides a web-based scrapbooking tool that accesses a broad library of fashion pieces. “Polyvore is the web’s largest community of tastemakers where people can discover their style and set trends around the world.” Polyvore encourages users to create sets, follow other users and inspire each other with fashion finds. The site also inspires creativity among its members by hosting design contests. These contests are often judged by celebrity icons like Kate Moss.

Fashiolista takes on the difficulty of finding fashion across a crowded Internet, i.e. “the shopping jungle,” by having members find and rate fashion finds. Users install a web browser extension to get started. As they browse through the Internet’s vast selection of garments and accessories, they can hit the “love it!” button from their browser tool bar. Loved items are added to a user’s Fashiolista profile and to the Fashiolista database of browseable items. Users customize their profile and follow fashion-forward members that inspire them, creating a fashion social network.

Google’s Boutiques.com invites members to create and follow online boutiques. Members can love, hate and share individual fashion items. To find items that may interest you, take the trademarked “stylyzer” quiz to be shown personalized recommendations. Like Pandora or Netflix, the algorithm learns more as people interact with the site, constantly improving the quality of recommendations. “Ultimately, Boutiques.com will provide shoppers with a much richer and interactive shopping experience and help drive traffic to retailers’ websites.”


3. Design and Buy


FashionPlaytes is a site where girls are their own fashion designers. Shoppers use a visual product configurator, i.e. “sketchbook,” to make selections including garment type, size, color, trim and accessories. FashionPlaytes offers tween girls an opportunity to design clothing and have it produced to wear at a reasonable price. The design experience is fun and playful, reminiscent of a video game.

Blank-Label is a build-a-shirt site that allows men to design their own dress shirt by selecting a fabric, style, collar and buttons. As users make selections they see a realistic graphical representation of the shirt they are creating. Users can submit their measurements along with their creation and should expect the custom shirt to take a few weeks to be sewn and shipped. “Designed by you. Stitched by us,” is the company’s slogan. Other custom shirt sites include World of Alfa, Shirtsmyway, and Propercloth.

These cool design-it-yourself startups are including you, the creative designer, in the shopping process. Some are marketplaces for up-and-coming designers, some are social fashion sites that encourage creative interaction and sharing, and others simply add visual product design to the online shopping experience. In any case, the Internet is becoming a hotbed of interactive design experiences. Get to it!


More Fashion Resources from Mashable:


4 Online Platforms for Personalized Style Advice
Why the Fashion Industry Is Betting Big on Branded Online Content
7 Stellar Examples of Branded Content from the Fashion Industry
12 Tech Toys for a Geeked-Out Wedding
How the Fashion Industry Is Using Digital Tools to Increase ROI

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, vm

More About: blank label, boutiques.com, clothes, clothing, creativity, design, Fabricly, Fashiolista, fashion, FashionPlaytes, garmz, polyvore, shopping, trending




If you’re like us, you’re using Dropbox for all kinds of unusual tasks. But we wanted to go further, so we asked the experts at Dropbox to tell us their most unusual, unexpected and crazy ways to use this versatile software tool.

If you’re not familiar with Dropbox, it’s free desktop synchronization software that lets you store a copy of a file on your computer and then access that same file from anywhere. You can store up to 2GB for free. Go over that amount, and it’ll cost you $10 a month for 50GB and $20 a month for 100GB.

Here’s the scoop from our experts for three different levels of Dropbox users:


For Beginners Only


Before we get to the advanced techniques, one Dropbox expert suggested that we focus on the basics. Beginners, this is for you; advanced users, you already know all this stuff, go ahead and skip to the next section.

Sync between two computers: This is the most basic task, where you install the Dropbox application onto two computers and synchronize files between them.

Undelete: We were so relieved when we first discovered this feature. Simply go to the Dropbox website, click the arrow that appears to the right of the file when you position your cursor over it, and select Previous Versions. Look at that — it’s your own Time Machine.

Share a folder to collaborate: We do this all the time here at Mashable, where everyone has access to the same files, and if someone else is working on that file, it lets us know so we won’t overwrite each other.


For Astute Users


Now that we have the basic techniques out of the way, here’s where our team of Dropbox experts get into the intermediate stuff:

Learn the keyboard shortcuts: Just like any application where you’re a power user, you can work much more efficiently with shortcuts, jumping all over the place by pressing just a few keys. For example, you can show/hide deleted files just by pressing “d.” Move up a directory with the letter “u.” Check out all 13 keyboard shortcuts here.

Password/Vault synching: Apps such as 1Password, KeePass and Tiny Password will let you store your secrets in your Dropbox, and then access them from any other device where you have these applications installed. Or, do like we do and use LastPass, a browser plug-in that performs all the synchronization in the cloud for you itself.

Sync between desktop and iOS device: Here’s what one expert called “beautiful, quick syncing,” where you never have to click “save” to save your notes. Mac users, he recommends using Notational Velocity on the desktop and PlainText on any IOS device to sync notes through Dropbox. For PC users, you can store notes in .txt format (using an applet like Notepad) and save them in Dropbox, where you can open them using the PlainText app (which we love) on your iOS device.


For Smarty Pants Users


Now we get into the advanced techniques. Here’s the most unusual tip we got from our experts, this from one of Dropbox’s sales team:

Sync music for your car: As our expert tells it, “I’m using Dropbox to sync a small netbook in the trunk of my car with my music library, and then have that connected to my head unit for playback. Anytime I’ve added new music to the library on my home PC, the next time I get in my car I will set my Android phone as a mobile hotspot, use that to hook the netbook up online, and I have the local Dropbox account on the machine selectively synced out of every folder except my music. It syncs the new music while I’m driving around and I now have way more songs in my car than I could ever fit on an iPod, including my favorite new edition of Arcadio.”

Chrome data syncing: Chrome browser users, try moving your Chrome data file to Dropbox, and your entire session — everything, including windows and settings, opens just how you want on any other computer. Our expert warns of a downside, though: conflicted copies of your settings files if Chrome is open on two computers at the same time. Here’s more info for the adventurous.


For Techno-Gods Only


Abandon all hope all ye who enter here, well, unless you’re a techno-guru. Here’s the granddaddy tip of them all, a way to get remote desktop access to all of your machines by using Windows Server 2008, straight from the upper echelons of Dropbox:

Compute anywhere: “One of the lesser known features of Windows Server 2008 R2 (and the currently-in-beta Windows Home Server “Vail” which is based on R2) is called RemoteApp. Basically it allows you to launch a self-contained streaming instance of an application that is installed on the server and delivered via
a remote desktop session where you only see the app on the client side.

“It’s cool because, on a Windows machine, it can be run one of two ways: via an RDP file, or taking it a step further, using an MSI installer package which makes it look like the app is installed on the local machine, complete with file associations. You can also run multiple instances from multiple remote locations at the same time. This is particularly cool for special file types like PSD’s where it may not be convenient or possible to install the app on the remote machine.

“Tying in to Dropbox, I had two folders: one called RDP and one called MSI. I was able to take my apps with me anywhere and if it was a Windows machine I had control of, I was able to “install” the remote app as well. The end goal was to be able to remotely launch a single copy of iTunes from anywhere and possibly even map the USB ports (you can set that up when you make the MSI) so I could sync my iPhone remotely. It was also great for controlling apps that needed some horsepower (i.e. Handbrake) from much more underpowered devices.”

Commenters, let us know how these tips worked for you, and tell us more ways to get the most out of Dropbox.

We’d like to thank all those at Dropbox who helped us prepare this post.

More About: Dropbox Tips, expert tips, file sync, hacks, how to




font image

Anders J. Svensson is a freelance writer, part-time adventurer, and the senior copywriter at Veer -– a provider of affordable images and fonts to creative professionals. On Twitter, find Anders at @mightyrival and Veer at @veerupdate.

It’s a text-based world. Everywhere you look, there’s a sign, an ad, or a screen relaying information. The hand-lettered signage at your mom-and-pop corner store aside, most of the messages you see are set in familiar fonts.

You’ll find plenty of tips and tricks on using type elsewhere –- and far more technical ones, at that –- but here are some select ideas and advice that will put you (and your online presence) on the path to becoming a font savant.


Know Your Fonts


If you’re wired and online, fonts first fall into three categories: The system fonts that came with your computer, the somewhat tacky fonts you can download at free sites, and the really nice fonts you might pay for if you are in the habit of paying for fonts.

Within each of those categories, fonts can be grouped on more aesthetic grounds. And though it won’t impress many crowds if you’re able to slip phrases like “French Ronde” or “Caslon-esque” into conversation, knowing fonts by their practical applications can help you choose the right ones for your projects.

  • Display fonts are big, beautiful and a bit unwieldy. Like a claymore sword, they look great hanging on the wall. Display fonts are destined for splashy ad headlines, website mastheads and anything requiring just a few words. If you set an entire document in a display font that has an old West, wood-cut, wanted poster aesthetic, your readers would probably gang up on you pretty fast.
  • Text fonts are your go-to fonts. Ones like Arial, Lucida, Georgia and pop culture darling Helvetica are all very readable at any size. This makes them ideal for setting long passages, articles, books and newspapers, where the design calls for multiple levels of headings and content.
  • Pixel fonts appear to be straight out of your favorite 8-bit arcade game. Their letters consist of tiny blocks or dots, making them ultra-readable at small sizes and low resolutions, which is perfect for mobile applications and tiny screens. They can also offer the convenience of being both readable and machine readable. Take that, bar codes!

Beyond the practical, fonts can be further classified by styles (script, stencil, weathered, etc.), decade, country, and even artistic movement (like Art Deco or Bauhaus). Of course, it isn’t all about good looks. Fonts fall into technical categories too.


Understand OpenType


letters image

If regular fonts are cars, OpenType fonts are time traveling DeLoreans. Car on the outside, remarkable effort and technology on the inside. So how do you take an OpenType font up to 88 mph? First, get up to speed on alternates.

Alternates are stylistic variations of characters that can be substituted for the default alphabet. While many fonts only offer a limited character set (26 letters, 10 numbers, and basic punctuation.), an OpenType font is more likely to have dozens, hundreds or even thousands of characters. Plus, advanced features that make automatic substitutions.

If you’re working with a script font, you might want to swap in characters that are ornamental or have repeated letters –- like a double-S –- replaced by a ligature (a character of two or more joined letters) that was specially made and therefore better looking. If you have enough variations of ‘I’ and ‘S’ for example, you could write a word like “Mississippi” with so many different characters, it would resemble custom hand-lettering.

As a general improvement over .ttf (TrueType format) files, OpenType fonts are a universal format; you can install an .otf file on both a Mac or PC, no problem. But just because you can install an OpenType font doesn’t mean you can make use of everything it offers. That depends largely on what design software you’re using the font in.

Imagine having the power to levitate chairs with your mind, but never using it. That’s akin to what you may be doing if you use an OpenType font in MS Word. Instead of the beautiful script you bought, you may see a mess of disjointed letters, because MS Word doesn’t support OpenType’s advanced features. In contrast, if you were using Adobe InDesign, the features would kick in and do some of the work for you.

Plus, you can always turn off autopilot and take control by picking and choosing alternates, ligatures and swashes yourself.


Discover the Glyph Palette


If you’re getting serious about working with fonts, discovering Adobe’s glyph palette is like finding a magical portal to Narnia in your wardrobe. Instead of talking fauns, you’ll find a useful, scrollable grid of every character in the font, which sometimes number in the thousands.

Overwhelming? No problem. A drop-down menu lets you filter the selection and view just ligatures, swash capitals, ornaments or number sets –- whatever the typeface designer has created and organized for you.

You can also select a letter or letters, and filter the glyph palette to display alternates for your selection. If the designer has included a half dozen different “E” variants, you can swap them in manually. Same goes for finding custom ligatures to replace “OO,” “LL,” “TH,” and the like. Some designers will go as far as including entire custom words designed as single glyphs.

Once you’ve spent some time exploring the glyph palette, you’ll know what to expect from future fonts.


Keep Learning, Keep Kerning


Typography is a lot like architecture. The surface aesthetics that everyone can enjoy are a result of an incredibly technical effort by its creators.

Though not all of us are cut out to hunker down and create a great font from scratch, using and power-using fonts is a very accessible creative arena, even for non-designers. You’ll know you’ve delved too deep when you interrupt dinner conversation to point out the ball terminals on the menu’s Bodoni-style serif.


More Design Resources from Mashable:


Top 5 Web Font Design Trends to Follow
The Future of Web Fonts
10 Beautiful Free Hand-Drawn Icon Sets
9 Free Resources for Learning Photoshop
20 Free Social Media Icon Sets For a More Shareable Website

More About: design, font, fonts, how to, opentype, typography, web fonts

For more Dev & Design coverage:




Shane Snow is a Mashable contributor and founder of approximately a million websites. He also does infographics for Mint, Wix, and the Credit Loan network.

The men’s lifestyle publication Thrillist has rolled out a new site design. Thrillist’s design team put its 12 million-user website under the microscope for nearly a year before unveiling the new look.

A complete redesign can be high stakes for a large site. Digg 4 earlier this year showed what can go wrong in the rollout of a new user experience (in Digg’s case, a noisy uproar and traffic dive). Twitter, on the other hand, this year launched a redesign that enhanced user experience with few snags.

Mashable got a sneak peek at Thrillist’s new design, along with the scoop on what the inside of a massive art project looks like. Read on for the anatomy of this full web makeover.


The brainchild of New York native Ben Lerer, Thrillist launched in 2005 “to address the lack of funny, actionable information available to young men” in his city. By 2010 the publication was serving 2.2 million daily subscriptions in 19 cities in the U.S. and U.K., and was listed as number 93 on the 2010 Inc 500 fastest growing U.S. companies.

The site was redesigned in 2008 to address the needs of its growing audience, but by the next year had outgrown itself, leading the company to form a team charged with redesigning and rebuilding the website for usability and scalability.

The redesign team first pow-wowed in late 2009 after Chris Steib, Thrillist’s new product development director, was hired that November. While dozens of Thrillist team members had a hand in the design process, the bulk of the burden fell on the shoulders of Steib and two others: Jess Williams, creative director, and Mark O’Neil, director of technology. “It’s definitely the biggest project I’ve ever been in from start to finish,” said Steib.


The Redesign Process


Left: Thrillist.com; Right: The new Thrillist design.

Before the proverbial pencil could hit the page, Steib spent months doing product direction homework. “The first step was to determine how the previous processes and implementation could be improved and to audit the existing website for UX and design problems,” Steib said. “Then I met early on with each department head and the key stakeholders on his/her team, gathering a wide array of business requirements. I broke these down into a high-level scope and built a basic site map and template directory our of the company’s highest priorities.”

Next came navigation; before drawing up sketches, the team needed to know not only what pages needed to be drawn, but where each fit in the hierarchy of the site.

With background work complete, Steib began drawing wireframes — boxy layout drawings of where elements would be placed on the pages — first by hand and then in Photoshop. A wireframe was created for each “template,” or unique combination of elements in the layout (e.g. the homepage and individual article pages had different templates).

Each wireframe was reviewed and debated in meetings with Thrillist executives, including Lerer himself. “This meant throwing a template up on the screen, tearing it apart for an hour, and then going back to my desk to make changes and iterate for the next session,” said Steib.

Once the direction of the design was established with the first approved wireframes, Williams, the team’s creative director, sat down to start on the actual artwork.

Williams put together a color palette and “mood boards,” or collages of design examples from around the web and print that represented the feel Thrillist’s brand positioning was aiming for, “highlighting different trends in different areas of web design; everything from the hierarchy of the page to small button details,” Williams said. “From that document, we were able to pair down what styles spoke to the Thrillist aesthetic that would then inspire the new site. We were drawn to sleek, modern designs and chose a color palette ranging in grays with red and blue highlights, which was both masculine and contemporary with numerous gradients, sharp edges and high contrast.”

Meanwhile, O’Neil and his development team began building the back-end framework for new features, such as the site’s TOP algorithm (which displays the most popular content on the site). They also began migrating the website database to MongoDB to improve its speed.

After the pattern and color research, Williams began designing the website’s header. In the first meeting with company directors, she presented a handful of ideas, which the team then debated. “We iterated quickly from the first meeting, pinpointing exact details we liked in specific headers and carried them throughout the subsequent design mocks,” Williams said.

The finalized header set the tone for the rest of the page design. Williams cranked out designs for each of the site pages and then discussed and critiqued them in weekly director meetings, revising, drawing, and revising.

It took from April to August for all the pages to be approved, meanwhile the design team was also working on rolling out other products for Thrillist, such as the newly acquired JackThreads.com.

At that point, Williams and Steib handed off the finalized designs to the front-end and back-end development teams to build them into a real website.


Implementation


Constructing the new design was straightforward, with a few inevitable snags.

“We sent 45 mockups… two dozen Photoshop templates,” Williams said. “And we still missed things.”

For example, the site’s new login was a dynamic drop down box; however, Thrillist e-mails contain links to “log in,” which normally led to a flat login page. O’Neil’s team pointed this out, so Williams whipped up a new page.

“Another thing about when you translate design to actual implementation is transitions,” Steib pointed out. “You can’t really design a transition,” like the animation that occurs when a pop-up box appears. The design team audited the built site for consistency and design integrity once the front-end team coded the transitions.

Once the working model was built, all that was left was connecting the site to Thrillist’s content management system backend and database.

From planning to implementation, the entire project took approximately one year.


Lessons and Design Tips


Steib, Williams and O’Neil shared a few of the lessons learned during the year-long redesign process.

Chris Steib suggested:

  • For sites like Thrillist, where the content is an important part of tone and style, “You have to have the content lead the design.”
  • Involve company leaders in the process early so they can cut off bad ideas before you spend too much time on them.
  • Bring chocolate to meetings.

Jess Williams suggested:

  • Sometimes you need to design what won’t work. That way your team can get a feel of what will work.
  • Use your actual content rather than dummy text on design mockups. It’s the best way to realistically see what balance your design needs.
  • You actually can do it yourself. Owning your design process rather than sending it out of shop is well worth the extra time it takes.

Mark O’Neil suggested:

  • Get a lot of feedback from everybody, but know what feedback to ignore.
  • It pays to grow your internal talent pool rather than outsource everything.


Why Design Matters


Good design is not just pretty (sometimes it can be invisible), design is a lot of work. On the web, great user experience equals time saved and money made.

At the end of the day, the new Thrillist’s success will depend on what users think. The only thing Lerer and his crew can do is now pull off the curtain and brace for rotten, flying tomatoes. Or, if they’re lucky, a few million more users.


More Dev & Design Resources from Mashable:


How the iPad Is Influencing Web Apps
Susan Kare: Interview With an Iconic Designer [GALLERY]
5 Better Ways to Read “Hacker News”
5 of the Best New User Experiences of 2010
4 Winning Web Design Tips From Ryan Carson of Carsonified


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