Fresh Resources for Designers and Developers – February 2014

Posted by Harshad

Fresh Resources for Designers and Developers – February 2014

Fresh Resources for Designers and Developers – February 2014

Posted: 01 Feb 2014 07:01 AM PST

It’s already the second month of the new year (gasp!), we hope you are still working towards your goal and New Year resolutions. And if yours was to become a better and more productive designer or developer, you probably will love our new collection.

In this post, we have put together a number of handy tools and resources for designers and developers including a Photoshop plugin for creating templates in the right size for social media profile pictures and covers, a jQuery plugin to create a popup dialog, and a fine collection of loading and spinning icons. Lets check them out.


IconLite is a free Mac application for quick icon replacement. With this app, not only can you replace your application icon, you can also replace OSX system folder icons including the Finder, Trash, and Disk icons. Simply launch the app, drag and drop the new icons, and you’re done.


Social media sites like Google, Twitter, and Facebook suggest that you upload the picture profile and cover for your account. SocialKit is a Photoshop plugin that can help you create these picture profiles and covers, in the precise size. Once it is installed, it adds a new extension panel. Select the social media site you want to create your account picture for, and it will generate the template for you.


ToyChest is a color scheme package for code syntax that uses color schemes from FlatUIColors (which is also known as the “Flat Design Color Scheme”). ToyChest is available for many popular code editing applications including TextMate, Coda, SublimeText, and even also Terminal.

Magnific Popup

Magnific Popup is jQuery plugin for creating responsive lightbox and popup dialog. You can apply the lightbox effect for single images or a gallery, a video from Youtube or Vimeo, or a Map from Google Maps. Also. It performs well on both desktop and mobile platforms.

Story Engine

Story Engine is a plugin to create more interactive story-telling in WordPress. It brings several new storytelling components that you can insert into your post (story) including Audio, Video, Parallax, Map, Timeline, Document Viewer and Chapter Headings.

Blueimp Gallery

Blueimp Gallery is a jQuery plugin for building image and video galleries, carousel, and lightbox effect. It is built upon Swipe.js, a touch-enabled jQuery slider. You can comfortably and accurately navigate through the gallery or the carousel with a swipe of you fingers.


Myth is a new CSS pre-processor but, unlike the other CSS pre-processors, which create their own conventions, Myth adopts CSS specifications (of the future). For example, Myth uses var() function to declare a variable and calc() function to perform mathematical operations.


SpinKit is a collection of modern spinners or loading indicators. SpinKit is built purely with CSS and CSS Animations to animate the spinners, hence the spinners will only work in the browser that support CSS Animation @keyframe. You can always do workarounds with JavaScript to provide a fallback. Visit SpinKit repo for more detail instructions.


Flatastic is a large collection of popular UI elements in mobile application, such as calendar widget, weather forecast widget, offcanvas navigation, toggle buttons, media player, and nice icons. The collocation would be very useful as a starter for a project and a source of inspiration.


10 Signs You Have Gone Too Far Into Freelance Design

Posted: 01 Feb 2014 02:01 AM PST

Freelance design is great, but nobody I know so far has remained as he or she was before after years of running a (often traumatic) freelance experience. After a while, we’d like to think that bit by bit, we have evolved into something beyond human, with either supernatural abilities or mentally disturbing traits, and these are what I want to share today in this post: the 10 habits you develop when you fall too deep into freelance design.

excessive freelance design
(Image Source: Fotolia)

Run through the list and think about whether or not these have occurred in you, or passed through your thoughts. Whether you love these traits or hate them, they are effects found in people who have gone perhaps, too far in freelance design.

1. You Want Everything Pixel-Perfect

For every recent project, as long as you have time, you want to zoom into every minor part and make sure those pixels sit in the correct positions. You feel comfortable so you zoom out of the design, but wait, are they really in the right position? You decided to zoom into the design again just to make sure, then out, and in, and out, and in, a few more times. Just to make sure.


2. You Arrange Things Perfectly Without A Grid

This is a supernatural ability mastered via years of working on Photoshop. One day you realize you are designing a prototype without dragging out a grid, and miraculously the design looks so neat that you decided to measure the white space between columns – and boom, perfect alignment!

This coincidence makes you feel really proud and happy with yourself, like you’ve unlocked a lifetime achievement of some sort.

3. You Try To Undo Something In Real Life

After working on your computer for sometime, you retreat to do a sketch or write on paper. You make an error and and instead of trying to erase it like someone normal would, you feel compelled to push the undo key combos with your fingers. Woops, guess that didn’t work.

(Image Source: Fotolia)

4. You Started To Talk To Yourself, And Sometimes Laugh Together

Loneliness sets in once you are into freelancing for some time. The room is too quiet, so you seek out some form of white noise to place in the background. Sometimes, the noise is you.

You crack a joke about how silly a design idea is, perhaps even laugh at the amateurish attempt, reminisce a little over how things were so much easier way back when… whoa, maybe it’s time to put some music on before we go full loco.

5. When You Bask In The Sunlight, For A Moment You Achieved Nirvana.

My longest record is around 30 days trapped inside my home (for work). The moment I step out from my house, it felt absolutely magical. You feel like you are finally free from the torture and suffering, and you promise yourself to stop taking up so much freelance work, and to live a better, more meaningful life, filled with sunshine.

And you always forget to listen to yourself afterwards.

(Image Source: Fotolia)

6. You Feel Happy When You Have Simple Interactions

You are trying to reintroduce yourself into society but catching up with friends is such a long-winded process which you cannot commit to for the long-term. But a brief conversation with the cashier at the grocery store or the cab driver is enough to make you feel warm and relieved (yup, I’m still here). Hm? What about the clients? If this is news to you, 99% of clients are probably from hell.

7. Your World’s Resolution is 1920×1080

Due to an endless project rush, I tend to stay in front of my monitor all the time, and that also means that I have to handle my social life with that flat screen too. For the past year, everything meaningful in my life happened within that 1920×1080 screen. Yup, that’s my world, in pure 1920×1080 definition.

screen life
(Image Source: Fotolia)

8. Your Life Is All About Seeking Ideas

It appears that your brain is constantly thinking about new ideas, and everything you do is for ideas. Rest a bit so you can have more ideas later? Check. Go out somewhere or stare into the sky so you might have a creative moment? Check. Stare into the monitor screen for hours so the universe can communicate an idea to you? Err… never works, but triple-check. Actually think about the meaning of life for a few seconds? Cross.

9. You Can’t Draw A Line Between Work & Life

Some of you may understand this subtitle more easily than others. In short, the work itself is already fun enough for you to commit hours to it, and the sense of achievement is believed to be as addictive as a drug. Bored? Just start a new project. You don’t need the balance between work and life anymore because you are freelance and freelance is you now.

work life balance
(Image Source: Fotolia)

10. You Think Life Is Awesome And You Cannot Stop It!

Did I say it’s a bad thing to go too far into freelance design? No at all. Although I have developped so many questionably unhealthy habits through the years from freelance, not many people get to enjoy work at this level in their entire life. I appreciate it as it is and to me, it is better than a regular 9-to-5 job.

Do you think that working in freelance design is fun? Share your thoughts with us.


Do Designers Live In A Bubble?

Posted: 31 Jan 2014 11:01 PM PST

It’s a provocative question, I know. The question of whether the design community is too insular is one that many in the design community have wondered for some time. There are more designers working than ever before, and design plays a very prominent role in today’s tech-forward industries. Personally, I believe that design has never been more democratic than it is now, and that is a good thing overall.

(Image source: Ian Strain)

But is there still a prevalent attitude of design "snobbishness" that can leave the average user of a design feeling confused and left out of the conversation? Today, we’ll explore this idea and discuss ways that designers can become even more connected to their clients and users.

The World Outside The Bubble

Do non-designers (or, as I like to call them, "normal" people) really care how high end a website looks? Are they really stopping to admire the beautiful business card they’re scribbling notes on the back of? Does that billboard or Facebook ad really make the kind of impression the designers and their clients are hoping for?

There’s no question that designers are passionate about design. We wouldn’t put up with the madness of this industry otherwise. But are we putting in all of this effort into design for nothing? Is anybody else listening?

The simple answer is: yes, they are. Some of them, anyway. Design is definitely appreciated, but the audience a design client is hoping to captivate is usually a lot smaller than they believe it is or should be. There are a disturbing number of clients, and designers as well, who believe that the target market for their designs should be "anybody" or "as many people as possible."

Wrong, wrong, wrong.

Outside the bubble of design, it’s important to remember that a good 75-95% of the general population is never going to care about your designs. Even huge mega-corporations like Coca-Cola or McDonald’s, with franchises and ad campaigns all over the world, don’t command 100% of the market share for their products. There will always be small pockets of the population that even the most slick and impressive marketing campaigns will fail to reach.

A better solution is to find your niche market and devote all of your energy to reaching only those people. Learn to exclude certain people from your field of vision. As for the majority who don’t care about what you do, never mind them. Your work isn’t meant for them anyway.

Visual Appeal vs. Design

As we all know, design is about how something works. The outer image may make us happy, but if the design itself doesn’t work to solve our problems, it’s not really design. The ideal scenario is a design that looks good and solves the problem in the most efficient way possible.

Many designers, unfortunately, only pay attention to the former requirement, and completely ignore the latter. What’s worse is that oftentimes their clients let them do so.

The industries of traditional advertising and publishing have drastically changed in the past 20 years, yet some clients are still acting like it’s the "good old days" when print and other traditional media dominated the marketing world.

Having spent some time dealing with designers in the print industry, I can report firsthand that this insulated attitude is still dangerously prevalent. Focusing less on the superficial beauty of your work, and more on whether it is actually reaching the audience you want to reach, is key.

Interdisciplinary Design

Are visual designers too isolated from other industries? Designers have long struggled with this question, and there have been countless initiatives over the years that have attempted to integrate design better into the world at large.

Design schools are often on the front lines in this mission, offering all manner of so-called "trans-disciplinary" courses and programs to students who want to break out of the bubble and make sure their designs have maximum effectiveness.

The question, though, is: is it working? Are we designers actually succeeding in our quest for relevance?

This, I believe, is still an open question. How can professionals of different stripes come together and pool their talents in search of creating more ideal solutions for business-owning clients who more and more require a deeper understanding of problem solving from their designers? Are the ways in which we attempt to make the world more cognizant of design effective?

In Conclusion

Remember, as a designer, your first task is to provide a valuable solution for your client. Again, even high end, multi-million dollar advertising firms can forget this simple rule sometimes; I’m sure you’ve seen commercials on TV that leave you scratching your head as to what the art directors were thinking.

Just remember to always bring it back to the target user that your client is trying to reach. If this user isn’t going to be happy with your design, it’s time to head back to the drawing board, no matter how pretty it looks.



Post a Comment