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Design Tips for Programmers

The line between back-end and front-end programming is not always distinct. Many times programmers have to make design decisions on the fly. This guide is intended to help avoid the worst transgressions. As with all rules, there are exceptions—but leave those up to the professional designers.

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Spotlight on Paula Scher

Do you recognize this album cover? In Make It Bigger, Paula Scher describes the design process that she oversaw as art director at CBS Records. She thought the idea of a guitar-shaped spaceship was “idiotic.” After a lot of back and forth with the band, the product manager, and the illustrator, the hit album of 1976 was released with this cover.

Scher’s book tells the story of her career as one of the most well-known designers of our time. She candidly describes how politics, personalities, whims, and luck affect the design that is ultimately produced.READ MORE

How Do You Choose a Restaurant?

I’m good at picking restaurants. Long before Yelp I used my own method of choosing a restaurant based on its typography. My husband and I don’t like chains, even though you can be assured of consistency. In our travels, we’d rather throw the dice on a one-of-a-kind restaurant. When I find good typography on the outside, I always find good food on the inside. I’m sure that’s because the same attention to detail permeates the entire business.READ MORE

Why Use WordPress?

WordPress is the premier open-source content management system (CMS). WordPress allows web developers of any skill level to build a website with database functionality, making frequent updating, archiving, and blogging simple and easy. WordPress powers over 25% of all websites, including those of top companies like Time Magazine, Google, Facebook, CNN, and eBay.READ MORE

Web Fonts

When HTML first hit the scene in the early 1990s, web developers had no control over the fonts used on their pages. The web browser was entirely responsible for selecting fonts. Netscape introduced the <font> tag in 1995, giving developers the opportunity to choose their own fonts for the first time; the tag was incorporated in the next official HTML standardization. But even with a <font> tag, only fonts already present on the user’s computer could be displayed. Otherwise, the browser would display a preselected “fallback” font instead. This led to the designation of “web-safe” fonts: the fonts most likely to be present on most computers. Designers could rely on them to provide a somewhat predictable experience for every visitor.READ MORE

Design Principles: Line

Line is the underlying principle driving Art Nouveau. Lines can be delicate or aggressive, directional or meandering, representational or abstract. Lines do much more than delineate a shape. They have rhythm. They have motion. They can fill space or create negative space.

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Happy New Year, Art Nouveau Style

Art Nouveau is inspired by nature and organic forms. The dynamic and undulating lines of Art Nouveau can be found in architecture, furniture, household products, fashion, and graphic design. It bridged fine and commercial art, flourishing throughout Europe from the 1890s through 1910.

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Creative Process

“Think about it . . . deeply. Then forget it. And and idea will jump up in your face.”

—Don Draper, Mad Men

The creative process can be used to achieve any goal, whether business or personal. Once you have a clearly defined goal or problem follow these steps:READ MORE

Design Strategy

design: to form or conceive in the mind for a definite purpose

strategy: a plan for obtaining a specific goal or result

More and more companies are using design strategy as a business tool. Design is more than making something look nice superficially. It is a creative process that has a clear goal in mind, and identifies steps to reaching it. Good design is also beautiful because it is focused, unified in purpose, and easy to understand. Excellent design can excite people and even create a passionate bond.READ MORE