It seems I’ve not had many chances to toot my own horn lately with announcements of new designs or projects with which Stopdesign has been involved. When a print design is complete, the wait for a finished product merely depends on the printer’s schedule or a publisher’s distribution cycle. Some design projects for the web are application-based, and get tucked behind a login screen preventing access to the majority of the new design. Other projects get held up in lengthy development cycles and iterative improvements which delay public release. But once a new site design has been thoroughly produced, staged, analyzed, tested, and deemed ready for the world, making it available is almost as simple and instant as flipping a switch. continued
In a related note, Quark recently redesigned their site using XHTML for structure and CSS for presentation and table-free layout. The pages are simple and beautifully clean. The main navigation features slick slide-down subnavigation, though they could have built this navigation using an unordered list, then kept the subnavigation properly nested within the main nav list. The majority of their top-level pages validate using XHTML 1.0 Transitional. continued
For individuals who are neither designers nor artists, it may seem like those who are, use a lot of smoke and mirrors, magically whipping up each stunning creation. Artistic talent and creativity can certainly aid and enhance the final result, but design, in particular, generally follows a process. Each designer — or design group — develops a method for solving problems, then evolves that method over time. While no one person or group may view a problem from the same perspective, general similarities often appear in their approach. continued
I returned last night from a relaxing holiday weekend spent in Pismo Beach with a few good friends. One afternoon, while most of the others retired to their rooms for a midday siesta, I pulled out my laptop, settled into a big rocking chair looking out into a garden filled with native California shrubs, trees, flowers, and herbs, and was finally able to polish off a design submission for the CSS Zen Garden. continued
Over at Mezzoblue, Dave Shea introduces a wonderful space in which we can explore and experience the intersection of beauty and innovation. His CSS Zen Garden offers examples of aesthetically-pleasing layouts constructed with clever techniques intended to showcase the power and potential of skilled CSS design. continued
Via tonight’s episode of Food Network’s Unwrapped, the Society of Design Administration (SDA) and the American Institute of Architects (AIA) founded a creative and worthwhile design competition held in multiple U.S. cities each year called CANSTRUCTION®. [Caution: a poorly implemented browser detection script and redirect on their index page causes a trapdoor effect in some browsers, preventing normal use of the back button.] From their mission statement:
CANSTRUCTION® combines the competitive spirit of a design/build competition with a unique way to help feed hungry people. Competing teams, lead by architects and engineers, showcase their talents by designing giant sculptures made entirely out of canned foods. At the close of the exhibitions all of the food used in the structures is donated to local food banks for distribution to pantries, shelters, soup kitchens, elderly and day care centers.
Clever thinking and volunteer efforts from organizations like this deserve recognition, attention, and consideration.
Via a post on css-discuss from the lead designer, Cingular Wireless launches the next big commercial site to adopt XHTML for markup and a heavy reliance on CSS for layout and presentation. Apart from my natural interest level in this arena, Cingular happens to be my wireless carrier, which adds to my own intrigue. continued
Online content producers and software developers are learning new lessons about opening up their design process to public scrutiny. Good design firms involve and include their clients early and often in many of the design decisions. Both independent and commercial content producers are experiencing a closer connection with their users and/or readers by treating them the same. The recent trend of baring all is proving a very fascinating and eye-opening experience for the site developers and for those of us paying attention to — and sometimes particpating in — these public redesigns. continued
Two noteworthy XHTML/CSS redesigns have recently launched:
Macromedia – The good and bad wrapped into one. Good: Clean, airy, pleasing color combinations, fun imagery, classic Macromedia typography, aesthetic, and balance. Heavy use of Flash, but no excessive animation. Bad: The scary thing about this redesign is the source code of their home page (or should I say how little source code there is for their home page) and how reliant they are on one big umbrella .swf file. continued
I’ve always loved the pure design and typography from the Netherlands. Filled with a balance of beautiful form and practical function, and wonderfully obvious information hierarchy, Dutch design always evokes an emotional reaction within me. Granted, my personality slants heavily toward organization, logic, and simplicity. But I’m so often amazed at how the Dutch can seamlessly combine order of information with an individual expression unique to every design and designer. Much of my influence comes directly from Dutch design. continued