Web Design

Weekly Web & Mobile Creativity n.22

Posted on August 11, 2013 at 3:56 pm

It is that time of the week again, a chance for you to sit back and enjoy some of our favorite web and mobile designs from this past week. And of course, don’t forget to click the ‘Change Viewport’ button to explore each site in detail.

Magsty (Responsive)

Magsty - Responsive - Web & Mobile Creativity


Posted in Web Design

The Difference Between Visual Art and Graphic Design

Posted on August 9, 2013 at 3:56 pm

The fine line that separates art and design is something that’s been debated for a very long time. While both artists and designers compose visuals and have a shared toolkit and knowledge base, there’s a distinct difference between the two. Pinpointing exactly what the difference is, that’s where things gets tricky.

[Image Source]

Many designers would consider themselves to be artists, yet few artists would class themselves as designers. So how can the distinction be made? In this article we’ll take a quick look at the defining characteristics of the two crafts and consider the motivation and intention of art and design as a starting point.

In the Beginning…

I believe that one of the clearest differences between art and design is to be found in the first sparks of creativity. Broadly speaking, art and design come from very different starting points. Design work usually stems from the need or desire to communicate a pre-existing message. A strapline, a logo or a call to action. A work of art, on the other hand, is the expression of a completely new idea. It’s the process of breathing life into something private and personal to create an emotional bond between the artist and their audience.

Inspiration v. Motivation

Another way of looking at this could be intent. If it’s true that a designer’s objective is to communicate a pre-existing message, then you could say that they are working with the primary intention of motivating action in their audience. An artist will usually be aiming to inspire a feeling. This feeling may then lead to action, just as a designer can go on to generate emotional responses from their audience. It’s more a question of priority. I suppose you could call it a chicken and egg situation.

[Image Source: Abstract Easter Design via Shutterstock]

Lost in Translation

While most designers aim for their work to be immediate and clearly understood by their audience, an artist will work for a less obvious connection. As art can be interpreted very differently by the viewer it rarely has just one meaning. Think about the myriad of different opinions on Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. Is it a smile of pleasure? Is it a grimace? Or is it neither?

[Image Source]

It all depends on the experience and opinions brought by the person who gazes upon it. Whereas if a piece of design is interpreted in a different way to what the designer intended, you can pretty safely say that it’s failed in what it was intended to achieve.

Design is a Skill, Art is a God-Given Gift

Let’s think about this in terms of personal style. Some designers like Saul Bass or Peter Saville have built names for themselves by developing a unique personal style. Yet for most designers versatility is the key to success.

[Image Source]

Design is a skill that is taught and developed. And while many designers have been blessed with a natural eye for the craft, it isn’t quite the same as being born with an innate ability for sculpting, oil painting or installation-based expression.

A Question of Taste

Opinion and taste are two very different ways of judging visual composition. When Damien Hirst preserved a shark in formaldehyde for his seminal work The Immortal, he divided public opinion. And it was considered to be a question of taste.

Taste is usually used when we’re talking in reference to people’s likes and dislikes. Whether or not The Immortal was a genuine piece of art was a matter of opinion to be debated. While design naturally involves an element of personal taste, it’s not the main criteria it’s judged on. Good design can still be successful without being to the personal taste of the creator or the beholder. If it accomplishes its brief it is good design and that boils down to opinion of fact, not personal preference.

Where does design end and art begin? Attempting to pigeon-hole visual communication into categories is complex, and ultimately impossible. Art and beauty is in the eye of the beholder. And that’s one of the most, if not the most, wonderful and fascinating facets of these mediums. If you’re a designer are you also an artist? Could an artist create anything without a keen eye for design? The debate continues…

Posted in Web Design

Deal of the Week: Top-Selling Vintage Veneer Font Family – only $9!

Posted on August 7, 2013 at 3:56 pm

Damsels get in it all the time.

People pay extra to have it done to their furniture.

And the government tries bailing out cities stuck in it.

But what about fonts? Yeah, even they can join in on the distressing action.

Don’t worry, it’s a good thing. We’re talking about distress as a design feature. And with a half-dozen options available, you won’t find a more unique, vintage and grunge-like font than Yellow Design Studio’s top-selling font, Veneer.

Veneer Font Family Screenshots:

Veneer Font Family Highlights:

  • Hand Crafted
    Machines can be evil. Arnold Schwazenegger and the future taught us that in Terminator. That’s why Veneer is something special, because it was hand-crafted with a real vintage and detailed appearance.
  • 8 Vintage Fonts
    With this Mighty Deal, you’ll get 8 unique fonts in the Veneer Font Family. From lightly distressed to heavily distressed, you’ll soon own: Veneer, Veneer Italic, Veneer Two, Veneer Two Italic, Veneer Three, Veneer Three Italic, Veneer Extras, and Veneer Extras Italic.
  • 38 Icons
    Done in the same vintage style as the Veneer fonts, you’ll get 2 distressed styles of icons. Add some artistic fun to your already killer design with graphical icons that include items from weather, weapons, designs and more.
  • Mix and Match
    Each letter has 6 distress options to choose from, with three options for all other characters. With specific distress actions on a letter basis, you can mix all sorts of Veneer fonts together in one project to create a realistic letterpress type.
  • Go Big
    Thanks to the incredible detail in these Veneer fonts, they won’t just work at normal size, these high resolution letterpress fonts work great at very large sizes too. So use them on a variety of projects including posters, T-shirts, signs and more.
  • Desktop Fonts Speak Your Language
    Compatible with PCs and Macs, the Desktop fonts come in .OTF format and support a ton of languages. Besides English, languages supported include: Afrikaans, Albanian, Basque, Bemba, Bosnian, Cornish, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Estonian, Faroese, Filipino, Finnish, French, Galician, Ganda, German, Hungarian, Icelandic, Indonesian, Irish, Italian, Kinyarwanda, Luo, Malagasy, Malay, Manx, Morisyen, North Ndebele, Norwegian Bokmål, Norwegian Nynorsk, Nyankole, Oromo, Polish, Portuguese, Romansh, Sango, Shona, Slovak, Slovenian, Somali, Spanish, Swahili, Swedish, Swiss German, and Zulu!
  • Web Fonts are Multilingual Too
    Delivered in .eot, .svg, .ttf and .woff formats, Webfonts do not include any opentype features. They are, however, subsetted for a reduced file size and they support the standard Western languages. Languages include: Afrikaans, Albanian, Basque, Bemba, Cornish, Danish, Dutch, English, Faroese, Filipino, French, Galician, Ganda, German, Icelandic, Indonesian, Irish, Italian, Kinyarwanda, Luo, Malagasy, Malay, Manx, Morisyen, North Ndebele, Norwegian Bokmål, Norwegian Nynorsk, Nyankole, Oromo, Portuguese, Romansh, Sango, Shona, Somali, Spanish, Swahili, Swedish, Swiss German, and Zulu.


It’s not just the style of Veneer that’s vintage! With this Mighty Deal, you’ll be getting this collection of 8 Veneer Fonts at a price from yesteryear!

Normally, the Veneer Font Family sells for $39 (Desktop or Web Font versions), but for a limited time only, you can get the entire collection as either Desktop of Web fonts for just $9! OR get both the Desktop and Web Font versions together for just $16!

Click the “buy” button to choose your preference and add some authentic, vintage style to your projects.

Posted in Web Design

Why Working For Cheap Isn’t Always Bad

Posted on August 5, 2013 at 3:56 pm

How many of you know the proper way to approach a diet? Many people don’t, which is why they fail to work. There’s a specific mentality you need to have in order to get through a diet successfully, and it has to do with what you believe about the permanence of your current situation. When starting a design project, whether for yourself or for a client, there will inevitably come a time when it will stop being as fun, and you’ll have to rely on a form of willpower to see you through to the end of it.

Where does that willpower come from? Well, if you’re anything like me, it comes from looking ahead – you stop and consider what will be waiting for you at the horizon. Whether it’s fame, riches, or enough beer money to last you through the end of the week, something drove you to begin the project in the first place, and that same something is going to be your motivation when things get boring or unpleasant. After all, that unpleasantness is only temporary, and the reward you get afterward is much more significant than the momentary pain.

It’s the same way with dieting. Many people get stuck in the middle of a horrible diet, start hating their lives, their spouses, their dogs, and their squeaky tennis shoes, decide that it’s too much to handle, and quit.

They forget that it’s all temporary.

Today, I’m going to talk about the diet-like phenomenon of working for low pay.

Better Than Cash

Many people, myself included, continually advise other designers to stay far away from shady clients who want you to do thousands of dollars of work for mere hundreds (or even mere tens). Let’s be clear, here: I’m in no way changing my position on that topic. Creative professionals in general are some of the most ripped-off service providers in the world, in large part because of the misinformed mentality that our clients have about what our work is worth. I firmly believe that all designers should charge exactly what they’re worth and nothing less, not to cheat the client, but to legitimize the industry.

However, there’s an upside to working for discounted rates (and yes, sometimes even for no rates at all) which can deliver a much higher value to a freelance designer than a mere flat paycheck. Why? Well, when you work for a fee, you get paid that fee, and that’s it. There are usually no other forms of compensation available, which, to many established freelancers is no problem. We’re not running charities here, after all. But if you’re nearer to the beginning of your career, there are other things you can negotiate from your low-paying client that are many times better than money.

What’s better than money? Referrals, for one. I know designers love to mock clients who promise them “exposure” or other such nonsense – we all know that it’s BS and carries no real value for us. No one’s going to look at a beautifully designed business card, brochure, website, or presentation and think “by golly, I’ve just got to find out who that designer is!” (Maybe we think that, as geeky designers, but trust me, normal people couldn’t care less.).

So “exposure” is worthless as a bargaining tool. Referrals, on the other hand, are worth their weight in gold to a freelancer at any stage of their career. When a paying client introduces you and your work to another potential paying client – a real person with real money and a real network – it can carry your career to heights you never could have imagined had you just gotten a flat check.

You certainly can and should be negotiating for as many genuine referrals as possible when you work with low-paying clients. They are a great way to boost your client base, and also to narrow down your career focus, since most referrals will be for potential clients in the same industry as your current client. As I’ve written about before, this is an optimal way for designers to work and collect valuable knowledge of the specific industries and markets they serve.

Taking It Off the Table

When you work for a lower rate, you’re essentially providing a service at a discount. Just like an internet service provider or phone company might offer customers a free trial period to entice them to buy, you as a freelancer can harness the power of free or cheap to up-sell your services to higher paying clients. However, there’s a trick to doing this correctly so that you don’t end up getting screwed. It has to do with removing certain deliverables and negotiating non-monetary compensation from your clients so that they always take you seriously as a professional and never attempt to get more than what they’re paying for.

Some people think that working for free or for very cheap is always the same as working on spec. This is most certainly not the case, and here’s why: when you work on spec, you’re providing the same level of service that you ordinarily would charge for. This is bad. Really, really bad.

Designers who do this are not only devaluing their work, they’re also stunting the growth of their entire careers. When a client realizes that they can get thousands of dollars worth of work from you for mere hundreds, there’s a mentality that develops in their head about you, and about designers in general. Basically, they start to believe that your work just isn’t worth thousands of dollars, and you will be forever branded as a cheap, low-end designer.

This is not what you want. When you work for a low rate, make sure your clients know that they’re getting the “free trial” – a stripped-down version of your services that carries heavy restrictions and which requires them to provide you with value beyond just money. If you quote a client a certain price, and the client is unable to pay it, the next price you quote should reflect a lesser amount of work. You client should get what they pay for, in other words. And for free work, it’s important to make up the difference very heavily in referrals and other networking opportunities. Never work for free for a client who is not well-connected or unable to provide you with a list of referrals – there’s absolutely no value in it for you and you’ll end up in the low-end pile indefinitely.

The key, like being on a diet or pushing yourself to finish a long, tedious project, is to think of free or low-paying work as a temporary arrangement, rather than an indefinite circumstance. If you give it all away for free or for very cheap, or you continue working for low rates for longer than is necessary to build your client network, your clients will never consider you for higher level work. Why would they? If you’re lodged in the client’s mind as a $200 designer, why on earth would they automatically think of you when they have a $5,000 or $10,000 project? It’s just not going to happen.

On the other hand, if you’ve been providing your client with an appropriate amount of work for that $200, and they know you’ve been holding back on certain deliverables, they’ll be much more likely to consider you for higher paying work. Why? Because they know they’re not currently getting the best of what you have to offer, and the value you’ve been providing them so far (assuming you’re doing an excellent job) will give them the confidence to trust you with high-level work.

What Do You Think?

How do you approach jobs that pay less than your standard rate? Is there a technique that you’ve found helpful to keep yourself out of the low-end pile?

You might also like…

You could also browse our Freelance category, or view all of the articles from Addison Duvall.

Posted in Web Design

Large High Resolution Image Slowing Your Page-Speed Down? Cut Your Page’s Loading Time In Half With Some Simple jQuery

Posted on August 3, 2013 at 3:56 pm

It is a popular trend at the moment to use almost full-page high resolution super-large images on your portfolio. Which does work effectively as it focusses the user on your best work and clearly highlights how good you are as a designer. So, it looks great and it works great. But, those images are absolutely killing your homepage’s loading speed.

Normally, common practice would be to place all non-essential larger images at the bottom of your page’s HTML so that they will load last, after the rest of the HTML content.
However, this isn’t always possible, because:

  1. Sometimes you need to put your portfolio in the middle of your page, relative to other inline elements.
  2. You may have some crazy-cool jQuery effects that only launch when your page is fully loaded – which means users will be left waiting to see them until your overly large images load.

Why Does It Matter?

  1. Google takes loading time into effect when it is calculating your search ranking.
  2. Mobile devices can be sensitive to page-loading times as they often have much slower connections.

The Fix

You can trick your browser into loading your big images after the entire page is loaded. It does sound a bit crazy, but it’s not really…

How it works

We’re going to remove the images from the HTML, then put them back in using jQuery. Simple as that.

This will allow the images to load after all of your other content has finished – PLUS, there’s an important added benefit: search-engines measure your page-load speed by what’s in your HTML, not what jQuery loads after the fact. That means that when Google measures your site’s loading speed, the page speed result will look significantly better.

This is how to do it:


Remove all of the big images from your HTML (my images just happened to be in an unordered list):

Remove all of the big images from your HTML


Add a jQuery snippet that will add them back into the HTML, after everything else on the page has loaded:

$(window).load(function(){ // This runs when the window has loaded
var img = $(“ “).attr(‘src’, ‘YourImagePath/img.jpg’).load(function() {
// When the image has loaded, stick it in a div

var img2 = $(“ “).attr(‘src’, ‘YourImagePath/img2.jpg’).load(function() {


Check your site out and measure the page loading time.

BOOM! It’s fast!

Your big images should load last, and your content should load FAST (awful rhyme, I’m sorry). I cut the loading time of my site’s content in half just by using this method.

Theoretically, you could remove all of the images from your page and put them back using jQuery, which could make your page appear to be even faster.

Just to prove that this technique does work, here’s the live demo:

Slower Page (loads in about 1.5s)Faster Page (loads in about 0.3s)

Happy coding!

Do you have a ‘Quick Tip’ you would like to share with our readers? If so, get in touch with us here: mail@speckyboy.com.

Posted in Web Design

Game of Thrones Poster Series by LiquidSoulDesign

Posted on August 1, 2013 at 3:56 pm

If you are a fan of the Game of Thrones books or television series (who isn’t?) then we have an awesome gallery for you today.Clearly a huge fan, LiquidSoulDesign has dedicated himself to illustrating a…

Posted in Web Design

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