Boost your Adobe CC skills with this $39 course

We all have that long list of things we’d like to improve on or achieve, but sometimes life gets in the way. As creatives, it’s never too late to continue learning and get started on your personal and professional objectives. And now you can brush up on the design skills you’ve wanted to refine with The Ultimate Adobe CC Training Bundle, now 98% off.

With over 40 hours of content and more than 600 tutorials, this Adobe CC Training Bundle is the perfect way to get more out of the programs you already use (or are interested in using).

The 12-course training bundle is geared toward various levels of experience, so no matter where your degree of expertise lies, you’re likely to get something out of it. Master your skills in Photoshop, Indesign, Illustrator, After Effects, Animate, and so much more.

There’s even a course dedicated to the ins and outs of the art of web design through Adobe XD, taking you through the building blocks behind creating a responsive, user-friendly website.

With tutorials to help you build your design portfolio, this popular bundle is available 24/7, allowing you to come back and visit when you need to reference a specific tool or need a spark of inspiration for your latest project.

Explore the tool panels in each program and get exposed to real-life exercises that test your understanding of the content. Great for work and play, this is a gem for both the budding and seasoned creative.

While lifetime access usually sells for $2,400, The Ultimate Adobe CC Training Bundle is currently price-dropped (for a limited time only) to $39 – that’s a savings of 98% off. It’s a great way to elevate the design artistry you already possess or start up a new career in the digital arts.

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Apple’s butterfly keyboards could soon be replaced

The predictions of renowned Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo are often bang on the money, and if his latest report is to be believed, the tech company’s troublesome butterfly keyboard will be replaced by a traditional scissor-switch mechanism in future MacBook releases.

This will be a welcome update for Mac users who are currently infuriated by the laptop’s butterfly keyboard setup. It’s a flaw that holds back Apple’s machines, even though they consistently make our list of the best laptops for graphic design.

For those unfamiliar with the difference, the mechanism for the butterfly keyboard is thinner than the traditional scissor mechanism found on other devices (and looks more like a pair of butterfly wings than an overlapping pair of scissor blades). But while it moves less, a butterfly keyboard is prone to jamming. It’s also louder, which isn’t something you want if you’re working in a quiet studio.

After a non-Apple alternative? We’ve got you covered with our guide to the best keyboards for designers currently available right now. And if you don’t mind about the keyboard and want an Apple product on the cheap, keep an eye on the upcoming Apple Black Friday deals.

The decision to alter the keyboards would be Apple’s latest admission that the butterfly mechanism just doesn’t cut it.  According to MacRumors, Apple has previously said: “We are aware that a small number of users are having issues with their third-generation butterfly keyboard and for that we are sorry. The vast majority of Mac notebook customers are having a positive experience with the new keyboard.”

News of the change also comes courtesy of MacRumors, where Kuo says that among other updates including a time-of-flight camera, future Macs “will also swap over to a scissor mechanism rather than a butterfly mechanism”.

The 16-inch MacBook Pro is expected to lead the way by adopting the scissor keyboard first. If you’ve got your fingers crossed that this will come to pass, you’ll have to wait until the refreshed Apple MacBooks arrive in the second quarter of 2020. What’s more, the rest of Apple’s laptop lineup is due to follow suit throughout the year.

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Harry Styles’ new site will give you a personalised compliment

Do You Know Who You Are? Well – do you? If not, there’s only one place you should be heading, and that is Harry Styles’ new website. Type your name in, and you’ll get a personalised message from the 1D teenybopper heartthrob turned flamboyant soloist (or perhaps his marketing team). The message is rounded off with TPWK (‘Treat people with kindness’ – one of Styles’ trademark phrases), Love H (Harry).

You can see some of the Creative Bloq team’s messages below. We think they’re very accurate, although one of our freelancers got ‘You’re a bit needy, but it’s OK’, which he was less pleased with. He declined to screengrab. 

Visit the site yourself for your own personalised message, and find out a deep truth about yourself that you never knew. 

The site is entitled DYKWYA (Do You Know Who You Are? – HS sure loves an acronym), and speculation is raging amongst fans that it’s a sign a new album is about to drop. It forms part of a wider campaign that began with some cryptic billboard advertising – a number of signs bearing the message ‘Do You Know Who You Are? TPWK’ began popping up. 

There was also this thought-provoking Tweet. 

So while we’re partly writing this because it’s Friday and it’s a bit of fun, the campaign is actually pretty smart. The absence of overt branding, coupled with a drip-feed of cryptic information is a great promotional strategy that makes the most of the truly fanatical nature of Styles’ fans.

Read more: 

Leaked Pixelbook Go photos reveal a super-weird design feature

There’s not long to go now until Google’s New York hardware event on October 15. And while the search giant is expected to reveal a raft of devices, its the tech giant’s new Chromebook, the Pixelbook Go, that’s attracting most attention. And bad news for Google: extensive photos of the Pixelbook Go prototype have been leaked online. 

The device is already being referred to as ‘Google’s MacBook’, but the photos reveal one unusual design feature that is a far cry from Apple’s sleek aesthetic. (If you’re in the market for a new laptop, take a look at our predictions for the best Black Friday MacBook deals.) 

The inside of the Google Pixelbook Go looks rather similar to its Apple competitor (and with it being rumoured that Apple is ditching its tricksy butterfly keyboards, perhaps the two are set to become even more alike). However, flip the machine over and you’ll find a ribbed surface on the underside. This is included to ensure the Pixelbook Go doesn’t slip around, and it’s definitely a… unique look for a laptop. In the leaked snaps, it’s pink – which we sincerely hope is just to match the colour of the rest of the laptop.  

The leaks come courtesy of 9to5Google, a news hub that claims to have had exclusive hands-on access the unreleased Pixelbook Go. Not convinced? Take a look at our guide to the best MacBook Pro alternatives for some other options.

Pixelbook Go

Could the Pixelbook Go come with a unique ribbed finish?

So, weird ribbed belly aside, how might this compare to the best laptops for graphic design? The Pixelbook Go boasts a 13.3-inch 16:9 screen in either 1080p or 4K resolution, and two USB-C ports. It also has options for an Intel Core m3, i5 and i7 processors. In terms of power, it comes with up to 16GB of RAM and 2566GB of storage. A 2-megapixel front-facing camera, headphone jack and Titan C security chip are also supplied as standard.

Pixelbook Go

Check out those speakers

Of course, considering that this is just a prototype, things could change. Although we hope the two front-firing speakers, which run parallel to the length of the keyboard, stay in the final release as they sound superior to those in the 2016 MacBook.

Take a look at all of 9to5Google’s exclusive images by heading over to its gallery. Here you’ll also find a video review which gives you a good look at what to expect from the Pixelbook Go. No price has been revealed yet, but perhaps we’ll find out at the upcoming hardware event.

Want to pick up an existing Google Pixelbook? You’re in luck! We’ve rounded up the best deals available right now:

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4 ways to become a designer without a university degree

Traditionally, if you wanted to become a professional graphic designer, you needed a university degree on your CV. However, attending university is a huge investment – in terms of both time and money. Thankfully, in recent years new options have opened up, which mean those with passion and creative flair can snag a graphic design job without needing to attend university.

For example, there are plenty of online resources for self-teaching, as well as ways to immerse yourself in the design industry and start learning from the pros. If you want to formalise your knowledge with a qualification, it’s well worth looking into a short course such as those offered by Shillington. In this article we’ll explore some of these alternative routes in more detail. 

Increasingly, employers are recognising that a university qualification isn’t the be-all-and-end-all when it comes to hiring the talent with the most potential. Read on for three ways to arm yourself with the skills and knowledge you need to launch your design career, without spending tens of thousands of pounds (and three or more years of your life) on a university course. 

01. Skill up with online tutorials

There’s an absolute gold mine of information available online nowadays if you know where to look. For practical skills, such as how to use industry software, online tutorials are the place to start. There’s plenty of great quality content available for free, too – Creative Bloq has roundups of the best Photoshop tutorials and Illustrator tutorials to get you pointed in the right direction. Many of these guides come with a screencast to follow along, and help you make sense of things.

If you find you’ve hit a wall using free content, consider exploring an online course. Providers such as Pluralsight, Udemy, Skillshare and LinkedIn Learning all offer structured online design courses. Some content will be free, some is paid. It’s a good middle-ground between totally unstructured learning and a formal course, and is especially good for plugging specific gaps in knowledge. 

02. Build up your portfolio

Before you secure your first job, you’re going to need a build up your design portfolio so your potential employer can get a taste of your skills. It seems like a vicious cycle – until you have clients, you won’t have anything to put in your portfolio, but without a portfolio you won’t secure any clients, right? Wrong. There are some things you can do to start creating a book that will show off your skills.

First, treat your portfolio like your first branding project, and start building a strong commercial identity as a designer. Your personal brand will include everything from brand colours, to fonts, tone of voice and a logo. As with any branding project, your chosen scheme will flow through everything you create, from your portfolio to any self-promo collateral and cover letters you send out.

Second, consider doing some small projects for friends or good causes. While we don’t condone working for free in most cases, while you’re still learning this can be a win-win – just make sure you’re not being taken advantage of. For more tips, take a look at Creative Bloq’s guide to building a portfolio from scratch, or if you’ve already got started, take a look at Shillington’s expert tips to improve your graphic design portfolio. 

03. Enrol in a design short-course

Self-learning is all well and good, but the down-sides here are that this approach requires a heavy dose of self-discipline, and you’re not going to end up with any kind of qualification at the end of it. For a qualification that employers will recognise, try a short course such as those offered by Shillington, a graphic design school with campuses in New York, London, Manchester, Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. 

Rather than the three or four years you need to complete a traditional university degree, Shillington’s courses involve just three months of intensive study – or nine months if you have other commitments and want to go part-time. The courses are suitable for individuals with no prior design experience who want to kick-start their career, but are also very popular with those who had already studied at university, or dipped their toes in the design industry. 

Shillington offers a mix of different learning styles

What would you be signing up for? Well, the courses are fast paced and high-energy, with the potential to totally transform your career. Experienced teachers cover everything you need to enter the industry, including design theory and technical skills, as well as that all-important design portfolio with which to impress potential employers. One benefit over other self-teaching approaches is that the learning styles are varied – there’s a mix of punchy lectures, demonstrations, discussions and group workshops, to help you learn and put your skills into practice. Read more about the Shillington course here.

04. Get involved in the industry

It’s never too soon to start immersing yourself in the design industry. This is a great way to get a feel for the design world, soak up knowledge and make valuable connections. To start with, you want to be reading design blogs and magazines for inspiration and insights into the latest big projects. There’s also plenty you can learn from the case studies on agencies’ websites. 

Even better, start attending design events. Many cities have their own meetups for designers, and there’s a rich calendar of design festivals to choose from. While these can be a little pricey, you can be sure you’ll be getting a healthy dose of inspiration, networking opportunities, and practical advice all rolled into one. Finally, those a little further along in their learning should consider joining a design organisation (see Creative Bloq’s guide here), many of which offer resources, events and networking opportunities to junior creatives. 

The W3C At Twenty-Five

The W3C At Twenty-Five

The W3C At Twenty-Five

Rachel Andrew

Last week, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) celebrated its 25th anniversary and invited folks to share why the open web platform matters to them via the hashtag #WebStories. As I’m both a member of the CSS Working Group at W3C and the representative for Fronteers, I think it’s a good time to explain a bit more about the role of the W3C in the work that we all do.

What Exactly Is The W3C?

On the W3C website, the About page describes the W3C as:

“… an international community where Member organizations, a full-time staff, and the public work together to develop Web standards. Led by Web inventor and Director Tim Berners-Lee and CEO Jeffrey Jaffe, W3C’s mission is to lead the Web to its full potential.”

There are links on that page to details of the mission and vision of the W3C, however, the key motivation of the organization is to ensure that the web is for everybody — and on everything.

Access to the web should not be limited by who you are, where you are, or the device you are using.

Who Are The Member Organizations?

A W3C Member is an organization who pays a membership fee to be part of the W3C. At the time of writing, there are 449 members, and you can see the full list here. If you read through this list, you will find that the majority of members are very large companies. Some are names that we as web developers readily recognize: browser vendors such as Google and Mozilla, large internet companies such as Airbnb and Facebook. However, there are members from many different industries. The web touches pretty much every area of life and business, and there are companies doing interesting things in the space that we might not think of as web companies. For example, people working in traditional publishing (a lot of books are formatted using web technologies) and the automotive industry.

What all the members have in common is that the web impacts the work that they do, and they are keen to have a say in the direction things move, and even to play a part in creating and specifying web technologies.

I represent Fronteers (the Dutch organization of web developers) in the W3C. This year, Fronteers took the unusual* step of becoming a W3C Member Organization.

* “Unusual” because they are a voluntary organization representing web developers, rather than a big company representing the interests of a big company.

The Advisory Committee (AC)

Member organizations take part in the business of the W3C by having a vote on various matters. This is organized by the organization’s AC representative whose job it is to ferry information from the W3C to the organization, and also bring the point of view of the organization to relevant topics being discussed at the W3C.

I’m the rep for Fronteers and so I attend two AC meetings a year — and get a lot of emails! On voting matters, I have to find out from Fronteers how they want to vote and then cast the Fronteers vote. In the last year, one important voting matter was the election of Advisory Board (AB) members; Fronteers held an internal vote, and I took the results back to make the official vote at the W3C.

W3C Groups

Most web developers are probably more aware of the W3C working groups than the rest of the organization, as it is through these groups that most of the work we care about goes on. Any member organization can opt people from their organization onto a working group. In addition, the groups may invite certain people (known as Invited Experts) to participate in that group. I was an Invited Expert on the CSS Working Group, and now am part of the group as the representative for Fronteers. In practical terms, my interaction with the CSS Working Group remains the same, however, I now have a role to play in the W3C as a whole as the W3C rep for Fronteers.

There are a large number of working groups, covering a whole range of technologies. These groups typically work on some kind of deliverable, such as the specifications produced by the CSS Working Group. There are also a number of Interest Groups, which allow for the exchange of ideas around particular topics which may also fall partly into the remit of some of the working groups.

The above groups require a significant time commitment and either a W3C membership or Invited Expert status, however, there are a number of Community and Business Groups that are open to any interested person and do not impose a particular time commitment. The Web Platform Incubator Community Group is one such group and has a Discourse forum for the discussion of new web features, and also various proposals on GitHub. Many of these features ultimately become CSS or other language specifications and therefore part of the platform.

Getting Involved And Following Along

In addition to joining a community group, it is worth noting that anyone can become involved in the work of the W3C, i.e. you don’t need to be an Invited Expert, part of a member organization, or have any special qualifications. For example, if you want to know what is happening at the CSS Working Group, you can take a look at our Issues on GitHub. Anyone can comment on these issues to offer new use cases for a feature and can even raise an issue for a feature they feel should be part of a CSS specification.

As with most W3C groups, the CSS WG uses IRC to minute meetings; any discussion on an issue will be posted back to the issue afterward so anyone who is interested can follow along.

A GitHub message auto-generated to link IRC minutes to the issue

An example of a message that was auto-generated regarding an issue that had been discussed in a meeting.

If you are keen to know what the wider W3C is doing, then the strategic highlights document is a good place to look. The latest document was produced in September, and exposes some of the key work recently achieved by W3C groups. Scrolling through that document demonstrates the wide range of activities that the W3C is involved with. It is so important for the web community to engage with standards, as we’ve already seen examples in the past of what happens when vendors control the direction of the web.

This history is explained beautifully by Amy Dickens in her post, “Web Standards: The What, The Why, And The How”:

“Without the Web Standards community, browser makers would be the ones making decisions on what should and shouldn’t be features of the world wide web. This could lead to the web becoming a monopolized commodity, where only the largest players would have a say in what the future holds.”

My #WebStory

Why does all of this matter to me? One of the reasons I care so much about the web platform remaining open and accessible to new people who want to publish on and build things for the web is because of the route I took to get here.

As mentioned earlier, the W3C is celebrating their anniversary by inviting people to share stories of how they became involved in the web.* In that spirit (and perhaps to encourage Smashing readers to share their stories), here is mine.

* So many folks have already shared their journey on the W3C Blog of how they were first amazed by the web and continue to be in awe of its potential. Join in and share your story!

I had never intended to work with computers. I intended to become a dancer and singer, and I left school at 16 to go to dance college. My father is a programmer, however, so we were fairly unusual at the time as we had a computer in the house by 1985 when I was 10.

As a child, I liked typing in the code of “choose your own adventure” games, which appeared in books and magazines. I liked spotting the strings of text which would then show up in the game I would later play (usually, once my dad had fixed it up) on our Amstrad CPC464. I liked to visit the computer lab at Newcastle University, see the huge computers, and talk to the women who worked on them. Perhaps most importantly (and despite my arty interests), I never grew up thinking I couldn’t use computers. I just wasn’t especially interested.

A book with lines of code intending to be typed out to make a text game

The books I copied games out of as a child.

At school, I learned to type on an electronic typewriter, and the only computer in evidence was in the art room that was used for basic drawing applications. As we did have computers at home, I had used them for schoolwork, despite some teachers not being happy about printed essays.

I ultimately left dance and went backstage, working in the West-End of London. Moving lights, automated sets, and show control systems were about to make huge changes to an industry that had seen little change in years. We were seeing the beginnings of that change when I was in the West End; I remember laughing with the crew as we heard news about some show with a “fancy computer system” which had lots of problems that our traditional production didn’t have. None of us could have imagined the changes that were coming.

Then I became pregnant with my daughter and had to leave the theatre. I was good at crewing and loved the theatre, but it was heavy and sometimes dangerous work with unsociable hours — not really a job for someone with a baby. I didn’t know what I would do, but I could type so I thought that perhaps I could type up essays for people. I was upsold to a computer — having gone into PC World looking for a wordprocessor. It was a Packard Bell 486 with a built-in 640×480 screen — a terrible machine that would allow me to either get the sound card working or the modem, but not both at once. I chose the modem and this is where my web story really begins. Even getting this modem working and getting the computer onto the Internet was something of a challenge and, once I did, I went looking for information about… babies.

I didn’t know anything about babies. All my friends were men who worked backstage in theatre. I had no support network, no family around me to help, and so I logged onto ParentsPlace and found people who didn’t mind my questions and were happy to help. At the time, there obviously was no Facebook. This meant that if you wanted to share photos and stories, you built a website. So among the forums about childbirth and toddler tantrums, there were people teaching each other HTML and sharing sets of graphics along with the code to place them. It was like typing out those “choose your own adventure” books again. I was amazed that I didn’t need anyone to fix my code — it just worked!

A screenshot of the 1997 ParentsPlace website

Pulled out from the Internet Archive, this was a website named ‘ParentsPlace’ that existed around the time I was pregnant with my daughter. link

Before long, people would pay me to build them a website, and I felt that I should repay at least in some way for all of the questions I had asked. So, I started to answer questions in the forums. That was how it seemed to work. People would learn and move one step up the ladder, the new people would come in with the same questions and the people a step ahead would answer — all the while asking their own questions of those further along. I loved this. I could never have afforded lessons, but I had time. I could help others, and in return, people helped me. I discovered through this that I was quite good at explaining technical things in a straightforward way — an ability I have always accredited to the fact that I struggled to learn these new things myself. It was never easy. I was willing to spend the time, however, and found it interesting.

With my daughter on my knee, I started to teach myself Perl because I didn’t like any of the off-the-shelf guestbooks and wanted to write my own. I installed Linux on a second-hand Compaq, and learned the basics of systems administration, how to compile Apache, wrapped my head round file permissions, and so by the time my daughter was three years old, I got a job heading up a technical team in a property “dot com” company.

I became interested in web standards essentially because it made no sense to me that we would have to build the same website twice — in order that it would work in both browsers. At the time, Dreamweaver was the tool of choice for many web developers, as it made dealing with the mess of nested tables we had to battle with much easier. So, influenced by the work of The Web Standards Project, I (along with my then-boyfriend, now-husband Drew McLellan) began sharing tips and Dreamweaver extensions with the Dreamweaver Usenet group, while all along explaining why web standards were important and showing how to make Dreamweaver support standards.

A screenshot of my bio on the WaSP site retrieved from the Internet Archive

My bio on the WaSP site in 2002 — there wasn’t much to say! ( link)

Ultimately, we both ended up on the Macromedia Beta, helping to make Dreamweaver itself more standards-compliant. We were also invited to join the Web Standards Project — specifically to be part of the Dreamweaver Task Force. I couldn’t believe that Jeffrey Zeldman emailed me, asking me to join WaSP! These were the people I looked up to and had learned so much from. The fact that they wanted me to be part of the organization was amazing and gave me so much confidence to continue with the work I was already doing.

That involvement became the bedrock of my career; I realized that my ability to explain technical things could help other web developers learn these new technologies and understand the need for standards. I also discovered that being able to explain things clearly was useful in raising bug reports, and writing up use cases for new software features (in browsers or tools such as Dreamweaver). Two decades after discovering web standards, I am still doing this work. It continues to interest me, and I think it is more important than ever.

The open nature of the web, the relative simplicity of the technologies, and the helpful, sharing attitude of the community is why I am here at all. One of the biggest reasons why I have stayed after all these years is because of Web standards and the continued fight for the open web. That’s why I think that the W3C and the standards process is vitally important, and why I think it so important that web developers get involved in the process, too.

I want to help ensure that the voice of the web developer working on small projects is heard, and that the direction of the web isn’t dictated by a few giant companies. The web is where we have made our careers, and often even our social lives; it is the way that we communicate with each other. I want it to stay a place where I want to be. I want it to remain open enough that the next person without a technical background can pitch up and start publishing and creating, and find it a place they want to establish a career, too.

What’s Your Web Story?

Whether you have been working on the web for over 20 years or only one, please share your stories on the W3C blog, on your own site, or perhaps write up something in the comments section here below. I’d love to hear your journey!

Smashing Editorial

Minimalist website design: 12 beautiful examples

Minimalist website design is an under-appreciated art. We’ve all heard the saying ‘Less is more’, but it’s a principle that’s often easier said than done. As progressions in technology open up new possibilities in site design, it becomes more and more difficult to resist adding some fancy flourishes. 

Minimalist website design benefits users in the shape of faster loading times and better compatibility between screen sizes. What’s more, a simple UI design is attuned to mobile browsing, without harming the desktop or user experience.

The minimalist philosophy centres on the idea that you must design around the content. In web terms, the designer starts with rough content, then builds just enough interface for users to identify their goal and navigate to it easily.

The minimalist aesthetic is the visual representation of that philosophy. Minimalist sire design uses a lot of white – or at least uniformly coloured – space. But don’t confuse uncluttered with boring. You must choose your layouts with care, otherwise your restricted palette of design elements will come across as dull instead of elegant.

Below, we’ve collected our favourite minimalist site designs to inspire you to do more by doing less.

01. HalloBasis

This site makes a statement with just a few, oversized elements

Friends, designers and business partners Felix Vorbeck and Johannes Winkler also go by the moniker HalloBasis. The Dusseldorf design studio takes pride in delivering projects that communicate well on behalf of its clients. This WordPress website acts as the studio’s online portfolio site, and is a shining example of minimalist website design done differently.

The site makes a bold statement with just a few elements, thanks to its oversized aesthetic – which has the added bonus of aiding accessibility. In fact you might be forgiven for thinking the zoom feature of your chosen browser is maxed out, such is the 17.5vw font sizing for 770px min-width headlines. So typographically, it’s big, with the Messina Sans font suiting that chunkiness and ensuring readability. What’s really refreshing is that this applies to both navigational links and the custom GDPR prompts for accepting cookies. It’s also a cinch to toggle between German and English translations using the buttons on the main screen.

02. Jazz FM

This design by Anagrama keeps things simple and striking

This colourful site for a Bucharest-based radio station does a great job of letting the music speak for itself. At first glance Jazz FM Romania by Anagrama, simply invites visitors to stream the live broadcast via a triangular play button that fills half the viewport. We get a logo and a Now Playing track display too, but it’s minimally striking thanks to the black on yellow scheme. This is only the header however and the single, long page structure continues with much more vibrancy to behold – although always with miminalist site design in mind.

Most notably, there is a raft of gorgeously ‘jazzy’ SVG illustrations that of course scale with stunning crispness no matter what size your screen is. Typography again goes big, thanks to a sparing economy of text, mostly as heading labels detailing where else Jazz FM can be enjoyed. Other features of interest include a clean and clear seven-day schedule, scrolling FM tuner tickertape and even a jazz festival guide.

03. Uber Sign Language

uber sign language website

This site provides a solution to a problem, without hammering home the message

In line with its ethos of accessibility, Uber has created a website dedicated to teaching its customers basic sign language, so they can interact with hearing impaired drivers. Uber Sign Language is a masterclass in design with restraint. It shows users how to sign simple common phrases (yes, no, turn left and so on), or even their name, through simple, shortform videos. There is very little copy, or explanation; the content speaks for itself, proving you don’t need clever words to capture an important brand message.

04. Evoulve

evoulve website

Pared back elements and magical animations create a mood of discovery

Evoulve is a company dedicated to turning emerging technologies into viable products. The site design – the work of design agency Fleava – has a mesmerising, futuristic feel. There are very few elements on screen: simple text annotations and very minimal navigation options, set against the backdrop of a slowly rotating globe and starry sky. However, each one has been crafted perfectly, with subtle CSS animations amping up the sense of magic and creating a mood of discovery.

05. Tinker

Tinker website

The UI for this watch retail site is stripped back to basics

Tinker is a watch brand with a simple concept: customers can choose the face size, strap colour and metal, in any combination. There are no unnecessary features or detailing. The UI for the company’s site makes the concept clear; users can easily select their ideal combination from the limited options available.

06. Leen Heyne

Leen Heyne

The jeweller directs the viewer’s eye on its website

Beside its jewellery, Leen Heyne‘s monochrome logo and company name are the only significant visual elements on its homepage. The surrounding expanse of whitespace makes it a safe bet the user’s eyes will be drawn to the products.

07. We Ain’t Plastic

We Ain't Plastic

Contrast creates interest here

Contrast is another useful visual tactic for keeping minimalist designs interesting. German UX engineer Roland Lösslein’s website We Ain’t Plastic sets up a stark contrast in size between the central image and the text and icons above.

08. Nua Bikes

Nua Bikes

Nua Bikes balances the elements on its homepage

Nua Bikes‘ site is deceptively minimalist, because there are actually a lot of elements on the screen. However, by condensing the text and maximising the whitespace, the firm is able to draw attention to its product, the bike.


This site has one clear purpose

Amusing, if possibly inane, lets people customise messages to friends with a hand gesture. The barren black background adds power to the main image and the bold white letters of the text.

10. Maaemo

maemo website

Atmospheric video sets the scene

The website for triple-Michelin-starred Norwegian restaurant Maaemo uses minimalism to create a sense of class. The visual treatment is perfect for storytelling, as the site demonstrates with HD photos of dishes being created.

11. Ava


Converse with AI Ava

This black-and-white colour scheme and conformity of typography of this promotional site for sci-fi thriller Ex Machina keep the focus on the text – an interactive conversation with the film’s star, the AI robot Ava.

12. Symbolset


A colour-changing background livens up this minimalist site

Icon font vendor Symbolset attracts attention to the interactive area in the middle of its site by minimising the competing elements and adding a brightly coloured, ever-changing background.

Some of these examples originally appeared in net, the world’s best-selling magazine for web designers and developers. Subscribe here.

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15 fun fonts to put a smile on your face

Fun fonts are the order of the day. There’s almost an endless supply of fonts whirling around the web and for some projects you’ll want to keep things light. This selection is sure to put a smile on your readers’ faces.

We’ve searched the web for the fonts with a sense of fun and presented them here for you. Explore the list below and don’t worry – Comic Sans didn’t make the cut. If you want something slightly different, you can check out our selection of top retro fonts or calligraphy fonts

01. Mohr Rounded

Fun fonts: Mohr rounded

Soft terminals give this fun font a friendly feel

Format: OTF

A curvier version of the Mohr typeface, this fun font features soft terminals for a friendly look. The family includes three versions (normal, alt and italic) in a wide range of weights, making it nice and versatile. It was designed by Sofia Mohr for Latinotype and is available from £21.99 for individual styles.

02. Caramel Macchiato

Fun fonts: Caramel Macchiato

If you like your fonts sweet, this one’s for you

Caramel Macchiato is as sweet as the name suggests. Swirly and bouncy, it leaps off the page with bursts of caffeinated energy. A layered font, with two font styles, it’s available for $14. It’s worth having a look at Orenari’s other font creations as there are lots of other fun font options to behold.

03. Yikes

Fun fonts: Yikes

There’s nothing scary about this fun font

The aptly titled Yikes is free to use in your personal projects. This fun font has a jelly-like feel, with the strokes getting thicker at junctions. It was created by freelance brand designer Maciek Martyniuk – aka Yomagick – who has generously shared it with us all on Behance.

04. Escafina

Fun fonts: Escafina

This fun font was inspired by mid-century advertising

Format: OTF

Escafina is an upright script font that reinvents the lively 1960s-70s serif swash cap aesthetic for the digital age. It also draws inspiration from vintage signage and mid-century advertising. This fun font was created by type designer and lettering artist Riley Cran, who’s also the man behind Lost Type

05. Buffon

Fun fonts: Buffon

Buffon is a reverse-contrast font with a modern twist

Format: OTF

The playful Buffon is a reverse-contrast typeface designed by The Australian Graphic Supply Co. It comes in four weights, with a generous character set, ligatures and stylistic alternatives. It’s available to purchase through Lost Type, which comments that it “shrugs off the tired Spaghetti Western stereotype so often associated with reverse-contrast – but could make a very nice Wanted poster, if the need arose.” Ideal.

06. Rocher

Fun fonts: Rocher

Yabba dabba doo, is this fun font for you?

Format: OTF

Rocher is a rock-solid fun font family that has been made to feel like stone. If you take a closer look though, you’ll see that there’s nothing obviously stoney about the design. That’s because the creators used rounded edges and the right amount of roughness to make sturdy letterforms that feel like stone, but don’t resort to cliches like cracks and rubble. Buy individual styles from £13.99.

07. Masqualero

Fun fonts: Masqualero

Masqualero comes with six weights and italics

Format: OTF

Taking its inspiration from the life and work of Miles Davis, Masqualero is at the classy end of the fun font spectrum. Designed by Monotype, this dual-natured serifed typeface packs the flair of Davis’ electric funk and rock sounds. It can be yours to own and use from £13.99 for individual styles.

08. Marshmallow

Fun fonts: Marshmallow

This fun font looks good enough to eat

Format: OTF

With its fat shape, the super high-contrast script typeface Marshmallow looks just like the squidgy, tasty treat it’s named after. Marshmallow might not be suitable for every occasion, but with 820 characters and a range of stylistic alternatives, it’s certainly carved out a sybaritic niche. You can download it for £29.99.

09. Konga Rock

Fun fonts: Konga

Let’s all do the Konga (Rock)

Format: OTF

If you’re familiar with the delightfully bubbly Konga Pro font that was released in 2012, you’ll love the more rough and ready version: Konga Rock. Dotted with little stylish imperfections, Konga Rock has a screenprinted look that is sure to give your projects a handmade feel.

10. Argö

Fun fonts: Argo

No, not the Ben Affleck film

Format: OTP

Just like Masqualero, the Argö typeface is a fun font that veers towards the sophisticated. Initially designed as an Art Deco display font, Argö is a serif typeface whose horizontal lines have been replaced with Medieval-style ascenders to create greater flow and versatility. It can be yours for just $30.

11. Quarz1974

Fun fonts: Quarz 974

Quarz 974 is a chiselled font perfect for logos and posters

Format: TT

The geometric Quarz 974 takes its inspiration from simple lines and triangles. This has resulted in a jagged, spiky font that has a lot of fun translating different word forms into its signature style. It’s only composed of capitals and numbers, but this makes it the perfect eye-catching choice for posters and logos. 

12. Rosecube

Fun fonts: Rosecube

There’s more to Rosecube than meets the eye

Format: TTF

Looking like a font from a Wild West wanted poster, Rosecube is a deceptively odd serifed font. Its chunky capitals look like refined enough, but when placed side by side the letters have a sort of higgledy piggledy scruffiness about them. Rosecube has been a stalwart fun font since 2005, and you can download it for free.

13. Duke

Fun fonts: Duke

We love the shadows on this font

Format: OTF

When it came to designing Duke, creator James T Edmondson was inspired by the signage for the Cup & Saucer luncheonette in New York. Available as a pay-what-you-want font for personal use (or from $30 for a commercial license) Duke includes three layers: fill, shadow, and fill plus shadow. You can even try out Duke on the Lost Type site to see how you like it.

14. Ribbon

Fun fonts: Ribbon

Ribbon started out as a numeral set

Format: OTF

The road to release has been a long one for the Ribbon font. It started life as a purely numerical set, before creator Dan Gneiding expanded it into a complete display face that you can download for personal use at a price that suits you. Commercial Licenses start at $40.

15. Kitten

Fun fonts: Kitten

This is the purr-fect font for cat lovers

Format: OTF

Rounding off our list of the best fun fonts is a special feline themed set. Say hello to Kitten, a multi-weight script family with a range of variants, alternates and ligatures. With its curvy, bouncy shape and variety of weights, this sassy font can be tailored to fit logo designs and longer text blocks. Available in 40 languages, Kitten is available to download from €25 (single weights).

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Here’s where to get a discount on Apple’s brand new iPad

Who doesn’t want to make a saving on the latest iPad? Apple released its new entry-level device only a month ago, but you can already grab a discount on it when you buy from Amazon. There’s a small $29 saving to be had on the 128GB version, and while it’s not quite as impressive as the best Black Friday iPad deals, every little helps when it comes to buying an Apple device.

That’s right, when you order from Amazon, you can purchase the 10.2-inch display, 128GB iPad 2019 for $399.99, down from the normal price of $429.

And that’s not all, the 11-inch iPad Pro is also available at a discount price, with Amazon knocking it down from $799 to $674. That’s a much bigger saving of $125 on a device that’s perfect for digital artists looking to pick up an Apple tablet on the cheap.

The 10.2-inch 2019 iPad is touted as an entry-level Apple device, and it’s perfectly optimised to deliver a superior viewing experience for films, TV shows and online videos. It’s even packed with Apple’s A10 Fusion processor, so you know that it will load social media feeds, emails and writing documents smoothly.

What’s more, it’s even compatible with the Apple Pencil. You will need to by one separately, but we’ve got you covered with the best Apple Pencil deals of 2019.

The 2019 iPad comes with Apple’s new iPadOS, which includes a dark mode, mouse support and a swipeable keyboard. It also has a battery life that lasts for up to 10 hours.

If you’re after something a little more powerful, the 11-inch iPad Pro could be just what you’re after. With Apple’s A12X Bionic processor, it packs more of a punch, and allows graphic designers to bring their ideas to life.

Just like the iPad 2019, it offers up to 10 hours of battery life. This device also comes with a Liquid Retina display with ProMotion, True Tone and wide colour. A 12MP back camera and 7MP TrueDepth front camera tops off this impressive tablet.

Still not quite what you’re after? Check out these other iPad deals.

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Colour theory: A jargon-free designer’s guide

Colour theory is a crucial part of designers’ and artists’ practice. However, colour is such a pervasive part of everything we visually encounter in the world that for many, it becomes an intuitive choice. If you think back to school, you’ll probably recall being taught the basics of colour theory: there are three primary colours – red, yellow, and blue – and any colour can be created by mixing these three colours in varying quantities.It turns out that this isn’t quite the whole story (although it’s still workable enough to be taught to five-year-olds). 

Understanding how colour is formed and, more importantly, the relationships between different colours, is one of the most vital art techniques to master. It can help you use colour more effectively in your designs, and make sure you pick the right palette for your projects. In this guide, we’ll walk through what you should know about colour theory, including explaining any design terms you might not be clear on. 

While you’re here, you also might want to check out our guide to how to manage colours in Photoshop.

The Bauhaus school understood the power of colour in the 1920s and 1930s, with staff and students going on to develop colour theories for evoking particular moods and emotions through choice of palette in design and architecture. (Take a look at our guide to Bauhaus design for more on this.)

The theory of colour is a discipline that stretches back much further than that – at least to the 15th century – and uses physics, chemistry and mathematics to fully define and explain the concepts. However, much of this is unnecessary to being able to use colour effectively. Here, we’re going to offer more of a handy overview of all the important aspects of colour theory you need to help you start making informed decisions.

Colour systems

A colour system is a method by which colour is reproduced. There are two primary colour systems: additive and subtractive (also known as reflective). We use both on a daily basis. Screens use additive colour to generate all the colours you see, while books and other print materials use subtractive colour for their front covers.

In simple terms, anything that emits light (such as the sun, a screen, a projector, and so on) uses additive colour, while everything else (which instead reflects light) uses subtractive colour.

01. Additive

Colour theory: RGB

Additive colour is based on red, green, and blue – RGB for short

Additive colour works with anything that emits or radiates light. The mixture of different wavelengths of light creates different colours, and the more light you add, the brighter and lighter the colour becomes.

When using additive colour, we tend to consider the building block (primary) colours to be red, green and blue (RGB), and this is the basis for all colour you use on screen. In additive colour, white is the combination of colour, while black is the absence of colour.

02. Subtractive

Colour theory: CMYK

Subtractive colour is based on cyan, magenta, and yellow

Subtractive colour works on the basis of reflected light. Rather than pushing more light out, the way a particular pigment reflects different wavelengths of light determines its apparent colour to the human eye.

Subtractive colour, like additive, has three primary colours – cyan, magenta, and yellow (CMY). In subtractive colour, white is the absence of colour, while black is the combination of colour, but it’s an imperfect system.

The pigments we have available to use don’t fully absorb light (preventing reflected colour wavelengths), so we have to add a fourth compensating pigment to account for this limitation. We call this ‘key’, hence CMYK, but essentially it’s black. Without this additional pigment, the closest to black we’d be able to render in print would be a muddy brown.

The colour wheel

In order to make it easier to see the relationship between different colours, the concept of the modern colour wheel was developed around the 18th century. These early wheels plotted the different primary colours around a circle, mixing different primary colours together in strict ratios to achieve secondary and tertiary colours.

The colour wheel allows us to see at a glance which colours are complementary (opposite on the wheel), analogous (adjacent on the wheel), triadic (three colours positioned at 120 degrees on the wheel from each other) and so on.

Each of these relationships can produce pleasing colour combinations. There are many more pleasing relationships between colours based on their position on the wheel. There are free apps for picking a colour scheme, or you could use your designer’s eye to pick your own. Click through to the next page for a little help on this.

Next page: the three components of colour, colour gamut, and more…

The three components of a colour

Yellow is yellow is yellow, right? Well, actually, no. There are many different colours we could refer to as yellow. Different shades or tints, saturations and hues are all possible while still being within the yellow part of the colour wheel. As a result, there are three primary component parts that help us define a colour: hue, saturation and brightness.


This is the position on the colour wheel, and represents the base colour itself. This is typically referred to in degrees (around the colour wheel), so a yellow colour will appear between 50 and 60 degrees, with the perfect yellow appearing at 56 degrees. Green, meanwhile, appears at 120 degrees on the wheel at so on.


This is a representation of how saturated (or rich) a colour is. Low saturation results in less overall colour, eventually becoming a shade of grey when fully desaturated. Saturation is normally referred to as a percentage between 0 and 100%.


This is how bright a colour is, typically expressed as a percentage between 0 and 100%. A yellow at 0% brightness will be black, while the same yellow hue and saturation at 100% brightness will be the full yellow colour.

Colour gamut

Colour gamut describes the range of potential colours a system can reproduce

Colour gamut is a way of describing the full range of potential colours a system can reproduce. It may surprise you to learn that the range of colours achievable in CMYK is different to the range you can achieve with RGB.

This is partially because of the nature of the two different systems, but also (in the real world at least) as a consequence of limitations in our technology – screens aren’t always capable of producing the same range of colours as each other, and pigments reflect light at a non-uniform rate as you reduce their saturation.

Colour perception

Finally, it’s worth looking at how different colours can affect the way we perceive other colours. A typical illustration of this features a mid-grey tone placed over a light grey background, and the same mid-grey tone shown over a dark grey background. 

The apparent brightness of the mid-grey is altered according to the context in which you see it – a trick of the eye, working to make sense of its surroundings. Hues works in the same way as tones when placed adjacent to other colours, allowing you to create different effects using the same palette of colours.

Further reading

There’s more to explore in the world of colour, which is why we’ve got a tag for all our articles on the subject of colour. Read some of these highlights below.

01. A designer’s guide to using colour in branding

What are the ‘right’ combinations of colours, and how can designers sidestep subjective debates to harness the power of colour more effectively in branding projects? We speak to experts in colour branding and look at tools to help you make the right choices. Read our designer’s guide to using colour in branding.

02. The best monitor calibrators in 2019

To ensure your monitor is displaying colours as accurately as possible, you need to make sure it’s properly calibrated. This is essential for anyone who works with graphic design, video, photos or digital art – if your monitor isn’t calibrated properly, you could be seeing a totally different colour to what your audience are seeing. This guide to the best monitor calibrators will help you find the right tool for the job.

03. Choose the right website colour palette

Get started picking the perfect colour scheme with help from this guide on how to choose the right colour palette for your website. It’s a good introduction to the different things to consider when making your design decisions, with references to psychological studies and colour theory.

04. How to pick the perfect colours every time

The Colour Affects System identifies links between four colour groups and four basic personality types. If harnessed correctly, designers can use this system to kill subjective debate around colour in client meetings. This guide explains how.

05. Use colour to shape UX

Use colour to shape UX

When creating a site that resonates with your audience, your choice of colour can be surprisingly impactful. This article on how to use colour to shape UX takes an in-depth look at how you can use specific colours to build trust and increase revenue.

06. 10 colour management terms to know

Getting your colours right means getting your head around some tricky terms. There are a number of jargon terms that might baffle you, but this guide will help. You’ll soon be able to sort your spectrophotometer from your tristimulus colorimeter…

07. Outstanding uses of colour in branding

Successfully ‘owning’ a colour is a big deal. With this in mind, we’ve explored how different brands around the world have staked their respective claims to 10 colours – in some cases with considerable success. Explore these outstanding uses of colour in branding.