Archive for the Websites Category

Making of

Nearly ten months ago, I (Shelby) had an idea that was inspired by the design community, one that I became very passionate about. The idea was to create some sort of platform to share what inspires you. We’ve seen it done before, but what I have for you is something I hope and believe you’ll really enjoy.

Designspiration is the outcome of my efforts to realize my idea, evolving into a site occupied by a diverse range of inspiration curated by its users. Designspiration or DSPN for short, focuses on the core principles of sharing inspiration and utilizes some great features; like a search function that works like a Swiss army knife, which I will discuss more in the post. Little did I know when starting this project that I would be clocking in more than 1,000 hours over the past ten months.

If you’re eager to check out the site, you can hit or With that said, I’m really excited to share this project and process with you…

Continue reading →


Posted by Alex

Display is a curated collection of important modern, mid 20th century graphic design books, periodicals, advertisements and ephemera. Documenting, preserving and providing public access to these original materials will raise the profile of Graphic Design as a source of educational, historical and scholarly analysis for teachers, students, designers and independent researchers. [link]

This is one of those sites I’m hesitant to blog about because I’m afraid you all will go there and buy all the books before I can. Of course Display is more than just a store: their collection is a terrific source of inspiration and history. I’m really impressed with how thoughtfully put together the whole site is; extremely well curated. Seriously you must visit this site — I am having a terrible time picking images for this post because they are all amazing.


Posted by Alex

OpenIDEO is a web platform for facilitating social innovation. It launched this past Monday and was developed by IDEO. It is designed as a collaborative creative space where everyone (designer or not) can come together and participate in the design process, through inspiration, concepting and evaluation. It is based around design challenges which start out as simple questions but tackle significant global challenges. Watch the video above to learn more. To really get a sense for the site, sign up on OpenIDEO and start adding inspirations!

The first challenge is for Jaime Oliver, the winner of this year’s TED prize and flag bearer of the Food Revolution in America. The goal is to find ways to raise awareness about the benefits of healthy and fresh food, especially for children. You can watch Jaime introduce the challenge in the video above.

I’ve been working as an intern at IDEO for the past 2 months and was able to participate in the first OpenIDEO internal challenge: to design the logo for the site. It was a really exciting process and I cannot wait to see these other challenges get put through the same paces. By breaking up the design process into these three easy phases, it ensures that important milestones are accomplished. I found the inspiration phase especially helpful, even for projects unrelated to the logo development.

I’ll be at IDEO through mid-September, when my master’s program begins again.


Posted by Alex

I don’t know how I haven’t posted on this sooner. It is basically the best internet tool that has ever occurred in the universe. TeuxDeux is a mega-simple web based to-do application. I’ve been using it since it came out and it is now a permanent part of my workflow; not just for business, but also for laundry concerns, In-N-Out runs, and whatever else I have to DO. And it’s free. Boom goes the dynamite as they say.

You can watch the video above for a quick description, but just about anyone could figure this out within seconds. Basically you write in what you have to-do under the day you have to do it. Cross it off when it’s done. View is seven days wide but can be scrolled through if you are the kind of person to plan ahead (do they exist?). There is also a Someday area for things to-do in the undetermined future.

The iPhone app version has been in development for what’s seemed like ages. But! I just read this morning that they’ve submitted it to the iTunes store, so keep an eye out for it on their site.

On a side-note, I love and hate the “Someday” bucket provided at the bottom of the list. It’s great because there is a ton of stuff that I don’t have time to do during a given week that I plop down there. The reason I don’t like it is because I am constantly reminded how many things I would like to do “Someday”. This can be discouraging if they stay down there too long. Conversely, crossing something off of the ‘Someday” list is very cathartic and replaces any discouragement you might have felt with a sense of accomplishment.

TeuxDeux is a result of the collaboration between swissmiss and Fictive Kin.

The New Mid-Century Modernist

The Mid-Century Modernist has remodeled their website with a new and refreshed look. A few new features were added, one of which is gallery displaying a nice grid of vintage designer furniture that can be purchased from eBay. I find this feature particularly cool even though the price tags are pretty hefty for most of the items.


Posted by Alex

Dribbble is a place to share little snapshots of what you’re working on. It’s kind of like Twitter, except instead of being limited to 140 characters, you’re limited to 120,000 pixels. Better have a good eye for cropping!

Dribbble is show and tell for designers, developers and other creatives. Members share sneak peeks of their work as “shots” — small screenshots of the designs and applications they are working on. It’s also a place to talk design, give and receive feedback and iterate toward better work.

They exited private beta about a month ago and are in invite-only mode right now. I’m very impressed with how solid the site feels overall. Seems like they spent a really long time finessing all of the details. I haven’t had a chance to ‘dribbble’ any of my own projects, but I really like the concept and I think it could be really fun to use. If you want to try it out, you’ll need to be drafted.

Dropular Reboot

Posted by Alex

After being “almost done” for the last couple weeks (months?), the newly redesigned Dropular has been released into the wild. Dropular, like FFFFOUND and, is a social bookmarking site for images. I used it a fair amount when it first came out; I liked how clean and streamlined the design was. It was also very easy to tell how images got to the front and what the “top” image criteria was (unlike FFFFOUND, which is a complete mystery to me). You could organize the content by “most dropped” of all time, the month, etc. You could also roll over images to see quickly how many people had added it to their collection. And if I remember correctly, there was an infinite scroll, which increased the likelihood that you would spend an inordinate amount of time browsing the backlog.

I haven’t really had a chance to play around with the new site too much yet, but it’s here and ready for testing. Everything looks OK to me thus far — it’s definitely still under development, so it’s kind of hard to judge whether or not things have improved. At the moment, most of the features I loved and mentioned above appear to be gone. Hopefully they are still to come (they have stated numerous times that features will continue to be rolled out as the release progresses).

It looks like registration will soon be open for new users, so keep an eye out if you didn’t have a chance to get an account last year.

Image via Olly M (was the first thing I Dropped when I signed up last year. Perhaps an apt motto for the Dropular development team…)

Building a Site with Squarespace

Posted by Alex

I’ve written posts on Content Management Systems before (Cargo Collective, Indexhibit) and I figured it was time to round out my overviews with a look at Squarespace. My personal site runs on Cargo, but I’ve built a few client sites with Squarespace and find it to be a really enjoyable and extremely easy way to design a website.

Squarespace is a fully hosted, completely managed environment for creating and maintaining a website, blog or portfolio. Since its inception, Squarespace has blossomed into a product that powers tens of thousands of sophisticated websites for businesses, bloggers, and professionals worldwide and currently serves hundreds of millions of hits per month.

Noteworthy Features

-Building a site with Squarespace is very intuitive. You can easily go through the whole process without ever catching a glimpse of any code. Like Cargo, if you know even the slightest bit of HTML/CSS you can easily tweak the site to look unique and not easily identifiable as a Squarespace template etc. The basic design view allows you to edit everything in real-time; so if you change the point size of the “body copy”, you will see it update immediately after you slide the little font-size slider. Feels a lot like Firebug in this way, except you aren’t manipulating code, you are manipulating clearly laid out values for all of the page elements. You just have to remember to hit “save changes” after every change you make. I constantly forget to do this.

- Fully functional blog platform. Like many CMS sites, Squarespace works really well as a blog or portfolio site. It’s very easy to post entries, edit old ones, etc, everything you would expect. Once you have the design of your site locked in, it’s just as easy to maintain and update as it was to build. The interface for blog editing can feel a little clunky sometimes, though I think this is because I’m used to WordPress where each open entry gets its own page. Squarespace editing happens as an overlay to the page which feels slower (whether it actually is or not I don’t know).

- The backend of a Squarespace is very well done. Not only do you have access to just about every statistic you could hope for, you are also able to edit some of the more tricky part of your site design. Things like search engine parameters, meta data, and security permissions are all easily editable. It also looks nice, which is a plus.

- Helpful forum. I’ve had many issues (usually due to my own failings with attempts to customize my weird CSS) which I’ve posted to the forum and in each case, the problem has been solved quickly and correctly. I’m always pleasantly surprised.

- They have a slick iPhone app that allows you to post blog entries and check out site statistics (among other things) on the go. And it’s free!

- One important difference to note is cost. Many CMS platforms are free, Squarespace is not. They have a simple pricing structure, but like many sites, the cheaper options are essentially useless. For example, any option where you can’t use a custom URL is immediately off the table in my mind. I’ve found the “Business” option to be the most useful (the form builder is the main reason for this). The crucial thing to note is that Squarespace is hosting your site, so you’re not just paying for the CMS, you’re also getting server space. When you look at it like that, it’s a lot easier to justify a monthly charge. (Of course, you will also have to pay for domain name registration elsewhere. Kind of annoying to have to split this up.)

My Experience

As I mentioned, I’ve built a few sites with Squarespace. The most recent of which I hoped would be finished in time for this article, but unfortunately we are waiting on some of the final content to come through before launching. The one I will mention instead is, the website for the fake/real aeronautical research firm Aeolas International.

Basically I needed a quick site that could host a blog and quickly display information about the company. The construction of this particular site took about 6 hours. I attribute the speed of the creation to the ease of the Squarespace interface (as well as low page count and small amount of total content). I didn’t move terribly far from the initial template, but I felt like I was able to give the site a unique feel. The most fun aspect has been the contact form; I would have had no idea how to actually make one of these with code. The fact that I could just insert it into the site with the click of a button was pretty cool.

There were some hiccups here and there early on, but nothing too frustrating. The need to ‘save changes’ after every alteration you make can get pretty annoying, but you get used to it after a while. Usually if I had an issue, it was because I was trying to do something either A) impossible or B) the completely wrong way.

I’d highly suggest taking Squarespace for a spin. They offer a free 14 day trial, so at least get in there and muck around. Take the tour here.