Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Don’t Reinvent the Wheel – 100+ Links of Design Elements and Resources

This time we will review some helpful resources for designers, how you can find them, and how can they help you.
Have you ever thought that every day, while you are busy doing your work, there are a lot of people doing almost the same thing as you? And they are releasing it. For free.
And sometimes we just forget all this stuff and lose a lot of time doing things that just didn’t need to be done. Someone else has done it for us. Why should you start from scratch if you can get some cool things and just make them better?
So, this is a post with a lot of links, and with my opinion about many of them. In short, we will be talking about:
• Creative photos collections
• Cool Icon packs, Buttons & Menus
• Professional Font faces
• Useful patterns, brushes, backgrounds, textures
• Templates and other miscellaneous elements
• Online generators and other tools
So, let’s rock!

Don’t Reinvent the Wheel – 100+ Links of Design Elements and Resources

Creative Photo Collections


Actually, most of you always use stock photos in your layouts. Yeah, they are nice, but many of them just don’t get the point across that you want. Don’t get mad, they don’t ruin your work. But they don’t make it brilliant either.
So, usually you have 2 options:
  1. Use premium stock photos
  2. Take your own photos
I think there is a third option that we almost always forget: Some really artistic and creative photos out there.
We have a lot of photo collections, with photos for specific situations. Think about it, when you are talking about victory, for example, it’s much better to use a real emotional winner photo than a commodity clip art trophy image.
Why they are good: Using in-context funny or emotional images is the easiest way to get your reader’s attention, so you get more time to explain your point.
What you should pay attention to: You must pay attention in copyright notices for images. We can’t steal someone elses image just because it is on the web.
Good Start points:

Cool Icon Packs, Buttons & Menus


Sometimes we need an idea of how could we put those 20 links that the customer wants in a really good-looking menu. Moreover, you have to worry about all the “call to actions” and semiotics stuff for icon and button design.
When you feel like this, it is time to steal someone elses design :D
Why they are good: Depending on the site you use to search, it is possible to find really complete icon packs, with “generic” icons for customization (just the background, for example). Many people may have solved the problem with 30 links in the same menu already.
What you should pay attention: It is worthless to find a really cool icon pack, button or menu that you don’t know how to customize. So, if you get a cool wooden icon pack, but don’t know how to make a “home” icon (maybe it is missing), you can’t use it.
Good Start points:

Professional Font Faces


I have to tell you a secret. I don’t know anything about typography. For real. I know just the basics, that serif and sans-serif stuff, but anything beyond this, don’t count on me.
Everytime I read something about typography I get amazed on how this is a wide field to study. And how we are getting better and better at it.
With all this @font-face stuff, it is almost a crime to not use a really professional font in your headlines (at least) without fear of the monster of cross-browser compatibility.
Why they are good: They give a really professional look to your project and they are easy to use.
What you should pay attention: You should notice copyright restrictions (yeah, not every font is free), and whether or not the font you want has some special characters (it is hard to find, for example, c with cedilla or grave accent, really used in Portuguese).
Good Start points:

Useful Patterns, Backgrounds, Textures


Yeah, I love patterns and textures. I used to download patterns because some of them I just don’t know how to create myself, and sometimes I just need a preview of how the work would look with that pattern. Actually, there are so many combinations of patterns, textures and brushes that you could spend all your life just trying combinations. So it is better just to pick some good samples, isn’t it?
Why they are good: They save you a lot of time, with complex and tiled patterns.
What you should pay attention: When you use a texture for websites you have to pay attention in their screen size, because we have a lot of different screen dimensions nowadays, thus many users can see that ugly white background when your texture ends.
Good Start points:

Templates and Other Elements


Yeah, we have a lot of other elements ready to use, that couldn’t be in above list. There are a lot of boxes, ribbons, slide shows, form elements, complete page templates and many other things that you could use in your work. There are a lot of creative design solutions for problems that we all could pass (like slide shows, or complete admin panels), and with this samples, you save a lot of precious hours.
Why they are good: They surely save you a lot of time, and brings you inspiration for common problems.
What you should pay attention: For every element we have a lot of possibilities, and many of them could be good. You don’t have to find a magical unique solution for everything, for each problem there’s more than likely a solution out there. This is why we have so many links in here :D
Good Start points:

Are You Hungry Yet?

I know that you have some useful links to share too. Why don’t you put them in comments, or write a response in your blog?
I’m sure that we will always need new sources to make our designing process more effective.

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