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Website Design

Bring your Blood Pressure Up: Spec Work Documented on Social Media

Posted by Rebecca Blake on February 25, 2015

@forexposure Twitter streamIf you’ve been advised to keep your heart rate steady, you should probably avoid @forexposure_txt on Twitter and shitspecwork on Tumblr. @forexposure provides a steady stream of outrageous requests for free labor. Some of the requests are from businesses one could safely assume have a budget: “You will be doing interviews for a real media outlet. Our prices are affordable and way cheaper than classes.” Some make it clear that the projects have no funding: “In the past contributors have been expected to buy a few copies of the book to help with funding.” Almost all promise some sort of payoff in exposure: “In exchange you get exposure on my account when I tag you in my Instagram pictures.

The Twitter account is maintained by comic artist Ryan Estrada. The posts are often breathtaking in their audacity and general cluelessness: “We do have a budget for professional services, BUT WE DON'T WANT TO SPEND IT.” While the Twitter stream is so comical it’s hard to believe, Estrada assures us “These are real quotes from real people who want you to work for exposure.”

Until recently, 3-D illustrator Timothy Reynolds published the Tumblr spec work blog shitspecwork. The blog featured submissions of requests for free work from large companies, such as HBO, Audi and Coca Cola, to music bands looking for free poster design, to posts by individuals trolling for free labor. Some of the posts cover headline-generating campaigns, such as the Canadian government’s student contest for a logo for the 150-year anniversary of the country’s confederation. 

Unfortunately, Reynolds has ceased to post to shitspecwork. Last December, he sent out a request for anyone willing to take over the blog. Earlier this month, he posted that “I gave up on http://shitspecwork.tumblr.com last year because it took a lot of negative energy to run it. But if anyone wants to take over, lmk.” Interested parties can contact Reynolds via his Twitter account. No doubt there will be a wealth of material for anyone interested in documenting requests for free labor.

Right: @forexposure's Twitter stream.

Free Range Fonts: The Google Web Typographic Project

Posted by Rebecca Blake on January 29, 2015

Any web designer scouring through the Google Web fonts library knows how stultifying it can be to find the right combination of faces. After peering at the third (or tenth) waterfall of characters, serifs and weights start to blur into a typographic mess. Self-described tech-tinkerer, Femmebot (Phoebe E.), has come up with a  solution to show web fonts in their natural environment: Google Web Fonts Typographic Project.

The project sets Aesop’s Fables, from the Project Gutenberg translation, in Google web fonts. A minimum of two web fonts are paired, and are set in elegant layouts which combine the faces with background images, illustrations, and simple shapes. The result is a scrolling cheat-sheet of sometimes surprising, often pleasing, typeface combinations. Better yet, the selected fonts are listed on each layout and are hyperlinked to their page on Google Fonts. In most examples, the page designer is credited and linked as well. Google Fonts Typography continues to be a collaborative project, and Femmebot is accepting submissions through her Github account.

The project is the first in Femmebot’s larger initiative: 25x52, or 25 projects in 52 weeks. While the 25x52 seems to be a bit behind schedule – only seven projects have been completed since last summer — the projects have yielded interesting discussion and collaboration. In her end-of-year retrospective, Femmebot shares a thoughtful analysis of what the initiative has taught her about work and the perception of achievement.

Below: screenshot from Google Web Fonts Typographic Project. Used with permission.

Screenshot from Google Web Fonts Typographic Project

Making Brands (or at Least Their Logos) Responsive

Posted by Rebecca Blake on January 22, 2015

Last fall, UK designer Joe Harrison unveiled his exploration of scalable logos. The result was Responsive Logos, a simplistic website featuring the logos of major brands such as Coca Cola, Walt Disney, and Kodak. As the viewer resizes the browser window, the logos respond, becoming both smaller, and stripping away elements. At the window’s smallest size, the smallest recognizable feature remains: Chanel’s interlocking Cs, the Guiness harp, Nike’s swoosh. As Harrison wrote on his website, “The concept aims to move branding away from fixed, rigid guidelines into a more flexible and contextual system.”

The logo project follows his earlier Responsive Icons project, in which a detailed graphic of a house resizes and sheds gables, windows, the chimney, and the door as the screen resizes. At the screen’s smallest size, only a simple house shape is left. Harrison started the project to explore “the perfect balance of simplicity in relation to screen size.”

Both projects utilize SVG files, deployed as image sprites. The sprites are packaged with CSS rules and media queries into an encapsulated SVG file. Smashing Magazine analyzed Harrison’s Responsive Icon project, and published a detailed how-to. They conclude that scalable SVG icons satisfy some key needs, for responsive ads, logos, and application icons. With Responsive Logos, Harrison elegantly illustrates their application in branding.

Logos from screenshot of Responsive Logos. Used with permission.

Responsive Logos screenshot

Coming in 2015: Guild Webinars on Responsive Design, Web fonts, and Game Design

Posted by Rebecca Blake on December 22, 2014

We’ve been working on new Guild webinars for 2015, and have lined up a full slate for the first quarter. Our confirmed presenters so far are Eric Fadiman on Responsive Web Design (February 18), Dana Leavey on Positioning & Marketing Yourself as a Designer (March 18), and Joey Ellis on Game Design & Development (April 15). Bookmark our website for updated news on Guild webinars, or follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. Or keep an eye out for our emailed invitation.

 Guild members are invited to join our webinars for free – please pre-register since space can sell out. Non-members can attend for $45. You can also view our archived webinars. Members can log into our website to view all our archived webinars for free. Non-members can view any single archived webinar for $35. Our most recent archived webinars are The All-Illustration Pricing Game, and Anatomy of a Design Proposal with Michael Janda.

24 Ways to Impress Your (Web Geek) Friends

Posted by Rebecca Blake on December 18, 2014

24 Ways category iconsCelebrating it’s 10th anniversary, 24 ways, the advent calendar for web geeks, is back in fine form. 24 ways was started in December of 2005 by web developer Drew McLellan. McLellan published the blog throughout the month with daily articles on web code, productivity, client management, business – anything and everything a web developer might need. As McLellan writes, “There’s a lot of fun to be had in learning something that will impress those you work with – especially if then you can share what you know to everyone’s benefit.”

This year’s offering continues to delight, with articles from a wide range of experts weighing in on everything from SEO to graphics creation to carpal tunnel syndrome. Articles can be searched and sorted by major topics: business, code, content, design, process, and UX. Articles going back to the very first edition of 24 ways continue to be published, providing a rich resource for developers.

The clean, pared-down website was designed by Paul Robert Lloyd and built on the Perch Runway platform. (24 ways has included a complete colophon which credits everyone involved in the creation of the website.) For updates on each publication, readers can subscribe to 24 ways’ newsletter or RSS feed, or follow them on Twitter.

24 Ways screen shot

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