Monthly Archives: January 2014


Web Design Trends 2014

It’s that time of year again when everyone decides what the web trends for that year will be. I have done the research so you don’t have to. I’ll start off with my list…

My List O trends I would Like to See More Of and Ones I Think Should Die – 2014 Edition


simplified content and design: my motto is “get people in and out”. For many websites, users are coming for something specific. I’d like to see more streamlined experiences that allow for that, rather than the overly complex sites that now dominate.

custom icon fonts and SVG: I think these are a great way to add scalable graphics to sites that need to support IE 8 and 9. I was never a fan of sprites, so I think this is a great method of combining the core icons and graphics for a site into one tight file (assuming they are created correctly and no unnecessary icons are included to add to the file size). For those lucky enough to not have to support IE 8, SVG all the way…

even more responsive: they are just way too many popular sites and ecommerce sites that are not mobile optimized. I do an awful lot of browsing on my iPad and I cant stand having to zoom just to click on something because the site I am on refuses to make their site responsive. With more and more people browsing on mobile devices, responsive is not a trend, it is a necessity.

color, beautiful, bright, color!: my fav trend that I am seeing, and one I have been waiting for. I have been trying for years to make my sites more colorful and less corporate, and since I have bosses and clients, I generally have to sneak my happy colors in as accents. With this being a trend now, I am actually being encouraged to use more color! Yeah!!! Seriously, drop the old corporate colors and come into the light bright happy!


80 bazillion sites that all look like Bootstrap: I get it, Bootstrap is cool, it saves time and makes web development a bit easier. But please, move away from the out of the box templates and customize that mess. The majority of the web sites I have seen on “best of” lists all have the same dang layout.

giant photos as content: if that giant photo isn’t content, it is fluff, that I fricking have to download. I know it’s a trend, and those of us with bosses sometimes have to bend and be trendy, but make these pics count. And learn to optimize them for all that’s holy! Selective blur and progressive jpgs, and use something other than Photoshop to export your files (Fireworks or one of the jpg and png website tools).

forgetting IE: I know all us cool kids use Chrome or Firefox or Safari, but Joe Average most likely still uses IE, and an older version at that. It really doesn’t take that much effort to make your site at least be usable in IE 8 and 9-not doing so is just lazy and alienating. Design in terms of progressive design-cool stuff should degrade gracefully in older browsers, not keep the site from working at all.

Now let’s see what the interwebs have to say…. and what I have to say in response:

Web Design 2014: What to Watch Out For

Webdesigns tuts+

solutions to the slicing problem: I find this one curious as I have not “sliced” an image for use for the web in years because I build things in Fireworks and export individual files rather than slicing. This article presumes web designers hand over flat photoshop files to a dev-does this still really happen??? If you are a web designer, you need to be able to build your own UI’s, other wise you are just a decorator.

significantly fewer graphic pngs: I agree with this. As we move towards more mobile everything, retina everything, we need our core graphics to be scalable. SVG is still our best hope but it does not have the support I would like yet. I will be using more custom icon fonts myself to overcome these issues.

adoption of flexbox: Man, I want flexbox, now, but since I HAVE to support IE 9, and to a large degree, IE 8, I cant go there yet. Le sigh…

an overload of video-oriented web design: this is an interesting trend, having a short informative video in place of textual content. So much more real understanding comes from this type of imagery over reading, so for certain types of sites, this is a no-brainer.

animated and responsive icons: yes, yes, yes

adoption of second screen: this trend might be fun for tv shows, but not so informational sites, at least, not that I can see yet.

easier mobile optimization: with frameworks becoming mobile first, creating mobile-optimized experiences should become easier this year, hopefully

published content without the fluff: new platforms are allowing writers to get their words out as cleanly and efficiently as possible.

Web Design Trends That Will Disappear in 2014


Oooh, let’s see if I agree…

homepage sliding banner: I think this will stick around, for some sites it is the most logical way to present featured con tent. That, and people love themselves some sliders-that’s a neutral thing.

extensive fill-out forms: I hope this is true. Long forms say “please leave this web site, thanks” to me.

circular script logos: is this an issue?

flash intros: what is this, 2002? I thought they died a long time ago…

too many fonts: maybe this will die out, but a lot of designers are still discovering Web Fonts and might not be able to drag themselves away from trying every one.

complicated design: this goes hand in hand with the current  “simplify all the things” trend.

10 Web Design Trends to Leave Behind in 2014


pages, pages, pages: I guess they are pushing for more 1-page websites, which is fine for portfolio sites and smaller sites, but portals and corporate sites can’t get away with putting everything on one page, nor should they try. I do think it is time to kill “Mission” and “About” pages that are literally one paragraph-combine that mess, dangit!

ribbons: yeah, they need to die, unless your site sells ribbons, then it makes sense.

unreal stock photos: yes, please die. I despise the majority of stock photography, particularily with people in it-they always look staged and cheesy.

confusing websites with newspapers: I agree, too many columns, too tiny type, too many words…

skeumorphism: bye bye elaborate gradients and textures

ambiguous content hierarchy: all the sites should not a pinterest be, seriously

mixing fonts: I like type, but it is an art to mix them properly. I stick to one or two type families. The trend of using many disparate fonts on one site just feels like someone just found out Google Fonts was a thing.

Too many share buttons: good grief, who shares everything they read? I so hate all the social media and share glop that stands in for content nowadays…

obscure color contrast: is this a trend? If so, knock that out!

overly clever icon menus: Yes!!! Icons are supposed to provide instant recognition, so you don’t have to read the label. Too many sites are using wackadoodle icons that make you sit and go” what the hell is that?” FAIL.


Some nice lady made a  groovy wall on Pinterest with 2014 design trends:


The “Best of 2013” Best Of List!

The last week of December brings with it a multitude of “best of 2013” lists. I went through them so you don’t have to (unless you want to). Here goes!

The best of 2013 for designers | Webdesigner Depot
This is a  great list, soo many groovies and thingies to look at, there isn’t enough time! A week later, I am still going through this list. Here are some of the highlights:

Best JQuery Plugins of 2013 | Wed Design Ledger
Great list of JQuery plugins-I have been looking for solutions like these for projects I am working on-Equalize.js: I am talking about you!

Best Web Designs of 2013 | Web Design ledger
Literally dozens of sites that are giant photos… design is sooo subjective….

2013 Best of the Web Award Winners | Center for Digital Government–Digital-Government-Achievement-Awards-2013.html
Ok, disclaimer, my day job was a finalist 🙂 (State of Mississippi portal)  You would be surprised by what state and local governments are doing on the web; some of these sites are pretty impressive.

50 Best Websites 2013 | Time


Top 10 News Stories of 2013 | Time

Best Photos of the Year 2013 | Reuters
Some amazing photos here.

Top 50 Albums of 2013 | Pitchfork
Disclaimer: I don’t own any of these albums and have never heard of 90% of these artists. I am getting old. I’m gonna go listen to Roll the Bones again.

The 10 Best Ads of 2013 | ADWeek
My favorite is number 9, Chipotle “The Scarecrow”, that features a fantastic cover by Fiona Apple of the Willy Wonka classic “Pure Imagination”

Best iOS Apps of 2013 | Cult of Mac
I only have one on the list, the Yahoo Weather App, and me loves it.

The 21 Best Infographics of 2013 | Fast Company
I love info graphics, and the one with all those cameras has me all hot and bothered….

Best Apps for Mac 2013 | 9to5 mac
If I didn’t already have Creative Cloud I would be all over Pixelmator:

20 Best Memes of 2013 : Mashable
Yea, so I made a Harlem Shake video with finger puppets, i’m in good company.



A few months ago, I presented a session at my companies annual Tech Conference that focused on what science and design pros had to say about creativity. The session went really well and I got a lot of good feedback on it, so I have decided to turn the session into an article. Here goes….

What Science Says About Creativity

“Constraints shape and focus problems, and provide clear challenges to overcome as well as inspiration. Creativity loves constraints, but they must be balanced with a healthy disregard for the impossible.”

Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer


Research from the Department of Social Psychology at the University of Amsterdam has shown that certain constraints can actually increase creative thinking. When people are given something to struggle with, either a physical obstacle, or difficult question that must be answered, people tend to shift into what is called “global processing”, which tends to increase a person’s creativity in problem solving.

An intelligent constraint informs creative action by outlining the “sandbox” within which people can play and guides that action not just by pointing out what to pursue but perhaps more importantly what to ignore. (Mathew May, How Intelligent Constraints Drive Creativity).


Find the constraints in the problem you are trying to solve, and if you have none, create some. It could be as simple as determining some parameters, such as “must be responsive and must not take longer than 1.5 seconds per page to load.” If you are doing a brainstorming session, give the participants clear constraints to focus their creativity.

SOURCE: Stepping back to see the big picture: when obstacles elicit global processing.


One of the classic idea-generation techniques is the group brainstorming session. A group of people get together in a room and throw out ideas about how to solve a problem. How good are the ideas generated from such a session?

Not very good, according to research conducted in 1963 by Marvin Dunnette, a psychology professor at the University of Minnesota. In the study, multiple groups were given different topics to brainstorm over. Some groups were allowed to brainstorm alone, while others brainstormed in traditional groups together. What was found was that the quantity and quality of ideas generated from solitary brainstormers was higher than from group brainstorming sessions.


Next time your team wants to brainstorm about a topic, give the topic, along with constraints or parameters that the solution must meet, to each team member and allow them to brainstorm alone. Then bring everyone together to review the solutions generated. Without the peer pressure to “show off” in a group dynamic, or to conform to popular opinions, you might find that the solutions generated are more feasible and of a higher quality.

SOURCE: Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, Chapter 3: When Collaboration Kills Creativity


A common stereotype about creatives is we tend to have a lot of clutter in your workspaces. This clutter can be from books, toys, papers, sticky notes, maybe even the odd plant or two. Research from the University of Minnesota suggest that those of us who embrace our need to be surrounded by objects tend to be more creative and produce more ideas than those of us who are more zen-like in our work environments.

To be fair, the research was not terribly scientific and was much more about subjective observation than a rigid scientific methodology, so take this insight with a few grains of salt. Study participants were either placed in a cluttered room or an orderly room. Participants in the cluttered room tended to make choices that suggested openness to new ideas, while those in the orderly room tended to make choices that were more expected.


Again, this research is not as scientific as I would prefer and therefore we are relying more on subjectivity, but we still might benefit from creating workspaces that are filled with objects that we love. It makes a certain sense that constantly seeing objects rather than seeing a blank wall, could spark more creativity than not. If your workspace is pristine, consider adding a few things, such as a plant or a toy or two, to increase the visual stimuli that surrounds you.

SOURCE: Tidy Desk or Messy Desk? Each Has Its Benefits

“But anyone who has experienced flow knows that the deep enjoyment it provides requires an equal degree of disciplined concentration.”
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi


Ever notice how sometimes you get so engrossed in what you are doing that time seems to stop and your output increases? This state of being is called “flow”, defined by researcher Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi as “the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus.”

Research suggest that those who are able to get into a flow state more readily, “high flow” individuals, tend to not only be more positive and have more feelings of contentment, but tend to also be more creative.


Some people can naturally enter a flow state while for others it requires a more systematic approach. Flow starts with a clear, singular purpose. Abstract goals rarely produce flow. It also helps to produce a creative challenge that is somewhat hard-our brains tend to get bored without interesting challenges. Make sure that you are in an a environment that matches your personality. If you need stimulation, then maybe that is a coffee shop. For others, being alone might be the ideal situation. If possible, try to prevent any disruptions or interruption-they pull you out of flow. Read more about how to achieve flow.

SOURCES: Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi


Rub Some Bacon On It

I have found that the number one obstacle to my being creative, to generating ideas and solving problems, is my attitude. When I am stressed, annoyed with someone at work, or frustrated because I can’t figure something out, my brain locks down and nothing useful comes out. I force myself to do things to change my mindset, and being that I am generally a goofy person, watching silly videos or listening to comedic music tends to change my attitude rapidly. There is science to support the idea that simply feeling happy can positively impact your intelligence and creativity. So next time you want to drop kick someone at work, Rub Some Bacon It and get back to being awesome.

SOURCES: Happiness: Good for Creativity, Bad for Single-Minded Focus
Happiness and Creativity: Going Along with the Flow

“The brain looks different if you’re trying to solve a creative problem than if you’re trying to solve a math problem”
Dr. Jeffrey Thompson of The Center for Neuroacoustic Research in San Diego


According to Dr. Jeffrey Thompson of the Center for Neuroacoustic Research in San Diego, music can alter your brainwaves and change your state of consciousness to be more receptive to creative ideas. The types of music that have been shown to aid creativity are ones that are slower paced with regular patterns, like classical or more ambient music. As you listen to the music, your brainwaves attempt to time themselves to the speed of the pulses in the music.

“That alters your consciousness, creating a more dreamlike state,” he says. “That dreamlike state, Theta, mirrors the state of consciousness associated with creativity.”


Next time you are trying to get into idea-generation mode, turn off the Nine Inch Nails and turn on some Enya. Leave the gangsta rap for when you are in “get r done” mode.


SHELL’S “I need to be Creative NOW” PLAYLIST

What Pros Say About Creativity

“creativity is just connecting things.”
Steve Jobs

8 Steps of Creativity

According to the book Zig Zag:The Surprising Path to Creativity, there are 8 steps that the author has found are essential to the creative process:

  1. ASK Look for the right problem to solve
  2. LEARNBe a constant student, always learning new skills, mastering your craft
  3. LOOK Regularly seek out the new in all facets of your life
  4. PLAY Engage your imagination to release your unconscious mind
  5. THINK The more ideas that you generate, the more likely some of them will be great
  6. FUSE Ideas come from multiple sources and are fused together to create a unified vision
  7. CHOOSE Curate your ideas and only choose the best ones to cultivate
  8. MAKE Now bring your idea to life and make something real

Random Thoughts on Creativity

Stay a Beginner

When we become experts at something, we become burdened by that knowledge. Zen master Shunryu Suzuki said “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s mind there are few.”

Be a Collector

Keep a morgue file, or swipe file, filled with anything and everything that inspires you, that is done well, that you wish you had designed. Go through it every time you need to spark your creativity. For this digital age, I recommend using Evernote for your morgue file.

Take Mental Breaks

If you are getting stuck on an idea or a solution to a problem, walk away from it for awhile, switch tasks, and allow your mind to generate unconscious connections. You may find when you go back to the task that you have a fresh take on it that you hadn’t thought of before.

“Limitations often force you to view things from a perspective you are not accustomed to and, in turn, can stimulate the clarity and purpose of the design, rather than debilitate and hinder your creative process.”
Joshua Brewer, Constraints Fuel Creativity

“I have devoted 30 years of research to how creative people live and work, to make more understandable the mysterious process by which they come up with new ideas and new things. If I had to express in one word what makes their personalities different from others, it’s complexity. They show tendencies of thought and action that in most people are segregated. They contain contradictory extremes; instead of being an individual, each of them is a multitude.”Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Read more about the 10 Paradoxical Traits of Creative People

“Creativity is just intelligence having fun.”

Albert Einstein

“Telling yourself you have all the time in the world, all the money in the world, all the colors in the palette, anything you want-that just kills creativity.”

Jack White

“Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic”

Jim Jarmusch

“We don’t know where we get our ideas from. What we do know is we do not get them from our laptops.”

John Cleese

“Don’t worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you’ll have to ram them down people’s throats.”

Howard Aiken

“The creative act is nonlinear.”

Josh Linkner, Jazz Musician

Related Links

“The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources. ”

Albert Einstein




  • SITE: Lumosity  Lumosity is a subscription-based site that lets you play games that are designed by neuroscientists to improve core cognitive functions-smart people are creative people. I have been using this service for the past two years and highly recommend it.
  • SITE: Coffitivity  Recommended by a company colleague, Coffitivity is a site and app that plays the sounds of a coffee shop, to act as background sound, meant to aid creativity. There are downloads for MAC, iPhone, and iPad as well as the site itself.
  • SITE: Safari Books Online: Safari is an online book shelf, with thousands of technical, creative, and business-related books and videos. An important aspect of being creative is being knowledgeable and having access to information. Safari is subscription based and allows full access to the included resources and also includes apps for iOS, Android and Blackberry. We have a subscription at work that I use extensively.


  • PUT THIS ON REPEAT: Couleurs by M83. This is my creative anthem, it feels like the backing track to an awesome montage scene of me being awesome 🙂

My 2014 Resolution

I have but one official resolution for 2014 (that I will share): to write one weekly “here’s what I thought was interesting/cool/etc this week” post. I started this blog six months ago and have two whole posts for 2013 on it. Why? Because I work alot, and once I am done working I come home and work on freelance gigs. After all that, I want to collapse on the couch.

I have been trying to carve out time each week to look at web blogs, read more about the design industry, and learn new skills. If that means less Netflix, so be it 🙂 So here is my first “this is what I learned/saw/thought was cool this week” for 2014.

First off, I have gone to the dark side, or rather, the shiny chrome side. I finally bought a Mac Pro tower. It’s from 2008 but it is a beast with 8 cores and 16 gigs of ram. It is a lovely addition to my MacBook Pro and increasingly cranky PC tower. As much as I appreciate the aesthetics of Apple and the stability of their products, there are still things about them that make me crazy. Why can’t I get a physical button to open the superdrive bay??? 30 minutes screwing around trying to find the magic keystroke to release the thing is uncalled for- a wee chrome button next to the bay would have been logical and useful. Why hide functionality?? Le sigh…

Another toy that I recently bought was the Google Nexus 7 tablet. I already have an iPad2 and  a Kindle Fire HD. I wanted to have an Android device for testing purposes as well as I just thought the commercial with the little kid asking Google was glossaphobia was seemed cool. I wanted to ask Google questions too. The Nexus is a beautiful little tablet, with a gorgeous high rez screen. I really like the form factor. I never liked how the Kindle felt in my hands, and sometimes you don’t want to deal with a giant tablet like the iPad, so the Nexus is the perfect fit. I’m not getting rid of my other tablets or anything, I just wanted a different experience, and for the money, it is a great tablet. My websites look so shiny on it 🙂

Hmm, what else? I just upgraded my onOne PhotoSuite to version 8. For my personal photos, I love using the suite because it helps make nice photos look cool, and heck, isn’t that the point? No software can make a crappy photo great, but most of us aren’t submitting images to National Geographic, so I say have fun. The onOne suite is cheap and has a ton of features and is easy to use. You don’t have to own PhotoShop to use it as can run as a standalone app.

Another photo enhancing app that I really like is Snapseed. As I am transitioning from my PC to the Mac, I am finding that some of my software isn’t available anymore. Snapseed used to be available as a desktop app, but Google recently canceled it. I saw today that Google has made it available again, though not as a stand alone piece of software. If you have Chrome and Google+, you can open an image in Google+ and when you click Edit, it pops up an in-browser version of Snapseed, so thats pretty cool. I’m not getting rid of my PC, so I think I will use the standalone version of Snapseed when I really want to do some editing, but in a pinch the in-browser version will work nicely. Now if I can figure out how to get Google to let me download the Nik filters I just bought in May to my mac, all will be good in the photo world for me..

My last discovery of the week has nothing to do with technology, design or the web, it is about your face, or rather my face. I just bought a PMD, or personal microderm machine, and lets just say, don’t leave it in one spot too long unless you want to sandblast a hole in your face…. because I kinda did, oops….


Until next week, Hugs and Pugs!


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