Design posts

The Toptal Engineering Blog is a platform for sharing projects and discussing technologies.
How to Design Delightful Experiences for the Internet of Things

The next wave of IoT will connect millions of devices. The skills needed in this new paradigm will shift from component thinking to whole systems thinking.

In this article, Toptal designer Sergio Ortiz writes about the Internet of Things, its design implications, how it will change the way businesses operate, and how we see the world—and how to help make homes, cities, and factories smarter and more efficient.

Continue reading →
How to Conduct Usability Testing in Six Steps

What can be done easily and inexpensively to substantially improve your product designs? User testing. User testing digital product designs is imperative if you are to design “useful” products.

This six-part process by Toptal designer John Roose describes how the insights you gain from observing how actual users use your product are well worth it.

Continue reading →
How to Hook eCommerce Shoppers through UX Design

Flipkart, India’s leading eCommerce marketplace, questioned why they were losing customers and asked themselves: How do you build a loyal customer base, increase engagement and solve the issue of app uninstalls? What behaviors should be studied to come up with a winning solution? The answer lay in designing a habit-forming experience.

Continue reading →
A Rant against Pretty Designs

Often, designers make the mistake of designing apps for their own vanity, focusing on the veneer instead of designing a great user experience. As Steve Jobs once said, “Most people make the mistake of thinking design is what it looks like.”

In this article, Toptal UX Designer Miklos Philips discusses Jobs’s point of view and clarifies the importance of designing for people.

Continue reading →
Stop Making Garbage: A Guide to Designing Interfaces That Last

We are a throw-away society—products wear out far too quickly or are replaced by something shinier, newer, or more trendy.

In this piece, we look at designs that have stood the test of time and break down what made them successful. No matter what you’re working on, these guiding principles will help you stop designing disposables and begin creating designs that last.

Continue reading →
How to Create Custom Loading Animations to Decrease Bounce Rates

You probably wouldn’t stare at a white screen on a site or app for more than a few seconds without a page load status or time indicator. A well-crafted loading animation helps you stay engaged while you wait. Toptal Design Editor Tidjane Tall will show you how Slack, Trello, and Flickr loading animations can be done with ease. You’ll be able to apply what you learn to create your own branded loading animation from scratch.

Continue reading →
A Step-by-step Guide to UI Animation with Principle and Sketch

Interfaces that have animations and transitions provide a better UX for app users, and stimulate user engagement. It’s becoming increasingly important to understand how to add motion to your designs, which is why we wrote today’s tutorial.

In it, Toptal Design Editor Tidjane Tall demonstrates how to craft effective UI animation techniques, using Principle for Mac, in a series of short videos.

Continue reading →
Anticipatory Design: How to Create Magical User Experiences

In this article, Toptal Designer Miklos Philips explains how to create magical user experiences by creating anticipatory designs. What is anticipatory design? It’s output, without much need for input. A world where our computing machines are designed for interaction methods optimized for humans, not computers. A digital world where we move from user intent that’s deterministic to user intent that’s probabilistic.

Continue reading →
20 Testimonial Pages to Inspire Future Customers

Check out a collection of testimonial page inspirations created by different designers from around the world. Toptal designer Jônatas Vieira curated a selection of designs that each empowers its brand story.

Some of the screens are captured from live products, some are still in development, and some are purely concepts designed to push the bounds of what is even considered possible.

Continue reading →
20 eCommerce UIs That Make Shopping Easier

Check out a collection of mobile eCommerce inspirations created by different designers from around the world. Toptal Designer Cai Cardenas curated a selection of designs that each delights their users.

Some of the screens are captured from live products, some are still in development, and some are purely concepts designed to push the bounds of what is even considered possible.

Continue reading →
A Step-by-step Guide to Designing Custom Illustrations Without Any Drawing Skills

Many designers shy away from making their own custom illustrations for the fear that they don’t have conventional drawing skills. What if we could show you how to make your own great custom illustrations, no sketching skills required? In this article, Toptal Design Blog Editor Tidjane Tall guides us through three step-by-step illustrations each with different styles.

Continue reading →
Illustration Inspirations to Help Breathe Life Into Your Brand

Check out a collection of custom illustration inspirations created by different designers from around the world. Toptal Illustrator Waldek Graczyk curated a selection of illustrations that each finds a way to represent its respective brand.

Some of the illustrations are captured from live products, some are still in development, and some are purely concepts designed to push the bounds of what is even considered possible.

Continue reading →
Logo Animation Inspirations to Make Your Brand More Relatable

Check out a collection of brand animation inspirations created by different designers from around the world. Toptal Designer Jason Gonzalez curated a selection of designs that each finds a way to energize its respective brand.

Some of the designs are captured from live products, some are still in development, and some are purely concepts designed to push the bounds of what is even considered possible.

Continue reading →
The 11 Photoshop Plugins That Made Me a Better Designer in 2016

Despite Photoshop’s unparalleled feature set, everyone has a few extra things that they wish the product could do. Fortunately, there is a rich community of third party developers who are regularly pumping outout fantastic plugins and extensions to make you a better designer.

In this article, Toptal Design Blog Editor Michael Abehsera has lined up some of the best Photoshop plugins that make him a better, more efficient designer. There are a plethora of plugins out there, but these are the essentials.

Continue reading →
Please Your Readers With These Blog Layout Inspirations

Check out a collection of blog layout design inspirations created by different designers from around the world. Toptal Designer Francesca Gilbert curated a selection of designs that each finds ways to communicate a blog’s unique personality.

Some of the designs are captured from live products, some are still in development, and some are purely concepts designed to push the bounds of what is even considered possible.

Continue reading →
The Best Design Articles of 2016

Today, in a world where only three percent of adults spend time learning each day, reading is a competitive advantage.

To jumpstart your learning in 2017, we’ve curated the absolute best design links published around the web in 2016. You’re welcome.

Continue reading →
Retain Users With These Mobile App Onboarding Inspirations

Check out a collection of onboarding design inspirations created by different designers from around the world. Toptal Design Blog Lead Editor Michael Abehsera curated a selection of designs that each finds creative ways to retain users.

Some of the designs are captured from live products, some are still in development, and some are purely concepts designed to push the bounds of what is even considered possible.

Continue reading →
Convert Visitors With These Landing Page Inspirations

Check out a collection of landing page design inspirations created by different designers from around the world. Toptal Technical Blog Editor Kent Mundle curated a selection of designs that each finds creative ways to convert visitors into leads.

Some of the designs are captured from live products, some are still in development, and some are purely concepts designed to push the bounds of what is even considered possible.

Continue reading →
The Super Simple Guide to Iconography

We often hear that an image is worth a thousand words. Well, this applies very much to icons, which replace long sentences and words to optimize visual space, usability, and aesthetic.

In this article, Toptal Designer Tidjane Tall shows us how to create 10 custom icons in less than 10 seconds each (we promise). Knowing how to design your own icons can go a long way, so learn how to craft a set of simple and effective icons to upgrade your skillset.

Continue reading →
Taking IKEA Out of Its Box and Redesigning It for 1.6B Users

Although IKEA is one of the world’s most well-known retailers, its online presence doesn’t reflect the same success. Too many users find that the brand’s online presence is cluttered, difficult to navigate, and doesn’t reflect a more modern lifestyle.

In this article, Toptal Lead Design Blog Editor Michael Abehsera leads a redesign of IKEA’s online presence, exploring how the user experience can be overhauled to fix some of its most pressing issues.

Continue reading →
Upgrade Your Analytics With These Dashboard Design Inspirations

Check out a collection of analytics dashboard design inspirations created by different designers from around the world. Toptal Designer Santiago Baigorria curated a selection of designs that each offers insightful analyses.

Some of the designs are captured from live products, some are still in development, and some are purely concepts designed to push the bounds of what is even considered possible.

Continue reading →
Don't Underestimate the Power of Your Brand Story

A brand story is a powerful tool, but trial-and-error is required to use it well. If persistent, you’ll develop a unique voice, and your work will be infused with unexpected strands of meaning and purpose that thrill clients and the people they’re trying to reach.

In this article, Toptal Designer Micah Bowers walks us through one of his own branding projects to show us how to develop an effective brand story. Most of us might know a good story when we see one, but how do we write an engaging one ourselves?

Continue reading →
What Google and Adobe Can Teach Us About Feature Creep

Most designers know that feature creep is a big time problem, but knowing is only half the battle. How do we stop feature creep from smothering our projects?

In this article, Toptal Designer Luciano Vizza guides us through the steps to recognize and dispel feature creep in your next project. One extra feature might not sink the ship. But, it doesn’t take long for one feature to become 20 features, and before you know it, Captain, you are going down with the ship.

Continue reading →
Turn Error Into Opportunity With These 404 Page Inspirations

Check out a collection of 404 page design inspirations created by different designers from around the world. Toptal Designer Jônatas Vieira curated a selection of designs that offer a unique solution.

Some of the designs are captured from live products, some are still in development, and some are purely concepts designed to push the bounds of what is even considered possible.

Continue reading →
The Complete Guide to Cross Cultural Design

Designing across cultural boundaries has broader implications and more challenges than Google Translate can solve. Designers must consider not just language differences, but also cultural tendencies, values, and taboos.

In this article, Toptal designer Jônatas Vieira gives us the tools to navigate cultural boundaries and shows us one of his own projects that taught him the value of cross-cultural design.

Continue reading →
Design for Reality, Not Glory

Designers too often work for their ego and choose to redesign the next billion-user start-up to boost their career, rather than doing something that will really help them grow. We receive no substantial criticism when publishing portfolio work online, but when we design for reality we put ourselves in a position to learn.

In this article, Toptal Lead Blog Design Editor Michael Abehsera shows us how to kill our egos, design for the small and local, and to always be students.

Continue reading →
Delight Users at Checkout With These Payment Page Inspirations

Check out a collection of payment design inspirations created by different designers from around the world. Toptal Technical Editor Kent Mundle curated a selection of designs that each offer unique UI solutions to the popular platform.

Some of the designs are captured from live products, some are still in development, and some are purely concepts designed to push the bounds of what is even considered possible.

Continue reading →
The End of Sandboxes: Changing the Unit of Design

Most people know that the world of digital products, and how we design them, is changing every day. The question that we must ask then is: how will this affect the role of designers in the future?

In this article, Toptal designer Bree Chapin gives us an overview of user interactions today and how they are changing for tomorrow. Keep reading to learn how designers have to pivot and redirect their foci to create products and services that can adapt for the future.

Continue reading →
The Definitive Guide to Building Apps For Children

Recent studies have found that in the U.S., 75 percent of children younger than eight have access to a smartphone or tablet, as do 36 percent of kids under the age of one. Although video games and apps have always carried the stigma of being detrimental to youth development, science has proven that some products can actually enhance a child’s cognitive strength. This presents a great opportunity and responsibility to digital designers and developers to influence tomorrow’s generations in a positive way.

In this guide, Toptal Designer Tanya Unger breaks down the differences and similarities between designing for kids and designing for adults. Then she presents a proven framework and offers some additional tips.

Continue reading →
Let’s Redesign Facebook: 10 Inspirations to Get You Started

Check out a collection of new Facebook redesigns created by different designers from around the world. Toptal Technical Editor Kent Mundle curated a selection of designs that each offer unique UI solutions to the popular platform.

Some of the designs are captured from live products, some are still in development, and some are purely concepts designed to push the bounds of what is even considered possible.

Continue reading →
Get Inspired With These Data Visualisations

Check out a collection of intuitive data visualisations created by different designers from around the world. Toptal Technical Editor Kent Mundle curated a selection of designs that each offer unique UI solutions to data.

Some of the designs are captured from live products, some are still in development, and some are purely concepts designed to push the bounds of what is even considered possible.

Continue reading →
Write or Fade Away as a Designer

As freelance designers, we tend to search for any way to leverage our careers to get more and better work. However, with so many opinions online it can be difficult for designers to know how to invest their time. Writing is one of the highest ROI skills a designer can develop.

In this article, Toptal Lead Design Editor Michael Abehsera talks with some of the best designers around the world who write to leverage their careers. Keep reading to learn how you too can get writing.

Continue reading →
These Design Inspirations Can Change How We Read The News

Check out a collection of intuitive news UIs created by different designers from around the world. Toptal Technical Editor Kent Mundle curated a selection of designs that each offer unique UI solutions to news interfaces.

Some of the designs are captured from live products, some are still in development, and some are purely concepts designed to push the bounds of what is even considered possible.

Continue reading →
The Art of Stealing: How to Become a Master Designer

Many people believe that designers are unicorns, gifted or special in some way. They’re not. Truth is, anyone can become a great designer if they’re willing to put in years of hard work, experimentation, and failure. All it takes is a simple mindset shift. Instead of looking at other designers’ work with envy, think of it as the key to your success.

In fact, interactive design has a lot in common with the open source software community: You can master it by stealing and copying from the best of the best. Start by getting to know Dribbble’s rebound feature.

Continue reading →
Everything You Need to Know about UX Sketching

UX sketching is a crucial, yet often overlooked, aspect of user-experience design. Sketching is a very efficient way of communicating design ideas while allowing designers to try out a multitude of options and iterate them before settling on one.

In this post, Toptal Freelance Designer Nick Vyhouski explains UX sketching step by step and outlines a range of tips and techniques used by leading designers.

Continue reading →
How Much Coding Should Designers Know?

Much of the digital design community is locked in debate over whether or not designers should code. Some are in favor of seeking out the unicorns who can design and code, while others claim they don’t exist, or just get in the way.

In this article, Toptal freelance designer Jônatas Vieira offers his own firsthand perspective on this issue. Can learning how to code elevate your career to the next level? Or would such skills go unused?

Continue reading →
Presenting Design Work: The Right Way

Designers spend much of their careers developing the ability to beautifully communicate the intentions of their products. Yet, some designers fail to direct these same skills towards the communication of their own work. The ability to present your design work is fundamental for any designer, as it is often the first step to landing a job with any new client or agency.

In this article, Toptal Director of Design Danielle Reid and Toptal Design Blog Editor Kent Mundle discuss what designers can do to present their work in the most effective ways. Give the products that you make some justice, and use these tips to effectively present your portfolio.

Continue reading →
Amazing Travel UIs

Check out a curated collection of beautiful and futuristic travel UIs created by different designers from around the world.

Some of the designs are captured from live products, some are still in development, and some are purely concepts designed to push the bounds of what is even considered possible.

Continue reading →
Usability for Conversion: Stop Using Fads, Start Using Data

There are many design tips out there that claim to be universal solutions for achieving high conversion rates. However, in this article, Toptal Freelance Designer Joel Lopez suggests avoiding these trends or fads and encourages us to instead thoughtfully collect data to inform the design of our products.

Although some quick-fix design moves may achieve high conversion rates in a product’s early years, they don’t lend themselves to establishing long-term user trust. Joel argues that this trust is essential to keep users coming back to promote your products.

Continue reading →
Alternative Housing Lifestyles for Remote Workers

An often mentioned virtue of remote work is the freedom for individuals to construct their lifestyles as they wish. However, much of contemporary society has not yet shifted to allow for the total freedom that many desire, especially when it comes to housing. Why should outdated housing standards prevent us from living in the way we want to live?

In this article, Toptal Technical Editor Kent Mundle surveys a group of housing alternatives that apply to several different types of remote workers. The digital nomad has different needs than the young professional or the working parent, and their housing options should reflect that.

Continue reading →
Design In A Remote Setting: A Toptal Design Talk

Without an office manager, or shift supervisor to look over your shoulder, or set your schedule for you, design in a remote setting can be difficult for some to manage. As well, for those who use the freedom that remote work offers, how can one ensure to find a healthy balance between life, fun and of course work?

In this article, Toptal Technical Editor Kent Mundle discusses strategies for designing in a remote setting with Lubos Volkov, Toptal Lead Designer. Lubos explains the importance of good planning, a strong will, but also the ability to break the rules and get outside when the world calls you.

Continue reading →
How CrunchBase Should Be Designed

Despite the widespread use of the start-up tracker CrunchBase, Toptal Freelance Designer Andrew Graunke believes that its site could use a redesign. Can the redesign transcend an aesthetic makeover, and improve user and business goals as well?

In this article, Andrew walks us through his thorough redesign and reorganization of the CrunchBase website. His process includes wireframes, design reviews, and a usability test.

Continue reading →
Produce DWGs Like It's 2016: Teigha For Architecture

Today, the notion of repetitively modeling or drawing the windows, doors, and walls of standardized buildings seems archaic, so why do it? If you want to handle DWG files and ACA objects programmatically, one of the best platform options is Teigha Architecture.

In this article, Toptal Freelance Designer Alexey Abramovsky walks us through the DWG production of a small house to introduce us to the benefits of Teigha. Go from foundations to full render in this quick tutorial.

Continue reading →
UX Testing For The Masses: Keep It Simple And Cost Effective

User Experience (UX) testing may be one of the more overlooked but ultimately necessary steps in UX design. It has to be effective and involve the most important people – your users and customers.

In this article, Toptal Freelance Designer Ruaridh Currie examines UX testing methods and processes used by designers who want to understand and employ User Centered Design (UCD) and put their UX designs to the test, preferably without burning a hole in their budget.

Continue reading →
Sharpen Your Skills: The Value of Multidisciplinary Design

Although the different design disciplines are often divided into separate categories, many of their associated skills transcend the limits of nomenclature. For example, the ability of an architectural designer to present abstract concepts clearly might help the UX designer communicate an interface with improved efficiency and meaning, just as a graphic designer’s visual knowledge informs the UI designer’s interface compositions.

In this article, Toptal Freelance Designer Peter Varadi explains through his own experience how a multidisciplinary design background has broadened his skill set. Who knew that an architectural education could set you apart in the field of UX Design?

Continue reading →
Design A Better Website: Foundations First

Most designers only publish their finished, polished wireframes and mock-ups without revealing how much work really goes into research and content organization. What results is a community that assumes that design is all about jumping into a composition. This understanding of design produces faulty products.

In this article, Alex Gurevich gives us a walkthrough of his workflow for the design of a significant non-profit company’s website, explaining with each step how a thorough preliminary process leads to holistic web page design.

Continue reading →
The Art Of Meaningful UX Design

Everyone from designers to clients to users desires meaningful products, but how much do we know about what it takes to make consumer experiences meaningful? Can the psychology of consumer experience inform our UX design strategies?

In this article, Toptal Freelance Designer Kaushik Ghosh shows us how to design products that connect with users beyond basic needs and functions. The process of “Meaning Making” through appropriate design interventions can lead to significantly higher engagement, passion, and commitment from users.

Continue reading →
Going Guerrilla: Affordable UX Research Tips And Alternatives

There are plenty of methods for conducting user research; however, many of these methods are resource-intensive and can be slow. In other words, they tend to be expensive and take a while to implement. This means many projects are often completed without any research, and this may prove problematic on many levels.

User research doesn’t have to cost a fortune, though. In this post, Toptal Freelance Designer Ivan Annikov explains how it’s possible to conduct a sufficient amount of user research without burning heaps of money in the process.

Continue reading →
Who Knew Adobe CC Could Wireframe?

Wireframing is an essential step during interface design, no matter the project. But, who knew that Adobe CC, a platform typically associated with print design, could be a unique and powerful tool to aid designers in their wireframe workflow?

In this article, freelance designer Ivana Milicic walks us through a comprehensive wireframe process using Adobe CC tools. InDesign and Illustrator aren’t just for print anymore.

Continue reading →
Usability Past Its Breaking Point: A Toptal Design Talk

Should usability ever be sacrificed for design experimentation? What is there to be learned from products that challenge the expectations of users? Might portfolio projects be the ideal venue in which to push these boundaries?

In the first Toptal Design Talk, Toptal Technical Editor Kent Mundle and freelance designer Darko Stanimirovic discuss these questions over the contentious online portfolio for the art studio, Ro-Lu.

Continue reading →
How To Communicate The Value Of User Research

UX is more than a bunch of rules and heuristics that you follow in your product design process. UX is subjective. It is the experience that a user has while using a product. Therefore, we have to understand the needs and goals of potential users, their tasks, and the context in which they’ll use the product.

But that’s not all. We also have to communicate the value of user research to clients, which is often easier said than done. In this post, Toptal Freelance Designer Frauke Seewald explains how and why designers need to communicate the value of user research and steer clients in the right direction.

Continue reading →
A Typeface Overview For Print And Web Design

Today, designers chose a typeface from drop-down menus rather than physical typesets. As a result, designers have become very detached from the original industrial contexts for which their typefaces were designed. So, how can we better inform our design work with good typeface decision making?

In this article, Toptal Technical Editor Kent Mundle provides an overview of the essential typefaces that have influenced typography today, and why you should stop using them. If the platforms for our type are changing, shouldn’t our typefaces as well?

Continue reading →
Introduction To BEM Methodology

When building smaller websites, the way developers structure their CSS code is usually not a big issue. However, when it comes to larger, more complex projects, code organization becomes crucial.

In this article, Toptal Freelance Software Engineer Tomislav Matijević introduces us to BEM methodology and explains how this CSS practice can massively improve code maintainability, speed up the development process, and streamline the teamwork of developers by arranging CSS classes into independent modules.

Continue reading →
Tutorial: How To Create A Custom Icon Webfont

The possibility of embedding a custom font in an HTML website revolutionized the potential of web development and opened up many new possibilities for designers. The key advantage of custom fonts over sprite graphics is their superior load time, but that’s not the only benefit.

In this article, Toptal Freelance Designer Ivo Gregurec explains how you can build your very own icon font, allowing you to create a consistently unique style, unified line weight, and pixel-perfect results.

Continue reading →
When We Should Redesign: An Automotive Case Study

When is the best possible time for a company to conduct a website redesign? What needs to be done in a redesign to ensure another won’t be needed for a long time to come?

In this article, Freelance Designer Goran Ramljak walks us through his redesign case study, exposing key issues with the automotive digital space in the process.

Continue reading →
Emotional Sustainability in Brand and Product Design

With the increase in technology startups, competition is high for consumer attention. Consumers are looking for more than just a highly functional product or outstanding service. They are seeking an experience.

In this article, Toptal Freelance Designer Danielle Thompson introduces the emotional levels of brand design to show us what it takes to design a brand that users will cherish in the long run. No longer can companies rely on infomercial style pitches to promote their brand or product.

Continue reading →
Toptal's Quick and Practical CSS Cheat Sheet

As software engineers, we’re always searching for the best tools and guides that will help us to be more productive while spending less time searching and reading long technical specifications.

Today, Toptal is pleased to present an entirely new resource to the community as a free download: a CSS Cheat Sheet. Toptal’s CSS Cheat Sheet is a quick CSS reference guide, and includes CSS syntax, the most important selectors, properties, sizes, and units, and other useful CSS details, all in a short, easily understandable format.

Continue reading →
The 5 Most Common UI Design Mistakes

The greatest mistakes that UI Designers are making may be putting the discipline in jeopardy. Many UI Designers focus so much on getting the tech right that they are missing out on what they have to offer as designers.

In this article, Toptal Technical Editor Kent Mundle outlines the Top 5 Most Common UI Design Mistakes that every designer should know.

Continue reading →
Top 10 Most Common Mobile App Design Mistakes

Designing an app that stands the test of time is no easy feat. Only 3% of apps are still in use a month after being downloaded. What are some of the most common mistakes that designers are making to discourage so many users?

In this post, Toptal Design Editor Kent Mundle outlines the Top 10 most common mistakes in app design, and explains what designers can do to fix them.

Continue reading →
Home Smart Home: Domesticating the Internet of Things

The impending adoption of Smart Home technology is looming. What will this mean for domestic life as we know it? For as long as people have kept homes, the dwelling has been a refuge for isolation. With the security concerns surrounding Smart Home technology and the rise of the Internet of Things, has our concept of the home changed forever?

In this article, design editor Kent Mundle questions where Smart Home technology is now, how it relates to the history of home automation, and what might be next for the market.

Continue reading →
Sketch vs. Photoshop: Is It Time To Switch From Photoshop To Sketch?

Sketch promises a faster workflow and greater ease-of-use than its counterparts. You can think of Sketch as Illustrator with some Photoshop stitched together, but that’s only part of the story. Many Adobe features that you don’t use 90 percent of the time have been stripped out, giving us a streamlined tool that is designed to quickly prototype everything from simple wireframes to complex mockups.

In this article, Toptal freelance designer Alex Gurevich takes a closer look at the Sketch vs. Photoshop dilemma, explaining which has the advantage from a variety of perspectives.

Continue reading →
What Is Strategic Design Thinking and How Can It Empower Designers?

Freelance designers often work on a project-to-project, short-term basis, a reality that sometimes limits the extent to which they can design products that have a major effect on the big picture. How can designers leverage their abilities to have a maximum impact on more significant projects?

Strategic Design Thinking questions the role of design as a discipline, suggesting that it can offer more than the crafting of products and artifacts. In this article, freelance designer Kent Mundle shows us how designers can better communicate their abilities and establish a vocabulary to increase the potential value of their projects for themselves and their clients.

Continue reading →
2016 Design Trends: New Tools, More Automation, Full Stack Design

2016 design trends are an evolution and extension of existing design languages and patterns. We are not reinventing the wheel this year, so this leaves room for innovative designs based on familiar building blocks. However, while the underlying basics remain unchanged, designers will have to master new skills and employ new tools to keep up.

In this post, Toptal Lead Designer Lubos Volkov lists a number of design trends that are likely to mark 2016. These industry trends are not limited to visual appearance or the advent of new tools. Some of them could potentially redefine our understanding of what it means to be a designer.

Continue reading →
Design Principles: Introduction To Hierarchy

In this article, Freelance Designer Kent Mundle examines the basics of good design: hierarchy, shapes, sizes, and colors. The foundational rules of visual perception are critical for any graphic design, as they instruct how information with embedded meaning is conveyed as quickly as possible.

However, these rules were founded in print and have yet to be redefined for digital media. There has yet to be a sort of digital Bauhaus school to set these new principles. The rules of hierarchy and composition are not just dated, they break down in web interfaces.

Continue reading →
The World Is Our Interface: Design Beyond The Screen

Toptal Freelance Designer Danielle Reid presents a number of exciting technologies and various interfaces to interact with them, while taking a historical perspective on interactions with man-made objects that have evolved with us to where we are.

From typewriters to touchscreens and beyond, UI design is constantly evolving to improve user experience and boost productivity. Find out what the next generation of connected devices will bring to the table.

Continue reading →
3D Printing: Should Designers And Developers Take Notice?

3D printing is not a new technology, but recent advances in several fields have made it more accessible to hobbyists and businesses. Compared to other tech sectors, it’s still a small industry, but most analysts agree it has a lot of potential.

But where is the potential for freelance designers and software engineers?

Continue reading →
Are All Trends Worth It? Top 5 Most Common UX Mistakes That Designers Make

Many modern web trends offer a lot of visual appeal and the temptation to follow them blindly is quite real. These trends are not always bad, but they can be dangerous if not implemented with caution. In this article, Toptal designer Bojan Janjanin discusses some of the most common UX mistakes and some insights on finding the balance between what looks nice and what is actually usable.

Continue reading →
Say Hello To Toptal Designers!

To date, Toptal has been known as a thriving network comprised of some of the best software developers in the world, and up until now, designer involvement at Toptal has been done on an informal basis. As we’ve expanded and evolved, we’ve always been acutely aware of the fact that the diversity of personalities, areas of expertise, and personal passions that come together from across the world at Toptal is one of the primary things that makes our community so strong. With this in mind, today we are extremely excited to announce the official launch of Toptal Designers.

Continue reading →
Sass Style Guide: A Sass Tutorial on How to Write Better CSS Code

When working on big web applications as a team with other developers, code needs to be scalable and readable. This can be a challenging process when it comes to CSS, although preprocessors like Sass are available. But only using preprocessors will only get you so far. In this article, Toptal engineer Matias Hernandez presents a style guide with advice on how to improve the way you write your code.

Continue reading →
Embracing Sass: Why You Should Stop Using Vanilla CSS

CSS preprocessors have been around for quite a while now. These tools, among many things, promise convenience in writing style sheets for the web. However, not everyone is taking advantage of these utilities, and is still resorting to writing vanilla CSS. In this article, Toptal engineer Marcelo Mazza discusses some of the reasons why he thinks Sass is the way to go and why you should be using it in your projects.

Continue reading →
The Industry Could Do Without Pixel Density And PPI Marketing

Like it or not, once you start chasing pixels, you are more likely to end up with a bigger screen. This means more backlighting, more GPU load, more juice, and a bigger battery. Huge phones with insanely high pixel densities are a triumph of cunning marketing over sensible engineering.

The trend is not making hardware better in a noticeable way, yet it’s making it more expensive and less efficient. It is no longer improving the user experience, either, and in some cases it is even degrading it.

Continue reading →
Responsive Design Is Not Enough, We Need Responsive Performance

Between square inch smart wristwatches and mammoth smart TVs, a responsive website capable of adapting to a wide array of screen sizes and device capabilities is something no one complains about. However, many websites are still plagued by desktop-first design paradigms, or mobile-first paradigms with absolutely no focus on performance. These traditional approaches to responsive web design have various shortcomings. Fortunately, some simple ideas can help solve these problems.

Continue reading →
Web Animation In The Post-Flash Era

We often use allegory to pass on an idea, trying to visually present the point of the story to allow the other person easier understanding. Using some kind of visualisation to paint a full picture of the story we are trying to tell is a good idea. Using animation to get the message across can be even better; if a picture is worth a thousand words, how much is an animation worth?

Continue reading →
Android Customization: How to Build a UI Component That Does What You Want

It is not uncommon for developers to find themselves in need of a UI component that is either not provided by the platform they are targeting or is, indeed, provided, but lacks a certain property or behavior. The answer to both scenarios is a custom UI component. The Android UI model is inherently customizable, offering the means to create custom UI components in various ways.

Continue reading →
CSS Layout Tutorial: From Classic Approaches to the Latest Techniques

Mastering CSS is an absolute necessity for any solid web designer or developer. This tutorial walks you through the fundamentals of CSS layout principles, from classic CSS2 techniques to the latest approaches in CSS3. Learn more about how to leverage all that CSS has to offer in order to optimize both the user’s experience and the quality of your code.

Continue reading →
Make Website Design Decisions in Your Browser: My Process for Designing Websites

With an ever-growing device landscape, it is becoming increasingly difficult to design consistent user interfaces across all devices. Using paper and pencil, or design tools that do not properly mimic the dynamic nature of web browsers across multiple platforms and screen sizes, can sometimes lead to obvious inefficiencies. However, the web browser can be used as a critical and efficient tool for designing websites and interfaces.

Continue reading →
Usability And The Art Of Portfolio Design: A Toptal Design Talk

Is it ever safe to sacrifice usability for experimentation in web design? What can be learned from products that challenge the values of web designers? Are portfolio projects potentially the perfect venue to push the boundaries?

In the first Toptal Design Talk, Toptal Technical Editor Kent Mundle and freelance designer Darko Stanimirovic discuss these questions over a contentious website portfolio for the renown studio, Ro-Lu.

Continue reading →
The Psychology of Wearables and Wearable Technology

Recognizing, understanding, and effectively leveraging today’s growing landscape of wearable technologies is likely to be increasingly essential to the success of a wide array of businesses. In this article, we discuss the ways in which effective interface design will need to adapt, in some ways dramatically, to address the new psychology of wearable technology.

Continue reading →
Become A World Class Designer By Making The Globe Your Office

Great design has a knack of perfectly guiding us to a delightful result. It encompasses a whole experience as we interact with a product or service. Great design appears simple, but it’s only through a deep understanding of people and deciding to challenge complexity that great design is achieved. Travel helps us unravel that complexity by giving fresh perspective to ideas, as well as helping us experience issues that affect the world on a global scale - or even those tiny details which we might miss out on while sitting in a regular office.

Continue reading →
How GWT Unlocks Augmented Reality in Your Browser

In our previous post on the GWT Web Toolkit, we discussed the strengths and characteristics of GWT, to mix Java and JavaScript libraries seamlessly in the browser. In today’s post, we would like to go a little deeper, and see the GWT Toolkit in action. We’ll demonstrate how we can take advantage of GWT to build a peculiar application: an augmented reality web application that runs in real time, fully in JavaScript, in the browser. We’ll focus on how GWT gives us the ability to interact easily with many JavaScript APIs, such as WebRTC and WebGL, and allows us to harness a large Java library, NyARToolkit, never intended to be used in the browser.

Continue reading →
A Design Workflow Tutorial for Developers: Deliver Better UI/UX On Time

Working with a great designer can be an invaluable asset to any team. With clear communication channels, and free-flowing co-operation, the designer should give you everything you need to speed up the building process and limit questions and confusion as much as possible.

What can you, the developer, do to ensure that the product you have built is delivered in a timely manner without sacrificing the quality of the user interface and user experience?

Continue reading →
Introduction to Responsive Web Design: Pseudo-Elements, Media Queries, and More

Nowadays, your website will be visited by a wide variety of devices: desktops with large monitors, mid-sized laptops, tablets, smartphones, and more.

To achieve an optimal user experience, your site should be adjusting its layout in response to these varied devices (i.e., to their varied screen resolutions and dimensions). The process of responding to the form of the user’s device is referred to as (you guessed it) responsive web design (RWD).

Continue reading →