#Design Posts

The Toptal Design Blog is a hub for advanced design studies by professional designers in the Toptal network on all facets of digital design, ranging from detailed design tutorials to in-depth coverage of new design trends, techniques, and technologies.
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Sergio Ortiz
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.

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Miklos Philips
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.

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Tidjane Tall
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.

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Tidjane Tall
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.

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Waldek Graczyk
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.

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Lauren Holliday
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.

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Kent Mundle
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.

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Tidjane Tall
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.

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Santiago Baigorria
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.

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Micah Bowers
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?

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Michael Abehsera
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.

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Bree Chapin
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.

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Jônatas Vieira
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?

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Danielle Reid
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.

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Luboš Volkov
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.

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Peter Varadi
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?

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Alex Gurevich
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.

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Kaushik Ghosh
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.

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Ivana Miličić
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.

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Darko Stanimirović
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.

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Kent Mundle
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?

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Danielle Thompson
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.

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Kent Mundle
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.

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Kent Mundle
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.

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Luboš Volkov
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.

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Kent Mundle
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.

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Bojan Janjanin
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.

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Lucijan Blagonic
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.

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Darko Stanimirović
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.

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Danielle Reid
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.

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Lubos Volkov
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?

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