Visual 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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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
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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Michael Abehsera
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.

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Kent Mundle
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.

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Michael Abehsera
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.

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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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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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Ivo Gregurec
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.

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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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Alex Gurevich
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.

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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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