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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.
Pablo Albella
Angular 5 and ASP.NET Core

Microsoft and Google have worked together since Angular 2, rendering ASP.NET Web Forms and MVC Razor obsolete. Nevertheless, while ASP.NET’s front-end tools may be lacking, it is still a great back-end framework.

In this article, Toptal Freelance Angular Developer Pablo Albella teaches us how to create the best architecture for both these worlds.

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Vuk Djapic
Getting Started with the Elm Programming Language

Elm is a purely functional, strongly typed, reactive, and event-driven web client language. It takes a step back from the norms and really changes the way you reason about and program web application front-ends.

In this article, Toptal Freelance Software Engineer Vuk Djapic takes you through the exotic concepts of Elm and its pros and cons in real world use.

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Ahmet Shapiro-Erciyas
Angular Change Detection and the OnPush Strategy

Out of the box, Angular provides two different change detection strategies: Default and OnPush. Each strategy has its own advantages, but sometimes it is easy to miss a nifty optimization opportunity if you stick to the default strategy.

In this article, Toptal Freelance Software Engineer Ahmet Shapiro-Erciyas walks us through the available change detection strategies and shows how to use them in any Angular project.

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Jônatas Vieira
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.

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Francesca Gilibert
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.

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Stas Davydov
Make Your Web Front-end Reliable with Elm

If you’ve spent your fair share of time developing web front-ends, you know that no amount of libraries and plugins are sufficient enough to make the development experience pleasant. Unpredictable event chains, complex data binding, and lack of structured data modeling only makes things worse.

Elm, a programming language built for front-end development, cuts to the root of all these problems and solves them there.

In this post, Toptal Software Engineer Stanislav Davydov provides a detailed guide to Elm and shows us how The Elm Architecture solves some of the most fundamental challenges of front-end development.

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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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Michael Abehsera
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.

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Jônatas Vieira
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.

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Vedran Aberle Tokić
To Designers With Love (A Letter From a Front-end Developer)

If you’re a veteran frontender, you’ve probably had some not-so-great experiences with designers, and chances are some designers have had an equally bad experience working with you. How can you make sure you get exactly what you need from your designer, without placing an undue burden on them?

It’s a tall order, but in this article Freelance Software Engineer Vedran Aberle Tokic outlines and addresses a number of potential issues that may become roadblocks for your execution. Implementing these suggestions may result in overhead for designers, but they can save enormous amounts of time and headache elsewhere.

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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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Andrew Graunke
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.

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Anton Kanevsky
Gulp: A Web Developer's Secret Weapon for Maximizing Site Speed

When dealing with web-based projects that run in the production environment, being able to build and deploy changes quickly is a top priority. However, repetitive processes such as building front-end assets, when not automated, can be prone to critical errors.

In this article, Toptal Freelance Software Engineer Anton Kanevsky shows us how Gulp can solve various challenges of build automation through simple JavaScript routines.

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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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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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Goran Ramljak
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.

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Joshua Mock
Writing Testable Code in JavaScript: A Brief Overview

Writing code that is easily testable takes some effort and planning. However, some patterns exist that can be used to write simple and functional code, making it easier to test them when the time comes.

In this article, Toptal engineer Joshua Mock shares some useful tips and patterns for writing testable code in JavaScript that are both simple to understand and simple to implement.

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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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Kent Mundle
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.

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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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Ana Gregurec
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?

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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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