15 Award-Winning Websites With Beautiful (And Functional) Designs

Every once in a while, I’ll come across a site that really makes me stop and think. A site that pushes the boundaries of what is known to be possible on the web. Whether it be the design aesthetic, usability, interactivity, sound design, or value that the site provides, we all know what it’s like to stumble across a masterpiece.

15 of the Best Website Designs to Inspire You

1) Feed

Not only is Feed an interesting concept, but it also has a stunning execution that challenges our understanding of what is possible on the web. Through a creative blend of animation and video, the site immerses the user into a very engaging experience. As an atypical site, it contains several unique usability elements as well, including a navigation that doubles as a scroll progress bar.

Screen_Shot_2015-08-04_at_4.50.49_PM.pngFeatured by Awwwards

2) ETQ

ETQ takes a very minimalistic approach to ecommerce with their stripped-down site with big, compelling visuals of their product. Simple, flat, color-based backgrounds accompanied by strong typography help to keep the focus on exactly what the user came there to see: shoes.

Screen_Shot_2015-08-04_at_5.16.53_PM.pngFeatured by Awwwards

3) Mikiya Kobayashi

Mikiya is a Product Designer with a minimalistic portfolio that showcases his work through strong photography and subtle animations. His full site was originally created in Japanese and then translated into English, helping demonstrate the international scalability of his design.

Screen_Shot_2015-08-04_at_5.26.55_PM.pngFeatured by Awwwards

4) The History of Climate Change

Follow the footsteps of Luc Jacquet as Wild-Touch takes you along this visual and educational journey about the history of global climate change. A mixture of historical media and unique animations help tell the story. 

Screen_Shot_2015-08-12_at_11.51.41_AM.pngFeatured by Awwwards

5) Virgin America

In a world where airline websites are known to be riddled with major usability issues, Virgin America has one of the best websites that pushes usability, accessibility, and responsive design forward. In fact, it’s been named as the first truly responsive airline website, a new precedent in the industry.

Screen_Shot_2015-08-04_at_5.38.01_PM.pngFeatured by UX Awards

6) World of SWISS

Another airline?! What is happening?! Yep, SWISS airlines built an incredibly immersive site that tells their story and describes what it’s like to fly with them — and they simply did too great of a job to be ignored. Strong visuals and animations introduce the user to different sections of the site that are packed with information beyond the usual sales and marketing pitch that is so common today.

Screen_Shot_2015-08-04_at_5.48.31_PM.pngFeatured by The Webby Awards

7) L.A. Times

While news sites aren’t exactly known for having the nicest designs or being the easiest to use, the Los Angeles Times site has been updated with a simple, newspaper-like design that’s easy to read and navigate.

Screen_Shot_2015-08-04_at_5.53.05_PM.pngFeatured by The Webby Awards

8) Minimums

Minimums takes a very bold approach to the way that they display their content, leveraging a grid-based website design, big typography, and full-width, high-quality images. Their site serves as a really nice example for how to properly execute a grid structure while still maintaining a nice visual hierarchy in the design.

Screen_Shot_2015-08-04_at_5.59.54_PM.pngFeatured by SiteInspire

9) Guillaume Tomasi

As a Photographer in Montreal, Guillaume Tomasi has built a portfolio that’s truly fit to house his unique and awe-inspiring photography. His surreal photo style is juxtaposed by his simple, flat, empty, and minimalistic portfolio design that places all of the focus on the work itself. His unique series navigation coupled with art-gallery-inspired work introductions and perfect scrolling interactions yield an experience reminiscent of that of a real gallery.

Screen_Shot_2015-08-11_at_4.56.41_PM.pngFeatured by SiteInspire

10) Killing Kennedy

Tons of media outlets covered the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s death, but because of its website design, National Geographic was able to stand out. Using parallax scrolling to display a blend of video, audio, and historical facts, the user is immersed in the story and duality of John F. Kennedy and Lee Harvey Oswald’s lives.

Screen_Shot_2015-08-04_at_6.05.23_PM.pngFeatured by Think with Google

11) Big Cartel

Despite being a relatively large company, Big Cartel creates a very simple, straightforward, and compelling experience by leading with a creative headline, a video, and … pretty much nothing else. Simple navigation and nice examples of sites created with their platform helps to serve as supporting content that tells the rest of the story.

Screen_Shot_2015-08-04_at_6.16.10_PM.pngFeatured by BestWebsiteGallery

12) Beagle

Beagle does an exceptional job of visually and progressively telling the story of their product in a simple and easy-to-digest way. This is a major challenge for many startups, especially when they’re introducing new concepts to existing markets. People want to know, “What is your product? How does it work? Why do I care?” Beagle answers all those questions while simultaneously showing off their product and compelling the user to purchase. Plus, they’re one of few sites that actually implemented “scroll hijacking” correctly. 

Screen_Shot_2015-08-11_at_5.30.07_PM.pngFeatured by BestWebsiteGallery

13) Woven Magazine

Woven is an online publication that celebrates artists, craftsmen, and makers alike. To me, they represent a confirmation that publications can (and should) have beautiful, engaging sites with easy-to-read content. Free of distractions like pop-ups and obtrusive ads, this site all about the experience of the content itself.

Screen_Shot_2015-08-11_at_5.44.09_PM.pngFeatured by BestWebsiteGallery

14) Inside Abbey Road

Google knocked it out of the park with this highly interactive site, which allows users to step into the Abbey Road Studios. Brilliant sound design, navigation mechanics, and visuals mixed with the usual “Google flair” all help draw visitors in to this well-made site.

Screen_Shot_2015-08-04_at_6.20.06_PM.pngFeatured by FWA

15) JOHO’s Bean

The website for JOHO’s Bean has incredible imagery, interactivity, story telling, visual design, and most of all, sound engineering. These all come together to create a compelling, emotional, and engaging site that tells the story of a coffee bean’s journey. 

Screen_Shot_2015-08-11_at_5.23.01_PM.pngFeatured by FWA

What websites do you admire — and why? Let us know in the comments. 

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in January 2014 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

 

We are losing the fight against Nature, when are we going to give up?

For those who don’t know what is going on, is very simple, greenhouse gases allow shortwave radiation from the sun to pass through the atmosphere and warm the Earth’s surface. The energy that then radiates out from the surface, longwave radiation, is trapped by the same greenhouse gases, warming the air, oceans, and land. When coal, oil, and natural gas are burned, they release enormous amounts of greenhouse gases — especially carbon dioxide, or CO2, which is by far the most prevalent. The gases add up much faster in the atmosphere than natural processes can absorb them, and thereby wreak Earth’s climate system.

To date, warming and melting of the Arctic has occurred far faster than was projected, leading some scientists to conclude that the Arctic could be ice free in the summer as early as 2012. If the Greenland ice sheet were to melt completely, sea level would rise about 20 feet, leaving hundreds of millions of coastal residents — people, plants, animals — homeless. And severe weather events like hurricanes, droughts, and heat waves, already on the rise, will occur more frequently than ever. Countless other disastrous outcomes, many of which can’t be precisely modeled for predictive purposes, make climate change a looming threat.If things continue the way they are by 2050 this will amount to 35 percent of all plant and animal life currently in existence — at least a million species.

IS A FULL OUT WAR

Humans have added so much greenhouse gases that the greenhouse effect that first made life possible now threatens the world as we know it.

The “War Against Nature” is escalating at an exponential rate throughout the world and the bloating population of humans are now feeling the wrath of climate disruption and the consequences of razing its magnificent jungles. Today there are more severe and frequent floods displacing a half of a million people regularly, massive hillside slums, droughts, hurricanes, extinction of fauna and flora and unimaginable squalor with nil by way of sanitation for people.

 

Some Facts

thefacts

 

Who is causing the most damage to Nature?

where

global_warming_exist

Nature fights back… Who is most likely to get hurt?

risk

 

We all lose!

impact

The bottom line…

money

How to stop this war against nature?

Governments can take several steps to reduce the threat of global warming. First and foremost, the United States and other industrial nations must use less of the fossil fuels — especially coal, oil, and gasoline — that produce carbon dioxide, the most significant heat-trapping gas. Industrial countries are responsible for the largest share of worldwide emissions of heat-trapping gases. But these nations also have a great ability to switch to cutting-edge energy technologies that produce fewer of these emissions.

The nations of the world must negotiate a climate change treaty with legally binding limits on emissions of heat-trapping gases.

The United States can reduce its carbon-dioxide emissions through four principal strategies that make use of new energy technologies: improving energy efficiency, developing renewable energy resources such as solar and wind power, reducing gasoline consumption for transportation, and switching from coal and oil to natural gas.

Improve Energy Efficiency

The less energy we use, the less carbon dioxide we will produce. Over the past 20 years, American industry and consumers have begun to switch to more-efficient motors, vehicles, appliances, windows, and manufacturing processes. This switch has saved considerable energy and money, but much greater efficiency is possible.

Develop Renewable Energy

Clean, safe, renewable sources, such as solar, wind, and sustainably grown biomass (plant matter), can provide us with energy but do not contribute to global warming. These technologies are ready to be deployed much more widely, but government policies must encourage their use.

Reduce Gasoline Consumption for Transportation

Cars, trucks, and buses consume over half of the oil used in the United States. Highly efficient gasoline-powered cars, and alternatively fueled vehicles such as electric and fuel-cell cars and buses, can reduce carbon dioxide emissions by using less or no gasoline. In addition, policies can encourage consumers to drive less and to use alternatives to single-passenger automobile trips, such as carpools, bicycles, and public transportation.

Switch from Coal and Oil to Natural Gas

Although natural gas is a fossil fuel, it produces less carbon dioxide than either coal or oil. Changing from coal to natural gas for generating electricity and from oil to natural gas for home heating is thus desirable as a quick fix, even though these switches alone cannot reduce carbon dioxide emissions nearly as much as is necessary.

governments

Additional Government Steps

Reducing American use of coal, oil, and gasoline would start to address the global warming threat, but other steps, such as transferring technology to developing countries, preserving forests, decreasing atmospheric methane, continuing to phase out CFCs, and slowing down population growth, are also important. They can also provide benefits in addition to reducing global warming. Forest preservation, for example, would protect endangered species, while slower population growth would make it easier to supply adequate food for all the world’s people.

Transfer Technology to Developing Countries

American businesses, the government, and international organizations need to find ways to transfer advanced energy technologies to developing countries, so that those nations can build their economies without having to use the older, polluting fossil fuel technologies that the industrial countries are now trying to phase out.

Preserve and Plant Forests

Trees take in carbon dioxide and use it to grow. Deforestation, especially in the tropics where many of the largest, most important forests are located, contributes significantly to global warming. Efforts to preserve forests and to plant trees on deforested land are essential not only for preventing global warming but also for preserving biodiversity.

Decrease Methane in the Atmosphere

Although methane contributes much less to global warming than does carbon dioxide, it is still responsible for about 15 percent of the problem. Among other steps to decrease methane emissions, the nations of the world can prevent leaks from natural gas pipelines, cut methane emissions from landfills, and reduce their use of beef for food.

Continue to Phase Out CFCs

Because chlorofluorocarbons are responsible for depleting the protective ozone layer, the nations of the world have agreed to stop using them. These chemicals also trap heat, so vigilance in enforcing the international agreements to phase out their use will help slow global warming as well.

What Businesses can do?

businesses

Your turn to take action….

Climate change affects us all. Here are tips on how you can personally make a difference.

At Home – reduce, reuse, recycle!

  • Buy minimally packaged goods
  • Recycle paper, plastic, glass, and metal. Reuse, mend, and repurpose things to save money and divert waste from your local landfill
  • Plug air leaks in windows and doors to increase energy efficiency
  • Adjust your thermostat, lower in winter, higher in summer
  • Replace old appliances with energy efficient models and light bulbs
  • Save electricity by plugging appliances into a power strip and turning them off completely when not in use
  • Wash clothes in cold or warm water
  • Run dishwashers only when full and don’t use heat to dry dishes
  • Eat less meat, poultry, and fish
  • Plant Trees – Enter tree planting pledges online, then plant indigenous or locally appropriate trees where you live. View results of tree planting efforts globally.

At Work and On the Go

  • Print double-sided or not at all
  • Always use reusable cups, knives and forks.
  • Think before you travel. If a video conference call will suffice, spare the hassle and expense, and CO2 emissions.
  • Avoid traffic jams and decrease your personal carbon footprint by walking, bicycling, and using mass transit whenever possible. Consider carpooling with friends, neighbors, and co-workers.
  • Taking the stairs can sometimes be faster than waiting in long elevator lines. In addition to saving energy, taking the stairs gives you a mild workout which will help keep you healthy.
  • Have your business join the UN Global Compact and become part of the solution for two of today’s largest scale environmental issues – Climate Change and Water Sustainability.Here are some additional tips on how to kick the CO2 habit 

Know Your Carbon Footprint

Find out how much CO2 your lifestyle produces and the amount of resources it takes to live the way you do. Once you know the impact your lifestyle causes you can start to make adjustments and monitor improvement. Encourage others to do the same. Calculate CO2 emissions resulting from your air travel.

Learn More — Knowledge is power.

Speak up!
You can raise your voice to combat climate change by asking your local and national authorities to engage in environmentally-friendly measures.

Visit one of these organizations for more information

Uses of Flat Design

Whilst the term “flat design” might not be a phrase you’re yet familiar with, you will definitely have noticed the concept and the design features whilst browsing the internet.

For those of you that have noticed an increase in the “drop shadow” trend in web design, the easiest way to describe flat design is to say it’s the opposite of that. Flat design is designing a website that has left behind the drop shadow and the 3D effects, and that is by all intents and purposes flat.

Flat design looks modern, fun, fresh and refreshingly simple compared to it’s 3D counterpart. Flat design is embracing the use of solid colors, sharp, well-defined typography and bold shapes. It takes away any faff and fussiness from the design making it so much easier to digest and to navigate. It’s modern and is without a doubt going to be a huge design trend this coming year.

How can you use flat design?

For me, the top selling point of flat design is the simplicity and minimalism of it. That’s not to say you need to have a simple product or minimalist brand to use this trend to your advantage. I actually like the way this trend could modernize a relatively complex or old-fashioned niche, making the information on your site easier for readers to take in and understand.

Of course, the simplicity of flat design makes it so much easier to optimize for different devices too which is another point in its favor.

We all know that mobile browsing is on the rise, and responsive design has already addressed this rise. Flat design makes web design more scalable in a similar way, because when you design with solid colors, rather than a more image based approach, you’re using less detail and so the information based footprint of your website becomes much smaller. This means it’s quicker to load and communicates faster with whatever platform your reader is using to view it on.

Where have you seen it before?

Flat design isn’t exactly new. You’ll actually notice that brands such as Microsoft had already embraced the trend a few years back, while other big brands such as Apple were too busy perfecting other techniques.

Looking back to 2007, a quick glance at the Microsoft Zune – and you can already see that clean, typography based interface taking shape. At the time it went relatively unnoticed, being overshadowed by bigger industry developments, but in 2013 it is definitely at the forefront of design trends.

Flat design treatment

Last year saw the rise of flat design, with the method taking over icons and more. The trend doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere soon, with plenty of superb examples of flat design done right and continuous flat design projects – one of which is this latest offering from Brazilian designer Leandro Urban.

So, what is flat design? Basically, it’s a minimalistic design approach that emphasizes usability. It features clean, open space, crisp edges, bright colours and two-dimensional/flat illustrations. This latest project sees those aesthetics applied to the World Cup team shields.

Including every team taking part in this year’s competition, Urban has showcased the likes of Brazil, Argentina, England and France in the minimal flat design style. Do you think the design is improved from the original or would you like flat design to disappear?

Skills Designers Have That Global Development Needs

“Development is being disrupted,” says Raj Kumar, President of DevEx,  a site devoted to helping the international development community deliver foreign aid more efficiently and effectively. Beyond the buzz generated by the “social entrepreneurship” and “impact investing” communities, I’ve seen a significant shift coming from traditional aid agencies in the past two years.

In 2010, USAID, the agency responsible for administering US foreign aid, launched the first-of-its-kind Development Innovation Ventures quarterly grant program. Its funding model is inspired by traditional venture capital and the focus is on scalable and entrepreneurial solutions to poverty alleviation. Similarly, in 2012 the World Bank hired a former Silicon Valley Google.org director to lead their new “Innovation Labs.” UNICEF and the Inter-American Development Bank have also launched their own “Innovation Labs” with similar goals of promoting open-dialogue, new methods, and cross-pollination of models that enable innovative activity.

So with all this talk about “innovation,” where are the designers, the technologists, and the entrepreneurs? The folks behind these initiatives are still folks with international and economic development backgrounds, economics and finance. If they’re serious about innovative approaches, it’s time creative problem solvers are added to the equation. Specifically, here are five strengths designers have that the development industry direly needs:

  1. We are systems thinkers.
    The problems that plague our world are complex, interwoven, and multifaceted. As designers, we solve problems through a combination of analytic and creative thinking. Many of the best designers I know are themselves multi-faceted and multi-disciplinary. In addition to a design degree, they’re also engineers or MBAs or economists. It takes both sides of the brain to generate solutions to social challenges.
  2.  Fresh eyes.
    Einstein’s “We can’t solve the world’s problems by using the same type of thinking we used when we created them,” couldn’t ring more true. Many of the social issues we’re fighting today have existed for decades and consistently been addressing using old mechanisms—policy, aid, and philanthropy. We are long overdue for fresh thinking to old problems.
  3. We have a prototyping culture. We make a lot of mistakes in development—mistakes that sometimes negatively impact people with everything to lose; mistakes that could potentially be avoided if the development sector fostered a culture of iteration and refining ideas before rushing to scale. Instead, I see a lot of money going towards untested ideas or worse yet, “solutions in search of a problem.”
  4. We focus on people. 
    Many decisions made today that affect the poor are made by people completely removed from their issues. A designer’s viewpoint, driven by an understanding of the needs of people or end-users, is completely unique and lacking within the development sector. The key to better policy, better products, and better public services is rooted in understanding of the key players and what motivates them.
  5. We create capacity.We build things. We build products, services, websites—and by doing so we are intrinsically building the capacity of those who make, distribute, sell, or use what we create. On a fundamental level, giving people access to tools that enhance their capacity is what drives economic development. We play a central role in creating those tools that are useful, relevant, and meaningful.

$22.8 billion of our projected fiscal budget is earmarked for poverty-reduction activity in 2013. Traditionally, international development agencies use the amount of the money put towards poverty alleviation as a metric for efficacy.

I’m hoping the next few years shift that metric towards understanding underlying problems and funding  new solutions that address those problems. In order to do that, we need a new breed of development thinkers. The next generation of designers is inspired by careers that provide meaning and impact. Now is the perfect time for the development sector to start connecting the dots.

The Magic of Fonts

Idlewild
 


Idlewild An industrious sans
serif that evokes space-age optimism, Idlewild is
spare and tranquil,
speaking in hushed but captivating tones.
Ideal Sans 

Ideal Sans A handmade
typeface for a machine-made age. Ideal Sans avoids
the easy pursuit of
digital perfection, and favors organic forms that make
it warm and
inviting.


Read more

CSS3 10 Uses…

We have seen a tremendous number of advancements in CSS3 web development
over just the past few years. Popular websites all around the Internet
have begun incorporating many unique styles such as rounded corners and mobile-responsive media queries. But even more importantly this has opened the door for creative interfaces to be prototyped in a matter of minutes.

In this article I want to share 10 code snippets relating to brilliant CSS3 box shadow designs. I’ll explain how the code works and how you can implement each box shadow into your own website.

These styles are all attributed to great design influence from other
popular websites. This is a great example of how current web developers are building impactful trends for the future of web design.

1. Fixed Top Toolbar

The Romanian social media service Trilulilu uses a floating top toolbar around their entire website. This can be created quickly using a position: fixed; property on any top bar element. But this additional box shadow takes the effect to a whole new level.

Trilulilu fixed top toolbar box shadow
#banner {
position: fixed;
height: 60px;
width: 100%;
top: 0;
left: 0;
border-top: 5px solid #a1cb2f;
background: #fff;
-moz-box-shadow: 0 2px 3px 0px rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.16);
-webkit-box-shadow: 0 2px 3px 0px rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.16);
box-shadow: 0 2px 3px 0px rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.16);
z-index: 999999;
}

#banner h1 {
    line-height: 60px;
}

You’ll notice the box-shadow property is actually set up with a
fairly simple value combination. The shadow will fall below the box, and
blur by 3px on either side.

We can use the rgba() method for applying slight
opacity onto the shadow, so the element doesn’t appear too dark. It’s a
subtle addition which will surely capture your visitor’s attention.

2. Sub-Navigation Dropdown

Here is another creative box shadow method applied onto a scalar dropdown sub-menu. A similar effect can be seen on Entrepreneur
as you hover over each of the top main navigation links. This is
definitely a bit more tricky to configure but well worth the patience.

Navigation menu dropdown box shadow styles
#bar { display: block; height: 45px; background: #22385a; padding-top: 5px; margin-bottom: 150px; position: relative; }
#bar ul { margin: 0px 15px; font-family: Candara, Calibri, "Segoe UI", Segoe, Arial, sans-serif; }
#bar ul li {  background: #22385a; display: block; font-size: 1.2em; position: relative; float: left; }
#bar ul li a { 
display: block; 
color: #fffff7; 
line-height: 45px; 
font-weight: bold; 
padding: 0px 10px; 
text-decoration: none;
z-index: 9999;
}

#bar ul li a:hover, #bar ul li a.selected {
color: #365977;
background: #fff;
border-top-left-radius: 3px;
border-top-right-radius: 3px;
-webkit-border-top-left-radius: 3px;
-webkit-border-top-right-radius: 3px;
-moz-border-radius-topleft: 3px;
-moz-border-radius-topright: 3px;
}

#bar ul .subnav {
display: block;
left: 14px;
top: 48px;
z-index: -1;
width: 500px;
position: absolute;
height: 90px;
border: 1px solid #edf0f3;
border-top: 0;
padding: 10px 0 10px 10px; 
overflow: hidden;
-moz-border-radius-bottomleft: 3px;
-moz-border-radius-bottomleft: 3px;
-webkit-border-bottom-left-radius: 3px;
-webkit-border-bottom-right-radius: 3px;
border-bottom-right-radius: 3px;
border-bottom-right-radius: 3px;
-moz-box-shadow: 0px 2px 7px rgba(0,0,0,0.25);
-webkit-box-shadow: 0px 2px 7px rgba(0,0,0,0.25);
box-shadow: 0px 2px 7px rgba(0,0,0,0.25);
-ms-filter: "progid:DXImageTransform.Microsoft.Shadow(Strength=3, Direction=180, Color='#333333')";
filter: progid:DXImageTransform.Microsoft.Shadow(Strength=3, Direction=180, Color='#333333');
}

The nav links can be styled to change color when selected or on mouse
hover. I’m also adding some rounded borders onto the links and over the
dropdown menu box. This gives a nicer feel rather than hard edges all
around. I am also making good use of the -ms-filter and filter properties which are solely proprietary to Internet Explorer.

If you setup a full navigation system you’ll be able to change the
display set to none and hide the menu once the page loads. Then using
some jQuery you can target the .hover() event and display the subnav bar with updated content.

3. Glossy Shadow Button

This is possibly one of my favorite styles to create just because of
how dynamic it appears on the page. If you can’t tell, this is the small
blue button found on YouTube’s home page after you first login.

jsFiddle YouTube blue CSS3 gradient box-shadow button
blues {
color: #fff;
width: 190px;
height: 35px;
cursor: pointer;
font-family: Arial, Tahoma, sans-serif;
font-size: 1.0em;
font-weight: bold;
-moz-border-radius: 2px;
-webkit-border-radius: 2px;
border-radius: 2px;
border-width: 1px;
border-color: #0053a6 #0053a6 #000;
background-color: #6891e7;
background-image: -moz-linear-gradient(top,#4495e7 0, #0053a6 100%);
background-image: -ms-linear-gradient(top,#4495e7 0, #0053a6 100%);
background-image: -o-linear-gradient(top,#4495e7 0, #0053a6 100%);
background-image: -webkit-gradient(linear,left top,left bottom,color-stop(0, #4495e7),color-stop(100%, #0053a6));
background-image: -webkit-linear-gradient(top,#4495e7 0,#0053a6 100%);
background-image: linear-gradient(to bottom,#4495e7 0,#0053a6 100%);
text-shadow: 1px 1px 0 rgba(0, 0, 0, .6);
-moz-box-shadow: inset 0 1px 0 rgba(256, 256, 256, .35);
-ms-box-shadow: inset 0 1px 0 rgba(256, 256, 256, .35);
-webkit-box-shadow: inset 0 1px 0 rgba(256, 256, 256, .35);
box-shadow: inset 0 1px 0 rgba(256, 256, 256, .35);
filter: progid:DXImageTransform.Microsoft.Gradient(GradientType=0,StartColorStr=#4495e7,EndColorStr=#0053a6);
}

.blues:hover {
border-color: #002d59 #002d59 #000;
-moz-box-shadow: inset 0 1px 0 rgba(256, 256, 256, 0.55), 1px 1px 3px rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.25);
-ms-box-shadow: inset 0 1px 0 rgba(256, 256, 256, 0.55), 1px 1px 3px rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.25);
-webkit-box-shadow: inset 0 1px 0 rgba(256, 256, 256, 0.55), 1px 1px 3px rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.25);
box-shadow: inset 0 1px 0 rgba(256, 256, 256, 0.55), 1px 1px 3px rgba(0, 0, 0, .25);
filter: progid:DXImageTransform.Microsoft.Gradient(GradientType=0,StartColorStr=#3a8cdf ,EndColorStr=#0053a6);
background-image: -moz-linear-gradient(top,#3a8cdf 0,#0053a6 100%);
background-image: -ms-linear-gradient(top,#3a8cdf 0,#0053a6 100%);
background-image: -o-linear-gradient(top,#3a8cdf 0,#0053a6 100%);
background-image: -webkit-gradient(linear,left top,left bottom,color-stop(0,#3a8cdf),color-stop(100%,#0053a6));
background-image: -webkit-linear-gradient(top,#3a8cdf 0,#0053a6 100%);
background-image: linear-gradient(to bottom,#3a8cdf 0,#0053a6 100%);
}

.blues:active {
border-color: #000 #002d59 #002d59;
-moz-box-shadow: inset 0 1px 3px rgba(0,0,0,0.2),0 1px 0 #fff;
-ms-box-shadow: inset 0 1px 3px rgba(0,0,0,0.2),0 1px 0 #fff;
-webkit-box-shadow: inset 0 1px 3px rgba(0,0,0,0.2),0 1px 0 #fff;
box-shadow: inset 0 1px 3px rgba(0,0,0,0.2),0 1px 0 #fff;
filter: progid:DXImageTransform.Microsoft.Gradient(GradientType=0,StartColorStr=#005ab4,EndColorStr=#175ea6);
background-image: -moz-linear-gradient(top,#005ab4 0,#175ea6 100%);
background-image: -ms-linear-gradient(top,#005ab4 0,#175ea6 100%);
background-image: -o-linear-gradient(top,#005ab4 0,#175ea6 100%);
background-image: -webkit-gradient(linear,left top,left bottom,color-stop(0,#005ab4),color-stop(100%,#175ea6));
background-image: -webkit-linear-gradient(top,#005ab4 0,#175ea6 100%);
background-image: linear-gradient(to bottom,#005ab4 0,#175ea6 100%);
}

The whole button code is a lot to look at, but we’re trying to support as many browsers as possible. There are text shadows and box shadows with accompanying support for MS Internet Explorer 7+. Also we’re setting the background-image property with CSS3 gradients over a wide number of vendor specific prefixes.

But if you love this design style then the hover and active states will also catch your attention.
We’re basically updating the border to include some shadows inside as
you push down, while updating the background gradient to show a bit
darker.

Since there are no images on the button you can update the hex values and morph this to blend into practically any color scheme.

4. Notifications Flyout Menu

I am not a big user of Facebook but I have noticed some UI techniques
from their redesigns. This flyout menu can be compared to your
notifications or friend requests popup found on the homepage.

Facebook notifications box shadow popup display
.flyout {
width: 310px;
margin-top: 10px;
font-size: 11px;
position: relative;
font-family: 'Lucida Grande', Tahoma, Verdana, Arial, sans-serif;
background-color: white;
padding: 9px 11px;
background: rgba(255, 255, 255, 0.9);
border: 1px solid #c5c5c5;
-webkit-box-shadow: 0 3px 8px rgba(0, 0, 0, .25);
-moz-box-shadow: 0 3px 8px rgba(0, 0, 0, .25);
box-shadow: 0 3px 8px rgba(0, 0, 0, .25);
-webkit-border-radius: 3px;
-moz-border-radius: 3px;
border-radius: 3px;
}

.flyout #tip {
background-image: url('images/tip.png');
background-repeat: no-repeat;
background-size: auto;
height: 11px;
position: absolute;
top: -11px;
left: 25px;
width: 20px;
}

.flyout h2 {
text-transform: uppercase;
color: #666;
font-size: 1.2em; 
padding-bottom: 5px;
margin-bottom: 12px;
border-bottom: 1px solid #dcdbda;
}
.flyout p { padding-bottom: 25px; font-size: 1.1em; color: #222; }

There isn’t a whole lot of new mind-bending code to display here. I am using a small .tip class with an internal span element to add the tooltip triangle. It is possible to create pure CSS3 triangles
but this method is not easy, as you may imagine. If you prefer this
method it may be worth hacking something together. But the CSS3 rotation
properties are not supported everywhere; meanwhile images do not
require any fallback method.

5. Apple Page Wrapper

There are so many impressive CSS3 box shadows you can find on Apple’s official website.
This example below is a small box container with a few column spans.
When looking over Apple’s layout you’ll notice many of their pages made
up of numerous wrapper boxes.

CSS3 Apple display banner box-shadow styles
.applewrap {
width: 100%;
display: block;
height: 150px;
background: white;
border: 1px solid;
border-color: #e5e5e5 #dbdbdb #d2d2d2;
-webkit-border-radius: 4px;
-moz-border-radius: 4px;
border-radius: 4px;
-webkit-box-shadow: rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.3) 0 1px 3px;
-moz-box-shadow: rgba(0,0,0,0.3) 0 1px 3px;
box-shadow: rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.3) 0 1px 3px;
}


.applewrap .col {
float: left;
box-sizing: border-box;
width: 250px;
height: 150px;
padding: 16px 7px 6px 22px;
font: 12px/18px "Lucida Grande", "Lucida Sans Unicode", Helvetica, Arial, Verdana, sans-serif;
color: #343434;
border-right: 1px solid #dadada;
}

You could put together a similar page split up by content boxes of
various width and height. Although I have put a few columns into this
demo it is not a necessary formatting technique by any means. The box
shadow will fit best on a white/grey background. But I think displaying
over any light color would look pretty good.

6. Apple Content Box

This other style of content box on Apple’s website is used mostly for column designs.
These are primarily at the bottom of the page showcasing deals and
other related information. It’s a totally different design style with
the box shadow displaying inside from the top down.

Apple CSS3 box-shadow inset display styles


.applebox {
width: auto;
height: 85px;
box-sizing: border-box;
background: #f5f5f5;
padding: 20px 20px 10px;
margin: 10px 0 20px;
border: 1px solid #ccc;
border-radius: 4px;
-webkit-border-radius: 4px;
-moz-border-radius: 4px;
-o-border-radius: 4px;
-webkit-box-shadow: inset 0px 1px 1px rgba(0, 0, 0, .3);
-moz-box-shadow: inset 0px 1px 1px rgba(0, 0, 0, .3);
box-shadow: inset 0px 1px 1px rgba(0, 0, 0, .3);
}

.applebox .col {
width: 140px; 
float: left;
margin: 0 0 0 30px;
}

I don’t think this code should be too difficult to follow and copy
onto another div container. The only box-shadow we’re applying is using inset
with the rgba alpha-transparent color codes. So although we have the
drop shadow set to pure black we’re only displaying about a 30% opacity.

7. Featured Links

This is probably my favorite box shadow style from Apple’s current
website. You should find a live demo style of this technique on the iCloud page with a series of floating link boxes.

Apple iCloud featured anchor link boxes

.applefeature {
height: 150px;
margin: 8px;
vertical-align: top;
display: inline-block;
}

.applefeature a {
display: block;
width: 168px;
height: 140px;
border: 1px solid #ccc;
color: #333;
text-decoration: none;
font-weight: bold;
line-height: 1.3em;
background: #f7f7f7;
-webkit-box-shadow: inset 0 1px 2px rgba(0, 0, 0, .3);
-moz-box-shadow: inset 0 1px 2px rgba(0, 0, 0, .3);
box-shadow: inset 0 1px 2px rgba(0, 0, 0, .3);
-webkit-border-radius: 4px;
-moz-border-radius: 4px;
border-radius: 4px;
}
.applefeature a:hover {
background: #fafafa;
background: -webkit-gradient(linear, 0% 0%, 0% 100%, from(#fff), to(#f7f7f7));
background: -moz-linear-gradient(100% 100% 90deg, #f7f7f7, #fff);
-webkit-box-shadow: inset 0 1px 2px rgba(0,0,0,.3); 
-moz-box-shadow: inset 0 1px 2px rgba(0,0,0,.3); 
box-shadow: inset 0 1px 2px rgba(0,0,0,.3);
-webkit-border-radius: 4px; 
-moz-border-radius: 4px; 
border-radius: 4px;
}

.applefeature a img { 
display: block;
margin: 26px auto 4px;
}
.applefeature a h4 {
display: block;
width: 160px;
font-size: 1.3em;
font-family: Arial, Tahoma, sans-serif;
color: #646464;
text-align: center;
}

These featured links are set to a fixed width and include a distinct
icon and display text. Apple’s example uses a similar box shadow as we
saw in the previous content box. However the entire box can now be activated as a link which includes both the :hover and :active states. There is a lot of flexibility with this link box and you should try playing around with the source code.

It’s possible to shorten the height/width and create a much smaller
list of links. These could be a set of chapters or pages in an article,
or you could make a sub-menu limited with link icons. It’s honestly a
great set of newer CSS3 techniques which demonstrate how much power you
have as a web designer.

8. Framed Images

I’ve added a grey background onto this example so you can see the box
shadow styles more clearly. This box is similar to the featured preview
shots on wordpress.com except I’ve added a bit more depth to the source code.

Wordpress image frame CSS3 box shadow

.wpframe {
background: #fff;
border-radius: 2px;
-webkit-border-radius: 2px;
-moz-border-radius: 2px;
padding: 8px;
-webkit-box-shadow: 1px 2px 1px #d1d1d1;
-moz-box-shadow: 1px 2px 1px #d1d1d1;
box-shadow: 1px 2px 1px #d1d1d1;
}

Since the images are given a small padding on either side this frame
appears as a large white border. You can always update the background
color, or even add a small external border to separate the image from
the background. But this fairly simplistic set of styles can be
maneuvered into various box shadow techniques. Play around with the code
and see how you can improve image designs on your own website.

9. Glowing Input Fields

I got this idea after visiting the Pinterest login page
a couple of times. Their animated styles really display some eloquent
examples of multiple inline box shadows, both outside and inset.

CSS3 Pinterest input fields box shadow design

.formwrap { display: block; margin-bottom: 15px; }
.formwrap label { 
display: inline-block; 
width: 80px; 
font-size: 11px; 
font-weight: bold; 
color: #444; 
font-family: Arial, Tahoma, sans-serif; 
}

.formwrap .shadowfield {
position: relative;
width: 250px;
font-size: 17px;
font-family: "Helvetica Neue", Arial, sans-serif;
font-weight: normal;
background: #f7f8f8;
color: #7c7c7c;
line-height: 1.4;
padding: 6px 12px;
outline: none;
transition: all 0.2s ease-in-out 0s;
-webkit-transition: all 0.2s ease-in-out 0s;
-moz-transition: all 0.2s ease-in-out 0s;
border: 1px solid #ad9c9c;
border-radius: 6px 6px 6px 6px;
box-shadow: 0 1px rgba(34, 25, 25, 0.2) inset, 0 1px #fff;
}
.formwrap .shadowfield:focus {
border-color: #930; 
background: #fff;
color: #5d5d5d;
box-shadow: inset 0 1px rgba(34, 25, 25, 0.2), 0 1px rgba(255, 255, 255, 0.6), 0 0 7px rgba(235, 82, 82, 0.5); 
-moz-box-shadow: inset 0 1px rgba(34, 25, 25, 0.2), 0 1px rgba(255, 255, 255, 0.6), 0 0 7px rgba(235, 82, 82, 0.5); 
-webkit-box-shadow: inset 0 1px rgba(34, 25, 25, 0.2), 0 1px rgba(255, 255, 255, 0.6), 0 0 7px rgba(235, 82, 82, 0.5);
}

Although the initial styles are very attractive I am drawn to the transition effects as you focus on each input field.
You can tab between them and see the immediate difference in so many
properties. The external glowing box shadow is applied along with an
updated inset shadow. Also the text color gets lighter as you’re focused on a particular input, then fades out as you defocus.

Even copying over one of these effects would greatly improve the user
experience of your form fields. Be sure that you don’t go too far
overboard to the point where your forms are barely usable. However most
visitors will enjoy the pleasing aesthetic effects which also encourage
interaction and further involvement with your website.

10. Elastic Shadow Buttons

These unique shadow buttons are styled with a slow transition during
hover and active states. You can find similar examples on the Mozilla homepage with their large “Download Firefox” button. Some of the box-shadow properties actually combine three different shadows together into one command.

jsFiddle Mozilla glossy box-shadow buttons

.blu-btn {
display: inline-block;
-moz-border-radius: .25em;
border-radius: .25em;
-webkit-box-shadow: 0 2px 0 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.1), inset 0 -2px 0 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.2);
-moz-box-shadow: 0 2px 0 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.1), inset 0 -2px 0 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.2);
box-shadow: 0 2px 0 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.1), inset 0 -2px 0 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.2);
background-color: #276195;
background-image: -moz-linear-gradient(#3c88cc,#276195);
background-image: -ms-linear-gradient(#3c88cc,#276195);
background-image: -webkit-gradient(linear,left top,left bottom,color-stop(0%,#3c88cc),color-stop(100%,#276195));
background-image: -webkit-linear-gradient(#3c88cc,#276195);
background-image: -o-linear-gradient(#3c88cc,#276195);
filter: progid:DXImageTransform.Microsoft.gradient(startColorstr='#3c88cc',endColorstr='#276195',GradientType=0);
-ms-filter: "progid:DXImageTransform.Microsoft.gradient(startColorstr='#3c88cc', endColorstr='#276195', GradientType=0)";
background-image: linear-gradient(#3c88cc,#276195);
border: 0;
cursor: pointer;
color: #fff;
text-decoration: none;
text-align: center;
font-size: 16px;
padding: 0px 20px;
height: 40px;
line-height: 40px;
min-width: 100px;
text-shadow: 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.35);
font-family: Arial, Tahoma, sans-serif;
-webkit-transition: all linear .2s;
-moz-transition: all linear .2s;
-o-transition: all linear .2s;
-ms-transition: all linear .2s;
transition: all linear .2s
}
.blu-btn:hover, .blu-btn:focus {
-webkit-box-shadow: 0 2px 0 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.1), inset 0 -2px 0 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.3), inset 0 12px 20px 2px #3089d8;
-moz-box-shadow: 0 2px 0 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.1), inset 0 -2px 0 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.3), inset 0 12px 20px 2px #3089d8;
box-shadow: 0 2px 0 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.1), inset 0 -2px 0 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.3), inset 0 12px 20px 2px #3089d8;
}
.blu-btn:active {
-webkit-box-shadow: inset 0 2px 0 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.2), inset 0 12px 20px 6px rgba(0,0,0,0.2), inset 0 0 2px 2px rgba(0,0,0,0.3);
-moz-box-shadow: inset 0 2px 0 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.2), inset 0 12px 20px 6px rgba(0,0,0,0.2), inset 0 0 2px 2px rgba(0,0,0,0.3);
box-shadow: inset 0 2px 0 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.2), inset 0 12px 20px 6px rgba(0,0,0,0.2), inset 0 0 2px 2px rgba(0,0,0,0.3);
}
.grn-btn {
display: inline-block;
-moz-border-radius: .25em;
border-radius: .25em;
-webkit-box-shadow: 0 2px 0 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.1), inset 0 -2px 0 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.2);
-moz-box-shadow: 0 2px 0 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.1), inset 0 -2px 0 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.2);
box-shadow: 0 2px 0 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.1), inset 0 -2px 0 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.2);
background-color: #659324;
background-image: -moz-linear-gradient(#81bc2e,#659324);
background-image: -ms-linear-gradient(#81bc2e,#659324);
background-image: -webkit-gradient(linear,left top,left bottom,color-stop(0%,#81bc2e),color-stop(100%,#659324));
background-image: -webkit-linear-gradient(#81bc2e,#659324);
background-image: -o-linear-gradient(#81bc2e,#659324);
filter: progid:DXImageTransform.Microsoft.gradient(startColorstr='#81bc2e',endColorstr='#659324',GradientType=0);
-ms-filter: "progid:DXImageTransform.Microsoft.gradient(startColorstr='#81bc2e', endColorstr='#659324', GradientType=0)";
background-image: linear-gradient(#81bc2e,#659324);
border: 0;
cursor: pointer;
color: #fff;
text-decoration: none;
text-align: center;
font-size: 16px;
padding: 0px 20px;
height: 40px;
line-height: 40px;
min-width: 100px;
text-shadow: 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.35);
font-family: Arial, Tahoma, sans-serif;
-webkit-transition: all linear .2s;
-moz-transition: all linear .2s;
-o-transition: all linear .2s;
-ms-transition: all linear .2s;
transition: all linear .2s;
}
.grn-btn:hover, .grn-btn:focus {
-webkit-box-shadow: 0 2px 0 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.1), inset 0 -2px 0 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.3), inset 0 12px 20px 2px #85ca26;
-moz-box-shadow: 0 2px 0 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.1), inset 0 -2px 0 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.3), inset 0 12px 20px 2px #85ca26;
box-shadow: 0 2px 0 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.1), inset 0 -2px 0 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.3), inset 0 12px 20px 2px #85ca26;
}
.grn-btn:active {
-webkit-box-shadow: inset 0 2px 0 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.2), inset 0 12px 20px 6px rgba(0,0,0,0.2), inset 0 0 2px 2px rgba(0,0,0,0.3);
-moz-box-shadow: inset 0 2px 0 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.2), inset 0 12px 20px 6px rgba(0,0,0,0.2), inset 0 0 2px 2px rgba(0,0,0,0.3);
box-shadow: inset 0 2px 0 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.2), inset 0 12px 20px 6px rgba(0,0,0,0.2), inset 0 0 2px 2px rgba(0,0,0,0.3);
}

I’m using full transitions for 200 milliseconds on hover and active
button states. What is so great about these styles is that you can apply
them to nearly any clickable element. Buttons, anchor links, form
elements, or anything else you think is appropriate – although these
styles should be used sparsely so as not to overload your design.

Buttons like these are often saved best in the same manner that
Mozilla uses them. Attach these styles into your blog where you have
buttons for freebie downloads, or something similar. Users love to interact with unique interfaces and this often translates into a much higher percentage for your click-through rating.

Final Thoughts

I hope you can take away some great lessons from this collection of
box shadow techniques. There are many different areas you could focus on
including forms, modal boxes, buttons, toolbars, and even full website
layouts.

Feel free to implement any of these shadow effects into portions of
your own website. There are plenty of other techniques out there, but
this collection is perfect for both beginners and advanced developers.
Also if you have any suggestions or questions about the article you can
share with us in the comments discussion area below.

Major educational trends

The use of tools in education isn’t an old idea, teachers have been using whiteboards, projectors and visual aids like posters to relay concepts in their lessons. But we have come to that fork on the road where we choose either to inject technology into the learning process or not. If you are for technology, here are some of the major trends that will be overwhelming classrooms in 2013.

In this infographic from OnlineColleges.net, you’ll see among others that universities are releasing webcasts to run non-profit courses,  3D printing  can help  studentsget an inside look into blood veins and bodily organs, and classrooms are welcoming educational games, e-books and SMS reminders for project deadlines and schedule changes. This is an exciting time to be a student.

READ MORE »

Infographic Templates & Vector Kits

Dark Highlight Infographic Design KitsInfographics are always fun to read. Making them, it’s something else. True, there are tools you can use to make infographics, or you can opt to create an infographic from scratch but often times there are workarounds that can help you with the ‘graphics’, so you can focus on the ‘info’.
We’ve brought together 30 free infographic design elements, vectors and templates to help you with the presentation of your infographic. The visualization of data is made a lot easier when you can play around with these ready-made elements, mostly available in vector and Photoshop format. These are great design kits for you to start fiddling around and build your own infographics.

READ MORE »

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