MyInkTrail: Best of the Web, February 2009

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MyInkTrail is my monthly roundup of the best of the web from the design community. This month proved to be another learning experience. I found myself focused a lot on usability and style. Check out the links below, you’re sure to find some awesome advice and resources.


A bunch of the best articles from the design community this month.

david-aireyForbes Calls Designers Snooty
CrowdSpring aims to slash the cost of graphic design work – and democratize a snooty business. This is the quote that gets dissected in this interesting write up on David Airey’s site. Some interesting perspectives and don’t miss the comments, many of them are awesome reads in their own right.


webdesignerdepotHow to Create a Professional Logo
This article dives into the steps it takes to create a professional logo. I love the advice and attention to detail. This process the difference between amateur and professional logo design.


colorWhat’s Your Favourite Colour?
Franz of Fudge Graphics asks a group of designer’s what their favorite color is. This post turned out very cool, I’m thrilled that Franz asked me to be a part of it. Be sure to check out the slick poster he creates from the results.


graphic-design-blog8 Questions To Answer Before Getting Your Blog Redesign
A nice little checklist of areas to think about before diving into the redesign process. Taking the time to ask these sort of questions, can really help you focus on what’s important in your redesign.


freelance-folderThe 8 Most Common Freelance Questions (With Answers)
This post is a must-read for anyone considering moving to freelance full-time. I haven’t quite made the jump yet myself, but I have asked these questions :)


moxie13 Steps to a Successful Website Launch
Great post on some steps to take to help ensure a successful website launch. Awesome advice, but the most entertaining part maybe the picture at the top of the post.


commentsGet More Comments with a Better Discussion Experience
This post shows you how you can get readers to comment more on your blog. By improving their user experience and the quality of your content, are a good start to generating more discussion.


smashing9 Common Usability Mistakes In Web Design
I’m noticing the articles in this month’s MyInkTrail are tailored to how to improve usability. Well it is the trail that I took this month through the design community and I was very much into this subject. Afterall, your blog needs to be focused and very usable or it will get lost in a sea of other blogs.


design-cubicleHow To Drive Traffic To Your New Design Blog
It can be quite difficult early in a blog’s life to get a lot of traffic. Brian Hoff of Design Cubicle looks at 14 ways you can get started on the right foot.


airey-applesAgency vs Freelancer – Your Take
A design community discussion on the difference between hiring a freelance designer vs. a design agency. Lots of great and thoughtful perspectives here.


workstationsThe Workstations of Popular Websites
A look at the workstations of many of the design community’s most popular bloggers including yours truly. This is a cool post, it’s great to see how other people setup their work space. It’s amazing how many designers choose mac.


appleUsability Analysis of Why is it so Good?
Speaking of Apple, this article give an interesting dissection of what makes Apple’s website so good. A cool breakdown of usability, design and functionality. Good practices to take into your own sites.


photoshop-mistakes1Worst Photoshop Mistakes and Disasters
Wow, this definitely wins the funniest design community post of the month award. You’ll have a fun time trying to find these major Photoshop blunders.


css5 Step Style Sheet Weight Loss Program
More high quality CSS advice from Soh Tanaka. Learn how to clean and shorten up your style sheets. In the long run, you’ll be very glad you did.



Fill up your designer’s toolbox with quality free resources!

paper-textureFree Texture Tuesday: Wrinkled Paper
I can’t get enough paper textures in my resource pile. They are infinitely useful in making an interesting background in Photoshop. Grab these great freebies.


think-design40 Free High-Res Acrylic Paint Photoshop Brushes
These are a little different then the usual paint splatter brushes for Photoshop. I like the dimension they have. I haven’t found a use for them yet, but I know I will :)


magazeenFree Theme: Magazeen. Style & Functionality in one Theme, now on Smashing Magazine
A premium quality magazine style wordpress theme for free. Includes some really cool jQuery features.


handdrawn-iconsHandycons 2 – Another Free Hand Drawn Icon Set
Some awesome hand-drawn icon freebies. I really like the style of these!


colorburned110 Incredible Seamless Destroyed Vectors
Mix the benefits of scalable vector art with cool looking textures and that’s what you get here. This set of 10 distressed vectors should come in very handy.



The best tutorials from this past month to pick up a few new design tricks.

nintendoDesign a Vintage Nintendo-style Controller and Cartridge
This may not be the best tutorial of this month, but it pays tribute to the best video game system! Regardless it is well done and you can pick up some good tips here.


Paginating results has to be one of the most commons issues developers have to deal with in almost every project. This tutorial shows you how to make a paginator class to use anytime you are in need of it. Very useful!


psdfanDesign a Futuristic Athlete Graphic
A slick Photoshop tutorial that will help you refine your photo manipulation skills. Packed with cool techniques and advice.


build-internetHow to Change the Default Gravatar in WordPress
Find out how to do away with the default mystery man gravatar in wordpress. A useful tip, that I’ll be sure to implement when I redesign.


spoon-graphicsCreate a Simple Vibrant Light Effect in Photoshop
This tutorial is awesome! I love the style and design. It’s also cool to note that the lighting effect is done with photography and not the pen tool. Be sure to check this out.



A list of lists within a list :)

specky-boy 50 of the Best Ever Web Development, Design and Application Icon Sets
I love finding posts like this on to bookmark. It’s great to have options like this at your fingertips, then next time you need that perfect icon for a project.


colorburned2My Best Buds on Twitter
Grant was kind enough to include me on this list of cool people to follow on Twitter. It’s a fantastic roundup, and I agree these are some great people to follow.


pressed-letters10 Beautiful Letterpress Business Cards
Beautiful examples of letterpress design on business cards. Fantastic inspiration on a growing designer trend.


build-internet225 Font-tastic Type Resources for Web Designers
A compilation of 25 of the most useful font related resources for web designers. Makes for a great resource to bookmark.


ampersandThe Mesmerizing Curves of Ampersands
Brian is right when he says, “Typography can be a beautiful thing.” The ampersand can be used to add so much character to typographic elements. Check out this list of 30 spectacular examples of ampersands.


fyc18 Tools I use as a Designer & Blogger
Another fantastic bookmark. You’re sure to find a resource here that can make your daily tasks as a designer easier.



I love checking out these interviews, they help me gain perspective and learn more about some of the awesome folks who make up the design community.

chris-coyierChatting With Chris Coyier
Chris Coyier is the creative mind behind sites like CSS-Tricks and Script & Style. Chris is an interesting guy with a real talent for design. Be sure to add css-tricks to your feed if you haven’t already.


brian-hoff1Interview With Brian Hoff
Check out this interview and learn more about Brian Hoff. Brian is the creative guy behind The Design Cubicle.


nikki1Interview with Web Designer & Blogger Niki Brown
A very entertaining interview with Niki Brown of DesignOBlog. It’s cool to learn a little more about some of the other designers in the community through these kind of interviews.


Cool Stuff

A couple of cool things I stumbled upon during my traverses through the internet this month.

supersizeSupersized – Full Screen Background/Slideshow jQuery Plugin
Here’s a sweet looking jQuery plugin that makes a full screen background image slideshow. No matter how big the screen, the images will leave no white space. Pretty nifty.


Bespin is a pretty slick IDE from the guys at Mozilla. It’s a cool app, that is open source and definitely worth a look.


Final Thoughts

With the speed at which months fly by, does February really need to have only 28 days? Regardless, it produced more great content from the design community. I hope you enjoyed this month’s InkTrail.

About the Author

Andrew is a primary contributer for MyInkBlog. He is a full time web developer for Niagara University. When he's not working there, he's a blogger, twitter'er, wordpress'er, silverstripe advocate, blessed father and husband.

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  • Sérgio Soares

    good roundup Andrew!

    keep the good work and i’m expecting some good photoshop tutorial by u as always


  • CPB

    I have to randomly read them.. Or read all excerpts first before reading full articles.. Thanks for the round-up.

    CPB´s last post was… Break – Humurous. Funny. Comedy. Videos.

  • joyoge designers’ bookmark

    nice roundup thanks..

    joyoge designers’ bookmark´s last post was… Photography Showcase: The Most Passionate Kisses

  • Matt

    Excellent round-up. Thanks for including Spoonfed Design!

  • Zach Dunn

    Great roundup Andrew. Thanks for giving some love to Build Internet!

    Zach Dunn´s last post was… Battle of the Bands – Myspace Music Profile Trends Roundup

  • David Airey

    Hey Andrew,

    I’ll definitely return for some inspiration and reading. The interiews, in particular, pique my interest. Thanks for compiling your monthly picks!

  • AJ Troxell

    Great list. I will be reading for hours thanks to you!

    AJ Troxell´s last post was… Why Do You Twitter?

  • Tom Ross

    Awesome roundup Andrew! Thanks for including one of my tuts :)

    Tom Ross´s last post was… Massive $600 RSS Subscription Contest

  • David Airey

    Popped back over to follow the interview links. The one for Niki Brown goes to his blog homepage, and not the actual post about his interview. I was able to find it, though, so no worries there.

  • Andrew Houle

    @David Thanks for catching that, got that link updated now :)