Email Is (Still) Important And Here Is Why

Social media is more than a buzzword. It’s now a lifestyle decision for a lot of companies. Many individuals and organizations have abandoned a traditional web presence (which used to mean a website and email address) in favor of a Facebook page coupled with a Twitter account. So, where does this leave email? Has the @ symbol lost its meaning as an address, and instead become the signifier of a Twitter name? I think that we need to radically reconsider our approach to email in this changing landscape and understand that it can be a powerful tool when leveraged correctly. Changing Habits While I disagree with the assertion that “social is killing email,” evidence shows that email use among the younger generation is declining: a 59% decline among US teens between December 2009 and 2010, according to comScore. In the same study, only the over-55s had increased their use of email. This is especially significant if it represents a long-term shift away from email and towards social media and SMS as preferred methods of communication. Losing Faith In Email Email has been around forever (it predates the web), so it’s not surprising that, for some, it has lost its lustre. For one, it’s not exciting enough; other social media platforms have come with fanfare. Twitter has hosted world headlines, and Facebook has been the driving force behind many campaigns....

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Defending The Generalists In The Web Design Industry

In recent years there has been a move away from generalist Web designers to specialists such as content strategists, user experience architects and front-end coders. Where once there was a single job, there are now many, with ever-narrower spheres of responsibility. While my peers are becoming more specialized, I have stoically refused to do so, remaining a generalist. If anything, my interests have broadened, encompassing subjects such as marketing, psychology and business strategy. This has drawn criticism from some who view generalists negatively, which is in line with some of what I am reading in the blogosphere. Why Is Being A Generalist Considered Bad? Part of the criticism is based on how complex the Web has become. Knowing everything about Web design was once possible, but is now unrealistic. This is certainly a valid criticism. But the very fact that Web design has become so complex means that we need generalists to look beyond the silos of specialists. The danger is that, without generalists, specialists become so wrapped up in their silos that they find it difficult to work with specialists in other disciplines. The generalist is needed to encourage cross-collaboration and to look beyond the silos at emerging developments on the Web. Still, I suspect this is only part of the cause of the “snobbery” against generalists. Don’t Confuse Being a Generalist With Lacking Skills The perception is...

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Modern Version Control With Git

The benefits of using a “version control system” are many. It can improve software quality, facilitate collaboration and even help you become a better developer or designer. In this three-part series, I will introduce you to the increasingly popular Git version control system. I’ll discuss the main benefits and features of Git and finally demonstrate how to integrate it into your workflow. In this article we will cover the basic background information for understanding how  —  and more importantly, why  —  to use Git. Later we will take a closer look at Git’s features, including branching and merging, and discuss how to use it in your own design and development projects. Git: Born Of Necessity Linus Torvalds was unsatisfied: none of the version control systems (VCS) available in 2005 met his requirements. Once the proprietary version control system BitKeeper changed its license agreement, it couldn’t be used to manage the Linux kernel project anymore. An alternative had to be found, one that was distributed, scalable and — above all — fast. The Linux community took action by starting two new projects: Git and Mercurial. Both have their origins in this emergency, and they are among today’s leading distributed version control systems. Git is now used in countless well-known open-source projects: the Linux kernel, jQuery, Ruby on Rails, Symfony, CakePHP, Debian, Fedora, Perl and many more. The large number of tutorials and tools, including...

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What Web Designers Can Learn From Video Games

Games are becoming more Web-like, and the Web is becoming more game-like. If you need proof of this, you have only to look at Yahoo Answers. Random questions are posed, the top answer is chosen, and credibility points are given to the winner. It’s a ranking system that accumulates and unlocks more and more features within the system. It works because of the psychology of achievement and game mechanics and thus encourages interaction. This raises the question, what can a Web designer learn from games, or — more specifically — video games? Good game interfaces have to be highly usable and intuitive, capable of handling a lot of repetitive actions in the fewest clicks possible. They need to be attractive and engaging. They need to be likeable. A good game interface adds to and enhances the user’s experience. In a game, people want the content delivered to them in a way that doesn’t break the fantasy. Any dissonance with the interface will cause an otherwise great game to fail. Even in older games, as in Prince of Persia (displayed above), the limited system capabilities enforced designers to come up with creative and innovative design patterns. With more capabilities available today, we are able to find more advanced design techniques in modern video games. In the same way, website users want their content delivered to them in a way that...

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20 Professional E-Commerce Icons [Freebie]

Quick Summary Today, we are glad to release a set of 20 high quality E-commerce Icons in 64×64px, available in .png-format. This set was designed by Web Icons Set with the purpose to be used in e-commerce websites and has been exclusively released for Smashing Magazine and its readers. The set includes icons such as Empty Basket, Full Basket, Credit Cards, Delivery, Secure Payment, Checklist, Gifts, Shop Open, Shop Closed, Contact, Wallet and...

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