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Featuring design freebies, our favorite websites, and cool wallpapers all from our local design studio in Raleigh, NC.

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Important Designers to Follow in Top Design Disciplines

One great aspect of Twitter is that you can always be in the loop of what you're favorite designers are up to. We've compiled a few very talented folks in major design disciplines that we believe should be on your list.

Following new trends and techniques can occupy quite a bit of time. The nature of project based work makes staying up to date pretty difficult to do. Most designers also need the ability to "check out" for a little while and that's what makes social networks so advantageous. Taking a couple minutes every other day to skim your feed is a great way to keep your "finger on the pulse" of the design world without committing a great deal of time to do so.

Get Social Icon Set & Social Media Font

Social icons are a necessity. That's why we built a minimal social icon set, then compiled it into a social media font. We've named it the Get Social Icon Set and it's free for all you designer types out there.

Every website must have a presence on the major social media platforms. Including those links on your website allows visitors to stay in touch. Designers used to spend hours creating social media links that matched a website, but with some advancements that step is a breeze. The Get Social Icon Set allows you to simply include a few lines then use the social media icons just like any other font.

Top 5 Javascript Frameworks

Quality Javascript Libraries are a web developers best friend. These are the top 5 Javascript frameworks every web developer should be familiar with to make amazing web apps in minimal time!

Anything code based requires repetition and there's usually no need to rewrite code that already exists. Javascript libraries are an especially useful proof of this concept, since they can often be very time consuming to start from scratch. In practice, the problem is usually not knowing what code you can really rely on. Luckily a little know-how can let you sort through the riff-raff and get right to the heart of the code that'll help your project and still be around and well maintained if any updates need to be done. With that goal in mind, we've compiled the five most notable Javascript libraries online today. They may not fit every exact situation, but they're certainly the frameworks that should be bookmarked by any serious web developer and looked to as a first option.

The Absolute Best Lazy Load Javascripts

In a field dominated by imagery, using the best lazy load javascripts possible can help you deliver amazing impact without becoming an absolute drag on your pageload times.

Web designers are constantly weighing two factors - form and function. The value of pictures really can't be overstated, but they do come with their own drawbacks... most notably the size. Anyone old enough to remember the "dial-up" days can certainly attest to the bandwidth imagery can occupy. As the value of providing a solid user experience grows, including images judiciously and providing them efficiently becomes a field all of it's own. To that end - lazy loading images seems to be the best solution. Ultimately the goal being to delay loading an image until it's actually needed by the viewer. Wherever the field web design expands, that seems like a resolution that should remain useful for quite some time. While researching different lazy loading approaches for a recent project we decided to keep a few notes so we can provide our visitors with a definitive list of the absolute best lazy loading javascripts. We've included the best options currently available, along with some sample code snippets, and a few performance tips to have your project humming in no time!

Effective Social Media Automation

Paying attention to social media is important, but it can be time consuming. In this post we'll show you how strategically utilizing social media automation tools can save you that effort and give both you and your followers a better experience.

Modern businesses face a dilemma - Your time is limited, but customers expect you to be everywhere. This problem has forced the growth of social automation and while some may find it distasteful, when done correctly it can expand your audience, multiply your reach, increase brand awareness, and save you much needed time. In this post we'll briefly run down the best social media automation tools, address the benefits & drawbacks, touch on the moral implications, and give you our three favorite low-risk / high reward options for adding social automation to your repertoire.

Steve Zissou / Wes Anderson Wallpaper

This Wes Anderson Wallpaper Tribute is dedicated to Steve Zissou - The man, the myth, the legend.

I love Wes Anderson, but this Steve Zissou Wallpaper is dedicated to the man himself. Generally Bill Murray is amazing in any movie, but this one in particular makes me love him so much more. He consistently fights an unending uphill battle, w/o so much as noticing. I constructed the teams outfit in Illustrator, then tossed in an inspirational quote from the man himself.

Jessica Hische - Typographer

Effective typography is halfway between art and science. As it's appreciation in the design community reaches new heights, Jessica Hische is one name that should be piquing your interest.

Solid typography is easy to overlook, because when it's done well it seems effortless. In that same vein, a typographer generally likes to remain "behind the scenes" and let their work speak for itself. Like any craft there is a certain balance that must be struck and Jessica Hische has done an impeccable job so far in her career of making incredible work and supporting her community (without even becoming the least bit art-snobby).

20+ Free iPhone PSD and iPad Mockup PSDs

Free mockups usually lack in quality, but this collection of iOS Mockups (including iPhone psd & iPad Mockup psds) will give you all of the quality at none of the price.

One of the trickier points of being a web designer is conveying your idea to an existing or potential client. Business owners are generally not a "creative" sort - Visualizing leans right brain, whereas business acumen leans left. In the web design field an entire industry has sprung up around this issue - That solution being a high quality Mockup PSD.

Top Sources for Free Font Families

Font resources are often neglected on projects, leaving designers with a clear problem. Free font families help bridge that gap allowing you to bring a unique design to life until you're ready to commit to a premium font family.

Typography has always been a fundamental tool for marketing. The only significant drawback is that there is an assumption among the general public which ignores where fonts come from. We've all been spoiled with our default Arial & Helvetica and forgotten that fonts are complicated design features that can make a huge difference in a designs' overall aesthetic. Much like stock photography, clients are often confused by the cost - which is where free font libraries come in. By having a few font resources we can integrate a quality font family into any design to show the effect while delaying (or avoiding) the added cost. Having a few of these resources bookmarked can make a massive difference in your process and result in a better finished product for everyone.

The Source Code Resources for Web Pros

We've compiled the source code resources for web development's top web professionals. All house fantastic snippets of various languages that make it easy to view, sort, and download website source code.

One of the truly beautiful aspects of code is it’s inherently sharable nature. There was a time when developers focused their energy on code obfuscation and all sorts of other tactics to keep the source code private. Luckily, an overwhelming majority of professional coders have accepted the “Open Source” culture as a permanent approach to web development. In that world, even the most novice coder is able to build on the backs of giants.

PolyWall - Low Poly Wallpaper

PolyWall is a low poly wallpaper dedicated to the "Low Poly" style that continues to be one of the prevailing trends of the year.

At first I couldn't really tell what it was about "Low Poly" illustrations that I liked. After a few weeks I realized that it reminded me of those crosshatching doodles that almost every "artsy kid" covered their notebooks with in middle school. At it's most advanced "Low Poly" seems to give a peak into the cubist mind and in it's basic form it still gives you the feel of peering through a crystal... Either way - pretty fun stuff.

Top 10 Favorite Inspirational Websites

Inspiration comes in many forms - When it comes to graphic and web design, these are our top 10 favorite inspirational websites.

There are several important aspects to a quality inspirational website. You need high quality project pieces, an interactive community, impressive design freebies, and a cohesive overall presentation. With several years in the industry, it's safe to say inspiration drains out of even the best of designers from time to time. Here are a few sites that should push you past that occasional "writer's block" and inspire any passionate designer to their next portfolio worthy project.

10 Responsive Frameworks You Need

Bootstrap vs UIKit vs Foundation - We take a look inside all the popular frameworks on the market and find the 10 Responsive Frameworks You Need.

Responsive Frameworks are springing up everywhere lately, but crowding the market occasionally leads to confusion. Whether you call them responsive grid systems or a css responsive layouts - they are a web designer's best friend and we love them as much as anyone. The only issue we have with responsive frameworks is that there are just so many out there and when you're brain shoots to Bootstrap vs UIKit vs Foundation vs every thing else, it can be a tough decision. With that in mind, we'll try to save you some time and give you a few more tools... because these are the only css libraries you need to provide good responsive design to your clients.

Wordpress Htaccess - A Wordpress Security Tutorial

Your WordPress Htaccess is a file you should be taking seriously. It can boost security, performance, and seo without a ton of effort. Take a couple minutes and learn a few WordPress htaccess tricks of the trade.

One aspect that makes WordPress so popular is the carefully curated plugins that are so easily installable. In the case of security though, you don't want cookie cutter... You want bulletproof ...and using htaccess effectively is as bulletproof as it gets. While improving your website's security in just a couple steps, we'll also cover a few easy htaccess additions that can have your website running faster and more efficiently. If you're not already familiar with utilizing these files, you'll be amazed by the functionality they add. If you've got a few years of experience under your belt, hopefully you'll still catch a couple nuggets of code you don't have lying around worth keeping.

Stitch Wallpaper

This Stitch Wallpaper is a simple stitched Apple Icon... A Mac wallpaper tribute.

This months submission - Stitch Wallpaper is simple, wintery in color, and a great way to coordinate your new tech gear ...especially since Santa is gonna be late with the new MacPro's.

The Best Wireframe Tools / Wireframe Apps

Bridging the gap between your vision and a clients idea usually takes a few tools. Use one of the best wireframe tools on the market and you'll go a long way in bridging that gap.

Wireframing is one of the most important steps in web or app development. Using solid wireframe tools can be a huge time saver, but if you're completely unfamiliar with concept - you're basically trying to roughly sketch what content goes where. The largest benefits of this being that it gives designers a map to work from and it also establishes the scope of the project. All things considered Wireframing is probably the most useful step in the development process, because it establishes communication, allows feedback, inks guidelines, and gives everyone a point of reference.

Le Petit Prince Wallpaper

With France in the front of our minds, we've drafted this Le Petit Prince Wallpaper to remind you of all the valuable life lessons hidden within.

With all the rising worldwide conflict, we've chosen to reflect our focus to all the incredible contributions France has spearheaded in our world. While no one can deny its immeasurable impact across politics, gastronomy, and the arts, this week a small, initially unassuming book named "Le Petit Prince" has felt more symbolic then any political speech ever could. We've included this tribute wallpaper (free to download), a few of our favorite Little Prince quotes, and a couple great links that will surely broaden your perspective on the topic.

Best Background Patterns & Generators

Every decent designer gets tons of use out of their best background patterns. Slick website backgrounds and realistic Photoshop images both require quality seamless textures. Start your collection with the best!

The concept of texture occasionally gets lost on modern designers. The truth is, there are a finite amount of ways to add visual interest to a design project and texture should never be overlooked. Interesting background patterns can turn a generic site into a masterpiece in the same way that proper lighting makes or breaks a photo. It has nothing to do with the focal point, it unifies. It creates visual cohesion. That's why we've chosen to show you the best resources on the web for finding these small wonders. Clear out a folder and bookmark these generators, cause you'll see the amount of polish they can provide your projects almost immediately.

Dropbox Database Sync for Testing

Database management is very important, but it's always presented a problem for developers using Dropbox with local files. That's why we've written a quick tutorial for setting up a Dropbox database sync for testing your websites locally.

Keeping computers in a local testing environment in sync can be a nightmare. Creating a Dropbox database sync is an ingenious, often overlooked approach to this daunting problem.

Calvin Power Wallpaper

Calvin and Hobbes are American heros. This months HD Wallpaper is a simple tribute to them and the amazing powers of the imagination that they advocate.

Scottish naturalist John Muir once said "The power of imagination makes us infinite" and to me nothing embodies that feeling more then Calvin and Hobbes. I remember Spaceman Spiff, the endless shenanigans, and the tolerant folks. The seed that was planted in millions of kids minds from one frame to the next, was that imagination makes all the difference... I couldn't agree more.

Mastering RSS - RSS Submission Sites & Tools

Content distribution is an overlooked aspect of blogging, so we created this quick guide to mastering RSS. By identifying leading RSS feed formats, top RSS submission sites, and a few of the best RSS reader apps, we can make your audience even larger.

After a recent convention an interesting topic arose, that being the future of RSS. For the last few years many in the industry have warned about the demise of this syndication method, while large social networks have attempted to recreate an approach that they can more extensively monetize. Of course no major internet company will be transparent about their intent, but any company that encourages "sharing" while harvesting and profiting off data should be viewed with a skeptical lens. Luckily by refocusing our efforts back towards a more proprietary syndication like RSS we can all enjoy increased traffic and exposure while retaining more control over our content's distribution. While that view may stray into philosophical debate, the benefits of effective RSS syndication are very real. Let's start by identifying exactly how feeds work and which RSS submission sites can have you automatically spreading your message to a wider audience w/ just a little fine tuning.

Raleigh Food Bank Charities and Local Farms

Give the triangle community a hand by supporting Raleigh food bank charities and local farms.

There have been substantial cuts in government assistance and in this time of need, providing food for our community should be at the top of our priority list. Sometimes that means volunteering at local food charities, but it can also mean simply supporting our own local agricultural industry. Here are a few ways that anyone can help out.