From the desk of Matt D. Smith

Adobe MAX 2016

Here are the resources from my Adobe MAX 2016 sessions. Let me know if you have any questions! Creating Compelling Icons for User Interfaces PDF Workbook Download the demo files Designing and Prototyping Better User Experiences PDF Workbook Download the demo XD READ MORE

The WOW Framework for Design

I've been teaching a design class at the University of GA this fall semester and it's stretched me a lot in terms of how to communicate the best way to approach a new project. I've currently got the students going through the READ MORE

I Ran A Half Marathon

My feet hurt. My legs are sore and my joints ache. I'm in pain, but I'm smiling. Last weekend, I finished my first ever half marathon (13.1 miles) and I gotta say, I’m feeling pretty fantastic. Here’s a picture READ MORE

My Son's New Hairdo

During a recent airplane trip, I looked out of my window at roughly ~30,000 feet. The sky was clear. I could still see houses, cars, industrial sections, and more. I could even see and handful of tiny planes flying beneath us. READ MORE

Where do you find the time?

I was asked this question last week after launching my new site. The truth is, time is there hidden in plain sight. You just have to use it. There are 24 hours in a day. Everyday. It never changes. The time is READ MORE

Introducing Particle

Particle is what I named the theme that I created for my site's refresh. The name randomly popped in my head very early on in my redesign process and I decided to go with it. No hidden meaning or anything like that. READ MORE

What Does A11Y Even Mean?

Now you know. Accessibility is often abbreviated as the numeronym a11y, where the number 11 refers to the number of letters omitted. This parallels the abbreviations of internationalization and localization as i18n and l10n respectively. Source: Wikipedia READ MORE

Free Adobe CC for a Year Plus Access to AIUX

I'm excited to announce Jared Tohlen is the winner of Adobe CC for a year and lifetime access to AIUX. Big thanks to everyone, who entered the contest. It was difficult to select a winner, but in end Jared hit the most READ MORE

Using Stuff

I use a lot of stuff. This is not an exhaustive list, but contains the most used items from my day to day life. Work 13” Retina MacBook Pro with 3.1 GHz Intel Core i7 and 16 GB of RAM. My READ MORE

Not Reducing

“If I can reduce my image of work to just a job I have to do, then I keep myself safely away from the losses to be endured in putting my heart’s desires at stake.” —Crossing the Unknown Sea Are you READ MORE

Super Quick Resizing in Sketch

I wanna show you a sweet little speed maneuver in Sketch that helps you massage the details of your UI while going fast. TL;DW Select an object Hold down cmd + shift + arrow key to quickly resize 10px at a time Let READ MORE

Solving the Cube

“If you are curious, you’ll find the puzzles around you. If you are determined, you will solve them.” – Erno Rubik My son handed me a Rubik’s cube and said, “Can you solve this?” Suddenly, all of those childhood memories of READ MORE

Digging the New Spotify Navigation

Spotify just updated their navigation from the hamburger menu to the good 'ole trusty-5-item-tab bar Apple has recommended in their iOS Human Interface Guidelines from Day 1. I've been guilty of over–zealously designing with the hamburger menu too—and still think READ MORE

Hacking Ghost

My favorite code editor is Sublime, but not default Sublime. Default Sublime is OK, but not great. The Spacegray theme, by Gadzhi Kharkharov, makes it great. I could stare at it for hours. I have a thing for dark interfaces when they're READ MORE

Using an Illustrator Template

When you get started on some new wireframes or flows, do you open a blank document and just start working? That’s what I used to do. Most of the time I’d open an .ai file from a previous project and READ MORE

4 Quick Steps to Whitelist an Email in Gmail

If you whitelist an email address in Gmail, it ensures that emails of your choosing never go into the spam folder. This is especially good for newsletters you actually want to read. Here's how to do it in 4 simple steps. Step READ MORE

Pricing Design by Dan Mall

I first learned about Dan Mall when he had just begun working with Big Spaceship in 2009. I remember being impressed with the content and quality of his website, which has remained roughly the same since then (with updated content, responsiveness, etc. READ MORE

2015 – Year in Review

Alright, alright, alright. A new year is upon us and that means it’s time for a recap post. This was my 10th and most successful year of full-time freelance. I passed on many projects and only had a handful of longer READ MORE

Gooey

Forget everything* you know about icon fonts. A collaboration between MDS and Fort is dropping sometime in the not too distant future. Sign up here, if you're intrigued. *ok maybe not everything, but some things... .postcap { display: none; } --> READ MORE

4 Frameworks for Writing that Converts

I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts lately and there’s one in particular that I’ve gone back and listened to 4 times, Pat Flynn’s Smart Passive Income podcast with copywriting king, Ray Edwards. Even though this episode READ MORE

The Perfect Stool for Your Standing Desk

I've had a standing desk since 2013. I have no ragrets. Standing gives you more energy, drains you less, BUT you can't stand all day. You need a stool to lean against, to sit on, to comfort your new standing position when READ MORE

Relationships are the Secret Sauce for Success

My wife and I recently celebrated 10 years of marriage. The past decade seems like a short breath, but in actuality it’s been a marathon. You don’t get to 10 years of marriage without dealing with relationship issues. We dated READ MORE

AIUX Course Preview: Illustrator Workspace Setup

I'm excited to release one of the first lessons in the AIUX course for free. In an earlier post, I wrote about how I hacked the Wistia API to create a custom play button, and I decided to use an actual lesson READ MORE

Hacking Wistia’s API to Create a Custom Play Button

Since my AIUX video course app is in the final stretch of completion, a few weeks ago I signed up for a Wistia account and started uploading some of the course videos. Wistia has a pretty extensive API, which is great, because READ MORE

1 Hour of Free UX Consulting for Your Project

I recently tweeted to see if anyone was interested in getting one hour of free UX consulting on any design problem they may have. The only catch is I get to record the session and post the video on my blog with READ MORE

Celebrating Checkpoints

In a recent post I made the public goal of completing all of the videos for my first AIUX course by June 30– a goal that was not achieved. I estimated 12 videos that needed to be made for one of the READ MORE

Make an Excuse or Make a Way

5 years ago I looked at some recent pictures of myself and thought, “Good God, I’m fat.” Not just a few pounds, but nearly 20-30 pounds over what had always been my normal weight. This was after working from my home READ MORE

The Not So Secret Productivity Secret

The big secret is not so secret. Are you ready for it? You get a list of things you need to do and you do them. Bam! Secret is out. The days when I’m productive, when I know what I need READ MORE

AIUX Private Alpha

Friday wasn’t very productive on the AIUX front. I got a late start on the day and only managed to record one video. I recorded it multiple times, but still didn’t quite get it right. I realize now after creating READ MORE

Doing the Hard Things First

Yesterday I wrote some updates regarding AIUX and the video course I’m creating. There’s a lot of things to do with the project and lots of things I could work on, but I’m trying to focus on the doing READ MORE

Back From the Beach

I just got back from Myrtle Beach with my family for our first ever vacation since having four kids. We had a great time despite our van’s AC going out on the 6 hour drive home while our 1 year old, READ MORE

Responsive Design in the Real World

Below you can find some resources on my "Responsive Design in the Real World." If you'd like to hear this presentation at your event, let me know! You can also view this on Speaker Deck. Here's an extended blog post I wrote READ MORE

Daydreaming of Epicurrence

I went on my first ski trip when I was a teenager. It took a solid day to learn the ropes of speeding down a mountain on a pair of sticks, but I was hooked. At that point in my life I READ MORE

Using Dropbox For Client Reviews

I use Dropbox to store 100% of my client work– source files, review folders, inspiration, assets, etc. Anytime I finish a set of designs for client review I send a dropbox link instead of an attachment. Here's the basic structure of my READ MORE

Pondering Meaning

After recently listening to Tim Ferriss' interview with Pavel Tsatsouline, which is fantastic by the way, this quote from Pavel really stood out. "The brightest young people today, what do they end up doing? They end up designing apps. In the 50s READ MORE

Leaning in at an Angle

A sailboat can’t make any progress without wind, in fact going straight ahead into the wind will get you nowhere. Your boat won’t move forward at all. You move the fastest sailing against the wind. Not directly head on, but READ MORE

Teehan + Lax Joins Facebook

And Now, For Our Next Act Teehan + Lax just closed their studio doors and moved into Facebook. Good for them–they've made a big decision. Make sure you read the entire post before you make some snarky comment on Twitter, judging their READ MORE

Essentialism

I just finished my fourth book since changing a key habit over Christmas a few weeks ago. Essentialism, a New York Times bestseller by Greg McKeown, dissects “the disciplined pursuit of less.” The book uncovers ways to focus less on the trivial READ MORE

Simple Complex Shapes in Illustrator

Twitter friend, Mike, created a shield-like shape (below) in Illustrator and had some issues when scaling it down. The shape was built with multiple polygons that all aligned beside each other to form the final mark. The seam in between the individual READ MORE

Habits

When I was 13, I smoked my first cigarette. Maybe it was 14. Either way, I was young. A friend of mine, Billy, was older looking than the rest of us–tall and lanky with a protruding Adam’s apple. He had READ MORE

2014 Year in Review

Another year is in the books so let’s recap. I’ve done this for 2012 and 2013 and looking back on those reviews, I’m so glad I captured the highlights when I did. There’s always the “ohhhh yeah” moments READ MORE

Killing It

I’m reading a book, “Revising Prose” by Richard A. Lanham, in which he writes about the imbalance of nouns and verbs in the Official Style, a formal language used to sound more professional. He writes: ...they all build on the same READ MORE

Create Presentation Ready PDFs with Artboards in Illustrator

Ignoring artboards contributes a lot to the super-speedy, wireframe design process that can be accomplished with Adobe Illustrator. 99% of the time, I leave artboards hidden and only toggling their visibility and manipulating them only when I'm ready to export a PDF READ MORE

High-Level Wireframe Design Intro with Illustrator

In the early stages of a project it can be helpful to map out as much of the experience as you can to help get everyone on the same page. Conversations and decisions often become a little more tangible when there is READ MORE

How to Create a MacBook Pro Wireframe in Illustrator

This MacBook Pro, along with the other devices, works well when displaying wireframes for responsive designs. 3 Techniques for Creating Rounded Rectangles in Older Versions of Illustrator I’ve had several people comment on previous tutorials that they were using older versions READ MORE

How to Create a Simple Illustration in Illustrator

I'm working on some wireframes for a client who builds large vessels and rather than use the standard grey box with the "X" in it to represent every image, I thought it would be fun to do a quick little abstract vessel READ MORE

How to Create an iPad Wireframe and Mobile Safari Icons

Continuing on with AIUX series, we’re going to look at creating an iPad wireframe and mobile Safari icons, by repurposing a few items from the iPhone we created. Now I’ve already covered iPhone wireframe creation, which is essentially the same READ MORE

Vectorize a Logo Using Simple Shapes in Illustrator

If you've been a designer for longer than a minute, you've no doubt ran into a situation where you need the client's logo for something you're working on. Do seek out the official logo whenever you can, especially if it's super brand READ MORE

How to Create a Sitemap in Illustrator

When you're working on a website, web application, or a mobile app, it helps to map out the experience before you dive too deep into the weeds of design decisions. It took roughly 6 minutes to design the sitemap above. The video READ MORE

How to Create an iPhone Wireframe with Illustrator

Welcome to the first official post in the AIUX series. In this video, we're going to create a simple iPhone wireframe that can be used as a base for iPhone apps and mobile web design wireframes. Yes you could probably find a READ MORE

The Difference Between a Good Designer and a Super Designer

In the movie Megamind, Megamind succinctly explains to Tighten (he misspells “Titan”) the difference between a villain and a super villain. While Tighten is very evil and villainess he just doesn’t compare to Megamind’s audacious and theatrical performances during the READ MORE

How to Change Your Screenshot Capture Location

Create a new folder on your desktop called ss Open Terminal Type the following command (change mds to your own user name): defaults write com.apple.screencapture location /Users/mds/Desktop/ss Now type killall SystemUIServer Done You can substitute ss for READ MORE

Circles 2014

I wrote most of this on the plane, flying back from Dallas, after a fun-packed week of conversation, inspiration, and some hardcore paintball. Now, over a month later, I’ve finally decided that I need to finish this post before it dies READ MORE

Priorities

Father First John Saddington: Making commitments to your business is hard. Making commitments to your family is even harder (and keeping them). Strange, isn’t it as you would think that it should be reversed. As a father of four, I can READ MORE

Photoshop is Sketch's Daddy

The more I use Sketch for interface design, the more I like it, but it also makes me appreciate how awesome Photoshop is. You just can't beat Photoshop for image editing - sizing, cropping, compositing, etc. and that's not even half of READ MORE

Why Wearing Black Can Actually Keep You Cooler

I'm working on some cycling jersey designs, which has prompted me to do a little research regarding color and heat intake. It's pretty common to hear that "wearing black makes you hotter." While that can be true if you are completely stationery, READ MORE

Change

"The only thing that is constant is change" ― Heraclitus I've never had a favorite season. Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer. None of them are my favorite. I like the in between. The transition. I like the change. The smell of fall with its READ MORE

Tiiny

Tiiny is an app that I've been using the last few days since it came out. The premise is simple. Share tiny little photos (and videos) that disappear after 24 hours. It's a neat concept that seems to remove unspoken barriers that READ MORE

Richard Sachs

Richard Sachs has been building bicycle frames since 1972. He's a one-man shop, sells custome-made frames starting at $4k, and has a seven year waiting list. From his website: "I firmly believe that my high standards have been a bit easier to READ MORE

5 Watches on My Shortlist

About 6 months ago I slung my backpack over my shoulder and my watch got snagged and hit the pavement. I've wanted to get a replacement ever since, but haven't made it a priority. With Apple's Watch announcement yesterday, suddenly I'm thinking READ MORE

Fear and Doubt

At one of my first jobs out of college, I worked at a very unique place where my employer was building a mono fin that strapped to your feet so you could swim like a dolphin. It was a pretty incredible manufacturing READ MORE

Refine

Spiderman didn't start off in his fancy suit, he started in jogging pants and a ski mask. Basecamp started without an automated payment system. Product Hunt started as an email list. Whatever you are thinking about pursuing or creating, start small, start READ MORE

Cancer

I got the news today that one of my best friend's dad just passed away. After a year of battling cancer, it ultimately spread and took over. Suddenly everything I'm doing seems trite and unimportant. Shortly after I graduated high school, another READ MORE

30-day Blog Challenge

Last week my friend, Colin, tweeted that he'd be posting on his blog everyday for the next thirty days. I immediately thought that I should do the same as my blog's gotten a bit dusty over the last few months. Low and READ MORE

The Thing With Money

I recently got an email from a young guy in Hong Kong. He's just getting started in graphic design and emailed to ask me about pricing techniques. Ah, It seems like just yesterday I was sitting in graphic design class asking my READ MORE

Plan to Fail

My family and I traveled to my in-laws for the fourth of July weekend. Unlike the cliche of this being a nightmarish experience, we very much look forward to heading down to Vidalia, GA and always have a great time. To make READ MORE

Tools Don't Matter

Which piece of software should you use for interface design? There are many good answers and opinions about this question but the bottom line is - you should use the one that yields the best results. Although this is the one true READ MORE

#663399Becca

I've never met Eric Meyer, but my oldest son is 6 and the thought of losing him crushes me. When people started changing their avatars purple, I silently thought to myself, "What good is that going to do? Why would you do READ MORE

Create a Settings Icon in Illustrator CC

Lots of times, I will create icons like this on the fly, while designing interfaces in Photoshop. However, it's generally a good idea to keep these as separate assets in the event you want to do anything else with them. Creating icons READ MORE

Let's Not Kill the Hamburger Icon Just Yet

Why don't we, I don't know, talk to it for a while - see if he'll give us any information. It's obvious he knows something, so before we go all fire and brimstone on him, let's tie him to a chair first READ MORE

A New Thing

This past January, something interesting happened. I impulsively decided to sell a tiny product, moments before I almost decided to give it away for free. The product is simple. It's basically a stripped down version of a client project, that shows my READ MORE

Audio Equipment

I've got plans to create something new and decided to do it right with some proper equipment. After using Twitter to get quick feedback on a podcast mic, I got several different suggestions. Best starter podcast/videocast mics that I can talk READ MORE

The Grass is Greener Where You Water It

Photo Credit: Thomas Bresson In 2010, I met Matthew Smith, who has an equally awesome name. My wife was really into couponing at the time and frequented a site called Southern Savers to get her deal fix. Naturally, I would catch glimpses READ MORE

Four

My fourth child, Nixon, was born a week ago and now I have four kids. Four. I can't believe that is a true statement, but it is. Four kids, wow. Having four kids is hard. The other day my wife was holding READ MORE

Nixon

Say hello to Nixon Pierre Smith, my fourth child (third son) born on May 13, 2014 at 1:56pm. Nixon was warmly welcomed by his brothers Noah (6) and Justice (4), and his sister Isa (2). The name Nixon is a derivative READ MORE

Photo Retouching Inspired by Gigantic Squid

I've done a fair amount of product and architectural photography over the years but haven't done much portrait work. I've got a solid knowledge of retouching and post production, so once I saw the Gigantic Squid photos (specifically the Mackelmore ones), I READ MORE

How to Create Animated Dribbble Shots

"How did you create that animation?" This is a question I get a lot on Dribbble as well as inbound email inquiries from curious minds alike. After responding individually to a dozen or so people, I figured I should write out my READ MORE

Understanding Vector Shapes in Illustrator

When I posted "Wireframing with Illustrator and InDesign", several people asked about my Illustrator techniques. The simple truth is that I've used Illustrator a lot over the past decade and have learned a quick key for virtually everything I produce, whether it's READ MORE

Open Letter to Recruiters

Hey!!!!! I was just thinking about all those emails you've been sending me and I just realized I have a great opportunity for you!!!!! I'm writing a blog post that you are absolutely going to love! Your eyeballs will literally pop out READ MORE

Grok 2014 Recap

My mind was (and still is) completely consumed with thoughts, ideas, the conversations, and the experiences I had at Grok. This is usually the case after conferences, but especially so after Grok. This was my third annual attendance and, in my opinion, READ MORE

Grok 2014 Pre Game

It's that time of year again and Grok is in the air. This is my third time attending and I was giddy the whole time during my hour and a half trek up here from Athens. I wasn't quite able to make READ MORE

Bittersweet

I'm writing this post from my office. It's not just any office, it's the first official office I've had outside of my home. To date I've been here a little over two years. It's not incredibly fancy but I've loved every minute READ MORE

My Favorite Way to Write

This is my favorite way to write: Fullscreen iA writer with the colors inverted. My first thought was to simply tweet this and leave it at that, but perhaps I can spread the love a bit more. First purchase iA writer if READ MORE

Enough

My wife is reading a book, as usual, and when she comes across something interesting, she reads it to me. I like it when she does this. The Notes From a Blue Bike author references a classic fable about a Mexican fisherman READ MORE

Blogging and Your Future

Last night, I had John Saddington come and give a presentation at Transform Athens. When I first contacted John about speaking, I told him that the topic was totally up to him, but preferably something he was passionate about. Well if you've READ MORE

Artboards or InDesign?

Since publishing Wireframing with Illustrator and InDesign I've gotten lots of questions about the why behind the process. Why not use artboards in Illustrator rather than using InDesign and individual .ai files? This was the most popular question so here's a breakdown READ MORE

Athensmade T-shirt

Buy now from Cotton Bureau I'm happy to announce that my logo was declared the winner after the final round of voting for Athensmade. To commemorate the project, we're selling an Athensmade t-shirt on Cotton Bureau. All proceeds of the shirt (beyond READ MORE

Slow Down

"Death is nature's way of telling you to slow down" -Anonymous I'm always fascinated by my complete ignorance of time when it comes to my own projects. For client work I'm always careful to account for plenty of time for each phase READ MORE

Squarespace Logo

Yesterday Squarespace released a new product, Squarespace logo and my Twitter feed was blowing up about it. Some people were "extremely disappointed" and others "expected more from Squarespace." Before I dive into the implications and interpretations of the site. Have you actually READ MORE

Athens Made Round 2

This will make more sense if you read this post first. The logo competition for Athensmade.com is over. Sort of. There's a twist. Two of the logos were neck and neck during the wee hours of January 15th, so a sudden READ MORE

Wireframing With Illustrator and InDesign

I design all of my wireframes in Illustrator. The main reason: I know how to use Illustrator extremely fast. Like seriously mind-bending fast. I don't use UI kits, ready made templates, I just open it up and start powering through ideas. Drawing READ MORE

What Do You Call Yourself?

"So, what do you do?" is the age old question that everyone seems to face on a regular basis. Be it conferences, weddings, family events, parties, church, and many other life events. Lots of people in our industry often feel conflicted about READ MORE

2013 Year in Review

2013 marked my 5th year in business for myself. The year was great as I did incrementally increase revenue but also worked a lot less. With a few exceptions here and there, it was a nice easy pace throughout the year. I READ MORE

Athens Made Branding

A few months ago a handful of people had the idea for athensmade.com, an initiative to create an identity for products, companies, etc. hailing from the classic city. It's been a seed of an idea for some time now and it's READ MORE

Curiosity Stronger than Fear

"I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious." - Albert Einstein My 2 year old daughter, Isa, got some washable crayons intended for drawing on the walls of the bathtub. This immediately prompted a desire for her to take an READ MORE

Daughters

When I get home from work, it's a toss up as to whether or not my wife is completely worn out from being with our kids all day long. She stays at home with all of our kids, which is incredibly demanding. READ MORE

Dear Boys, Life is Like Minecraft

Dear Noah and Justice, I was driving to work today after taking you to school and was consumed with my thoughts. That's usually what happens when I'm driving. It's the reason I miss turns when I'm going somewhere even if I know READ MORE

Good Pens and Brushes for Hand Lettering

I've got a little product I'm working on that needs a logo. My typical logo style is very shape-based, geometric and mathematical. Even though I do sketch out a lot of logo ideas in my sketch book, it's generally to get an READ MORE

How the Float Label Pattern Started

I first had the idea for a new input pattern back in August, 2013. The idea was simple enough - animate placeholder text to show an icon beside the input so you don't lose your context. I had been doing 99% mobile READ MORE

Brooklyn Beta 2013

Anytime I visit New York, I'm both thrilled and overwhelmed. My most recent visit was for Brooklyn Beta. As I stepped out of my Uber black car at my alleged Airbnb address and pretended to know what I was doing by authoritatively READ MORE

I Started Riding a Bike Again

I just bought a commuter bike for the five and a half mile trek between my house and office. With a wife and 3 kids, making time to work out can be quite challenging, so commuting on a bike is my newest READ MORE

What Caddying Taught Me About UX

Forecaddying to be exact. A forecaddie doesn’t carry a bag of clubs, but rather stays ahead of a cart-riding, foursome of golfers. His duties consist of finding golf balls, taking pin-distance measurements, cleaning clubs, fetching clubs, bagging clubs, holding clubs, reading READ MORE

Icon Only Interfaces

I recently read a Layer Vault post regarding progressive reduction. I love this concept, especially since I've always pushed to use "icon only" buttons when possible for interfaces. It works sometimes and other times, not so much. Coming from a background of READ MORE

Jack Black on Writing

I recently heard this radio interview on NPR during a drive home from work. "You're going to have to do some writing. Let's face it. The great comedians now that are handicapped in the looks department are tremendous writers. I'm not gonna READ MORE

Confidence

My olive-oil covered face dripped with sweat. The scorching sun beamed down on my back. Dousing my head with cold water never felt better. My dad has been a crop-duster for over 30 years and during the hot and muggy summers in READ MORE

Scooters & Constraints

We bought all of our kids some kickboard scooters for christmas. If you've never seen them, they're much different than the previously popular razor scooters. The kickboards feature a neat two-wheel front swivel suspension with one wheel in the back. It's more READ MORE

2012 Year in Review

I'm writing this post for myself because I like getting all nostalgic and this will make it easier. Perhaps you will find it interesting. 2012 marked my 4th full year of self-employment and was by far my most successful year. My company, READ MORE

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