What’s New for Web Designers – Jan. 2011

New apps and websites appear on an almost daily basis, but trying to find the good ones among them can be tough, especially considering how many are not that great.

That’s why every month we research and showcase some of the best and latest resources available for web designers.

This month we’ve included over 25 new apps, fonts, and other useful resources for designers from the past few weeks in this edition, and there’s sure to be something for everyone.

As always, if we’ve missed something, let us know in the comments. And if you know of an app you’d like included in the next roundup, please tweet it to @cameron_chapman.


The Smashing Book #2

Smashing Magazine is about to release their second Smashing Book, with shipping starting in early February. They cover design, usability, and coding, with practical insight and advice. Also included is information on creating engaging user interfaces by applying psychology and game theory.




Thoughtboxes is an interesting new productivity app that lets you organized your entire life into lists. You can use lists for just about anything you want, and can arrange them into different categories to keep better organized. The UI is very slick and well-designed. The free version lets you have two “trains of thought” (like projects), and the paid version ($25/year) lets you have an unlimited number.



Shelfster actually came out in October, but they just released a new “Shelves” (their equivalent of folders) feature in December, so we’re including them here. Shelfster is an app that helps bloggers and writers to collect and organize information for their work. They offer a desktop tool for Windows, an iPhone app, and a browser bookmarklet. It also includes a built-in editor and publishing tool (which currently supports Facebook, Twitter, WordPress, and Google Buzz).



Survd is a new app that lets you create simple surveys quickly and easily. It’s self-hosted and works on a one-time fee basis (the introductory rate is around $40), rather than a monthly subscription.


Chrome Banner Ad Template Set

This ad template set from ElegantBanners is completely customizable and comes with the right to modify the banners for commercial use and even to redistribute them for free. The files included are all fully-layered PSDs, so customizing them is a snap.



Majordomo is a great hand-drawn font from J. DeAngelis Design. With varying line widths and some nice flourishes, it’s a great font for headlines.


Franklin Gothic Condensed Shadow Hand

Here’s a great hand-drawn and shadowed typeface that’s based on the Franklin font family and is part of the Franklin-Hand series. It’s great for designs that want to look cheap, and includes a mask glyph set for creating two-color text.



Merriweather is a very traditional serif font with a nice, old-fashioned feel to it. The serifs are bold, almost to the point of making it a slab-serif, yet the overall look is still very classic.


Josefin Slab

Josefin Slab is a slab-serif font that comes in a number of weights, including thin, light, regular, semi-bold, and bold. It’s very elegant for a slab serif, even at the heavier weights.


Mountains of Christmas

Mountains of Christmas is a hand-drawn font with a funky sensibility. The letterforms are uneven and don’t conform to a standard baseline, and some characters include flourishes.


Free WDF Designer Icon Set

This icon set from Web Design Fan includes images for a variety of common website actions, including mail and home. They come in three sizes (32×32, 64×64, and 128×128), come with both PNG and AI files, and they’re free to use for any projects you have.


Fonts in Use

Fonts in Use is a new website that showcases a variety of typefaces being used in the real world. It’s a great source for inspiration and ideas.


The Daily Post at WordPress.com

If you blog and have a hard time coming up with new topics to post about every day, then The Daily Post might be just the right thing for you. The blog is entirely devoted to encouraging bloggers to post on a daily basis, and posts daily topics to write about, to give you some ideas for getting started.


Chrome Web Store

Google has finally released the Chrome Web Store, where you can download extensions and apps to run in their Chrome browser. This is a precursor to the full Chrome OS, and the offerings they have so far are pretty impressive. Be sure to check out the Aviary Advanced Image Editor, Quick Note, and Ge.tt.



Google Docs has long been the go-to online office product. Microsoft is now making an honest effort at competing with their new Docs.com service. You can edit existing Microsoft Office documents, or create new ones on the website. There’s also a Facebook app for creating docs with your Facebook friends.



Wirify is a nifty bookmarklet that lets you turn any website into a wireframe, instantly. So next time you want to base a new site layout on an existing site, just use Wirify to get an instant wireframe to start building from.



Rule.fm is a great productivity suite that just came out in public beta. It’s currently free, and lets you manage contacts, projects (including milestones and tasks), wikis, documents, and more. Recent activity is displayed in a Twitter-like stream.


Squarespace for iPad

The Squarespace for iPad app lets you manage your entire Squarespace site right from your iPad. You can post new content and photos, edit content, manage comments individually or in batches, see a live preview of your site and posts, and more. It even has support for managing multiple Squarespace sites.


Comic Sans Criminal

This slideshow explains, in layman’s terms, exactly why Comic Sans is an inappropriate font choice in most situations, all in a very nicely designed format. It also includes an option to share the site with those who use Comic Sans indiscriminately.



KISSinsights is a new on-site survey tool from KISSmetrics that lets you quickly and easily collect feedback from your website visitors. They have two plans available: a free plan that lets you collect up to 30 responses, and a premium plan ($29/month) that lets you collect an unlimited number.



Spritebox is a simple tool that helps designers create CSS classes and IDs from a single sprite image, right in their browser. Just upload an image (or enter the URL for one), and it will guide you through the rest.


Awwwards Book

The Awwwards book is a yearbook of sorts for the best CSS websites of 2010. It includes a total of 365 sites from around the world. It’s available for pre-order now and will be released on January 15th.



PSDcleanup.com organizes and cleans up your PSD files for you, mostly in a 24-hour turnaround time. Cleanup starts at only €8, and polishing starts at just €14.


Coded Icon Set

Smashing Magazine is offering this new icon set, Coded, for free. It was designed specifically with web developers in mind, and includes 25 high quality icons in sizes from 512×512 pixels down to 32×32 pixels. They were designed by Thomas McGee of WinePress of Words.


Free Texture: Retro Wallpaper

BittBox is giving away these great Retro Wallpaper textures as part of their Free Texture Tuesday. They all have an orange color scheme and would be fantastic for vintage or grunge designs.


Hand Drawn Vector Swooshes

Think Design is giving away these fantastic hand-drawn vector flourishes. There are sixteen in all, and they’re great for embellishing typography or other designs.



Kod is a programmers’ editor for Mac OS X. It’s fully concurrent, so it takes advantage of all of your computing power and results in minimal waiting time. It’s also been written from scratch specifically for OS X 10.6 and has a Chromium-like user interface, with tabs.


BrushLovers Photoshop Brushes

Our sister site BrushLovers is continuing to publish tons of quality and free Photoshop brushes. Check the site to see the latest exclusive uploads.

Written exclusively for WDD by Cameron Chapman.

If we missed something, please share it in the comments below!

  • http://laroouse.com piyanistill

    wooow very usefull apps adn sources thanks a lot. i love this blog

  • http://www.webguide4u.com Vivek Parmar

    except smashing book and wordpress.com all of them are new to me. thanks for sharing going to check out all of them now

    • http://www.clickwebdesign.com.au Chris – ClickWebDesign

      Same here, lots of new tools and apps, I am looking forward to the smashing book #2. Comic Sans Criminal is a laugh, Spritebox might be useful for business website design, I’ll be testing this one!

      Thanks for the list!

  • http://www.freedomstudios.co.za Graham

    Thanks for the awesome collection of goodies!
    Shelfster looks incredibly promising – I’ll give it a try.

  • http://www.yourwebdepartment.com Flavio Mester

    Wow, lots of useful stuff. Thanks!

  • http://www.sametomorrow.com/blog adam

    Looks like a ton of stuff coming out.

  • http://www.benstokesmarketing.co.uk Web design Shrewsbury

    Thanks for the heads up on the Chrome web store . . . great stuff guys :)

  • http://www.jc-designs.net/blog Jeremy Carlson

    Didn’t like Spritebox so much. It felt….clunky?…to me. Not as refined as it could be. Not sure exactly, but didn’t care for it.

    I wrote a review on Survd though if anyone is interested (great product):

  • crash

    Great list. I’m a developer and am constantly looking for good design resources. This list has a ton of great information for me.


  • http://www.anythinggraphic.net Anything Graphic

    Great list and resources. Thanks! I specifically like the useful organization apps. I need more organization in my life :-P

  • http://bibikova.com ben

    Most blogs have become nothing more than a collections bin. What I mean by that is, they feed you with links about other stuff. We commonly find articles that begin with “20 awesome websites”, “5 best apps”, “the list of greatest stuff”.

    This is nothing more but junk food for the mind to clutter our brains even more.

  • http://gauravmishra.com Gaurav Mishra

    Fonts in Use.com is so hot! To get to know about the trends
    apart from Kim’s curves in the screenshot

    Thanks for the share

  • http://jrutlanddesign.co.uk Jrutland design

    Nice post, some really cool stuff. im lookin forward to the new Smashing Book.
    thanks for the font links aswell.

  • http://iamautocomplete.com/ I Am Autocomplete

    wow.. all these are absolutely useful, can’t decide which one works best for me though! Perhaps I should go first with wordpress and docs..

  • http://www.alpha-4.com/blog albert

    Merriweather looks great haven’t seen it before. Thanks for sharing.

  • http://www.scottcarmichael.co.uk Scott

    I’ve already seen Comic Sans Criminal but still think its brilliant. I also like the look of the Merriweather font. Thanks for sharing.

  • http://www.ruggedmoose.com Rugged Moose

    Very nice collection here. Useful. Thank you!

  • http://www.hotfudge.nl Kelsie

    Nice post, really good stuff to use. Thanx!

    Haha, I wonder how many people use them : PSDcleanup ! That’s what I need in 2011!

  • http://www.psyched.be/wordpress Darkened Soul

    tons a goodies, me like me like me like

  • http://www.yahoo.com mudassir hussain

    happy new year for all team in web design

  • http://www.designfacet.com DesignFacet

    Great collection. Thank you for sharing. One can get lost in all this for hours and days.

  • http://www.papersoup.org Brixter

    Nice collection of what’s new this year. I like the Wirify that turns a website into frames. Helps in looking for new inspirations.

  • http://www.kleeve.com/ kleeve

    I’ve been using Thoughtboxes for a few weeks and like it a lot. It still needs some polish in a few areas (sometimes when I reorder items in a list it doesn’t save the new state, for example) but it does a great job keeping all my todo’s and random lists organized.

  • http://karsva.net/blog Kars

    Thoughtboxes, The Daily Post, Chrome Webstore, Comic Sans Criminal(!).. Thanks for sharing these great resources. I have enjoyed exploring them and alot of them are very useful! Also have subscribed to the RSS Feed today.

  • http://www.fluid-ui.com/ FluidUI

    a smorgasbord for web designer tips, ideas, and practices

  • http://www.sonnydesign.com sonnyd

    fantastic list of web design stuff. thanks for the share!