Category Archives: Design

Site adjustments

My site is looking a little different, I’m now using the lovely Recia for the type. Fontdeck recently retired, and while they gave loads of notice about the service stopping, I still didn’t update my fonts in time. This left my site looking a little sad and Helvetica-y. I have a redesign in the works. But I’ve… Read more

Diary, 29th March 2016

Back in the office today and we’re working hard and getting a lot done. We can’t wait to share what we’re working on with you all. (Soon, I promise!) Friday and today, I’ve been getting our Labs and source.ind.ie in tip-top shape. Now with our own logo in the corner, it feels more like home, and Aral has added… Read more

What advice do you give to aspiring designers or typographers?

I was just asked, amongst a couple of other questions, what advice I would give to aspiring designers or typographers. With my mind focused on the aspiration part, I started writing an answer based on finding your own way of working through studying others, not copying… And then I realised it was a bit superficial.… Read more

130 words on getting creative in Offscreen Magazine

I’m slightly behind on my posts, but I wanted to share my contribution in the latest edition of Offscreen Magazine. Offscreen is a beautiful, printed, independent magazine about the “People behind Bits and Pixels.” I contributed 130 words to Issue 10 on getting into a creative mindset. You can buy a copy, or get a… Read more

A realign for 2015

Almost a year after last year’s realign, I’ve made some more tweaks to my site. There were a few reasons behind it: I’m not freelance anymore, so I don’t need the focus on my portfolio As I’m now working with Ind.ie, I needed to update my about page The navigation needed some accessibility work The… Read more

Digital Arts: Web fonts: what designers need to know in 2015

Another fab and in-depth article from Craig Grannell on Digital Arts, this time on Web fonts: what designers need to know in 2015. Craig asked a load of smart designers (and me) about web fonts, web font services, and how to choose web fonts. My full answers to Craig’s original questions are below: What do you… Read more

What I’m doing now and why

I’d been a freelance web designer/developer full-time, working for myself, for six years. I love working with clients, and working with small businesses is a very sustainable business model. You can make a big difference to a small business. You can get paid fairly well. And you can forge long-term relationships with people whose businesses… Read more

Breaking Stuff on A List Apart

Last week my latest column, Breaking Stuff, was published on A List Apart. I’m in a strange transitional period, moving from client work to fulltime at ind.ie, so I think I’ll be writing more about situations like these as time goes on. I’ve also finally updated that terrible avatar to something much better. I look… Read more

ind.ie Project Stratosphere announcement

After a few months of being pretty quiet, and working towards our crowdfunding campaign, we’re finally able to reveal some big stuff about ind.ie. We’re not just designing a phone. A crowdfunding campaign for a phone that you’ll get in two years is not a risk worth taking. We need to build a network and… Read more

Speaking at border:none

Next month I’m speaking and running a “creator unit” at border:none in Nuremberg. This is incredibly exciting as it’s an event focused around the decentralisation of the web, a topic that I care about a great deal. I’ll be talking about using considerate design and great user experiences to create genuine alternatives to the products… Read more

Indie Tech Summit videos and my talk on Universal Design

Yesterday we finally published all the videos from the Indie Tech Summit on the ind.ie site. It was a fantastic event, with two days of talking about how we can create sustainable and ethical alternatives to corporate surveillance. The first day was talks and panels, with everyone discussing the problems and their own free and… Read more

Digital Arts: Designing for the unknown

Last week, Craig Grannell asked me some questions about designing for the unknown. The result was a really fantastic article called Designing for the unknown: how to design templates and frameworks, and has contributions from some really smart people. The title image is from my writeup of the Default Perch Theme project I did with… Read more

Digital Arts: The future of web design

Over the next few days I’m catching up on things I failed to share in recent months. It’s been a very busy few months, but I still like to have a record of what I did and where I’ve been! In April, I spoke to Neil Bennett about the future of web design, and the… Read more

I Don’t Like It on A List Apart

Heh. That’s a misleading title! I’ve been on holiday, so I’m late to posting this update. Just over a week ago, my most recent column, I Don’t Like It, was posted on A List Apart. I’d heard some designers discussing their clients in less-than-favourable terms. This kind of behaviour makes me cross. It’s the Clients… Read more

Discount code for WXG 2014 in Guildford

You might have seen that I’m speaking at WXG in Guildford in September. If you didn’t already get a ticket, you might want to use my discount code of kalbagWXG to get £10 off the (already very affordable £99) ticket price. There’s some great speakers in the lineup, and it’s sure to be a fun… Read more

Becoming part of Indie Phone

There’s some big changes around here. As of Monday, I am now working with Indie Phone for 50% of my working time. What is Indie Phone? Indie Phone is a huge, and very ambitious, project. We’re building a smart phone that allows you to own your own data. The majority of companies on the web… Read more

Why accessibility matters to me #GAAD

The reason I fell in love with the web was the democratisation of information. I love that so many people can access, learn, and share such a huge variety of resources. That’s why I’ve always considered accessibility so important. To me, access for all is an essential part of the nature of the web. How I learned… Read more

A look inside a designer’s sketchbook

A couple of months ago, Ian from logogeek.co.uk, asked if I’d share some of my sketchbook pages on his site. Ian wanted to emphasise the rough, imperfect nature of the way we plan logo designs, and show real work done by real people. Last week, Ian added some pages from my sketchbook to his post,… Read more

A little realign

Things are looking a bit different around here. It’s not a redesign so much as a realign. I’ve been tinkering for a few months, and finally got to the point where I’m happy to push it live (even though there’s more I could do.) There were a few particular goals for this redesign: Rewrite the… Read more

Me and My Big Fat Ego on A List Apart

Today my column on Me and My Big Fat Ego was published on A List Apart. It’s not that I’d say I have a huge ego, but it’s definitely something that’s easily bruised when I feel like things aren’t going my way.

Inspiration on A List Apart

Last week my column on Inspiration was published on A List Apart. It follows roughly the same structure as the talk I gave at Design + Banter a few weeks ago.

Video interview for Interlink conference

Sadly, Interlink conference has been cancelled. I’m gutted that I won’t be visiting Canada this year, but I totally understand how difficult it is to run a conference, especially if you’re trying to put on the best possible event for your attendees and speakers. Last week I had a chat with my friend Steve Fisher… Read more

March’s Pastry Box thought on purpose

Today my thought for March was posted on The Pastry Box. It was inspired by First Things First 2014, talks by Cole Peters and Nicklas de León Persson at Design and Banter, and Fictive Kin‘s slashpurpose.org. I’ve started formulating a draft of my “purpose” for this site, but it’s not quite ready yet.

Speaking at WXG 2014 in Guildford

I’m speaking at WXG 2014 in Guildford in September. This is exciting for me because I attended the first ever WXG a couple of years ago, and it’s about as local as a conference is going to get to my hometown, Reigate. The tickets are a bargain at just £69 for early birds, and there’s… Read more

Guest on A Bit More Backendy podcast

Yesterday the fourth episode of the Backendy podcast was released, and I was the guest. It was lovely talking to Darren, partly because he’s been a great client for a while now, partly because I’ve been working on the podcast logo and site, and also because I think a podcast focusing on back-end development is… Read more

Design theory for the web workshop at Interlink conference

Sadly, Interlink conference has been cancelled. I’m gutted that I won’t be visiting Canada this year, but I totally understand how difficult it is to run a conference, especially if you’re trying to put on the best possible event for your attendees and speakers. I’m running my ‘Design theory for the web’ workshop at Interlink… Read more

Delivery Logistics on A List Apart

There’s nothing wrong with sending a client a rough sketch if that’s all that’s needed to communicate your idea. In my latest column on A List Apart, I’ve written about deliverables and why what the client expects isn’t always the right thing to do…

Interview about web fonts on Type Quest

A few months ago Tyler Sanguinette sent me some questions about design and web typography as part of his thesis on web fonts. Recently I found that he’d published the interview, and interviews with a load of very smart people, on the Type Quest website. Type Quest also has some really useful information on the… Read more

I love this pen

It’s a J Herbin metal pen. It’s a rollerball but it takes any standard ink cartridge. I use it with the J Herbin ink cartridges as they come in loads of different colours and packaged in cute little tins. It’s taken me years to find my ideal pen. I have small hands so I need… Read more

Interview on Workspiration

A few weeks ago I answered some questions for Workspiration on my hardware and software setup, inspiration and dreams. Workspiration seems to have collected interviews from a huge variety of people working in and around tech, and with everybody answering the same questions, it makes for a really interesting read. Bonus is that they also… Read more

Why Bother With Accessibility? on 24ways

My article for this year’s 24ways has been published today. I wrote “Why Bother With Accessibility?” after giving my Designing For Accessibility talks, and still coming up against the same excuses. I wanted to write something that could be a go-to for people trying to understand why designing for accessibility was worthwhile. Fingers crossed that… Read more

Guest on Beyond Ink podcast

Yesterday the first episode of the Beyond Ink podcast went live. This was a podcast that Rachel had in the works for a while, and we first recorded together a few months ago. Last week we re-recorded that episode, so everything was up-to-date, and I had a fancy new microphone so I didn’t sound as… Read more

Talking about building with Typecast

Last November at Build conference 2012, I had fun talking to some of the folks from Typecast about building, web design, responsive design and type. They recorded these videos (along with a load of lovely, smart and cool people!) and made a nice collection that you can watch on their website. Typecast are also giving… Read more

Open for Business on A List Apart

My second column for A List Apart, “Open for Business,” is now up. I wrote Open for Business as a follow-up to my Dare conference talk about honesty. It’s not the same as the full talk (and has been edited into a far better shape by Rose Weisburd) but is the essence of why I feel… Read more

Speaking at MobX Conference in Berlin

Next Friday I’m speaking at MobX Conference in Berlin about designing for accessibility, covering problems that affect many different types of screens and devices. It will be my first time in Germany, so I’m very excited!  

A List Apart column and first post on Good Designers, Good Clients

This week the first post was published on my A List Apart column. It’s a very exciting thing for me. I’ve been reading A List Apart since I started learning about the web and loads of people I admire have written there. It’s good fun and a proper challenge having an editor working with me. I’ve… Read more

Guest on Happy Monday Podcast

Last Friday I was a guest for today’s Happy Monday podcast. It was great fun chatting with Josh and Sarah about design, client work and inspiration.

Design theory for the web, a workshop

Here’s a slightly scary thing: I’m doing my first solo workshop on the 11th October 2013 in Barnsley. I often get asked about the best way to “learn design”, and I usually say that you learn by doing and you learn by watching how others do it. In this workshop, I want to give new… Read more

Browser windows and responsive language

In the same way that we continually evolve the processes we use when working with clients, I’ve now found myself evolving and refining the language I use with clients when discussing responsive web design. “Devices” It started out with talking about devices. “This design will use X on a mobile phone, Y on a tablet… Read more

Sass for designers — the talk and the case study

Yesterday I gave a talk at the fantastic online conference CSS Summit on ‘Sass for designers’. It uses my new site Web Talk Dog Walk as a case study, and explains the basics of Sass and how to get started using CodeKit. Usually I wouldn’t recommend checking out my slides, as they’re useless without me… Read more

Fonts.com mockup fonts

I do like the way that fonts.com do web fonts. (I also like all of the web font services for different reasons and different projects.) Mockup fonts Fonts.com have this new system that really works. It involves an app called SkyFonts. This allows you to try out different fonts in your desktop mockups as rentals.… Read more

Interview in Allan McAvoy’s Freelancers series

Last week Allan McAvoy posted up the interview he did with me as part of his Freelancers series. Some of the questions are fairly standard, but there’s also some unusual ones like “favourite colour for design” and “typical day in the life…”

Mentoring Q and A on .net magazine

After finishing the mentoring project last week, I had a chat with Craig Grannell about mentoring which he published on the .net website: “Laura Kalbag: web designers should mentor newcomers.” It’s a good summary of the mentoring project and has extracts from a couple of testimonials by Sibylle and Phil.

Fl*t design trend

I’m about to apply a mute filter to the word “flat” on Twitter. That or start unfollowing a lot of people. What’s flat? There’s an aesthetic “trend” that’s been around for a while. It involves fewer gradients and textures and has thus been described as “flat” design. It’s often described as the opposite of “skeuomorphism,”… Read more

Speaking at Untangle the Web

Nothing quite like a last-minute post… Tonight I’m speaking at Untangle the Web at Google Campus in London. I’m doing a talk on Design Theory for the Web where I do a whistle-stop tour through designing with typography, grids and colour on the web. I also have a stinking cold so I’m going to be… Read more

Responsive Day Out

A month ago I spoke at Responsive Day Out, an “affordable, enjoyable gathering of UK designers and developers sharing their workflow strategies, techniques, and experiences with responsive web design.” As I said to Jeremy Keith when he first asked me if I wanted to do it, this would be a day I couldn’t possibly miss,… Read more

Guest co-host on Unfinished Business

Last week I was guest co-host on one of my most favourite podcasts, Unfinished Business. It was great to ramble and rant with Andy for 90 minutes as it’s not often I get to chat for so long to another designer whose main focus is client work. We talked about smoking chimps, mentoring and how… Read more

Alfred App v2 theme

Today I finally got around to playing with Alfred v2. This is the one OSX app I’ll allow to open on login, I use it to launch every app and find every file. I use it to work out maths for my CSS and double-check the meanings of words I’m about to write. And it… Read more

Interviewed on The Industry

Last week I had a chat with the lovely Conor O’Driscoll and last night he published the interview on The Industry. We talking about design work, education and what I define as success, among other things.

Nothing to display podcast

Last week I had a lovely chat with El for her Nothing To Display podcast. We talked about technology and how people get started with technology, accessibility, mentoring and dystopian futures! It was a real treat.

WP Cycling Project

Something a bit different I do quite a bit of work with the lovely people at Code For The People. They do WordPress in a big way. And I love WordPress, I love that something open source has become so big, and I love how it’s not run by a big evil corporation (like most… Read more

Design Feast Designer’s Quest(ionnaire)

Design Feast have my answers to their Designer’s Quest(ionnaire) on their site. Scroll past the scarily large photo of me quickly… their questions prompted me to think about some interesting points, especially challenges for designers: What are some of the challenges you encounter as a designer and how do you deal with them? I think… Read more

Mentoring a project: finding the right people

We’ve got a project! I’ll elaborate on the details of the project in a future post, but the importance of having a project was that it’s allowed me to choose the designers/developers who could get something out of being mentees. I didn’t want to do this before securing the right project as I needed to… Read more

The East Wing podcast

Yesterday I was a guest on Tim Smith‘s The East Wing podcast. It was a pre-recorded conversation and it was great fun. You can listen to it on the East Wing website, and it’ll be up on iTunes soon. We discussed how I got started in the industry (really sorry traditional Graphic Design people, I… Read more

Live-designing WordPress Admin Icons

A while ago I wrote a post about how I was going to do a talk at WordPress London where I would try to design a WordPress admin icon live. Well, I did it, and it didn’t go too badly. In fact, I was very lucky as the first suggestion for what I should design… Read more

Mentoring a project: the right project

This post is an update on my mentoring project idea. Finding the right project If you follow me on Twitter, you might have seen that I’m now looking for a different project to work on. Whilst the previous project I had in mind would have been great fun, the client had a very tight deadline.… Read more

Mentoring a project: the idea

A couple of days ago, a potential project turned up in my inbox. An old school friend wants a website, needs it soon and doesn’t have a huge budget. Me and freelancing I’m lucky, I get offered a lot of projects, and usually I don’t have any availability for a few months. Little projects like… Read more

The Sharers on The Branch

I’ve written a post over on The Branch. James Dinsdale emailed me about a new project he was starting out, called The Branch, a site collecting posts about what inspires people. I love these kinds of posts, so I was really keen to be involved. As a designer, inspiration is a much-discussed topic. Unfortunately, this… Read more

New To Design

Following my learning design post, I’ve started a little project called “new to design.” At the moment it just consists of a learn-design tag on my Pinboard bookmarks and a Twitter account @newtodesign so that I can share useful design resources (especially for those new to design.) In the future, I hope it can be… Read more

Learning Design

Every now and again someone will email me asking how they should go about learning design. After reading Aral Balkan’s fantastic post on how design is not veneer, a few developers also expressed frustration at there not being many resources telling you how to get started with design. So I thought I’d post a few… Read more

12 Days of Podcasts — Day 3 with me

I was interviewed by Craig Lockwood for the Besquare 12 Days of Podcasts. If I remember rightly, we talked about all sorts of things from the tools I use to the stickers on my laptop.

Speaking at the WordPress London January meetup

I’m speaking at the WordPress London January meetup on the 17th of January 2013. I’ve been using WordPress for years, for my own site and for client sites, and I really love it. I had absolutely no idea what to talk about though. I tend to create custom themes for clients, but these are very… Read more

24 Ways: Design Systems

I’ve been thinking a lot about the design in ‘responsive’ design lately. My post on 24ways is where I started to get some of my thoughts and ideas out. Here I talk about design systems and how thinking in this way, and basing our processes around this concept, can help us create more flexible future-proof… Read more

Bardowl: The Big One

For the last few years, I’ve been working with a great team of people on our iPhone app, Bardowl, an app for streaming unlimited audiobooks for £9.99 a month (think Spotify but for audiobooks.) It’s not been a quick and easy. Getting publishers to come round to the idea, and securing good audiobooks, has been… Read more

My favourite apps—fit for purpose

After sitting and waiting for Photoshop to open for five minutes, just to edit an old file, I went off on a bit of a rant about Adobe software. ”https://twitter.com/laurakalbag/statuses/260750478453899264″ A few people asked what I thought the alternatives are, so I thought it might be time to write a post about it. Photoshop and… Read more

Grids, flexibility and responsiveness

First steps: choosing a typeface The first step in my grid design was to choose an appropriate typeface. I knew this would be everything on such a text-heavy site, and I really struggled because, as with all the elements on my personal site, I wanted it to reflect “me”. I wanted a typeface that felt… Read more

Really, a redesign? This can’t be real…

It’s about time… So finally I’ve redesigned my website. It’s been about three and a half years since the last version of laurakalbag.com (still around at http://2009.laurakalbag.com) and that’s a site I designed before I finished university, before I even started freelancing full time. To be fair, it took a while for me to hate… Read more

A Practical Guide to Designing with Data

Another ubelly post from me, this time a review. Much like my other reviews of books on this blog, just in another location! A Practical Guide to Designing with Data

Typography and the web at Ampersand Conference

I’ve written a big old writeup for ubelly from my notes at Ampersand conference earlier in the month. This was an event I decided not to live-tweet, as the content is usually more involved and in-depth, making for a better big writeup and less tweetable quotes. Typography and the web at Ampersand conference

Will understanding the mainstream affect me as a designer?

I’ve been contemplating how designers can identify better with more mainstream users. I had a thought last week. What if, by rejecting Facebook, I’m actually missing out on design patterns that are so influential on the mainstream user that it affects their perception on the rest of the web? And the same goes for Google… Read more

Craft and Care: Future Of Web Design 2012

I’ve written up my digest of Future Of Web Design 2012 over at the ubelly blog. For those who want more of a blow-by-blow account of the day, I’ve compiled all of my live tweets (and retweets) from the day in a Storify feed. http://storify.com/laurakalbag/laura-kalbag-s-fowd-tweets

Critiques, giving and receiving useful feedback

Funnily enough, a couple of days before Mark Boulton said and wrote his piece on design critiques, I’d been thinking about that same topic. I’ve been struggling through an iPhone app icon design, and had asked Twitter for help. Knowing that the 160 character limit wasn’t going to help me much, I emailed everyone who… Read more

Solving problems with naïvety

Last week I was at the wonderful Future Insights Live conference in Las Vegas. Annoyingly as I was speaking twice (that bit wasn’t annoying, it was fun!) I missed a load of talks, but had some fantastic discussions around some particularly interesting topics. The topic of naïvety in user experience first came up in Aral… Read more

New Adventures in Web Design 2012

My digest post about New Adventures in Web Design conference – The Job, The Process and Creativity – NAConf 2012 is now up on uBelly. I’m now on board with uBelly to cover conferences and other webby stuff. This post is very much the same style as my previous digest posts, but on a different site.

Designing For Emotion

I bought Designing For Emotion as part of the A Book Apart deal, alongside Mobile First. After listening to Jeffery Zeldman talking about the release of these books with Dan Benjamin on The Big Web Show, and hearing how they were perfect books to read before a redesign (my site is in a constant state… Read more

A Practical Guide to Designing the invisible

After reading Mark Boulton’s A Practical Guide to Designing For The Web and Andy Clarke’s Hardboiled Web Design, I was keen to read another Five Simple Steps’ design book. Robert Mills’ A Practical Guide to Designing the invisible definitely didn’t disappoint. It took me a few reads to start getting into it. I haven’t been dedicating… Read more

Notes from Ampersand conference — My Digest

I’ve tried to condense my notes from Ampersand conference into a more useful digest. More than anything this, like my live-tweeting at past conferences, is really a selfish activity to help me absorb the ideas from Ampersand better by reflecting on the themes of the day. And of course in the spirit of the web… Read more

Notes from Ampersand conference — Actual Notes

For those who wanted my notes in an undigested, scatterbrained form, here’s images from my notebook. (My digest is available too.) I’m a mind-mapping fiend, so I try to link with arrows where I can. Where new points were begun I just moved to another space on the page, so forgive the random appearance! There’s… Read more

Notebooks and Getting Over Moleskine

I’m a notebook and sketchbook-aholic. Actually I’m addicted to stationery of any kind. Pens, pencils, post-it notes. It’s incredibly easy to convince myself I need these items when I mostly don’t. Notebooks and sketchbooks (and maybe some nice accompanying pens), however, are an absolutely vital part of my working life. Why bother with physical notebooks?… Read more

Design work is 50% visual, 50% justification

After I finished my last post about Design Tips for Developers, it really struck me how much I wrote to justify my design. I wasn’t just writing tips saying “do this, it’s good“, “don’t do this, it’s bad.” I put time and effort into explaining why I made these decisions and why I didn’t do it another way.… Read more

Design Tips For Developers

This little post is based around the talk I gave at Bathcamp. Rich Quick came up with the great idea that, whilst Bathcamp attendees are mostly developers, a talk on design for developers was probably appropriate. And you might have seen on my post from last week, I was looking for a case study to… Read more

Stuck on a design

After discussing Dribbble and Forrst, and my latest post that looked at criticism in design, I’ve been thinking a lot more about how feedback features in my design process. Getting stuck When I used to get stuck on a design, from ‘creative block’ or a complete lack of inspiration, I would frantically brainstorm, then browse… Read more

Good old designer snobbery is alive and kicking

There’s one thing that I hate about being a designer and that’s the snobbery. Most, if not all, designers are a little bit guilty of looking down on other people’s work. Comments such as “Pah! They used Comic Sans” or “Ergh! Don’t they know reflections are so out of date now?” These are comments I’m… Read more

Using Dribbble and Forrst for feedback on a client project

A couple of weeks ago I created a quickie logo for Andy Warburton’s mobile stock photography service Stockyoo. Andy was really keen on the idea of using Forrst and Dribbble for posting the progress of the project to get the opinions of potential users of a stock photography service and do some early promo for… Read more

dConstruct 2010

I was a bit skeptical about dConstruct at first. The idea of a conference based on ‘creativity and ideas’ made me worry it might be a bit pretentious but I was convinced by a lot of friends on Twitter that it’d be worthwhile, and they were so right. I went with a notebook and an… Read more

Picking Fonts

This little post is an extension of my post on Web Fonts. Of late, some of the snobbier designers are whining that more fonts available will mean the web will get covered in horrible mis-use of fonts, unreadable body text and general ugliness. I don’t think this is totally fair, but I’m sure some people… Read more

Web Fonts

I’ve got a new infatuation; web fonts. Since the second I heard about Typekit (and Fontdeck) last year I’ve been giddy with excitement about being able to use more fonts on the web. Georgia just doesn’t cut it anymore. Even the introduction of ten new fonts to shake things up would have me flustered. Here’s… Read more