Smashing Magazine - #464: Friendly Little Helpers

Radio time machine, reverse dictionary, micropedia and templates on how to say No and Goodbye with grace. Issue #464 July 9, 2024 View in the browser

Smashing Newsletter

Gamarjoba Smashing Friends,

Sometimes, we all need just a simple little tool that does just one thing — but does it really well. Maybe we’re looking for a friendly, human way to say “No” to somebody, or maybe we have only a couple of food ingredients available and are looking for the best recipe that requires only them.

In today’s newsletter, we’ll take a look at a few of these little helpers — tiny websites that are useful references and helpful tools to make your life just a little bit easier.

Design Patterns For AI Interfaces
Design Patterns For AI Interfaces, our new online workshop starting shortly.

On the Smashing side of things, we’ll be running a few friendly online workshops in July:

We sincerely wish you a wonderful week ahead, and we’d be absolutely honored and happy to welcome you online and offline this year!


1. Microaggressions Explained

Language matters. When we design inclusively, we need to be aware of the implications of the words we use, and how we use them. But sometimes it’s difficult to know which words work best in specific situations.


The Micropedia highlights comments and actions that are based on stereotypes, assumptions and lack of empathy across age, disabilities, class, ethnicity, gender, indigenous people, race, religion and 2SLGBTQ+. With plenty of practical examples(vf)

2. Reverse Dictionary

Have you ever had difficulty finding the right words to use? How helpful would it be if all you had to do was to try to explain what you’re trying to say, and a tool finds the words that best fit your description?

Reverse Dictionary

Well, good news. There’s a tool that does exactly that: Reverse Dictionary. It lets you type a phrase, definition or description you have in mind, and the app simply does the rest. Victor Ahuwanya created this tool as an Android application that makes use of a database constructed from the Online Plain Text English Dictionary so it doesn’t even need an internet connection. Nifty! (il)

3. Understanding Drawings Through Dimensions

Putting things in perspective can be quite difficult. You might want to design a specific illustration, but you need to get dimensions right, and consider standard measurements and sizes for objects to look realistic.


Meet Dimensions, an ongoing reference database to help designers better communicate standard measurements and sizes of everyday objects. It contains plenty of references for everything from animals and transport to pop culture, furniture and plants. Neat little helper! (vf)

From our sponsor

Behind The Code: A Discussion With Backend Experts

Sentry Ad
Join Sentry for a chat with the folks behind Laravel, Node.js, Prisma, and Supabase! These experts will dive into the latest trends and what's next for backend development. Hear their stories, challenges, and how they use the coolest tools to innovate quickly. RSVP now!

4. Plant Guides

Every office — and that includes home office as well — is better off with a lovely selection of beautiful plants. But which plants are easier to deal with for some of us who tend to be forgetful? Which ones require more care, and if so, what does it usually involve?

Plant Guides

How Many Plants is a wonderful resource that covers all these questions well. It provides a thorough overview of all popular plants, sorted alphabetically and by care difficulty. You can even filter out plants based on their features (size, format, placement), plant type (traits, origins, pet-friendly) and leaf look (shape and surface). A great reference site to keep nearby. (vf)

5. Upcoming Workshops and Conferences

That’s right! We run online workshops on frontend and design, be it accessibility, performance, or design patterns. In fact, we have a couple of workshops coming up soon, and we thought that, you know, you might want to join in as well.

Smashing Online Events
With online workshops, we aim to give you the same experience and access to experts as in an in-person workshop from wherever you are.

As always, here’s a quick overview:

6. Fuss-Free Cooking Inspiration

It’s been a long day at work. You’re hungry, but you don’t have any idea what to make for dinner? SuperCook has got your back — with popular recipe websites to match whatever you currently have in the fridge!


All you need to do is enter the ingredients you have at home (or choose them from the list with just a few clicks), and SuperCook will do its magic. How about some roasted onion and tomato spaghetti with a poached egg? Or a five-ingredient falafel, maybe? Perfect to get some new cooking inspiration. Bon appétit! (vf)

From our sponsor

Join UX Expedition This August

Future London Academy
Discover the future of UX and Product Design in a 4-day journey through London’s leading product companies. Explore Product Design Strategy, Data Design, Gen AI, Product Branding during office visits, keynote presentations and workshops. 4 days. Only 30 spots.

7. The Musical Time Machine

It’s still quie difficult to travel back in time, but fortunately, we can do so online. What if you wanted to listen to the pop charts extravaganza from the US back in 1955 or Uzbekistan in 1932? Well, Radiooooo has got your back (well, you might need to sign up for a free basic plan first).

Musical Time Machine

The website is a collection of songs collected over decades and now searchable, with filters by genre, speed, country, and time period. In fact, you can search by slow for chilling, fast for dancing, and weird music for bugging out — indeed, there is something for everyone! And if you want to go fancy, there is a shuffle mode, with songs picked by the curators. (vf)

8. Saying “No” And “Goodbye” With Grace

Do you often find yourself signing off your emails with the usual “kind regards”? Well, it doesn’t have to be that way. If you’re not sure how else to finish off your emails, you’ll be sure to find ideas on how to improve your sign-offs. Sometimes, it’s easier to start with a template and modify it rather than create it from scratch, so feel free to borrow the templates or adapt them to your circumstances.

Saying No And Goodbye

Also, who says a signature has to be just a signature? It can be any kind of boilerplate text. Good folks like Michael Hyatt have been asked whether there were email templates for saying “no,” and he went straight to work and identified eleven different kinds of requests. There are also other ways to say no — you can choose a category here — from nicely declining pushy people to respectfully rejecting salespeople — you’ll find plenty of templates to help you out in any situation. Almost life-saving! (il)

9. Recently Published Books 📚

Promoting best practices and providing you with practical tips to master your daily coding and design challenges has always been at the core of everything we do at Smashing.

In the past few years, we were very lucky to have worked together with some talented, caring people from the web community to publish their wealth of experience as printed books. Have you checked them out already?

Success At Scale
It’s here, and it’s shipping! Success At Scale, a new book by Addy Osmani. Get the book or browse the complete library.

10. Recent Smashing Articles

That’s All, Folks!

Thank you so much for reading and for your support in helping us keep the web dev and design community strong with our newsletter. See you next time!

This newsletter issue was written and edited by Cosima Mielke (cm), Vitaly Friedman (vf) and Iris Lješnjanin (il).

Sent to truly smashing readers via Mailchimp.
We sincerely appreciate your kind support. You

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#463: Data Visualization

Tuesday, July 2, 2024

Data visualization in design systems, visual data visualization vocabulary, decision trees, color scales and accessible charts. Issue #463 • July 2, 2024 • View in the browser Smashing Newsletter Hello

#462: Dashboards UX

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Dashboard design patterns, designing for experts, real-life dashboard examples, UX guide for data dashboard design. Issue #462 • June 25, 2024 • View in the browser Smashing Newsletter Manuia le afiafi

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Tuesday, June 4, 2024

Motion design systems, UX motion choreography, motion audits and how to document motion. Issue #459 • June 4, 2024 • View in the browser Smashing Newsletter Kalí méra Smashing Friends, How do we design

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