tools-and-tips-for-getting-paid

Getting paid for a service should be pretty straightforward right? But if you’re running a digital agency you’d know that it’s anything but straightforward. In fact, sometimes it’s an absolute headache.

But with these tips for getting paid, you’ll probably never have to experience these issues again:

  • Clients disappearing before you’re about to launch the site leaving you out of pocket
  • Chasing up payments for finished work
  • Doing small changes for clients after finishing the website for free
  • Feeling obligated to discount when a client is having money issues

Check Your Mindset

Before I even dive into your payment options, the very first thing you need to address is your mindset around getting paid.

The thing is, money is the oxygen your business needs to survive. Without it, you don’t have a business. You can’t help anyone if you go out of business because you “felt bad” for invoicing. You need to start charging for what you do and not feel bad about it.

Would you get in an Uber to go to the local shop and not pay because it was such a short trip?

If a client wants you to make a change to their website once the project is complete, then explain that you only make changes for clients who are on a maintenance plan. However, if you agree to make small changes for them, they will never have a reason to sign up! And having recurring revenue is imperative to sustain your business.

Our very own Troy Dean probably put it the most eloquently when he said:

You’re running a business, not a community service!

Getting Paid Overview

The workflow for getting paid goes a little something like this:

1. Provide proposal / quote / estimate


2. Send invoice


3. Invoice follow-ups


4. Get paid


5. Start work


6. Finish work


7. Get approval


8. Get paid


9. Launch live

In summary:

Don’t start work or launch live until you are paid! 

Options for Getting Paid

Milestone Payments

One of the best ways to ensure that you’re not left out of pocket is to invoice for the milestone once it has been approved. This is great for larger fixed-rate projects such as website builds.

  • 50% deposit to get started
  • 30% after design and functionality have been approved
  • 20% prior to launch

Milestone payments is one of the ways to get paid that we recommend in our Digital Business Blueprint Course. 

Periodic Payment via Credit Card

Set up payments to be taken automatically at certain intervals. This is great as you don’t have to worry about invoicing or follow-ups. This is great for cash flow as you know exactly what you are getting in and when.

For example: $9,000 project over 3 months would have a monthly $3,000 recurring charge applied.

50% Payments

This is good for customisations for existing sites. Get a payment upfront and a payment prior to launching the feature or change.

  • Estimate range e.g. 5 – 7 hours.
  • 50% upfront.
  • 50% prior to launching live

Sprints

You can ask the client to pay for 2 weeks of your team’s time. e.g. $10k per 2-week sprint.

Bending the Rules

For some clients that you like working with and have a good history of paying on time, the rules can be bent so that you invoice at the end of the project for small projects. Do so with caution.

Payment Tools & Software

Having the right tools and software can make your workflow a whole lot easier!

Here are my top picks:

  • Project briefs: Google Docs
  • Estimates: Better Proposals / Xero
  • Bookkeeping & Invoicing: Xero Stripe
  • Recurring payments: WooCommerce Subscriptions Stripe / Xero Stripe
  • Time tracking and margins: Harvest / Toggl

Additional Tools

  • Freshbooks
  • Pancake
  • Free Agent
  • Paypal
  • Western Union
  • Ezidebit (AU)

When it comes to choosing tools, be careful not to overcomplicate the systems that get you paid. The simplest solution is often the best. Find the shortest path to achieve the result before you go into fancy tools and automation.

Bonus Tip

For recovering failed payments on expiring credit cards in Stripe. Check out Stunning. Which is free if you have less than 250 customers.

Final Advice

The key is to keep it as simple as possible and make it automated. Credit card payments or direct debit are ideal options as you can set them up and they will charge without you needing to remember or follow up.

It’s your business so you are the one who sets the rules for how you’re paid. Set them to work for you so that you can spend less time chasing invoices and more time enjoying your life, your business and serving your clients. And if someone has an issue with your payment system then it’s a major red flag!

Let me know if you have any tools or tips that work for you when it comes to getting paid in the comments below.

65-best-creative-instagram-accounts-for-design-inspiration

Design Inspiration makes you happy? Follow these Instagram accounts

65 Best Creative Instagram Accounts – When it comes to getting a daily dose of inspiration, Instagram is one of my favorite places. From fine art, digital art, illustration, 3D, UI design, typography, calligraphy, photography to the most unusual and unexpected sources.

We created this list of “Creative Instagram Accounts” to make you happy, and also more creative and inspiring.


Creative Instagram Accounts 
 - AGHILATION


AGHILATION – @aghilhosseinian

Creative STOP MOTION animation

Director / Animator



Creative Instagram Accounts  - EM


EM – @elena.masci_illustrations

Digital artist

It's been 4 years and I still miss you
65 Best Creative Instagram Accounts


Creative Instagram Accounts  - Flóra Borsi


Flóra Borsi – @floraborsiofficialVerified

Photoshop Queen👩🏻‍🎤 AR Filter maker <> Creator of @photoshop starting screen Self taught visual artist since 2004

Forbes 30/30 🖤 Curator of @highsenafloraborsi.com

Animeyed, 2016-2017
65 Best inspiring Instagram Accounts

Creative Instagram Accounts  - D ∆ V E D ∆ N Z ∆ R ∆


D ∆ V E D ∆ N Z ∆ R ∆ – @lost_in_time_designs

You need to be LOST to find where you belong.

A Neo Retro Psychedelic Humanoid from the 5th dimension.

Mutant.
65 BEST CREATIVE INSTAGRAM Profile

Creative Instagram Accounts 
 - UntitledArmy

UntitledArmy – @untitledarmy

Untitled Army are the broken pieces of the artist and director Lucas Camargo. He haunts coffee shops with his sketchbook, cursed to draw obsessively.untitledarmy.myshopify.com

Mutant.

Creative Instagram Accounts  - Burnt Toast

Burnt Toast – @burnttoastcreative

illustration, animation & the odd tutorialburnttoastcreative.com


Creative Instagram Accounts  - snooze one

snooze one – lettering artist – @snooze.one

Something between Calligraphy, Lettering and Graffiti.

snooze one

Creative Instagram Accounts  - Andrea Love

Andrea Love – @andreaanimates

Stop motion animator, director and fiber artist based in the PNW


Creative Instagram Accounts  - Dima Tkachev

Dima Tkachev – @dimaphew

Professional hand lettering & graphic artist.


Creative Instagram Accounts  - Stephanie Kilgast

Stephanie Kilgast – @petitplat

Let nature grow back | consume less

Stephanie Kilgast

Creative Instagram Accounts - Tatsuya Tanaka

Tatsuya Tanaka 田中達也 – @tanaka_tatsuya

I make miniature art every day.

Tatsuya Tanaka

Creative Instagram Accounts  - Biksence Nguyen

Biksence Nguyen – @biksence

Commission logotype & artwork

Biksence Nguyen

Creative Instagram Accounts  - Adam Hillman

Adam Hillman – @witenry

Object Arranger / All original images. Buy prints at my Society6 page at the link below.www.society6.com/adamhillman

Adam Hillman

Creative Instagram Accounts  - Justin Estcourt

Justin Estcourt – @jetsyart

Painting the light in a vast universe.



Justin Estcourt

Creative Instagram Accounts  - SCAF

SCAF  – @scaf_oner

Jamais dans la tendance, mais toujours dans la bonne direction !!

SCAF

Creative Instagram Accounts  - Filip Hodas

Filip Hodas – @hoodass

#3D #illustrator from Prague. #Cinema4D & #octanerender.

Filip Hodas

Creative Instagram Accounts  - Terrance Whitlow

Terrance Whitlow – @terrance_unchained

youtu.be/W-SL-_2CD7g

Terrance Whitlow

Creative Instagram Accounts 
 - natwoodsigns

natwoodsigns – @natwoodsigns

•Painting Letters• •Signs and Designs••Commissions and Collabs••Natalie in London•

natwoodsigns

Creative Instagram Accounts  - Daniel Rueda   Anna Devís

Daniel Rueda Anna Devís – @drcuerda

Story tellers. Photography makers. World explorers.

Daniel Rueda   Anna Devís

Creative Instagram Accounts  - Marika Boniuk

Marika Boniuk – @marikaboniuk

Illustrator | Vintage lover | Traveler

Marika Boniuk

Creative Instagram Accounts  - Gal Shir

Gal Shir – @thegalshir

I draw stuff 🍭 My life is quite boring so I have a pretty rich imaginationgalshir.com


Creative Instagram Accounts  - Matt Blease

Matt Blease – @mattblease

Illustrator

Represented by Breed Londonmattbleasegeneralstore.com

Matt Blease

Creative Instagram Accounts  - redmer hoekstra

redmer hoekstra – @redmerhoekstra

www.redmerhoekstra.nl

redmer hoekstra

Creative Instagram Accounts  - James Lewis

James Lewis – @jamesllewis

Painting the light in a vast universe.


Creative Instagram Accounts  - Joseph Ford

Joseph Ford – @josephfordphotography

I shoot fun stuff

schonmagazine.com/paperboy


Creative Instagram Accounts  - Laura H. Rubin

Laura H. Rubin – @la___aura

Character- and Graphic Designer from Switzerland


Jessica Walsh

Jessica Walsh – @jessicavwalsh

Founder of @andwalsh creative agency, NYC Branding & advertising.

Jessica Walsh

shinrashinge

shinrashinge しんらしんげ – @shin.2580

I upload my illustrations & pictures I made. 


陶瓷先生

陶瓷先生 – @taocixiansheng

We are a ceramics factory.


Yum Yum

Yum Yum – @yumyumlondon

Animation Studioyumyumlondon.com


일러스트레이터 허불럭

일러스트레이터 허불럭 – @hubuluck_illustration

m.grafolio.com/creator/detail.grfl?creatorId=hubuluck


Felipe Medina

Felipe Medina – @felipe_eme

Designer & Animator from 🇨🇱 based in Los Angeles 🇺🇸. Working at @buck_design. www.felipemedina.tv


UX / UI Design Inspiration

UX / UI Design Inspiration – @uxbrainy

www.brainy.team


stefan sagmeister

stefan sagmeister – @stefansagmeisterVerified

I am an Austrian designer living and working in New York.sagmeister.com

stefan sagmeister

Stefan - Creative Lettering

Stefan – Creative Lettering – @stefankunz

Creating art to inspire & encourage you!

stefankunz.com/links

Stefan - Creative Lettering

beeple

beeple – @beeple_crapVerified

art shit for yer facehole. —

12 years of everydays / free Creative Commons visualsbeeple-crap.com

beeple

Yazı Yolcusu

Yazı Yolcusu – @yaziyolcusu

www.yaziyolcusu.com


Marco De Masi

Marco De Masi – @marco.demasi

𝑰𝒍𝒍𝒖𝒔𝒕𝒓𝒂𝒕𝒐𝒓 – society6.com/marcodemasiillustration


Salman Khoshroo

Salman Khoshroo – @salmankhoshroo

salmankhoshroo.com/prints

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is redmerhoekstra_71806897_138245717544613_1376386975377127413_n-819x1024.jpg

Pinot

Pinot – @pinot

It’s all about my pencil, pen, paper & pixel. Mostly in motion.


Nacho Yagüe

Nacho Yagüe – @nachoyague

Art Director and Visual Artist

www.nachoyague.com

Nacho Yagüe

Joe Cavazos

Joe Cavazos – @joecavazos

Independent Artist & Designer based in Mission, TX.

Co-Owner of @nusupply   @sundaysocial.tvlinktr.ee/joecavazos

Joe Cavazos

Insane51

Insane51 – @insane51

#insane51 #doubleexposure3d


Craig Alan Studio

Craig Alan Studio – @craigalanstudio

Fine Art Studio Founded & Directed by @IAmCraigAlan | Distributed by @DeljouArtGroup (Trade) & @ScopeFineArt (Retail)CraigAlanStudio.com

Craig Alan Studio

Golsa Golchini Art

Golsa Golchini Art – @golsa.golchini

www.returnonart.com/artists/45-golsa-golchini

Golsa Golchini Art

Jan Kaláb

Jan Kaláb – @jankalab

jankalab.com

Jan Kaláb

Clément Chayé

Clément Chayé – @clementchaye

Art Director – Hand Lettering – Calligraphy


Guillermo Vigil

Guillermo Vigil – @memovigil

www.behance.net/memovigil

Guillermo Vigil

M. Bucana

M. Bucana© – @bucanadesign

Illustration/ Graphic design

M. Bucana

Ronald Ong

Ronald Ong – @ronnaldong

I create images to tell stories.

Ronald Ong

Luis Lili

Luis Lili – @luislili

Animation. Stop Motion & 2D.

Luis Lili

Dane Khy

Dane Khy – @withoneline

Digital and Traditional line drawings


Liz Y Ahmet Artist

Liz Y Ahmet Artist – @lizyahmet

Creativity is the way I share my soul with the world

linktr.ee/lizyahmet

Liz Y Ahmet Artist

Digital Artist

Digital Artist – @bambashkart

www.teepublic.com/user/bambashkart

Digital Artist

Ben Chelouche

Ben Chelouche – @benchelouche

designer & food lover

Ben Chelouche

Christoph Niemann

Christoph Niemann – @abstractsunday

Visual storyteller

Christoph Niemann

Creative Instagram Accounts  - Julien Missaire / corsac

Julien Missaire / corsac – @c0rsac

3D Designer / Visual Artist

julienmissaire.com

Creative Instagram Accounts  - Julien Missaire / corsac

Creative Instagram Accounts  - Gabriel Soares

Gabriel Soares – @gabriel.soareszz

Concept Artist/3D Modeler

www.artstation.com/gabrielsoaresz

Gabriel Soares

Creative Instagram Accounts  - EFIX

EFIX – @efixworld

.𝗠𝘂𝘀𝗶𝗰𝗶𝗮𝗻 . 𝗦𝘁𝗿𝗲𝗲𝘁 𝗮𝗿𝘁𝗶𝘀𝘁. 𝗚𝗿𝗮𝗽𝗵𝗶𝘀𝘁

www.efix.fr

EFIX

Creative Instagram Accounts  - Steve Casino

Steve Casino – @stevecasino

“Outie” belly button. Peanut Artist. Maker Of Irregular Toys And Sculptures. Featured in Ripley’s Believe It Or Not.

stevecasino.com


Creative Instagram Accounts - Подарок - не отдарок

Подарок – не отдарок – @podarokneotdarok

podarokneotdarok.ru


Creative Instagram Accounts  - Julia Razumova

Julia Razumova – @bluesssatan

artist,27. I draw every day for more than three years.

gumroad.com/bluesssatan


Creative Instagram Accounts  - Elia Colombo

Elia Colombo – @gebeliaVerified

Comforting the disturbed and disturbing the comfortable.

cutt.ly/cucucovers

Creative Instagram Accounts  - Elia Colombo

Creative Instagram Accounts  - DeeKay

DeeKay – @deekaymotion

.𝗠𝘂𝘀𝗶𝗰𝗶𝗮𝗻 . 𝗦𝘁𝗿𝗲𝗲𝘁 𝗮𝗿𝘁𝗶𝘀𝘁. 𝗚𝗿𝗮𝗽𝗵𝗶𝘀𝘁

www.efix.fr


Creative Instagram Accounts  - Maksim

Maksim – @azram1107

patreon.com/azram1107

Creative Instagram Accounts  - Maksim
how-i-started-a-$80k/month-business-connecting-freelancers-with-companies

Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?

Hi, I am Suvansh Bansal and I am a co-founder of Flexiple. We started Flexiple in Nov’15 to build a freelancing platform that enables “quality interactions” between companies and freelancers. The goal has since then been to ensure a successful engagement such that both the client and the freelancer are happy and satisfied at the end of the engagement.

Over the years, the freelancing market had evolved such that platforms focus more on reviews and ratings as the metric to measure quality. These metrics work well when the service provided by a worker is commoditized, replicable but not when the service depends hugely upon the type of skill and expertise of the freelancer. This realization led us to start Flexiple as we only decided to have the “best” freelance developers and designers as a part of our community.

We figured that while such platforms did exist outside India, a lot of them were pretenders as building such a platform requires a very patient state of mind during execution, something that ventures capital-funded businesses finds difficult to cultivate. Thus, post our graduation we made the call to not look out for external investment till the time it is absolutely needed. The inherent positive unit economics of the business obviously helped us make this decision.

how-i-started-a-80k-month-connecting-freelance-developers-and-designers-with-companiesFlexiple’s marketing website

Flexiple’s offering is great for tech entrepreneurs, product leaders, engineering heads at scaling startups who cannot spend some weeks waiting for the right freelancer to apply on their job post as with us all they have to do is answer 5 questions. And we will have them speaking with the right freelance talent within 7 days.

Since operationalizing ~3 years ago, we have helped 85 startups identify, hire, and work with the right freelancer for over 200 engagements. All this has been made possible with the help of our 225-member strong community of self-employed developers and designers.

What’s your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?

Flexiple is my first foray into entrepreneurship. Though, being a third-generation entrepreneur, I reckon I always had the zeal to build something of own. However, at the beginning of my career, I took the traditional route and worked at 2 MNCs for ~3 years.

My zeal to learn faster, however, led me to join IIM Ahmedabad – India’s top-ranked B school in June’15 and that is where I met my partners and Flexiple’s co-founders – Karthik and Hrishikesh. During my time at IIM A too, surprisingly, I was dissatisfied with the learning opportunities available as textbooks and in-class discussions were the only media available.

Whereas what I wanted was to get my hands dirty and implement the theory we were learning in class. After a couple of false starts, I decided to join the two of them. They had already been working on defining Flexiple’s vision for almost a year by Aug’16 while juggling course-work during our first year of MBA.

how-i-started-a-80k-month-connecting-freelance-developers-and-designers-with-companiesMe (leftmost) with my partners – Karthik (middle), Hrishikesh (rightmost)

Rather than join them full-time, I started out as just a helping hand. At that time, Flexiple’s focus was on 3 categories – software development, digital product design, and content writing. And we picked a category each and started working on our plan to have a 30-member strong talent pool in each by the time we graduate. Though the chemistry the three of us had in the first 3 months was great and we ultimately decided that I should join as a co-founder rather than continue working as a helping hand.

A sustainable business can only be built with a combination of luck, timing, and hard work.

In parallel, we also began working on building a 2-sided platform where companies could post projects, review recommended freelancers, and manage them and freelancers can apply to those projects post-completion of the onboarding process, interact, and get paid. Building this platform proved to be the costliest mistake we have made to date.

Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.

The 8-month period from August’16 to March’17 was very important as we were laying the ground for launching the platform. The three of us researched, spoke with multiple stakeholders, to build a testing mechanism for all three categories. This process fed the product development cycle which was led by Hrishikesh, a freelance designer, and 2 freelance engineers.

how-i-started-a-80k-month-connecting-freelance-developers-and-designers-with-companies

Flexiple’s first version had an automated testing platform

Eventually, it turned out that building the platform and the assessment engine was the easy part. The more difficult part was to get freelancers to use it to go through assessments. One of the biggest blockers we faced was a lack of projects at hand as not many freelancers wanted to trust another platform for we might turn out to “pretenders” like others.

As it transpired, neither the freelancers not companies wanted to use the platform we had built-in 8 months and spent $8,000 on. However, it became clear to us that the quality problem rampant in the freelancing industry is not a tech problem but rather an execution and process problem, and that is where our approach of hitting the market with a fully developed solution failed. We changed course accordingly in June’17 and stopped using the platform for good.

how-i-started-a-80k-month-connecting-freelance-developers-and-designers-with-companiesA screen we spent 3 weeks developing and the users <10 hours using

Describe the process of launching the business.

With a failed product launch behind us and having learned a few harsh lessons along the way, we shifted our focus to having a few successful engagements executed with the model we had in mind. We found the first set of clients from our own personal networks and by reaching out to clients trying out other “pretender” platforms. From this set, we realized that most of the market looking for quality is also looking for reliability and thus, only full-time or self-employed freelancers would be right for them.

I am a firm believer that remote is the future of work and no-code is the future of startups.

Not only did our decision to onboard only independent professionals help us differentiate ourselves in a crowded market, but we were also able to narrow down the kind of clients we were on the lookout for. We also found that most of the self-employed professionals viewed platforms such as LinkedIn or AngelList as a consistent source of projects but lose out on the good ones in the sea of proposals they receive. Thus, we focused mainly on these 2 platforms as a supply source.

And the biggest problem we have solved for the freelancers since then is of reducing the amount of time they spend talking to prospective clients. We also tweaked our onboarding process such that we require a minimum amount of investment from freelancers till the time we get a project relevant to them and only then do we finalize the onboarding. This model of onboarding freelancers has been working well for us and helped us attain high satisfaction ratings from our community members to the extent that referrals and inbounds have become two of our biggest sources.

Keeping both the clients and freelancers had been a key metric for us since the first project we worked on as our revenue model is aligned to the engagement success and it helps us increase the lifetime value of both sets. Since June’17, we have executed ~200 such engagements have achieved a satisfaction rating of 8 for more than 93% of them. This has helped us maintain long-term relationships with our clients and build partnerships with our community.

Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?

Once we had exhausted our personal network, we focused on cold email outreach as ours is a niche B2B business with a big-ticket size ($2,500 ). We structured the process such that we focused primarily on leads who matched our ideal customer profile, personalized our messaging in the first email and subsequent emails to appeal to them, and regularly got new leads using platforms such as LinkedIn.

However, due to the inherent limitations attached to cold outreach processes, we started focusing on inbounds too in July 2018. We started our inbound lead generation process by using content marketing and over a period of 3 months figured that the biggest common motivator for both clients and freelancers was their inclination towards working remotely. And our conversations with this audience-led us to believe that selecting the right tool for their use-case from the plethora available in the market was their biggest challenge.

Given we had been managing a remote team for over 12 months by Sep’18, we had a list of tools split across 20 categories that the team had been using. We built a basic WordPress website and shared a curated repository of 100 remote tools across 24 categories and launched on Product Hunt and were voted as the #2 Product of the Day. The success of Remote Tools is evident from the 4 clients we converted with its launch attaining an ROI of 1000%.

how-i-started-a-80k-month-connecting-freelance-developers-and-designers-with-companies

Apart from launching such products on Product Hunt, we have focused a lot on SEO and content marketing. In 2019, we worked on ensuring that Flexiple ranks high on relevant keywords and our brand is present on platforms where startups usually search for freelancers. For the past 12 months, the revenue-split has been 50:50 from our sales and marketing efforts.

Retaining customers to have mostly been around easing the process and as most of the startups we work with a lookout for a full-time freelancer for a period of 6 months, it becomes very important for us to ensure that the engagement starts on a good note. Thus, over the course of the engagement, a Customer Success Manager from the team is consistently in touch with both the client POC and the freelancer to ensure that their goals (aligned on before kick-off) are being met. This high touch-point customer support has been an important factor in making clients stick with us as it helps bridge the trust gap that usually exists at the start of the engagement.

Apart from that, we also use a host of third-party automation tools to ease the engagement process. We also have a few internal tools to improve customer experience. One such tool is the Resume App where we showcase the capabilities of each of our community members to prospective clients in a concise yet exhaustive manner. Goes without saying that all our tools are built with the help of our community of full-time freelancers.

how-i-started-a-80k-month-connecting-freelance-developers-and-designers-with-companiesSnapshot of a freelancer’s resume

How are you doing today and what does the future look like?

Today, we are a customer-funded profitable business and have been generating $60k in gross monthly revenues on an average over the last 6-months. The focus in 2019 had been on building a team, along with sales and marketing processes that would help us sustain the business and reattain the quarter on quarter growth rate (40%) we had consistently achieved in the first 2 years.

Starting with a 4-member team at the start of the year, we now have a well-knit 9 member team and are set to grow into a 13-member team in the next couple of months. This should give us enough fire-power to reach our goal of being able to predict our revenues for the subsequent quarter by the end of 2020. We intend to do this by deepening our expertise in cold outreach, paid marketing (Google Ads), and supplement those efforts with content marketing.

Having helped 80 startups identify, hire, and work with quality tech talent we have realized that startups usually continue with a full-time hiring outlook while hiring remote talent. What they miss is that the motivations of a remote contractor are completely different from that of a full-time hire. Apart from sharing this expertise we have developed around tech hiring, we also share our community’s tech expertise on our blogging platform.

Apart from the core offering of Flexiple, 2020 is also a big year for remote tools as we widen our focus and build it into a fully free content hub for remote makers and workers. These are the 2 areas that we are focusing on at the moment. Long term, our goal is to be a one-stop solution for teams looking to hire and work with all kinds of remote talent.

Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

I am a firm believer that remote is the future of work and no-code is the future of startups.

Quality talent is not short of options today and long-gone are the days when compromising on personal life by moving cities, traveling a couple of hours for work was the norm. Both startups and enterprises value a productive employee over an in-front of your employee. It is this evolution that has become the backbone of Flexiple and Remote Tools. And you also see multiple such products catering to the remote working audience being launched almost on a daily basis.

On the other hand, no-code tool makers have taken confidence from the success of low-code tools such as WordPress. The ecosystem has become so powerful that a startup as successful and impactful as Lambda School runs only on no-code tools. Even we use mostly use such no-code tools as much as possible and only write custom code when absolutely necessary.

What platform/tools do you use for your business?

We use a lot of tools to run our business. A few of them are no-code tools that have been highly valuable to build MVPs and automate manual processes –

What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?

I have found myself going back to Ben Horowitz’s “The hard thing about hard things” for inspiration again and again since I first read it in 2018. It is one of the very few books that have actionable advice coming from a man who has built sustainable businesses from the ground up.

On Twitter, I really like interesting tidbits shared by Paul Graham, as well as his blogs. While they are not highly actionable, they do make me think about the problems faced by me as an entrepreneur deeper.

I also like listening to the Indiehackers podcast and have found stories of other self-funded startups inspiring and helpful to explore different strategies. Apart from this, I am always on the lookout for highly actionable advice on sales and marketing which Saleshacker, Gong, consistently provide me with.

Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?

The two biggest pieces of advice I would give to any entrepreneur is to value their own time and to build a business for the long-term.

Time is the most valuable asset an entrepreneur has. I have seen many founders getting stuck with the most operational of tasks as they give you the satisfaction of getting things done. While it might seem rude or unprofessional to not reply to every email you receive, it is important to delegate effectively, especially as your company grows.

Thus, forward emails to your team, use your phone as minimally as you can, mute notifications on Slack, or Discord. And focus on moving your company forward and spend time on the strategy of the company, hiring and training new hires, upskilling your colleagues, and implementing new initiatives.

In the same vein, entrepreneurs sometimes focus more on short-term gains and not on potential long-term ones. A sustainable business can only be built with a combination of luck, timing, and hard work. It is the luck and timing aspect that you need to keep an eye out on. Thus, be open-minded in your conversations and always look at a conversation keeping in mind a 1-year horizon.

Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?

We are always hiring and are currently looking for a couple of quick learners to join the team to lead new initiatives at Flexiple. We are also looking for a talented content writer to help us grow our blog (around freelancing, remote work, tech hiring) and also to write copies to promote them on social media platforms.

While we are looking for full-time hires, we are fine with exploring the chance to work with freelance/ part-time writers who have past experience working in an environment with a minimum direction and are problem-solvers at heart.

Finally, we are looking for folks based in the US, UK, Germany who know or want to learn B2B sales to work with us on a commission basis.

If you are interested or know anyone who might be interested, am waiting to hear from you over email.

Where can we go to learn more?

Feel free to reach out to me on any of the above forums to discuss tech hiring, building a self-funded business, and B2B sales.

If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!

Want to start your own business?

Hey! 👋I’m Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.

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how-to-build-a-design-system-out-of-react-components

Jaye Hackett

One of the most exciting developments in design for me in the past few years was the launch of the GOV.UK design system. Of course, the real power of a design system comes from the community of designers who maintain it, but GOV.UK does so much right that it made me want to raise the bar on my own projects.

I wanted to make something that was:

  1. easily reused in any website or app by installing it as an npm package
  2. gives you a documented, public demo site on the web, friendly to non-developers
  3. lets you conveniently test the components

Here’s how I made it.

It’s theoretically quite easy to publish something to npm. You create an account on npmjs.com, run npm login and then run npm publish. Your current project directory will get packaged up and put on the web.

But there’s a few deceptive problems that crop up:

Modules containing JSX need to be transpiled first

I’d foolishly assumed that I could simply ship my untranspiled JSX code in my npm package, and leave it up to the app that consumed the package to do the transpilation and bundling.

This doesn’t work — a few syntax errors later, I’d integrated the rollup bundler. My config is as simple as I could make it:

// rollup.config.js 

export default {

input: "src/index.js",

output: {

file: "dist/bundle.js",

format: "cjs",

globals: { "styled-components": "styled" }

},

plugins: [

peerDepsExternal(),

autoExternal(),

resolve({

extensions: [

".js",

".jsx"

]

}),

images(),

babel({

exclude: "node_modules/**"

}),

],

}

The config is:

  • transpiling JSX into ordinary JavaScript with Babel
  • resolving image files (like .svgs) into base64 strings which can be embedded in the output
  • making sure that dependencies that the module needs, especially react, react-dom and styled-components don’t end up in the bundled code, to avoid bloat.

I experimented with using parcel (because I like zero-config solutions) and webpack first, but I found both frustrating. Rollup is designed with bundling libraries and packages in mind.

You can use an .npmignore file to keep the unneeded source files out of the published module.

Crucially, you also need to remember to change the "main" value in package.json to wherever the output bundle ends up. For instance:

"main": "dist/bundle.js"

When you import { Whatever } from "my-module" , this is the file you’re importing from, so it must match.

I don’t want to manually push to npm as well as to Github

Ideally, I would use CircleCI or some other continuous deployment server to run tests, build a bundle and push it to npm.

I experimented with using the semantic-release package to handle this for me, which looks for keywords in your commit messages to decide when and how to increment your version number and publish.

I eventually decided this was more trouble than it was worth and wrote a simple npm script to make sure that my tests and build run before publishing whenever I hit npm publish:

// package.json"scripts": {    

....

"prepare": "jest && rollup -c",

...

},

Publishing lots of components in one package

There are multiple patterns for exporting a large number of components. Scoped packages are one way. The pattern I decided on was destructured imports:

import { Button } from "my-design-system"

To make this work, I structured my files this way:

src/

|-- Button/

|-- Headline/

|-- Card/

|-- index.js

Every component has at least one named export (no defaults), and index.js looks like this:

// src/index.jsexport * from "./components/Button"

export * from "./components/Headline"

export * from "./components/Card"

...

There are a few approaches for doing this, but the most popular at the moment seems to be Storybook.

I found Storybook pretty easy to install for React, and it’s big range of add-ons are promising:

Some of the Storybook add-ons

In my npm scripts, I wrote an npm run dev that starts storybook and starts rollup watching for changes, so that the package is in an importable state if I decide to develop with it locally in a different app using npm link.

// package.json"scripts": {                           

"build": "rollup -c",

"dev": "rollup -cw & start-storybook",

"storybook": "start-storybook",

"build-storybook": "build-storybook",

},

I co-located my stories like this:

Button/

|--index.jsx

|--stories.jsx

The nature of a design system means that most components can get away with being stateless: they have predictable outputs based wholly on their props.

Any stateful logic will propably be in the apps that consume the design system.

Luckily, this means we can use Jest’s snapshot testing for the bulk of our testing needs.

Storybook has a wonderfully useful add-on called Storyshots which takes the already-written stories and uses them as the test cases for snapshots. No need to duplicate!

The config is very simple:

// .storybook/storyshots.test.jsimport initStoryshots from "@storybook/addon-storyshots"  

initStoryshots()

With that set up, I can run jest based on my Storybook stories.

eslint, and especially jsx-a11y are also useful to catch possible accessibility bugs. npm test is set up to do all this:

// package.json"scripts": {

...

"pretest": "eslint src/ --ext .jsx",

"test": "jest"

....

},

All of this was relatively painless compared to the challenge of developing the design system locally, using npm link.

npm link lets you hook up a local project on your computer as if it were a “real” package from the web.

Whenever I tried to consume my local package in an example React app, I got horrendous errors warning me of invalid hook calls, multiple versions of React and eventually multiple instances of styled-components running on the page.

This was all despite me excluding these libraries from my bundled code using Rollup’s externals feature.

It turned out that a bug in a recent version (5.0.0) of styled-components was to blame. Temporarily downgrading or migrating to another CSS-in-JS package entirely fixed it.

This isn’t an ideal fix, but it underscores the occasional difficulty of getting a good local development workflow, even when the end user experience is fine.

Once this styled-components issue is solved, I’ll make a blank, reusable boilerplate kit available here.

magical-rainbow-gradients-with-css-houdini-and-react-hooks

When I launched this blog a couple years back, I wanted to add a bit of flair to the newsletter subscribe button. My idea: an animated rainbow gradient for the background.

I love gradients. After so many years of solid colors and flat design, I’m glad to see them making a comeback!

It turned out that animating CSS gradients was a lot more trouble than I expected, and the result was a little underwhelming:

This is an interactive demo! Try dragging the slider to reveal.

Rather than animating the gradient directly, I created a very tall gradient, and translated it up within the button, resetting it once it neared the bottom. My trusty friend overflow: hidden made sure that the excess wasn’t visible to the user.

This approach kinda works, but there are problems:

  • The looping isn’t entirely seamless. Subtle differences in performance across devices means that it can be noticeable when the position resets.

  • It just doesn’t look that great; I wanted something with an organic kind of flowing quality, and this just felt static and lifeless.

Over the past couple years, I’ve given this button a lot of thought. It’s been a long time coming, but after discovering a wild new technique, I was finally able to come up with something I like.

Without further ado, the new button:

Radial gradients to the rescue!

This new model uses a radial-gradient: color seeps out from the top-left corner, shifting slowly through the rainbow, cascading across the button’s surface.

More precisely, there’s a 3-color radial gradient anchored in the top-left corner. The colors would all be adjacent in the rainbow, and each “tick” of the animation would shift the colors down:

Diagram showing how there are 3 color 'positions', from top-left to bottom-right. On each tick, colors move 1 spot to the right. So the top-left color shifts to the middle, which then shifts to the right.

The big difference here is that nothing is actually moving. There’s no translate happening on a 2D plane anymore. Instead, I’m sampling 3 colors from a 10-color rainbow palette, and each point in the gradient is slowly shifting to inherit the color in the previous point. The C3 point is always 1 color behind in the palette from the C2 point.

This creates the illusion of motion, similar to those casino or venue lights:

This is also similar to how sound waves move through the air! I created an explorable explanation that demonstrates this conceptdemonstrates this concept.

So the game plan was coming together:

  • I’d create a palette of 10 rainbow colors.

  • I’d set a gradient to hold a moving window of 3 colors.

  • I’d run an interval that would update the gradient every second, shifting each color by 1 spot.

  • I’d tween between the colors in each spot. On every frame, the colors should inch towards their next value.

That last step was the trickiest. Unfortunately, you can’t use transition to interpolate between background gradients. The following snippet doesn’t work:

I could do it all in JS. I could set up a requestAnimationFrame loop that splits each color transition into ~60 incremental steps. I didn’t like this idea, it felt overengineered. Plus, because it would all be happening on the main thread in Javascript, the animation could become choppy during busy periods.

I wanted to do the interpolating in CSS. And happily, I found a way 😊

Custom properties (AKA CSS variables)

For a while now, CSS has had variables. At first blush, they look a lot like the variables you’d see in SASS or LESS, but unlike preprocessors, variables are still in the code at runtime. This makes them much more powerful, as we’ll soon see!

Here’s how you can use CSS custom properties in a gradient:

We can use inline styles to set this on React elements, like so:

On their own, this doesn’t actually help us. We still can’t apply transition directly on background. But it gets us one step closer 🕵🏻‍♂️

CSS Houdini is a wide-ranging set of upcoming CSS enhancements predicated on one idea: developers should be able to create their own CSS features.

For example, CSS doesn’t have any built-in way to do masonry layouts. Wouldn’t it be cool if you could build it, plugging in directly to CSS mechanisms, and then access it with display: masonry?

For another example: projects like Babel allow us to “polyfill” (most) missing features in JS, because we can mimic those new features using an earlier version of the language. But we can’t polyfill (most) CSS features. Houdini will allow us to polyfill in missing CSS, by giving us access to the internal wiring of the CSS engine.

CSS Houdini is a huge project, already years into research and development, and I expect it’ll shape the future of web development in exciting and unpredictable ways. For today, though, I’d like to focus on one relatively small but incredibly cool part of this: animated custom properties.

Animated custom properties

In CSS, a “property” is something you can assign a value. display and transform and color are all examples of properties. Why, then, are variables in CSS called custom properties? Aren’t they a totally different concept?

Actually, they’re more similar than I realized. It’s better to think of CSS variables as your own properties, like display and transform.

Here’s the wild, mind-blowing part: you can transition custom properties:

We’re not telling the browser to animate the background property, we’re telling the browser to animate our custom property. And then we’re using that custom property in our background gradient. Amazingly, the var() keyword is reactive, causing the background to re-paint whenever the value changes, even when that value is being tweened by transition.

My mind is still buzzing with the possibilities. CSS custom properties are so much cooler than I realized, and Houdini gives us downright magical powers ✨🧙✨

One more piece: registering the property

There’s one more thing we need to do before this will actually work. We need to tell the browser what the type of our custom property is.

Should the browser treat it as a color? A length? An angle? We need to be explicit about it, so that the browser knows how to interpolate changes.

We do this in JS with the following method:

In a bit, we’ll see how React hooks let us package this up rather nicely. First, though, I wanted to share the raw JS code, for folks using a different framework, or no framework at all:

One of the neat things about React hooks is that they give the developer more control around how different ideas are expressed. Custom hooks let us shove a bunch of stuff in a box, and it’s up to us to draw the boxes. We can choose whether we want to optimize for reusability, or clarity, or anything else.

In this case, I’d like to keep things friendly. I’m OK sacrificing a bit of power or flexibility in exchange for a no-fuss no-frills useRainbow hook.

Initially, I was thinking I would hold the current colors in state, but it occurred to me that the colors are derived data; the real bit of state is the current interval count.

If I’m on the 5th cycle, for example, I know that my colors will be the 5th, 6th, and 7th colors in my 10-color palette. Because the palette is static, I can just track that number, and use it to derive the colors.

The next thing I wanted to figure out was the hook’s interface. I started by writing the component that will consume this hook. I like just making up whatever API seems ideal for the component that uses it. Consumer-driven development.

With that in mind, here’s the initial version of this hook:

* useIncrementingNumber is a custom hook that spits out a new, ever-increasing number, based on a provided interval delay. It’s based off of Dan Abramov’s setInterval hooksetInterval hook. You can view its source herehere.

I like this approach, because there’s a clear separation of duties:

  • useRainbow is in charge of generating and managing the colors, but has no vote in what they’re used for.

  • The component, MagicRainbowButton, doesn’t know anything about where these colors came from or when they update, but decides what to do with them.

There’s one thing that makes my spidey-sense tingle a bit; it’s pretty surprising that useRainbow secretly registers global CSS custom properties. In fact, registering a global value from within an instanced component is going to be problematic! We’ll tackle this, and some other lingering issues, in the next section.

Making this production-ready

Before you start shipping rainbow buttons all over your law firm’s website or your accounting software, there are a couple things we need to think about.

Global properties and duplicate components

The biggest problem with our current implementation is that it violates a core React principle: every instance of a component should be independent. We should be able to render as many copies of it as we want, without them interfering with each other.

If we try to render two copies of our MagicRainbowButton on the same page, we get this error:

InvalidModificationError: Failed to execute ‘registerProperty’ on ‘CSS’: The name provided has already been registered.

This is because the CSS custom properties registry is a global object; all of our component instances are sharing the same global namespace! And right now, they’re both trying to register the same names.

I got around this by creating a unique ID for each React component, and storing it with a useRef hook:

This also makes me feel better about the “secret side-effects in hooks” thing. A bit of randomness rules out the risk of name collisions, letting us pretend that it isn’t actually global.

Houdini is super bleeding-edge, and this is reflected in its browser support: At the time of writing, CSS.registerProperty is only supported by Chrome 78 , and Opera 65 .

Table showing the lack of browser support, aside from Chrome and Opera

My solution? Bail out of the hook early, if window.CSS or CSS.registerProperty aren’t found, and return the first 3 colors. Other browsers won’t get the animation, but they’ll still get a nice gradient! And our React component doesn’t have to change at all 💯

Note: IE11 doesn’t support custom properties at all, so if you need to support it, you’ll need to set a fallback background gradient, using hardcoded color values instead of custom properties

Last year, I gave a talkgave a talk about animation/interaction performance. In that talk, I mention that there are two “gold standard” properties: opacity and transform. Those two properties perform way better than other properties, because they don’t have to paint on every frame, they can be manipulated directly by the graphics card as a texture, shimmying around without the CPU doing any work.

In that talk, I also advocated for breaking this rule, as long as you’re measuring. With a 6x throttle on my CPU, I fired up the profiler:

A very empty profile, with it easily hitting 60fps

It is true that this technique involves a repaint on every frame, and that repaints can be slow… but in this case, the amount of repainting is tiny. The repaint takes ~0.3 milliseconds, which is about 2% of our budget if we want to hit 60fps.

Animating properties like height is often very slow, because it involves both a layout and paint step, and because the number of pixels involved can be very large. In this case, there’s no layout step, and the paint step is quick and targeted 💫

Whimsical touches are great, but not when they come at the expense of usability.

Certain types of animations can be problematic for folks with vestibular disorders—they can trigger vertigo, nausea, headaches, and other nasty symptoms.

Browsers have been hard at work implementing support for a “prefers-reduced-motion”“prefers-reduced-motion” media query. This query relies on a Windows/MacOS setting, and lets users express that they would like to disable animations.

The browser support for this media query has gotten dramatically better, and supports Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and (soon) Edge. We’ll set it up so that we’re only enabling animations for folks who have selected “no preference” on motion, the default value:

This method might be a little counter-intuitive—wouldn’t we want to disable the animation for folks who express a preference?—but it works out to be the same thing in most cases. The exception is for folks using older browsers like Internet Explorer; in their case, the media query doesn’t exist. Doing it this way means that people in those browsers won’t see the animation. Better to take the safer assumption.

In addition to motion, we also need to think about color contrast. Will folks with vision impairments be able to read the text in the button? I added a bit of text shadow, and darkened the warm end of the spectrum. Truthfully, it may still be too low-contrast for certain periods in the animation, but I’m confident it’s legible most of the time, and the animation shifts quickly.

One more subscribe button

It’s a brand new year, and one of my goals for 2020 is to produce many high-quality interactive blog posts like this one. My newsletter is the best way to find out when something new is posted.

I know I’ve thrown a lot of “subscribe” buttons at you this post, but this last one is for real. Won’t you join my newsletter?

If you’re keen to build your own rainbow button, the source code for this one might come in handy. This blog is open-source, so you can find it on Githubon Github.

If you do wind up using this effect somewhere, I’d love to see it! Hit me up on Twitteron Twitter or by emailby email and let me know!

google-removes-duo-access-for-g-suite-users

Despite getting lots of extra features, G Suite users often feel like they’ve drawn the short end of the stick when it comes to any of Google’s general consumer-facing options and services. Over the past year alone, we’ve seen G Suite users get shafted with code redeeming and app reviews on the Play Store, Stadia access, and several Assistant features like reminders, messages, and the new UI. Here’s one more to add to the list of inaccessible features: Google Duo.

Until yesterday, everything was fine for Duo users with a G Suite account. They had their email address linked to the video calling service and could easily sign in and authenticate on multiple devices. Then they received a notification telling them they were logged out and needed to log in again in Duo. Whenever they attempt that, they get this error message stating that Duo can’t be used with their account and advising them to choose a different account or contact their system admin.

G Suite user hell: Chapter 135.

This happened to our tipster, but we also found another complaint on Google’s support forum and we verified it on our end: the same error popped up. We’ve also checked for a Duo option in the admin console and found none on either free (legacy) G Suite accounts or new paid ones. So there’s no way around this limitation.

It’s disheartening to see Google establish more and more virtual walls around G Suite without prior warning or clear communication. Things that work one day can be completely disabled the next, and no one knows why it happens or when/if it’ll be fixed. This is alarming for paid users who see access to features taken away from them. It’s also another kick for legacy free users who are stuck with G Suite after signing up for an account because Google once said it was excellent for personal and family matters, but have since seen it backtrack and not offer a single way to migrate to a regular Gmail account. If you’re in that mess, it’s high time you resign yourself to getting a new personal Gmail address and having to manage two accounts.

Working again

Several users have told us that Duo is working again with their G Suite account today. We verified this on our end as well. Hopefully, this was a temporary one-day bug and things are back to normal for good.

  • Thanks:
  • Alan Cramer,
  • Samarth Verma
pinterest-taps-market-research-firm-iri-to-measure-offline-sales-lift

A little over two years ago, Pinterest announced a partnership with IRI, the global market research company, to measure the impact of ad campaigns on in-store sales lift. While it’s apparently taken until now to fully implement, now that the capabilities are in place, advertisers will soon be able to determine which campaigns and creatives drove actual offline sales.

Offline measurement needed for 360-degree view of a campaign. The partnership between Pinterest and IRI isn’t new. Indeed, it’s becoming more common for sophisticated marketers to enlist some form of offline tracking, but it’s a tactic that’s still underutilized.

Digital advertising is responsible for influencing trillions of dollars in offline transactions. But that impact isn’t captured by traditional digital analytics, which means businesses that sell products or services offline have only a fragmentary view of their customers and shopping behaviors. It’s one of the reasons Google implemented offline conversion tracking several years ago.

Offline analytics can take different forms (store visitation tracking, call tracking, POS integration). But with online-to-offline tracking, not only does the ad platform get more credit for the value it delivers, but advertisers gain a more complete understanding of campaign performance. This applies to both search and display.

500 million frequent shopper loyalty cards. IRI’s store-purchased data comes from roughly “500 million frequent shopper loyalty cards.” The company uses a control/exposed methodology to determine incremental in-store sales lift, matching ad exposures (on Pinterest in this case) to loyalty cards that record in-store sales. IRI says it reaches 93% of U.S. Households.

IRI also has a survey panel and utilizes other types of data to report on sales impact. The analytics can be made available in near real-time, although the Pinterest deal promises reporting “within weeks of campaign conclusion.” So, in this case, no in-flight optimization; however, IRI anticipates the relationship between the two companies will evolve and expand.

CPG, food, health and beauty. The ability to measure in-store sales lift isn’t available to all categories of Pinterest advertisers. IRI is focused on CPG – specifically, the food, health and beauty categories for which it has loyalty account-based sales data. Pinterest is only one of many partners for whom IRI performs a store-sales tracking function.

Pinterest announced a similar relationship with Oracle Data Cloud (Datalogix) in 2016, to measure in-store sales impact. In one study by the two companies, “Promoted Pins [drove] 5x more incremental in-store sales per impression” vs. other online advertising. However, the IRI deal appears to supersede the prior Oracle relationship.

Why we care. I spoke at some length with IRI about the impact of privacy regulations on the company’s data and methodology. However, loyalty and rewards programs have been exempted from CCPA as legislators struggle with how to treat them under the law. And store-sales data isn’t as vulnerable to disruption as some of the mobile-location store-visitation tracking (see iOS 13 location alerts).



About The Author

Greg Sterling is a Contributing Editor to Search Engine Land, a member of the programming team for SMX events and the VP, Market Insights at Uberall.



social-shorts:-instagram-tests-web-dms,-tiktok-explores-curated-content-streams,-pinterest-passes-snapchat-in-users

This collection of social media marketing and new hire announcements is a compilation of the past week’s briefs from our daily Marketing Land newsletter. Click here to subscribe and get more news like this delivered to your inbox every morning.

Instagram DMs, Pinterest beats Snapchat and TikTok looks to change its content stream

Instagram tests DMs on the web. Instagram is finally testing the ability to direct message users on its desktop version. As of yesterday, Instagram began testing the feature on a small percentage of the platform’s global users, who are now able to access their DMs from Instagram’s website. The new feature could be a major win for businesses and influencers who already use Instagram’s desktop version during the workday, and will help round out the app’s experience across devices. While the feature is only a test for now, the company said it will provide more details on a potential wider rollout in the future.

Pinterest eclipses Snapchat in users. In 2019, Pinterest surpassed Snapchat as the third-biggest social media platform in the U.S. and will continue to stay ahead in the coming years, according to the latest estimates from eMarketer. In 2018, Snapchat barely edged Pinterest out with 75.8 million users (compared with Pinterest’s 75.5 million), despite the fact that Snapchat lost users after its major redesign. Snapchat rebounded last year with 80.2 million users, but was still surpassed by Pinterest, which claimed 82.4 million users at the end of 2019.

TikTok might be testing a curated content stream. As it works to address advertiser concerns around ad placement alongside controversial content, TikTok is exploring the idea of a curated content stream, similar to Snapchat’s Discover dashboard. The Financial Times reported that TikTok is looking at adding in a highlights ​stream, which would display curated, original videos from popular TikTok creators alongside content from publishers. The added curation could give businesses on TikTok more control over the viewing experience, ensuring that ads don’t get buried in controversial content streams.

Reddit issues its own anti-deepfake policy, Instagram adds new options to Boomerang

Reddit’s deepfake policy. Last week, Reddit joined the growing chorus of platforms pushing back on deepfakes and other forms of manipulated media. Reddit updated its community guidelines to ban the use of deceptive impersonation within its app, including the use of deepfake content. The update states, “Do not impersonate an individual or entity in a misleading or deceptive manner.” The policy goes on to explain that Reddit doesn’t allow content that aims to impersonate users or entities in a deceptive or misleading way. “While we permit satire and parody,” the policy states, “we will always take into account the context of any particular content.” 

More creative options in Boomerang. Instagram has added three new creative options to its Boomerang camera mode, including ‘SloMo’, ‘Echo’ and ‘Duo’ variants. The features can be accessed via Instagram Stories creation mode in the Boomerang tab, giving users more ways to create engaging experiences in Stories. Users can trim and tweak their Boomerang loops to better control the final clip.


On the move

Trustpilot gets a new marketing VP, Oracle recruits a former AWS exec

Trustpilot has named Lauren Lowman VP of global demand creation and Americas marketing. Lowman, who began her career with Trustpilot in product marketing before overseeing demand generation in North America, is the first to step into the newly-created role with the organization. “As we embark on an exciting new year and prepare to launch dozens of initiatives, it was crucial that we aligned our organization in a fashion that ensured the greatest success,” said Don Ross, President of the Americas for Trustpilot.

Oracle has hired the former VP of worldwide marketing for Amazon Web Services (AWS), Ariel Kelman, as its new CMO, reports CNBC. Kelman’s move to Oracle is a likely win for the company which has long been an AWS competitor. Kelman will be replacing Rupal Shah Hollenbeck who recently exited Oracle. According to Kelman’s LinkedIn profile, he was the co-founder and VP of marketing at Ventaso, a customer Message Management (CMM) solution, from 1998 through 2004. Prior to being with AWS, Kelman held roles at Salesforce and MicroStrategy. 

Ben Brewer has been named chief revenue officer for Nintex, a process management and automation solution. He will lead direct and partner sales for new and existing Nintex customers, as well as the company’s global sales organization which is comprised of teams within North America, Europe, the Middle East and Asia Pacific. “We can’t wait to see what Ben and his team will achieve across the global Nintex community in 2020,” said CEO Eric Johnson. Before joining Nintex, Brewer was with SAP Concur, overseeing its SMB division — a unit comprised of 1,100 employees and more than $200 million in annual bookings.

Lowe’s gets a new CMO, BuzzFeed hires Peter Wang as CTO, and Allocadia brings in a Chief Product Officer

Lowe’s has appointed Marisa Thalberg as executive vice president, chief brand and marketing officer, taking effect Feb. 10. Prior to joining Lowes, Thalberg served as global chief brand officer for Taco Bell, where she led the transformation of the company to become a culture-centric lifestyle brand, leading to sales growth and category share gains. Thalberg has also served as head of corporate digital and integrated marketing worldwide for Estée Lauder Companies, and before that held various senior leadership roles at Unilever Cosmetics International, Sure Fit Inc. and Revlon. 

Buzzfeed has hired Peter Wang as chief technology officer (CTO), the company announced last week. Formerly the CTO of healthcare community The Mighty, Wang joins BuzzFeed with a wealth of experience in the media industry, having held executive roles at Refinery29 and Narrativ (a startup for publishers). Wang is replacing BuzzFeed’s previous CTO, Todd Levy, who left to join a health startup last summer. Wang will oversee engineering, product, data, design and project management for the media company.

Marketing performance management (MPM) platform Allocadia has named Rahul Nirula as its new chief product officer. Nirula will work with the company’s CTO to drive innovation and expand growth for the MPM market. “As the former CPO, I’m excited to be handing over the reins to Nirula, whose expansive product expertise and focus on customer success is a strong addition to Allocadia as we continue to grow the executive team,” said Allocadia Co-founder Katherine Berry. Prior to joining Allocadia, Nirula was with the Volaris Group and has been part of the product teams for OpenText, Research in Motion and Polar.



About The Author

Taylor Peterson is Third Door Media’s Deputy Editor, managing industry-leading coverage that informs and inspires marketers. Based in New York, Taylor brings marketing expertise grounded in creative production and agency advertising for global brands. Taylor’s editorial focus blends digital marketing and creative strategy with topics like campaign management, emerging formats, and display advertising.



using-responsive-modifiers-to-control-layout-changes

Planning the responsive behavior of a component can be tricky, particularly when the component layout is highly affected by its content.

For example, let’s consider a table component. You may decide to use two different layouts: one optimized for smaller screens (state-a layout), the other for bigger screens (state-b layout).

You would then need to decide the breakpoint for the change of layout and set it in CSS using a media query.

However, the same table component could have two columns or twenty.

If your table has a low number of columns, you may decide to change the layout at a small breakpoint:

table-with-few-columns

For a table with more columns or richer content, instead, you may want to change it later to make sure it does not look too crowded on small screens:

table with more content

Ideally, you should find a breakpoint that works for both of them (and all the other tables you have on your website). You could use a .table class to define the style of the state-a layout, and use a media query to overwrite this style for the state-b layout:

This solution may not be ideal because the breakpoint you choose is a compromise: you could end up with some tables that look too crowded and others too sparse. Even if you find a solution that seems to work with today’s tables, it could easily break with tomorrow’s.

Class Modifiers #

A possible alternative would be to define responsive class modifiers (classes that share the same style but target different breakpoints) to have the option of triggering the layout change at different breakpoints.

If we consider an example with two breakpoints (small and medium), you would have:

.table {
	/* state-a layout style */
}

/* small breakpoint */
@media (min-width: 600px) {
  .table--state-b@sm {
    /* state-b layout style */
  }
}

/* medium breakpoint */
@media (min-width: 1000px) {
  .table--state-b@md {
    /* state-b layout style */
  }
}

then you can apply those modifiers to different

s based on their content:


[email protected]">
[email protected]">

The code defined in the [email protected] class is the same as the one in the [email protected]. Remember, those two classes are used to create the same layout; it’s only applied at different breakpoints.

This approach has two main disadvantages. The first one is the maintainability of your code: if you need to make changes to the state-b layout, you would need to update two different classes ([email protected] and [email protected]). This is something you can solve using a CSS pre-processor (e.g., using SASS mixins).

The second issue is having the CSS code for state-b repeated multiple times in the final CSS (twice if you have two modifiers, but it could be more if you need additional variations!).

Repeat this for all the components and the different media queries, and this could cause a significant increase in your CSS file size.

Solution #

While working on the Table category of the Components Library at CodyHouse, we ended up using a different approach; we defined a class for the state-b layout:

.table {
	/* state-a layout style */
}

.table--state-b {
  /* state-b layout style */
}

We then defined a --table-layout CSS custom property inside the .table class and modified its value using class modifiers:

.table {
  --table-layout: state-a;
}

@media (min-width: 600px) {
  .table--state-b@sm {
     --table-layout: state-b;
  }
}

@media (min-width: 1000px) {
  .table--state-b@md {
     --table-layout: state-b;
  }
}

Note that the class modifiers are now used to change the value of a CSS custom property; there’s no repetition of layout style.

Using JavaScript, we can check whether to add or remove the .table--state-b class based on the value of this CSS custom property. This will apply the proper layout style!

var layout = getComputedStyle(table).getPropertyValue('--table-layout');
table.classList.toggle('table--standard',  layout == 'standard');

This technique allows us to use a single class (.table--state-b) for the layout style, regardless of the media query. Adding a new variation only requires setting the value of a single CSS custom property. No code repetition involved!

In this example, we’ve been working with tables, but you can apply this technique to any component whose responsiveness is highly affected by its content.

Downsides? #

This approach requires JavaScript to work, but that should not be an issue: if JS is off, we serve the state-a version of the table, which is perfectly accessible.

What about CSS custom properties support? Using CSS variables is probably the cleanest and most self-explanatory way. But if you need to support older browsers (e.g., IE 11 and below) you can use a ::before pseudo-element and change its content using the class modifiers:

.table::before {
  display: none;
  content: 'state-a';
}

@media (min-width: 600px) {
  .table--state-b@sm::before {
      content: 'state-b';
  }
}

@media (min-width: 1000px) {
  .table--state-b@md::before {
      content: 'state-b';
  }
}

In JS, you can check the value of the ::before content rather than a custom property. Same result, different browser support! You can decide based on your needs.

That’s it. I hope you find this approach useful. If you use a different technique, I would love to hear it!

top-9-website-design-ideas-to-follow-in-2020

2020 has just begun and already, you can find a lot of trends popping up, including website designs! All these new styles and techniques are helping designers create even better websites that perform AND look amazing. But what are the ultimate trends you should be watching out for?

There are a ton of trends and tips people have been saying, though obviously, you can’t merge all of these on one website! So I did my research and checked out what website design trends are going to boom this 2020. Read on as I show you the top nine ideas you should consider implementing on your site now!

Nine Website Design Ideas to Try This 2020

As the years’ pass, the Internet just keeps evolving, and it will continue to do so in 2020. To stay relevant and have your viewers genuinely interested with your website, here are some design ideas to try out:

  • Bold Colors and Simplicity

We now see even more competition online, which is why brands want to be bolder, more unique! That’s why most websites will adopt bolder and brighter colors to catch attention.

Brilliant and deep colors aren’t just attention-grabbing, they are immersive and will keep visitors staying! Besides this, many web designs today are now merging both simplicity AND boldness to catch attention without it being “too much.” With amazing colors and simple design, you can still stand out and look good doing so.

  • Animations, Dynamic Illustrations, and GIFs

Videos became trending in 2017 and it continues to grow as the years pass. However, slow loading times have made it difficult for viewers, which have you lose them! So what’s the solution?

Motion graphics and animation! These don’t take that long to load and are just as enticing to the viewer’s eyes compared to plain text. You can incorporate animations, illustrations, and GIFs in your content or around your website design, like:

  1. Having mouseover effects
  2. Mobile animation
  3. Transitioning between webpages
  4. Parallax scrolling
  • Asymmetric Layouts

Many website designs are grid-based, most likely a way to play it safe. And sure, some people might see asymmetric designs an absolute sin, but it’s a whole new year! Meaning, asymmetrical structures are now looking even better because of its brutalism and individuality.

However, you still need to be careful when trying asymmetrical layouts! You need to make sure that it’s still easy to navigate around while still looking “out of order” in attractive, understandable ways.

  • Loud and Eye-Catching Typography

We ALWAYS use typography, so what makes it different from the former years? It’s no new web design trend, BUT the typeface design will start going out of the usual and traditional. This time, we’re using loud and bold typography that’s almost impossible to miss.

Words speak louder when it looks attractive and big. Having bigger, bolder, customized fonts can definitely keep your brand unique while getting the message out coolly.

  • Handmade Drawings

Website designs don’t have to ONLY be computerized. Websites represent more than what a visitor sees on the screen, but the brand itself! That’s why personalized and hand-drawn elements will trend this year.

Such illustrations and drawings add a character to both site and brand. It shows your human side compared to high-quality photos, a personality that will definitely have your viewers interested.

  • Voice-Capable Interface

Attention spans get shorter and shorter as everything becomes instant and quick-loading. That’s why web design needs to speed up and advance to cater to the easily distracted!

That’s where voice-capable interfaces come along, with smart virtual assistants such as Cortana, Google Now, and Siri guiding people to surf the net. Instead of having to take the time to type, they simply ask the question and get the answer!

  • Advanced Machine Learning

One of the trends predicted back in 2018 was augmented reality, machine learning, and artificial intelligence. This year, you’ll be glad to know that these three are coming to web design, making it easier to personalize landing pages and capture your viewers’ details!

Because of these advanced technologies, you’ll know how to design your pages efficiently so your viewers will be more inclined to stay and check out what your site has to offer.

  • Brutalism Incorporated In Web Design

This 2020, we will see more brutalism in designs and go beyond what’s “normal”, building individuality as a brand. This adds personality and sense of belongingness to your target audience. When you humanize your brand, it helps build a relationship with them, which encourages more visitors and better click through rates.

  • CSS Grids and Scalable Vector Graphics

Smart CSS grids now offer options to create website designs into different versions, fitting any screen size. This makes the website more responsive for anyone viewing it, and with better interest! And the more mobile devices are being used to surf the web, the more important smart CSS grids will be.

The same goes for scalable vector graphics, as visitors LOVE multimedia. With engaging visual content, it keeps your visitors engaged and staying to see what more you have to offer. Besides this, such graphics are now personalized, made to fit just about any screen to keep your visitors within the site.

Wrapping It Up

From free illustrations and graphic software to advanced technology like AI AR, 2020 has a lot in store for websites and designers. It’s time to start becoming more aware and learn these trends to stay on top of the competition! That way, you entice viewers and satisfy clients, ensuring that the design was a success and will stay that way for the long run.

I hope these nine website design ideas to try this 2020 gave you ideas on what to implement for your own site. So don’t wait any longer and try out any of these ideas to reach your goals now.

Do you have any queries or would like to share your own ideas on website design? Share them in the comment section below, all your thoughts are much appreciated!

why-ux-writing-is-an-integral-factor-for-business-growth-in-2020-(and-beyond)

In this fast-paced, ever-changing digital world, businesses need to level up their game when it comes to interacting with consumers online (e.g. on their websites and mobile apps).

With the rise of globalization and digital technology, the consumer’s interaction towards a digital product has become one of the most important determining factors in business growth. A great website design or a fast loading website is no longer enough to convince consumers to buy.

What prompts a consumer to trust a product that eventually leads to buying the product? The answer: “UX” (shortcut for user experience), which is an important ingredient in improving consumer satisfaction and loyalty towards a product.

User experience (UX), in fact, can be a game changer for start-ups, SMBs and enterprises. Improving user experience alone can have a strong impact on the buying behavior of consumers, that small business owners can very well compete with big, well-established brands.

In this article, we will cover everything you need to know about UX writing and its importance to any kind of business, big or small.

What is UX writing?

UX writing is all about choosing the right words to clarify everything that leads to consumer’s action and interaction with a product. In a crowded digital landscape, words like “click here” or “sign-up” is no longer enough. This is where proper UX writing comes in. A well-made UX copy serves as a “guiding voice” to lead the users to participate and interact with the product, to get them to experience the product in an enticing way, and to familiarize them with the brand’s personality.

Unlike the familiar saying “a picture paints a thousand words”, which means that a single photo may have different descriptions and interpretations, a well-crafted UX copy on the other hand, sends out ONE clear message to all users. The message should be clear enough to guide and help consumers interact with confidence, convenience and a better understanding of the digital product. The goal of a well-written UX copy is to establish clear communication between a user and the product.

How UX writing comes to play with content design

To better explain the role and value of UX writing in content and design, here are a few examples of websites that believe in the power of good UX writing:

Facebook

Facebook is one the most popular social media platforms out there and also one of the leading advertising platforms for both businesses and marketers.

Sample of Facebook UX copy and design

If you head over to Facebook homepage, you can see a lot of UX writing all over the page, particularly in the upper section.

Facebook strategically placed all its important menus on the top page, so users can easily navigate through them without scrolling down.

Noticeably, you can see how Facebook communicates with the user to suggest a specific action. Like for example, engaging users to post something is suggested in different ways that can be seen several times on the top part of the page, including the suggestion to post on the user’s business page.

Facebook also uses personal touch to communicate with the user, as you can see under “Create Post” section where it says, What’s on your mind, [user’s name]?

Slack

Slack is one of the fastest growing workplace tools for businesses because of it’s easy-to use design.

Slack UX copy

If you are already using Slack, you may agree that the tool is so easy to use and navigate. But what makes Slack standout from the rest of the work management tools out there is the brand’s personality.

Aside from helping users navigate the app with easy-to-use navigation menus and buttons, and a simple interface, Slack provides users some fun affirmations to brighten their day.

For example, when a user waits for Slack page to load, it provides the user affirmation messages to read while waiting. Additionally, to add more good user experience, Slack wishes its users a great day at work, and even thanks them for using Slack.

Nike

Nike remains to be on top of its game in the retail industry. Why? If you see their e-commerce store, you will notice that every page spell great UX writing and design.

Nike UX copy

Nike’s homepage is simple and clean, which makes the loading time faster and the browsing experience better. And just like Facebook, all the most important elements that Nike wants to offer to its users to make them do a certain action, are all laid out on the upper part of its page, including the link to its membership page called “NikePlus”.

NikePlus is easily spotted on the top left side of the page. It directs users to its membership section, where all the benefits are clearly explained. Nike understood that less is more, which in their case: the simple the pages are, the clearer the messages will be for their users.

The role of the UX writer     

Google defines a UX writer as an “advocate for Google design and help shape product experiences by crafting copy that helps users complete the task at hand. UX writers set the tone for content and drive cohesive product narratives across multiple platforms and touchpoints. As our resident wordsmiths, they work with a variety of UX design-related jobs including researchers, product managers, engineers, marketing, and customer operations to help establish connective language and a unified voice.”

Mailchimp, a popular email marketing platform, describes a UX writer in one of its job postings as someone who is “passionate about creating delightful user experiences with a solid understanding of design and editorial processes within mid-size to large organizations. Someone who loves working with a diverse array of people, embracing design challenges and obsessing about how we communicate with our customers. Must be highly collaborative, comfortable writing copy for the in-app experience, and understand how to manage requests across a variety of teams and initiatives.”

Based from the two descriptions above, a UX writer is not limited to writing a compelling copy only. One of the most crucial tasks of a UX writer is to get a better understanding of the entire product. The UX writer should also understand and work closely with the website designer and web developers to be able to create a good UX copy.

Another role of a UX writer is to have a strong empathy for the target audience by addressing some important questions like “who are your target audience?” or “what kind of tone is best suited for your audience?”.

All the insights gathered about the audience will be used to create a UX editorial strategy that should be consistent to all the brand’s products and interfaces.

The UX writer may also carry out regular analysis and health checks on an existing copy, which includes metric analysis of user sessions on the site, time spent on the page, and goal completion rate, among many others. The goal here is to provide the ultimate user experience by consistently changing and improving things for the user.

Why UX writing is important to business?

So imagine you are browsing your favorite website without any supporting texts. It will look like this:

Sample of no UX copy on the site

 Hmmm… isn’t that an inconvenience, right? Without supporting texts, you are lost and have no idea on what to do on the site. Properly guiding the user on what to know and what to do on the site are just one of the many reasons why businesses should incorporate UX writing on their interfaces.

Here are more reasons why a great UX copy is important in business:

Eliminates fear and uncertainty during the product experience

All products come with a learning curve that even long term or techy users need some guidance at some point. In this case, UX writing comes as a helping hand to make the product experience clear and spontaneous.

Let us take for example, AirBnB booking experience. The UX in the booking flow has eased any fears of uncertainty by showing users the price breakdown before committing to pay. By placing the text “you won’t be charged yet” below the booking button, makes it comfortable for the user to click the “book” button without the fear to proceed to the next step.

Airbnb UX copy

 Empathizes with users as they take the next step

With proper UX writing, it can help capture the user’s in-the-moment emotions, intentions, and experiences, which are all vital in improving the user experience of the product. Here is an example from TrustPilot, a review platform for consumers.

TrustPilot UX copy

TrustPilot offers an opportunity for consumers to review a product or service to better educate other consumers. The review process takes them step-by-step with a helpful UX copy. Under the review section, it prompts users to leave a review by saying: “Share your honest experience, and help others make better choices”. This is a good, thoughtful and emphatic UX copy example.

Humanizes the product

UX writing makes a product a brand by giving it its own personality. Remember Slack? Slack is popular because it stands out from its competitors by having its own brand and voice.

Other than what was explained previously, Slack is a very interactive tool for users with the help of the SlackBot. This is a chatbot or a live support agent that helps users navigate Slack’s interface easily.

Slackbot

Being casual and friendly, Slackbot adds personality to its product, making the whole UX experience highly interactive.

This is a brilliant idea for offering help and support as compared to a database of FAQ articles. It humanizes the product by offering an interactive way to support users with their questions and concerns. It is like asking a real person for assistance.

Drives engagement and increases sales

The right words can have a huge impact to drive more engagement and sales. A good example would be from Google 2017 conference where Maggie Stanphil, UX Director at Google, showed how changing two words has improved their user engagement.

Stanphil and her team found out that the prompt “book a room” when searching for hotel rooms in Google is “too committal” for user’s early stage of booking process. So, they changed that to “check availability”, where they saw a 17% increase in user engagement.

This example shows that the right combination of words can have a strong impact in the whole user experience that can increase engagement and sales in return.

Starting your UX writing process

Step 1: Empathize with the user and understand the context

Content and design always go hand-in-hand when analyzing user experience. It is important to start the process with these questions in mind:

What is the problem?

How did the user come to this problem?

What emotions are they experiencing?

How to resolve this problem?

It helps a lot to see things in the user perspective to be able to understand everything and provide the right solution to the problem.

Step 2: Define the problem and offer plausible solutions

UX writing is not a one man’s job. In order to really define the problem and define the scope properly, it requires help from other departments like the UX designers, programmers, project managers, and whoever is involved and is important in the whole user experience. There may be different perspectives from each of these departments but all these people should help the user get the job done in a faster, better way.

Step 3: Validate through research

Putting oneself in the user’s perspective is just one experience. This experience is not enough to make a validation. Thus, it is important to conduct a research and do several comparative analyses to gain more insights about the problem in order to make the proper solution.

Step 4: Gather ideas and words

Once there is a clear understanding of the user, problem, and solution it is now time to write the copy and list down all the requirements needed to make a copy. Try to list down all the great ideas as many as possible, then refine these ideas later. This is easier than overthinking what to use in terms of creating ONE clear, concise, and useful copy.

Step 5: Refine

Once all ideas are written, pick the best one and then refine. It is now time to think clear, concise, useful, and consistent. Also, it is important for the copy to be conversational using everyday language. Avoid jargons or flowery words that only make the copy hard to understand and long to read. The final UX copy should always be short, clear, and concise.

Step 6: Prototyping

Prototyping simple means replacing the loren ipsum with the UX copy on the site. It is a good idea to work closely with the UI designer when inserting the copy into the design to see ahead if the copy perfectly fits the design. If the copy is too long for the design, it is best to consult first the designer or project manager if it is possible to add more room for the copy instead of sacrificing the message.

Step 7: Usability testing

Usability testing is considered to be the core part of an effective user experience. Thus, this step is very crucial and the process may take longer depending on the number of tests required to achieve a high “level of product usability”, which, according to Nielsen Norman Group, is based on five aspects: learnability, satisfaction, efficiency, memorability, and errors. If these five factors are present, then the product is considered to be “highly usable”.

But why spend so much time and effort on a single aspect of UX when products and app solutions are more valuable to start with? Yes, of course, these features are valuable to users, BUT if a user cannot understand or figure out how to use them, then, the product becomes useless and unsalable, bringing in ZERO profit to the company.

The goal of usability testing is to learn how users understand and use the product. It involves tasks like gathering users’ insights, analyzing if the product has met the user’s expectations, checking if the user can perform the task as proposed, and gathering user’s experience and feedback, among many others. The whole process may take time to complete but conducting usability tests can save you further costs and development time in the end.

Step 8: Final touches and delivery

Once the copy is tested and everyone agrees that it is good to go, do a final recheck of the grammar, sentences, and any other text errors you can find before the final delivery.

Final thought

The demand for UX writers only tells us one thing: that companies all around the world are aware of the importance of a great UX copy. Many of these companies now realize that “every word counts”. That the right words should be teamed up with the right wireframing and prototyping process. The entire design system can only work well for a user if all the members of the team- managers, web designers, developers, copywriters, SEOs, etc. work side by side to bring better UX content and design.

The 8-step UX writing process is a simple process that you may follow, especially for startups and SMBs. But for business enterprises, it may involve additional and wider range of processes to create a successful UX copy.

Remember, your UX copy’s effectiveness depends on how you conduct your usability tests. There is no right or wrong turn when it comes to usability testing. ALL usability test results are important, even the failed ones, as these data help improve the product and help you better understand your users’ perspective.

You can conduct your own usability test using the right methods and audience here. Also, you can check out several case studies here to further your knowledge on usability testing methods and experiences.

digitalocean-is-laying-off-staff

After appointing a new CEO and CFO last summer, cloud infrastructure provider DigitalOcean is embarking on a wider reorganisation: the startup has announced a round of layoffs, with potentially between 30 and 50 people affected.

DigitalOcean has confirmed the news with the following statement:

“DigitalOcean recently announced a restructuring to better align its teams to its go-forward growth strategy. As part of this restructuring, some roles were, unfortunately, eliminated. DigitalOcean continues to be a high-growth business with $275M in [annual recurring revenues] and more than 500,000 customers globally. Under this new organizational structure, we are positioned to accelerate profitable growth by continuing to serve developers and entrepreneurs around the world.”

Before the confirmation was sent to us this morning, a number of footprints began to emerge last night, when the layoffs first hit, with people on Twitter talking about it, some announcing that they are looking for new opportunities and some offering help to those impacted. Inbound tips that we received estimate the cuts at between 30 and 50 people. With around 500 employees (an estimate on PitchBook), that would work out to up to 10% of staff affected.

It’s not clear what is going on here — we’ll update as and when we hear more — but when Yancey Spruill and Bill Sorenson were respectively appointed CEO and CFO in July 2019 (Spruill replacing someone who was only in the role for a year), the incoming CEO put out a short statement that, in hindsight, hinted at a refocus of the business in the near future:

“My aspiration is for us to continue to provide everything you love about DO now, but to also enhance our offerings in a way that is meaningful, strategic and most helpful for you over time.”

The company provides a range of cloud infrastructure services to developers, including scalable compute services (“Droplets” in DigitalOcean terminology), managed Kubernetes clusters, object storage, managed database services, Cloud Firewalls, Load Balancers and more, with 12 data centers globally. It says it works with more than 1 million developers across 195 countries. It has also been expanding the services that it offers to developers, including more enhancements in its managed database services, and a free hosting option for continuous code testing in partnership with GitLab.

All the same, as my colleague Frederic pointed out when DigitalOcean appointed its latest CEO, while developers have generally been happy with the company, it isn’t as hyped as it once was, and is a smallish player nowadays.

And in an area of business where economies of scale are essential for making good margins on a business, it competes against some of the biggest leviathans in tech: Google (and its Google Cloud Platform), Amazon (which as AWS) and Microsoft (with Azure). That could mean that DigitalOcean is either trimming down as it talks to investors for a new round; or to better conserve cash as it sizes up how best to compete against these bigger, deep-pocketed players; or perhaps to start thinking about another kind of exit.

In that context, it’s notable that the company not only appointed a new CFO last summer, but also a CEO with prior CFO experience. It’s been a while since DigitalOcean has raised capital. According to PitchBook data, DigitalOcean last raised money in 2017, an undisclosed amount from Mighty Capital, Glean Capital, Viaduct Ventures, Black River Ventures, Hanaco Venture Capital, Torch Capital and EG Capital Advisors. Before that, it took out $130 million in debt, in 2016. Altogether it has raised $198 million, and its last valuation was from a round in 2015, $683 million.

It’s been an active week for layoffs among tech startups. Mozilla laid off 70 employees this week; and the weed delivery platform Eaze is also gearing up for more cuts amid an emergency push for funding.

We’ll update this post as we learn more. Best wishes to those affected by the news.

7-amazing-wordpress-data-visualization-plugins

7 Amazing WordPress Data Visualization Plugins that Professionals use 1

It is a fact that people are visual, which means that media content is more effective than written content.

As a result, the experts and developers behind WordPress have developed various ways of creating visual representations when editing websites.

Data visualization in WP is the act of presenting different types of data visually. Website creators have used these techniques for many years, but they keep getting better over time.

Reasons to Use Data Visualization

#1 Easy interpretation

Another great reason for creating these visual techniques is to make it easy for readers to understand the data.

Graphs, charts, and art are easier to understand than text.

#2 Convenient interaction with data

When website experts visualize data in WordPress, the main aim is to make it easy for them to understand the data they are about to present.

Even dealing with past data and relating it to the current data is still easy. So, the experts also get to benefit from these techniques.

#3 Fancy visuals

Apart from graphs and other basic representations, the use of art, illustrations, images, and videos is more appealing to viewers.

Research has shown that people will be glued to WP websites with striking visual representations to a greater degree than those bearing only art.

#4 Customizable data

Most WordPress websites have an agenda, which might be to market a certain brand or convey specific information.

In this case, unique and customized data is necessary to make you authentic.

Data visualization allows a person to change the form of data with ease.

Currently, the plugins that are used make it possible to edit data at any time, which means that you can update it in the future.

#5 Helps in decision making

Decision-makers are best guided by factual data as it appears in various representations.

Researchers and website owners rely on the results from charts, graphs and other visual data in WP.

How Data Is Visualized in WordPress

When web designers and experts are tasked with creating content using data visualization, what comes to mind is the use of particular methods.

The good thing is that they have many options.

When any of them is used in the right way, the results are not only amazing but easy to interpret and fun to interact with.

Here are some common ideas for visualizing data.

#1 Charts and graphs

This is a basic idea for visualizing data.

Line charts, pie charts, and bar graphs are common examples used.

Graphs and Charts - Data Visualization

Various plugins, as we are going to see later, allow us to create these charts and graphs.

Experts find them very simple to use while users understand them very quickly.

Bar graphs compare different groups of data, but they also present data change over time.

Line graphs simply present the change of data over a large period. The good thing is that they can show these changes for two or more groups.

Lastly, the pie chart compares different groups of data with a whole.

#2 Timeline with event graphs

These are almost like graphs that we have discussed above, but they are more complex.

Timeline Chart - WordPress Data Visualization

They tend to compare events that have occurred over time. Therefore, they combine a line graph with area graphs.

They are detailed in that they will mark the events that brought about the changes indicated on the graph.

WordPress websites meant to present research data heavily rely on the timeline along with event graphs.

For the readers and end-users, interpreting the data will require a second look to get it right.

However, a good presentation that marks and explains the events makes it all clear and easy to comprehend.

#3 Data tables

They are also called comparison tables, and they include the use of different columns to show various types of data.

Pricing Table - Data Tables - data visualization

The rows show the considered factor of analysis, and users can easily follow this.

Data from comparison tables can be extracted to create line graphs for further clarification and easy interpretation.

#4 Maps

Most of us might have interacted with maps. Today, they are popularly added to WP websites to show directions.

Maps - Data Visualization

Initially, maps were added to present some data like the distribution of people, resources and much more.

Today, they are still used for such purposes.

Maps can also have figures displayed in each geographical location, or they can be shaded with different colors with a key to explain what each color means.

Maps are fun and easy to interact with for both the experts and users.

#5 Pictorial and video presentations

Simple pictures were initially used in WordPress, but as things get more sophisticated, the use of actual images is becoming very popular.

They are more appealing and colorful to the users and also add more value to the users.

Pictures and Videos for your WordPress website

The use of videos with data is also especially popular.

The good thing about the video is that you can present any data and explain it using all the above methods that we have discussed.

The ActiveWizards experts are good at presenting data in a way that is easy for you and the users at large.

Best WordPress Data Visualization Plugins

Now that you know the basic styles and ways of presenting data in WP, it is time to look at the common plugins and tools used by experts to create these presentations.

We will examine seven of the best and explain how they work.

#1. WordPress Graphs & Charts

WordPress Graphs & Charts - Best WordPress Data Visualization Plugin

View Demo More Info & Download

It is readily available to make interactive, appealing, statistical and versatile graphs and pie charts.

They make use of both HTML5 and SVG in combination.

With such power, your visualization will enjoy the latest browser and graphics technology.

#2 wpDataTables

wpDataTables - Best WordPress Data Visualization Plugin

View Demo More Info & Download

This is a more detailed plugin that provides various visual representations like comparison tables, charts, and graphs.

The good thing is that it allows you to import Excel and Google document tables.

If you have the administrative rights, you can just edit the data from either the back end or the front end of the WP page.

When it comes to the security of the data, the plugin has a security layer where you can regulate the use of data.

#3 Snowball

Snowball - Best WordPress Data Visualization Plugin

View Demo More Info & Download

If your wish is to deliver well-articulated data as a blogger or web content writer, this is the option to choose.

If you have already interacted with it, you will agree that it is not just a visual representation plugin as it offers more.

The UI provides blocks that can be customized to suit different styles and tastes. Therefore, it is easy to maintain the authenticity of your WordPress website through customization.

It has more sophisticated graphs like the Choropleth graph and Scatter plots on top of the ordinary charts and line graphs.

#4 WP Google Maps

WP Google Maps - Best WordPress Data Visualization Plugin

View Demo More Info & Download

This is another free plugin that allows experts to add maps meant to give travel directions to users.

Markers are easy to drag and drop even for readers.

If you are trying to present data from research, this plugin will also come in handy.

It is a useful technology that is free of charge.

Therefore, writers and bloggers who want to add value to their websites can easily make use of it.

#5 WP Business Intelligence Lite

WP Business Intelligence Lite - Best WordPress Data Visualization Plugin

View Demo More Info & Download

This last plugin is highly detailed for business people who want to keep their loyal and potential clients updated in real-time.

When connected to the MySQL database, it will show the data in the form of graphs and charts.

There is more to unlock from this plugin, and it is better to have an expert to explore it for you.

Conclusion

Many WordPress website owners and writers now know how data visualization is important to attract new traffic and lock in the loyal users.

With the insights above, all have a better understanding of how to go about enhancing a WordPress website for more benefits.

Note: This guide on the Best WordPress Data Visualization Plugins was contributed by Benard Njuguna. If you have an interesting topic to contribute, then check our Guest Posting Guidelines.

If you love this article, do share it on social media and drop your comment below.

7 Amazing WordPress Data Visualization Plugins that Professionals use - Pinterest Image

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looking-back-at-the-top-web-design-trends-(2018-2019)

Web design is ever-evolving. As technology gets more powerful and designers experiment with new styles, every year presents a unique set of exciting trends in the online world. Drawing from the designs emerging throughout recent years, as well as new tech that’s being developed, it’s possible to predict what’s coming over the course of 2020.

Let’s recap the last few years in web design and examine the emerging styles, so you can know what to expect in the upcoming new year and beyond.

Why Keep Up With the Trends?

Not every web design fad is viable, that much is for certain. There’s a time and place for everything, and overhauling your website for no reason can do more harm than good, especially when it comes at the cost of usability and UX.

But though you shouldn’t go giving your site a facelift without serious consideration, there’s definitely some merit to keeping up with web design trends, especially those based on advancements in technology.

For instance, if you haven’t heard about AI chatbots, progressive web apps, or CSS grid yet, you could be using outdated tech that’s losing you conversions. Think of how revolutionary responsive design was to the internet; you don’t want to be last on board next time a development like that happens again.

And even when the trends are purely aesthetic, there’s still merit to keeping up with them. For instance, a plain white, clean, simple website may be functional. But with the more avant-garde style web design has taken on in the past few years, users are also finding it quite boring.

Even small changes like adding more color, broken grids, or micro-interaction animations can go a long way towards keeping your site relevant.

Plus, as web designers grow, learn, and adapt to new technologies, some of these advancements and trends are very much for the better as far as both beauty and functionality go. Think about how sites looked and worked 20 or even 10 years ago… we’ve come a long way, and have a long way to go yet.

If you see a modern web design trend that fits your brand, and helps or at least doesn’t harm usability, it might be worth it to get on board.

Recap: 2018 Web Design Trends

With 2020 now here, 2018 is seeming further and further away. But its trends still continue to impact the web even as brand new styles emerge, and as many of these are still relevant to modern design, it’s good to look back and see how far we’ve come.

Web design has been moving away from minimalistic simplicity and towards bold individualism for a few years, but it all came to a peak in 2018. We can still feel the effects even now, and the internet will surely continue to populate with original, unique styles.

2D Illustrations, 3D Animation

web design trends: 2d 3dportfolio and agency websites, 3D animations instantly grab attention and provide chances for fun UI interactivity.

In the future, hand-made illustrations and animations will only continue to grow in popularity. They show off your brand’s personality in a way nothing else can (and it proved to work as a strategy).

Subtlety, Flat, and Minimalism

webflow

web design trends: giftrocket

spotify

startup labcontent. Overall, layouts got a lot more interesting.

AI and Machine Learning

Chatbots are a big deal. These nifty programs respond dynamically customers, partially or completely automating the process of support or purchase. Machine learning allows them to examine data and learn how to respond to questions and comments, and take some of the workload off your human support agents.

But this is just the beginning. As technology continues its strides, AI and machine learning are bound to become even more integrated with online systems.

The Rise of Brutalism

the outline

atlassiancharming illustrations and data visualization, with interactive and visual designs that make their message more engaging and easier to understand.

The Biggest Web Design Trends of 2019

2019 shared many web design trends with 2018, like broken grid design and bold color palettes. But things have gotten even more crazy, with lots of experimentation from daring designers.

The running theme for 2019: rule-bending and breaking. White, flat, grid-based minimalism out, bright and bold asymmetry in. While clean design and white space will always be a big contender, designers are more willing to try new things lately. We are seeing many of these carry on full force in 2020.

Vibrancy and Color Experimentation

fotonaut

absurdIllustrations and visual content were big in 2018 as well, but they’ve continued to evolve. Artists are taking steps away from the typical, simplistic style of illustration most sites are employing, and trying something a little different.

An emerging trend is eccentric, playful art that deviates from normalcy and tries out a more abstract, random style. These illustrations ignore typical boundaries and are completely unafraid to show off their creators’ personalities.

3D illustrations are also quite popular. It’s only a small spin on the trend of mostly flat artwork, but it breathes a lot of new life into it. Some of these are 2D artworks drawn to look 3D, while others are actual three-dimensional renders. Either way, they’re gaining traction fast alongside 3D web animations.

jet styleentire websites dedicated to collecting the best in brutalism. The stark, ugly, anti-user artform certainly makes a statement: web design has always been solely about creating a good user experience, but brutalism seeks to turn it into an art piece. It’s not clear how long brutalism will last, but the trend still has an avid following.

visualboxFonts are getting more creative too, especially thanks to color fonts, which make customizing and rendering fonts that look like they were enhanced in Photoshop finally a possibility. Typography as a focus point is now a viable method of web design.

Navigation is also expanding. Dainty header navs and elegant dropdowns or hamburger menus are being replaced with dominating displays, with entire screens dedicated to navigation, again often focused around huge typography.

tribuvideo content on webpages. Video elements used to be a concern since they were slow to load and ate up limited mobile data, but stronger hardware and fallback images means you can now use videos anywhere. That gorgeous website with a fullscreen animated background, once a rarity, is about to become more common.

Asymmetry

new flight

3h-istore or playing with an interactive, animated background. These tiny animations make a website more entertaining to navigate and bring joy to small interactions like clicking and hovering. Some sites have even gone as far as implementing cute minigames.

But it’s not all just for fun. Micro-interactions often serve the same purpose as the common subtle animation: they direct user attention towards important UI elements. And over-implementation can get stale fast, so it’s a game of figuring out the ideal number of animations to include on your website.

Scrolling and parallax effects are of course just as popular as ever and can add a dynamic layered look to a page and make it a lot more interesting.

Also, look out for custom cursors. These were once rarely seen outside of small blogs or sites for children, but they’re now a popular choice, especially for sites built around 3D animated backgrounds or navigation. An elegant custom cursor can really enhance your aesthetic.

White Space

apple iPhoneEvery site needs breathing room, and white space can be used to carefully highlight and emphasize images or other content.

Lots of white space can be used to great effect, with entire portions of the screen left empty to give important elements plenty of room. Maximum white space is a style that will likely continue throughout the next few years.

Progressive Web Apps

The next big thing in mobile design: progressive web apps. These web-based platforms are built on code like HTML and JavaScript, but they function and act like mini-apps for mobile users. They’re made to offer the experience of an app without needing to actually be built on mobile technology or released on the app store.

PWAs work offline, can send notifications, and be pinned to the home screen, but you don’t need to download or distribute anything. They’re lightweight and load fast too, so they don’t take up too much bandwidth.

Even Twitter has gotten into PWAs, developing Twitter Lite as a solution for those with slow internet speeds. And they ended up integrating the system right into their main interface. That’s a testament to how well this technology works.

If you haven’t heard of progressive web apps yet, you should definitely do some research. Building one could make your mobile users’ experiences a lot smoother.


Looking for ideas to give your #WordPress site a facelift? Check out the latest web design trends of recent years and get inspired! 👩‍🎨💡

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Summary

2018 and 2019 have been an exciting few years for the online world. 2020 is already bringing even more adventurous designs. Rule-breaking elements like asymmetry, bright colors, brutalism, and eye-catching animations will continue to grow in popularity throughout the next few years.

Who knows what might come next? We’re surely in store for even more unconventional new art styles.

If you haven’t caught on yet, it might be time to reimagine some of your designs and catch these hot new trends. Expect to see brands and designers truly start to express themselves and the internet to become much more vibrant and interesting.

The next decade of web design is likely to feature risk-taking and innovation, so make sure you’re ready to keep up.

how-to-choose-fonts-that-reflect-your-brand-style

How To Choose Fonts That Reflect Your Brand Style

It is certainly undeniable that fonts have always been an integral part of a company’s brand style

This is why so many business owners are considered with the kinds of fonts they need to use to make their brand known. Here is how to choose fonts that reflect your brand style.

1 – Understanding Fonts

Best Font Types For Logo Design

Understanding fonts is the first step that you must never overlook when choosing fonts. 

It is crucial that you know the difference between the various types of fonts because this will help you select the ones that are most suitable for your business and the most appropriate for your brand style and image. 

There are four main types that you could divide the fonts into:

  • Serif: The more “traditional” fonts that usually have “feet” which give the fonts a grounded look. These include Times New Roman, Cambria, Rockwell, Baskerville, and others.
  • Sans Serif: The more “modern” fonts that usually don’t have “feet” which makes them look cleaner. These include Helvetica, Arial, Century Gothic, Corbel, Montserrat, and others.
  • Script: The handwritten or cursive fonts that could be divided into readable and unreadable ones (unreadable are mostly used as a first letter only). These include Yellowtail, Lavanderia, Freestyle Script, and others. 
  • Display: The decorative fonts that have the so-called “Display curls”. Such fonts need to be used sparingly because they are not so unique. These include Pinewood, Betty Noir, Curlz, and others.

2 – Identifying Goals

Psychology Of Fonts

Now that you know about the types of fonts, it is time to identify the goals you will be pursuing when choosing the fonts. 

After all, it’s not just about selecting the fonts but also about understanding how to choose fonts that fit. Here are some questions you could ask yourself to identify your goals:

  • What is my company’s image? Have I already developed a vision for my company? Am I happy with this image, or do I want to change it?
  • Does my company have a brand logo? If not, how am I going to develop my brand’s logo and am I choosing a font for my brand logo too?
  • What is my audience like? What does my audience value? Where does my audience come from? Am I happy with my audience, or do I want to change it?
  • What are the qualities that I want my fonts to emphasise? Is it reliability? Is it stability? Is it creativity? Or maybe it is something else?
  • How would I describe my brand? How would my employees represent my brand? How would my customers describe my brand?
  • What are my priorities, values, beliefs, interests, etc.? How are they connected to my brand and do I want to connect them to my brand?

3 – Font Type

Fontforge Software

After identifying the goals, you will be able to start the process of choosing your font. 

First of all, you will need to choose your font type. 

This will be your starting point from which you will move onto choose other aspects of your font, such as your font style, colour, and so on.

The font type you choose will depend on the qualities you want your brand style to have (or the qualities it already has). 

If you’re going to seem traditional or serious, Serif is the one for you. If you want to appear modern or “clean”, Sans Serif is your primary choice.

If you want to seem friendly and inviting, Script might be the one.

You could always create a new font (this would often be the direction to go if you are looking for an original Display font), but choosing from the available fonts is still the most common path business owners take because it is fairly easy and much cheaper.

4 – Font Style

Revista Cool Font

Once you have decided which of the four font types you will use, you can now decide on the font style. 

This is the “type” of font you will be using but calling it “type” right now might be confusing, so it’s just what it is – font style.

Many new companies try to choose from the fonts that are rarer, but you could still use the good old Times New Roman if you chose Serif, Arial if you want Sans Serif, or Lavanderia if you chose Script.

In addition to that, consider whether or not you will be choosing several fonts. 

Perhaps you might want to stick only to one of them and use it consistently in your content

On the other hand, you might realise that using two or three fonts can bring variety while still maintaining consistency.

5 – Brand Voice

Arcido Branding Voice

Brand voice is somewhat similar to your brand style, but while the first one is mostly textual, the second one is more visual. 

And fonts are closely connected to your brand voice because they are what makes your text stand out.

However, this does not mean that you need to disregard the process of creating content. 

Choose a writer from the review service Online Writers Rating to write content for you. This will ensure that you are working with a professional who knows their job and will be able to keep the quality high.

Explain to the writer what kind of brand voice you want your business to have. 

This will need to correspond to the font you chose and the brand style you currently have (or want to have if you are planning to change it).

6 – Font Colour

Baro Font Download

With the font (or fonts) ready, you will now need to decide on the colour (or colours) you will be using. 

Once again, these depend on such things as your brand style and your goals as well as your priorities, target audience, etc.

The colours you use in your fonts will determine what kind of emotions your audience gets when looking at your brand logo, content, and so on, wherever you use these fonts. 

Consequently, it is imperative that you take into account that dark blue, for example, inspires professionalism while yellow makes people happy.

Charity Branding Logo Design Mind

If one of the reasons why you were choosing fonts were that you needed one for your brand logo, your next step would have to be… working on your logo design

While this is an extensive topic and deserves a separate article, it is still worth mentioning this step because it is inevitable that you will need to work on the logo at some point.

More often than not, businesses with brand logos that have Serif or Sans Serif fonts also have content written with these same fonts. 

This simply means that you will have even more consistency, and your brand style and image will be easily recognisable

However, it is also typical for companies to have separate fonts for the logo and the content.

8 – Additional Imagery

Bubbly Font Design

Additional imagery concerns both your brand logo any other visual content you are planning to use that will also have fonts and will be related to your brand style. 

This means that it is essential that you think through the difficulties and challenges you might encounter when trying to use imagery along with the fonts you chose.

Consequently, think of how your chosen fonts might affect your visuals and whether or not they might be in conflict with each other. 

After all, it’s always great to look into the future and think ahead. 

Try not to focus on the downsides, but don’t overlook the issues that could potentially be problematic. Find that balance, and you will be all good.

9 – Creating Versions

New Microsoft Logo Brand Evolution

It’s always good to have an alternative even if you are positive about a particular font. 

This is precisely why creating other versions of your brand logo, brand visuals, and the fonts you use in them is practically essential for you.

Keep in mind that you will need at least one or two other options besides your initial one. 

This means that you will be able to make a more objective choice in the end after getting feedback from your team and weighing all the cons and pros of every font.

10 – Final Choice

Neue Helvetica Font

Last but not least, you will need to make your final choice. This is probably the most crucial step of all because this is when you will actually choose a font for your brand style, so take it as seriously as possible.

Remember that, as mentioned earlier, getting feedback from your team is crucial. 

You can also talk to experts in the field to get some professional advice, but don’t forget to follow your heart too even after considering all the advantages and disadvantages – if you are not happy with the font, it won’t help you much.

Final Thoughts

To sum up, every font is different, just like every company is different. 

Try using different fonts until you find the right one and don’t forget to use the tips in this article for the process to be faster and more efficient.

Author Bio: Frank Hamilton is a blogger and translator from Manchester. He is a professional writing expert in such topics as blogging, digital marketing and self-education. He also loves travelling and speaks Spanish, French, German and English.

why-compromise-is-the-great-design-superpower

The more important your work, the more trade-offs you have to make

Photo: MirageC/Getty Images

There are no perfect design outcomes. Real projects rarely end up looking like Dribbble shots. Designers are never satisfied with their work.

The perfectionist in me doesn’t want to admit it, but these are truths of digital design. Every design process is a series of compromises. Larger, more important, and meaningful projects often require greater compromises to get them across the line.

Compromising doesn’t mean shipping poor work you’re not proud of. It means delivering well-considered work that satisfies the needs of everyone involved.

Leave your ego at the door, please, and let’s talk about why compromise is the great superpower of design.

Design, by definition, means problem-solving within constraints. Those constraints may be technical, budgetary, time-based, user-centered, business-driven, and based on any number of other factors.

Working within constraints isn’t a compromise because they were never up for negotiation.

Compromise means a trade-off between two competing needs. It means using new information to make course corrections rather than being unwilling or unable to adjust what you thought was best before.

Compromising doesn’t mean shipping poor work you’re not proud of. It means delivering well-considered work that satisfies the needs of everyone involved.

Each stakeholder in a design project can have their own agenda, and even when each of those agendas is valid, they don’t always align. This situation of misaligned needs is where compromise is valued most.

Great designers have the ability to assimilate even seemingly mutually exclusive needs, balance their strengths and weaknesses, and produce an optimal design solution that satisfies all of the project’s requirements as best as possible.

Every design process requires countless trade-offs, and other project stakeholders rarely have the tools or the perspective to make those decisions. It falls on the designer to find the optimal outcome. Good designers are simply the ones who compromise most cleverly.

Accepting a poor idea without protest isn’t compromise, and it’s terrible design. You do your clients a disservice when you acquiesce. Compromise requires some give and take from both sides; otherwise, it’s a dictatorship.

In a landscape where the best design projects are the result of highly collaborative teams, design by dictatorship doesn’t work — whether it’s the client, designer, or someone else doing the dictating.

When designers conflate compromise with acquiescence they despise these trade-offs because they think it means their work is somehow diluted. But true compromise feels satisfying, not hollow. When you stand your ground just firmly enough to balance a tricky set of competing constraints, that’s something to be proud of.

Here’s an example: Last year, I worked on a large website project. Its importance to my client was paramount. Their entire business revolves around the performance of their website. Fluctuations in conversion rate meant messing with millions in annual revenue. There was a lot of pressure to get it right.

That pressure came from all sides. They had simultaneously gone through a rebrand, and their brand agency had strong ideas about key design elements that had to be included. Their SEO agency had strict guidelines about link structure, content length and placement, and things like “page rank juice flow” that put restrictions on navigation. Their development team had almost unrealistically tight constraints on timeframe and had to work within a specific tech stack.

All of this was in addition to my primary constraints: the needs of the user. And more frequently than I would have liked, those needs didn’t align. What branding wanted could have made for an ill-considered and inconsistent responsive visual system. What SEO wanted could have compromised the ideal user experience we were so driven to create. What engineering needed could have put all of that in jeopardy. And at the end of the day, it would have been our users holding the short straw.

At times things got a bit heated. Stakeholders didn’t see eye to eye. Misaligned agendas had to be rectified.

It didn’t blow up, and ultimately, the project was a big success. But only because of some careful compromises, most of which fell on my shoulders to facilitate. My role was UX and UI design, but fulfilling that task on such a complex and high-stakes project meant being a facilitator of trade-offs more than a creator of innovative ideas.

Luckily, I had the tools to make that happen.

Designers are equipped to solve these compromises with aplomb when they are T-shaped (or “specialized generalists”). Or maybe you’re M-shaped or comb-shaped, or you call yourself a deep generalist or a multi-hyphenate.

Combining breadth of understanding with one or more deep areas of expertise gives you the ability to understand and communicate with empathy across disciplines. And it forges the tools needed to find creative compromises where others may not see them.

If you understand business strategy, branding, marketing, writing, front-end coding, and engineering in addition to your primary field of design expertise, you’re perfectly positioned to be the ultimate compromiser.

Your breadth helps make connections and insights that a narrow specialist wouldn’t have found, and then you can funnel those insights into the depth of your specialties to create really meaningful design decisions. You make discovering innovative solutions seem easy because you’re seeing connections other people aren’t even looking for.

The design process — whether Double Diamond or something else — forms a structure to help us tease out all the constraints, identify where design compromises need to be made, and then converge on the optimal solution.

In this way, UX design is the great unifier. It’s the one discipline with its fingers in all the pies. That puts you in the driver’s seat when the tough compromises have to be made.

It’s why Design Thinking is a thing. Good design processes give us tools to make clever compromises. All areas of business can benefit from that same perspective.

If you despise compromise, you may be more of an artist than a designer. There are no outcomes in design that don’t involve compromise because design is problem-solving for people, and people are complicated. Design is a continuous process of compromise.

Design is as much about constraints as ideas. Pretending those constraints don’t exist so you can push your pure vision out into the world is what immature designers do. Embracing those constraints and thriving in the challenge of compromise is what expert designers do.

Bonnie Chen summarized this sentiment perfectly:

I’ve gotten to the point where I see my responsibility as the designer as a mediator between business strategy, engineering, product, brand, content, [and other] needs. I just happen to facilitate these conversations with mockups and visual artifacts.

When a designer stops seeing themselves as the owner of their vision and instead as the facilitator of a collaborative design process, compromise becomes natural, easy, and entirely necessary.

18-best-photoshop-filters-all-designers-should-use

Adobe Photoshop has undoubtedly proven to be one of the most efficient photos editing software. It has varied effects and features. However, due to its many customization options, Photoshop can feel a little overwhelming for people with zero or limited experience in photography and editing. However, with practice, you will become more relaxed and comfortable with Photoshop. Even with the wide range of available features that Photoshop has to offer, it can, at times, become redundant or monotonous. To help with that problem, there are some amazing Photoshop Filters that allow innovation in the editing process while they ease the editing process for beginners.

There are many Photoshop filters that one can benefit from. Some of them are free, and some of them charge a premium. However, both kinds are worth the value for money as they change the mood of your picture as per your liking in seconds. Some of the best Photoshop Filters that all designers can benefit from are mentioned below:

1. Old Photo:

old photo

There are two strong ways to create a sense of nostalgia in an image. One is using a sepia overlay; the other is targeting tones and moods of the photo to give it a nostalgic vibe. Old Photo is the ideal free Photoshop Filter for creating a nostalgic and vintage-looking feel to the images. It mainly adjusts the contrast and color aspects of the image to get the right feel. It adds a bit of a greenish-blue tint to the colder regions of the image.

2. Nightmare:

nightmare- Photoshop Filter

As the name suggests, this filter gives the pictures a haunted and dark effect. It is ideal for pictures that are clicked to showcase horror and creepiness in a picture. For instance, it is ideal for Halloween themed picture or a movie poster for a scary movie. It uses a lot of vignette and shadows to give the picture a right look.

3. HDR Tools:

HDR tools- Photoshop Filter

HDR stands for High Dynamic Range. It enhances the picture’s dynamic range in an aspect of Brightness.  This concept adjusts and compensates the light between the lightest and the darkest region of the photograph. HDR tools work similarly. It is a set of four actions that help transform any dull backgrounds for an attractive, detailed photograph. The natural grey tones can be turned to beautiful backgrounds to create a nice contrast with the foreground. This Photoshop filter adds depth and dynamic field to a dull image.

4. Vintage:

Vintage- Photoshop Filter

Vintage is a great Photoshop filter that not only adds a vintage tone to the image but also adds a unique neon effect. Hence it is ideal for images that are meant to convey a back to old times and groovy vibe. For instance, it is ideal for a college reunion poster, where the models can be wearing old fashioned clothes and have this neon effect on top of them.

5. Lithprint:

lithprint photoshop filter

This filter is a great Photoshop filter. It imitates the vintage look that is produced by a black and white lith printing process. However, as compared to other vignette effect filters, this one has more drama in it. It doesn’t only adjust contrast, highlights and shadows to the images; it also adds a gritty texture.

6. ON1 Effects:

This is a great Photoshop filter for easing the process of adding complex effects to an image. It has a wide range of filters for various looks. Some of the filters present in this effect pack are Vignette, HDR look and adjustable contrast. These filters can be used alone for a particular look or also layered on top of each other for more options and moods.

7. Dream Blur:

Dream Blur- Photoshop Filter

Dream Blur is a great filter for creating a subtle dream-like atmosphere. Adding this filter would darken the image, adding a blurry vignette effect around the edges, and increase the saturation level of the image. It is a very subtle yet effective filter that hits the right balance. It doesn’t look overly edited and yet creates the desired look.

8. Dramatic Sepia:

Dramatic Sepia- Photoshop Filter

Adobe Photoshop already has a dedicated filter called Sepia for the classic reddish-brown effect images.  However, Dramatic Sepia tends to do more of a better job when you want the image to have a sense of dynamic range and intensity. It is ideal for anyone who is trying to recreate a nostalgic moment or give the picture a retro era vibe.

9. Comic Oil:

Comic Oil

This is a great Photoshop Filter pack that converts any image into a comic book styled painting. 10 different variations can be easily applied with a single click.  The quality is high enough to be used in web and print media both. The filter comes with an instruction document for easing the process of installing and using. Each layer is editable and customizable.

10. Dessert Dust:

Dessert Dust

Dessert dust is an ideal Photoshop Filter for creating a dry and hot atmosphere in the pictures. It tones down the overall color saturation of any image and gives it a hazy effect. You can apply this filter to the whole image or apply to a specific region and mimic it on the rest of the wanted areas of the image.

11. Underwater Luxe:

underwater luxe- Photoshop filter

This is a great Photoshop filter for underwater photography. Generally, the cameras aren’t optimized for clicking great pictures underwater. They create images with a hazy overlay that reduces the details and sharpness of the image. Underwater Luxe helps to remove this haze, sharpens the image, and also warm-ups the skin tones by removing blue tones specifically from those regions. Such a filter is ideal for editing underwater portrait pictures.

12. Color Pop:

Color Pop

Color Pop is an ideal Photoshop filter for adding life to any washed-out images. It adds a certain contrast and pops to any image.  It enhances the image details and adds punchier effects. The image feels closer to life, and it increases the dynamic range of the image as well. It adds a bit of vignette on the edges of the photo and makes use of shadows as well the highlights. This is ideal for creating an emotional vibe image.

13. Bella:

Bella

Bella is a beautiful Photoshop filter that allows the user to add a certain warmth to their photographs. It brings out the rich tones in skin and hair, also softens the colors with a pink cast effect. The theme is ideal for any romantic, nostalgic feel effect. It softens the image a little, to create a dreamy and lovely effect.

14. 2 Strip Technicolor:

2 strip technicolor

There is nothing better than recreating a major era’s vibe using the 2-strip Technicolor Photoshop filter. It recreates the 2 strip Technicolor film that was popular during the 1920s and 1930s. It used a 2-strip Technicolor film exposed b&w film behind a red and a green filter. The filter merges the blue and green in different layers.

15. Portrait:

portrait

Portrait is a great portrait Photoshop filter that gives any portrait a retro vibe. It desaturates the colors to give the portrait shot a moody vignette look. The filter increases the sharpness and decreases the saturation to achieve this look. It is ideal for portrait photographs that need a bit of an old vibe. For instance, it is ideal for making a grid of cowboy pictures or horse race competitors list.

16. Bold B&W HDR:

bold b&w hdr

This is a great Photoshop filter for applying the HDR-inspired look to Black and White images. It certainly adds a whole new level of depth and dynamic range to a black and white photograph that looks aesthetically appealing. The attention to details and the correct balance between the whites and the blacks make this an interesting filter.

17. Infrared Photo Effect:

infrared

To achieve the right infrared photo effect, you often need to use an infrared film or lens. However, this Photoshop filter is the closest way to providing similar results, in post-production. It helps the user capture a surreal essence of false-colour infrared photography that looks out of the world. The filter is flexible and can turn any normal picture into an interesting one, by its application.

18. Duotone:

duotone

Duotone is a great Photoshop filter to give your photographs a different kind of look. It uses two tones of colors; however, the image still looks colorful. The filter is ideal for creating a rock and punk vibe. It is ideal for rock bands and fans alike. The filter can be used on a rock show invite, banner or website banner image.

There are many advantages of using a filter for editing images on Photoshop:

1. Saves Time:

By using Photoshop filters, you can save massive time in the editing process, as it allows you to have a great start by applying the filter with a single click. If other adjustments need to be made, they are still quick and easy to tweak around. The essential vibe that you want of the image would be set on applying the filter. This proves particularly useful when there are too many photographs to edit and less time.

2. Adds relevant context:

Each Photoshop filter available in the market is made to achieve a specific effect. Hence this makes the filter suitable for a particular niche, and if the brand that is using these filters knows their niche, they can quickly look for filters that complement their niche. This helps create an overall mood board for the brand that helps them connect to the right target audience.

3. Makes editing easier for all:

Generally, people perceive filters to be used by only amateurs who are starting in Photography and editing process. This isn’t true as filters are used by professional photographers and designers as well. These filters are created by people who have mastered the art of editing over the years. Hence it helps the beginners to achieve a professional look in no time. Also, it eases the process of professionals to edit bulk images in batches if they have the same niche or mood.

4. Gives more time for other activities:

If you are a photographer or editor by profession, then it makes sense that you might want to invest time to edit the pictures manually. However, for a business person or a startup that needs to focus on all aspects of business, using photo filters doesn’t only allow the user to edit the photographs with ease, it also gives them time to shift priority and focus on more critical aspects of the business.

5. Non-destructive editing:

This is a great feature that is known to have marked its presence in Adobe Lightroom and Darkroom. However, with filters, there are many filters created in a way to replicate this powerful benefit and implement it in Adobe Photoshop while using that filter. This helps the original image to remain untouched in case applying the filter or making adjustments goes wrong.

These were the 18 Best Photoshop Filters all designers should make use of. Using these filters would help enhance the image, repurpose the image and make all necessary changes to capture a mood of the image that matches the imperative mood of the business/brand. Make use of these filters and create the perfect look for your images.


tiny-helpers-–-collection-of-free-online-tools-for-web-developers
  • Screenshot of Accessible Brand Colors

    Accessible Brand Colors

    Evaluate the ADA compliance of your brand’s color palette.

    Go to Accessible Brand Colors

  • Screenshot of AST explorer

    AST explorer

    Explore the ASTs generated by various parsers

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    • GitHub profile image of fkling

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  • Screenshot of BA Rows To Columns

    BA Rows To Columns

    Transform rows to columns and viceversa

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    • GitHub profile image of brakon

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    Base64 Converter

    Base64 encode everything

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    • GitHub profile image of progers

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    Batch 301

    Validate a collection of urls redirect chain and status codes

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    • GitHub profile image of moshie

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    carbon

    Create and share beautiful images of your source code

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  • Screenshot of Clippy

    Clippy

    Create CSS clip paths

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    • GitHub profile image of bennettfeely

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    Color.review

    Check your color contrast

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  • Screenshot of Contrast Checker

    Contrast Checker

    Check your color palette for accessible combinations

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    • GitHub profile image of crgeary

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    Eightshapes Contrast Grid

    Test many foreground and background color combos for compliance with WCAG 2.0 minimum contrast.

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  • Screenshot of cryptii.com

    cryptii.com

    Convert and encode text quickly

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    • GitHub profile image of ffraenz

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    CSS Cursors

    Have a look at all these CSS Cursors

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    • GitHub profile image of wesbos

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    CSS Grid Generator

    Define and generate code for CSS Grid layouts

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    • GitHub profile image of sdras

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    CSS Scroll Shadows

    Create CSS scroll shadows

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    • GitHub profile image of stefanjudis

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    CSS Stats

    Analytize and visualize your stylesheets

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  • Screenshot of CSS Triangle Generator

    CSS Triangle Generator

    Create CSS-only triangles

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    cubic-bezier

    Create and compare different animation bezier settings

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    • GitHub profile image of LeaVerou

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    Explain Shell

    Write down a command-line to see the help text that matches each argument

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    • GitHub profile image of idank

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    extractCSS

    Extract CSS from HTML with ease

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    • GitHub profile image of adnantopal

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    Fancy-Border-Radius

    Build organic shapes with CSS border-radius

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    • GitHub profile image of enbee81

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    Favicon Generator. For real.

    Generate favicons for all platforms

    Go to Favicon Generator. For real.

  • Screenshot of favicon.io

    favicon.io

    Create a facivon in a few clicks

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    Flexy Boxes

    Play with flexbox and generate code

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    • GitHub profile image of peteboere

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    Font Squirrel Webfont Generator

    Modify, improve, trim, change and export your fonts in modern formats

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    FontDrop!

    View the content of a font file

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    • GitHub profile image of raphaelbastide

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    Fonty

    Test web fonts directly on live sites

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    google-webfonts-helper

    Self host your Google Fonts

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    • GitHub profile image of majodev

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    Hero Patterns

    Find SVG background patterns for you to use on your web projects.

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    • GitHub profile image of sschoger

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    HTTProfile

    Profile HTTP servers and endpoints

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    • GitHub profile image of tommyschaefer

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    JavaScript Array Explorer

    Find the array method you need without digging through the docs

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    • GitHub profile image of sdras

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    Json Web Token (jwt.io) Debugger

    Debug, Validate Json Web tokens (jwt)

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    Let’s Enhance.io

    Improve colors, remove compression and upscale your image

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    Maskable.app

    Preview and create maskable icons in the browser

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    • GitHub profile image of NotWoods

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    Meta Tags

    With Meta Tags you can edit and experiment with your content then preview how your webpage will look on Google, Facebook, Twitter and more!

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    • GitHub profile image of moeamaya

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  • Screenshot of Mocky

    Mocky

    Mock your HTTP responses to test your REST API

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    Nicen

    Make your code look nicer

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    Postwoman

    Create and make requests faster and save time on your development

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    RegExr

    Learn, build, & test Regular Expressions

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    regular expresssions 101

    Learn, build, & test Regular Expressions

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    removebg

    Remove backgrounds 100% automatically in 5 seconds with zero clicks

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  • Screenshot of Responsive Breakpoints

    Responsive Breakpoints

    Create responsive breakpoints for your images and get the adequate HTML them

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    Shadows

    Create smooth CSS shadows

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    • GitHub profile image of brumm

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    shapecatcher.com

    Draw a character and get the Unicode character glyph

    Go to shapecatcher.com

  • Screenshot of Shapy

    Shapy

    Discover and explore the power of CSS gradients

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    Smart Swatch Generator

    Generate smart unique color palette without pain

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    • GitHub profile image of ivan-dalmet

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    snippet generator

    Generate snippets for VSCode, Sublime Text and Atom

    Made by

    • GitHub profile image of pawelgrzybek

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    Squoosh

    Make images smaller using best-in-class codecs, right in the browser

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    SSL Server Test

    Perform a deep analysis of the configuration of any SSL web server on the public Internet

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    Tailwind CSS Cheat Sheet

    Quick search through Tailwind classes and styles

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    • GitHub profile image of nerdcave

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    tanaguru contrast finder

    Find good constrasts between two colors

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    • GitHub profile image of Tanaguru

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  • Screenshot of Tint & Shade Generator

    Tint & Shade Generator

    Display tints and shades of a given hex color in 10% increments

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    • GitHub profile image of edelstone

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  • Screenshot of Transform

    Transform

    Transform code into something else

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    • GitHub profile image of ritz078

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  • Screenshot of type-scale

    type-scale

    Calculate your type scale visually

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    • GitHub profile image of jeremychurch

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  • Screenshot of Unicode Character Search

    Unicode Character Search

    Seach a Unicode Character

    Go to Unicode Character Search

  • Screenshot of Unicode Code Converter

    Unicode Code Converter

    Convert Unicode symbols into other formats

    Go to Unicode Code Converter

  • Screenshot of unilist

    unilist

    Have a look at the Unicode character list

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    • GitHub profile image of raphaelbastide

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  • Screenshot of URL-encoder for SVG

    URL-encoder for SVG

    URL-encode your SVGs

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    • GitHub profile image of yoksel

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  • Screenshot of Wakamai Fondue

    Wakamai Fondue

    Inspect what your fonts can do

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    • GitHub profile image of RoelN

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  • Screenshot of WhoCanUse

    WhoCanUse

    Check you color contrast ratio

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    • GitHub profile image of coreyginnivan

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  • Screenshot of ⌘ C

    ⌘ C

    Copy special characters to your clipboard

    Go to ⌘ C

  • why-focusing-on-martech-is-too-myopic

    Yes, I realize that this is provocative and have donned my battle armor in preparation for your retort.

    According to our own definition, martech is the blending of marketing and technology. Pretty straightforward assuming we’re talking about marketing in the traditional sense.

    In school, we were all taught about the sales funnel. It’s a very linear experience that basically boils down to four basic phases: Awareness -> Interest -> Desire -> Action. And if we’re thinking traditional marketing here, our shiny martech tools would likely cover the awareness, interest and desire phases of that model while we leave action to those weird salespeople down the hall.

    But we all know that this model is no longer relevant. With the advent of digital, our consumers now have a powerful voice. Disappoint one of them during the customer journey and they very well may leverage that voice to express their displeasure to the world, ultimately hampering future sales efforts.

    In fact, 56% of people around the world have stopped doing business with a company due to a bad customer experience. Atop that, we know that attracting a new customer costs 7-8 times more than retaining an existing one

    As a result, the new customer journey is cyclical versus linear. Personally, I like to think about a model that includes these phases: Discover -> Engage -> Transact -> Advocate, but you’ll find a million permutations of the basic notion out there.

    In the modern customer journey, we build advocates by delighting customers throughout the customer experience. Delighted customers are 3.5x more likely to repurchase and 5x more likely to recommend.

    Embracing the new journey model is not simple, certainly not at the enterprise scale. We all still think in our organizational silos.

    With that as a backdrop, let’s go back to my point on martech. I believe marketing is uniquely positioned to help customer-facing organizations rally around the modern customer journey. But that suggests that we shouldn’t be working in a silo of our own.

    If we don’t look at the bigger picture in our quest for martech excellence, we run the risk of compounding the problem by adding new silos of customer information that hamper our quest for experience excellence.

    Do marketing departments need their own discreet technology? Of course they do. But building that technology without ensuring that it at least compliments a pan-enterprise view of the customer journey is a complete miss.


    Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.



    About The Author

    Len Devanna, founder and Chief Experience Officer at The Level 5 Group, has been driving digital innovation in many of the world’s top brands since 2000. In both Big Four consulting and Fortune 500 client-side roles, he’s helped startups to $180-billion companies reimagine how they serve their audiences throughout the customer lifecycle through digital media with a tenacious focus on delivering meaningful business outcomes.



    the-role-of-animation-and-motion-in-ux

    Summary: Animation in UX must be unobtrusive, brief, and subtle. Use it for feedback, state-change and navigation metaphors, and to enhance signifiers.

    Topics:

    In UX, motion and animation can be helpful and communicative, if used with restraint. Motion is most often appropriate as a form of subtle feedback for microinteractions, rather than to induce delight or entertain users. In this article, we explore the purposes of useful, unobtrusive feedback animation. In a second (forthcoming) article, we will discuss the details in timing and movement to make these animations appear smooth and natural.

    The big advantage (and also drawback) of UI motion is that it attracts user attention. Our peripheral vision (specifically, through the rod-shaped photoreceptors in the human retina) is responsible for detecting motion.  Evolutionarily, the fact that we can detect a movement outside the center of our field of vision is, of course, an advantage: we can discern danger and protect ourselves. But that means that we are sensitive and prone to be distracted by any type of motion (meaningful or not). That’s why motion in user interfaces can easily become annoying: it’s hard to stop attending to it, and, if irrelevant to the task at hand, it can substantially degrade the user experience (as any web user who has encountered a moving advertisement can attest).

    Although animations can be useful and can build user expectations about the UI, they should be used with a light touch — primarily as a tool for providing users with easily noticeable, smooth feedback.

    Purpose of UI Animations

    When animation is used in a subtle way, it can help users build mental models about how the system works and how they can interact with it.  Animations are less critical for user experience when they are simply time-filling visual stimulations during moments of transition (in fact, it’s these down-time animations that often frustrate participants in usability testing).  Instead of using animations to provide surface-level delight (that quickly sours), animations can be leveraged for usability: as clues about what is currently happening with the system, as signifiers for how UI elements will behave, and as easily understandable spatial metaphors for the user’s location in the information space.

    Motion for Feedback

    Animations are often helpful as a form of noticeable feedback that an action has been recognized by the system.  A ubiquitous example is the animation of a navigation menu sliding over the page when a hamburger icon is tapped.  Because our visual systems are so attuned to motion, a short animation can ensure that users see the feedback.

    American Museum of Natural History: When clicking the Exhibitions menu icon in the middle of the page, a menu panel slides over from the left side on top of the page’s content, rather than appearing suddenly like a new page.
    Epicurious for iPhone: A shopping-list feature shows a subtle animated feedback when the user adds a new item to the list: upon hitting the Done button on the keyboard, the word that was just typed (Coffee, in this case) instantly becomes light gray, and then quickly changes to black to show that it has been accepted. At the same time, the input field both fades in and slides down below, signaling that it is waiting for new input.

    Sometimes, static visual feedback is ignored due to change blindness. For example, people may not notice the shopping-cart–badge update after clicking the Add to cart button in the Cuisinart example below. An animation increases the chance of noticing that feedback. (Another alternative would be to make the static feedback more prominent — e.g., through a dialog box or using a bigger badge. Both solutions would likely be more intrusive than a simple animation.)

    An ecommerce product page that features no animated feedback when adding an item to the cart
    Cuisinart.com: After the user clicks Add to cart, the cart badge simply updates, with no animation. Because the badge is small and far away from the Add to cart button (which is likely where the user is looking), it’s easy to miss this change. The result could be that the user adds the same product to the cart multiple times.

    And animations can also be used as a form of feedback before the user commits to an action, such as previewing the new location of an item when using drag-and-drop to reorder a list.

    Airtable: When drag-and-drop is used to reorder columns in a table, a subtle animation gives a preview of the new order before the user lets go and commits to the action.

    Motion to Communicate State Change

    Motion can be used to indicate that the interface switched to a different state — for example, because of a mode change. Modes are often a difficult concept to communicate to users, but animation can help in two ways: (1) by making the mode change noticeable; and (2) by providing a conceptual metaphor of the mode transition. For example, morphing a pencil icon into a disk after it was clicked on signals the transition from Edit to Save mode more clearly than swapping one icon out for the other instantly.

    Material Design: A pencil icon that transforms into a icon helps to communicate the difference between the Edit mode and the Add new mode.

    In addition to showing a transition between modes or views of data, animations are also helpful for communicating state changes that are not triggered by users’ actions. For example, loading indicators show that the system is not yet ready to accept input.  One form of this is a “skeleton screen” (a placeholder UI that looks like a wireframe of the loading page, with no content) that is animated by a light glare moving across it.  

    Hipmunk: While loading flight-search results, Hipmunk offers several animated cues. First, there is an animated chipmunk pretending to fly. (While cute, the chipmunk is not essential for feedback, but is helpful to establish the brand tone.) However, at the same time, other, more-communicative animations occur: the number of flight results climbs steadily from 0 to 754, indicating that the system is performing multiple federated searches concurrently. Also, a placeholder shows where content will appear as flight results load.  A progress bar, along with two animated ellipses, indicates that results are still loading.  Finally, as new results are loaded and the relevance order changes, a subtle animation shows new results appearing within the list and is meant to communicate that the order of the search results is changing dynamically.  However, the number of simultaneous animations is overwhelming: the power of any of these animations to pull the user’s attention is diminished by competition from all the others.

    Motion for Spatial Metaphors and Navigation

    The structure of a complex information space is often challenging to communicate to users without taxing their cognitive resources or taking up too much screen space. Scanning through navigation menus, tree diagrams, or even breadcrumbs to figure out where one is in the information hierarchy is a complex type of cognitive work. While animation alone is not a suitable substitute for visible navigation with clear, unbranded labels, it can signal to users the direction in which they are moving within a process or hierarchy; this supplemental cue can make navigation through a complex IA more intuitive and understandable.

    Zooming animations can help users understand the direction of their journey into a hierarchical information space without looking at a tree diagram. Zooming out shows less detail, but more objects, thus suggesting that the user travels up into the hierarchy, whereas zooming in shows more detail, but fewer objects, creating the impression of going deeper into the hierarchy.

    iOS Photos uses a zoom metaphor to show the user’s location in the information space (in this case, represented by my endless library of photos of my dog, Daphne). Going between Years, Months, and Days has a subtle zoom-in or zoom-out animation that helps users understand whether they are going up or down in the hierarchy of photos. This approach helps keep the user’s attention on content (cute dog photos), and not on the navigation chrome.

    Likewise, a slide-over animation helps to establish that a user is moving forward or backward within a process such as checkout.

    Amtrak shows a subtle slide-over animation to indicate that the user is moving forward through the process of booking a train.

    Animations can also prevent disorientation and telling people if they are on the same page or have moved on — particularly on mobile, where context can be lost due to the small screen size.  Accordions, anchor links, and menu overlays can be disorienting or confusing if the change appears instantaneously; since a menu overlay fills the entire screen, the relationship between the overlay and the underlying page (e.g., “is this content a new page, or is it something else?”) is hard to understand without an animated cue. (Why does it matter if users know where they are? If they think they are on a new page, they are often tempted to use the Back button to navigate to the previous view; unfortunately, in the case of overlays or accordions, that action will take them away from the page instead of simply closing the element.)

    WebMD: When opening an accordion on the page, the associated content immediately shows up at the top of the screen (with no animation). The user may think that the new content is on a brand new page. A scrolling animation (showing how the page is moved so that the accordion is at the top of the screen), followed by a moving expansion could help the user to understand that this is not a completely new page, but an accordion within the page’s content.

    MetMuseum: Anchor links are often confusing or disorienting for users, but in this case, the anchor links use a smooth scrolling animation to show (1) that the content is all contained on a single page and  (2) where it is on that page.

    Motion as a Signifier

    Animations help users understand how to interact with UI elements. The direction (or other attributes) of the motion signifies the type of acceptable actions. For example, a card that expands from the bottom of the screen towards the top signals to the user that it can be closed by pulling down. A new card that comes from the right of the screen signals that it can be closed by swiping it to the right.

    Apple Music for iPhone: the Now Playing card animates up into place in a manner that helps the user understand that this view can be dismissed by pulling down, rather than swiping left or right on the edge.

    Car2Go for iPhone: A short bounce animation is a signifier that swiping across the list item reveals options.

    Attention Grabbing and Attention Hijacking

    Because the human visual system is very sensitive to motion (particularly, to motion that appears to have animacy), animation can be used to grab users’ attention, for better or worse. On the one hand, it can make a subtle signifier obvious, but on the other hand, gratuitous animations distract and annoy the user. Further, using animation to hijack the users’ attention or create a fear of loss is a dark pattern: an unethical application of user-experience principles and cognitive psychology to get users to do something they ordinarily wouldn’t.

    Benign: Refinery29 embeds a poll in the middle of a story about social media’s mental health effects and shows a radiating halo on the slider’s knob to reinforce the signifier and catch the user’s attention. This limited use of animation is a relatively benign (though mostly unhelpful) way of catching the user’s attention. Were animations widespread throughout the site, this animation would be a distracting usability problem.

    Distracting: The moving squiggle on Outline’s content pages adds no benefit, but needlessly draws the attention of the user away from the content.

    Dark pattern: A flashing countdown clock on warmlydecor.com indicates that a sale is about to end (by a puzzling coincidence, in just under an hour for every single product on the site, no matter when you visit). The clock activates the powerful loss-aversion instinct in users, and the flashing (with a subtle enlarging of the digits as they flash) is very difficult to avoid attending to.

    In summary, when UI animations are subtle, unobtrusive, and brief, they can improve the user experience and can communicate feedback and state changes, prevent disorientation, and strengthen signifiers. But they should not be overused, as they can easily become overwhelming and distract users.

    References

    Head, V. (2016) Designing Interface Animation. Rosenfeld Media. 

    Saffer, D. (2014). Microinteractions. O’Reilly Media.

    Pratt, J., Radulescu, P., Guo, R.M., & Abrams, R.A. (2010). It’s Alive! Animate motion captures visual attention. Psychological Science, 21, 1724–1730

    seven-and-a-half-soft-skills-to-have-as-a-designer

    Design yourself better to be able to design better.

    Purva Takkar

    A hoarding saying “In design we trust”

    A hoarding saying “In design we trust”

    Photo by Kaboompics .com from Pexels

    Design is the intentional solution to a problem within a set of constraints. It is everywhere and impacts all areas of our lives. New age designers are crossing fields causing the lines of conventional design to blur out. This discipline of action is calling for the value of impact over form, making it a new kind of movement.

    Designers are accomplishing this by embracing user-centred design(UCD). UCD gets the designer to design with the ‘user’ first in mind and actively gets the user to interact and even co-design the product. Designers are now in a unique position to be more than just visual artists. We are now the facilitators and technicians of good design, and good design has the power to change lives.

    Now you’ve been nodding positively at this all along. You’re also probably familiar with the importance of focusing on the user and how it can improve and almost guarantee the success of your design. But it’s not just the user and their interaction with the designed product that makes for a good design, it all starts with you. You need to focus inwards before you can take on any challenge and decide to work towards a problem. This new way of thinking to power a ‘new you’ can power your design. Here’s how.

    Observe, reflect, build, repeat. But you already do some of this anyway. The trick is to not stop yourself from questioning everything. Tools like the ‘five Why’s’ and ‘Yes and..’ exercises will help you here.

    Radical collaboration is the new buzzword that actually works, but it does not come easy. Get different teams to collaborate with you. Fill walls with post its (or digital ones, if you are environment friendly). At the same time, as a facilitator, keep reminding people of your restrictions and your boundaries for the project. Exercise your authority to say ‘no’ to keep the project on the right track. Don’t worry, it’ll lead you where you’re meant to be.

    Timelines are important. Magic happens when you are organized. Design your own design session, to help you design better. This will help you set boundaries around your work and the time you invest into it, for a more balanced approach towards your project. We’ve learnt to always respect others’ time, now we need to start respecting ours.

    I learnt this one early. The motto for my previous agency was “Fearless Pursuit of the Unexpected” that was pushed hard by my then Managing Director- Papri Dev. She taught me that being fearless can be rewarding. Drive your power from your sense of purpose and value for self. This will come out in your confidence in your work while presenting. Being aware of your surroundings for informed optimism will also help in keeping yourself centred at the same time.

    This courage walks hand in hand with how well you articulate yourself. To get yourself across effectively, you need to actively listen to what the other person is saying. Understanding this with an open mind will help guide you to be more informed about everything around you. Design not only your products but also your meetings, presentations, and so on.

    As a designer, you have a major responsibility to design for inclusivity by using diversity. Aim to bring not only your community together through your design but also the various teams that help you design it. Variation is good, especially when it helps incorporate so many different views into your design to make it better.

    As a designer, one of our most essential skills is empathy. We usually show this to everyone around us, but forget to also use it for ourselves. This comes in handy most when our designs fail, and we need to be resilient and know that we have to get back up. You are only human. It’s okay. Bring in the power of yoga and take deep breaths in.

    I recently attended a workshop where my takeaway was that the first prototype is always wrong. We are constantly working to improve ourselves. This is why we are not “whole” yet, and neither is this point number. Prototypes are meant to fail- but if you incorporate all of the points above, you have the ability to rise up and be better than before. After all, isn’t that what design is about- Constantly evolving.

    This Restless Reinvention for a better you will impact not only your designs but also your daily life. It’s all about the relationships you foster- those with yourself, your community and your designs. It is a way of living, heck some might even call it a religion. What’s your take on it?

    I’ll be happy to take your comments below. But in case you want to do a deeper dive, here are a few resource recommendations to help you on your journey: Connecting Across Differences by Jane Connor and Dian Killian; Discussing Design by Adam Connor and Aaron Irizarry; IBM Design Thinking Field Guide by IBM.

    the-meaning-of-design:-what-design-is-and-why-it?s-important

    What is design? Most people think that design is about making things look pretty – a decoration. Art. But design is as much an art as it is a science. Cold and calculated process. Sometimes the detriment of pretty. Yet, the design is not allowed to fail. Design is for everyone and no one in particular. Website and mobile app design, as well as design in general, is a complex yet subtle process, it’s more than making things pretty.

    Humans speak through languages and things speak through design. It seems today that nobody claims to speak a foreign language they haven’t studied but everybody thinks they know design

    Let’s dive deep into the world of design and try to understand why it is so important and what purposes it serves.

    The purpose of design

    Design exists to solve problems. To see the problem and find a solution, designers rely on data. So the toolset of the designer is based on research, not prettification.

    Your design doesn’t have to be original

    It’s a common misconception that novelties and hype in design will sell a product. The only reason conventional and textbook design patterns exist is because they are tested, proven, and they work. According to Jakob’s Law of Internet User Experience, users spend most of their time on other sites, so it makes perfect sense to design for patterns for which users are accustomed.

    We only implement new approaches if we are 100% positive they are better than the existing ones. This alone comes from a great deal of research.

    The great design solution you are looking for is out there.

    The real challenge is to find it.

    Every time you make a user think through an ‘innovative’ navigation pattern or an unorthodox menu placement, it’s a chance to lose them. Not because they are dumb but because we gravitate to familiar things more than we do to the unknown. If we do go for it though, we make sure everything about the new design is bulletproof.

    What design means - podcast cover illustration by SAM JI

    podcast cover illustration by SAM JI

    Designers are not like their users

    Everybody has biases and it’s okay. Cognitive biases reduce the load and help us stay sane. That being said, it’s important to know whether your bias is damaging your design work.

    Designers and owners know their product inside out. Their bias is called the Curse of Knowledge. It’s when you find it extremely difficult to think about problems from the perspective of lesser-informed people. On top of that, your goals are entirely different from those of the people you are building for.

    People want to get things done, not listen about how cool you are.

    What makes us different? If you are reading this, you are top of the food chain when it comes to computers. Most people are not and they don’t care. They don’t know what it takes to build a digital product just like we don’t know what it takes for our computers to work off the power line. Everybody knows something no one else does.

    Oddly enough, the more employees a design company has, the stronger their detachment from real users. No matter how good they think they are. Ask Google about Buzz.

    That is why it’s vital for design agencies to keep it humble and always research their users, study their goals and pains. The more we know about our users, the less biased we are. Eventually, people will have their own habits and biases about our product. But we have got to convert them first.

    UX design is more than just about usability

    Usability is about making a product for people to accomplish their goals. UX design is a lot more robust than just that. It brings delight and meaning to ordinary things. Good UX design matters because it makes every step enjoyable, even the negative ones. If there is no network connection, the website should not die. That’s a UX design job. It goes further beyond the familiar definition of user experience.

    Why UX design is important and what makes good design:

    • Good design will crack you up. User satisfaction is no longer a goal. It’s a default every design solution should be in line with. However, the fun and delight are the goals. The hard sell times are past. Modern design seduces and brings pleasure.
    • Good design will eat your money and make you feel good about it. Practical value is only a part of what people are willing to pay for. Another part is happiness. If your design makes people feel good, they will forgive you for technical issues and bad updates. How to make them happy? Be genuine and honest about your work. Listen. Change.
    • Good design will feel like a person. For people to care, they have to empathize with something. If a product is designed in a way that favors everything, it favors nothing. You make a social impact by having a strong distinctive voice, promoting the right kind of values, and identifying with your audience. No matter what type of business you do, there has to be a human side.
    • Good design has meaning. Meaning connects people with objects. If that connection is meaningful, it will stay for years. The design should empower people to establish the connections they need to feel free, capable and enlighted.

    Design is not a stage of the project

    Even in deep tech circles, there is an idea that design is a time in the project when they draw sketches of the interfaces. It is not. Design starts when the owner first puts together the image of the product and ends when the project is done which is never.

    The choice of a business model can’t rely on the goals of the owners. There might be a natural talent and an insane gut feeling but it would be foolish to rest on them.

    Knowledge of how the product could fit into people’s lives is UX. Knowledge of how to get that knowledge is UX.

    UX does not result in UI. It penetrates production, testing, analytics, support, and updates that follow the creation of just interfaces. Those who realize that a designer is more than just a pencil, end up with a consistent and reliable product as opposed to a patchwork of narrow tasks.

    A business owner shouldn’t be surprised when no other than a designer will start asking them about their business strategy. In fact, a designer will only be drawing the UIs for 12.5% of the time they’ll be involved in the project.

    Eye candy design works

    It might appear that design, especially the digital one, takes itself too seriously. Indeed, there are usability geeks who don’t believe aesthetics have any impact. They exemplify it by the unattractive likes of Reddit and Craigslist.

    Design is no place for extremities. When there’s looks not backed by proper functionality, it’s empty. When it’s just handy and useful, there’s no emotion tied to it and it is also bad. To find the balance between usability and aesthetics, we need to know how attention works.

    To reach more people, your expertise has to spread thin and let emotions onboard users. The visual design drives emotion.

    This is how web design works. The vibe of a website decides whether a person will stay and discover the features. Design is engineering in the sense that we know how to engineer delight. Through visual design, we bring meaning to ordinary things and help people find value.

    An illustration is a shell for something that it represents on a deeper level. When we designed a professional platform for architects, we created an animation of elements that mimics the behavior of a construction site.

    It might look subtle and may not seem worth the struggle at the early stages of design like wireframing and prototyping. But it’s important for a designer to keep in mind the image of the finished product. More so, the way you visually present your digital product says a lot about the brand in general.

    No matter how good the service, if it doesn’t care for itself, neither will the people.

    For skeptics, no attractive things don’t work better but they are always worth a try. Beautifully designed products get half of their credibility because of the visual appeal. It’s the developer’s job to pull the rest of the features to that level. Most people think if it looks good, it has to work well as well.

    Usability is not everything. If usability engineers designed a nightclub, it would be clean, quiet, brightly lit, with lots of places to sit down, plenty of bartenders, menus written in 18-point sans-serif, and easy-to-find bathrooms. But nobody would be there. They would all be down the street at Coyote Ugly pouring beer on each other.”

    – Joel Spolsky.

    Point is, how the product works is important but how it looks while doing that is a game-changer.

    Simple vs minimal in design

    If you make a rating of comments on Dribbble, the ones that feature the words ‘clean’ and ‘simple’ will be well ahead of the rest. Simplicity has long become one of the staples in design. Because of that, there appeared a bunch of false beliefs that use the term ‘simplicity’ with regard to things that end up being far from simple. So what design is simple and what is minimal?

    It’s important to know the distinction between the two main concepts of design optimization:

    • Simplicity is a reduced complexity

    • Minimalism is a reduced quantity

    The practice of reducing and decluttering is a discipline of its own. To know what to reduce means to have confidence there will be no tension put on a user as the result of our design experiments. It’s called friction. Every design decision we make has to reduce friction. Sometimes it coerces designers into minimalism, hence the thriving trend for minimalism in web and app design. But it’s important to know where to stop.

    Reducing the volume of text on buttons means substituting it with icons. But how universal are the icons? Are you 100% confident your mute icon is unambiguous and won’t mean radar to some?

    Minimal interface design is not purpose-driven. It’s a style. Simplicity comes from our understanding of the experience no matter how multi-elemental the UI is.

    The design has to be visible first so that it won’t do harm. The notorious hamburger menu has taken a beating but made its way into the designers’ minds and earned respect. What this shows is you can’t force minimalism and count on simplicity.

    All Adobe products are insanely non-minimalistic. At the same time, they are perfectly clear in terms of performance and functionality. You can research the interface and make it simple, yours. But you can’t make yours something that’s not there.

    To demonstrate the magnitude of the issue with simplicity and minimalism, let us bring Nielsen Norman Group’s UX case study of Tesla Model S’ 17-inch screen car interface. The main idea is that by mounting this tablet-like device on the dashboard, Tesla tapped into a realm of drivelessness and made the experience way more simple. They minimized the driver’s input but created a new pattern of behavior that might appear dangerous.

    Take lane assistance. It minimizes the driver’s efforts to change lanes on one hand and dissolves their attention on the other. An engineer’s urge to minimize the pattern might cost someone their life.

    Designers have to step in and take responsibility for the mental state we put people in with our products.

    If it’s driving, we can’t simplify it and give people a full sense of security because. We can’t know all the possible outcomes of all the possible scenarios. Let people stay in charge, but make the experience clear and enjoyable.

    User interface design

    A user interface is the main touchpoint of a designed product and a user. The UI design is about providing a user with the simplest and most efficient way to interact with a product. In that sense, a designer has to be well aware of the following three concepts of user interface design:

    • Condition or where the UI exists.
    • Content or what the UI looks like.
    • Context or who operates the UI.

    Understanding each of these three gives a designer the most important tools to build a visual solution for any type of product.

    To become visual, elements have to be designed. Those which are visible by nature, need design even more.

    The UI (user interface) consists of several fundamental elements that all have to be addressed with high-level awareness.

    Color in design

    What most people and, sadly, many designers know about color does not do it enough justice. Color is the first thing we’d notice but the last we’d understand. Colors can’t be explained and described unless seen. They can’t be changed but can be learned and used. This is how nature communicates with you, and that is why color is so important in design.

    “Colors are powerful symbols by which you live or die; they’re worth paying attention to.”

    – Ben Hersh

    Psychology separates color studies into a standalone discipline. Marketers know the basics of color theory and use it to stimulate people’s sense of security, alert, and so on. Designers use color to speak instead of words. Yet, colors don’t exist outside our consciousness.

    Before the age of digital screens, people used colors as attributes of physical objects. That’s why there are so many color names attached to the toponyms (names of places). Like umber named after the soil in the Italian region of Umbria and turquoise from the French for “Turkish”. To become a recognized color, it had to exist in the real world.

    As our understanding of color grew stronger, color theories began to pop out attempting to define, systemize, and classify colors.

    From the Middle Ages to the 1970s’ advent of HSL and HSV color models, all the exploration and discovery lead us to the three colors: red, green, and blue.

    Out of the combinations of these three, you can get virtually any color. However, this is the set we decide to stick to today. It has been different before and it might change in the future. There is no such thing as primary colors apart from those we decide to consider as such.

    We differentiate the current color models depending on the media they will be displayed on and the purpose of the visual presentation. We might leave out some colors which are not visible on the screens or include those which are not visible by the eye. Modern color technology is controlled by mathematics. But the problem is the variability of conditions under which we see these colors.

    A modern color theory puts our brain in charge of our color perception depending on the context and looks to find the schemes and methods of producing colors accordingly.

    “The color spaces we can see look more like psychedelic pinecones.”

    – Ben Hersh

    Color in design

    For a designer, to know color means to be able to mathematically select the colors and have the choice backed up by data. At the same time, we as designers have to be keenly aware of how colors are perceived in different cultures and how that perception changes over time.

    Colors are the products of physics and mathematics but also intuitive and elusive enough to never let us rest.

    Typography in design

    Another thing that pops up every time there’s a talk about digital product content is typography. Technically, being just a shell for the meaning, it sometimes can be as significant as the meaning itself. Because if it doesn’t represent that meaning in good fashion, it will go unnoticed.

    Text is the strongest medium of information. It might not be so much in terms of emotive response but definitely is in terms of being informative. Text is delivered by means of fonts, or typefaces, in general – typography.

    Certain things only exist in one representation – text.

    Typography is a design patrimony. Like any other design-specific method, typography is purpose-driven but also aesthetic. As a functional element, typography in the UI is used to guide people, invoke an action, and help them through the entire experience. That’s about the headings, titles, text in menus, buttons, CTAs, and so on.

    Typography in design

    Communication Security Web Page by Shakuro

    When it comes to typography as an aesthetic element in web design, we implacably steer towards branding. Words express individuality which is the core of identity. Designers can boost that individuality through the usage of typefaces to reflect the unique character of a brand.

    Typography as part of branding helps the product stand out.

    Icons in design

    Because nobody has time. We have lists everywhere. Lists are how we make sense of the abundance around us. We list foods, apps, TV channels, even friends of Facebook. This helps us structure the information and memorize it better. No wonder lists have made their way into web design where everything can be categorized. That’s how features, services, advantages, and payment plans started being aligned in lists.

    Turned out, lists are good for structuring but do no good in the visual aspect.

    For a list to become an attention anchor, it has to have a visual element to it. Compare the classic heading-text combo and an icon-heading-text combo:

    Heading textIcon text

    Designers give icons a chance to give a quick snapshot of what the point is about. In this case, icons are Metaphoric Substance. This is the least icons can do. In fact, you can encode a lot of information in them in the context where the estate is a factor.

    Game designers took it even further and created systems of logically-connected icons representing different in-game assets. This is called Visual Synonymity.

    There is a fine line between icons that convey a metaphor allowing designers to cover all bases in case the textual meaning is missed and pure decorative-functioning icons. We make sure icons work in the first place, which means they motivate a user to do what we expect from them.

    Ideally, icons should work the way emojis do – as a universal language flexible enough to deliver any message cross-culturally and obvious enough to leave no second guesses 💡

    Animation in design

    Every physical object moves. They might be still technically, but in relation to the environment, they all move. As the Sun goes over a stone in the woods, the game of light and shadows enlivens the dead stone.

    Our eyes and brain are designed to capture movement because it bears a lot of information. It’d be a shame to leave it unaccounted for.

    Motion is the first thing we see in the product along with color, images, and typography. These four are the main contributors to the brand’s/product’s personality. It’s important for a product to have a stance on how it’s elements move and what stands behind that movement. But first, why animation is important in UX design:

    • Illustrative. It can demonstrate the functionality or help understand it better.
    • Amusing. Value can be expressed in many ways. Positivity is one of them.
    • Familiar. We expect certain reactions from certain actions. Animation familiarizes.
    • Engaging. We tend to follow patterns and animation is a great source of those.

    Animation in web design

    Triumph Motorcycle Shop Animation by Shakuro

    The reason to animate the interface depends on the goal of that specific interaction. Let’s take engaging a user and directing their attention. Since movement is something we instantly see, it makes sense to use animation for things like banner ads and spams. Ads aren’t expected to sell the product, as much as they hunt for views. A view is a sell and they will get it from you by using cheap tricks. Banner ads animation is definitely a cheap trick that works.

    How and when to use animation:

    • For attention

    The principle itself is innocent though. More so, if we use animation to direct users in a way that helps them, the same banner ad principles might contribute to a good UX. For example, a file sending gone wrong does not have to be a pop-up with an error code or a “whoops” type message. We can attract attention to this by using a meaningful motion graphic.

    This animation won’t get you confused about the success of your sending and will make sure you address the issue whatever that is. At the same time, it won’t be too intimidating because the animation is done in a friendly way.

    • For feedback

    Animation magnifies the satisfaction you get from successfully performing a task. The more complex the task, the more rewarding it should be. Motion is how we convey the mood and the attitude of a product to the user’s actions.

    Such animation can cover up the time needed to complete the technical request or form submission. The spinning bubble ensures there is work going on and appeals to our natural feeling of completion.

    • For progress

    Most web processes have designated patterns that people recognize and expect. At the same time, with a variety of devices and screen media, it’s extremely challenging to maintain the same behavior with a lesser estate. This means we have to divide certain processes into comprehensible bits while mapping the entire progress.

    This is how Google addresses a rather complicated and long process of copying information to Pixel phones.

    Google pixel animation

    Since this is a phone, you won’t be able to just switch to a different tab and keep yourself busy with something else. Still, you have to know what exactly is happening and why it is important.

    The animation is a huge part of modern UI/UX design and we are just getting started with it. It’s a natural process of evolution that will ultimately make all animation meaningful and purposeful, forever cutting the ties to decoration. Added complexity will be replaced with modalities and subtle messages a well-thought-out animation certainly brings.

    UX writing

    UX writing is a process of creating copy for user interfaces. Some of you might be surprised to see writing listed among the fundamental aspects of interface design. However, writing is the most important accomplishment in human history. We are surrounded by products that are just the recreation of someone’s ideas. Sometimes those ideas are centuries old. Ideas travel by words.

    The reason why animal life is finite is the inability to pass the experience of one animal to another after it. As humans, we can do this.

    We pass knowledge and multiply it. This is called collective thinking and it has writing in its core.

    Words are how we think and define the world around us. Words are human experience coded in something massive and yet extremely fluid – the language. The design relies on such elements and shares a long and dramatic history with writing.

    Just like designers build a collection of methods, principles, and tools, they tend to do the same with a vocabulary used in interfaces. Indeed, some companies have style guides. Then there are acknowledged guides like the Chicago Manual of Style, Microsoft Manual of Style, and Associated Press Manual. They contain general recommendations for writers and designers working on specific things – documents, guides, and other user-facing assets. They teach how to avoid confusion and ambiguity but while doing that, they put a lid on the actual voice of the product.

    Design values individuality equally to usefulness. Tech culture took away individuality in writing only leaving it to the creative sphere. However, if the design speaks to the emotive perception, writing has to follow.

    This is how UX writing was born. At some point, designers started using a specific vernacular to name the UI elements. Good or bad, they were authentic bits of text specific for the product. We call it microcopy and it works like a regular copy with a tweak. The tweak is even though the text is clear and simple, you can’t reuse it for another product. It won’t feel right, like something is missing. That something is context. Microcopy says things differently and exudes topicality.

    All of a sudden the unification everybody was going for gave way to individuality through one of the best ways to pass information – words. Because words matter.

    Some designers went astray and became… UX writers. And they started approaching writing with all their knowledge and skills of visual influence. The UX writing principles quickly found their form in a pyramid.

    UX writing principles

    There are two layers. UX writing does not have to be personal. The essence of the product can be fulfilled by the UX writing principles alone. If it is clear, it’s helpful and if it helps, it becomes significant. The top layer is what UX writing is amplified by – the socially pleasing brand voice.

    On paper, it’s quite simple but how do you put it to practice with real words and real problems?

    * * *

    Every professional, every team and every company has its own definition of design. 

    But it seems that it all comes down to the simple fact that the meaning of design however it may vary depending on different projects, fields, and theories is not about beautification as such, but more of making the lives of users better, clearer, more enjoyable.

    the-ultimate-guide-to-ux-design-internships

    On a warm summer night in 2012, I received an email: “Congratulations! You’ve been chosen to be part of our Autumn internship program.” In a state of shock, I ran downstairs to break the news to my parents. My mom was already asleep, so I tried to wake her: “Mom, wake up! I did it! I’m going to San Francisco!” She replied in a muffled tone: “Okay, don’t forget your keys, take care,” and continued sleeping.

    Interning in San Francisco, at a now IBM owned company, has been a longtime dream of mine. I was so happy to nail the application process. Now, eight years later, as a senior UX designer, I’ve already experienced the other side of the equation as well. I have been involved in hiring new members and interns to our design team. In this article, I will share all my personal learnings on how to score your dream UX design internship.

    When to start applying for UX internships?

    The application process for my internship took almost 4 months. I had several interview rounds and many example tasks during the selection process. Generally, scoring an internship in this field takes a good while, so you have to start preparing early. I recommend you to start searching and applying way before you are planning to begin a UX design internship.

    How early is ‘early’ exactly? Start at least half a year or sooner before your desired starting date. So, if you are planning to land an internship position in the autumn of 2020, you should start looking for spots at the end of February at the latest.

    Where to find UX internships?

    There are many UX design internship positions posted online. You can search on niche job boards, like Cofolios, UX Jobs, or Indeed. Furthermore, you should scan social media like LinkedIn or Dribble. If you are looking for internships in a specific city or region, you can enter Facebook groups for local UX designers and ask around.

    If you have a dream company in mind, you should try sending them a targeted email. Even better, you should connect with their HR professionals on LinkedIn and drop them a message. It is very flattering to a company when young professionals are planning their careers around them. If you want to make sure that you land your dream internship, a recommendation will be your golden ticket. Ask around your network to see whether you have a connection to your dream company.

    Still, I would recommend you to focus more on places with dedicated internship programs. Not only because of chances but also because it means that they have already established a proper environment for interns (mentors, processes and specific tasks). When there is an established UX design internship program, you can learn and benefit more, in a way more structured fashion.

    “>

    How to find the best UX design internship for you?

    Well, the answer depends mainly on you! Honestly, it is very difficult to choose the best from different companies while looking at them from the outside. But there are some aspects which you can certainly consider:

    1. Company profile

    Company profile is crucial when it comes to choosing your internship position. In most cases you can choose between product-based and service-based companies:

    • Product-based companies build products (duh), they usually own the complete product cycle and have an in house workforce. They usually have their own developers, design processes. Ideally, multidisciplinary teams work closely together and they are driven by their users.
    • Service-based companies build software for other companies (clients). They have their own design methods and processes, but they are mostly driven by their clients’ needs, expectations, and deadlines.

    If you want to work in a fast-paced environment and try yourself out on different projects service-based companies are your best bet. If you aim to submerge in the details of one product or industry, a product team may be a better place for you.

    2. Industry

    If you have a strong focus and passion towards an industry or a domain, choose a company from that space (eg. medicine, fintech, NGOs). This way you will get an opportunity to follow your interest and you will be able to build up an industry-specific portfolio that will help you later on, to get even better positions in that specific area.

    3. Design team

    I recommend you to stalk some of the designers and the design team of your preferred company. Find their work and portfolios. If the company is filled with great designers and has a great design team you will be in good hands. On top of learning from the team, you should also build a strong professional network, that can help you throughout your UX career.

    “>
    Not only can you learn from the team, but you will also build a strong network, that can help you throughout your UX career.

    4. Location

    When I received the results of my internship applications I had to choose between two positions. One of them – a streaming company called Ustream – was located in San Francisco. While the other one was LogMein – providing secure cloud services for big companies – headquartered in Boston.

    I seriously had no idea which one to choose. In the end I ended up choosing Ustream, mostly because of the location, San Francisco. I found it super interesting and attractive to be close to the bubbling startup scene of Silicon Valley. The decision felt a bit unprofessional back then, but now I realize that it is a-okay to consider the location when choosing an internship or job.

    Questions you can ask yourself when thinking about the location of a UX design internship position:

    • What is the cost of living there? Am I going to be able to pay the rent in that specific area?
    • Do I speak the local language? Will I be able to communicate in a professional environment?
    • Am I interested in the culture, environment, and lifestyle of that area?
    • Do I have family, friends, or connections there?

    5. Money

    If you have urgent financial needs to be taken care of, there is no shame in choosing the highest paying company. Really, it’s only a matter of priorities. But if you have the privilege to not focus on money choose the place which is the best for your professional progress, the one that will look best in your resume.

    Some companies think they can employ interns for no or very low payment, only in exchange for the “experience”. If you have to work for free, make sure that it is labeled voluntary work. Don’t be fooled: an internship is real work, and you shouldn’t work for free. Your work and time as an intern is just as important and as real as anyone else’s at a company.

    Preparing for the application

    What are the basic requirements?

    In most cases, you have to actively study design at a college or university to be considered for internship programs. But there are always programs and companies that aren’t interested in your educational background. Furthermore, you need to show at least some UX related work experience, even if only nominal projects.

    How to write a cover letter for a UX design internship?

    You might be asked to submit 2 things with your application for a UX design internship: a cover letter and a portfolio. First of all, take the time to personalize your cover letter for each company you are applying for. A generic cover letter, without anything related to the company or position, makes for an awful first impression.

    Even the tone of your letter might be different if you are applying at a startup or a legacy company. Take the time to review the copy of the posting and the copy on the company’s site to gather a general idea of the tone you should use.

    Next, you should make sure that you mention the company and the exact position you are applying for. When you are writing about relevant experience, coursework, and skills, you should always think of keywords. Usually, you can find these keywords in the job posting itself. On top of detailing how awesome you are, explain what you want and could learn from the internship. Finally, ask your friends or family to review your cover letter before sending it.

    How to build up your UX intern portfolio?

    UX Folio - UX Portfolio Builder Tool“>

    Put real projects in the front

    I know, it’s always very hard to find projects and build up a decent first portfolio as a student who doesn’t have real working experience. It’s always easier to create or re-design some projects on your own. But if you can, try to show real-life projects too. If you had a school project, freelance, or sponsored studio project, put in first and emphasize the real-world challenges it presented and how it helped you to grow professionally.

    Less is more

    Recruiters don’t have time to scroll through all the projects you have ever done and search for the best. Do it for them! Curating your own work lets you keep control of your image. Create three or four great case studies, include one-two real-life projects and you’re good to go.

    Show how you think

    You have to highlight the process and methodology you used throughout your works. Point out how you tackled the professional problems of a project, what methodology did you use and why. This will create an aura of credibility and professionalism.

    These are the very basic tips I can give you, but in case you want to read more about how to build up a great portfolio, you can find more UX designer portfolio tips here.

    How to prepare for UX internship interviews?

    Know your projects inside-out

    Know all the little details of all of the projects you show in your portfolio! Think about why you made certain decisions in that project. If there are some decisions that weren’t based on real professional methods or research, do not make up a process! You can just admit that other, external issues (eg. time pressure, stakeholders, etc.) influenced them. It’s totally fine; that is life and no design work is done in a vacuum. Accepting these facts and sharing them honestly with your interviewer is what makes you appear professionally experienced.

    Talk about how you think and work

    Let your interviewers know about your thought processes, tools, and working methods. This is something you already have to show in your portfolio but in the interview, you have to be prepared to talk about how you think, how you approach a design problem or why you made certain design decisions in your projects.

    Tell them how you collaborate

    Collaboration is an integral part of the UX design process, and you will be expected to talk about how you work with others. Try to think through projects or situations where you faced a challenge in communication and tell how you solved the situation (eg. talking to stakeholders, working together with developers). You can also mention examples when you actually didn’t succeed at all and reflect on how you would approach the situation now.

    People standing in front of a table that has post-its on it.“>

    Be honest and show a bit of your personality

    Above all, don’t be shy: let your interviewer know what makes you an asset to the company. Why are you different than everyone else? Leverage your unique insights and talents, but never show off, or look too egoistic. A good strategy to avoid looking self-consumed is to always give credit to those who have helped you and to also talk about the work that went into becoming the best in something.

    Professional UX design challenge

    Usually, the point of a professional design exercise is not whether someone can get the answer right. It’s to see how people think! That’s why some of the big companies’ design challenges don’t have a solution at all: the best way to keep people thinking is to invent a problem that’s impossible to solve. So don’t freak out if you feel that you can’t find a proper solution or don’t have enough time for the task. Do your best to show how you think and how you function under pressure.

    If you have an online task, try to prioritize the steps or methods you are planning to use during the exercise. Don’t overdo it, or stick to one part of your process. Leave enough time for yourself to develop the final design at the end. 

    Yay, you nailed it! Now, what to expect during an UX design internship?

    Real work vs. school projects

    Design institutes usually expect you to apply your theoretical learnings, methods, and processes. In case of educational mock projects, you usually don’t have to deal with clients, technical constraints or conflicts within your team. You don’t have to convince your boss about a usability problem, teach your client about design or push through an idea on a hierarchical decision maker system. 

    When you start your internship you can experience all the real constraints and challenges of design work. At first it can be intimidating, but you have to learn how to manage people and how to survive and thrive in different systems and work environments in order to become a successful designer.

    You might not work on the most important thing in the world first

    As an intern you might not be delegated the most important task in the company. At Ustream one of my biggest projects was to create a character illustration for one of the onboarding animations (I had to draw a Yeti). At first I felt a bit disappointed since I was expecting to work on the interface but I quickly accepted my task and jumped right into it.

    During my project, I learned a lot about presenting your design in front of a group of people even if it’s “just an illustration of a Yeti.” So don’t worry if you aren’t changing the world as an intern at first. You will certainly learn something new during the process.

    As an intern at IBM, design leader Paul Boag was handed down ‘the Web’ by senior designers who “turned their noses up at it in disgust because at the time it had no design.”

    If you don’t kickstart your career, you can certainly kickstart your portfolio

    Every intern secretly hopes to get a job offer after their internship. Do not worry! If you don’t get a job offer right away after you finish yours. It does not mean that you aren’t good enough. They just probably don’t need any additional, full-time UX designers at the moment. What you should focus on is to properly document your work and have a great case study in your portfolio after your internship is finished. This can help you to get the job of your dreams after you finish your studies.

    Build your UX intern portfolio with UXfol.io

    UXfol.io is a complete UX portfolio solution, built by designers for designers. With our platform, you can save time and energy building your portfolio home page and case studies. UXfol.io provides sleek templates, thumbnail generator, UX-specific case study sections, downloadable templates, and text ideas. Our review features will allow you to collect valuable feedback from fellow UXers before sending out your portfolio with UX design internship applications. Try UXfol.io for free or choose between our Standard and Premium plans!

    a-brand-new-browsing-experience-arrives-in-firefox-for-android-nightly

    It’s been almost 9 years since we released the first Firefox for Android. Hundreds of millions of users have tried it and over time provided us with valuable feedback that allowed us to continuously improve the app, bringing more features to our users that increase their privacy and make their mobile lives easier. Now we’re starting a new chapter of the Firefox experience on Android devices.

    Testing to meet the users’ needs

    Back in school, most of us weren’t into tests. They were stressful and we’d rather be playing or hanging out with friends. As adults, however, we see the value of testing — especially when it comes to software: testing ensures that we roll out well-designed products to a wide audience that deliver on their intended purposes.

    At Firefox, we have our users at heart, and the value our products provide to them is at the center of everything we do. That’s why we test a lot. It’s why we make our products available as Nightly (an early version for developers) and Beta versions (a more stable preview of a new piece of software), put the Test Pilot program in place and sometimes, when we enter entirely new territory, we add yet another layer of user testing. It’s exactly that spirit that motivated us to launch Firefox Preview Beta in June 2019. Now we’re ready for the next step.

    A new Firefox for Android: the making-of

    When we started working on this project, we wanted to create a better Firefox for Android that would be faster, more reliable, and able to address today’s user problems. Plus, we wanted it to be based on our own mobile browser engine GeckoView in order to offer the highest level of privacy and security available on the Android platform. In short: we wanted to make sure that our users would never have to choose between privacy and a great browsing experience.

    We had an initial idea of what that new Android product would look like, backed up by previous user research. And we were eager to test it, see how users feel about it, and find out what changes we needed to make and adjust accordingly. To minimize user disruption, early versions of this next generation browser were offered to early adopters as a separate application called Firefox Preview.

    In order to ensure a fast, efficient and streamlined user experience, we spent the last couple of months narrowing down on what problems our users wanted us to solve, iterating on how we built and surfaced features to them. We looked closely at usage behaviour and user feedback to determine whether our previous assumptions had been correct and where changes would be necessary.

    The feedback from our early adopters was overwhelmingly positive: the Firefox Preview Beta users loved the app’s fresh modern looks and the noticeably faster browsing experience due to GeckoView as well as new UI elements, such as the bottom navigation bar. When it came to tracking protection, we learned that Android users prefer a browsing experience with a more strict protection and less distractions — that’s why we made Strict Mode the default in Firefox Preview Beta, while Firefox for Desktop comes with Standard Mode.

    Firefox Preview Beta goes Nightly

    Based on the previous 6 months of user testing and the positive feedback we have received, we’re confident that Android users will appreciate this new browsing experience and we’re very happy to announce that, as of Tuesday (January 21, 2020), we’re starting to roll it out to our existing Firefox for Android audience in the Nightly app. For current Nightly users, it’ll feel like a big exciting upgrade of their browsing experience once they update the app, either manually or automatically, depending on their preset update routine. New users can easily download Firefox Preview here.

    As for next milestones, the brand new Firefox for Android will go into Beta in Spring 2020 and land in the main release later in the first half of this year. In the meantime, we’re looking forward to learning more about the wider user group’s perception of the new Firefox for Android as well as to more direct feedback, allowing us to deliver the best-in-class mobile experience that our users deserve.

    things-that-will-scare-your-web-design-clients

    Dealing with concerned clients can be a challenge for numerous reasons. I liken it to running around with a fire extinguisher, desperately trying to put out blazes large and small. But it’s not just the panicky ones who need the occasional dousing. And it’s not necessarily their fault.

    The web can be a scary place – even for seasoned designers. Trying to wrap our heads around privacy issues, security, accessibility and new technologies can make anyone’s head spin. So, just think of what they can do to the people who depend on us for help.

    In some ways, it’s even worse for our clients. Why? Because there are any number of bad actors out there who are constantly trying to trick them, hack their site or otherwise extort a few extra dollars. Not to mention the perfectly legitimate things that, while innocent enough, can put a non-techie into a cold sweat.

    With that in mind, here are a few items that tend to put even cool clients into panic mode. But don’t worry. Each one includes some tips for talking them off the emotional ledge.

    The Web Designer Toolbox

    Unlimited Downloads: 1,000,000 Web Templates, Themes, Plugins, Design Assets, and much more!

    Mysterious Spam Invoices

    If you own a website, or even a domain, odds are you’re going to start receiving all manner of nuisance messages. Whether they appear in your inbox or your postal mail, their aim is to get you to spend money – often out of fear.

    One of the more famous examples of this are phony domain registration renewals. A company (if you can call it that) will send a letter that looks like an invoice, claiming the client’s domain name is about to expire. It will probably mention all the terrible things that can happen if they don’t renew this instant. And, oh yeah, the cost is massively marked up.

    The only trouble is that your client has never heard of this company. So naturally, they’ll ask you about it. They may wonder if they’ve missed the deadline and why the price is suddenly higher. Have they already lost the domain? What will happen to their business?

    Honorable mention goes out to those great “let me fix your website” emails that show up regularly. But they’re only kind of scary.

    What to Do

    When your client comes to you with a scam message, tell them so. But also tell them, if necessary, who their domain registrar is and why it’s important to have that information on file. It’s a great chance to educate them.

    Man looking at a laptop computer.Google sends, it should still be looked into – just in case. Still, it’s worth mentioning that these messages need to be taken with a grain of salt. Clients shouldn’t worry that their site won’t be indexed or that they’re somehow being punished by an algorithm.

    Let them know that Google’s automated tools can often focus on the minutiae. And, while you’ll be glad to review the issue, it most likely isn’t a major concern.

    Google sign.painful experience.

    I mention this because it seems to be more prevalent than ever with certain website configurations. Managed WordPress hosting services have been particularly difficult in this area. With some, it’s not just browser-based cache, we also need to worry about server-based as well. The result is a lot of wasted time, trying to get everyone on the same page.

    What to Do

    First, get a stress ball. Next, teach your clients about the wonders of cache and how they can clear it from their browser. In most cases, that will do the trick.

    If you find that your web host has tough-to-clear server cache, it may be worth trying a staging environment. This would allow you to make changes on a non-cached location, while enabling your clients to see updates before you push them to production.

    Woman typing.Gutenberg block editor. It looks and functions quite differently from the old Classic Editor. Not to mention that early versions lacked the polish we see today.

    This led to a lot of confusion, frustration and, yes, even a little fear that things would break.

    What to Do

    Frankly, it often falls on designers to stay ahead of the game with these kinds of changes. If we see major developments coming along to the sites we manage, we should act to make the transition as smooth as possible (or delay it indefinitely).

    In the case of Gutenberg, that meant educating clients about the new editor. And, in some cases, perhaps installing the Classic Editor to keep the status quo. It’s all about minimizing discomfort.

    WordPress new post link.asked about it.

    Certainly, having to calmly explain these situations can become tiring. There is no shortage of other things on our to-do lists. But on the bright side, it can be very satisfying to help clear up misconceptions and bring even a tiny level of comfort to someone else.

    That in itself is a reward and it also helps to build a high level of trust between designer and client. And, looking like a superhero isn’t so bad, either.

    accessibility-tools-for-designers-and-developers

    It’s a practice of creating apps, sites, and products usable for everyone, including people with visual, motor, auditory, speech, or cognitive disabilities.

    Why should you support accessibility?

    • You can impact someone’s life by making inclusive and easy-to-use products.
    • One billion people have disabilities: your product can be used by them.
    • Better accessibility support leads to better UX and cleaner code.

    In this guide, you’ll find accessibility testing tools, colour contrast checkers and colour blindness simulators, both for designers and developers who work with web and mobile.

    “Supporting accessibility could impact someone’s life by making inclusive and easy-to-use products.”

    🎨 Tools for making accessible colours

    Contrast – A simple macOS app to check colour contrast ratios and identify accessible colour pairings based on WCAG Guidelines.

    Accessible Colour Palette Builder — A great tool for building accessible color palettes. Enter up to 6 colours and see the colour matrix to know which colors can be combined.

    ColorBox — A tool that algorithmically builds accessible colour systems. It also sorts by colour, hue, saturation, and luminosity when picking colour combinations.

    Contraste — a free app for checking the accessibility of text against the WCAG rules.

    Hex Naw — A free color accessibility tool for testing entire color systems for contrast and accessibility. You can test about 12 different colors at the same time.

    90 examples — A free collection of accessible colour themes:

    • Variety of A11Y compliant colour combos.
    • 90 combinations of text/background colour that has sufficient contrast ratio.

    Contrast Checker — Another free colour accessibility tool that helps check the contrast between the background of an element and the page itself.

    Colorable — A free web-based contrast tool:

    • Take a set colour palette and get contrast values for every combination.
    • Includes pass/fail scores for the WCAG accessibility guidelines.

    Accessibility Tools Colourable

    👓 Colour blindness simulators

    Stark — A paid Sketch plugin that will let you simulate different types of colour blindness.

    Color Oracle — A free color blindness simulator. It uses the algorithm for simulating colour vision impairment, so you can see colors as they are seen by colorblind people.

    Toptal’s color filter — This online tool lets you test your website and shows you how people with different color blindness will see your pages.

    Accessibility Tools Toptal

    🙌 Accessibility testing tools

    ANDI — A free accessibility testing tool for web content:

    • Provides automated detection of accessibility issues
    • Gives practical suggestions to improve accessibility and checks 508 compliance.

    WAVE — A free web accessibility evaluation tool:

    • Provides visual feedback by injecting icons and indicators into your page
    • Has browsers extensions for evaluating local, dynamic, or password-protected pages.

    Accessibility Tools

    AChecker — A free accessibility testing web app, which allows you to check accessibility by web page URL, HTML file or even markup. Also, it enables additional options, such as CSS, HTML validator and more.

    A11ygator — A free web tool to analyze websites against WCAG. Also available as a browser extension and as Twitter bot. And to find more accessibility tools, check Awesome Design Tools list.

    🙌 Tools for iOS developers

    Accessibility Inspector is a part of Xcode, the main IDE for developing iOS apps. Think of it as a built-in accessibility checker that goes through an iOS application and tries to find accessibility issues. Accessibility Inspector shows parts of an iOS app that can be done better and helps to check iOS assistive technologies.

    VoiceOver helps navigate the app screen without seeing it. It also can be used for testing iOS apps accessibility, when you enable it and try to use your app.

    VoiceOver gives audible descriptions of what’s on your screen — from battery level, to who’s calling, to which app your finger is on. You can also adjust the speaking rate and pitch to suit your needs. When you touch the screen or drag your finger over it, VoiceOver speaks the name of the item your finger is on, including icons and text. To interact with the item, such as a button or link, or to navigate to another item, use VoiceOver gesturesiPhone User Guide

    Accessibility Tools Voice Over

    Take a look at Accessibility on iOS section on the Apple site to learn more about assistive technology, which you can support in your iOS app:

    Useful Guides & Resources

    In this guide, we focused more on tools to help you build products usable for more people rather than accessibility practices (which are equally important). So these guides will teach you to follow best practices:

    Great image by Pablo Stanley

    With all those tools and knowledge we can create more accessible products, reach a bigger audience and make life better for someone. I think it’s a solid motivation to start supporting accessibility in your design and development.

    Originally posted on Lisa’s Medium page.

    can-best-practice-replace-design-research?

    Tempting it may be to skip the consultation process, but a ‘first principles’ approach is not going to cut it with the majority of your clients. The principles of design exist for a reason, but knowing when and how to break them is what separates great designers from good ones.

    Heart-warming or not, co-creation with a client—the utopian ideal of shared vision—has its drawbacks. There are only so many times you can hear the words “brand strategy” before actually chewing your own face off. In the age of WordPress, Drupal and, dare I say it, Wix, it’s never been more tempting to pay lip-service to research and consultation. Instead of building a principles framework from scratch, why not roll out something from a template in a fraction of the time?

    Well, in fact, there probably are situations where a simple WordPress-type approach will work really well. The trick is knowing when.

    What Is “Best Practice” Anyway?

    Well, exactly.

    Even if you slept through design school, or didn’t go at all, you probably know the fundamentals already. And it’s true. If you stick to first principles, you won’t go far wrong. Here are some examples:

    • Color and Contrast: 2-3 colors maximum, use contrast to highlight important elements;
    • White Space: Use plenty of it, be consistent with proportions above and below;
    • Layout: Symmetric Grid. Err…Always. Work ‘above the fold’;
    • Typography: No more than 2-3 typefaces;
    • Logo: Long, top left, always;
    • Compexity vs Simplicity: Look for balance and visual interest;
    • Visual Hierarchy: Use color, contrast, size and complexity to highlight important elements;
    • Consistency: With all of the above, whatever you decide, be consistent;
    • And so on…

    One size, though, doesn’t fit all. By bending and even breaking the rules sometimes, you’ll create designs that stand out and, more importantly, meet the real requirements of the brief.

    The One Unbreakable Rule

    It’s pretty hard to find a “Best Practice” that really works in every situation, but here’s one:

    No matter what you’re doing, make sure you know why you’re doing it.

    And, just in case you were wondering, “err…because it looks pretty?” and “because it’s easier than what I probably ought to do instead…” aren’t really reasons.

    There are clearly situations where a client—whatever they may think—is best served by a simple off-the-shelf approach. Particularly if their budget is more Scrooge than Soros. The thing is, you probably still need to go through a research process to find out whether that’s the case or not.

    When And How To Go Off Piste

    Before or just after accepting the job, you’ll likely need to do some research with the client. This process should focus on (you guessed it) brand strategy.

    Ideally, in the first instance, you’ll build a design principles framework. Whatever decisions you make after that (whether you’re going to stick to the rules or break them) should be justified with reference to the framework.

    Here are some examples of situations where you might consider deviating from “best practice”:

    You Want to Send a Particular Message

    Take this site for a children’s fitness company, for example.

    fitnessfinders

    It clearly breaks all the rules about color and typeface, and a few more besides, but overall gives a sense of vibrance and playfulness, which of course is ideal for this market.

    You Want to Draw Attention to Something

    By ignoring the imperative to “work above the fold” and putting product and logo front and centre, candle manufacturer Waxxy draws the eye directly to their “product centred” philosophy and creates a sense of light and space:

    waxxy

    Natale’s Clothing uses additional fonts and a broken grid layout to emphasise content and create a sense of being “out of the ordinary”.

    natales

    You Want to Keep Things Clean

    Legend has it, if you “put everything on the homepage” it’s good for SEO and easier for users. These days, though, there’s often a lot of information, and we prefer to have more space, even if it means a bit more browsing.

    toke

    If you visit Toke’s site here, you’ll see that they break the animation taboo in a subtle and effective way as well.

    These are just a few examples, there are many more. In each case the key questions to ask are:

    1. How does it meet the brief?
    2. How does it help brand strategy?

    When To Stick To The Script

    A big consideration here will likely be the client’s budget. With the best will in the world, you’re going to struggle to create a logo, design a custom typeface, and build a multi-page site from scratch on $800. If that’s what the client’s asking for, and can’t understand the limitations, maybe consider saying no!

    If, on the other hand, there’s scope to negotiate, where budgets are small and, in situations where, for example, the client has a small number of products and/or services, a single page WordPress site will often be exactly what they need. Here it’s not a question of “doing the bare minimum” but rather “not doing too much”. Even so, there will probably be bespoke elements that you can change to better fit the strategy.

    Another important moment to check yourself, is whenever you’re not sure if an idea works. If you can’t justify a decision with reference to your design principles framework—or at least with reference to the client’s brand strategy—then it’s probably best to err on the side of caution.

    Research or Best Practice?

    In a word, both.

    There are definitely situations where a “first principles” approach will be exactly what the client needs. Particularly if their budget is small and their needs are simple. Even in this case, though, a great designer will take the time to understand (or help to develop) the brand strategy, and add whatever tweaks are necessary. Each client and each brand is unique, and a designer’s job, if you think about it, is to reflect just that.

    When using a bespoke approach, breaking with convention can, as we’ve seen, produce interesting and stylish results. It’s important, though, that each decision makes sense, and can be linked back to the brand strategy. If it can’t, it probably shouldn’t be in the design.

    And whatever you do, don’t chew your face off.

    Featured image via Unsplash.

    30-logo-examples-with-typography-for-inspiration-and-ideas

    logo with typography

    Hello guys, Today’s we have collected top 30 Examples of logo with typography for Inspiration and Ideas, i hope these logo typography design will help you to font and color selections.

    Scoop

    Typography-in-Logo-Design

    Scoop logo by Dalius Stuoka / dribbble


    demo


    Stat Castle Logo Design

    Stat Castle Logo Design

    Stat Castle Logo Design by Dalius Stuoka


    demo


    Fixt Logo Design

    Fixt Logo Design

    Fixt Logo Design by Dalius Stuoka


    demo


    FlyNet Logo Design

    FlyNet Logo Design

    FlyNet Logo Design by Dalius Stuoka


    demo


    The Self of Doctor

    The Self of Doctor by Logopol17

    The Self of Doctor by Logopol17


    demo


    WARNING

    Typography-in-Logo-Design-6

    warning logo


    demo


    Negative Reality Logo Design

    Negative Reality Logo Design

    Negative Reality Logo Design by Dalius Stuoka


    demo


    Blind Wordmark

    Blind Wordmark logo

    Blind Wordmark logo by Sumesh A K


    demo


    Smash Logo

    Smash Logo logo

    Smash Logo by Sumesh A K


    demo


    Disappear Logotype

    Disappear Logotype logos

    Disappear Logotype by Vlado Paunović


    demo


    Big Bang Logo Design

    Big Bang Logo Design

    Big Bang Logo Design

    by Dalius Stuoka


    demo


    jankes beekeeping

    jankes-beekeeping

    jankes-beekeeping


    demo


    Influentsy Logo

    Influentsy Logo

    Influentsy Logo by WeRock Studio


    demo


    Tie Logo Typography

    Tie Logo Typography

    Tie Logo Typography

    by Hisyam Fadhil


    demo


    vPlay Logo Design

    vPlay Logo Design

    vPlay Logo Design

    by Dalius Stuoka


    demo


    Clever Wordmarks

    Clever Wordmarks 2016

    Clever Wordmarks by

    minimalexa design


    demo


    Doctor Wordmark

    Doctor Wordmark by Aditya | Logo Designer

    Doctor Wordmark by Aditya | Logo Designer


    demo


    Milk Logo

    Milk Logo by Sumesh A K

    Milk Logo by Sumesh A K


    demo


    DROP

    DROP  logo

    DROP logo


    demo


    CHECK

    CHECK logo

    CHECK logo


    demo


    USB logo

    USB logo

    USB logo


    demo


    Pubquiz Logo Design

    Pubquiz Logo Design by Paulius Kairevicius in Logo Design

    Pubquiz Logo Design

    by Paulius Kairevicius in Logo Design


    demo


    Plane Logo Design

    Plane Logo Design by Paulius Kairevicius

    Plane Logo Design by Paulius Kairevicius


    demo


    Umbrella | Wordmark

    Umbrella | Wordmark by Jabir j3

    Umbrella | Wordmark by Jabir j3


    demo


    OPENBOX

    OPENBOX logo

    OPENBOX logo


    demo


    Hatchet

    Hatchet by Jordan Wilson

    Hatchet by Jordan Wilson


    demo


    Vip1 Identity Project

    Vip1 Identity Project by Leo

    Vip1 Identity Project by Leo


    demo


    Attach Logo Design

    Attach Logo Design by Paulius Kairevicius in Logo Design

    Attach Logo Design

    by Paulius Kairevicius in Logo Design


    demo


    Codeshift Logo Design

    Codeshift Logo Design by Dalius Stuoka | logo designer

    Codeshift Logo Design by Dalius Stuoka | logo designer


    demo


    Brigitte Logo Design

     Brigitte Logo Design by Dalius Stuoka | logo designer


    Brigitte Logo Design

    by Dalius Stuoka | logo designer


    demo


    here’s-how-we-prepare-for-a-new-decade-of-marketing-innovation

    The end of the decade will be here before we know it. And despite prevalent fears about an upcoming recession (one expert says we will likely avoid in 2020), most marketers are optimistic: in fact, 61% of CMOs expect marketing budgets will increase in the coming year.

    If CMOs’ predictions prove true, marketers will have more flexibility with their strategies with the added responsibility of justifying their expanding budgets. As a marketer, the same holds true in that you’ll need to remain nimble and forward-thinking to ensure you make the most of your budget and make the biggest impact on your organization.

    In addition to growing budgets, the new decade is likely to bring a mix of new technologies and trends that will reshape the way you approach marketing. And while some trends will fade, other developments — like emerging regulations, voice commerce and more — are here for the long run.

    With that in mind, here’s how you can best contribute to a competitive customer experience in the new year and beyond:

    Create more integrated loyalty strategies

    Brands understand the value of loyalty strategies as ways to ensure their biggest spenders continue to do so. But some brands think this is just about points. They will face a harsh reality as the old points-based loyalty model — where customers might receive a discount after a certain amount of purchases — is no longer enough to encourage loyalty. To find success, brands need to create loyalty programs that are integrated throughout the customer experience, not just the marketing department.

    The best loyalty programs contribute to an easy, seamless customer experience that centers on shopper needs, wants and dreams along every touchpoint (and not just when they’re in the checkout line). Loyal customers expect you to know who they are, understand their preferences and tastes and receive VIP treatment whether they are in-store or online.

    New Balance provides an innovative example of an immersive, exciting experience a brand can provide for loyal customers. At the brand’s London pub The Runaway, customers can track running miles and exchange them for drinks and snacks at the bar. The pub also includes a gym and weights area for active-minded New Balance fans to work out.

    This shows the brand understands its customers and is committed to providing them with experiences they really get excited about. It also creates an opportunity for New Balance to gain critical data about their most valuable customers.

    Stay proactive when it comes to customer data privacy

    Even a year and a half after General Data Regulation Protection (GDPR) was enacted, most companies still report they are unprepared to comply appropriately. And now with the California Consumer Privacy Act, we’re seeing the same story: only 8% of businesses say they’re prepared for the deadline.

    It seems many companies are willing to take a gamble on the fact that enforcement of these regulations are unlikely, even with steep fines for violations. At the end of the day, even if companies might save money in the short-term by abstaining from investing in better privacy compliance processes, they’re losing out in the long run with their customer’s trust. Beyond potential fines, brands risk angering customers and damaging their reputations if privacy violations occur. In the end, privacy regulations are both a CX issue and a legal one.

    Instead of rushing to comply with every state-level privacy regulation that is passed (and trust me: more are coming), aim to meet the strictest policies and adapt accordingly. You can’t lose by showing customers you respect their data — and you’ll dodge massive fines if violations occur. On top of that, if a customer wants to break up with your brand that badly, maybe it’s time you both move on to the next relationship.

    Take a bolder approach with customer personalization

    The other good news about proactive privacy compliance: If you’re confident you meet high standards when it comes to customer data, you can be bolder in your approach to identity resolution and more personalized marketing tactics.

    For a while, analysts cautioned marketers on the risks of being “creepy” with customer data, with the idea that customers are turned off when brands are too on-the-nose with their tactics. And while there’s obviously a line (and consequences for crossing it), customers are more open-minded to more personalized experiences. In fact, reports show most customers are NOT creeped out by increased personalization, and the brands that lose out are ones that are overly generic in their communications.

    Don’t shy away from personalization strategies. Customers understand what brands should know about them, and they’re disappointed with bland email and retargeting efforts that don’t speak to their needs. It’s important to gain more accurate data about your customers and use it accordingly. Southwest Airlines does a good job with their end-of-year summary emails, showing customers how many flights they’ve taken, miles they’ve traveled and even their best boarding position of the year.

    Prepare for voice commerce to shift CX expectations

    We’ve been anticipating the rise of voice commerce for a while, and it seems like we’re on the brink. Forecasts say there will be 8 billion voice assistants in use by 2023, with voice commerce growing to be a potentially $80 billion industry. While a significant chunk of that $80 billion is likely to be purchases of digital products and not physical ones, the growth of voice commerce has significant implications for marketers across industries.

    Voice commerce will force marketers to radically rethink their customer experience — from backend data processes to IT investments to broad user experience strategies. You need to prepare for customers who want to interact with your brand with no visual interface whatsoever. For example, that means rethinking product descriptions so customers can order with no other cues. It also means making sure customer data like address and payment information is consistent and easily accessible regardless of customer touchpoint. Alignment across all departments when it comes to preparing for this new model is the only way you’ll be successful in this endeavor. Define a voice strategy across all departments so the voice CX feels as clean as intentional as your email messages and social media posts.

    On a broader note, the rise of voice commerce, higher standards for personalization and new consumer privacy regulations highlight a more critical need for agility and flexibility. New channels will constantly emerge — be it voice commerce or social commerce or more — and you can’t reinvent the wheel every time. Companies with the ability to adapt to emerging channels and incorporate new technology will be the ones to succeed in the next decade.


    Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.



    About The Author

    Kyle Henderick is Senior Director of Client Services at Yes Marketing, a single solution provider who delivers relevant communications across all channels for mid and enterprise-sized companies. Kyle is responsible for helping major clients implement new programs, processes, and data-driven strategies to create campaigns that truly drive revenue. With a passion for technology implementation and a background in database, email, web, and social media marketing, Kyle turns his real-world experience into executable tactics to help clients see an incremental lift in revenue, subscriber engagement, and customer retention. A lover of all things Chicago, when Kyle is not reading up on latest marketing practices or focusing on improving client programs, he can be found enjoying the city’s great restaurants or wearing his heart on his sleeve while rooting for all Chicago-based sports teams. A curious individual willing to try any and every food that does not include raw onions, he is always looking for exciting dining options and new adventures around the city.



    “crm-is-not-enough:”-nearly-200-martech-companies-sign-pledge-to-change-the-data-ecosystem-for-customers

    Ten marketing technology companies are leading an initiative with over 190 co-signatories to publicly pledge to design software that eliminates data siloes by shifting away from a CRM-centric approach. The Platform of Independents is led by Segment co-founder and CEO Peter Reinhardt and includes Airship, Amplitude, Iterable, Mixpanel, Outreach, Pendo, Radar and Tray.io.

    The formal declaration of the companies’ shared ideals was published in Thursday’s Wall Street Journal and displays their united stance on developing products that don’t lock their customers into a solution suite. Instead, they want to build tools that can serve organizations and their departments independently but enable users to have more freedom to share data.

    Why we care

    Marketers are not alone in the struggle of being forced into working with fragmented data and technology — the impact spans entire organizations. It’s so common that a recent Gartner report found that “no single CRM vendor is capable of providing the full functionality a business needs to support a complete customer data stack.”

    Despite the fact that CRM vendors have spent over $30 billion over the last two years acquiring different applications and technologies, it hasn’t been enough to solve the underlying issues. Acquisitions still force users into using a suite, limiting their customers’ choices or creating the need for IT departments to invest time into costly integrations for outside solutions.

    “The time has come for businesses to realize that there’s a whole new world outside the legacy CRM suite,” said Reinhardt. “Together with our partners, we’re proud to stand up for what’s best for our customer-first businesses in the digital age: choice, flexibility and the freedom to build data stacks using any combination of best-in-class technology. In short, CRM just isn’t enough anymore.”

    More on the news

    • The companies that have signed the pledge span a variety of marketing technology capabilities including customer data infrastructure providers, conversational marketing platforms and analytics solutions.


    About The Author

    Jennifer Videtta Cannon serves as Third Door Media’s Senior Editor, covering topics from email marketing and analytics to CRM and project management. With over a decade of organizational digital marketing experience, she has overseen digital marketing operations for NHL franchises and held roles at tech companies including Salesforce, advising enterprise marketers on maximizing their martech capabilities. Jennifer formerly organized the Inbound Marketing Summit and holds a certificate in Digital Marketing Analytics from MIT Sloan School of Management.



    will-location-data-rise-as-cookies-crumble?

    Location data provider Factual is launching a new product called Data Enrichment, which supplements first-party data with additional audience insights built on mobile-location and real-world behaviors. The company says this allows companies to a gain deeper understanding of their own customers than first-party data would enable by itself.

    CPG brands, automotive, media publishers. I spoke about the new offering with Scott Townsend, Factual’s Head of Data Enrichment and Factual CMO Brian Czarny. Townsend outlined several concrete use cases for the product for CPG brands, automotive marketers and media publishers, among others.

    Townsend explained that CPG brands often struggle to get good first-party data from the retailers that sell their products. Factual’s product can show these brands where their customers are shopping. “This helps with personalized messaging,” said Townsend. “The campaign can say, ‘the product is on sale at Costco,’ where the consumer is a frequent shopper.”  

    Automotive brands can better understand other car makers they’re up against and engage in-market shoppers visiting competitor lots. And media publishers, according to Townsend, “Often struggle to get enough data to make their inventory competitive with the walled gardens. Enrichment provides additional insights for advertisers about publisher audiences,” so they can charge more for their inventory.

    Growing appetite for location data among brands. Factual’s Czarny observed, “Brands want to have the complete picture of their customers,” and added that the company is seeing “incredible appetite for location data to build behavioral segments.”

    Indeed, location data has been described as a “cookie for the real world.” That idea becomes more significant and not just a marketing concept as browsers shut down third party cookies and privacy regulations make many types of data less available.

    I asked Czarny and Townsend, as more brands seek out location data for insights and segmentation capabilities, will CCPA or mobile OS location alerts affect the availability or accuracy of that data? Czarny predicted that iOS 13 would likely have a bigger impact than CCPA in that regard.

    Indeed, the Wall Street Journal previously reported, “Since iOS 13 was released in September, tens of millions of people have moved to block apps’ ability to track their locations when not in use.”

    But Czarny said that Factual’s access to data had not been significantly impacted. “Near term iOS 13’s impact hasn’t be great for us because we responsibly source the data.” He predicted that wouldn’t be the case for publishers and mobile apps that ask for location without delivering a clear benefit to the user.

    Why we care. As privacy forces marketers and brands to develop or better utilize their first party data, data enhancement offerings like Factual’s will become more important. The audience insights gained from location data is an obvious and powerful data-enhancement tool. It remains to be seen, however, how deeply the location intelligence industry is affected by CCPA, OS location alerts and increasing consumer privacy concerns surrounding location.



    About The Author

    Greg Sterling is a Contributing Editor to Search Engine Land, a member of the programming team for SMX events and the VP, Market Insights at Uberall.



    the-volatility-of-online-political-ads-could-be-tv’s-salvation-in-2020

    All the signs are that 2020 is going to be a turbulent, challenging year for marketers — digital marketers in particular. That’s the cold reality. But like a New Year’s Day polar bear plunge, a dose of cold reality can be quite bracing and help provide sharpness and clarity. In that spirit, here are three predictions to help you clear your head for the new year.

    1. The Cold Reality: Digital will become the new “too big to fail”

    I’ve been warning for years that digital would trigger unwanted government oversight if it didn’t get its act together on privacy. Still, I don’t think the government will allow digital to collapse entirely, for the same reason that the government kept the financial sector afloat after the 2008 meltdown. There are simply too many jobs at stake.

    Almost all of the revenue at Google and Facebook comes from digital ad dollars. Those companies, along with the remainder of the top five in digital ad revenue — Amazon, Microsoft and Verizon — all wield enormous clout. They will continue to not just survive, but also thrive.

    The Hot Take: Most consumers have reasonable expectations

    The truth is that most consumers expect a certain amount of their personal information to be shared, and most don’t mind — when it’s done within reason. So I’ll leave you with a dash of optimism. Although the process will be painful, I think eventually regulators will strike a balance between providing reasonable consumer protection and maintaining the status quo in digital.

    2. The Cold Reality: TV will never regain its dominance

    Another institution once considered “too big to fail” might not be. Just look what’s happening in television. As digital ad spend continued to soar, TV ad spend declined by 2.2% in 2019. And while eMarketer notes that “The presidential election next year will propel TV ad spending back into positive growth, before falling again in the following years,” I’d say even that “positive growth” should come with an asterisk (see my next prediction).

    The Hot Take: Even in its diminished state, TV can remain a major player

    As TV holds steady in 2020 (and probably 2021), it should gird for a pivotal moment in 2022. That’s when NFL broadcast rights come up for renewal.

    To date, the one area where TV has been able to hold its own against digital is in live programming, sports in particular. But if one of the major streaming services makes a concerted bid to carry NFL games — look out. 

    I have no doubt that TV execs are well aware of the stakes. With two years to prepare, expect them to hold onto those NFL rights at all costs.

    3. The cold reality: Digital ads will provide the biggest bang for the political buck

    For another measure of TV’s declining influence, let’s take a quick backward glance. In its postmortem on the 2016 election, Fortune reported that Hillary Clinton “placed a far greater emphasis than Donald Trump on television advertising, a more traditional way of reaching swaths of voters. She spent $72 million on TV ads and about $16 million on internet ads in the final weeks.”

    Back in April of 2016, I wrote in this space that “candidates have discovered the quickest way to make news is to put out a statement or comment in a social media post.” I noted that Trump, in particular, had mastered the art of using social media as a bully pulpit to generate millions of dollars’ worth of media coverage — for free.

    Since then much has been made of the influence that Facebook ads played in the outcome of the 2016 election. Well, Facebook could conceivably play an even bigger role in 2020 — depending on how long they continue to resist efforts to fact-check their political ads.

    It’s all about precision targeting — and digital continues to rule on that front. Recently the Trump reelection campaign launched 338 new Facebook ads in one day, most aimed at people 56 and older. Look for those microtargeted Facebook ads in swing states to potentially play a huge role in the 2020 election.

    The Hot Take: The volatility surrounding online political ads could be TV’s salvation

    No, television can’t touch digital’s precision targeting. The problem for digital is that all that precision targeting, without much accountability, has made digital itself a potential target — of lawmakers spooked by that unchecked influence. We could still see blowback in the form of legislation before Election Day.

    In the meantime, it’s not as if TV will lose its influence entirely. When you recall the 2016 election, most of the pivotal moments occurred on TV during debates and other live events. As in sports, live political coverage will remain TV’s trump card. (Sorry — I had to say it.)

    No news is good news

    I know I’ve painted a pretty gloomy picture here. But that’s the nature of news — you hear a lot more about things that go wrong than the things that go right.

    Here’s the flipside: You didn’t hear much about the vast majority of brands and their marketing partners in 2019 because they continue to work quietly to ensure profitability while practicing corporate responsibility and respect for the consumer. And the good news is, I expect that trend to quietly continue throughout 2020.


    Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.



    About The Author

    Lewis Gersh is founder and CEO of PebblePost, guiding corporate strategy and company vision with over 20 years of board and executive management experience.

    Prior to PebblePost, Lewis founded Metamorphic Ventures, one of the first seed-stage funds, and built one of the largest portfolios of companies specializing in data-driven marketing and payments/transaction processing. Portfolio companies include leading innovators such as FetchBack, Chango, Tapad, Sailthru, Movable Ink, Mass Relevance, iSocket, Nearbuy Systems, Thinknear, IndustryBrains, Madison Logic, Bombora, Tranvia, Transactis and more.

    Lewis received a B.A. from San Diego State University and a J.D. and Masters in Intellectual Property from UNH School of Law. Lewis is an accomplished endurance athlete having competed in many Ironman triathlons, ultra-marathons and parenting.



    soapbox:-ai-will-help-marketers-focus-on-being-human-again

    The emergence of AI-powered martech has given marketers a lot to grapple with the last couple of years. Some have voiced fears of being replaced by automation. Others are excited by the potential time and cost savings.

    But with all the hype around new technology, we may have overlooked the most exciting part of the AI revolution.

    As traditional marketing shifted into digital marketing over the last decade, we’ve drifted further and further away from the human-to-human interactions that defined customer experience in prior decades.

    We’ve turned people into prospects. Views into impressions. We’ve commoditized customers by automating our funnels and flywheels. By scaling our digital activities, we’ve lost a bit of the human touch.

    It takes a ton of time and lots of tools to manage a digital marketing campaign. We have to leverage automation to drive results. But the machinery we build can feel cold and impersonal and end up damaging the customer experience.

    AI promises to streamline our efforts, automating the repetitive tasks we grind through today, performing massively complex calculations so we don’t have to.

    By replacing the technical grind of digital marketing, AI will free marketers to focus on the part of the job that requires the most humanity – engaging and serving customers.

    Conversational marketing, data-driven personalization, AI and other trends predict a future where marketers have the time, and the mandate, to focus on real human interactions again. What a time to be a marketer!

    Soapbox is a special feature for marketers in our community to share their observations and opinions about our industry. You can submit your own here.


    Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.



    About The Author

    Nathan Binford is the vice president of marketing at MarketChorus, producers of AI-powered solutions for content marketer and publishers. Find more from Nathan on the MarketChorus blog and his personal blog, Inbound Marketing Best Practices.



    learn-end-to-end-testing-with-puppeteer

    Puppeteer is a Node library which provides a high-level API to control Chrome or Chromium over the DevTools Protocol. Puppeteer runs headless by default, but can be configured to run full (non-headless) Chrome or Chromium.

    In this tutorial, we’ll learn what testing is, the different types of testing, and then we’ll use Puppeteer to perform end-to-end testing on our application. By the end of this tutorial, you should be able to end-to-end test your apps easily with Puppeteer.

    Prerequisites

    For this tutorial, you need a basic knowledge of JavaScript, ES6 and Node.js.

    You must also have installed the latest version of Node.js.

    We’ll be using yarn throughout this tutorial. If you don’t have yarn already installed, install it from here.

    You should also know the basics of Puppeteer. To understand the basics of Puppeteer, check out this simple tutorial.

    To make sure we’re on the same page, these are the versions used in this tutorial:

    • Node 13.3.0
    • npm 6.13.2
    • yarn 1.21.1
    • puppeteer 2.0.0
    • create-react-app 3.3.0

    Introduction to Testing

    In simple terms, testing is a process to evaluate the application works as expected. It helps in catching bugs before your application gets deployed.

    There are four different types of testing:

    1. Static Testing: uses a static type system like TypeScript, ReasonML, Flow or a linter like ESLint. This helps in capturing basic errors like typos and syntax.
    2. Unit Testing: the smallest part of an application, also known as a unit, is tested.
    3. Integration Testing: multiple related units are tested together to see if the application works perfectly in combination.
    4. End-to-end Testing: the entire application is tested from start to finish, just like a regular user would, to see if it behaves as expected.

    The testing trophy by Kent C Dodds is a great visualization of the different types of testing:

    Testing Trophy - Kent C Dodds

    The testing trophy should be read bottom-to-top. If you perform these four levels of testing, you can be confident enough with the code you ship.

    Now let’s perform end-to-end testing with Puppeteer.

    End-to-end Testing with Puppeteer

    Let’s bootstrap a new React project with create-react-app, also known as CRA. Go ahead and type the following in the terminal:

    $ npx create-react-app e2e-puppeteer
    

    This will bootstrap a new React project in a e2e-puppeteer folder. Thanks to the latest create-react-app version, this will also install testing-library by default so we can test our applications easily.

    Go inside the e2e-puppeteer directory and start the server by typing the following in the terminal:

    $ cd e2e-puppeteer
    $ yarn start
    

    It should look like this:

    React Init

    Our App.js looks like this:

    import React from 'react';
    import logo from './logo.svg';
    import './App.css';
    
    function App() {
      return (
        
    logo

    Edit src/App.js and save to reload.

    Learn React
    ); } export default App;

    We’ll be testing the App.js function and the code will be written in App.test.js. So go ahead and open up App.test.js. It should have the following content:

    import React from 'react';
    import { render } from '@testing-library/react'; // 1
    import App from './App';
    
    test('renders learn react link', () => { // 2
      const { getByText } = render(); // 3
      const linkElement = getByText(/learn react/i); // 4
      expect(linkElement).toBeInTheDocument(); // 5
    });
    

    Here’s what’s happening in the code above:

    1. We import the render function from the @testing-library/react package.
    2. We then use the global test function from Jest, which is our test runner installed by default through CRA. The first parameter is a string which describes our test, and the second parameter is a function where we write the code we want to test.
    3. Next up, we render the App component and destructure a method called getByText, which searches for all elements that have a text node with textContent.
    4. Then, we call the getByText function with the text we want to check. In this case, we check for learn react with the case insensitive flag.
    5. Finally, we make the assertion with the expect function to check if the text exists in the DOM.

    This comes by default when we bootstrap with CRA. Go ahead and open up another terminal and type the following:

    $ yarn test
    

    When it shows a prompt, type a to run all the tests. You should now see this:

    React Init Test

    Now let’s test this application with end-to-end testing.

    Testing the Boilerplate with Puppeteer

    Go ahead and install puppeteer as a dev dependency by typing the following in the terminal:

    $ yarn add -D puppeteer
    

    Now open up App.test.js and paste the following:

    import puppeteer from "puppeteer"; // 1
    
    let browser;
    let page;
    
    // 2
    beforeAll(async () => {
      browser = await puppeteer.launch({
        headless: false
      });
      page = await browser.newPage();
      await page.goto("http://localhost:3000/");
    });
    
    // 3
    test("renders learn react link", async () => {
      await page.waitForSelector(".App");
    
      const header = await page.$eval(".App-header>p", e => e.innerHTML);
      expect(header).toBe(`Edit src/App.js and save to reload.`);
    
      const link = await page.$eval(".App-header>a", e => {
        return {
          innerHTML: e.innerHTML,
          href: e.href
        };
      });
      expect(link.innerHTML).toBe(`Learn React`);
      expect(link.href).toBe("https://reactjs.org/");
    });
    
    // 4
    afterAll(() => {
      browser.close();
    });
    

    This is what we’re doing in the code above:

    1. Firstly, we import the puppeteer package and declare some global variables, browser and page.
    2. Then we have the beforeAll function provided by Jest. This runs before all tests are run. Here, we launch a new Chromium browser by calling puppeteer.launch(), while setting headless mode to false so we see what’s happening. Then, we create a new page by calling browser.newPage() and then go to our React application’s URL http://localhost:3000/ by calling the page.goto() function.
    3. Next up, we wait for the .App selector to load. When it loads, we get the innerHTML of .App-header>p selector by using the page.$eval() method and compare it with Edit src/App.js and save to reload.. We do the same thing with the .App-header>a selector. We get back innerHTML and href and then we compare them with Learn React and https://reactjs.org/ respectively to test our assertion with Jest’s expect() function.
    4. Finally, we call the afterAll function provided by Jest. This runs after all tests are run. Here, we close the browser.

    This test should automatically run and give you the following result:

    E2E Test Puppeteer Basic

    Let’s go ahead and make a counter app.

    Converting the Boilerplate to a Counter App

    Firstly, edit some CSS by changing App.css to the following:

    .header {
      font-size: 56px;
      text-align: center;
    }
    
    .counter-app {
      display: flex;
      justify-content: space-around;
    }
    
    button {
      background-color: navajowhite;
      font-size: 32px;
    }
    
    .count {
      font-size: 48px;
    }
    

    Now change App.js to the following:

    import React, { useState } from "react";
    import "./App.css";
    
    function App() {
      const [count, setCount] = useState(0);
      return (
        <>
          

    Counter

    {count}
    ); } export default App;

    Here, we’re making a simple counter application with two buttons, Increment and Decrement. By pressing the Increment button, the counter gets increased by 1, and by pressing Decrement button, the counter gets decreased by 1. It looks like this:

    React Counter

    Testing the Counter App with Puppeteer

    Now change the App.test.js to the following:

    import puppeteer from "puppeteer";
    
    let browser;
    let page;
    
    beforeAll(async () => {
      browser = await puppeteer.launch({
        headless: false
      });
      page = await browser.newPage();
      await page.goto("http://localhost:3000/");
    });
    
    // 1
    test("renders counter", async () => {
      await page.waitForSelector(".header");
    
      const header = await page.$eval(".header", e => e.innerHTML);
      expect(header).toBe("Counter");
    });
    
    // 2
    test("sets initial state to zero", async () => {
      await page.waitForSelector(".counter-app");
    
      const count = await page.$eval(".count", e => e.innerHTML);
      expect(count).toBe("0");
    });
    
    // 3
    test("increments counter by 1", async () => {
      await page.waitForSelector(".counter-app");
    
      await page.click(".increment");
      const count = await page.$eval(".count", e => e.innerHTML);
      expect(count).toBe("1");
    });
    
    // 4
    test("decrements counter by 1", async () => {
      await page.waitForSelector(".counter-app");
    
      await page.click(".decrement");
      const count = await page.$eval(".count", e => e.innerHTML);
      expect(count).toBe("0");
    });
    
    afterAll(() => {
      browser.close();
    });
    

    Here, we keep the beforeAll and afterAll function the same, as before, where we initialize a browser and go to http://localhost:3000/ in beforeAll and we close the browser in afterAll. Then, we do the following:

    1. We check if the text Counter is rendered. For that, we wait for the .header selector to load. Then we use page.$eval() to get the innerHTML of .header selector. And then we finally make the assertion to check if Counter is rendered.
    2. Next, we check if the initial state is zero. We wait for the .counter-app selector to load. Then we get the innerHTML from the .count selector. We finally compare if the count is 0. Notice that we’re using a string while our state is a number. This is because innerHTML always returns a string.
    3. Here, we check if clicking the button increments the state by 1. First, we wait for the .counter-app selector to load. We then click on the .increment button. This should increase the state from 0 to 1. We then get the innerHTML from the .count selector. Then we compare it to 1, as our increment function should always increase state by 1.
    4. The decrement button should decrease the state by 1. It works the same way as the increment button. First, we wait for the .counter-app selector to load. We then click on the .decrement button. This should decrease the state from 1 to 0. Notice that the state was 1 after we clicked the increment button. We then get the innerHTML from the .count selector. Then we compare it to 0, as our decrement function should always decrease state by 1.

    The result should now look like this:

    E2E Test Puppeteer Counter

    Conclusion

    In this tutorial, we learned about different types of testing — static testing, unit testing, integration testing and end-to-end testing. We then performed end-to-end testing on our boilerplate, bootstrapped with the help of create-react-app.

    Later, we converted the app to a counter application. And finally we performed end-to-end testing on the counter application.

    The Puppeteer library useful not only for performing end-to-end testing but also for doing different kinds of browser automation. Puppeteer is backed by Google and is actively maintained, so be sure to check its docs to understand the wide-ranging use cases it offers.

    You can find the code for this tutorial on GitHub.

    Akshay is a creator, computer artist and micropreneur from Mumbai.

    google-is-killing-off-chrome-apps

    Today, Google shared an updated timeline for when Chrome apps will stop working on all platforms. June 2022 is when they’ll be gone for good, but it depends on which platform you’re on (via 9to5Google). Previously, we knew that Chrome apps someday wouldn’t work on Windows, macOS, and Linux, but today, Google revealed that Chrome apps will eventually stop working on Chrome OS, too.

    A Chrome app is a web-based app that you can install in Chrome that looks and functions kind of like an app you’d launch from your desktop. Take this one for the read-it-later app Pocket, for example — when you install it, it opens in a separate window that makes it seem as if Pocket is functioning as its own app.

    You probably don’t need to worry about the death of Chrome apps messing up your browsing experience too much. At this point, most apps on the web are just regular web apps, which is why you’ll be able to keep using Pocket without issue in much the same way by navigating to https://getpocket.com/. In rarer cases, you might also be using Progressive Web Apps, which are basically websites that are cached to your device so they can have some offline functionality and be launched like an app. Some Chrome apps you have installed may already redirect to websites, like many of Google’s apps. And Chrome extensions are also different from Chrome apps, and those will keep working just fine.

    There’s a pretty decent chance you’re not using any real Chrome apps at all, even if you use web apps all the time. When Google first announced all the way back in 2016 that it would end support for Chrome apps on Windows, macOS, and Linux, it said approximately one percent of users on those platforms were actively using packaged Chrome apps. That was nearly four years ago, and web developers have moved on.

    If you do use Chrome apps, they will stop working much sooner on Windows, macOS, or Linux than they will on Chrome OS. Here’s Google’s timeline:

    March 2020: Chrome Web Store will stop accepting new Chrome Apps. Developers will be able to update existing Chrome Apps through June 2022.

    June 2020: End support for Chrome Apps on Windows, Mac, and Linux. Customers who have Chrome Enterprise and Chrome Education Upgrade will have access to a policy to extend support through December 2020.

    December 2020: End support for Chrome Apps on Windows, Mac, and Linux.

    June 2021: End support for NaCl, PNaCl, and PPAPI APIs.

    June 2021: End support for Chrome Apps on Chrome OS. Customers who have Chrome Enterprise and Chrome Education Upgrade will have access to a policy to extend support through June 2022.

    June 2022: End support for Chrome Apps on Chrome OS for all customers.

    To break that down a bit:

    • At some point in June 2020, Chrome apps will stop working on Windows, macOS, and Linux, unless you have Chrome Enterprise or Chrome Education Upgrade, which lets you use Chrome apps for six more months.
    • If you’re on Chrome OS, Chrome apps will work until June 2021. Again, if you have Chrome Enterprise or Chrome Education Upgrade, Google says you can use Chrome apps for an additional year.

    Originally, Chrome apps were supposed to stop working on Windows, macOS, and Linux in early 2018, but in December 2017, when Google removed the Chrome apps section from the Chrome Web Store, it pushed that early 2018 deadline to an unspecified date in the future. Now, more than three years later, we finally know when Chrome apps won’t work on those platforms — and when they won’t work on any platform at all.

    polypane-adds-live-css-editing-to-its-development-browser

    With Polypane, we want to give you better insights into your site and make the entire developer/designer workflow faster. With Polypane 2.1, we’ve made some huge improvements for both of those goals.

    What’s new?

    Quick list of the major new features:

    • Live CSS Edit all panes at the same time
    • Social media previews See what your page looks like when shared on Facebook, Slack, Twitter and LinkedIn.
    • Meta info Get a full overview of all your meta tags
    • Handoff / browse Use Avocode, Zeplin and more directly in Polypane
    • Workspaces UI Quickly switch between your favorite pane sets

    Beyond that, we also added network throttling, new and improved overlays, better indicators, ways to detect when your site is shown in Polypane, speed improvements, and many more smaller features.

    Live CSS Panel

    Write CSS and SCSS that is applied to all panes at the same time. With the Live CSS panel, quickly trying out new styling for your site on multiple sizes is super easy and very satifying.

    The CSS editor is fully featured, knows all CSS declarations and will suggest the appropriate ones as you type, so writing CSS is super fast.

    Live CSS comes with an element selector. This will let you click on any element in any pane, go through the CSS and find the actual selectors for that element and give them as suggestions in the editor. Selecting elements to write CSS for is super quick and doesn’t require you to open devtools to find them.

    Lastly, all of the Google fonts are available when you write Live CSS, so trying out new fonts is as easy as saying font-family: Aladin. Polypane will automatically load in the fonts for you.

    More on the Live CSS panel

    Meta information panel

    The meta information panel shows you all the information that’s defined in your . Your title, description and favicon, but also all your meta tags, viewport declaration, language and other information. This makes it super easy to spot missing info or typos.

    Meta info for Spiritapp.io

    The meta information panel also gives you previews of the social cards of Twitter, Facebook, Slack and Linkedin, as well as the Google search result. For Twitter and Slack, we also support their dark mode.

    In developing this feature, we found out that none of the official social card previews of Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin accurately showed what your card was going to look like. They’re all out of date!

    Additionally, despite their documentation claiming otherwise, all sites use whatever meta information is available. So we painstakingly reverse engineered the way the social cards were actually rendered and we replicate that with pixel-perfect accuracy.

    Our generated social previews: Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin & Slack (clockwise.)

    Social previews for Doka.js. Clockwise: Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Slack

    More on the Meta information panel

    Handoff/browse panel

    An important aspect of modern development is handoff: tools that take a design and then display the CSS and dimensions of elements and let you export images, so you don’t have to click around in a design tool to figure all that stuff out.

    AvocodeFigmaInvisionMarvelZeplinAdobe XD

    With the handoff panel, you can use all these handoff tools directly inside of Polypane. Your design spec and the site are always side-by-side.

    We support a number of handoff tools natively, like Avocode, Invision and Zeplin, but you can also fill in a custom URL.

    A custom URL you say? Does that mean you put a browser in a browser?

    Well… Yeah!

    You can also use the Custom URL option to keep open any reference that you’re working with, like MDN, CanIUse, the React documentation or any API documentation.

    Custom URL showing React documentation

    More on the Handoff/browse panel

    Workspaces panel

    Workspaces were introduced in Polypane 1.1 as a way to save sets of panes using shortcuts or the window menu. Now they have a visual interface.

    The workspaces panel contains a visual overview of all 9 workspaces (with a preview) and lets you easily save and restore them.

    New in the workspaces panel is that you can name your workspace, so you no longer have to remember if, for example, Your android devices were in workspace 1 or 2.

    Where you can find all these new features: the side panel

    With the side panel, Polypane gains a new place to add functionality and show site information that is not so easily surfaced in other browsers, but still super important.

    You can dock the side panel either on the right or on the bottom so you can make it fit your favorite screen configuration.

    Side panel

    New and updated overlays

    In Polypane 2 we introduced overlays: simulators and debuggers you could overlay on a pane. These simulators let you quickly check accessibility issues and simulate things like color blindness, or viewing your site in bright sunlight. In Polypane 2.1, we’ve added more overlays and improved existing ones.

    New and improved overlays

    There is a new Z-index overlay (top left) that highlights which elements have a defined z-index. It’s based on the plugin that Addy Osmani wrote for Visbug, with UI improvements that we’re contributing back to that project as well. We’ve improved readablity and also show the z-index stack for each element that has one.

    We have two new visual impairment simulators: Glaucoma (top center) and Cataracts (top right). Both of these eye conditions blur and dull your vision.

    The color contrast checker (bottom left) now works better when backgrounds are defined for ancestors, and no longer needs a reload.

    Bright sunlight (bottom center) now has less of a blowout and an additional glare to simulate the reflections that the glass on a device creates.

    We have a new Night mode (bottom right) that simulates the way your page looks when Night mode is active, where screens dial down the blue tones and brightness.

    Network throttling

    Throttling selector

    In Isolate panes mode you can now throttle your network connection alongside emulating devices, to test how a page behaves in more realistic settings. We currently have 4 settings: Online, Mid tier mobile, low-end mobile and offline.

    More on Network throttling

    Detecting Polypane

    If you’re developing your site, you might want to show additional debug information or test different variants of your page in different panes. Starting in Polypane 2.1 we offer two ways to detect your site running in Polypane, through our User agent and through a __polypane property on the window.

    Read about how to detect Polypane

    We switched out the native tooltips for all buttons for our custom ones, so they show up quicker and look better, making it easier to get started with Polypane.

    Indicators

    All indicators active

    Reference image, Overlays, Emulation and Devtools all have a blue dot when they’re active.

    For Emulation, we show a yellow dot when the network is throttled, and if you have an error in your console, the Devtools icon will have a red dot. This will tell you at a glance if there is an issue you need to look at, without needing to open the devtools. Emulation and Devtools are available in Isolate Pane mode.

    Screenshotting improvements

    Each release we further tweak and improve the screenshots we create to get a better result. Polypane is already much better than Chrome, Firefox and nearly all online tools (check out Screenshot comparison page to find out how) and we’re continuing to make the screenshots better for dynamic websites. Scripts now load better and animations are handled more consistently.

    Performance improvements

    We’ve rewritten parts of Polypane to make them faster and more performant. The synchronised scrolling is now an order of magnitude faster, and most of the messaging and handling of content is done asynchronously, making the UI more responsive.

    Full changelog:

    There’s more new features, improvements and fixes in this release so read through the full changelog below. All new features are fully documented in our docs too.

    • New Side panel
    • New Site meta information panel
    • New Live CSS panel
    • New Handoff/browse panel
    • New Workspaces panel
    • New New overlays: Z-index, Glaucoma, Cataracts and Night mode
    • New Network throttling
    • New Live reload delay option
    • New Detect Polypane from your site
    • Improvement Use custom tooltips for all buttons
    • Improvement Faster and more performant scroll syncing
    • Improvement Color contrast overlay has improved calculations
    • Improvement Color contrast overlay no longer needs a reload
    • Improvement Bright sunlight overlay now simulates glare
    • Improvement Updated emulated user agents
    • Improvement Better full page screenshotting support
    • Improvement Icons in the pane header now show activity dots
    • Improvement Pane devtools show red dot when there are errors
    • Improvement Clicking pane devtools icon will refocus it if already open
    • Improvement View mode and Filter buttons simplified
    • Improvement All popovers will stay inside window
    • Improvement Close all panes option added to the menu
    • Improvement Warning when opening more than 15 panes
    • Improvement Added the f6 shortcut to focus address bar
    • Improvement Tweak UI icons
    • Improvement Lower bound of generated breakpoints is now 320px
    • Fix Full mode no longer overflows screen
    • Fix Speed and responsiveness improvements
    • Fix Zoom-to-fit for panes works again
    • Fix Support multiple levels of imports for breakpoint detection
    • Fix No longer blocking scripts when making screenshots
    • Fix 404 page in full mode no longer overlays icons
    • Fix Prevent syncing of file inputs

    Getting Polypane 2.1

    Polypane will automatically update on Mac and Windows. Linux users need to download the new version from
    the download page and if you’re on Mac and Windows but don’t want to wait on the update popup, you can find
    your download there as well.

    If you don’t have Polypane yet there is a free 14 day trial available. Get it here.

    what-is-product-adoption-&-how-to-measure-and-increase-it-for-a-saas-product?

    Although SaaS product trend is growing exponentially, there is one big problem every SaaS businesses have: “Customer Retention Rate”. It is a metric that demonstrates whether your marketing and customer care efforts are wasting your time and money or boost your business. Here is the situation that “Product Adoption” steps in to offer an effective way to improve your business’s retention.

    Let’s start with a short definition of product adoption, then continue with some exclusive clues that will help you increase it.

    Sounds good? Let’s go 👇

    What is product adoption?

    Product adoption, by definition, is a process by which customers hear about a new product or a service and become recurring users of it. It is a crucial aspect of customer health and plays a primary role in customer success.

    Increasing SaaS product adoption encourages your customers to detect new items and elements. And also, your customers can discover new features of an existing product. Plus, it enables them to become long-term users. For the most successful companies, higher adoption is indispensable for higher revenue.

    Especially, SaaS start-ups are highly familiar with the term of product adoption. Because they continue to struggle with low retention rates, users not coming back after signing up and always looking for a solution to keep their users for a long time to increase lifetime value.

    You know, it’s the fundamental of a SaaS business model. You have to sell your SaaS product every month to your customers. Product adoption process provides a more advanced customer success by increasing the average lifetime value and the conversion rate of the trial to the subscribed user and free to paying user.

    Amazing, like a swiss knife for product teams, isn’t it?

    Let’s dive into how to measure product adoption first, and then to how to increase it.

    How to measure product adoption?

    saas adoption rates

    There is an obvious fact that most software people do not actually have adequate knowledge and understanding of adoption.

    Apart from classical visitor to user, the user to customer rates, there’s a whole different area to measure new feature adoption.

    Let’s think about a scenario which you are really familiar with:

    You worked for weeks over a new cool feature and finally launched it to all of your users. How many of them could actually reach it? Did they really start to use it? How actively did they use it? Did you actually do a good job working on that new feature, instead of something else? How to measure the success of this new feature or a product in general?

    You need to attentively detect the areas that users drop off and exit. If drop-off and exiting rates are high, it is an obvious indicator of something going wrong and an urgent call for fixing it.

    Don’t know what feature adoption is? Check out our article What is Feature Adoption and How to Increase It.

    3 Product Adoption Metrics

    There are 3 metrics to calculate product adoption rates, therefore help you measure the success of a new product.

    Adoption Rate:

    It is the percentage of a number of new customers to the number of total customers. There is a simple mathematical equation to answer the question of how to calculate adoption rate. A number of new user / Total Number of Users x 100. For example, you have 22 new users and the number of total users is 200: Your adoption rate is 22/200 x 100 = % 11. It can be calculated in a daily, weekly, monthly or yearly basis.

    Time-to-first key action:

    The average time it takes a new customer to use an existing feature, or an existing customer to use a new feature for the first time

    Percentage of users who performed the core action for the first time:

    Name of this metric clearly reveals its definition. It is the percentage of customers have performed a core feature for the first time in a given period of time.

    “Using a tool as a backup can be helpful.”

    To monitor and measure saas adoption rates, you can employ some tools which are able to review the new user onboarding funnel to analyze the steps in which users are having trouble with.

    Analytics tools such as Mixpanel, Amplitude, Woopra etc are great tools to measure product adoption with customizable funnels and lots of helpful resources.

    How to increase product adoption?

    We need to attract customers who tend to actively and consistently use our products or services. No matter what business model we have, we can only achieve success when we make users experience unprecedented moments which make them say “aha, this is what I’m looking for”. It suddenly takes our product or service to a core ingredient of customers’ work.

    To clarify it, I want to define the Product Adoption Process by 5 stages.

    5 stages of the New Product Adoption Process:

    Product adoption process

    Every user respectively goes through these stages no matter what kind of product it is.

    To increase your SaaS product adoption;

    • Follow the stages in the new product adoption process,
    • Detect insufficient points in each step carefully,
    • Enhance them immediately.

    1 – Awareness (Introduction Stage): 

    In the first stage of the new product adoption process, potential customers enter your website to know about a product but they don’t have sufficient knowledge about it yet.

    Teaching Customers can be helpful: Prospects may not be aware of the existence or importance of a certain problem. On the other hand, customers may realize the problem but don’t know the solution. Educating customers about either the problem or the solution can help provide a strong awareness.

    An important step is making a product more recognizable and making customers be aware of it. Bringing new and differentiated features, low price, sales, proposed quality into the forefront with a smooth onboarding process can be very helpful in this stage.

     2 – Interest (Information-gathering Stage):                                       

    It is the stage that customers get attracted to the product and try to have more information about it.

    Follow the steps of your customers instantaneously and make sure you have strong customer support. Sending segmented emails will increase product adoption at this stage as well.

    3 – Evaluation (Consideration Stage):

    At this stage, customers determine whether a product is worth to try or not.

    Help your prospects evaluate your product objectively. Make them see the aspects that differentiate from alternatives to it.

    4 – Trial (Sampling Stage):

    Users try your product to see how efficient the product is for compensating customers’ need. It can be either the first purchase or free trial period.

    Give free trials and a money-back guarantee to ensure your product is worth employing.

    5- Adoption / Rejection (Buy or not Buy Stage):

    Prospects determine if your SaaS product has the value and decide to adopt it or not. In the last stage of the new product adoption process, customers proceed from a cognitive state (being aware and informed) to the emotional state (liking and preference) and finally to the behavioral or conative state (deciding and purchasing).

    An Example Case of the New Product Adoption Process from Real Life:

    Let’s assume that you are walking through a street near your home:

    1. You saw a billboard that says a new pizza restaurant Alican Pizza has opened which located near your home. (Awareness)
    2. When you went home, you looked for some information on the internet to know more about Alican Pizza’s menu and prices. (Interest)
    3. You considered either want to try it or not. (Evaluation)
    4. You decided to try the pizza in small scale – one slice or a little size for trial – to improve or estimate its value. (Trial)
    5. You conclude that it is delicious and you want to be a long term customer of Alican Pizza. (Adoption)

    Diffusion of Innovations Theory: The Product Adoption Curve

    Have you ever noticed that some people adopt new products or behaviors sooner than others? In 1962 Everet Rogers a professor of rural psychology developed a theory called diffusion of innovations to explain the product adoption curve.

    Rogers found that individuals within any society fall into one of five different adopter groups based on how early or how late they adopt an innovation. While explaining the product adoption curve, Rogers’ theory tells us that if you want to promote the widespread adoption of a new product, you need to market each adopter group differently using distinct communication channels and messages.

    The Innovators (2.5%)

    Innovators are a small but very important group because they are always the first learn about and adopt an innovation.

    The Early Adopters (13.5%)

    The early adopters are also a small forward-thinking group and are often highly respected as opinion leaders.

    The Early Majority (34%) 

    The early majority takes time to make decisions. They will observe others’ experiences and will only adopt a product once they are convinced it has real benefits and that it is the new status quo.

    The Late Majority (34%)

    The late majority is more resistant to change but they are very responsive to peer pressure. They want innovations to be very well tested.

    Laggards (16%)

    Laggards are highly unwilling to change and they also can be hard to reach with marketing campaigns. Because they often have very minimal exposure to media.

    2 Ways to Improve the Product Adoption Process

    1 – Make Your Support More Supportive

    Customers are having trouble figuring out how exactly your product works. They have limited time and there are a lot of alternatives in the market so they do not want to spend much time on understanding your product. It creates a huge obstacle for customers to retain.

    Customer support has the power that can make customers proceed to the next step with your product. Offering in-app live chat, embed videos and creating interactive guides are great solutions to improve saas adoption rates.

    2 – Improve Your Onboarding

    Effective onboarding helps customers how to successfully use the product without any external effort. You can show the proposed value of your product through a successful onboarding and it also helps users to find their “Aha!” moments easily.

    A “Product Adoption Software” can be a very effective solution

    You don’t want your developers to work for hours to create product adoption guides. It takes too much time and undoubtedly considerable effort is needed to do it. Save your developer team’s time and don’t waste your budget.

    A product adoption software helps your users reach the product in websites and web apps with interactive guides that you created for them. It is the easiest and cost-effective way. You don’t need a big team and a high budget to make guides, your interns can even do it in a couple of minutes.

    Moreover, product adoption software permits you to follow the product adoption process stages and provides analytical information which allows you to make objective evaluations handily.

    For a longer answer to your question “Why shouldn’t I build onboarding walkthroughs insource?”, check out our article: Onboarding Walkthroughs Are Hard.


    Frequently Asked Questions


    What are the five stages of new product adoption curve?

    The Innovators – The Early Adopters – The Early Majority – The Late Majority – Laggards. All stages are explained in our article.


    What is the most efficient way to increase product adoption?

    A product adoption software saves your developers’ time and your budget and permits your team to follow the product adoption process stages.


    What metrics should I follow to measure the success of product adoption?

    Adoption rate of the product, time-to-first key action, percentage of the users that has reached the “aha!” moment.

    everything-you-think-you-know-about-minimalism-is-wrong

    It wasn’t that long ago that Instagram was flooded with saturated filters and low-resolution photos. But then the gaudy, maximalist look of the 2000s faded out of style and was replaced with an interest in clean lines and mature color palettes. Seemingly overnight, the platform became an ode to minimalism—filled with interior design and lifestyle posts from influencers anchored by organic, nautilus-shaped forms and eggshell-colored walls. Everything on the grid was carefully curated to be monochromatic, uncluttered, and uniform.

    [Cover Image: Tree Abraham/courtesy Bloomsbury]

    Minimalism has been eagerly adopted as an aesthetic by Instagram users and pretty much everyone else not on the social media application, too. Marie Kondo teaches us that minimalism is getting rid of anything that does not spark joy. Other influencers (and brands) suggest that it’s having a hyper-curated closet of a few basics, or a simple skincare routine featuring only three all-natural products. Minimalism has become a visual manifestation of “wellness”—a lifestyle trend rooted in conspicuous consumption.

    But this loose misinterpretation belies its roots as a decades-old architecture and design philosophy. In his new book, The Longing for Less: Living with Minimalism, out from Bloomsbury January 21, culture critic Kyle Chayka investigates how we’ve veered away from minimalism’s true origins, and converted it into—what can be reduced to—a “look.” Here, Chayka helps dispel the four biggest myths of minimalism.

    Minimalism has deeper roots than you think

    Minimalism’s recurrence as an idea, in both society and art, reveals the philosophy’s central paradox: It is a quiet celebration of space, but bold in the way its simplicity overwhelms. “In the time right after World War II, minimalism was a popular aesthetic because it’s a perfect, utopian style that everyone can access,” Chayka says in a phone interview. Soon after, in the 1970s, the idea of “simple living” began to take hold, which is the last time eco-conscious consumer practices (less consumption, more self-reliance) were as in vogue as they are today. “I think the internet and social media and the financial crisis is what really caused the super popularity of minimalism this time around,” Chayka says.

    Minimalism is not just a trendy style

    It’s not difficult to imagine why we, as a society, long for less. Our lives are dominated by dizzying screens, which have forced us to prioritize images over the humanness of real life. “So much of our visual experience is on the internet now. That’s the container of our experience,” Chayka says. “And so it makes sense that the spaces we occupy would be very simple because we spend so much time on our phones.”

    In an attempt to counteract the harm technology has done to our ability to focus, rest, and enjoy experiences, people have adopted minimalism as a visual aesthetic. It’s blank, inoffensive, natural. It’s even been marketed as a form of self-help.

    Donald Judd, 15 Untitled Works in Concrete, 1980-1984. [Photo: Flickr user Nan Palmero]

    But according to Chayka, “minimalism is about experiencing the world directly and engaging with your surroundings.” Consider Agnes Martin’s austere canvases or Donald Judd’s spacious constructions in Marfa, Texas. In architecture, minimalism has roots in Japan, where “there’s a real interest in very refined textures and creating experiences with light and shadow—an architecture of ephemerality that modernism doesn’t really have,” Chayka says. In short, there was once a spirituality to minimalism that has been lost in its current expression. “The style now seems more like numbing yourself and creating a protective environment,” Chayka says.

    Minimalism is not morally superior

    Minimalism these days has an aura of moral superiority. “Minimalism has always been associated with moral purity or a sense of existing outside of society, whether that’s during the midcentury modern movement or the Voluntary Simplicity Movement of the ’70s,” Chayka says. “The problem with luxury minimalism today is that the style is associated with moral purity and outsiderness but it’s being adopted by the most insider people possible—wealthy women and tech billionaires. The style of minimalism [we see today] is a reality that’s not very minimal at all.” Clearing out one’s home for the sake of more space is not radical if there’s a financial safety net in place to buy it all back again, if one should so choose. (Steve Jobs’s uniform of black turtlenecks and jeans was not minimalist as much as it was a decision to not be burdened with variety.) So the suggestion that someone owning fewer objects is healthier and more put-together overlooks the fact that participating in the trend is less about the inward journey than it is about appearances. Nothing morally superior about that.

    Eames House interior, 1952. [Photo: © Eames Office LLC/courtesy Bloomsbury]

    Minimalism is not a commodity

    Today’s Instagram-ready minimalism couldn’t have been born anywhere other than in the United States. “I think the commodification of minimalism has been very American,” Chayka says. “The idea of an entirely minimalist lifestyle is deeply American . . . we consume everything to excess, even minimalism.” Home organization entrepreneur Marie Kondo seems to have tapped into this American Achilles’ heel; her pivot to selling home goods reflects a genius awareness that consumers are eager to buy objects that represent an ideology, even though they are a shallow appropriation of it. This makes minimalism’s success on Instagram plain, too; it is now an element deeply embedded into a platform that has become synonymous with a certain brand of conspicuous consumption.

    Inside a room at Yumiya Komachi in Kyoto. [Photo: Kyle Chayka/courtesy Bloomsbury]

    What’s next

    Sometime soon, the minimalism trend will likely slip out of the mainstream consciousness again, just as it has in the past. “I think we’ve hit peak minimalism and [are now moving] past it . . . minimalism is a trend and a style and it comes and goes in waves. We start obsessing over it and then find out that it doesn’t solve our problems,” Chayka says. For most people, minimalism is simply not a realistic lifestyle, because the very structure of our capitalist society relies on constant consumption and an attitude of overindulgence. To put it simply, minimalism—as it exists in the culture today—is a privilege. “It’s the difference between an Apple Store and a Zen temple,” Chayka says. “The Apple Store never changes—there’s perfectly clean glass and steel and empty space. But if you think of the rock garden in the Zen temple, it’s always changing and moving with time . . . it’s more interesting and sustainable than creating something that never changes.”

    Buy The Longing for Less: Living with Minimalism, by Kyle Chayka, designed by Tree Abraham, Elizabeth Van Itallie, Mia Kwon, and Patti Ratchford for Bloomsbury on Amazon.

    all-systems-go


    New Logo and Identity for GoDaddy done In-house

    before

    after

    Established in 1997, GoDaddy is a domain registrar and web hosting company. A staggering 78 million domain names have been registered through them and they host over 19 million users. With 14 offices across the world, GoDaddy has evolved from that-place-with-the-weird-name-where-you-can-buy-domains to a well-rounded web service that will help users make something of those domains, providing templates to build websites and marketing tools to promote them. By now, GoDaddy would probably love it if the press didn’t mention their old ads as the company is trying very hard to completely shed the sex-sells approach but, no, we do not forget. This week, GoDaddy introduced a new logo and identity designed in-house with strategy by Lippincott, logo design by Koto, and leadership direction and implementation in-house.

    The GO is a clear statement of advocacy for entrepreneurs everywhere — a symbol of empowerment that encourages them to stand on their own two feet.

    The GO was created as a visual representation of the space where three ideas meet:

    Entrepreneurial spirit

    We created the GO’s swooping arcs to represent the indomitable spirit of everyday entrepreneurs. And the word “go” itself is our rallying cry for folks to take the first or next step in their entrepreneurial journey.

    Joy

    Joy is a corollary to the love that fuels entrepreneurs to make their own way. The GO’s heart shape is a nod to this feeling, while its bold lines radiate the same joy that entrepreneurs everywhere experience.

    Humanity

    Entrepreneurship should be accessible to everyone, which is why we bring humanity into our digital tools for the benefit of all. The GO’s continuous, overlapping stroke symbolizes the connection all entrepreneurs share, and its generous interior space has room for folks of every stripe.

    GoDaddy Design microsite

    Logo introduction.
    New Logo and Identity for GoDaddy done In-house
    Logo.
    New Logo and Identity for GoDaddy done In-house
    Icon detail.

    Logo animation.



    Logo trait animations: Entrepreneurial Spirit, Joy, and Humanity.

    In 2018 GoDaddy began the process of sweeping its old “guy” icon under the rug by dropping it from the logo — visually, it was the last connecting thread to the GoDaddy brand of old that made it even harder to forget about what their brand stood for. After an interim period of no “guy”, the company has introduced a new icon, the “GO” and Imma say “STOP”. There are a number of things that are not necessarily wrong but just very awkward. Based on the animation the logo is meant to be a heart but in its static form it looks like two ovals stacked oddly one on top of the other with the not-so-hidden “G” in there adding a whole lot of confusion. It doesn’t read like a heart at all because there is no depth to the loops and the one line that could make that connection is abruptly ended by trying to make the “G” — that hard-angled line pointing down and left kills this logo. Comparisons to Airbnb’s “Bello” are fair not just for the similar approach in design but the douchiness of giving it a pretentious name. (As much as I liked and championed the Airbnb logo I always disliked that they named it so annoyingly.)

    Conceptually and/or contextually there is something very off about the icon too: it looks completely out of place next to the word “GoDaddy” — it’s really impossible to not think “Who’s your daddy?” (and all that that entails) — and, while I get that they are trying to appeal to the entrepreneurial spirit, let’s not kid ourselves, they sell domain names and templates, not dreams. I’m all for companies establishing an emotional connection with its audience and that’s in part what branding is for but this feels very forced and inauthentic. But let’s continue with the design aspects… the wordmark has been slimmed down, which makes for slightly better readability but the squared-off counters have been lost, which is a detail I really liked in the old logo. To the credit of the icon design, the weird angled line is the same thickness and rounded-corner-ness as the “G” in the wordmark. The new blue color is a little annoying in its vibrancy and I’m surprised they moved away so drastically from their green color, which I thought was fairly recognizable. So, to summarize my logo feelings: not a fan.

    Always bright and dynamic, our brand colors speak to the creativity of our customers. Our wide palette connects with people across the globe and promotes inclusivity for all cultures. We use color to bring joy to our brand.

    GoDaddy Design microsite

    Color palette.

    Our bold, serif headline font is elegant and expressive projecting a fresh, modern voice. It presents a hint of flair for professionalism, giving the brand a distinguished feel. We use it to establish strong moments of brand for customers.

    GoDaddy Design microsite

    Headline typography.

    Another big shift in the identity is the use of the bold, pointy, serif trend that has been widely adopted by editorial brands — Medium, The Guardian, BuzzFeed News, and others — and it also feels so out of place for GoDaddy, like a kid putting on their parents clothes. Visually, it’s far too unrelated to the icon or the wordmark and while it works graphically as a headline font — because, well, that’s what it is — it just feels like a gratuitous choice to add a quick dose of maturity.

    Our photography lets people see themselves in our brand. Whether it’s capturing entrepreneurs in the moment or presenting them as heroes, we want their personality, independence and energy to shine through. When showcasing our products or anything else, our approach to photography is simple — keep it bright, bold and inspiring.

    GoDaddy Design microsite

    New Logo and Identity for GoDaddy done In-house
    Photography.

    Photos are fine. Not exactly in a cohesive style or art direction but they have the right content.

    Our hand-drawn illustrations add a touch of humanity to our brand. Some concepts are easier to convey through thoughtful illustrations than through image or word. We apply a light-hearted, editorial approach that intentionally compliments narratives across our experiences.

    GoDaddy Design microsite

    New Logo and Identity for GoDaddy done In-house
    Hand-drawn illustration style.

    These are pretty cool — a nice step up from the typical mono-thickness-line trend.

    With thoughtful concepts and bold use of color, we use a bit of personality to embody the story of intangible products and complex ideas. We want to create an inspiring world that sparks the possibilities our customers can create.

    GoDaddy Design microsite

    New Logo and Identity for GoDaddy done In-house
    3D illustration style.


    3D illustration style, animated.

    These are also very cool and fun, especially the animated ones. Unrelated to the other illustrations and photos but cool, sure. I could accept the rationalization that both illustration styles feature hands but, like the choice of bold pointy serif, both illustration styles seemed like they were picked to fill a quota of Things That Brands Do Today.

    New Logo and Identity for GoDaddy done In-house
    Business cards.
    New Logo and Identity for GoDaddy done In-house


    New Logo and Identity for GoDaddy done In-house


    New Logo and Identity for GoDaddy done In-house

    Ads.
    New Logo and Identity for GoDaddy done In-house
    Poster.
    New Logo and Identity for GoDaddy done In-house
    Sign.
    New Logo and Identity for GoDaddy done In-house
    Beanie.
    New Logo and Identity for GoDaddy done In-house
    T-shirt and tote.

    The applications are all fine and good in terms of execution. There is clearly a lot of care being put into the implementation and into building a visual language that can flex in different ways and styles. I don’t think it’s very cohesive or entirely convincing but it does get its messaging across vibrantly.

    Brand video.

    Overall, for me, there simply is too big of a disconnect between what the company offers and the overly emotional and philosophical positioning behind the new identity — it’s great that GoDaddy is convinced by it and trying to create this atmosphere but I’m not buying it. Maybe I’m alone in this and maybe I have some weird prejudice about GoDaddy not because I’m offended by their old ads — heck, they were fun at the time — but because their old brand, from the name to the logo to the website, had always been so extremely amateur that I can’t suddenly see them in this new heightened light. Nonetheless and I guess what matters in the end is that for any new customer going to buy a domain name at GoDaddy for the first time, it will all look like a respectable place to do so, which hasn’t always been the case.

    See what else happened on Brand New each year since publication began in 2006

    Logo Before & After
    Sample Application

    Spotted Around the web


    Pinned Recent, Big Stories


    Curated 3D that is 2L2Q

    new-year,-new-browser-?-the-new-microsoft-edge-is-out-of-preview

    Microsoft Edge logo on a body of water

    A little over a year ago, we announced our intention to rebuild Microsoft Edge on the Chromium open source project with the goals of delivering better compatibility for everyone, less fragmentation for web developers, and a partnership with the Chromium community to improve the Chromium engine itself. At Ignite, we unveiled our new vision for the web and search, our colorful new icon, and how Microsoft Edge Bing are the browser and search engine for business — and we are thrilled by the growing excitement we’ve heard from all of you who’ve tried it out and sent feedback!

    From this incredible momentum, today I’m pleased to announce the new Microsoft Edge is now available to download on all supported versions of Windows and macOS in more than 90 languages. Microsoft Edge is also available on iOS and Android, providing a true cross-platform experience. The new Microsoft Edge provides world class performance with more privacy, more productivity and more value while you browse. Our new browser also comes with our Privacy Promise and we can’t wait for you to try new features like tracking prevention, which is on by default, and provides three levels of control while you browse.

    Another innovative new feature in Microsoft Edge allows you to customize your online experience. Choose a new tab page layout or design, and select the types of news you want.

    Microsoft Edge user interface

    The last several months have been nothing short of inspiring for all of us working to deliver great new capabilities for Microsoft Edge including AAD support, Internet Explorer mode, 4K streaming, Dolby audio, inking in PDF, Microsoft Search in Bing integration, support for Chrome-based extensions, and more.

    If you’re a business or education IT administrator looking to deploy widely in your organization or school, we have you covered as well – you can download offline packages and policies and learn more on the new commercial site.

    Internet Explorer legacy mode animation

    People have downloaded the preview channels of the new Microsoft Edge millions of times to their devices, and we’ve seen many organizations begin to pilot these channels for their users. Enterprises and schools who have mission critical legacy applications and websites – but also want modern web and security – have turned to our new Internet Explorer mode as a “best of both worlds” solution. And for Microsoft 365 customers, using Microsoft Search to find files, people, office floor plans and more on your organization’s intranet is as easy as typing in the Microsoft Edge address bar. Our early customers are calling it “a win.”

    Moving to the new Microsoft Edge – what to expect

    Now that we’ve reached this milestone, you might be wondering what to expect on your PC. To get the new Microsoft Edge you have two choices: you can either manually download it today, or if you are a general consumer user, you can wait for it to be automatically released to your device via Windows Update. When you do make the switch, your favorites, passwords, form fill information and basic settings will carry over to the new Microsoft Edge without you having to do anything. You can read more about our rollout plans here.

    If you’re an IT administrator, you will need to download an offline deployment package to pilot within your corporate environment—the new Microsoft Edge will not automatically deploy for commercial customers. Additionally, none of the Microsoft Edge preview channels will update to the new Microsoft Edge, as they can be used side-by-side for testing and validation.

    We also know that deploying a new browser isn’t just “flipping a switch,” so we want to make the process as easy as possible. In addition to simplifying deployment with tools like Intune and Configuration Manager, we are committed to helping your organization transition to the new Microsoft Edge. At Ignite we announced FastTrack and App Assure support for Microsoft Edge. FastTrack will help you deploy Microsoft Edge to your organization at no extra charge if you are a customer with an eligible subscription to Microsoft 365, Azure, or Dynamics 365. And if your sites are compatible on Internet Explorer 8 and above, Google Chrome, or legacy Microsoft Edge, then they’ll work on the new Microsoft Edge. If not, contact App Assure and we’ll help you fix it.

    What’s next

    Of course, the innovation, testing, and new features don’t stop coming today, and this initial release is only just the beginning. If you want a sneak peek of what’s coming, we encourage you to keep using our preview channels – Beta, Dev and Canary – which will remain available for download on the Microsoft Edge Insider site. Not only will you get an insider’s look at our features pipeline for Microsoft Edge, but you’ll continue to have the opportunity to help improve Microsoft Edge with your valuable feedback. Your input helps make both the new Microsoft Edge, and the web, better for everyone.

    Thank you!

    A huge thank you to our community of Microsoft Edge Insiders as well as the engineers within the Chromium community who have worked with us to develop the new Microsoft Edge. We remain committed to actively participating in and contributing to the Chromium open source project. To date we’ve made more than 1900 contributions across areas like accessibility, modern input including touch, speech, digital inking, and many more.

    Keep telling us what’s working well, what needs to change and what you’d like to see in the new Microsoft Edge.

    Our heartfelt thanks – we couldn’t have made it here without you!

    JoeB

    the-(unofficial)-apple-archive

    Dedicated to the unsung studio designers, copywriters, producers, ADs, CDs, and everyone else who creates wonderful things.

    Dedicated to those who stayed up late and got up early to get on the family iMac to recreate event slides in Keynote.

    Thank you.

    pet-peeves-of-a-designer?:-?8-things-you-should-probably-stop-doing

    Nikhil Kirve

    It was a small moment and a late one when I realised… Why do designers approach design in such a way? Why not like this, and so on… Being a designer for over 6 years, I’ve made these mistakes and probably you’d have made one too.

    At times, designers just want to “please” the stakeholders and get their work done by the day. While on many occasions we invest a lot of time in searching or designing a solution, when we are needed to address the question in the first place — and this leads us to walk astray without realising our errors.

    Hence, below are few of my observations towards some common design flaws that I stumbled across, that made me think about my understanding and my exercise that helped me accelerate my UI/UX design process. I hope this helps in your everyday design.

    Creativity is not easy. Coming up with a design in a short time can be difficult, and so we look for references and copy them the same. As a designer you need to stop plagiarism and try to modify a reference work into your own design.

    I agree — Designers are not born with innate ability to create gorgeous interfaces, or gifted with some special color psychology. Designers also need to work hard on their craft, experiment and learn like everyone else does. Although, as a newbie designer it is OK to copy and hone your skills from Pros. It’s the right way to learn when you do not have an industry perspective.

    That said, having somewhat experience as a designer you will agree to one thing that, we all take UI reference material from Dribbble, Behance, Awwwards etc. In my opinion, our references should remain as an inspiration. It is one thing to get inspired but it’s another thing to copy paste someone else’s design entirely. Its always good to get ‘inspired’ (motivated) from others, like your favorite designer — you will always fall in love with their work, their style of design, color palette, interaction and more… but think this, their design language & style might not necessarily be appropriate to the product you are building.

    Do not copy! Understand if it will work for your product or not.

    Copy pasting UIs will save your time and a non-designer would never notice. But seriously: Why? — after years being a designer, if plagiarizing is still your way then, my friend, it’s time to bring some change. The creative process is an exercise, one in which you need to give time and train your mind. Once you overcome your creative block, you will come up with something different even with the shortest of ‘icon’.


    It’s important you save time on illustrations, icons or any graphic element on UI while making early designs. Having an idea of what the illustration will look like and then selecting an appropriate placeholder will accelerate your work.

    Off course, this doesn’t mean that you don’t have to make one. But, is it actually necessary to design visual elements before you finalize the layout? — NO.

    Let’s take an example: You are designing an ‘Invite friend page’ for which you want to add an illustration — so you design the layout of the page accordingly, Now, rather than jumping into making that illustration or artwork.. take it slow. In your mind you know what kind of illustration you want — A guy holding a phone and a friend next to him.. Ok now, go ahead search for a similar type of illustration as a ‘placeholder’ on Dribbble and use it in your design.

    Pick the reference image from Dribbble.

    Get the design approved by the stakeholders prior. You will have plenty of time to work on illustration once the design is in development. This shows your ability to quickly move the project ahead without actually putting your creative skills on priority.

    By doing so –

    • You have presented your page structure a lot faster
    • Saved your time and rework on graphical elements
    • Project timeline is not compromised due to delay in design

    Final work on illustration before release!

    If you are asked to provide a design or even a popup by your PM… Just wait for a sec. Do not pour their words into design just for the sake of giving it. Listen to the requirement and get every necessary piece of information, as this will only help you to strategize your process of design and save both of your time.

    Ask questions: __What is the objective? __What are we expecting the user to understand? __Is this information necessary to the user? __Is this structure coherent for the user? __What will happen if there is no data to show? And so on…

    You are not bound to do everything as the PM says.

    As a designer you need to do your part of research & exploration for you to share insights for the best experience a user could possibly have. Do not rush into design blindly. You are not thinking deeply about the product and its use, period. If you do not agree to a certain thing as a user experience designer, take a minute… Get your brain to process and you will have a different & better way around.

    (Look the requirement from your perspective).. by Agatha Yu

    Sometimes, you won’t even require a design and a problem could be solved using system native components. Think before opening ‘Sketch’ — Stop doing donkey work!

    As UX Designers we are often inclined towards the craft and expression of an idea. Whereas PMs helps in translating the user problems into tasks and are focused on execution of the product. However, in the end, both Designers & PMs set the vision and bring value to the product. Thus, give your own thought to what you are about to design in order to save your iterations.


    While designing, we start thinking of elements that the user will need or will interact with — which ends up crowding our artboard with elements such as — heading, subheadings, graphic, bullet points, video, ticker, fab icon and what not… and all this happens when we don’t have the time to sit and wireframe. In such case, having all information that we think is necessary to the user in our design ends up confusing us even more, and all we end up doing is — moving the pieces up and down to make the layout look good. Don’t do this.

    “A Designer will arrange details on the page, but a Good Designer will eliminate all the unnecessary details.”

    It is crucial for us as designers to understand on a psychological level, why our users are doing what they are doing, what motivates them to use our products/service. This awareness will allow us to create an impactful and well-defined structure for the product.

    Treat your design as a Story — which has a start, middle and end. Every small feature you deliver is a story in itself and each page you design weaves that story together. Do not overwhelm the user by tossing stuff on his face and letting him figure the story by himself. Instead, walk him through. Design should intrigue him enough that he is compelled to stick till the end.

    Adding everything into design -vs- what’s actually needed

    Be more empathetic rather than being instructed. There is a certain depth to understand a page when it comes to the real user. Once you have their point of view it will be easy for you to eliminate unnecessary and keep only what’s actually required on the page.

    …Less is required, more is unnecessary!


    Consistency is the key principle of design! Going all artistic will end up with an inconsistent interface to the product that will not only confuse the user but will also make it hard to decipher the final product.

    Let’s say, One day you’ve been asked to redesign a ‘Profile page’.. So, you go and skim through all the profile page designs on Dribbble. You liked a design that is appeling with all the colored icons and gradients, which then you use that as a reference to make your own profile page. Kudos! You’ve completed your task! Now, the next day, you are asked to design a ‘Detail page’ inside the ‘Profile page’, which shall have numerous text fields, actions and content.. So you repeat — go on Dribbble, see similar samples and design your page. Why?…

    First of all, All design decisions should come from understanding the user. And secoundly consistency in the design pattern should reflect in the product.

    Trying to make designs beautiful as per Dribbble will not benefit to the user experience of your product.

    Alteast, having a consistent Visual Language will help the user to execute a task without learning the UI every time they switch the context. By doing so, you are also setting a Voice and Tone for the product.

    Save components that can be reused — Styleguide!

    Visual consistency must be taken care off. Similar elements that are perceived the same way make up the visual consistency. Font sizes, spacing, button style, colors, even the line width of the icons should be consistent across the product. And so we create library/styleguide.

    … Keep it simple, reuse components!


    If you are one of those designers who think that content writing is not my job… I will write ‘lorem ipsum’ and move on and later incorporate the content I receive from the PM or content team then — Stop practicing this. Even if you feel your language is verbose, try to write your own copy.

    Well, Content Strategy and UX writing falls under the large UX umbrella. Few industry best (Airbnb, Slack, Dropbox, Patreon, Squarespace) follows content strategy as a design practice. Likewise, not as a professional but being aware of what content adds to the core product experience and how it goes much beyond metrics and ROI is important.

    “Writing content in your words will help you decide on how a design should work and look rather than trying to fit the content into a design”. As a designer, you have a fair understanding of the user journey and what the user is expecting to read or see on a particular screen, hence writing copy will helps you to keep the content flow consistent and further provides a context to UX writers to refine & create a unified voice for the product in ways that a designer may not.

    Content lives in design and design communicates via content.

    By adding lorem ipsum in your design you are dressing your king before knowing his size.

    It’s a good practice to write content on your own during the design process, instead of using placeholder text. It will truly differentiate your design style from others.

    Read about — Content First Approach in Design


    I know how exciting it is to show your design skills. As a designer we want the best looking UI and interaction to what you are making — That like a dream of a designer:) You will prefer to sit in isolation until you are finished with your crazy designs and only then give the designs away. Creating beautiful pixels without knowing technical feasibility is just waste of time.

    Ah, the beautiful relationship between Designers & Developers! We have heard so many times about the cold war brewing between these two world apart parties. Yes, we guys are equally involved & responsible for shipping the product. The whole process of creating a product or introducing a new feature always starts with keeping the user in focus, right? And, no matter how fancy a design we make, if we are not aligned with the engineering partners then it won’t do any good to the user and certainly will not help the business.

    Love between designers and developers

    Understand the possibility of effort that goes into building your design solution. Make sure they understand the reason behind designing it in a certain way. Provide a realistic example and also have an alternative way in case it’s truly infeasible.

    Communicating early and establishing a clear shared understanding between you and the developer will surely save a number of redesigns, delays and will also cost less to your organization.


    I have worked home after office hours:00 for almost six years, and I am not sure if I am the right person to advise on this but here are my two cents. I am not going to lie and say that this hasn’t help me to accelerate in work or career wise. But raising my head from the screen has made me think of how much I’ve missed all these years.

    So, you are passionate about design. You like the complexity of a problem and are willing to put all your creativity, energy and your mind to solve it. You don’t see day or night, you are just so much in love with your work that you see nothing except that — ah, I know the feeling.

    Most of my time is spent in front of the laptop WORKING. One thing we all know, is that the process of learning will never end. We have plenty of time in a day to work and be productive, and this is something that I am still working on. I still at times take my laptop and work late at night in my cave. Point being, we all can choose whether we want to work plenty or work little and smart.

    This I can advise you —

    “Stop doing quantity work, start doing quality work”

    Don’t be satisfied with your designs, you will always do better the next day. It’s just the matter till you initiate. Set a goal that will drive to at least make that attempt…Keep working towards it — lose sleep, create, innovate, work home (doesn’t matter:) make amazing designs.

    You’re doing great!


    the-definitive-guide-to-landing-pages

    As a digital marketing professional, you understand that email marketing is only one part of a larger puzzle. For your email marketing efforts to pay off, your email subscribers need to be directed somewhere, so that certain actions can be taken.

    That’s where your website’s landing pages come into play. Read on to discover the importance of landing pages, as well as how they work alongside email marketing to net you the desired results.

    Guide to landing pages: what purpose do these pages serve?

    A landing page is a specific web page on your website that your subscribers are directed to via various sales/marketing tactics. This can be through an email CTA or even a social media post. A landing page is different from a typical webpage because it serves a particular purpose.

    For example, many of our emails and blog CTAs take leads to our request for a live demo landing page.

    Example of a Campaign Monitor landing page

    Source: Campaign Monitor

    This page serves a single purpose: requesting a live demo of Campaign Monitor and the services available to marketing professionals. Those interested simply fill out the form and then click the “submit” CTA to get started.

    So, while landing pages have a focused directive, they serve a critical role in your overall marketing strategy: to convert website visitors into new leads. If implemented correctly, a well-designed landing page is almost guaranteed to get you the conversions you’re looking for.

    Your guide to different types of landing pages

    Marketers understand that each offer or promotion requires its own landing page to get the attention it deserves. In fact, studies have shown that companies that increase their number of landing pages from 10 to 15 see an average increase in leads of 55%.

    However, many individuals don’t understand that several different types of landing pages can and should be utilized, depending on the type of campaign being run. This has led to 48% of landing pages containing multiple offers, which can drastically decrease the overall conversion rate by up to 266%

    That’s why it’s crucial to have the right landing page for each of your campaigns. Not every landing page will be a product detail page, and research shows that other landing pages typically perform better than a typical product detail page.

    Product detail pages vs. all other landing pages

    Source: Marketing Charts

    It’s essential to consider adding a variety of different landing pages to your digital marketing strategy, and we’ve provided some information on the most popular landing pages used by marketing teams today.

    Lead capture page

    A lead capture page is a landing page designed to encourage website viewers to leave their personal information in exchange for a good or service. Typically, marketers begin by sending an email to new subscribers that outlines various perks of their subscription. From there, users are encouraged to click on a CTA that brings them to a landing page where they’ll fill out a form to gain access to something.

    The MarketingProfs team does a good job of this. Their welcome email currently includes a link to an “exclusive look” at Nancy Harhut’s MarketingProfs B2b Forum presentation. If you click on that lead capture CTA in the email, you’re taken to the first landing page, which delivers the promised material. From there, you’re encouraged to sign up for the 2020 forum and are then asked for more information on landing page 2.

     Email marketing and landing page examples

    Source: Gmail/MarketingProfs Landing Page 1/MarketingProfs Landing Page 2

    Sales page

    Sales pages, while some of the most relevant landing pages in your digital marketing arsenal, are the ones that are the most commonly misused.

    Some of the most effective sales landing pages are longer in nature and can generate up to 220% more leads than landing pages with above-the-fold CTAs. However, what works for some may not work for all, so you should always be A/B testing your landing pages before making them live for all.

    In this example, the sales page is broken up into different sections, providing viewers with options to review before making their final decision.

    Example of a sales landing page

    Source: Living Language via Instapage

    Click-through page

    Click-through landing pages are great when you’re working with a new prospect and want to warm them up to an offer. Remember the example above by MarketingProfs? That’s an excellent example of a click-through landing page because it moves the prospect from the welcome email to the initial landing page, and then to an exclusive offer landing page for the 2020 Forum.

    Another great way to incorporate a click-through landing page is by using free trial offers or with a “get a quote” CTA. This encourages your consumers to click through and gives you some information to move forward with the process of learning more or getting access to the free trial.

    Click-through landing page example

    Source: Nationwide

    Splash page

    Splash pages are typically used to inform your visitor or something prior to giving them access to another landing page or blog post. This doesn’t usually ask your visitors for any information and acts more like a welcome page of sorts. Other types of splash pages could include short, quick forms to enable you to gather vital user data.

    Example of a Splash landing page

    Source: Forbes via Instapage

    Squeeze page

    Squeeze pages are designed to capture a prospect’s email address to grow a brand’s email list. These pages often pop up while you’re scrolling through a website or article, and they often ask you to sign up for the brand’s newsletter to stay in the loop without having to search the brand later.

    For example, GQ includes a squeeze on its homepage. It appears as the visitor scrolls through the homepage material and encourages them to sign up to stay on top of the GQ trending stories.

    Example of a squeeze landing page.

    Source: GQ

    Other examples of squeeze pages are those that pop up after you’ve visited a website so many times, and they require you to sign up before you can view any other content.

    Example of a gated squeeze page that requires a subscription to view more content

    Source: The Business Times

    Guide to landing pages: design best practices

    Just like any other marketing material, knowing design best practices for landing pages is an absolute must. There are many different design best practices out here; however, when it comes to landing pages, these are some of the most vital practices to keep in mind:

    • Put your audience first by designing with them in mind. That means designing for the skimmers, including images and videos, to help break up large blocks of text and making your CTAs easily identifiable and actionable.
    • Consider your own goals during the design phase. You can’t neglect your marketing goals, or else these landing pages won’t serve your brand in any way. What purpose does each page serve? What solutions will it help provide your audience members? What’s the best way to encourage action on each page?
    • Focus primarily on the benefit for your audience members. What pain points are you addressing? How’s this page/product/service going to make their lives easier/better? Don’t focus heavily on the specific features. Instead, outline how this is going to address the problem they’re seeking answers to.
    • Be as specific as you can, or else risk confusing your prospects. This is particularly important if you have multiple offers running at the same time. Remember, you want to have a landing page for each of your active campaigns. That way, there’s little chance of confusion for those clicking on links for a specific product, deal, or campaign.
    • Always run an A/B test before letting your page go live. What works for one campaign may not work for the next, so make sure you’re taking adequate time to test your landing pages for limited periods of time and track your results to see which one gets you the best results. Whichever variation wins is the one you should put up permanently.

    Landing pages and email marketing work together when done correctly.

    While some may believe that landing pages are strictly related to your online presence and digital marketing strategy, remember that your marketing strategy is made up of multiple puzzle pieces. Once you’ve got your landing page ready to go, you can start including them into your email marketing strategy.

    For example, MacPaw does a wonderful job of creating a sales landing page that they incorporate into their holiday sales email campaign. Instead of laying out all the options for consumers, they include a 30% off CTA, and should the consumer be interested in the offer; they can click through to the sales landing page to see all the available offers.

     Example of email marketing and landing pages working together

    Source: Really Good Emails/MacPaw

    Wrap up

    Landing pages play a vital role in your digital marketing strategy, and it’s essential to understand that not every landing page is created equally. That’s why this guide to landing pages focused heavily on the varying types of landing pages that should be incorporated into your marketing strategy:

    • Squeeze pages
    • Sales pages
    • Lead capture pages
    • Splash pages
    • Click-through pages

    Ready to see what Campaign Monitor can do for you? Then request your live demo today.

    why-the-retailers-closing-stores-probably-won’t-see-a-major-e-commerce-uptick

    According to post-holiday sales data, U.S. overall retail sales were flat or up modestly; however, some traditional retailers saw sales declines to varying degrees. By comparison, online sales were up roughly 19% according to data from Mastercard, which said total holiday retail sales increased 3.4% compared with a year ago.

    Macy’s, JCPenney, L Brands, Kohl’s and even Target reported disappointing results. Macy’s said it would close nearly 30 stores, while Pier 1 is closing almost half its stores. Total store closures last year exceeded 9,000 locations.

    Mindset: Close stores, push e-commerce

    Following lower-than-expected in-store sales, the natural impulse for some retailers is: close stores and push e-commerce. And that may make sense in the abstract and in some instances. However too many “omnichannel” retailers don’t fully appreciate the symbiotic relationship between stores and online sales. This is reflected most significantly in the still-frequent bright line separation (often with separate P&Ls) between e-comm and store teams.

    Euclid Analytics CEO Brent Franson told me in 2017 that when stores disappear, it hurts online sales as well. (Euclid was acquired by WeWork in early 2019.) I haven’t been able to find further support for that statement, but it makes considerable sense.

    In-store returns boost online sales

    In an off the record conversation last November, I was told by a digital commerce executive at a major female apparel retailer that the mention of in-store returns in online ads boosted e-commerce sales. Why? Because people will be more inclined to buy “sight unseen” if they’re confident then can return products in store. And according to data compiled by eMarketer, 75% of online shoppers prefer to return products in-store.

    An interesting twist on that concept is the partnership between Kohl’s and Amazon. Kohl’s accepts returns of Amazon products in all its stores. Amazon benefits from more than 1,100 “return centers” (Kohl’s stores) across the U.S. For its part, Kohl’s has said that the policy brings younger buyers into the store, who often go on to buy something.

    Local search drives e-commerce too

    The in-store return of e-commerce products often results in additional sales. People tend to buy more in a store after returning an online product. And easy returns create support and reinforce brand loyalty.

    It also goes the other way. LocalSEOGuide’s Dan Leibson said in a phone interview that many of the firm’s big box retail customers see millions of dollars in online sales being driven by local search and Google My Business. In other words, someone looks for a particular branded store “near me” and then clicks through to the website, ultimately buying something online.

    “This is a thing for all major retailers,” Leibson explained. “There’s an underreported amount of revenue coming this way.” In fact Leibson believes that major retailers, paradoxically, should be thinking about local search as a potentially significant driver of e-commerce and optimize their pages accordingly.

    BOPIS and consumer agnosticism

    This phenomenon also plays off the “omnichannel” paradigm. Consumers are relatively agnostic about where they buy something if they’re confident they can take the product back if it’s not right. This is also reflected in the growth of BOPIS (buy online, pick up in store).

    As Deloitte has argued in its “2020 retail industry outlook” report, convenience is a major incentive or issue for consumers: “Whether in the store or online, consumers want a friction-free experience, from finding ideas and inspiration to making purchases, managing returns, and advocating for the brand.”

    Convenience is king for consumers

    Conversely, when a store fails to deliver on that convenience it can damage shopper loyalty and even the reputation of the brand. I had such an experience with Banana Republic over the holiday when I was not permitted to return a shirt purchased online (that didn’t fit) to one of their stores. I won’t be buying anything more from Banana Republic (online or off).

    So, while closing underperforming stores makes economic sense for many distressed retailers they should think carefully about which stores they close and not simply assume that customers will shift their buying behavior to the brand’s online shopping cart.



    About The Author

    Greg Sterling is a Contributing Editor to Search Engine Land, a member of the programming team for SMX events and the VP, Market Insights at Uberall.



    linkedin-pages-adds-tools-to-help-businesses-connect-with-users-in-more-personal-and-interactive-ways

    LinkedIn rolled out three new Page tools designed to make it easier for businesses to engage with their customers, prospects, and employees on Wednesday.

    Invite to Follow. To help businesses grow their communities and reach new audiences, Page Admins are now able to invite first-degree Profile connections to follow their LinkedIn Page. Page admins are limited to sending no more than 50 invites per day, and users have the option to opt-out of receiving invites altogether.

    Users can invite first-degree Profile connections to follow their LinkedIn Pages.

    LinkedIn Live Streaming. LinkedIn Live, which originally rolled out in beta last February, is now broadly available on Pages. The feature enables businesses to engage in two-way conversations on-screen and through comments with real-time participation through broadcast notifications. Over the next few weeks, LinkedIn said it will be rolling out a “stream targeting” feature that uses third-party tools (including Restream, Wirecast and Socialive), to help brands reach audiences with different languages and locations around the world. LinkedIn has also introduced private testing capabilities for Live Stream, giving brands an opportunity to rehearse and test before going live.

    LinkedIn Live streaming is now available for Pages.

    Post as Page or Member. With the new updates, Page Admins can choose whether they would like to post as an individual or as their organization. Admins can share an update from their profile, business Page, or directly from the platform’s homepage with a new toggle switch on the homepage.

    Page Admins can select whether to post from their personal profile or from their Page.

    Why we care. These updates are designed to deliver more value from the community-driven features on the platform to help brands build stronger relationships with followers, customers and employees. The new features give Page admins more ways to streamline posting from specific pages, expand audience reach with the new ‘Invite’ tool, and create impactful connections in a live streaming environment.



    About The Author

    Taylor Peterson is Third Door Media’s Deputy Editor, managing industry-leading coverage that informs and inspires marketers. Based in New York, Taylor brings marketing expertise grounded in creative production and agency advertising for global brands. Taylor’s editorial focus blends digital marketing and creative strategy with topics like campaign management, emerging formats, and display advertising.



    3-questions-to-ask-before-committing-to-martech-certifications-and-enablement-programs

    Despite a lingering stigma around professional certifications as “resume padding,” the evolutionary nature of martech means there’s an ongoing need for customer product enablement programs and vendor-sponsored certifications.

    From product-focused programs to platform-specific badges, and even professional marketing associations to distinguished universities, there are numerous continued education paths — particularly in martech — designed to help marketers enhance their careers at any stage.

    “Martech companies are leaping at the opportunity to educate their audiences in return for something truly value — a credential demonstrating a third party verifies their competency, said Mary Barba, content marketer and founder of Barba Digital. “Martech companies offer these credentials to build trust with their audiences, establish credibility and authority in their industries and snowball momentum for their businesses’ growth by prioritizing their customers’ success.”

    When evaluating options for continuing martech education, Barba encourages marketers to ask themselves these three key questions to help determine the best path.

    Is the course content current, accurate, comprehensive and valuable to my career?

    For marketers who focus their careers on building skills around a specific platform (Salesforce CRM administrators, for example), taking advantage of the free Trailhead learning programs is a no-brainer. Other vendors offer a variety of training models based on the customer’s subscription level with the pricing baked into the cost or as an add-on.

    “The sustained growth of thought leadership offered by these organizations speaks to the rigor they use to vet and make current their instructional design model,” said Barba. “It also speaks to the comprehensive processes they use to ensure the content’s accuracy and high value-add to avid learners.”

    Ongoing training from vendors that marketers rely on is also regularly updated as the technology changes. In order to stay on top of these updates — and maximize value — marketers should work with their account teams and take advantage of available training. These programs can add value to your current role and establish a strong foundation for continued learning and martech enablement within your company.

    Will I realistically be able to finish this course on time?

    While many certifications from universities and professional associations such as the American Marketing Association (AMA) that offer professional certifications, some put a time limit on their programs. Other organizations offer self-paced learning programs with unlimited access to product tutorials.

    Finding the best fit can feel overwhelming, and Barba maintains that people learn differently; self-awareness is key before committing to a program.

    “Some learners are akin to marathon runners; they can go at a steady, sustained pace for seemingly infinite amounts of time,” said Barba. “Some learners are like sprinters; they cover brief distances with robust vigor as fast and as agile as possible. The key here is this: neither runner is wrong in their running method.”

    Is the cost worth the effort?

    Some employers will pay for or reimburse employees’ continuing education programs that will enhance their skills and advance their careers.

    “The icing on the cake for many martech certifications is that they are either free or low-cost,” added Barba. “Some companies offer free courses and exams. Other companies allow you to take the courses for free but require a small fee to sit for the exam. In comparison to other high-value continuing education opportunities, you can save hundreds, thousands, tens-of-thousands or even hundreds-of-thousands of dollars and still see positive career-altering results.”



    About The Author

    Jennifer Videtta Cannon serves as Third Door Media’s Senior Editor, covering topics from email marketing and analytics to CRM and project management. With over a decade of organizational digital marketing experience, she has overseen digital marketing operations for NHL franchises and held roles at tech companies including Salesforce, advising enterprise marketers on maximizing their martech capabilities. Jennifer formerly organized the Inbound Marketing Summit and holds a certificate in Digital Marketing Analytics from MIT Sloan School of Management.



    the-2020-martech-career-study:-please-tell-us-more-about-your-work


    We’re conducting a survey to get more insight on the roles shaping our industry.

    • More

    Is your job title fairly new? What martech tools do you use from day to day? Would you say you are more of an Operations Orchestrator, or an Analytics Architect? Or neither? These are the things we want to know about you.

    Please take our 2020 MarTech Career Study to help us get a better understanding of the roles shaping today’s marketing technology organizations. Conducted in partnership with MarTech Conference Chair Scott Brinker, the survey will only take five minutes of your time and will give us all more insight into the work we do as an industry.

    Once all the responses have been collected, we’ll be sure to share the results. It is an anonymous survey and includes 18 questions (plus three optional questions) covering topics like:

    • Which department are you part of?
    • What are your primary responsibilities?
    • What martech tools do you use most often?
    • When was the last time you were promoted?

    Please be sure to forward this quiz to your martech colleagues — the more responses we have, the more insights we can share.



    About The Author

    Amy Gesenhues is a senior editor for Third Door Media, covering the latest news and updates for Marketing Land, Search Engine Land and MarTech Today. From 2009 to 2012, she was an award-winning syndicated columnist for a number of daily newspapers from New York to Texas. With more than ten years of marketing management experience, she has contributed to a variety of traditional and online publications, including MarketingProfs, SoftwareCEO, and Sales and Marketing Management Magazine. Read more of Amy’s articles.




    boost-roi-assemble-high-performing-teams-exceed-expectations.

    Struggling to see ROI from your martech? Eager to assemble a frictionless organization? Want to deliver user experiences that exceed customer expectations?

    Attend The MarTech Conference April 15-17 in San Jose for creative, vendor-agnostic solutions to these and many more complex marketing challenges.

    The agenda is live and ready for you to explore! Join a community of nearly 2,000 senior-level marketers for tactical, practical sessions and return to the office ready to…

    Deliver measurable results with limited budget and resources


    √ Get data quality, integration, and governance right


    √ Successfully incorporate agile methods for increased efficiency


    √ Infuse martech best practices into your organization


    √ Create customer experiences that are personalized, relevant, and effective


    √ Evaluate and invest in the technologies that deliver on all of these goals

    You’ll soak up inspiration during exclusive keynotes and game-changing insights from experts, including:

    • I will address both practical and reasonable strategies for marketing operations and technology management — while embracing the promise of exciting, new innovations in my opening keynote, Leading The Next Decade Of Martech.
    • Digital analyst Brian Solis, SalesForce Principal of Marketing Insights, Mathew Sweezey, and communications expert Nancy Duarte will empower you to leverage AI to improve customer experiences, motivate buyers in an age of infinite media, and use data to tell compelling, humanizing narratives.

    See the agenda!

    Ready to register? Choose the pass that’s right for your goals and budget and book now to enjoy up to $900 off on-site rates:

    • All Access: Complete access to all conference sessions, keynotes, networking events, exhibitors, sponsor presentations, amenities, and more.
    • All Access Workshop Combo (best value!): Dive deeper and learn more by adding a half-day, pre-conference workshop to your itinerary.
    • Expo : Searching for martech tools and services? Focused on growing your network? Pick up a FREE Expo pass to enjoy unlimited Expo Hall access, full-length Solution Track sessions, sponsor presentations in the Discover MarTech Theater, downloadable speaker presentations, refreshments, free WiFi, and more.
    • Team Rates: MarTech is a fabulous option for your 2020 company outing. Attend as a group for a unique team-building experience and lock in extra savings while you’re at it.

    Don’t miss this opportunity to learn practical advice and insights from marketing leaders who have been where you are and are ready to share what it takes to succeed.

    I hope to see you there 🙂

    Psst… How many marketing technology tools does your organization use? Do you know how they’re organized? Are they organized? Discover the scope and structure of your martech stack and earn the recognition of your peers: Enter the 2020 Stackie Awards!


    Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.



    About The Author

    Scott Brinker is the conference chair of the MarTech® Conference, a vendor-agnostic marketing technology conference and trade show series produced by MarTech Today’s parent company, Third Door Media. The MarTech event grew out of Brinker’s blog, chiefmartec.com, which has chronicled the rise of marketing technology and its changing marketing strategy, management and culture since 2008. In addition to his work on MarTech, Scott serves as the VP platform ecosystem at HubSpot. Previously, he was the co-founder and CTO of ion interactive.



    here’s-how-to-modify-your-e-commerce-campaign-for-b2b-and-b2c

    While search engine optimization is still one of the most important disciplines to master, pay-per-click advertising is equally essential as a skill.

    No matter if a brand is looking to attract B2B or B2C prospects, PPC is one of the most effective means of achieving this goal. That said, there is a vast chasm that separates the tactics employed for optimizing each type of campaign.

    Understanding these differences, as well as the necessary PPC audience targeting strategies, is what will enable sellers to reach the right consumers.

    To help delineate the necessary knowledge around the differences in B2B and B2C advertisements, today, we will explore the disparities, similarities and relevant tactics for using PPC ads to connect with buyers on both ends of the spectrum.

    Targeting tactics

    When initiating an advertising campaign, one of the primary considerations is how to reach the right consumers. After all, if a brand is selling homeowner’s insurance, targeting those in the 18-24 age bracket is likely to produce paltry results.

    Take a look at the targeting categories in Google Ads:

    Speaking to B2B advertisers, a prime tactic for ensuring that the right individuals are reached is to use social media ads to target by company position. Instead of targeting users by their age or interests as a B2C campaign might, a better route would be to target users based on their job title or industry via LinkedIn or Facebook.

    However, where some overlap exists is that utilizing features like Lookalike Audiences can help both B2B and B2C brands find new users who are potentially interested in what the company offers.

    No matter if targeting the average consumer or business leaders, brands should create buyer personas to better understand who they are trying to reach.

    Here is an example buyer persona from Buffer:

    Consider the clock

    Another of the main differences in B2B and B2C advertising is that B2C sellers are trying to gain purchases as quickly as possible. However, with B2B, advertisers are attempting to generate business leads and ensure their product is considered in the prolonged purchase cycle.

    To achieve this goal, brands must consider the timing of their ads.

    In B2B advertising, businesses are trying to reach the key players within a company, those who make decisions or are closely connected to those with such power. This means that running ads within the nine-to-five timeframe is critical as this is when these individuals are actively engaged and show the highest intent to click-through.

    While B2C consumers can potentially be targeted around the clock, the same is not true for B2B prospects. Instead, ads intended to reach business prospects should only run during business hours, not only for the aforementioned reason but also because this will help to conserve the business’s PPC budget.

    Given this framework, brands should employ ad scheduling and bid modifications to alter bids for certain days of the week (Monday through Friday) and times of the day. For example, if advertisers notice that they receive the highest amount of click-throughs on Tuesday mornings, it is wise to increase the cost-per-click during this window.

    To do this in Google Ads simply go to Ad schedule and click Bid adjustment for whichever time frame you want to increase or decrease:

    While some sellers might feel equipped to manage such tasks, most will see more benefit from partnering with an e-commerce PPC management firm that can maximize potential impressions, clicks and conversions.

    Messaging modifications

    Much like targeting and timing, there are substantial differences in how advertisers will speak to B2B and B2C audiences.

    The fact is that B2B buyers want to engage with brands that have evident expertise and knowledge of a given industry. This means that advertisers must showcase their acumen through relevant terminology, awareness of processes and similar traits that prospects will be interested in seeing.

    For instance, if a CRM software provider is looking to reel in new users, but utilizes fluffy, emotionally-driven copy to do so, there is a significant chance that they will not engage the folks they are truly after. Instead, it is necessary to build confidence in potential users with more formal, fact-based messaging that has clear implications of how a product can improve business performance.

    Take a look at how Intel communicates with its audience:

    However, the exact inverse is true for B2C ads. When targeting average consumers, brands are wise to employ the most relatable voice possible by utilizing straightforward language that mirrors the audience. There is little to no place for jargon in B2C advertising.

    Contrary to Intel, Gerber Childrenwear’s audience of mainly parents would appreciate copy like this:

    Moreover, B2C ads should trigger emotions in consumers. Neil Patel speaks to this point, writing: “An analysis of 1,400 successful ad campaign case studies found that campaigns with purely emotional content performed about twice as well (31 percent vs. 16 percent) as those with only rational content.”

    This is a crucial dichotomy to recognize when producing B2B and B2C ads.

    Negative keyword distinctions

    In addition to targeting the audience on their proper characteristics, both B2C and B2B advertisers must understand what elements to exclude in order to reach the most relevant consumers.

    The fact is that negative keywords are extremely helpful in weeding out irrelevant searches that eat up advertisers’ budgets. Naturally, the keywords and negative keywords that sellers employ are highly dependent on their specific industry and niche; however, there are some through lines that can be established for both B2B and B2C advertising efforts.

    For instance, B2B brands offering a technological solution might want to exclude phrases that are commonly paired with the term “technology” such as:

    • Careers
    • Jobs
    • Hiring
    • Laws
    • Reviews
    • Free

    Similarly, B2C retailers who sell new products can also immediately disqualify specific words and phrases that are not applicable to their efforts, such as:

    • Commercial
    • Bulk
    • Used

    To do this in Google Ads go to Keywords and click Negative Keywords

    However, to get to the core of which terms a business should add to their negative keyword lists, it is best to consult Google’s search term report to uncover phrases that drive impressions and clicks but are wholly irrelevant or fail to convert.

    Despite all the differences between B2B and B2C advertising methodologies, there are some commonalities that the two marketing efforts share.

    Shared traits

    While B2B and B2C ads can be quite different, there are some core components to each that remain the same.

    For instance, no matter which type of audience is the target, it is necessary for advertisers to conduct in-depth keyword research to understand which terms and phrases will reach their customers.

    Similarly, when advertising through Google, relevance is a significant component of campaign success. Therefore, utilizing compelling landing pages that closely match the ad’s offer is necessary for both B2B and B2C spaces. When there is congruence between an ad and its destination, campaigns will earn a higher quality score.

    Moreover, given that consumers are prone to shopping cart abandonment and that B2B customers require a more extended courting period than other types of consumers, developing a retargeting strategy is also a fundamental aspect of campaign success shared across B2B and B2C efforts.

    Bagsy decided to utilize Facebook for their retargeting efforts:

    While there are plenty of differences between targeting everyday consumers and business prospects, when it comes right down to it, PPC best practices remain intact no matter who is being targeted.

    No matter if ads are used in the B2B or B2C realm, it is vital for advertisers to understand the audiences to which they speak. This means that developing buyer personas and conducting market research are key elements for promoting the awareness needed to employ the right language, messaging, targeting tactics and other vital PPC campaign components.

    Once this crucial piece of information has been procured, use the strategies outlined above to help your ad campaign reach and resonate with its respective buyers.


    Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.



    About The Author

    Ronald Dod is the chief marketing officer and co-founder of Visiture, an end-to-end e-commerce marketing agency focused on helping online merchants acquire more customers through the use of search engines, social media platforms, marketplaces and their online storefronts. His passion is helping leading brands use data to make more effective decisions in order to drive new traffic and conversions.



    google-chrome:-third-party-cookies-will-be-gone-by-2022

    Third-party cookies have been living on borrowed time, given their increasing rejection by the major browsers. And today Google announced support for third-party cookies in its Chrome browser would be phased out “within two years.”

    The company seeks to replace them with a browser-based mechanism as part of its “Privacy Sandbox” initiative. The Privacy Sandbox was introduced last August, following an earlier announcement at Google I/O. The initiative is arguably a response to increasing privacy pressure and partly a response to the rise of cookie-blocking by others.

    Balancing personalization and privacy. Google’s stated objective is to create “a secure environment for personalization that also protects user privacy.” Google says this requires “new approaches to ensure that ads continue to be relevant for users, but user data shared with websites and advertisers would be minimized by anonymously aggregating user information, and keeping much more user information on-device only.”

    The company argues that “large scale cookie blocking,” such as being done by Firefox and Safari, encourage tracking techniques like fingerprinting and undermine the publisher ecosystem by making ads less relevant, thereby reducing their revenues. The less precise the audience targeting, the lower the ad revenue.

    Audience targeting strategies. The Privacy Sandbox system envisions targeting and conversion measurement happening within the browser environment through “privacy preserving APIs.” Google says that for ad targeting it’s “exploring how to deliver ads to large groups of similar people without letting individually identifying data ever leave [the] browser.” The company explains this is based on techniques and technologies such as Differential Privacy and Federated Learning. The latter would allow interest-based targeting at large-group scale to avoid revealing any individual’s information.

    Conversion measurement. Here Google is more vague, saying, “Both Google and Apple have already published early-stage thinking to evaluate how one might address some of these use cases.” Reportedly, conversions would also be tracked inside Chrome and advertisers would be able to get conversion data through an API but without identifying any individual user.

    Finally, Google said that starting in February, it’s going to treat cookies “that don’t include a SameSite label as first-party only, and require cookies labeled for third-party use to be accessed over HTTPS.” It’s also going to work to stop fingerprinting and other types of “covert tracking.”

    Why we care. Google’s move, together with Firefox and Safari, is a major change (and challenge) for the industry. Google says it’s trying to find “a middle way” that empowers users but enables the advertising ecosystem to function effectively,” compared to what it considers the more blunt approach of Apple’s “Intelligent Tracking Prevention.”

    Critics will accuse Google of trying to assert more control over digital advertising. However, for the approach to work, Google will need to build consensus among a broad community of publishers, advertisers, technology companies and even Apple and Mozilla. In principle, at least, it’s a thoughtful and reasonable approach that also plays to its strengths — a vast ecosystem coupled with powerful data collection and modeling capabilities — and will preserve its dominant position in the digital ad market.



    About The Author

    Greg Sterling is a Contributing Editor to Search Engine Land, a member of the programming team for SMX events and the VP, Market Insights at Uberall.



    up-your-email-marketing-game-in-2020
    Live Webinar!

    Email optimization and deliverability go hand-in-hand when it comes to sending emails, and that’s why MarTech Today created the very first resource for marketing professionals that encompasses the elements of both. The Periodic Table of Email Optimization and Deliverability is a comprehensive resource designed to guide you through the different elements required to keep your emails out of the spam folder and in front of your subscribers.

    Explore this new resource with its architect, Jennifer Cannon, Senior Editor at MarTech Today, and April Mullen, Director of Strategic Insights at SparkPost, co-founder of Women of Email during this free webinar. They’ll be taking a look at some of the emerging elements and trends that brands and email marketers need to embrace in 2020, including:

    • What you need to know about BIMI (Brand Indicators for Messaging Identification)
    • Artificial Intelligence vs Machine Learning for email marketers
    • How Voice Assistants will play into how email marketers develop emails this year
    • Compliance — what you need to know about GDPR, CCPA and maintaining a compliant data set
    • The impact of AMP for Email on brands’ email marketing efforts

    Don’t miss it! Register today for Emerging Elements for Email Marketers in 2020 from the Periodic Table of Email and Deliverability.


    Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.



    About The Author

    Marketing Land is a daily publication covering digital marketing industry news, trends, strategies and tactics for digital marketers. Special content features, site announcements and occasional sponsor messages are posted by Marketing Land.



    save-up-to-$450-on-expert-led-search-marketing-training

    Your chance to save up to $450 on a seat at Search Marketing Expo expires this Saturday night.

    Don’t wait — register now and join us February 19-20 in San Jose for an all-new agenda featuring 85 sessions organized into three lanes with no limits: SEO, SEM/PPC, and digital commerce marketing.

    Breaking news! Benjamin Spiegel – Chief Digital Officer, P&G Beauty at Proctor and Gamble – will join Dana Tan – Sr. Manager, Global SEO, Under Armour, and Search Engine Land Editor-in-Chief, Ginny Marvin for a fireside keynote chat about increasing digital commerce sales at the intersection of SEO, PPC, and social. See the agenda!

    Make this the year you drive more awareness, traffic, conversions, and sales with actionable tactics and fresh insights from the industry’s top experts.

    If you’re planning to attend SMX West, do yourself and your wallet a favor — book by this Saturday, January 18, and enjoy serious savings! Once these rates are gone, they’re gone.

    Register now and I’ll see you in San Jose!



    About The Author

    Lauren Donovan has worked in online marketing since 2006, specializing in content generation, organic social media, community management, real-time journalism, and holistic social befriending. She currently serves as the Content Marketing Manager at Third Door Media, parent company to Search Engine Land, Marketing Land, MarTech Today, SMX, and The MarTech Conference.



    11-vue-carousels
    Collection of free Vue carousel code examples: responsive, horizontal and vertical.

    Collection of free Vue carousel code examples: responsive, horizontal and vertical.

    1. CSS Carousels
    2. JavaScript Carousels
    3. jQuery Carousels
    4. React Carousels


    Author

    • mayccoll

    Made with

    • HTML / CSS (SCSS) / JS

    About a code

    Vue – Carousel 3D

    Compatible browsers: Chrome, Edge, Firefox, Opera, Safari

    Responsive: yes

    Dependencies: vue.js, vue-carousel-3d.js

    Author

    • David Hutto

    Made with

    • HTML / CSS / JS (Babel)

    About a code

    Vue Carousel Bootstrap Vue Cards

    Compatible browsers: Chrome, Edge, Firefox, Opera, Safari

    Responsive: yes

    Dependencies: bootstrap.css, bootstrap-vue.css, vue.js, bootstrap-vue.js, vue-carousel.js

    Author

    • Łukasz Florczak

    Made with

    • HTML (Pug) / CSS (SCSS) / JS (Babel)

    About a code

    Responsive And Two Related Carousels

    Vue-agile is a carousel component for Vue.js inspired by Slick. Simple, touch-friendly, written in Vue and Vanilla JS (without jQuery dependency).

    Compatible browsers: Chrome, Edge, Firefox, Opera, Safari

    Responsive: yes

    Dependencies: vueagile.css, font-awesome.css, vue.js, vue-agile.js

    Demo image: Vue Carousel

    Author

    • Fengyuan Chen

    About a code

    Vue Carousel

    Carousel component for Vue.js.

    Author

    • Dima

    Made with

    • HTML (Pug) / CSS (Stylus) / JS

    About a code

    Slider Carousel

    Vue carousel.

    Compatible browsers: Chrome, Edge, Firefox, Opera, Safari

    Responsive: no

    Dependencies: vue.js

    Demo image: Hooper

    Author

    • Baianat

    About a code

    Hooper

    A customizable accessible carousel slider optimized for Vue.

    Author

    • Will

    Made with

    • HTML (Pug) / CSS (SCSS) / JS

    About a code

    Vue Card Carousel

    A multi-item card carousel in Vue. It was fun thinking about how this should be viewed from the perspective of a component. It basically takes a window size and increases/decreases the pagination window on each click, which updates a style which translates the images. Values are hardcoded for demonstration but it could be made generic via props.

    Compatible browsers: Chrome, Edge, Firefox, Opera, Safari

    Responsive: no

    Dependencies: vue.js

    Author

    • Anton Reshetov

    About a code

    Vue Glide

    A slider and carousel as vue component on top of the Glide.js.

    Author

    • Vladimir

    About a code

    Vue Carousel 3D

    Beautiful, flexible and touch supported 3D Carousel for Vue.js.

    Author

    • SSENSE

    About a code

    Vue Carousel

    A flexible, responsive, touch-friendly, carousel for Vue.js.

    Author

    • Stanislav Karpov

    About a code

    Slick For Vue.js

    Vue component for Slick-carousel.

    skeuomorphism-/-neumorphism-ui-trend-–-masterpicks-–-design-inspiration

    Seuomorphism

    Skeuomorphism / Neumorphism UI Trend is a term most often used in graphical user interface design to describe interface objects that mimic their real-world counterparts in how they appear and/or how the user can interact with them. A well-known example is the recycle bin icon used for discarding files. Skeuomorphism makes interface objects familiar to users by using concepts they recognize.

    Skeuomorphism / Neumorphism UI Trend - SKEUOMORPH MOBILE BANKING BY ALEXANDER PLYUTO
    Skeuomorph Mobile Banking by Alexander Plyuto
    Skeuomorphism / Neumorphism UI Trend- SKEUOMORPH MOBILE BANKING | CONTINUATION BY ALEXANDER PLYUTO
    Skeuomorph Mobile Banking | Continuation BY ALEXANDER PLYUTO
    Dashboard user interface by uixNinja
    Skeuomorphism / Neumorphism UI Trend - SKEUOMORPH INVESTING APP DASHBOARD BY JORDAN HUGHES
    Skeuomorph investing app dashboard by Jordan Hughes
    Skeuomorphism / Neumorphism UI Trend - TIMER CONCEPT BY YASH BHAGAT
    Skeuomorphism / Neumorphism UI Trend -Timer Concept by Yash Bhagat 
    SKEUOMORPH CLOCK APP BY JATIN LATHIYA
    Skeuomorph Clock App by Jatin Lathiya
    SKEUOMORPH BANKING APP BY MIKOŁAJ GAŁĘZIOWSKI
    Skeuomorph Banking App by Mikołaj Gałęziowski
    SKEUOMORPH FILE MANAGER APP | DARK MODE BY IMRAN HOSSEN
    Skeuomorph File Manager App | Dark Mode by Imran Hossen 
    HELLO DRIBBBLE   1 DRIBBBLE INVITE GIVEAWAY BY KHUSHBOO CHOUDHARY
    Hello Dribbble 1 Dribbble invite giveaway BY KHUSHBOO CHOUDHARY
    MOBILE CRYPTO WALLET SKEUOMORPH BY THEIFOX
    Mobile Crypto Wallet Skeuomorph by theifox
    SKEUOMORPH FITNESS APP | APPLE WATCH BY MAIS TAZAGULYAN
    Skeuomorph Fitness App | Apple Watch by Mais Tazagulyan
    SKEUOMORPH STYLED INSTAGRAM UI CONCEPT BY PɅVɅN
    Skeuomorph styled Instagram UI concept by Pʌvʌn
    DASHBOARD CRYPTOCURRENCY BY RUDI HARTONO
    Dashboard Cryptocurrency by Rudi Hartono
    SKEUOMORPH BANKING APP LIGHT MODE BY MIKOŁAJ GAŁĘZIOWSKI
    Skeuomorph Banking App Light Mode by Mikołaj Gałęziowski 
    SMART HOME APP BY JAWADUR RAHMAN FOR HYPER LAB
    Smart Home App by Jawadur Rahman for Hyper Lab 
    SKEUOMORPH SMART HOME APPLICATION BY ARUN PP
    Skeuomorph Smart Home Application by Arun PP
    SKEUOMORPH REFUND FLIGHT ⠿ TIKET.COM BY RIAN®
    Skeuomorph Refund Flight ⠿ tiket.com by Rian®
    SKEUOMORPHIC MUSIC PLAYER BY MAX ⚡️ OSICHKA
    Skeuomorphic Music Player by Max ⚡️ Osichka
    NEUMORPHIC BANK REDESIGN IN DARK AND LIGHT MODE BY HYPE4
    Neumorphic Bank Redesign in Dark and Light mode by HYPE4
    NEUMORPHIC SAVINGS APP CONCEPT BY ALI KEMAL
    Neumorphic Savings App Concept by Ali Kemal
    SKEUOMORPH FOOD DELIVERY APP BY VIRGIL CAFFIER
    Skeuomorph Food Delivery App by Virgil Caffier
    ROSE GOLD MUSIC PLAYER BY OHAD PELED
    Rose Gold Music Player by Ohad Peled
    SKEUOMORPH WHITE 3D EXPO BY YAROLAV HRYNOVETS
    Skeuomorph White 3D Expo by Yarolav Hrynovets 
    UNTAPPD APP REDESIGN BY LENA STARODUB
    Untappd App Redesign by Lena Starodub
    SKEUOMORPHIC DASHBOARD BY OLYA MARCHAK FOR CIEDEN
    Skeuomorphic Dashboard by Olya Marchak for Cieden
    CONCEPTUAL DASHBOARD SCREEN BY OHAD PELED
    Conceptual Dashboard Screen by Ohad Peled
    Skeuomorphism / Neumorphism UI -SKEUOMORPHIC APP BY MAX SIROTYUK
    Skeuomorphic App by Max Sirotyuk
    Skeuomorphism / Neumorphism UI -SKEUOMORPH DASHBOARD BY DARYA DARYA
    Skeuomorph Dashboard by Darya Darya
    Skeuomorphism / Neumorphism UI -SKEUOMORPH MUSIC APP $ BY MARTINGARRIX404040
    Skeuomorph Music App $ by Martingarrix404040
    Skeuomorphism / Neumorphism UI -SKEUOMORPH REMOTE CAR CONTROL APP BY BOGUSŁAW PODHALICZ
    Skeuomorph Remote Car Control App by Bogusław Podhalicz
    Skeuomorphism / Neumorphism UI -TIMER APP BY MAX SIROTYUK
    Timer App by Max Sirotyuk
    Skeuomorphism / Neumorphism UI -DESIGN EXPERIMENT: SKEUOMORPH E-WALLET APP (DARK VERSION) BY BEATNIK TEAM
    Design Experiment: Skeuomorph E-wallet App (Dark version) by Beatnik Team
    Skeuomorphism / Neumorphism UI -SKEUOMORPH APP USER INTERFACE. BY NOMAN EJAZ
    Skeuomorph App User Interface. by Noman Ejaz
    Skeuomorphism / Neumorphism UI -SKEUOMORPH MUSIC APP BY NATALIE YAKOVLEVA
    Skeuomorph Music App by Natalie Yakovleva
    Skeuomorphism / Neumorphism UI -SKEUOMORPHISM APP BY ARTHUR MINEEV
    Skeuomorphism App by Arthur Mineev
    Skeuomorphism / Neumorphism UI -TELCO SKEUMORPH APP (FREE KIT) BY LORENZO PERNICIARO
    Telco Skeumorph App (FREE KIT) by lorenzo perniciaro
    Skeuomorphism / Neumorphism UI - - SKEUOMORPH BUTTON INTERACTION BY YASH BHAGAT
    Skeuomorph Button Interaction by Yash Bhagat
    Skeuomorphism / Neumorphism UI - SKEUOMORPH BY OLEG VOLOVNYK
    Skeuomorph by Oleg Volovnyk

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    33D

    Outstanding murals by Dave Arcade

    • January 13, 2020

    In the most general sense, Dave creates an organized commotion. It’s a style born of his bossy imagination bullying his inner minimalist.

    the-paradox-at-the-heart-of-a/b-testing

    A/B testing began with beer.

    At the turn of the 20th century, William Sealy Gosset was exploring new ways of running experiments on his production line. Gosset was trying to improve the quality of Guinness’s signature stout but couldn’t afford to run large-scale experiments on all the variables in play. Fortunately, in addition to being an astute brewer, Gosset was a statistician; he had a hunch there was a way of studying his small snatches of data to uncover new insights.

    Gosset took a year off from his work to study alongside another scientist, Karl Pearson. Together, they developed a new way of comparing small data sets to test hypotheses. They published their work in the leading statistics publication at the time, Biometrika. In “The Probable Error of a Mean,” the t-test, a cornerstone of modern statistical analysis, was born.

    Gosset’s scientific approach was the foundation of a 38-year career with Guinness. He invented more ways of using statistics to make business decisions; founded the statistics department at Guinness; led brewing at Guinness’s newest plant in 1935; and finally, in 1937, became the head of all brewing at Guinness.

    Since its early days as a tool of science (and beer), statistical decision-making has gone supernova. Today, it is used by every major tech company to make hundreds of thousands of decisions every year. Data-driven tests decide everything from the effectiveness of political ads to a link’s particular shade of blue. New methods like Fisher testing, multivariate testing, and multi-armed bandit testing are all descendants of Gosset’s early innovations. The most popular of these statistical tests is one of the oldest: A/B testing.

    An A/B test is a measurement of what happens when you make a single, small, controlled change. In product design, this means changing something in the interface, like the color of a button or the placement of a headline. To run an A/B test, show an unchanged version of the interface (“A”) to a randomly-selected group of users. Show a changed version (“B”) to another randomly-selected group. Measure the difference in the behavior of the two groups using a t-test, and you can confidently predict how the changed version will perform when shown to all your users.

    A/B tests are easy to understand, which explains their popularity in modern software development. But their simplicity is deceptive. The fundamental ideas of A/B tests contain a paradox that calls their value into question.

    Fredkin’s paradox

    In The Society Of Mind, Marvin Minsky explored a phenomenon that I experience every day as a designer: people often prefer one thing over another, even when they can’t explain their preference.

    We often speak of this with mixtures of defensiveness and pride.

    “Art for Art’s sake.”

    “l find it aesthetically pleasing.”

    “l just like it.”

    “There’s no accounting for it.“

    Why do we take refuge in such vague, defiant declarations? ”There’s no accounting for it” sounds like a guilty child who’s been told to keep accounts. And “I just like it” sounds like a person who is hiding reasons too unworthy to admit.

    Minsky recognized that our capriciousness serves a few purposes: We tend to prefer familiar things over unfamiliar. We prefer consistency to avoid distraction. We prefer the convenience of order to the vulnerability of individualism. All of these explanations boil down to one observation, which Minsky attributes to Edward Fredkin:

    Fredkin’s Paradox: The more equally attractive two alternatives seem, the harder it can be to choose between them—no matter that, to the same degree, the choice can only matter less.

    Fredkin’s Paradox is about equally attractive options. Picking between a blue shirt and a black shirt is hard when they both look good on you. Choices can be hard when the options are extremely similar, too — see the previous link to Google’s infamous “50 shades of blue” experiment. The paradox is that you spend the most time deliberating when your choice makes no difference.

    Parkinson’s law of triviality

    In 1955, C. Northcote Parkinson wrote a book called Parkinson’s Law. It’s a satire of government bureaucracy, written when the British Colonial Office was expanding despite the British Empire itself shrinking. In one chapter, Parkinson describes a fictional 11-person meeting with two agenda items: the plans for a nuclear power plant, and the plans for an employee bike shed.

    The power plant is estimated to cost $10,000,000. Due to the technical complexity involved, many experts have weighed in. Only two attendees have a full grasp of the budget’s accuracy. These two struggle to discuss the plans, since none of the other attendees can contribute. After a two-minute discussion, the budget is approved.

    The group moves on to the bike shed, estimated to cost $2,350. Everyone in the meeting can understand how the bike shed is built. They debate the material the roof is made of — is aluminum too expensive? — and the need for a bike shed at all — what will the employees want next, a garage? — for forty-five minutes. This budget is also approved.

    This allegory illustrates what’s called “Parkinson’s law of triviality”:

    The time spent on any item of the agenda will be in inverse proportion to the sum [of money] involved.

    We can generalize Parkinson’s law: The effort spent discussing a decision will be inversely proportional to the value of making that decision.

    When faced with two similar alternatives, Fredkin’s paradox predicts you’ll have a hard time choosing. This is when A/B testing is most appealing: A/B tests settle debates with data instead of deliberation. But our generalization of Parkinson’s law of triviality says that this kind of A/B testing — testing as an alternative to difficult decisions — results in the least value.

    Most of the time, A/B testing is worthless. The time spent designing, running, analyzing, and taking action on an A/B test will usually outweigh the value of picking the more desirable option.

    Alternatives to A/B testing

    Instead of A/B testing, I’ll offer two suggestions. Both are cheaper and more impactful.

    Alternative 1: observe five users

    Tom Landauer and Jakob Nielsen demonstrated in Why You Only Need to Test with 5 Users that insights about design happen logarithmically — that is, the first five users you study will reveal more than 75% of your usability issues. Doing a simple observation study with five users is an affordable way of understanding not just how to improve your design, but also why those improvements work. That knowledge will inform future decisions where a single A/B test can’t.

    Alternative 2: A → B testing

    The cheapest way to test a small change is to simply make that change and see what happens. Think of it like a really efficient A/B test: instead of showing a small percentage of visitors the variation and waiting patiently for the results to be statistically significant, you’re showing 100% of visitors the variation and getting the results immediately.

    A → B testing does not have the statistical rigor that A/B testing claims. But when the changes are small, they can be easily reversed or iterated on. A → B testing embraces the uncertainty of design, and opens the door to faster learning.

    When A/B testing is the right tool for the job

    A/B testing is worthless most of the time, but there are a few situations where it can be the right tool to use.

    1. When you only have one shot. Sales, event-based websites and apps, or debuts are not the time to iterate. If you’re working against the clock, an A/B test can allow you to confidently make real-time decisions and resolve usability problems.
    2. When there’s a lot of money on the line. If Amazon A → B tested the placement of their checkout button, they could lose millions of dollars in a single minute. High-value user behaviors have slim margins of error. They benefit from the risk mitigation that A/B testing provides.

    Conclusion

    If there’s a lot on the line in the form of tight timelines or lots of revenue at stake, A/B testing can be useful. When settling a debate over which color of button is better for your email newsletter, leave A/B testing on the shelf. Don’t get caught by the one-two punch of Fredkin’s paradox and Parkinson’s law of triviality — avoid these counterintuitive tendencies by diversifying your testing toolkit.


    rip-windows-7:-microsoft-ends-support-today

    Pack up your things, Windows 7 users. It’s time to move on, as Microsoft today ends support of the venerable OS. So to the millions of people still running the OS: now’s really, truly the time to upgrade.

    According to Microsoft’s end-of-support article for the OS, your Windows 7 computer “will still function but Microsoft will no longer provide …. Technical support for any issues…. Software updates… [or] Security updates or fixes.” In fact, it’s almost laughably passive-aggressive in its nudge to get users to buy a new PC that can run Windows 10:

    While you could continue to use your PC running Windows 7, without continued software and security updates, it will be at greater risk for viruses and malware. Going forward, the best way for you to stay secure is on Windows 10. And the best way to experience Windows 10 is on a new PC.

    It’s been over ten years since Microsoft released Windows 7, and I have fond memories of installing it for the first time as a teenage stripling and enjoying how much less finicky it was than Vista. And it seems I wasn’t the only one: data from Netmarketshare (via The Verge) shows the OS is still running on 26 percent of modern PCs.

    They can’t exactly say they didn’t see this coming. Microsoft announced almost a year ago that today would be the final day of Windows 7 support. And it’s not a good idea to remain on an unsupported OS, if only because you won’t get any more security upgrades.

    There is some hope for the many businesses that still run on Windows 7 PCs. Microsoft offers Extended Security Updates (ESU), for a price, which will support Windows 7 for the next three years, though the word is that this will get more and more expensive for them as time goes on. The ESUs won’t be available for individual users. So basically, upgrade or get left behind, is the message Microsoft is sending.

    If you’re one of the people finally, begrudgingly making the transition to Windows 10, Microsoft is also quick to add that its “the most secure Windows ever built,” and that it’s “the perfect operating system for personal and household use.”

    Read next:

    Spotify solves dispute with Warner Chappell group in India (Updated)

    3-illustration-trends-that-will-be-big-in-2020

    Some say 2020 is the beginning of new decade. Some say, it actually is the last year of previous decade. One way, or another, upcoming year will be for sure intense, and a little bit insane with US Elections, UK brexiting, planet Earth burning even more, and Tokyo Olympics streaming from everywhere.

    Cutting through this mess will be tough job, but not impossible.

    Here are three key trends, which we believe will shape visual trends in 2020.

    react-spring-visualizer

    What is this ?

    I am a big fan of react-spring, a spring-physics based animation library. It has quickly become my go-to library for UI animation in React projects. However, as a newbie to spring-based animations, I’ve had a hard time visualizing which effect the settings would have.

    So, I made this visualizer in order to help me determine the correct spring config for my animations. I hope it is of some help to someone else.

    The settings.

    Explanation of components of spring physics

    Mass

    Imagine a fixed spring with a bob on one end, the mass value is the mass of the bob (). While not technically the same, in this instance you can think of it as the weight of the bob.

    The higher the mass, the longer it takes for the animation to come to a rest.

    Tension

    Imagine a fixed spring with a bob on one end and a certain spring length when the spring is at rest. Now pull the bob downwards; the distance between the rest position of the spring and the end of the spring is the tension ().

    The higher the tension, the faster the animation will be.

    Friction

    Imagine a spring as before (), but there is a certain amount of friction in the air. If the friction is higher, there’s more power on the spring necessary to pull the bob to its resting position.

    The higher the friction, the slower the animation will be. If the friction is low enough, it the bob will overshoot its position at rest. This creates a bouncy effect.

    Precision

    If the bob () bounces around its resting point, it will continue to do so for some time. The precision determines when to quit bouncing and stop the animation at the resting point.

    By keeping the precision low, the animation will be more accurate and it might take longer to reach equilibrium.

    Personally I haven’t found much use for this setting. Please, let me know if I’m missing something!

    Velocity

    Imagine pushing the bob () upwards or downwards while releasing it. The speed with which you push the bob is the velocity. Pushing downwards is a negative velocity, pushing upwards is a positive velocity.

    Sometimes it’s nice to give a little negative velocity to create a sense of anticipation.

    If a component is coming from off-screen, it is can be pleasant to give it a positive velocity, so it looks like the component is coming from far away.

    Clamp

    Imagine putting an solid barrier just above the resting position (), so the bob can not overshoot the resting position. There will be no bounce and the animation comes to a stop immediately.

    You might want to use this when animating opacity, a bounce effect is probably not what you are looking for. The same goes for animating to a scale of 0, usually you don’t want to show a negative scale, which would flip the animated component.

    Another use-case is when you want to move a component to off-screen, clamp it so the animation doesn’t continue while the component is off-screen.

    Presets

    React-spring comes with a set of sweet presets. You can select these to preview them.

    Color scheme from Happy Hues bij Mackenzie Child.

    exploring-the-use-of-sticky-vertical-navbars

    Navigation in website design does not undergo many changes. It includes almost the same elements, always meets the audience from the outset and modestly takes its place in the top header. Since the popularization of the hamburger button, nothing earth-shattering has happened. However, this does not mean that its life is boring and uneventful.

    As an integral element of the UI and a crucial part of good user experience, navigation never abstracts itself from design or distances from trending solutions. It always manages to blend in, but not get lost in the spectacle that awaits in the modern hero area.

    Designers conduct various experiments to adapt it to new realms to come up with exciting solutions. And one such attempt to create navigation that meets the mainstream results in ultra-narrow, sticky vertical navbars.

    We have already seen narrow sidebars. However, this time it differs a little bit.

    The renewed version is more compact, minimal and elegant. It bets on popular features like vertical lettering. And most importantly, it sticks to the screen and follows the user through the website, complying with all the basic requirements of good navigation.  Let’s consider some representative examples.

    The Web Designer Toolbox

    Unlimited Downloads: 1,000,000 Web Templates, Themes, Plugins, Design Assets, and much more!

    Austin McKinney

    Our first stop is the personal portfolio of Austin McKinney. Here, the vertical navbar includes only the essentials: a hamburger button, links to profiles in social media platforms, the name and occupation of the artist.

    Thanks to its white, clean, and ultra-narrow design, it perfectly blends into an overall light environment with a powerful geometric vibe. It creates a necessary anchor for online visitors, providing them with helpful information.

    Example from Austin McKinneyEditorial New

    The team behind Editorial New shows us that the solution is quite universal and works regardless of coloring, stylistic options or interactive details. What’s more, it is an ideal partner for websites that position themselves as online magazines.

    Here the navbar includes just one element – the hamburger button. It opens a slide-out menu with a table of contents. Since it sticks to the left side of the screen, wherever users are on the page, they always have quick access to links in order to jump from one section to another.

    Note, unlike the previous example, here the vertical navbar is a part of the perimeter navigation that makes the design look complete.

    Example from Editorial NewThe Crowdfunding Formula

    The vertical navbar of Crowdfunding Formula is located on the right side. Although we are not accustomed to seeing it there, nevertheless it works perfectly. What’s more, thanks to the contrasting orange color that marks the logotype, selected menu link, and search button, the sidebar naturally catches an eye.

    Note, it does not have any borders: it just seamlessly flows into the design. However, thanks to the boxy vibe that runs throughout the page and generous amount of whitespace, it gets its own place under the sun.

    Example from The Crowdfunding FormulaNSDI

    The team behind NSDI uses a vertical navbar for displaying not just the hamburger button, but also pagination for a full-screen slider. Another distinctive feature is that all elements move with the user. Here, you can see an ultra-narrow vertical navbar and corner navigation that co-work together in order to create a comfortable user experience.

    Much like in the case of The Crowdfunding Formula, here navigation does not have a distinctive background. However, the team has used contrasting colors to naturally set the elements off from the composition.

    Example from NSDICervelo Cycles

    Cervelo Cycles has a more-or-less traditional sidebar, though this fact does not stop it from looking trendy and refreshing. It covers all the menu links, logotype, search field and CTA. It is relatively wide and stands out from the content flow due to its solid black background.

    Its key feature lies in a small transformation. The sidebar morphs into an ultra-narrow vertical line with everything hidden inside once the user starts to scroll down. The minimized version has only the hamburger button in the center. However, it is precisely what is needed for online visitors to avoid getting lost in the content-heavy environment.

    Example from Cervelo CyclesVilla Covri

    The official website of Villa Corvi has not one but two ultra-narrow vertical navbars. The first one includes only social media links displayed in vertical rhythm, whereas the second one comprises the button to the inner menu and nameplate. Along with the upper header, these two strengthen the subtle boxy vibe of the website.

    Note, only the right panel sticks to the screen and moves along with users. It transforms into a horizontal line on tablets and cellphones to create consistency across various devices.

    Example from Villa CovriTedCo

    There are two important takeaways from the official website of TedCo.

    First, much like in the case of Editorial New, here the vertical navbar is a part of the corner navigation. It looks neat, elegant and informative. It finishes off the sophisticated design of UI.

    Secondly, the path of exploring the website is unconventional. Instead of moving down, users scroll to the right along the X-axis. Here the vertical navbar stays where it is, giving users the necessary focal points to feel comfortable.

    Example from TedCoRogue Studio

    The navbar in Rogue Studio is an excellent example of the solution where all the navigation links are exposed to the audience. On top of that, the creative team managed to gracefully include logotype and social media icons.

    Although the component looks more cluttered in comparison to the previous ones, it has one significant advantage over them. It gives users what they need right here, right now without unnecessary moves.

    Example from Rogue Studio

    bem-methodology-in-css:-a-quick-start-guide

    Tom RayTom Ray

    Published: January 14th 2020

    Updated: January 14th 2020

    This is a quick start guide to learning BEM, the component-driven CSS methodology.

    If you want to start practicing and applying BEM to your projects, this guide will help you get started.

    Ready? Let’s dive in:

    BEM Overview

    BEM (Block-Element-Modifier) is a CSS naming convention developed by the team at Yandex to improve scalability and maintainability in web development.

    Put simply, the idea of BEM is to “divide the user interface into independent blocks” by naming CSS classes in the following methodology:

    /* Block component */
    .card {}
    
    /* Elements are dependent on their parent block */ 
    .card__img {}
    
    /* Modifiers are for incremental style changes */
    .card--dark {} 
    .card__img--large {}
    1. Block: an independent component that can be reused (e.g. with class name .nav)
    2. Element: a child within a block that cannot be used separately from that block (e.g. with class name .nav__item)
    3. Modifier: a variation in the style of either a block or modifier (e.g. with class name .nav--dark)

    Let’s dive into some real CSS examples to get a hang of this thing.

    Blocks

    Blocks are reusable components. Like buttons, cards or form fields.

    When naming your blocks, focus on describing its purpose (i.e. what it is) rather than its state (i.e. what it looks like).

    For example, .btn or .nav follows the correct naming convention for a block.

    .big or .bright-pink describes how it looks, so doesn’t scale well when you want to change the design later on.

    
    
    

    ...

    ...

    ...
    
    
    

    ...

    ...

    ...

    If you’re wondering how to place blocks within blocks (for example, a button inside a nav), here’s a short article to help you with that.

    Elements

    Inside blocks are where elements live. Elements are dependent on their parent block, and so cannot be used without them.

    Elements also have a unique CSS class naming convention which works like this:

    .block__element

    For example, using the .card component, an element inside the card component (like an image) would have a class name like .card__img.

    The element name always appends the block name, separated by a double underscore __.

    
    
    

    ...

    ...

    ...
    
    
    

    ...

    ...

    ...

    It’s important to note that the second code snippet avoids using more than 1 selector to target the styles (e.g. like .card img {}).

    It’s considered best practice to use a BEM element class and use that directly instead (like .card__img {}).

    Following this approach reduces the chance of cascade issues down the line.

    Modifiers

    When you have varying styles in blocks (or elements), that’s where modifiers come in.

    For example, your ‘card’ block might have a light and dark version. Or you might have primary and secondary buttons.

    Modifiers have a unique CSS naming convention which works like this:

    block--modifier or block__element--modifier.

    That’s right- BEM modifiers can be applied to both blocks and elements.

    Let’s dive into some bad and good practices:

    
    
    

    ...

    ...

    ...

    It’s considered bad practice to use a modifier class in isolation (i.e. without the block or element class).

    That’s because the modifier is meant to add incremental style changes to the block.

    Therefore, whenever using a modifier, ensure it’s used with the base class:

    
    
    

    ...

    ...

    ...

    And that’s it!

    Those are the fundamentals to get you off and running with BEM.

    If you’re interested to learn more about the ‘why’ behind BEM, I recommend checking out this CSS Tricks article.

    Like learning anything new, practicing is key. Give BEM a shot in your next project and see where it takes you!

    Download The Free BEM Cheat Sheet

    Want to start practicing BEM and looking for a no-nonsense, quick start action guide?

    Download a free cheat sheet covering BEM basics so you can dive in and start practicing today.

    .

    brightcove-launches-all-in-one-video-campaign-app

    Brightcove, a cloud solution for managing and monetizing video content, has released Brightcove Campaign, a video campaign app that lets marketers create, manage and analyze their video demand generation campaigns all in one tool. The new solution comes with analytics and benchmarks so that marketers can compare their campaigns to industry standards. It also provides optimization tips, click-to-publish capabilities across multiple channels and integrations with marketing automation platforms Eloqua, Marketo, HubSpot and Salesforce.

    Why we care

    With video playing a larger role in demand generation campaigns, the ability to create, analyze and optimize those efforts across channels from a single tool can help simplify marketers’ management efforts. The tools was developed with input and feedback from customers. “Throughout the development process phase of Brightcove Campaign, we worked with many demand generation marketers to ensure it fits seamlessly into their workflows,” said Brightcove CTO Charles Chu.

    “The ability to tag my video assets and see how they stack up against similar videos in the industry takes the guesswork out of how my campaign is performing,” said Demandbase’s Senior Director of Digital Marketing Mimi Rosenheim, who was among the marketers that provided input during development.

    More on the news

    • Brightcove Campaign also has a Google Chrome extension to see analytics as well as customized thumbnail codes for email distribution.
    • The app can integrate with Google Analytics and Adobe Analytics.
    • Founded in 2004, Brightcove acquired Ooyala’s online video platform in February 2019 for $15 million — a move aimed at accelerating its video innovation efforts.


    About The Author

    Amy Gesenhues is a senior editor for Third Door Media, covering the latest news and updates for Marketing Land, Search Engine Land and MarTech Today. From 2009 to 2012, she was an award-winning syndicated columnist for a number of daily newspapers from New York to Texas. With more than ten years of marketing management experience, she has contributed to a variety of traditional and online publications, including MarketingProfs, SoftwareCEO, and Sales and Marketing Management Magazine. Read more of Amy’s articles.



    the-evolution-of-the-marketing-technologist:-how-martech-roles-have-changed-during-the-last-5-years

    Five years ago, marketing technologist roles were, arguably, in their infancy. At the risk of being nostalgic, it was a simpler time for our industry: the martech landscape was comprised of a mere 1,000 solutions and nobody had even heard of Cambridge Analytica. Adobe hadn’t bought Magento or Marketo and LinkedIn hadn’t yet joined the Microsoft family.

    Fast forward to today, as we approach our seventh annual MarTech Conference, that martech landscape now has over 7,000 solutions, with new product launches and integrations happening daily. As the martech taxonomy continues to expand, so do the roles charged with implementing and managing our martech stacks. Marketing technologists are no longer considered “the outsider” among the broader marketing organization, but instead play a key role within the marketing organization. Martech is now marketing and marketing technologists are, simply, marketers.

    “The field of marketing technologists has expanded enormously over the past five years,” said Scott Brinker, MarTech Conference chair and the voice behind ChiefMartec.com. He accounts the exponential growth to the massive adoption of martech that is happening across organizations of all sizes. “Gartner recently stated 26% of enterprise marketing budgets are being allocated toward martech,” said Brinker, “You need talented people to implement and harness all that technology, and there’s a lot of room for specialization.”

    Specialization is a key factor when considering the marketing technologist role — the more specialized marketing technology solutions become, the more talent is needed to take full advantage of the available platforms and solutions. But when looking at the growing list of marketing technologist titles across the ever-widening martech landscape, it is crucial we understand as an industry which roles are the primary drivers of marketing technology and its place within the marketing organization. Of course, there are the leaders — the chief marketing technologists and other C-level executives driving the martech ship — but how have roles evolved since we first started separating marketing technology from the IT department?

    Marketing technologist roles: v2.0

    Five years ago, Brinker came up with a list of six primary marketing technologist roles. The roles, or “archetypes” as Brinker labeled them, were based on a survey he and former SapientNitro CTO Sheldon Monteiro conducted via Chiefmartec.com readers and attendees at the inaugural MarTech Conference in Boston. After a recent conversation with Marketing Land’s VP of Content, Henry Powderly, Brinker decided it was time to revisit the roles he had defined more than five years ago.

    “Coming back to the concept of marketing technologist archetypes five years later, the split between ‘marketing focus’ and ‘technology focus’ didn’t resonate as much because technology has become much more deeply infused into the marketing organization overall,” said Brinker, ” I decided to step back and try a fresh approach to identifying the dimensions on which different marketing technologist roles focus.”

    In the latest version of Brinker’s marketing technologist archetypes, the list has been narrowed from six to four roles: Operations Orchestrator, Brand/Demand Builder, Analytics Architect and Marketing Maker.

    Scott Brinker’s Marketing Technologist Archetypes

    One of the things that stood out to Brinker when revisiting his original marketing technologist archetypes, was the lack of marketing operations roles.

    “Marketing operations has grown tremendously as a discipline over the past five years as a real hotbed of marketing technologist talent,” said Brinker. The explosive growth happening within marketing operations can be attributed to the fact that, as a function, it is what “keeps the trains running” for marketing technology teams, according to Brinker.

    The four primary marketing technologist roles

    As the number of martech solutions continues to grow — martech roles have become more systematic in the ways they are connected. Brinker recalls, during the original concept of the martech archetypes, he felt somewhat lost when trying to connect the roles. In Brinker’s latest iteration, the four quadrants separating the martech roles are independent of each other, but it’s clear how the roles are connected now.

    The Brand/Demand Builder is the usually the marketer using martech to conduct their work, implementing different platforms to run and manage marketing campaigns. Brinker says the vast majority of marketing technologists fall into this category.

    The Operations Orchestrator is responsible for implementing and managing martech systems. They are the “maestros” according to Brinker, the ones who support all the other martech roles and are often given a “marketing operations” or “CRM/MAP admin” title.

    Brinker defines the Analytics Architect as “modellers” who focus on the structure and infrastructure of data collected by the marketing organization. Usually known within the team as the “marketing analyst,” “data scientist” or “data engineer,” the analytics architects are rarely found at smaller companies, and instead, are part of martech teams within larger enterprises with the resources to dive into the data.

    The Marketing Maker, located in the bottom right quadrant, is the builder of custom apps and digital experiences. They have titles like “web developer” and “marketing engineer” and are usually part of the teams working with code. Although, with the latest crop of no-code and low-code martech solutions, Marketing Makers don’t necessarily have to be the expert coders they once were.

    The martech leaders

    What’s not listed within these four quadrants are the leaders who oversee the entire martech organization — the executives defining strategy and aligning marketing technology goals with the overall marketing and business objectives. Brinker has devised a fifth archetype — The Manager — to fit this role, an executive who essentially oversees the breadth of the marketing technology and operation teams.

    Some businesses have added this leadership role to the C-suite, hiring chief marketing technology officers to work alongside their chief marketing officer. But lately, we’ve seen a trend with major brands dropping the CMO role for chief digital officers and chief customer officers — both of which often oversee the marketing technology function. (Sheldon Monteiro, who helped Brinker come up with the original marketing technologist roles in 2014 is now a chief product officer at Publicis Sapient.) Other organizations have opted to onboard vice presidents or directors of marketing technology and marketing operations who report to the CMO.

    How the archetypes align with each other

    Brinker believes everything in marketing should ultimately be centered around the customer. “That said, there is a lot of marketing technologist type work that serves internal stakeholders in the service of building a great customer-centric business. It’s the ‘back-stage’ workflows, processes, analytics, infrastructure, systems, etc. that enable customer-facing activities in marketing to be more successful,” said Brinker.

    With this in mind, he arranged the four marketing technologist roles along an X and Y axis. The Y-axis, which moves from process orientation to technology orientation, separates processes like workflows and customer journeys from technology capabilities such as data engineering and coding. The X-axis stems from the question: Does the role primarily serve internal stake holders or customers?

    “There’s a ton of marketing technologist work that touches customers directly on the ‘front-stage’ of the business,” said Brinker, “Personalized campaigns, web and mobile apps, chatbots, conversion optimization — the X-axis in this framework looks across that spectrum of internal orientation to external orientation activities because, while they are deeply entwined, they are different kinds of activities that apply different skills.”

    Brinker acknowledges the four archetypes attached to each of the quadrants are not always completely separate roles, and that nearly every marketing technologist connects across all of the quadrants to some degree. The newly defined roles are meant to show how marketing technologists, in general, lean toward distinctly different areas within the martech organization.

    A work in progress

    The martech industry is pushing forward at a tremendous speed. As stated earlier, the marketing technology landscape is more than seven-times the size it was in 2014, with new solutions — and integrations — being launched daily. The first half of 2019 saw 246 mergers and acquisitions, a steep rise from the 162 deals that happened during the same time period in 2018.

    Exponential growth is the nature of technology and martech is no different — every new iteration of a martech solution aims to improve upon itself, resulting in an accelerated rate of progress. And with every new evolution cycle, the marketing technologists tasked with managing it all will have to evolve as well. There is no “final” list of primary marketing technologist roles — as the industry changes so will the players.

    As Brinker so eloquently puts it when looking at how these roles will continue to evolve, “Everyone has a horizon that keeps pushing the industry forward.”



    About The Author

    Amy Gesenhues is a senior editor for Third Door Media, covering the latest news and updates for Marketing Land, Search Engine Land and MarTech Today. From 2009 to 2012, she was an award-winning syndicated columnist for a number of daily newspapers from New York to Texas. With more than ten years of marketing management experience, she has contributed to a variety of traditional and online publications, including MarketingProfs, SoftwareCEO, and Sales and Marketing Management Magazine. Read more of Amy’s articles.



    broaden-your-marketing-skills-to-succeed-as-an-agile-marketer

    As marketers, we value our special skills, or as I often refer to it, our superpowers. I always explain that my superpower is writing because sometimes it’s easier for me to express my thoughts this way rather than talking (although I have my moments with the gift of gab).

    So while guarding our superpowers and being really sharp with one particular skill is great, to get hired on an agile marketing team, you need to show that you’re willing to dabble outside of your comfort zone and be a team player.

    According to the 2019 State of Agile Marketing survey, 50 percent of traditional marketing companies are planning to adopt agile marketing in the coming year. To stay ahead of the curve and market yourself to these companies, you’ll need to broaden your skills to be hired on an agile marketing team.

    The most successful agile marketers offer the following:

    Dabble beyond your specialty

    People have a lot more skills, abilities and desires to try new things than we give them credit for. The problem in most companies is that you’re only known for your job title, not always what you can do or want to be doing.

    Too often I hear, “Only John can do video editing – it’s a technical specialty and anyone else would screw it up.”

    Well, what happens when John goes on vacation? Or gets sick? Or worse yet – quits the company.

    While video editing may be John’s superpower, there are a lot of smart people on your team. If you ask them, there may be another who does this type of work as a hobby and wants to learn more.

    Sure, John may be better at it – and we’re not trying to de-value his knowledge – but a good agile team is able to share knowledge and help each other.

    I encourage you to think about two other skills that your company needs and try to learn more about them. Maybe you won’t be the expert, but you can help round out the team’s skillset in a pinch.

    Put the needs of the team above your own

    If you want to be hired on an agile marketing team, you have to approach everything as “What’s best for the team?” rather than “What’s best for me?”

    On an agile marketing team, work is prioritized in a single marketing backlog and the goal is to get the most important work done. Most of the time, that work item takes many people from the team collaborating together.

    There are two kinds of people that don’t work well in agile marketing—the hoarders and the single laners.

    The hoarder is the so-called ‘expert’ and likes being in a position where everyone needs him. He won’t share knowledge and works at protecting his domain.

    The single laners only do the job they were hired to do and nothing more.

    The problem with both the hoarders and single laners is that the focus is on themselves, not the good of the team. But in agile, the collective need to do what’s best for the customer far outweighs the individual contributor.

    So, if you want to work on an agile marketing team, you’re going to have to keep the focus on the team, even if it’s not what’s best for you at all times.

    A willingness to venture into the unknown

    Agile marketing requires the ability to quickly switch gears, work in a way that’s totally new and different and may require you doing work you’ve never done before in your life!

    For those that thrive on learning and change, agile marketing is going to be your best friend.

    It’s a lot like being a small business owner. You’re going to wear many hats, do things that you’ve never done before, venture into uncharted waters, fail sometimes and learn along the way.

    So to be a good agile marketer, get yourself comfortable with the uncomfortable.

    If you’re someone who enjoys broadening your skills, works well in a team setting and is okay venturing into the unknown, you’re going to make a rock star agile marketer!


    Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.



    About The Author

    Stacey knows what it’s like to be a marketer, after all, she’s one of the few agile coaches and trainers that got her start there. After graduating from journalism school, she worked as a content writer, strategist, director and adjunct marketing professor. She became passionate about agile as a better way to work in 2012 when she experimented with it for an ad agency client. Since then she has been a scrum master, agile coach and has helped with numerous agile transformations with teams across the globe. Stacey speaks at several agile conferences, has more certs to her name than she can remember and loves to practice agile at home with her family. As a lifelong Minnesotan, she recently relocated to North Carolina where she’s busy learning how to cook grits and say “y’all.”



    linkedin-user-rate-to-grow-faster-than-expected-through-2023

    LinkedIn is growing faster than previously expected, according to a new report from research firm eMarketer. In 2019, the number of monthly U.S. adult users increased by 8.8% year over year – up from eMarketer’s previous estimate of just over 7%. The new numbers are based on updated membership data from parent-company Microsoft and other sources.

    Despite a faster growth rate forecasted for 2019, eMarketer projects slowing user growth in the years ahead. U.S. users are expected to grow by 6.2% this year to 62.1 million and reach 68.8 million by 2022, eMarketer forecasts.

    LinkedIn Users in the US, 2018-2022

    Why we care

    LinkedIn users make up around one-third of all social network users in the U.S., according to eMarketer. For the most part, that number will stay the same as other social platforms also expand their user bases. But for businesses on LinkedIn, user growth could mean an uptick in ad performance and content engagement. The Microsoft-owned network has been steadily building out ad capabilities including new targeting and format options over the past few years.

    More on the news

    • The new numbers are based on updated membership data from parent-company Microsoft and other sources, eMarketer said.
    • eMarketer’s estimate is derived from U.S. internet users, aged 18 , who access LinkedIn from any device at least once per month.
    • eMarketer reports that LinkedIn will see $1.59 billion in ad revenues in 2020, growing another 11.2% to $1.77 billion in 2021.


    About The Author

    Taylor Peterson is Third Door Media’s Deputy Editor, managing industry-leading coverage that informs and inspires marketers. Based in New York, Taylor brings marketing expertise grounded in creative production and agency advertising for global brands. Taylor’s editorial focus blends digital marketing and creative strategy with topics like campaign management, emerging formats, and display advertising.



    visa-nears-deal-to-buy-plaid

    Visa Inc. said Monday it would buy Plaid Inc. for $5.3 billion, as part of an effort by the card giant to tap into consumers’ growing use of financial-technology apps and noncard payments.

    More consumers over the past decade have been using financial-services apps to manage their savings and spending, and Plaid sits in the middle of those relationships, providing software that gives the apps access to financial accounts. Venmo, PayPal Holdings Inc.’s money-transfer service, is one of privately held Plaid’s biggest customers.

    computer-designed-organisms

    About

    image
    Most technologies are made from steel, concrete, chemicals and plastics, which degrade over time and can produce harmful ecological and health side effects. It would thus be useful to build technologies using self-renewing and biocompatible materials, of which the ideal candidates are living systems themselves. Thus, we here present a method that designs completely biological machines from the ground up: computers automatically design new machines in simulation, and the best designs are then built by combining together different biological tissues. This suggests others may use this approach to design a variety of living machines to safely deliver drugs inside the human body, help with environmental remediation, or further broaden our understanding of the diverse forms and functions life may adopt.

    A computer-designed organism (CDO), with the red/green colored design from the above image, walks under the microscope.

    image
    AI methods automatically design diverse candidate lifeforms in simulation (top row) to perform some desired function, and transferable designs are then created using a cell-based construction toolkit to realize living systems (bottom row) with the predicted behaviors.


    Technical paper

    Kriegman, S.*, Blackiston, D.*, Levin, M., Bongard, J. (2020)
    A scalable pipeline for designing reconfigurable organisms”,
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), vol. 117 no. 2, pp.?-?.


    *Co-first authors.


    FAQ

    Q:    What is the big picture here — is it just about robots made of frog cells?

    A:    The big question here is: how do cells cooperate to build complex, functional bodies? How do they know what to build and what signals do they exchange to enable them to build them? This is important not only to understand the evolution of body shapes and the functions of the genome, but for all of biomedicine. Aside from infectious disease, pretty much all other problems of medicine boil down to the control of anatomy. If we could make 3D biological form on demand, we could repair birth defects, reprogram tumors into normal tissue, regenerate after traumatic injury or degenerative disease, and defeat aging (as highly regenerative organisms like planaria do). Stem cell biology and genomic editing do not, on their own, address this issue. It is still unknown what cells are capable of making besides their normal default body pattern, and these synthetic living machines are a convenient sandbox platform in which to make fundamental discoveries. We made these out of normal frog cells, with a normal frog genome. Their bodies look and act completely different from frogs, and can do so despite the fact that these “animals” have no evolutionary history of selection pressure which would have rewarded them for this behavior (they’re skin cells which have been used for millions of years to sit quietly on the surface of a frog and keep out the pathogens). Once we figure out how cells can be motivated to build specific structures, this will not only have a massive impact on regenerative medicine (building body parts and inducing regeneration), but the same principles will lead to better robotics, communication systems, and maybe new (non-neurocentric) AI platforms. The long-term goal here is to figure out how living agents (cells) can be motivated to build specific things, and how to exploit their plasticity and competency to do things that are too hard to micromanage directly (like build an eye, hand, etc.). This is also a part of a critical effort for the future of society and technology: the taming of “unintended consequences” from complex phenomena with surprising emergent outcomes – to understand how to manage swarms and collectives of active agents toward beneficial outcomes. This paper is just the first of a pipeline of studies in progress, extending the work toward applications in biomedicine, robotics, and synthetic morphology.

    Q:    What kinds of biological tissues were used to build computer-designed organisms?

    A:    Frog skin (green in the above image) and heart muscle (red). Both were derived from cells harvested from blastula stage Xenopus laevis embryos. These tissues naturally develop cilia (waving hairs which enable swimming), but the cilia were removed in the green/red colored organism to producing a walking (instead of swimming) organism.

    Q:    How big/small are the organisms?

    A:    The red/green colored organism pictured above is about 0.7 millimeters.

    Q:    What have they been used for?

    A:    So far we have built computer-designed organisms that walk, swim, push/carry an object, and work together in groups.

    Q:    Why do these count as organisms?

    A:    They “live” for about seven days, after which they stop functioning (a positive feature in terms of safety for synthetic biology constructs). Although, like vast numbers of organisms on Earth, they do not contain a brain, they exhibit functional behavior, are able to heal themselves if damaged, and work collectively. They can’t reproduce, but there are naturally occurring organisms that can’t either (e.g. mules). Synthetic living machines push biologists to develop deeper and more rigorous definitions of what an “organism” is. The question of what exactly makes for an organism (given the many colonial, syncitial, microbiome-bearing organisms are found in the natural world) is not an easy one; but these show the kind of coordinated structure and function that are immediately recognizable as belonging to a coherent organism.

    Q:    Are these organisms aquatic?

    A:    The organisms live in standard freshwater and can survive in temperatures ranging from 40 degrees to 80 degrees fahrenheit.

    Q:    Do the organisms eat?

    A:    The organisms come pre-loaded with their own food source (lipid and protein deposits) allowing them to live for a little over a week. However if grown in a nutrient rich cell-culture media, their lifespan can be increased to weeks or months.

    Q:    How do computers design organisms?

    A:    Computers model the dynamics of the biological building blocks (skin and heart muscle) and use them like LEGO bricks to build different organism anatomies. The behavior of each designed anatomy is simulated in a physics-based virtual environment and assigned a performance score (e.g. distance traveled). An evolutionary algorithm starts with a population of randomly-assembled designs, then iteratively deletes the worst ones and replaces them by randomly-mutated copies of the better ones. It is the survival of the fittest, inside the computer. The fittest designs in virtual reality are then selected to be built out of real biological tissues.

    Q:    How do you compare the similarity of the computer’s design with the actual organism that is built?

    A:    The behavior of organisms was traced and compared with the virtual design. To determine whether the organisms’ movement was a result of chance or due to the design’s evolved geometry and tissue placement, geometry and tissue distribution was altered by rotating the design 180° about its transverse plane (flipping it over onto its “back”). The shape and tissue placement of the built organism was compared using computer vision.

    Q:    Why make new organisms?

    A:    Nature has only explored a vanishingly small part of the space of organisms that could be assembled from biological cells. What else is out there? We need to understand (a) what kinds of structures cells are able to cooperate towards building, (b) how they decide what to make, when liberated from their normal context (how much plasticity is there), (c) what is possible without editing the genome, and (d) how complex outcomes can be manipulated rationally.

    Q:    What fundamental questions does such work answer?

    A:    This project seeks to determine the degree of emergent cooperation that cells can exhibit without genomic editing when liberated from the normal constraints of an embryo. In other words, what other functionalities exist in the physiological software encoded by a standard frog genome? Information about how cells make decisions during the process of assembling a new body sheds light on the origin of multicellularity, the computational capabilities of single cells, the exploitation of physical forces by evolution, the origin and specification of the default bodyplan normally built by embryonic cells, and the capacity for bioengineering new living machines with useful functions.

    Q:    Why are computer-designed organisms called “reconfigurable organisms” in the technical paper?

    A:    Frog cells were pieced together to form a new configuration, which is different from a frog. The cells which were configured by natural selection to become frogs were reconfigured by AI to create new forms and functions. The aggregated cells of the resulting organism can also be disassociated and reconfigured to form a new organism.

    Q:    Couldn’t these constructs start evolving beyond our control?

    A:    There is no evolution here: these CDOs have no reproductive organs. They simply degrade and become non-functional after about seven days. However, living organisms (those made by human-guided mating, bacteria and viruses generated by human travel and impact on the foodchain, etc.) do evolve beyond our control all the time; the best way to deal with this fact going forward is to understand it and learn to guide it.

    Q:    What advantages and disadvantages do CDOs have over microrobots?

    A:    Microrobots are made from metal, ceramics and plastics, so they are stronger and can thus, in theory, survive longer than CDOs. But, small amounts of metal can be very harmful for internal organs; CDOs are completely biocompatible and biodegradable.

    Q:    If an AI did indeed design these organisms, couldn’t an evil (or ignorant) AI design harmful (or unintentionally harmful) organisms?

    A:    An AI intent on causing harm seems unlikely, but designing organisms with unintentional side effects is a possible outcome for this technology. We thus believe that all computer-designed technologies — including organisms — require human verification before being created physically, let alone deployed to perform (hopefully) useful work. Further, regulation of such technology is an important next step in the policy space. Regardless, the potential of harm in these kinds of creations is infinitely smaller than current efforts in the virology, bacteriology, and genome editing spaces.

    Q:    Couldn’t someone program the AI to design weaponized CDOs?

    A:    In theory, yes. At the moment though it is difficult to see how an AI could create harmful organisms any easier than a talented biologist with bad intentions could. Despite this, we believe that, as this technology matures, regulation of its use and misuse should be a high priority. Again though, the possibility of misuse is much, much smaller than what is being done with self-reproducing agents like bacteria, viruses, and gene drives.

    10-vue-tabs
    Collection of free Vue tab code examples.

    Collection of free Vue tab code examples.

    1. CSS Tabs
    2. JavaScript Tabs
    3. jQuery Tabs
    4. React Tabs


    Author

    • Ross Nicholls

    Made with

    • HTML / CSS (SCSS) / JS

    About a code

    Vue Tabs

    Compatible browsers: Chrome, Edge, Firefox, Opera, Safari

    Responsive: yes

    Dependencies: bootstrap.css, font-awesome.css, vue.js

    Author

    • Joshua Ward

    Made with

    • HTML (Pug) / CSS (SCSS) / JS

    About a code

    Vue Tabs

    Compatible browsers: Chrome, Edge, Firefox, Opera, Safari

    Responsive: yes

    Dependencies: vue.js

    Author

    • Eric Fennis

    Made with

    • HTML / CSS (SCSS) / JS

    About a code

    Vue Tabs Transition

    Vue growing animation tabs.

    Compatible browsers: Chrome, Edge, Firefox, Opera, Safari

    Responsive: yes

    Dependencies: vue.js

    Author

    • OSORINA IRINA

    Made with

    • HTML / CSS (Sass) / JS

    About a code

    Vue Tabs

    Compatible browsers: Chrome, Edge, Firefox, Opera, Safari

    Responsive: yes

    Dependencies: bulma.css, vue.js

    Author

    • Michael Burridge

    Made with

    • HTML / CSS / JS

    About a code

    Vue Tabs

    Tabbed content with vue.js.

    Compatible browsers: Chrome, Edge, Firefox, Opera, Safari

    Responsive: no

    Dependencies: vue.js

    Author

    • Bobby Korec

    Made with

    • HTML / CSS (SCSS) / JS

    About a code

    3D Vue Tabs

    Vue tabs with tilt.js.

    Compatible browsers: Chrome, Edge, Firefox, Opera, Safari

    Responsive: yes

    Dependencies: vue-tabs.css, vue.js, bootstrap.js, vue-tabs.js, vanilla-tilt.js

    Author

    • Sergey

    Made with

    • HTML / CSS (Sass) / JS (Babel)

    About a code

    Simple Tabs

    Compatible browsers: Chrome, Edge, Firefox, Opera, Safari

    Responsive: yes

    Dependencies: vue.js, lodash.js

    Author

    • Ian Ebstein

    Made with

    • HTML / CSS (SCSS) / JS (babel)

    About a code

    Vue Tabs

    Compatible browsers: Chrome, Edge, Firefox, Opera, Safari

    Responsive: yes

    Dependencies: vue.js

    Author

    • Aleksey Pleshkov

    Made with

    • HTML (Pug) / CSS (SCSS) / JS (Babel)

    About a code

    Vue JS Tabs

    Compatible browsers: Chrome, Edge, Firefox, Opera, Safari

    Responsive: yes

    Dependencies: vue.js

    Author

    • Thomas Deinhamer

    Made with

    • HTML / CSS (SCSS) / JS (TypeScript)

    About a code

    Tabs Component

    SEO-friendly tabs component.

    Compatible browsers: Chrome, Edge, Firefox, Opera, Safari

    Responsive: yes

    Dependencies: vue.js

    design-literacy-in-organizations

    Pedro Canhenha

    Design Literacy or the establishment of this discipline, is a designation that has become a typical expression within the arsenal of industry-laden jargon for Designers these days (on par with the lexicon which includes, Design Thinking, Omnichannel, Multi-Platform, among a few others). It’s typically associated with the process of educating and disseminating topics associated with the Design Discipline across an Organization, specifically across different teams, of different natures (including, but not limited to, Product, Development, Sales, Customer Support, among many others). The intent of this article, is to provide some reflection points, and hopefully some informed recommendations/suggestions on how to define a process by which Design Literacy is effectively done, based on past experiences, studying and observations.


    Design Literacy. Wikipedia has a lengthy definition of Literacy, but I’ll quote this snippet as a form of clarification for the meaning of the word itself: “literacy is an ability to identify, understand, interpret, create, communicate and compute, using printed and written materials associated with varying contexts.” I first came to understand Design Literacy during my own Academic studies and post-college training, which I managed to deftly apply in one of my first jobs as an Educator/Teacher of Multimedia Programs and subsequently, diverse Design Software training programs. As a fundamental part of the curriculum of the courses, it was my responsibility to provide context to the Design Discipline, funneling the focus from Design as a broad subject, to Interactive Media in particular (which were primarily the courses I taught). The curriculum for these courses was rich and quite substantial, but one of the key aspects to them, was the creation of a common denominator level of understanding into the context of Design (Interactive Design), and how that was essentially being distilled into the program that was being taught. This required an obvious process of mapping out classes, and their respective content, thoroughly (both theoretical and practical aspects), always keeping in mind, that the information being shared, was aimed at an eclectic group of attendees, with different levels of knowledge towards the Design discipline in general, and the tools that were part of the courses in specific. The reason I’m outlining these past occurrences, is solely with the intent of building this analogy: context creation, education, mapping out Interactive Design training sessions, is in reality quite similar to the process that Designers currently take upon themselves in order to educate their peers in the organizations they’re a part of. I’ve been given the opportunity to work with a wide variety of companies, from large Fortune 500 to incredibly dynamic, and vastly smaller, startups, each one of them possessed of different levels of education when it came to Design, Designer roles, expected outcomes from Design-related initiatives, collaboration venues, communication processes, among many other Design related items. I worked with organizations where Design had already claimed its place, and started a process of disseminating its processes, its relationship building venues, and even in those situations, the Design Literacy topic, was always something being fine tuned and finessed. The way by which Designers educated their peers on the discipline, was in the case of these organizations, part of semi-established process, which included the utilization of tools such as Design Systems, solution driven Design Thinking processes, Design Sprints methodologies, and a variety of tools which essentially, documented and consequently, informed team members of the philosophy of the organization towards Design, and how to best utilize the outputs of that same discipline. On the opposite end of the spectrum, I worked with organizations where Design Literacy was barely existing. Design was in these cases, primarily contemplated as a service driven discipline, without much reach or depth, in terms of influence, impactful outcomes and overall healthy partnerships with other groups within the organization. In these cases, the challenge was, and has been, to create context into what the Design discipline is, how it integrates and ingratiates itself within the tissue of an organization, how it can revolutionize the narrative of Products, Solutions and Relationships with Users/Clients. Design Literacy is something that, much like any topic these days related to technology in particular, and society in general, is constantly evolving. Designers have the responsibility and duty to keep abreast of what is happening not only within their organization, but also in the sector they work in, the larger macro-economic sense of the reality of the world, the social responsibility associated with Product Design, with inclusivity, among many other factors, which permeate Design Literacy constantly, making it evolve continuously.

    Reality Check. Establishing Design Literacy in an organization can be challenging, and time consuming. It’s a necessary investment, one that produces results across a variety of subjects, which include, more relevant and accomplished solutions, effective team integration (which as a side note, also implies swifter on boarding processes), brand awareness, among many others. Below are some points worth considering when tackling an endeavor such as this one.

    1.Transparency — I’ve addressed the topic of Transparency in the past, but I’d like to reinstate that it’s a cornerstone of this endeavor. Design Literacy is all about being transparent and communicating with different teams, on a variety of topics, which includes definition of processes (specifically, what is Design Thinking, Design Sprints, Workshops, Research, User Interviews, Usability Testing, and the list goes on), team integration, how problems are defined, expected outcomes (of different natures, including for instance, artifacts produced by Design teams), assessing friction points (both external and internal), defining retrospective analysis (reflection on how processes have taken place and measuring their outcomes), and this list also goes on. Without transparency, there’s less ability for participation, for collaboration, for questioning, which dampens the process, warping the solutions that are created.

    2.Communicate and Educate — Designers have to understand, now more than ever before, that their role has a large component tied to education, on top of the catalyst and alchemist ones. In order to be able to bring out the best of each team one collaborates with, everyone has to understand the journey they’re embarking on, and the language everyone is speaking. This means for Designers, detailing what Design Thinking processes are, discoverability processes, research processes (also topics I’ve written about previously), all neatly tied with effective documentation tactics. By documenting, by reinforcing collaboration, seeking participation, communicating expectations and requirements, Designers can successfully start educating and disseminating what Literacy is about, and how it informs the hopeful, successful outcomes of the initiatives taking place.

    3.Listen — Literacy will never be achieved if Designers don’t listen. And listening comes from multiple sources, namely from clients, from internal stakeholders, peers, anyone that comes in contact with these professionals. Education is a relationship, and as such, it’s a communication, an interchangeable process by which information gets passed around, where Designers transmit, but also absorb knowledge about the tissue of the Organization, teams, and their users. The education process, the literacy that is accomplished, should never be done in a siloed context — it’s an eminently social process which requires Designers to understand the context where the organization lies, and consequently, where they’re inserted.

    4.Outcomes — The output of Design Literacy can take a variety of shapes. As mentioned previously, being able to document and share what defines Design, its language, its vocabulary, its methods, is fundamental to this type of initiative. Design Systems, Style Guides, Design GuideBooks, Confluence Pages, Wiki Pages, all these different artifacts which are produced these days, are a manifestation of how this Design Literacy takes place. These are but a small outcome of this bigger endeavor, one that as the previous points urge and highlight, should be democratized across the entire organization.


    Another Reality Check. Being a Designer these days is an enticing opportunity. It allows for professionals on this field to become aware of so many topics, not just for the sake of a trend or a superficial gimmick. Professionals are now empowered to understand more about the organization where they’re embedded, about the users they’re relating to, in essence, becoming powerful storytellers. These stories can only be told effectively, if we’re all understanding the plot and where we expect to be led. And nothing helps more in that path definition, than Design Literacy.


    I’ll conclude with the following quote, from William Butler Yeats on the topic of education, which is one of the topics of this article:

    “Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.”


    the-complete-list-of-font-formats-and-their-use

    We’re all familiar with the current font formats (otf and ttf) that we can install on our computers and even on mobile devices. But what about web fonts? Or apps? After a long debate on Twitter, I decided to write about different font formats and their uses.

    What I learned from that debate is that different things happenning in the same environment may become confusing and are regarded as being the same or similar, and different font formats are associated with the wrong use. When it comes to web, it seems that not all font authors know exactly how their work is used, and this might contribute to the paradoxical font licensing I previously wrote about.

    Same environment doesn’t mean all things happening there are the same and use the same tools

    Why do I say that? Well think about it this way: in a house 2 people can do 2 different things, one is cooking and one is sleeping. So these activities are performed each by different entities, they output different results, have different purposes, and need different tools. They have nothing in common other than taking place in the same house.

    The same goes for things happening on a server. A server is actually a computer with some specific software installed, and computers can be used for different things that are not necessarily related between them other than using the same environment.

    The example I wanted to give was about two things that happen on a server, both of which include the usage of fonts in two very different ways.

    The two things are: server-side PDF generation and dynamic content generation with a CMS.

    What is a CMS?

    CMS stands for Content Management System, and we have the most popular example of CMS out there: WordPress. It’s a software that takes the content you write in a dashboard and creates a page with it using a pre-built template. This operation is done on the server, where the content is stored in a database.

    But whether using a CMS or not, all websites need a server to be hosted on to be viewable/accessible online, and they all use the same font format — .woff2 and .woff. Woff2 is the newest version of .woff, with improved compression algorithm.

    What exactly is .woff2/.woff format?

    Woff stands for Web Open Font Format and is a web-exclusive font format that cannot be used anywhere else or in any other environment. It’s a compressed format created especially to be “read” by browsers that will then render the website texts in it.

    It cannot be installed on a computer, and it cannot be converted back to desktop font.

    You can learn about how to embed web fonts self-hosted with @font-face, from Google Fonts, or correctly include them in WordPress, with the quick guide to using web fonts.

    How difficult is it to create .woff fonts?

    Not at all. It only takes seconds to convert a desktop font to web format (woff). It can be done with FontSquirrel’s free webfont generator for example (though please note that your font license must allow that), or in almost all cases font creation software has buil-in option to export in different formats, including web.

    No extra work from the font’s author is necessary.

    What do CMS and PDF generation have in common?

    Short answer is: nothing much. Other than being software that runs on a computer, nothing. Content generation has nothing to do with PDF generation.

    Actually software itself is a very broad term that includes a huge amount of types, purposes, programming languages, and environments under the same generic name.

    Font formats currently in use

    Font format Use Installable on a computer/server
    Desktop:

    .otf

    .ttf

    PostScript
    Everything that requires locally installable fonts, including branding/logo, graphic design, video production, PDF generation, server install, and mobile apps. Yes ✓
    Web:

    .woff2

    .woff
    All types of websites, including websites that use a CMS like WordPress or a platform like Shopify No ×
    Proprietary formats Only included in the apps they were designed for. An example would be LaTeX No ×

    Logos, graphic illustrations, and banners you see on websites are images made with desktop fonts. Web fonts are used only for content text (like the one you’re reading now).

    Although OTF and TTF are the standard for digital (not web), DTP (desktop publishing) and print industry still frequently use Adobe’s older standard format — PostScript. PostScript fonts have multiple extensions:

    • .pfb, .pfm, .afm (Windows)
    • .pfm, .afm, .inf (MacOS)
    • .pfa, .afm (Linux)
    • .ofm (OS/2)

    The proprietary font formats are a bit beyond the scope of this article, as their use is strictly limited to the app they were designed for and were mostly created before the current standard formats.

    Legacy web font formats not in use anymore

    Note: EOT, TTF, and SVG (mentioned below) can still be seen on websites created a few years ago.

    • TrueDoc — developed by Bitstream in 1994, it was included with Netscape Navigator from version 4 to 6. While while not specifically a webfont format, it was the first standard for embedding fonts on web
    • EOT (Embedded OpenType) — a proprietary format owned by Microsoft and used in Internet Explorer from version 4 to 11
    • SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics) — used in old versions of Webkit-based browsers, mainly in Safari and iOS Safari but also available in Chrome 4-37 and Opera 10-24, it has been replaced by the standard .woff. This format should not be confused with the currently available svg format which is desktop installable only and can only be used in graphic software such as Adobe Illustrator.
    • TTF (TrueType Font) — While some browser compatibility still exists, this is absolutely not recommended for use, as woff format is essentially a compressed form of .otf and .ttf with additional metadata that can be read by the browser.

    Legacy desktop font formats not in use anymore

    Bitmap/raster — First type of fonts available in computers. You’ll recognize them as having a pixelated aspect and not being scalable. Each glyph is a bitmap (array of pixels).

    There were a lot of non-standardized formats, as each operating system and software created its own:

    • PCF (Portable Compiled Font)
    • BDF (Glyph Bitmap Distribution Font)
    • SNF (Server Normal Font)
    • DWF (DECWindows Font)
    • BF, AFM (Sun X11/NeWS Font)
    • FON (Microsoft Windows)
    • Amiga Font
    • ColorFont
    • AnimFont
    • BMF (ByteMap Font)
    • PSF (PC Screen Font)
    • PK (Packed bitmap font bitmap file for TeX DVI drivers)
    • FZX (proportional bitmap font for ZX Spectrum)
    animate-text-on-scroll

    We covered the idea of animating curved text not long ago when a fun New York Times article came out. All I did was peek into how they did it and extract the relevant parts to a more isolated demo.

    That demo is here:

    See the Pen


    Selfie Crawl
    by Chris Coyier (@chriscoyier)


    on CodePen.

    @keyframers covered it much nicer than I did and made this video. (Seriously, it’s so clear and concise — it’s a great watch.)

    I particularly like how quick’n’easy creating, exporting, optimizing, and integrating the actual SVG codes in their demonstration.

    Their final demo:

    See the Pen


    SVG textPath Animation on Scroll Tutorial | Keyssentials: Web Animation Tips by @keyframers
    by @keyframers (@keyframers)


    on CodePen.

    how-to-write-your-ctas-to-fit-your-campaign

    You’ve planned and created your best email campaign yet and you’re excited to hit “send.”

    Now, before you do, ask yourself this question, “Did I remember to include an actionable CTA?”

    We don’t mean a simple “buy now” CTA. If you want your CTA to be truly effective, you must know how to write your CTAs to fit your campaign.

    Common CTA strategies include “Buy now!” or “Visit today!” However, to make your CTA truly stand out, you need to stay up to date on CTA writing and design best practices and take some time to learn from outstanding, real-world examples.

    How to write your CTAs: It will affect the success of your campaigns.

    Each of your email campaigns serves a purpose. Without a CTA, your subscribers have nothing to act on, leaving your emails nearly useless. Having either a hyperlinked CTA or a clickable button CTA gives your readers a chance to act on something, such as:

    • Downloading a freebie
    • Clipping a virtual coupon
    • Heading over to your shop to browse

    An effective CTA example from Victoria’s Secret

    Source: Gmail/Victoria’s Secret

    Without these CTAs, there is, again, nothing for your readers to act on, making your emails nothing more than a digital piece of information—which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. However, you won’t get the ROI you’re aiming for without an actionable CTA.

    Learning how to design and write your CTAs can make or break your campaign.

    Taking the time to learn how to write your CTAs and design them can make a significant difference in the overall success of your email campaign. From placement to color choices and choosing between hyperlinked CTAs and button CTAs—they all play vital roles in not only whether your readers will choose to interact with your CTAs, but whether your readers will even notice them.

    That said, here are some interesting facts regarding CTA creation and use in email marketing:

    • Forty-eight percent of brands choose to match their CTA to a color that they used in their brand logo – Really Good Emails
    • Button-based CTAs can improve click-through rates by 28% – Campaign Monitor
    • Benefit-focused copy in a CTA button can increase click-through rates by nearly 10% – Campaign Monitor
    • First-person text in a CTA can increase clicks by almost 90% – Campaign Monitor

    button-based CTA example by Campaign Monitor

    Source: Campaign Monitor

    Having a CTA in your email marketing campaign can make all the difference. However, merely slapping in a traditional CTA simply won’t do it anymore. That’s why taking adequate time to learn how to write your CTAs and how to design them is crucial.

    Learning how to design your CTAs effectively

    Traditionally, email designers put little thought into designing the actual CTA that was included within the body of an email campaign. For many years, this was simply left to the writing team because hyperlinked CTAs were the way to go. In many cases, these CTAs are still perfectly acceptable. For example, in the case of this welcome email from social media guru, Kelsey Chapman.

    Example of a hyperlinked CTA by Kelsey Chapman

    Source: Gmail/Kelsey Chapman

    As we move into a new century, technology is changing, and with it are consumer preferences. That’s why it’s vital to know not only how to write your CTAs, but how to design them as well. So we’ve compiled an essential list of the most crucial CTA design best practices that you should keep in mind during your email design phase.

    CTA buttons perform better than hyperlinked CTA text.

    While hyperlinked CTA text is still a viable design option, brands have noticed that consumers prefer a clickable button CTA over a hyperlinked CTA. In fact, during our own research, we found that simply adjusting our CTA in one campaign from hyperlinked text to a clickable button increased our overall click-throughs by 127%.

    CTA button vs. hyperlinked text example

    Source: Campaign Monitor

    Make sure your CTA is clearly identifiable.

    One reason why consumers prefer clickable CTA buttons is that they’re much easier to find than hyperlinked text options. Unfortunately, while using a hyperlinked CTA is still common practice, many brands leave the text in the same color as the rest of the email text. This makes it nearly impossible to identify quickly.

    Here’s the thing: Only a handful of your readers are going to take the time to read your email. The rest are going to scan for important information, including the CTA button. If it’s not easy to spot, then your readers are going to move on without a second thought.

    CTA placement is vital.

    Since more consumers are spending time scanning their emails for relevant information, it’s vital to consider the placement of your CTA within the body of your email. While many brands include their CTAs at the end of the message, you want to place your CTA above the fold.

    Above the fold means within the first viewing window your readers get after opening your message. The more scrolling a reader has to do, the less likely they are to find and click on your CTA.

    Example of a CTA placed above the fold

    Source: Really Good Email

    Learning how to write your CTAs effectively

    Now that you’ve gotten a chance to review some CTA design best practices, adopt the same philosophy into how you write your CTAs to get the most out of each campaign.

    Always include action-oriented text.

    Remember, the entire point of your email marketing efforts is to drive action. The most effective way to do that is by always including action-oriented text within your CTA. Popular action words for CTAs include:

    • Try
    • Buy
    • Get
    • Order
    • Reserve
    • Download
    • Add
    • Sign up
    • Register

     Examples of CTAs with actionable text

    Source: Self-made

    Avoid “friction words.”

    While you want your CTAs to be actionable, you also want to make sure you avoid the use of friction words. Friction words are either words or phrases that imply your reader must do something that they may not really want to do. Some common friction words that are traditionally used in email marketing CTAs include:

    • Submit
    • Order
    • Download

    While these are all actionable words, they tell the reader what to do instead of encouraging them. Here are various ways you can alter your CTAs to include frictionless words:

    • Download – Get
    • Order – Reserve
    • Apply – Learn

    Example of an actionable, frictionless CTA from Breguet

    Source: Really Good Emails

    CTA text should be both large and legible.

    When designing your email CTA, we mentioned that you have to make it easily noticeable. The most effective way to do that is by making sure your text is both legible and big enough to stand out. However, that doesn’t mean you want to make it obnoxious.

    Take this example from Resy. Their CTA is very legible, thanks to the font and coloring they chose during the design phase. They took it a step further by choosing to bolden the text. Notice, however, that it doesn’t look clunky or out of place.

     Example of a bold, short and sweet email CTA from Resy.

    Source: Really Good Emails

    The best way to make your CTA bold and legible is by choosing a font that matches your text hierarchy. To do this, choose something similar to the fonts that you used for your heading text.

    Keep CTA text short and sweet.

    Along with having a bold, legible CTA comes one that’s both short and sweet. At this point, your reader should already understand the benefit of clicking on your CTA, so you want to keep the text short and simple. Ideally, your CTA will only be 3-5 words in length. Anything more than that begins to look too messy.

    Short and sweet email CTAs in action

    Source: Gmail/Chewy

    First person/personalization goes a long way in your CTA.

    Now, adding first person into your email CTA doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, it can be as simple as saying “Reserve my seat” instead of “reserve a seat.” Studies have shown that simply changing this one word in a CTA can increase clicks by nearly 90%, a number that warrants consideration.

    If first-person doesn’t really sound right in your mind, then simply personalizing with the second-person point of view works great too. So, instead of “reserve a seat,” you can opt for “reserve your seat.” This added touch of personalization makes your call to action that much more inviting to your subscribers.

    Example of a personalized CTA by PlayStation

    Source: Really Good Emails

    Wrap up

    Knowing how to write your CTAs is a vital part of your email marketing process. Again, if you want to see the ROI from this marketing strategy, you have to give your email subscribers something to do.

    When it comes to your email CTAs, you’ll want to keep in mind some of the design and writing tips we’ve minted, including:

    • Include action-oriented text
    • Avoiding “friction words”
    • Using a button vs. hyperlinked text
    • Keeping it short and sweet

    Looking for a little more guidance on how to write and optimize your email CTAs? Then make sure you check out our email CTA optimization guide today.

    calculate-colors,-share-palettes

    Digital colors, reimagined

    Talking about colors is hard without context. That’s why we provide a dedicated page for every color code. Use it to find matching color variants, learn more about color properties or convert color values.

    The sum of its parts

    Every color contains an individual composition of basic colors. Forget everything you learned about RGB or HSL sliders and explore a new way to modify digital colors.

    Endless possibilities

    Still looking for the right color? Compose new colors out of existing ones. If you blend a color with black or white you can even create the corresponding shades or tints.

    Your palettes, your style

    Use your favorite colors to build up a personal color library. Create project-specific palettes and share them with others. Need to document complex color collections? Add structured text content and turn your palettes into living style guides within seconds.

    the-rise-of-micro-communities

    We have all joined more design-themed Slack, Linkedin and Facebook groups than we can keep up with — maybe in response to the visceral human need to feel like part of something bigger than ourselves. But the reality of online communities is quite different from what they initially seem to promise. Groups with thousands of designers either become inactive once members realize they have little in common, or remain active but end up devolving into an endless stream of self-promotion and content marketing pieces. Discussion threads on Reddit or DesignerNews don’t delve deep enough into a topic because they are held back by miscommunications between participants. Design Twitter slowly becomes a shallow stream of polarizing, angry, and loud voices.

    While large online communities play an important role in making design more accessible to more people, we have to re-focus on the smaller communities we build ourselves in order to get the full value out of our conversations.

    All this doesn’t mean designers have stopped having online conversations with one another; it just means these conversations are migrating to a new type of community which is more intimate and focused. They are happening over WhatsApp, Telegram, direct messaging, and super-niched hubs. They are happening one-to-one or in small groups, rather than in large forums.

    Designers are informally creating their own sounding boards: people with whom they feel comfortable sharing feedback, exchanging design references, discussing trends, or asking for advice on topics like salary, work dynamics, and career.

    The same shift can be seen with design events. While large design conferences are a great platform for networking, small local meetups are more rewarding when it comes to learning and development, since they allow participants to engage in more real and honest question-and-answer sessions.

    “The intimacy of smaller settings allows people to open up to each other in more authentic ways,” explains Kat Vellos, Senior Product Designer at Slack and founder of BayAreaBlackDesigners. “Smaller groups make it easier for participants to build psychological safety with each other. That’s much harder to do in a large room with hundreds or thousands of people. Psychological safety is the most important thing for getting people to trust each other and gel, and small groups/events will always be able to provide this in a more manageable way than humongous conferences.”

    In 2020, the most relevant discussions in design are becoming local, authentic, and focused. Large communities become primarily a way to find and build smaller ones. In a world where everyone is shouting at each other, quieter and more thoughtful conversations become incredibly precious.

    soapbox:-here’s-why-b2b-should-get-better-at-episodic-storytelling

    Trends in storytelling generally stem from media and entertainment. Once these early adopters demonstrate success, edgy B2C brands borrow with pride. Then, B2B players catch the wind and test out the tactic for themselves.

    And so it goes with episodic storytelling. Streaming services and premium television publishers are purposefully presenting stories as episodes to keep audiences coming back for more. It works for Disney . It works for B2C brands. And, as more marketers are beginning to realize, it works for B2B brands.

    Episodic content is a familiar tactic among audiences and drives tremendous engagement. You need to:

    • Deliver high value in a shorter than usual timespan. You want your audience to think, “That was interesting, and it didn’t take too long,” and they’ll be willing to come back for more.
    • Provide a clear call-to-action at the end of the series. If you have asked someone for this much of their time, and they have cared enough to give it, be clear on what should happen next.
    • Think about why you love your favorite series. You can’t get enough of “The Mandalorian” because you are invested in the characters. A nonfiction narrative usually works better than a made-up story for B2B brands, but you can still use storytelling best practices. Establish strong character bonds so people are invested, and end episodes with unanswered questions – cliffhangers – but don’t forget to resolve them quickly.

    Episodic storytelling could mean the continuation of the same plotline, or serial storytelling link “Black Mirror,” in which each episode introduces new characters. Either way, quality, character-driven storytelling will reap the best results. Tips for success include:

    • Let go of fear! Trust that your plot and your characters will deliver real value.
    • Learn from B2B brands that are doing this right. MailChimp’s animated series, “Outer Monologue,” Intel’s drone and AI series, “Preserving a Legacy” and Zarius’ “Marketing Unboxed” are good examples.
    • Think beyond video. Episodic storytelling works in virtually all mediums, including blog posts and podcasts. In fact, B2B podcasting will explode in 2020.

    All brands will need to morph into media companies if they want to survive. B2B marketers may be hesitant to try episodic storytelling, but I have seen content fail because the story was delivered all at once when it would have been better told in installments. Audiences like episodic storytelling. It is time for B2B marketers to master it.

    Soapbox is a special feature for marketers in our community to share their observations and opinions about our industry. You can submit your own here.


    Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.



    About The Author

    Erin Craft is vice president and managing director of strategic creative at Centerline Digital. She double-majored in business management and microbiology, so, naturally, she took a year off after college to focus on photography and work with horses. When she decided field research wasn’t for her, she found the perfect place for a scientific mind who admired a well-told story at Centerline. Over a decade later she continues working to master marketing at the intersection of technology and humans. Erin relishes the daily opportunity to switch between right- and left-brain approaches to solve communications challenges from a variety of different angles. With her unique blend of experience, an eye toward creativity, a tight grasp on budgetary concerns and old-fashioned common sense, she guides accounts to measurable success.



    adobe-moves-its-experience-manager-service-to-the-cloud

    Managing a huge volume of content across enterprise teams is a heavy burden that poses a significant challenge for today’s marketing teams. In an effort to increase efficiencies for these marketers, Adobe has announced that Adobe Experience Manager (AEM) will be available as a cloud-native SaaS application.

    AEM services were previously only available as part of an on-premise setup or as a managed service. Now that it is part of Adobe Experience Cloud, AEM users should quickly be able to onboard the app and use it to produce dynamic and personalized content.

    Why we care

    Early results from mid-market to large enterprise companies using the application indicated processing speeds increased by about 50%, and administrative efficiencies increased by 40%. Companies also saw less scheduled downtime as planned updates should no longer take AEM offline. The decreased downtime increased user productivity by 40% according to Adobe.

    “Adobe Experience Manager as a Cloud Service supercharges organizations’ abilities to create, manage and deliver more campaigns, digital assets and experiences faster than ever before,” said Loni Stark, senior director of strategy and product marketing at Adobe. “It creates a compelling offer for mid-size companies and enterprises that are increasingly transforming to adopt advanced digital tools but need more simplicity and flexibility to support their changing business models.”

    More on the news

    • Adobe Experience Manager as a Cloud provides content management (CMS), digital asset management (DAM), digital signage management and customer communication platforms.
    • “Instead of dealing with large-scale deployments of software updates to our site, Adobe Experience Manager as a Cloud Service is constantly updating,” said Steve Schultz, head of marketing technology at Esri. “We think this process of continuous integration offers huge benefits as the risk of errors occurring during deployments is far reduced.”


    About The Author

    Jennifer Videtta Cannon serves as Third Door Media’s Senior Editor, covering topics from email marketing and analytics to CRM and project management. With over a decade of organizational digital marketing experience, she has overseen digital marketing operations for NHL franchises and held roles at tech companies including Salesforce, advising enterprise marketers on maximizing their martech capabilities. Jennifer formerly organized the Inbound Marketing Summit and holds a certificate in Digital Marketing Analytics from MIT Sloan School of Management.



    salesforce-updates-commerce-cloud,-rolls-out-einstein-ai-dashboard,-order-management-platform

    Salesforce has updated its commerce APIs and added a Mulesoft Accelerator to its Commerce Cloud for faster integrations. It also announced a new dashboard to track performance for its Einstein AI-powered recommendation system and released a Salesforce Order Management solution for e-commerce teams on Monday.

    The announcements came during the kick-off for NRF 2020, the National Retail Foundation’s annual conference.

    New Einstein AI dashboard. The new dashboard within Cloud Commerce reporting shows how Einstein AI-powered product recommendations are performing within a company’s storefront platform.

    “Einstein AI dashboard provides near real-time metrics so merchandisers have actionable information the need across sites, storefront pages and custom date-ranges,” Salesforce said.

    Improvements to commerce APIs and Commerce Cloud. Salesforce’s updates to its commerce APIs and Commerce Cloud solution are designed to help shorten the production process for custom commerce apps built on Salesforce’s platform and aim to help marketers and e-commerce teams, “Reach shoppers at any touch point.”

    Salesforce added the Mulesoft Accelerator to Commerce Cloud to “jump-start” commerce solution integrations. The Mulesoft Accelerator comes with pre-built templates for enterprise resource planning (ERP) and product information management (PIM).

    A Salesforce Order Management platform. Salesforce said the new solution “bridges the gap” between physical and digital channels, connecting and automating fulfillment and customer service processes.

    The platform works with Salesforce’s mobile POS partners Mad Mobile, NewStore and PredictSpring.

    A community-driven initiative for developers. Salesforce has also launched a Commerce Cloud Developer Center to create a “community” for those building e-commerce APIs. The center will provide resources, best practices and a way for API developers to engage with others in the field. It will also include developer toolkits and sample apps.

    Why we care. Salesforce’s latest updates are aimed at providing more holistic commerce martech solutions, from the Order Management platform that offers a unified view of the commerce experience to enhanced commerce APIs to faster app development and easier integrations with Commerce Cloud and finally to the additional layer of e-commerce analytics with the Einstein AI dashboard.



    About The Author

    Amy Gesenhues is a senior editor for Third Door Media, covering the latest news and updates for Marketing Land, Search Engine Land and MarTech Today. From 2009 to 2012, she was an award-winning syndicated columnist for a number of daily newspapers from New York to Texas. With more than ten years of marketing management experience, she has contributed to a variety of traditional and online publications, including MarketingProfs, SoftwareCEO, and Sales and Marketing Management Magazine. Read more of Amy’s articles.



    welcome-to-apple:-a-one-party-state

    In June 2017, about 100 employees of Apple Inc gathered at the company’s headquarters at 1 Infinite Loop, Cupertino, to hear a presentation designed to scare them witless.

    Staffed by former members of the National Security Agency and the US military, Apple’s global security team played video messages from top executives warning attendees never to leak information.

    “This has become a big deal for Tim,” Greg Joswiak, Apple’s vice president of marketing, said at the time. “I have faith deep in my soul that if we hire smart people they’re gonna think about this, they’re gonna understand this, and ultimately they’re gonna do the right thing, and that’s to keep their mouth shut.”

    A secretive culture – bordering on paranoia – was first fostered by Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple, and then by his successor Tim Cook, who took over in 2011.

    Apple employees typically sign several non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) per year, use codenames to refer to projects, and are locked out of meetings if they fail to obtain the appropriate documentation, former workers told us.

    “Secrecy is everything at Apple,” one ex staffer said. “Many employees don’t like Apple Park [the company’s new headquarters] because it has very few private offices. Confidentiality on projects and the ability to step behind a closed door is vital.”

    Another recent ex-employee said that security was weaponised across the company, with internal blogs boasting about the number of employees caught leaking and NDAs required even for non-sensitive or mundane projects. The employee described how they were once asked to read a negative story about the company and then identify the Apple insider suspected of leaking information.

    Since becoming chief executive, Cook has doubled down on security, catching 29 leakers in 2017 alone, according to an internal memo leaked to Bloomberg in 2018 (the company does not publicly disclose such figures).

    Yet Cook has also radically shifted Apple’s priorities, sometimes in directions that his predecessor would not have understood or condoned. Understanding what has changed at the company in the 3,015 days since Jobs died of pancreatic cancer is arguably more critical to understanding Apple in 2020 than identifying what has remained the same.

    Since 2011, Cook, a quietly spoken 59-year-old from Alabama, has built Apple into the largest tech company in the world, with a market valuation of more than $1 trillion. More than two thirds of that value was accumulated after Jobs’ death.

    Steve Jobs (left) and Steve Wozniak in 1977, launching the Apple II computer

    He has achieved such stellar growth partly through the sale of iterative updates to Apple’s flagship iPhone and the launch of new products such as the Apple Watch. Even though iPhones continue to drive more than half of Apple’s revenue, sales are sputtering as the smartphone market reaches maturity. So Cook is spearheading the company’s biggest shift in more than a decade: a switch away from making devices to providing services that touch almost every part of our lives.

    From Apple TV to Apple Music, from Apple Pay to Apple News , Cook’s company is now the gateway through which millions of us live our lives. We watch movies, pay for groceries, read the news, go to the gym, adjust our heating and monitor our hearts through Apple services, which is now the company’s fastest growing division.

    Living within this carefully curated ecosystem, soon to be bolstered by new augmented reality products, the company’s 1.4 billion active users have become less like customers and more like citizens. We no longer just live our lives on Apple’s phones, but in them.

    Apple’s market valuation is roughly equal to the national net worth of Denmark, the 28th wealthiest country in the world. It has as many users as China has citizens. Its leader has a close relationship with the US president and other heads of state. In all but name, this is a superpower, wielding profound influence over our lives, our politics and our culture.

    That’s why Tortoise has decided to report on Apple as if it is a country: the first instalment in a year-long project we are calling Tech Nations, which will cover all the main technology giants. Here, we’ll examine Apple’s economy, its foreign policy and its cultural affairs. We’ll dig into its leadership, its security operation and its lobbying spend. We’ll identify the executives likely to succeed Cook, and the areas where Apple is falling behind in the global tech race.

    As Jobs might have put it, we’re trying to “think different” about the small computer company founded in a Los Altos garage back in 1976.


    We have learned:

    • Apple is now unmistakably Tim Cook’s company. The 59-year-old has built an organisation radically different to the one left behind by its founding father, Steve Jobs.
    • Cook’s Apple resembles a liberal China. It is devoted to enabling individual creative expression, but on its terms: it has become a highly centralised, hierarchical and secretive state.
    • Cook’s Apple is defined by a corporate vision, rather than product innovation. Apple has a written constitution. Since Cook assumed power, he has fundamentally changed how Apple deals with suppliers, acts on the environment, engages in politics, produces and promotes cultural content, all while making privacy and security part of the brand.
    • Apple’s emphasis on privacy was dramatised by its refusal, in early 2016, to help the FBI unlock the iPhone of one of the San Bernardino terrorists. Back then, this put the company on a collision course with the state; prompting the question: who sets the rules? Now, after Facebook’s involvement in the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Apple is on the same side as lawmakers who increasingly want to deal with privacy breaches.
    • Apple’s move towards services is risky. Former employees, experts and external partners told us that the company’s focus on excellence was often not obvious in software-based products, such as Apple Music or Apple TV . The departure of Sir Jony Ive has given Eddy Cue, the head of Apple’s services division, and Jeff Williams, its chief operating officer, increased prominence.
    • To make Apple TV a “Netflix killer”, the firm is entering into “crazy” deals which have helped inflate the price paid to actors and directors, studio insiders said. Two executives told us that the stars of Apple’s flagship Apple TV show, The Morning Show, Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon, had been offered the entire rights back after around 10 years. Netflix, by contrast, keeps rights for life.
    • Autonomous cars and augmented reality will form a big part of Apple’s future. Apple patents we’ve seen envisage facial recognition data combined with in-car software identifying pedestrians by name – a development which could provoke privacy concerns.
    • Apple is falling behind in the race to harness artificial intelligence. Compared to Google and Facebook, Apple neither collects as much data as its competitors nor has the resources to exploit it as effectively. It is trying to change this picture by hiring top executives and buying up at least one AI company per year since 2014.

    The People’s Republic of Cupertino

    It may well be the most expensive metaphor ever built. In Cupertino, California, several sweaty miles away from Santa Cruz, is Apple Park, the headquarters of the tech company that has its logo on a billion iPhones. There is an actual park there, where employees can walk or cycle between the meticulous groves of apple trees and around a circular pool, although anyone else would be lucky to see it. It is surrounded by a great, glass, multi-storey ring of offices created by the architects Foster Partners with help from Apple’s outgoing chief design officer, Jony Ive. The ring is a mile in circumference. It cost $5 billion.

    Apple can afford such architectural extravagance. It is the company that stood against the tide and turned it; helping us all to realise that computers could be more than just beige boxes, that headphones could be white, that telephones can do everything. Its decisions have defined our digital – and daily – lives.

    The Steve Jobs Theater, at the heart of Apple Park

    But what is Apple Park a metaphor for? High-minded Apple enthusiasts might say that the ring represents an endless cosmic loop. Or perhaps it is a planet-scale equivalent of the circular home button on earlier models of iPhone. Visiting aliens can click it from space – and go home.

    The truth, however, is that it represents what Apple has become: a secret garden with tremendously high walls. Most people who try to peer over the edge are summarily pushed back. Apple is a part of the world but also apart from it. It is Maoism for individualists.

    The development of the Macintosh computer, released in 1984, is a revealing origin story for Apple. Jobs had assembled a crew of “pirates” to build a computer as he wanted it, which meant attractive design, a symbiosis between hardware and software, and, most of all, control – of the consumer, by him.

    In a hundred small ways, he made the Mac immutable and inescapable. Its elegant contours were actually hard borders, held together by special screws so that bedroom hobbyists couldn’t get inside with their regular screwdrivers. Requests to license out the operating system (so that it could be used on other computers) were refused or ignored. The Mac would be an ecosystem unto itself. People would have to buy into it entirely, or not at all.

    Jobs was forced out of Apple for his hubris; then reinstalled in 1997, when the company was on the verge of bankruptcy. With Jony Ive at his side, and until his death from pancreatic cancer in 2011, he introduced a series of products that were like the original Mac in spirit yet incomparably more successful: the iMac, iPod, iPhone and iPad.

    Jony Ive (left) and Tim Cook inspect the iPhone XR during an event at the Steve Jobs Theater in September 2018

    Against that record, it is easy to dismiss Jobs’ successor, Tim Cook, as a button-down bureaucrat. Whereas Jobs’ Apple was about an idea – Think Different – Cook’s, his critics say, is more about a number, a market valuation of $1 trillion or more. Those critics also argue that the new Apple is less innovative as a result. They point at the Apple Pencil, a stylus introduced in 2015 to supplement the iPad, and set it against one of Jobs’s typically pugnacious speeches from 2007. “Who wants a stylus?” Jobs asked then. “Nobody wants a stylus.”

    Yet Cook has made some defining interventions. Other companies, such as Facebook and Google, are happy for a sort of chaos to prevail: an online world that’s sprawling, messy and mostly unregulated, where data can be plucked from the air and passed on to advertisers. Cook is trying to create a refuge: a unified world of hardware, software and services, all under Apple’s flag, where citizens can expect their data to remain their own.

    Two of the company’s most significant recent releases are Apple Arcade, a subscription gaming service for iOS devices, and Apple TV , a Netflix competitor. Executives such as Eddy Cue and Jennifer Bailey, both of whom work on the services side of the company, are now regarded to be as influential as the departing Ive once was. Much like China, Apple is shifting from being a manufacturing economy to a service-based one.

    Jennifer Bailey, one of the people leading Apple into the realm of services

    At the same time, Cook is doubling down on privacy and security as a differentiator from his competitors. That shift was most obvious in 2015, when the company refused to assist the FBI in unlocking the iPhone of one of the San Bernardino terrorists. It is clear, too, in the company’s latest advertisements, which are created across an in-house team and a dedicated set of people at the external agency TBWA. “These are private things. Personal things,” says one recent video promoting the iPhone and its data protections. “And they should belong to you. Simple as that.”

    There is a sense of necessity, even of wisdom, about these shifts. After all, consumers have become less willing to pay out for iteratively improved phones, so new ways of making money from the phones they already have must be found. The idea is to expand the Apple ecosystem so far that consumers never need to – or never can – leave it.

    But this is undeniably risky terrain for Apple and Cook. The economics of services, and particularly of content creation, are very different from those of hardware. This was demonstrated by the almost simultaneous launches of Apple TV and its competitor service Disney in late 2019. Apple spent a lot of money on its shows, hiring famous actors and filmmakers, but the critical and popular reception has been lukewarm at best. Disney, having spent no less money, was also able to call upon a wide range of old favourites and newer franchises, such as The Simpsons, Star Wars and Marvel’s cinematic universe – and is succeeding accordingly.

    Apple’s traditional approach has been to make products that feel distinctively Apple and that are, at least in part, desirable because of that. But distinctiveness and desirability are harder to pin down when it comes to the shows that are being made for Apple TV . What can Apple do that Netflix or the BBC cannot? Can it be different, or, for the first time, will it just be the same?

    “I honestly don’t know how they will distinguish themselves from Netflix,” one studio executive told us. “When Apple TV was launched, it was surprisingly light on content. There was no archive, no back catalogue.”

    And there are other risks facing Apple, many of which are of Cook’s own making. Its emphasis on privacy, while laudable, lays it open to the charge of hypocrisy: third-party iPhone apps have already been found spreading data in ways that contravene Apple’s declared ideals. Meanwhile, its main manufacturing base is a country – yes, China – that has become the frontline in an ongoing trade war, and a war over free speech and censorship.

    In China, too, Apple is being outpaced by companies like Huawei – and this has an effect on its bottom line. Although Apple’s sales revenues are still monumental, at $260 billion in the year ending September 2019, they are lower than those achieved in the previous year.

    When Apple was founded, it was a riposte to the dominant, mainframe thinking of the grand dame of American computing, IBM. But now, over 40 years later, it is a titan itself; it can no longer rely on or represent the shock of the new. Life in Cook’s empire is certainly more prosperous now, but it is also less certain. Behind that futuristic-looking ring in Cupertino is the biggest secret of all: this is a company in the grip of a mid-life crisis.

    Credits

    Reporters: Peter Hoskin and Alexi Mostrous

    Editors: Basia Cummings, David Taylor, James Harding

    Graphics and design: Chris Newell

    Additional research: Ella Hollowood

    Picture editor: Jon Jones

    All pictures: Getty Images

    designers-and-statisticians-disagree-on-what-makes-a-good-infographic

    The field of data visualization has become a tussle between accuracy and beauty. In one corner, designers say that data is fungible as long as the presentation is eye-catching. In the other corner, statisticians argue that clarity should rarely be sacrificed in the name of novelty or entertainment.

    The latest AIGA Design Census is a vivid illustration of this skirmish. Published by the oldest and largest professional design organization in the US, the report—based on an industry survey—contains some valuable insights about the country’s creative sector, but some argue that the findings are obscured by the report’s “very bad” data visualization.

    Consider this chart from the report denoting the years of experience of 9,000 respondents.

    Accurat

    The rows of bright yellow bubbles may be more interesting to look at—they really pop against the salmon-colored background—but it makes it difficult for readers to make comparisons between shapes. A simple bar graph, like we made below, better conveys the information.

    Quartz

    In a table showing work satisfaction versus type of benefit received, respondents are represented via clusters of dots that vaguely resemble bacteria in a petri dish. These organic forms are pretty but, again, statisticians would argue that simple bar graph would have been the most efficient visual.

    Accurat

    “The emphasis is not on how to communicate data as clearly as possible but on a kind of visual cuteness,” observes Stephen Few, a data visualization expert and author of the book Show Me the Numbers: Designing Tables and Graphs to Enlighten, after reviewing the report. “Many charts in this publication that ought to be the same kind of graph are displayed in different ways for the sake of variety.”

    Antony Unwin, professor of computational statistics and data analysis at the University of Augsburg says, “it’s very disappointing. I would expect something better from such an august body.” Asked how he might fix some of the more perplexing graphics, Unwin decries, “there’s nothing I can ask them because we’re on different planets.”

    Accurat, the design firm that developed the graphs for the AIGA Design Census, says that its concern is winning the audience’s attention—even to the point of initially puzzling them. “I feel there’s a value in creating a dynamic presentation of data because capturing the attention of the audience is as important as communicating the data properly,” explains Gabriele Rossi, Accurat’s co-founder.

    With offices in Milan and New York, Accurat takes the stylistic component of information design to point that one of its cofounder’s work has been featured in a fashion line.

    Though Accurat also produces fairly straightforward graphics for clients such as IBM, Deloitte, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Rossi characterizes the AIGA industry report as more of a marketing document aimed at designers. There’s an underlying assumption about this approach: it suggests that designers need to be entertained in order to be informed.

    Two takes on data visualization

    The fundamental disagreement between designers and statisticians isn’t rare, nor is it new. In 2012, Unwin and fellow statistician Andrew Gelman wrote a paper that defined the issue:

    Outside of statistics, infographics is huge, but their purveyors and enthusiasts appear largely to be uninterested in statistical principles… We worry that designers of non-statistical data graphics are not so focused on conveying information and that the very beauty of many professionally-produced images may, paradoxically, stand in the way of better understanding of data in many situations.

    Rossi of Accurat tells Quartz the difference in approach is a result of having different communication goals. If statisticians see data visualization as the pursuit of the clearest and most correct translation of numerical data into graphical form, designers understand that a chart can at times be a tool in a bigger marketing or branding scheme. It’s essentially the difference between a court transcription and an interpretative dance.

    “We needed to get traction on social media,” explains Ross. “Will you really share 10 images on Instagram if they all look the same? If you do, it’s probably not going to be a very savvy social media strategy.”

    Like other forms of graphic design, experimenting with fonts, shapes, and grids is a way of avoiding visual fatigue, Rossi says. “For theater posters for instance, of course black and Helvetica [font] on white background will always be readable but would you notice it on a subway? In the same way, would you notice a plain and proper bar chart with very grid lines in place, as academics recommend it?”

    Not all untraditional charts are ineffective. One such example in the AIGA Design Census is a chart showing the distribution of time at respondents’ current job for different types of employment. Data viz researchers might scoff at the chart’s missing y-axis and would prescribe bars over curved shapes. Still, it is beautiful and clearly shows that self-employed workers tend to stay in their position longer than those who work for a company.

    Accurat

    Statisticians believe that data visualization is about communicating information efficiently. If done right, readers can quickly perceive patterns and relationships in graphical format that would be more difficult to explain through text. In reality, it’s often more complicated than that—especially in today’s attention economy. To keep a reader’s interest, visualizers not only have to think of conveying information succinctly, they have to conjure a way to make it visually appealing and exciting. Bar charts and line charts, though effective, are boring to some people.

    Influential information designer Nigel Holmes grappled with this tension when he introduced a new approach to graphics for TIME magazine in the 1970s. Working under art director Walter Bernard, he created bar graphs on horseback, droopy charts on hospital beds, and many other goofy graphs that purists like Yale University information design pioneer Edward Tufte, might call “chartjunk.”

    Mag Men / Columbia University Press

    Over the top? Nigel Holmes’s graph for TIME Magazine, 1979.

    In the new book Mag Men: Fifty Years of Making Magazines (Columbia University Press), Holmes describes toeing the line:

    From time to time I overstepped the mark and illustration got in the way of the numbers. All I wanted to do was help people become interested in the subject of the articles. I spent a lot of time talking to the writers, who helpfully fed me metaphors that I could work into the charts. If I could get readers to smile, I was at least halfway to helping them understand.

    After a few years, I felt that perhaps some of the charts had gone too far, so I calmed the illustration down a bit. That led to another round of critical mail: ‘So now we are back to boring charts again?’ A funny thing: after many years of changes in style, I still get requests for the lighter touch I’d used at Time (I’m happy to oblige). The point is the same as it always was—to engage readers.

    Terrible charts in the wild

    Accurat’s sometimes befuddling graphs for the AIGA Design Census are a minor event compared to the “bad charts” that have become a mainstay of business communication.

    A classic example of an inefficient, but well-loved, graphic is the world cloud. A world cloud is a cluster of words associated with a key concept, with the most frequently used words rendered in a larger font size and displayed close to the center of the graphic. Data experts agree that this is a horrible way to convey frequency.

    Salesforce

    An example of a word cloud used on Salesforce’s blog.

    Yet data visualizers are often asked to make word clouds to summarize a politician’s speech or a company’s report. Why do otherwise brilliant writers and editors want such an ineffective chart? Because they think it looks cool, and it’s different. And if a word cloud gets someone to read a report or article they wouldn’t have otherwise, can we really call it ineffective?

    Another example is the pie chart. Reviled by serious data experts, a 1984 study outlined how people tend to underestimate the size of acute angles (90°).  But pie charts persist because people like circles more than rectangles.

    Quartz

    Bad pie.

    There is a large body of scientific research literature on the most effective types of charts vis-a-vis the information. This research suggests that people are better able to compare differences in length than differences in area, and can more accurately assess the area of a square better than the area of a circle. Nearly every statistician would recommend a bar chart over a pie chart. But even experts who know this basic rule, like Accurat, will often ignore it—and it can be a good choice.

    An interactive visualization of Barack Obama’s 2013 budget proposal in the New York Times, for instance, is informative and playful. There are aspects of this visualization that don’t follow the rules, particularly the use of circles rather than distance to convey differences in spending amounts.

    These examples demonstrate the fundamental conflict in  data visualization: Finding a balance between ingenuity and comprehension; visual acrobatics and accuracy.

    Sticking points

    The irony that a design organization like AIGA would publish a report with methodologically “poor” data visualization isn’t lost on critics. After all, graphic designers are often tasked with creating graphics for reports, publications, and presentations.

    Few, the author of Show Me the Numbers, argues that there’s something greater at stake when such lapses go unchecked. “This is a publication from an organization that ought to understand this stuff, right? You would expect them to be leaders in this field to some degree,” he says. “This kind of publication just gives designers permission to continue doing it poorly.” Few suggests that we might see an overall improvement in charts if graphic designers involved in making charts studied some basic statistics and statisticians, in turn, learned design principles for better-looking graphs.

    Accurat’s Rossi, for his part, underscores the different pressures that plague professional designers compared with academics. He admits that his firm could’ve done a different job with AIGA’s graphs had they been given more resources. “It’s just that you also have to imagine that this is a non-profit project than we did in our spare time, with a fourth of the budget,” he says. Rossi also mentions that he had to work with creative parameters from Google Design, which co-sponsored the project with AIGA. “As professionals, we need to do in two days what an academic researcher might do in two years,” he says.

    For Few, among the the most egregious aspects of the AIGA Design Census visualization strategy is that readers are compelled to figure out how to read every chart. Variety, in this case, becomes a stumbling block. “If you use various types of graphs to show exactly the same thing, you are forcing people to have to relearn how to read the graph every time they come to a new one,” Few points out. “There’s no reason to put people through that learning curve when they’re reading a report.”

    But Rossi says this, in fact, is by design. “We stimulate curiosity by asking the reader to figure out how the chart works,” he says.

    In many ways, the fundamental disagreement between statisticians and designers reflects a shift in thinking about what constitutes good design. There was a time when the universal goal was to create seamless flow. Designers were charged with eliminating all obstacles, anticipating the mindset of users along the way. In the popular design reader, The Design of Everyday Things, design guru Don Norman writes that “when the point of contact between the product and the people becomes a point of friction, then the industrial designer has failed.”

    In recent years, user-experience experts have begun to change their tune. They realized that a seamless flow of information and tasks results in passive, unmindful customers. Accurat’s  intentionally imperfect chart-making underscores the importance of friction to invite participation, curiosity, and engagement—for better or worse.

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    debunking-the-myths-of-white-hat-seo

    SEO or Search Engine Optimization is rewarded as a technique to make a website popular on the internet. So, why you need to make a website popular? Well, there is no use of having a website that hardly receives any visitors. When you have a website, you should be looking forward to welcoming more visitors. Now, different sorts of websites are there. There are websites to feature personal opinions, tips for readers, reviews on products, and general information based web platforms. There are certain websites which intend to sell products or services. Any website would love to enjoy popularity and increasing counts of web visitors. For that reason, one needs to opt for search engine optimization.

    White Hat and Black Hat SEO

    When it comes to search engine optimization, different webmasters have different kinds of techniques to feature. Traditionally, it is said that ethical methods for search engine optimization should be followed. Now, what are the ethical methods? Generally, it is perceived that when a campaign follows the Google guidelines, it remains ethical with the business marketing process. Such type of SEO is known as white hat SEO. When webmasters follow unethical ways to promote a website, it is generally known as black hat SEO. So, most of the business marketing expert would like to avoid black hat SEO.

    Why White Hat SEO May Not Be Effective?

    Every SEO campaign should be judged by its effectiveness. It is important to go for ethical business marketing, but there is no use of marketing if it is not fetching you any significant result. So, conventional white hat SEO would not be enough to fetch excellent result. You need to opt for creative search engine optimization techniques which can fetch the right results for your online-based business. The ultimate aim should be getting more visitors, and that can only enhance possible business revenue. More visitors mean more potential buyers. So, your business will start earning higher revenue with an increased number of visitors on the website.

    1. Breaking the Stereotype Is Important

    When you follow white hat techniques too religiously, you actually miss out a key thing, and that is nothing but creativity. In business marketing, creativity has been regarded as the key driving force. Creative advertisements always clinch the attention of potential buyers. So, mixing creativity with an SEO campaign is absolutely important to make the whole campaign more attention-grabbing. When white hat SEO techniques are followed, webmasters follow only a few techniques repeatedly. There will be no creativity. If you want to draw the attention of others, you need to break the stereotype. You need to explore unique methods to make your business popular through a search engine. So, the conventional white hat SEO campaign often does not fetch the desired result due to lack of creativity.

    1. White Hat Comes with No Short Term Plans

    Business marketing or SEO experts, who use to follow white hat SEO, would often opine that this is long term business marketing plan. This is surely true, as white SEO campaign has been rolled out to gain a result in the long run. But what should you do for short term business marketing? White hat followers would often say that short term SEO is black hat SEO. In reality, it is not unethical or black hat. Every business has to follow the short term model to gain popularity. So, along with the long term plan, there should also be short term plans for business marketing. This is why following white hat blindly would not fetch any profit in the short term. To gain short term results, you need to focus beyond white hat techniques. You need to try creative techniques for better SEO campaign result.

    1. Black Hat SEO Is Not Hacking

    There is no doubt that a few black hat techniques are completely unethical and they would fetch dire consequence for your website. Google will ban your website if it finds that you had indulged in black hat techniques. For example, hacking competitors or other websites to gain business marketing leads for your business is surely unethical. But, it needs to be reminded that black hat is not all about hacking. There are a few things that can be used for fetching good business marketing result. Trying something different from the guidelines of Google is absolutely essential to fetch better business marketing result.

    1. Google Guideline Is Not the Ultimate Thing

    Though following Google guidelines is highly recommended to the SEO experts or business marketing campaigners, you need to find something beyond those guidelines. Those guidelines are just guidelines, not rules. White hat experts often take Google guidelines as rules, and they hardly think anything beyond that. So, it becomes difficult to beat rivals. To beat your rivals, you need to follow some creative and unique business marketing techniques as well as tactics. This will eventually help you to gain formidable success with your SEO campaign.

    1. Myth: Only White Hat Can Generate Value

    Today, it is a myth that only white hat SEO techniques can generate value for your online business. You shall eventually find that methods beyond white hat SEO can also generate value. In fact, you would not be able to create value with simple white hat SEO techniques. You need to think beyond the white hat techniques to fetch more values. This is why you need to follow the creative ideas for business marketing success.

    1. Anything beyond Google Guidelines Is Not Unethical

    Business owners and webmasters have to understand that anything beyond Google’s guidelines is not unethical. Creativity has no limits, but you need to follow some ethical techniques or ideas. You should not try to outsmart Google, as the algorithm of Google is smarter than you. You should focus on creative ideas beyond the conventional ideas for a business marketing campaign with SEO techniques.

    Overall, it needs to be stated that SEO has to be ethical, and there should be a perfect balance between different SEO techniques or methods. You need to come out of the idea of white hat SEO. Maybe it is the high time to change your hat! Get in touch with New York SEO to know accurate details of White Hat SEO.

    4-of-this-year’s-must-know-typography-trends

    According to a popular graphic design YouTube account, 2020 is going to see innovation and modernisation in typography, bringing it hurtling into the new decade (for our pick of the best fonts on a budget, see our free fonts post).

    Tom Satori, a designer with almost a decade of experience, has put together a handy video explaining the typography trends of 2020, including how to use them and pitfalls to watch out for. You can watch it below, or read on for a quick summary of the font stylings to put to use in the coming year. 

    01. Bold and heavy fonts

    Bold fonts

    (Image credit: Satori Graphics)

    Satori advises that the first typography trend will be to go big and bold. “The heavy use of typography can act as a focal point and draw in a viewer as a visual starting point on your design,” he says.

    He mentions that it’s important to choose the right font family and suggests you adhere to two rules. First, keep the heavy fonts to just a short phrase or a few words or you risk overcrowding, and secondly, contrast the heavy typography with thinner fonts, as it makes the overall design more visually appealing. 

    02. Typography to create shapes

    Shaped fonts

    (Image credit: Satori Graphics)

    Using typography to create 2D and 3D shapes is about to kick off in graphic design. Satori stresses that it’s important to make sure that use of shape fits the design brief, and isn’t a random choice that just drops a shape into your design without a reason or “just because it looks cool”. 

    And don’t just focus on the use of shape. “Make sure you adhere to other design principles while incorporating this trend,” he says. “So use things like balance, focal points, contrast and so forth.”

    03. Maxi typography

    Maxi typography

    (Image credit: Satori Graphics)

    The maxi trend, which began in 2019, is all about attention seeking. “Maxi is the use of typography that is so bold and heavy that it sometimes bleeds off the page, and it really takes centre-stage as a focal point,” says Satori.

    You can create intrigue and interest with the font becoming obscured by other parts of the design, Satori suggests, and it’s important to remember that the maxi typography should always be flat – with zero gradient and no 3D elements. 

    04. Semi-transparent use of text over design

    Semi-transparent text

    (Image credit: Satori Graphics)

    A good choice for busy designs, semi-transparent text works to blend the composition. “It’s a nice way to tie everything together and, again, a choice of bold font here is a good move,” says Satori. 

    Satori rounds off the video with a quiz to help cement your new knowledge. The video is a great continuation of the hottest typography trends from the end of last year. 

    You can check out more of the designer’s insights on his YouTube channel, Satori Graphics.

    Read more: 

    how-we-grew-and-lost-our-agency?s-dribbble-account-with-90,000-followers

    This sad story is telling you how we, Norde design agency, lost our team account which was one of the most popular on Dribbble.

    I used to work as a freelance designer for quite a long time, and almost all my growth, including the starting of an agency, was revolving around Dribbble. First of all, I want to mention that Dribbble is a unique community that allows any designer to make progress and be in demand, regardless of work experience, place of residence, language, background and education. I cannot imagine a designer who would not benefit from regular posting on Dribbble:

    • Want to test some design ideas or style? Show them in uncluttered and straightforward shots.
    • Want to gain more clients as a freelance designer? Post a lot of simple, exciting and clear works.
    • Want to improve a skill? Practice more in your shots and watch the dribbbler’s reaction.
    • Want to find a job as a designer in a promising US or European company? Create meaningful design concepts.
    • Want to find a job at an agency? Make sure you do diverse work and do a lot of work.
    • Want to sell your design products? Offer them in your shots.
    • Want to understand what your true value is? Dial your ego down and compare the reaction of how people rate your works with how they rate someone else’s shots.

    On the whole, Dribbble can be incredibly beneficial to any designer.

    You can often come across critical articles and individual opinions about the “dribbblization” of design, that is, about its movement towards primitivization and neglect of the end user. But for me, the community has always been a source of inspiration, and most importantly, it taught me to generate my own ideas in design.

    Whether we like it or not, design is a world of copying, borrowing and iterating and here like nowhere else we should value ingenious ideas and the people who can produce those ideas.

    I have defined Dribbble as a kind of “haute couture” design, not as a platform for portfolios where designers exhibit their current works but a home for exciting ideas and demonstration of designers potential.

    I am still hiring designers and illustrators and I find the best ones on Dribbble.

    I’m going to start from the very beginning — will tell you how I was becoming part of the Dribbble community. I am assuming that if you are reading this article, you must be a member of Dribbble community and very likely have gone through or maybe going through the same feelings.

    In the beginning, I started posting all my good works that had been accumulated for a long time. Here you go, Dribbble and Behance! So, I posted them. No effect. Whatsoever. No any ‘great work!’, ‘awesome!’ or even ‘I love it! Check out my works’. I was so mad. My designer ego huddled itself up in the darkest corner, and it hardly fitted in. It took my mind a lot to realise that some local success doesn’t give me any right to think that I can be demanded as a designer in a global market.

    The start of my grow on Dribbble coincided with my moving to London, so having got over my first failures, I decided to try again. I had to enter the global market; I couldn’t see any other way out: I didn’t want to work in an office, and the fact of living in London and working remotely with Russia seemed to be quite weird.

    I started to look carefully at other designers’ works that clients are interested in, and also I watched the growth dynamics of the authors of hot shots. I had mixed feelings, from bewilderment and indignation to admiration (the latter was a rare thing — remember my ego).

    I began to make feeble attempts to become part of this world, but it was excruciating to realise that I was not worth anything as a designer at 27.

    When I started seeing some results, when the audience began to grow very slowly, I could occasionally fall into apathy, because I believed that no effort or good work could make me popular or at least a little popular due to the fierce competition. But in fact, these are just the realities of the global market, and I lived in my comfortable little bubble and did not want to notice anything around.

    Starting on Dribbble was hard, long and complicated, it stretched for many months, and only a couple of years later I was ready to admit that all this was not in vain.

    The stage of sustained growth began; I grew as a designer, tried different approaches in design, tried to find my own style. Over time, I began to feel confident as a freelance designer from a financial point of view, as there was no shortage of work.

    Soon I began to delegate part of the work to fellow designers, illustrators and web-developers, and it became obvious for me that it is the time to move all my activities from freelance to a full-fledged business. It was a bit scary, but I saw the example of Haraldur Thorleifsson, whom Dribbble helped grow Ueno — one of the best agencies on the market today. This Haraldur’s article about his success on Dribbble inspired me to start Norde.

    Several months later, Norde began to grow fast, and most of my time was occupied not by design, but by the search and hiring designers. That was quite an odd feeling: I’m in the design industry but I’m much less dealing with design.

    By the way, there is one crucial observation that designers most likely do not know about Dribbble (unless you have gone through a sagnificant growth there): the best clients you can imagine come from Dribbble — the majority understands the design (apparently, they like yours) They are attentive to details, they know costs of a good quality design and how the design process should go and how long it takes.

    We worked seven days a week for a year, hired people and worked a lot with designers and illustrators on a contract basis. But even so, I tried to devote much time to our Dribbble account, producing new ideas and concepts for the community.

    We were successfully growing until last October when our account got suspended. It was the second and the final account suspension due to some complaints received against Norde. It took me a good deal of time to get the customer support reveal the details and sources of those complaints, but no luck. At some point, they just stopped replying to us. I tried to contact Dribbble’s CEO or founders, but no response. Nevertheless, we did not breach any rules of the community; the decision was private, outside the official rules. And we were not even refunded the fee for the Dribbble team account.

    I don’t want to blame Dribbble because the community gave me so much. Six months later, I recall that experience composedly, but at that moment I was overfilled with various emotions. It was excruciating to fire a few of our full-time designers and end contracts with some remote contractors. I was angry with Dribbble because the decision was one-sided; they didn’t give us any chance to appeal. I was hurt that for five years of my constant contributing to the community — hundreds of shots I worked on, the designers I campaigned to become active members on Dribbble, talks at conferences and meetups about the benefits of Dribbble — all that couldn’t give me any right to appeal to the decision and talk to someone from Dribbble.

    What you can see today is a dull grey profile to remind of us. Besides, Google Analytics still counts visits on Norde’s shots, and the number of daily views is over 3,000.

    I wrote this post for people who supported Norde and who asked us about what happened. Also, it is for designers and design agencies who can repeat our mistakes. I have learned some lessons from this experience and ready to share them with you:

    • Being different is essential.

      In a fast-paced and highly competitive world, you need to be very different from others, and you will be noticed. This very principle formed the basis of the Norde’s growth, and now I will follow it in everything: each aspect of work and life can be done a little differently.
    • Don’t put eggs in one basket.

      I was so much impressed by clients from Dribbble whom I could call like-minded people that I even didn’t pay attention to other sources of leads.
    • Don’t put eggs in one basket 2.

      Hard work on current projects didn’t allow us to raise our heads and think thoroughly about something other than design, or work on our own in-house products and think about something big — more significant than an agency.

    Five years of being an active member of Dribbble, five years of posting shots, promoting “designer’s freedom” via Dribbble. This stage of my life has ended. That is why I think I have enough knowledge and can frankly tell you about my growth on Dribbble, its mechanisms, many processes, including financial aspects for designers as well as for agencies. Let me know if you are interested in reading this.

    overcoming-imposter-syndrome-as-a-new-designer

    Recently, MongoDB held a design meetup that focused on imposter syndrome and, more importantly, how we deal with it as designers. I was asked to speak on behalf of my own experience and share advice for those who may also be in this headspace.

    Personally, I suffered massively from these feelings of self-doubt as I was just starting out in product design two years ago. While I can’t say it completely no longer affects me, I can say with confidence that it doesn’t bother me in the same magnitude nor as frequently as it used to. I hope the advice that I’ll be sharing helps those of you that are trying to overcome it yourselves.

    Illustration by Sidecar

    #1. Everyone starts off as a beginner. Don’t compare your timeline to someone else’s.

    Tying it back into the definition, imposter syndrome is simply another term for navigating your career as a beginner. It’s a psychological phenomenon that arises from an incorrect assessment of ones’ abilities compared to peers. The panic that comes from the feeling of not knowing enough, and the fear that others will find out if you don’t know.

    I’m sure this may be the case for those of you who are trying to transition into this industry or maybe those of you who are also in their first roles.

    Illustration by Udhaya Chandran

    For me, this hit home most when I was switching into design as a college senior in late 2017. After realizing I no longer was as passionate about a role in computing as I had originally thought, I decided to pursue product design when I was at the cusp of graduating university. At this time, many of my colleagues were deciding between multiple job offers to amazing companies, accepted into prestigious graduate schools, or were wrapping up their interview phases.

    For someone meticulous in planning various aspects of her future, I felt hopeless. I thought that after three years of college, those arduous semesters would amount to somewhat of a solid foundation for my career. However, the work experience I had accumulated until that point consisted of mostly software engineering internships. Additionally, I had no concrete plans after school and felt so massively behind those who had studied a design discipline in college.

    “Everyone starts off as a beginner. Don’t compare your timeline to someone else’s.”

    Illustration by Manoj Jadhav

    However, I knew that sulking about my situation was not going to get me anywhere. I accepted the fact that my timeline just happened to be a bit delayed than others. While some of my peers knew they wanted to be rocket scientists before they got to college, I just happened to find out what I wanted to do later. I was starting fresh and anew and I didn’t have to be so hard on myself. I just had to focus on what I could control — putting in the work.

    2. Keep learning and constantly create. Hold your standards high.

    Product design is a field that encapsulates many other disciplines of design: visual, information, interaction, graphic, and user experience. It’s a balance of and consideration between these different pillars that truly breeds a great designer. Not to mention, crafting thoughtful, intuitive designs is never a one-person job. Learning how to consider business needs and user needs with product managers, engineers, and stakeholders is imperative to crafting the best designs. Thus, there’s always a plethora of knowledge to learn and grow as you navigate your career.

    “By raising your standards, you’ll create a reputation for yourself and your projects.”

    Luckily, we live in a digital age where there are a ton of resources online. My personal favourites include the Muzli Chrome extension, where new design inspiration and news are shown whenever you open up a new Google Chrome tab; Medium, a platform where writers from some of the best design teams share their processes and practices; and Dribbble, where you can get inspired by some of the most beautiful interface and graphics by creators worldwide.

    Homepage of Dribbble

    Most days though, I gravitate towards a good-old fashioned book. Reading has always been a favourite pastime of mine and there are classics that all designers are recommended to read. To drop some names of recent books I’ve really loved, I’d recommend “Ruined By Design,” a novel that discusses designers’ responsibilities in our technology-ridden world and the importance of using our powers in the most respectable ways; “The Great Discontent,” a magazine series filled with interviews with individuals from a variety of creative disciplines, and “So Good They Can’t Ignore You,” which has inspired me to find happiness in the process of mastering my craft.

    Illustration by Ed Craddock

    Always strive to up your skills as a designer and to raise the bar for what you consider “good work.”

    3. Practice again and again. Trust the process (and handle rejections like a boss).

    This is one of my favourite quotes of all-time, probably because it’s held a lot of truth in my own journey. Advice and knowledge are most valuable when you take action.

    Illustration by Sidecar

    That senior year of college, I can’t remember the number of times I stayed up late to work on my portfolio. I remember cranking out mockups on Sketch until my hand cramped and thinking about how to solve mock interview prompts on my commutes home. I also applied to any designer openings I saw and cold-emailed designers I admired to ask for their time.

    “Luck is preparation meeting opportunity.”

    While it felt like my efforts had been going to dust in the early beginnings, I started to notice myself improve. I felt so much more comfortable communicating about my former projects and I was no longer felt clueless when a company sent over product design challenges for my applicant candidacies. Rejections still stung, but confidence was slowly emerging in the face of my dedication.

    During my job hunt, I kept a spreadsheet of all the companies I applied to. I’m pretty sure I still have it saved on my laptop at home. If I had to guess, there were probably close to 75 rejections; some companies didn’t even bother getting back to me on the status of my application.

    Illustration by Sevdenur Ozkan

    It wasn’t until six months later until I received my first offer: a summer product design internship at BuzzFeed. I still remember jumping up and down after the phone call I had with the hiring manager that day in March. It felt like a total dream and as though my hard work had finally paid off. A short two weeks afterwards, I received my second offer: a fall product design internship at Wish. Again, I was pinching myself and couldn’t believe that I was seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Although these two offers weren’t for full-time positions as I had intended, I was still massively ecstatic knowing that I was spearheaded in the right direction. If I had given up early on, I would’ve never seen the day where I landed amazing opportunities I only would have dreamed of having half a year earlier.

    4. Take full advantage of the opportunities around you. Everyone’s willing to help.

    Remember how I mentioned I had cold-emailed designers I admired to chat? I’d say about 70% of them usually responded within a week and agreed to hop on a video call. I’d listen to their own stories of their journeys as designers, ask for comments on my portfolio, and practice presentations with all of these wonderful people who offered their time. You will never know what kind of help you can receive if you never ask.

    After every session, I’d make revisions to my work and my interview skills got better and better. If it weren’t for these conversations, I don’t know if I would’ve gotten the necessary feedback I needed to improve in the right areas and land my internships, and ultimately my job here at MongoDB.

    “You will never know what kind of help you can receive if you never ask.”

    Illustration by Siyang

    At every internship I’ve had, I’ve also always tried to grab coffee with everyone I work with and those around the office. Learning about everyone else’s backgrounds and experiences not only helps build relationships, but it also teaches you so much about what they’ve learned and can share.

    5. Choose to work at a place with people that support and believe in you.

    The average person will spend 90,000 hours at work over a lifetime. Without a doubt, your coworkers are the people you’ll interact with the most out of the entire week and maybe the rest of your life. Make sure you choose to place yourself in an environment where you’re valued and lifted.

    I’m grateful to be surrounded by peers and mentors here at MongoDB that make me feel supported in all of my endeavours. I’ve gotten approval for proposed side projects in collaboration with different teams. I’ve had my own blog posts shared by others on LinkedIn. I’ve even gotten applause after a presentation at a design review meeting.

    “Make sure you choose to place yourself in an environment where you’re valued and lifted.”

    Illustration by Uran

    Small and big wins shared with the individuals around me are what make coming to work that much more enjoyable for me every day. Although I know it is a privilege to choose between different jobs or companies, if you have the choice, just make sure you champion the importance of who you get to work with.

    With that being said, I’d like to conclude this article with a question for you readers — what actions will you take to overcome your imposter syndrome?

    Special thanks to the rest of the design team who came out to support me at my first talk. Also, thanks to Sean, our VP of Design, who extended me the opportunity to give this talk, and Dan Zhu, who organized the event.

    “If you have the choice, just make sure you champion the importance of who you get to work with.”

    All opinions are my own, views are my own, opinions and any advice given here are my own and do not represent an official statement by my employer, etc.

    Originally posted on Michelle’s Medium page.

    how-many-types-of-x-acronym-are-there?-and-does-it-matter?

    One of the problems with coining a term like “user experience” or its acronym counterpart “UX” is that it opens up the floodgates for other trendy experience-related acronyms to enter the web design lexicon.

    CX, DX, EX, HX, JX, PX, UX, (U)XD…

    Is all of this really necessary though?

    While I don’t think you need to go adding EX or JX to your vocabulary anytime soon, it’s still a good idea to educate yourself on what these X acronyms mean and how to use them to your advantage in business.

    The X’s of Web Design and Marketing

    The two most common experience acronyms in web design and marketing are UX and CX. What you may be surprised to learn, however, is that the “X” in these acronyms doesn’t always stand for “experience” nor does it always pertain to the end customer.

    Let’s review what each of the X acronyms means and then we’ll talk about which ones you actually need to worry about and use.

    Customer Experience (CX)

    CX refers to the quality of interactions a customer has with a brand, from the very first encounter to their very last. As such, customer experience is the most important of all the X’s to monitor, measure, and maintain.

    Think about all of the places where the CX could go off the rails:

    • A broken form on the website dissuades them from trying to connect with a brand;
    • A support representative fails to respond in a timely fashion, leaving the user feeling helpless;
    • The customer makes a purchase every month for two years, but has noticed a degradation in quality over time.

    This is why it’s so important for businesses to have a game plan from Day 1 — especially one that ensures a consistent delivery of products and services throughout the lifetime of a customer relationship. Any misstep in CX could cost a brand a customer’s business and loyalty.

    Digital Transformation (DX)

    DX refers to a technological evolution within a company. Although it’s not a term you commonly hear thrown around, it’s happening around us all the time.

    If you’ve ever made a digital shift within your own business (say, from one OS to another or from a manual process to one that’s automated), you know what far-reaching effects it can have. Your time, money, and sometimes even your clients can be impacted by the change if you don’t prepare for it in advance.

    Imagine what happens when it’s not just a sole business owner or freelancer who’s affected by a digital transformation.

    Emotional Experience (EX)

    There are two ways in which “EX” may be used in design or marketing. This is one way.

    Think of emotional experience as a subset of user experience. Instead of focusing on developing a clear set of steps that take a user through their journey, EX design and marketing focus on the elements that evoke strong emotions: Powerful color palettes; Nostalgic images; Messages of urgency.

    Any time you build something with the intent of pulling on someone’s emotions, that’s emotional experience design — and it’s a really common thing we do today, even if we don’t all go referring to it as EX.

    Employee Experience (EX)

    This is the second use of EX you may encounter, though it’s not very likely unless you’re working in a digital agency environment. Even then, this is the kind of term that only corporate might use.

    While it might not be a commonplace phrase, the concept is a good one to flesh out, whether you work in a team atmosphere or you have aspirations of hiring your own team someday. All employee experience really refers to is how team members feel about and respond to a work environment and their organization as a whole.

    Essentially, EX is UX for an internal organization. And by researching what employees want, collecting feedback on how they feel, and reviewing data on their productivity and job satisfaction, co