When looking into information architecture for the first time, you learn to prefer the linear information access. This is what I told you in my article on the basics of the topic. Not all application cases are the same, though. Sometimes, a flexible information architecture is more optimal.The Human Error Source
Linear information architecture is a construction that only provides one predefined path to that leads to the goal. Users in linear systems do the work according to the given paths, which is the only way for them to get to the goal. This approach is not unappealing from the designer’s point of view.
Everyone who has anything to do with IT knows that the biggest problem sits right in front of the device. Thus, defusing the human error source as much as possible has been an established practice for decades. This works very well by leaving little wiggle room to the user.
If we only define a single path, the human can’t take a different one. This sounds plausible, and that’s just what it is. At least if the application case justifies the means.Flexible information architecture requires meticulous planning. (Photo: StartupStockPhotos)
This can be the case when it comes to setting up a cab ride via an app. Here, the system defines the location via GPS. The user enters the target location. The system searches for the closest driver and sends him to the user. At the end of the ride, the user pays via the system and leaves a rating. Flexibility would be completely out of place here, and the easy usage is one of the reasons for the success of these apps (aside from the prices, of course).
In less simple environments, an overly simple and linear information architecture really seems like unnecessary patronizing. Generally, users should always have the desired amount of freedom, as long as this personal desire makes sense given the application case.
Even if it does make sense, the non-linear information architecture remains an egg dance. The frustration potential increases with every possible path from A to B. And none of us want frustrated users.Ways to More Flexibility
One way of breaking up the stiff, linear process could be user differentiation: are we dealing with a technologically competent, an inexperienced, or even a power user of our services?
In the latter case, we could definitely loosen the leash, and grant our loyal user more freedom. On the psychological level, this approach should increase the loyalty even further. A newbie, on the other hand, will be happy to have lots of support.Flexible information architecture is a proof of trust for the users. (Photo: StartupStockPhotos)
Another way could be differentiating by tasks: if your website and app allow users to do multiple tasks, divide them by their level of complexity. Take a linear approach for difficult tasks and a non-linear approach for less complex ones.
It could also make sense to give users more room for decision making within a more complex task. This way, the users decide where their path takes them. This also supports the feeling of autonomy.
The non-linear design is not only limited to these relatively large processes, though. The difference can also be made with details. Give your users different option to get from A to B – by adding a back button, for example, allowing them to go back a step or page, while simultaneously supporting the respective swipe gesture under iOS.Make Everything as Simple as Possible, But Not Simpler
It is important to make sure that the different options don’t pose hazards for each other, or even contradict each other. All different paths have to feel completely natural.
Critics of the established user guidance say that a lot of these cases are examples for a phenomenon that Einstein once warned us of when he said: “make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler.” If we actually over-simplified something, we’d have to expect negative consequences at some point.
If your visitor or user statistics suggest an involvement decline, you should take a critical look at your information architecture.
(The article was originally written in the German language for our sister magazine Dr. Web Magazin and has been translated to enlighten our English language community here at Noupe.)
Websites are like people. The birth is where the decay begins. Just like yourself, you can keep your website in good nick. This takes good care. Find out how exactly that’s supposed to look like here.
In the beginning, it’s a feeling of being in love. The world is beautiful, the flowers are blooming, the air is pleasantly balmy. Your own website is live, and it looks fantastic.
After all, that’s the most important thing, right?During spring, (a developer’s) life is simple. (Photo: Pixabay)
I know this feeling. I’ve been working with media since 1994. Small and large projects are scattered on my path. I still take care of some of them today, while I have dropped some, and had to drop some. However, the hardest projects have always been the one that I had to – or let’s say – was allowed to take over.
These include some large projects that looked to be in great shape in the beginning. Upon closer investigation, it was obvious that the opposite was the case.The Most Common Projects of Twenty Years of Experience
Yes, a project can soot like an old chimney, or calcify like the deep cervical artery of a smoker. It’s an equally creeping process, with equally drastic potential consequences.
In the following, I’ll introduce you to what are by far the most common problems that I’ve encountered over the past 20 years, all the way until this day.
Problem #1: Abandoned Content and Data Junk
By far the biggest problem is the sheer size of the projects. Organically grown websites contain very scattered branching in the folder structure, and a massive amount of dead files. The problem is that it’s not easy to tell what’s still needed, and what can be deleted.Can I throw this away? In this example image, the answer is clear. (Photo: Pixabay)
Barely any client is willing to pay for the proper, and very elaborate analysis of this question. Thus, you maneuver yourself through data junk and inscrutable structures that you ignore, hoping that you ignore them with good reason.
Problem #2: 404 Errors
Wherever there’s too much data, there’s a lack of data in another place. Who’s supposed to keep an eye on all the formerly active sites, and remove them if necessary? Let’s not do that, it costs money.
Even if there are no real 404s, you’ll always find broken links – basically 404 on detours. At some point, someone decided that content XY is no longer needed, and removed it. He didn’t consider the fact that this content was linked to the pages A, Q, and Y, though.
In some cases, there are small issues regarding .htaccess and mod-rewrite. In other cases, you actually need to manually remove weak spots.
Simply ignoring it is no option, as the problem affects the ranking, and decreases the site’s visibility. Additionally, visitors could easily stumble across these mistakes – especially when coming from a Google search result page. I guess you can imagine how trustworthy this makes you seem.
Problem #3: Defective External Links
In a project that I took over, I found close to 72,000 external links. Can you imagine my level of excitement?
You shouldn’t ignore this problem either. The Google rank suffers heavily from defective external links. No matter how much effort you put into your SEO: if you don’t fix broken external links, you’ll destroy everything you just built.No link holds forever. (Photo: Pixabay)
Additionally, linking sites that don’t exist (anymore) is not a sign of high-quality content. The possible loss of trust is hard to measure, but not neglectable either.
Probleme #4 and #5: Unclear Code Blocks and Outdated Functions
I’m wording this a bit vague on purpose. To me, unclear code blocks are snippets of any kind in all parts of a website.
Especially under WordPress, we commonly encounter sites that don’t work properly, even though they should work at a glance. I’ve spent days searching for the responsible code snippet that some developer has implemented years ago, wherever the solution was the easiest to accomplish. Coding standards? What’s that?
In this context, I often find outdated functions from earlier language versions – especially PHP -, which you certainly wouldn’t use anymore.
Problem #6: Content Management Systems and Blends of Different Platforms
There are content management systems that you can’t update just because there’s a new update. And even with CMS’ where this is possible, you don’t know if you should actually do that. You never know if, and to what extent, previous technological caretakers have tampered with the core. Until a few years ago, this was pretty much a standard thing to do.CMS gone wild: when clear structures turn into a maze. (Photo: Pixabay)
Content management systems set up by so-called web developers, which basically have no idea of these systems, are just as bad. In the worst case, you won’t even find the structure that the CMS originally defines.
Things get even worse when the entire nomenclature was ignored. At this point, any update can be the sudden death of the website. Likelihood? Over 100 percent. This happened to me a few years ago, using a Contao installation.
Another thing I can’t get enough of are blends of CMS and non-CMS. For instance, the page operator wanted to add a database query, but the previous web developer didn’t know how to do that with the given CMS. Thus, he simply flange-mounted an HTML site connected to an external MySQL database that delivers the desired information. If you’re lucky, you’ve noticed this before handing in your offer – I doubt it.
Problem #7: Technological Principle Decisions of the Year Dot
They still exist today: sites that don’t work on mobile devices. Even worse: sites that will never work on mobile devices.
In the year 2000, on the Internet World fair in Berlin, I looked into barrier-free web design for the first time. Even back then, the approach relied on future web standards, allowing sites to be designed more or less independently from the display device. Sure, that was a lot of work. And barely anyone was willing to put in that much work (and even less were willing to pay for it).Designer, don’t go through the wrong door. (Photo: Pixabay)
Those still sitting on a site that can’t be mobilized have missed out on all trends for a very long time. However, these slugabeds do exist – and they even operate large projects.
Another project I took over years ago fully relied on Flash. Even back then, building everything on Flash wasn’t necessary. The service provider was trying to become indispensable in the long run – and he succeeded. The client only contacted me once the Flash agency was shut down. Luckily, it was rather easy to convince the client that he had to let go of his website.How to Avoid These Problems
The best advice I can give you, regarding the future of your web projects, is the following:
Never rely on the newest, neatest horse, but stick to established standards. Of course, a certain foresight into the future should still be given. The future of our branch is pretty easy to tell.
Proprietary solutions are never the right path. With large providers of proprietary solutions, strategy changes will ruin your business before you can say deoxyribonucleic acid.
Another piece of advice:
He Who Writes, Remains!
It doesn’t hurt to take care of a meticulous documentation of your web project. What is used where, why and how? Which conventions apply, and what for? If there’s a corporate identity, it has to become the design guideline.Writing has never hurt anyone. (Photo: Pixabay)
Updates should be documented, especially if there were problems. Which problems occured, and how were they fixed? You’d be surprised if you knew how much this could help you in the distant future.
Generally, I have to recommend:
Keep it rolling!
404, broken internal links, and non-existent external links don’t turn into problems if you document every change to your site, and pay attention to the side effects and interactions. Ten errors are quickly fixed during operation. Once 10,000 errors have accumulated, things get tough.Website fitness takes effort, but no vitamins. (Photo: Pixabay)
You should also stay up to date regarding coding standards. On one hand, you have to be aware of which functions are considered outdated, and have to be replaced, on the other hand, you have to pay attention to basic standards like the separation of form and function.
Although this may seem like a detour right now, you’ll be happy about it if you ever end up in that situation. And the person that will be allowed to take over your project will be especially thankful.The Client Problem and the MVP
The biggest difficulty when realizing the approach described above is the person you know as the client. The client still mistakenly considers his website an investment. From this point of view, a website is an asset that is created and written off from that point onwards. Every five years, fresh money is invested for an extensive redesign, which often results in the complete destruction of the previous website.
One of the most important consultation services of our branch is the removal of this false perception. From the very beginning, you have to make sure not to sell the website as a work of art, but as a means of communication that requires constant care.
Thus, I always tie a care offer to the offer of the initial creation cost. I don’t always offer it, but I do so increasingly more often. You could also print a copy of this article, and enclose it with the offer. The average customer is not malicious, just poorly informed.
It could be helpful to write your creation offer in a way that your delivery consists of an MVP, a Minimum Viable Product. This approach, which is gaining popularity by the way, assumes that the first version of a website, an app, or any other software, is a version that fulfills the basic requirements of the target audience, but nothing more than that.
The product is just viable enough. The feedback from the application’s target audience is then used to add to and improve the product. This lowers the initial costs, prevents errors, and is a great way of permanently staying in business.
If a website is designed and taken care of like this, it doesn’t have to be thrown out the window every five years, as it continuously evolves over the years. This prevents the need for an extensive redesign to come up in the first place. In the ideal case, the effort for the customer does not increase. It is just spread more evenly. This is good for him and very good for you.
Intuitive web design does not mean that you as a designer should be able to whip up a website without any thought being required. Intuitive web design is to be viewed from the user perspective. If the user does not have to think while using your website, its design is intuitive.Intuitive Web Design is Not a New Specialist Discipline
Keep calm. The term intuitive web design does not include anything that you haven’t heard before in some form or another. It’s more of a perspective, a focus, that you put on a certain aspect of the user experience. Basically, it’s about the removal or prevention of hazards on your way to a successful website.
You know how it goes: for some reason, you make your way to website XYZ via Google, and you can’t even tell what this site is about. If you’re not very resilient, you’ll immediately leave the site. I’ve even gotten into the habit of consistently doing this, although I am pretty resilient.
In 2011, Nielsen realized that visitors give a website a mere maximum of 10 to 20 seconds to convince them that they’re in the right spot. If you succeed, however, your visitors will stay for much longer. In that case, we’re not looking at a few seconds, but rather at a couple of minutes, up to double-digits. If you fail, your visitors are gone, and unlikely to return.In today’s web, you don’t have as much time as this hourglass would leave you with. (Photo: Pixabay)
Logically, you’ll want to be successful. You have to convince your users that it is worth spending more than 20 seconds on your website.
The methods we use to do so can be summarized as “intuitive web design”.
Before getting deeper into the topic, you should get to know the expectations of your potential visitors. The web does not have a good reputation all over the population. I’m sure you know dialogues like this one:
“Where did you get that from?” “I read it online.” “Oh, on the internet, well…”
The average surfer takes a skeptical approach. Intrusive ads, and the many dangers of pishing, as well as the distribution of malware, have turned the web into what feels like a dangerous place. The basic attitude is negative. The surfer expects to be scammed or harmed wherever he goes.Who knows what lies in the depths of the web. (Photo: Pixabay)
This is a basic attitude that heavily differs from the attitude of a potential customer walking into a store in the pedestrian area. Here, the building itself, the visible investment threshold, conveys a certain amount of trust. Page operators can only gain this basic trust to a limited extent. All websites look the same anyways. Your shop might be based on a free theme from Bangladesh…
Either way, you have to get over this negative prejudice. Unfortunately, you can’t remove this attitude in the first few steps. Thus, your website has to be designed like an open gate, with no hidden hardships inside.6 Tips for Intuitive Web Design
The basis of our thoughts regarding intuitive web design should be designing pages in a way that leaves none, or at least very few hazards in the path of visitors. This goal is easily achieved with the six following, rather simple measures.
Tip 1: Provide What You Promise
Your visitor enters your site with a critical stance, but also with certain expectations. You’ve probably triggered these expectations with your keyword choices, and maybe, you weren’t completely truthful. Have you promised a bit more than you can offer?
I can understand that you’d try to lure as many people onto your site as possible. Once they’re here, we can still filter them. And maybe, they like what they see, even if it is not exactly what they were looking for.
That doesn’t sound completely implausible. However, the problem is that it doesn’t work. Because, as Nielsen has proven, people lack both the patience and the will to be convinced by a seemingly unsuitable website.
The first element when creating an intuitive website is SEO that makes sure that your website delivers what the search result pages promise to. Any other approach means you lose the trust of your potential visitors before they could even give it to you.
Tip 2: Make it Very Clear What Your Website is About
Listen to the marketing people when they talk about the importance of the call to action. They are right. You want your visitors to do certain things. So, don’t make them guess what you want them to do, but put your website’s goal into the foreground.Got it, that’s the way. But where does it go? (Photo: Pixabay)
The erotic store around the corner doesn’t have coffee machines in the shop window either, and won’t surprise you with the actual offer upon entering.
Tip 3: Be Predictable
Intuitive controls are partially based on the simplicity of the process, but also based on sticking to an established convention when it comes to the design. Now, what exactly we should consider established conventions varies. Take a look at the best practices of your branch, and stick to those.
Your visitors want a unique user experience. However, that shouldn’t include having to take extraordinary paths to get to the result. Instead, you should make sure that they can quickly get to their goal without reading a manual. Thus, use traditional approaches rather than brand new innovations when it comes to the navigation and user guidance.You could argue that finding the way was an intellectual challenge. This won’t win you any clients, though. (Image Source: Pixabay)
If you were to go to a toilet somewhere you’ve never been before, and there was a room without light switches, faucets, or a flushing toiled, would you be happy, even if it looked futuristic?
Something similar happened to me last summer, in the restaurant of an Italian mountain village. I went to the toilet and was about to wash my hands at the tap. No faucets, no sensors, nothing. After a while, I found a foot-operated switch on the floor. Did the solution do its job? Yes. But, was I impressed?
You know the answer. Don’t make the same mistake on your website.
Tip 4: Don’t Build Unnecessary Interactions
The former RTL boss Helmut Thoma once made a provoking but fitting statement: “The only interaction today’s TV viewers want is the one with their fridge.” And, even if it sounds harsh for us web workers, it still holds true today.
The attempt to impress visitors with neat, technological toys will fail. The attempt to turn visitors into customers via social media or gaming components will fail as well. Although I’ll happily admit that the latter statement may very well turn into a false statement in the next few years. We’re living in an age of fast transformation, after all.
Now, don’t confuse the term “unnecessary interaction” with the term “micro interaction”. Just recently, I advised you to make heavy use of the latter, as they can make the difference between two equal solutions for the same application case.
A good micro interaction could be a purchase button, which turns green upon clicking or tapping it, reanimating a confirmation checkmark. This would tell the client that he hit the button and that the ordering process was successful. However, and I’ve already seen this myself, it would be unnecessary for the purchase button to literally fly into the shopping cart icon, making it rotate. You know what I mean…
Tip 5: Be Minimalistic, and as Device-Independent as Possible
Essentially, the goal is to keep your website as slim as possible. You don’t want to blast your visitor with all information possible, but rather focus on the essential information.
Since the number of those purely surfing on mobile has exceeded the number of users purely surfing via desktop computer, responsive design, which is a layout that adjusts to the respective device, is no longer a question of preference. The next evolutionary step of responsive design could be the increasingly more popular, and increasingly better supported progressive web apps.
This is intuitive web design as well.
Tip 6: Don’t Demand Unnecessary Information
If you run a digital paid service and offer a free trial to your potential customers where you want to convince them of the product in a non-binding fashion, you’re already doing a better job than the competitor that only offers a personal presentation upon request and with a fixed date.
However, your offer only becomes really good once you even avoid hazards here, and don’t ask your potential customer to enter a valid method of payment at the beginning of the testing period. You’ll see that the number of people deciding on a truly nonbinding test is much higher than any other method could ever get you.
The new EU General Data Protection Regulation, which comes into full effect on the 25th of May 2018, will motivate you in that regard as it is. Because if there’s one thing to take away from the GDPR, it’s the aspect of data economy. This means that, in the future, you can only demand data from interested users that is needed for the respective data processing.
An example: What do you need to send an e-book to a potential client? Exactly, an email address, but that’s it. Sure, a lead is hard to generate from this, but this is a very different topic. Just think of something better.Conclusion: Intuitive Design is Simply Simple
If your web design doesn’t contain any hazards, thresholds, or intricacies that make it unnecessarily hard to get to a result, you’ve already done a lot right from the perspective of intuition. You have to consider that every unnecessary hazard can lead to double-digit losses in terms of percentage. We’re not talking peanuts here.
You should use a very generous definition of the term “hazard”. You might think the small toy with the animated buy-me-button was pretty neat. So what if it takes an extra half a second. Your potential client will definitely consider it a hazard after the second usage, at the latest. His definition is the only one that matters. Read tip 5 once again.
So, if you want to turn your visitors into clients, the best way to do so would be to make the purchasing process as easy as possible. According to CEP, this increases the chances of a successful purchase by up to 96 percent.
Did I quote Einstein already? No. Fine, I won’t do it this time…
Most photographers know the basics to good product photos – using a tripod, setting your camera to the widest aperture, using a white background, creating an out-of-focus background, and more. But what about those really unique product photographs? You know the ones. They simply don’t look like a normal product photo you’d see in a regular catalog. These are usually used for full page features in a catalog or in ads for top brands.
While the photographers of these inspiring photos did follow the most important product photography rules, they also played around with breaking some of these rules. If you are too timid and unsure in your photography to step out of the box, you will probably never produce a truly unique product photo, such as what you see with Nike or the Anthropologie print catalog. However, if you are ready to take the plunge, you may want to try one or more of these 10 tips for truly unique product photography.1.) Hang Products
Now, hanging products for better view is not necessarily an unusual practice in and of itself. Creative hanging, however, is. Maybe you should hang the product upside down, sideways, or in an unusual location. Suspend it from wires or ropes that remain a part of the photo. Go grotesque, sexy, or humorous. Play around with it and be sure to take way more photos than is necessary, and definitely be sure your lighting is perfect. Check out some of these creative photos with interesting suspension for some ideas:
Usually photographers place the camera at the same level as the product so that the shot comes out at eye-level. Most of the time, you want to be careful about shooting from odd angles, simply because it can distort a product. However, sometimes you can get away with this, especially if distortion is a look you are going for or if the product is one that will be difficult to distort. You may even want to try hanging the product normally but shooting from underneath or above. Here are some more photos shot from odd angles:
Keep in mind that most macro shots will probably need to be ones that are used in conjunction with normal product photos. However, they can be a great asset to a series of photos for, say, a feature page in a catalog, or an eye-catching poster ad. Just be sure that your lighting is phenomenal so that the tiniest details show up. The following are examples of excellent product macro photography:
Grab the product, a piece of paper, and a pen. Now write down every use you can think of for the product. You may need to start with the more normal, everyday uses to get your brain up and running, but eventually try to come up with some ideas that are really out there. Then look over your list and circle the ones that have great potential for a unique product shoot. You may need to do some digital editing/illustration or costume/set design with this, so plan out your idea fully before starting the shoot. Here are some creative product uses:
This secret goes hand-in-hand with tip #4 above. If you don’t have any skills with photo manipulation, you may need to hire a graphic design artist for help. However, this could be a great opportunity to learn Photoshop and Illustrator for some seriously original product photos. Check out some of these very interesting photo manipulations:
Many product photos stick with the rule of a plain background to put the focus on the product or to add another image in the background. Staging a unique background and props with the main product in the foreground can really add interest and even improve how desirable a product is. Take a look at some of these intricately staged product photos:
Wait, what? Yes, an off-focus background keeps the eye on the main product. Sometimes, though, you may want to place, say, a food product with similar foods to suggest uses. In this case, keeping your product slightly in front but keeping the background clear can help promote this idea. Although, you can also try switching it up at times and place the product alongside the props or even in the background. Here are some great product photos with (mostly) focused backgrounds:
A reflection adds quite a bit of depth to an otherwise boring photo. And don’t get stuck using a mirror. Try using photo manipulation to reflect the image on water. Or place the product in a shallow pan of water. Use lighting to enhance the reflection and edit later to further bring out the reflection. The following are some great product reflections:
Setting products on fancy stands is a great way to add appeal to a photo. Take it to another level, though, by using items that you normally wouldn’t use for stands. An old box, another product turned upside down, a hand, a belly, the top of a head, geometric shapes, or even a photo manipulated stand. Below are some quite unique stands in use for products:
Humanize products in your photography. Or create a story that surrounds it. Give it character. Ask your client what it is that makes their unique product better or simply different than a competitor’s. Use your photos to portray this aspect of the product for which the brand is known. These following photos certainly add personality to the products:
Do you have any more great tips or ideas for creating unusual, outstanding product photos? Please share with the rest of us in the comments below!
The article was first published in September 2013 and has been updated recently. (dpe)
Instead of wasting your time with Candy Crush, or by going through irrelevant tweets, you could use your time on the train, the toilet, or in the boring team meeting to learn CSS or to refresh your knowledge.The Toolbox: Pivot of the Designer Existence
If you read what I write now and then, you’ll notice that I always try to make sure that your toolbox is up to date. My toolkit contains pretty much every tool that I could ever need for writing, developing, and designing.This is what you’ll look like when your toolbox is empty. Don’t let it get this far. (Photo: Pixabay)
Snippets are a rather significant factor as well. I used to have a giant collection of different code snippets in individual txt files. This was in the noughties, though. Back then, the services that help us manage our toolboxes didn’t exist yet. And storing your code snippets as individual text files on the hard drive was far from optimal. Just considering how long it took for me to find what I was looking for. I don’t even want to think about it.
Today, I store storage services. Meta. Sure, I still store some individual snippets in Evernote. And this cloud service is also where I keep all other digital tools and services that I consider to be a part of my toolbox.CSS in 30 Seconds: Goldfish Mode Learning
Today, I added a new helper, the snippet collection “30 Seconds of CSS”, populated by the user who goes by the name of Atomiks on Github. It contains snippets for 18 common application cases, including the still not obsolete Clearfix.Short bits of CSS for your break time. (Screenshot: Noupe)
For each snippet, you get the complete source code, a demo syntax, and a detailed explanation, as well as information about the browser compatibility. The goal is that no snippet takes you more than 30 seconds to completely understand and be able to use it.
One could call this fast food for page designers. This is true, though the collection is a lot more nutritious than the average burger.
Some may say that these snippets have to be some repair kit, something that you have on you at pretty much all times. Personally, I don’t feel like it was necessary to be able to do anything off the cuff.
To me, knowing where to look something up is sufficient. And “30 Seconds of CSS” is just waiting for me to want to look something up right in my toolbox.
Do the same thing. By the way, we’ve presented a CSS snippet collection before.
Photoshop brushes are a hot commodity among the design community, so every now and then we like to look in on useful sets. In the following article, we have collected dozens of new free Photoshop brushes to spice up your design arsenal. Because really, when it comes to brushes, can you have too many?
If you believe with us that the answer to that question is a definitive ‘no’, then take a look down through the PS brushes we have found for you, and load up. The licenses do tend to change, so please be sure to take a look at each one before you grab them. Enjoy!Brushing Up Fish Bones
That brings us to the end of this new collection. Feel free to use the comment section to leave your thoughts on these fantastic design tools, or to link us over to a set that’s inevitable for your arsenal. We look forward to hearing from you.
The article was originally published on June 18th of 2012. All links have been verified to still work on the 7th of May 2018. The article image has been changed and was taken from the vast portfolio of Depositphotos.
Purchasing free products does not have to look and feel like going through a bargain table. Pixelify shows, that it can be both elegant and comfortable.Where Are the Platforms for the Distribution of Freebies?
Mats-Peter Forss is a minimalist designer from the Finnish place Rauma. He’s been selling his digital design products via the Creative Market for years. He’s also active in the creative social networks, like Behance, for example.
He got the idea behind Pixelify, the service that I’ll introduce you to today when he noticed that neither the popular marketplaces nor the allegedly specialized social networks for creatives offered a simple way of distributing free design elements. While traditionally, the markets struggle with the most radical of all price tags, social networks aren’t really suitable for the distribution.Pixelify.net: Landing Page (Screenshot: Noupe)
If you want to hand out a font for free, you can already do that. The process is not very streamlined, though. At least, that’s Forss’ conclusion, which led him to create an own service, which strongly resembles the Creative Market in terms of design, but is exclusively dedicated to the distribution of freebies.
Forss’ aim was to gain popularity via freebies, in order to establish his brand, allowing for better promotion of his commercial offers. And, because he’s a nice guy, and also because he knows that he could never fill a popular freebie service on his own, he set up Pixelify as a community.Pixelify: Best Practice in Every Aspect
Designers from all around the world now have an easy way of handing out their elements via Pixelify. In order to avoid abuse, Forss promises to watch over the entire curating process. After all, Pixelify is not a filesharing website, and Forss isn’t Kim Schmitz Dotcom.
Pixelify is very well made and very easy on the eyes of the viewer. Nothing disruptive, everything flows. The design can’t be criticized Although the service has only been online for a few weeks, its database already contains a considerable amount of design elements.Clean grid, and easy license selection. (Screenshot: Noupe)
The findability of the resources you’re interested in is provided in different ways. If you’re looking for something specific, use the search field with free text input. If you’re looking for something specific, but you only have a category in mind, use the category navigation. But don’t be surprised that some categories are still completely empty. Forss has already prepared the website for all navigation elements in advance.Prominently Placed, Simple Licenses Give a Sense of Security
The freebies have one of two possible licenses. They’re either labeled as free for personal use or as free for commercial use. The former means you can use them for all purposes that don’t make you money, including clubs and other non-profits, while the latter means that they’re also fully available for commissions. Another neat thing is the fact that the landing page has a switch that lets you choose to only display elements with a commercial license, only those with a personal license, or to simply show them all.
The operator’s hand-picked recommendations are shown in the lists of the elements with the most downloads, or the most popular, or freshest ones, depending on the upload date. Forss also recommends designers that he considers especially notable.
Conclusion: Add Pixelify to your bookmarks. The project has potential.
Dedicated WordPress hosting has been on the rise for the past few years, with Kinsta’s approach probably being the most interesting one. It is different from the competition in nearly every aspect.Kinsta: Up-and-Comer on the Google Cloud Plattform
Kinsta was founded by WordPress developer Mark Gavalda in 2013, and has its headquarters in London, with offices in Los Angeles and Budapest. Gavalda and all of his employees are absolute WordPress experts. They actively contribute to the development of the platform, whether it’s via core contributions, plugins, or themes. Obviously, Kinsta is specialized in pure WordPress hosting.Kinsta: Landing Page. (Screenshot: D. Petereit)
Relatively unnoticed by the competition, the rather small provider was able to make a name for himself. Today it stands confidently as one of the internationally heavy-weights of the branch. The most important unique feature aside from the high expertise: the Google Cloud platform as a server farm.
The Google Cloud is one of the world’s biggest and most performant server infrastructures. It has no reason to be afraid of Akamai, Amazon Web Services, or Microsoft’s Azure.Kinsta: Disruption of the Traditional Provider Business
While the typical provider business of the past focused on building server farms or buying your way into the housing of data centers, modern cloud platforms, such as the one from Mountain View, allow for starting a provider business without any major investments on the hardware side of things.
Traditional hosting providers are not too excited about this. Especially since they’re struggling to assert themselves with all the new competition. The investments they made are a heavy weight on their balance. The mental flexibility required to change the course might be there, but the monetary flexibility in most cases isn’t.Reducing Prices is Not on the Agenda of the New Providers
Thus, comparably smaller businesses, like Kinsta, step up to fight the huge hosts. The provider branch has a silent disruption ahead of itself. In contrast to disruptions of other business models, the switch to cloud structures is less about money, and more about technological aspects.
When looking into hosting offers based on cloud platforms, you’ll quickly notice that financial savings cannot be the reason that convinces you to switch providers. This method of hosting is not cheaper per se. Only once your performance needs have become so high that the costs of your hosting are not the driving factor behind your considerations as it is, cloud offers start to show price-related advantages.No matter how you set up your server farm. It won’t get as big as the cloud. (Image: Depositphotos) Cloud and WordPress Hosts Are Trending
In Autumn of 2017, I wrote about two major WordPress trends. On one hand, the increasing supply of cloud services, and the increasing number of dedicated WordPress hosts on the other. My conclusion was pretty clear.
I can’t stop trends on my own, though. Evidently, there’s a market. Kinsta skillfully unites both trends, allowing it to surf the biggest wave. I don’t want to be the spoilsport here, so I’ll take a closer look at the service.Kinsta: The Technology Behind it
Kinsta can’t be compared to anything you’ve seen before. If you need a rough idea, virtual machines are the closest thing. Kinsta works with LXD/LXC, aka Linux containers, each of them offering complete system environments. This is somewhat similar to the conventional machines, just a lot more encapsulated, as well as much faster, and scalable.
Every WordPress site runs in its own container. The containers don’t share anything with each other. It’s as if you had your very own physical server, but it was freely scalable. When running multiple WordPress sites, these also run in their own containers, respectively.
Since your WordPress site is basically a unique server now, the caching can also take place on the system level. You don’t need to make use of the typical plugin candidates for the job. Kinsta makes sure that your sites are delivered as fast as possible.
In order to keep your little fortress safe, Kinsta’s “Free Hack Fix” is your free safety net in case of a hack attack. Because of that, it should be in Kinsta’s interest to keep the security level high at all times.CDN, SSL, Staging – Everything Available Immediately
A fixed part of the feature scope is the CDN of the Swiss service provider KeyCDN, which we have presented multiple times already. The CDN usage is included in the Kinsta prices. For WooCommerce and Easy Digital Downloads, there are server-side optimizations ready as well.
Should you already be working with a different CDN, you can also use that under Kinsta. You’re not forced to use KeyCDN.Content delivery always profits from a proximity of place. (Photo: Depositphotos)
The architecture of the offer generally allows for the implementation of many vital functions on the system level. This is where they’re the most effective, but traditional hosting doesn’t let you work on that level.
Thanks to the cooperation with Let’s Encrypt, teaching your WordPress site SSL is simple. The process is uncomplicated and fast and doesn’t have anything to do with the extensive certification process that you may know from your previous host.
You don’t need to take care of backups either. Automatic backups, executed during the night, are parts of the plan. Additionally, you can start manual backups at any point, like right before a major change, for example. The recovery of backups is an all-or-nothing decision, however. There’s no option to only recover the files or the database.
Speaking of major changes. We both know that we shouldn’t tamper with the live website. Thus, we either use a development server or at least a staging solution that allows us to try out our changes in a risk-free environment before they go live.
The mentioned staging is included in Kinsta. You don’t need to worry about alternatives, such as the previously presented WP-Staging-Plugin.Kinsta Has a Different Approach to a Few Other Things as Well
In order to further increase processing speed, Kinsta also supports the HHVM, originally developed by Facebook, which allows users to significantly increase the execution of PHP code. For that, PHP is compiled into executable code. I’m sure you know ZEND, which was commonly used for this purpose in the past. However, HHVM has been proven to be about ten times as fast.
Additionally, Kinsta gives you a nearly free choice from all current PHP versions. From the provider’s clients, we’ve heard that new PHP versions are available after a few weeks already, instead of a few months, which is how long it usually takes traditional providers to introduce new versions. By the way, Kinsta uses Nginx, not Apache.
As the switch from conventional hosting to Kinsta’s cloud solution is not an everyday thing, most of the provider’s plans include the free migration of your site.We enjoy using Kinsta’s dashboard. (Screenshot: D. Petereit)
The service’s dashboard is not the uncomfortable, aged cPanel. Instead, Kinsta offers a unique solution called MyKinsta, which is fast, comfortable, and simple. From here, you’re able to take extensive care of your WordPress containers. Kinsta’s dashboard was made for those that use it daily. The focus of the interface is mainly on everyday tasks, and not so much on the maintenance of a server in general, although you can certainly do this, too.
Accessing your various server logs is no problem. A statistics feature adds info that you might need to your GA reports. This is also where you get to keep an eye on the important performance values. If you ever need quick access to your MySQL database, a click from the dashboard starts up a PhpMyAdmin entity.
Most traditional providers give you one server location. Kinsta lets you choose from fifteen locations worldwide.
Thus, it is no surprise that many of the customers’ reviews that you can find on the web praise the performance. I read things about page loading times being cut in half without any further optimization measures other than moving over to Kinsta servers.
Our colleagues over at “Code in WP”, who have made the switch to Kinsta a few months ago, also highlight a halved TTFB (Time to First Byte), which is the time between request and reception of the first byte.
Another positive aspect you can see in the client reviews is the quality of the support. According to the reviews, you’ll have an expert to talk to 24/7. And these are actual experts that try to find practical solutions. Sounds utopic? Yeah, it kinda does.Kinsta and the Costs
I already hinted at it above. You don’t switch to Kinsta because it’s especially cheap. Here, the functionality has to be the driving force for the purchase. You shouldn’t just find the feature set pretty attractive, you should actually need it.
While you could dive into the world of the Kinsta cloud for 30 USD a month, this would only allow for 20,000 visits on a domain. 60 USD would already get you two domains, but, with a sum of 40,000 visits, you’d get to the limit pretty quickly as well.Kinsta: the prices vary heavily. (Screenshot: D. Petereit)
If you don’t run your website just for fun, it’s better to aim for more power. 100 USD gets you 100k visits, 200 let you host 250k visitors, and 300 USD allows for 400,000. The plans can be compared in full detail on this site.
If Noupe switched to Kinsta, we’d have to consider using the 300 or the 400 USD plan. Our current server costs us about 1,500 Euro a year. This would mean that our hosting costs would be more than doubled. I don’t want to state that it wouldn’t be worth the extra spending, especially since the future tariff would contain premium services that we’re currently separately paying for.
I am triggered. Let’s see. Maybe your favorite design magazine will be running on Kinsta rather sooner than later.
Every day, we’re sitting in front of the computer: thus, we’ll enjoy a nice wallpaper or a screensaver that welcomes us when we return from grabbing a coffee. We have collected fifteen screensavers, and a solid 25 creative wallpapers for you. Enjoy!High-Quality Screensavers IMAX Hubble 3D
Cute slideshow with recordings of the IMAX film Hubble 3D.
fliqlo (for Mac and Windows) shows a stylish digital clock.
A special clock that displays the time and current date in a circular shape, and 28 languages.briblo
If you like Lego, you’ll love this screensaver. Here, bricks build up and turn into a tower.
League of Legends
Complex Screensaver with plenty of images from League of Legends.Nintendo Screen Saver Features
As a retro gamer, you’ll enjoy this screensaver: here, NES games are simulated in real time.Electric Sheep
Psychedelic interferences as a screensaver. Plenty of styles to choose from.Apple TV Aerial Views
The screensaver from Apple TV, now for Windows.Lost Watch 2 – NVIDIA Edition
This clock is in a flowing stream (but still shows the correct time).Numbers dropping into water
Fascinating screensaver where the numbers fall into the water, displaying the current time.Moonlit Ship Screensaver
A pirate ship in the distance, clouds over the full moon, and a handy clock on the side.Lightning Bolt Screensaver
Cloudy, rainy skies, with lightning flashing.Countdown
Simple countdown, able to remind you of a particular appointment.
Fractals are fascinating objects, made up of multiple smaller copies of themselves.Featured Photo Screensaver
This screensaver by Google continuously displays new images from all around the world.Hd Car Wallpaper The beauty and the beast Free Think Mountain pacific rim Battlefield Legends Programmers Flowers Fish
Creative Art Wallpaper
Art and Creative
Information access should be well organized and structured in order for the one searching for information to be able to find it quickly. This takes extensive thought in advance of the design creation. The result is information architecture.
The term information architecture is already a few decades old and has been used for many different purposes since its inception. It was even used in chip design or network planning. In the past ten years, it has mostly been related to software projects.Information Architecture in Web Design
In web design, “information architecture” is the sensible organization and structuring of content with the goal to make them easy to find and comprehend for users. Thus, every web designer is an information architect at the same time. They should be, at least. However, there are tons of them out there that don’t give off this impression.
Information Architecture is Not Equal to Visual Design
From my experience, clients and service providers spend a lot of time on visual aspects, meaning that structure-related thoughts tend to get the short end of the stick. However, a successful information architecture is the best foundation for an equally successful website. Information architecture cannot be created as a Photoshop mockup, so it is often considered a neglectable effort. The opposite is the case.Infinite information, but you can’t find it easily. (Photo: Pixabay)
Oftentimes, information architecture (IA) is put on a level with UX design, which also seems way too simple. Once again, IA is simply the foundation for the UX design. UX design, on the other hand, requires much less structure-related considerations, as it mainly deals with the big and small questions of user experience, like which interaction should bring about which result.
Information Architecture is the Foundation of Every Website
When talking about IA, we’re looking at the origin, the excavation hole of a digital project. There’s nothing to see yet, and the future user experience is still somewhere in the far distance. IA is about purely structural questions.
This may seem rather boring at first. Looking at an example of a large library, though, you’ll quickly realize that information provided without a well thought-out architecture is a bad idea.
In our town, there’s only one pretty small library. But even in there, I wouldn’t be able to find a single book if the librarians hadn’t come up with a good arrangement system, a sensible information architecture.
A combination of a digital catalog and a physical guide system allows every visitor to find the book they’re looking for. If that didn’t exist, the only way to get the desired information was a random chance. Most visitors are likely to quit pretty quickly, due to the significant frustration potential.The construction of a real, existing library undergoes constant change, resulting in constant planning. (Photo: Pixabay)
Viewers of an internet page are in a similar position, though the problem gets more significant with an increasing information density. The more information is provided on a website, the better the IA has to be. In general, even the smallest website needs a sensible IA, though. Only the complexity of these architectures varies with the size of the complete project.
Common Misconception: Information Architecture is a Synonym for Navigation
Typical questions that a good IA should be able to answer are:
With these questions in mind, you might think that information architecture was just another word for navigation. Once again, this would be put way too simply. However, it is correct that the navigation is a part of the IA. Though, it can only be derived once a few preparational works have been completed.
Information Architecture Requires the Classification and Categorization of All Contents
It’s one of the most common problems in the client-designer relationship. “Feel free to start, we’ll send you content bit by bit.” This should seem familiar to all of us.
And have you ever asked yourself how this is even supposed to work? The answer is pretty simple: it doesn’t work at all.
Before you can create a website properly, you have to know, sort, and structure all the content. Even choosing which content to integrate into the website is a crucial aspect of information architecture. Have you ever seen these seemingly flange-mounted menu items on different websites? These are a result of the client sending a new load of information right before the completion of a project, which has to be integrated outside of the planned structure. “That’s not a problem, is it?”
If all content is available, and it has been decided which content to use, the next step is to classify and name the content. Here, they are assigned to categories, which will turn into our navigation later.
It is recommended to work with classic taxonomies. This way, each category only receives one supercategory, which leads to a typical dependency tree, as usual for organigrams. Within this tree, you move from very vague to very precise. The further down you go, the more specific the information.Monohierarchic structures work best. (Photo: Pixabay)
Flat Information Hierarchies Are Preferred
Here, you should also make sure that your information hierarchy doesn’t become too deep. No visitor likes to go through click orgies just to get the desired information. The Google bot also clearly favors flat hierarchies.
The individual categories should deal with clearly different topics, making it easier for both visitors and crawlers to detect and understand the coherence. Of course, depending on the purpose of the website, other distinctions can make sense as well, like chronological classification, or distinctions based on the type of visitor (e.g. client, supplier, investor).
The only important thing is to not leave a path once you’ve chosen it, as this could result in you mixing up different hierarchies.
Search and Find, But Not at Random
An important part of information architecture is the search function, which is considered a natural component of the CMS. Though, optimal IA would never rely on the default WordPress search, but rather use a more specific concept. It would be about what users might search, and what results that search should get them. This wouldn’t have a lot to do with free text search, but it would produce better results, beneficial to both the visitor and the operator.
This is Far From Everything, But it’s a Start
Information architecture is a science of its own. In this article, I limited myself to the absolute basics. You may complain about this, but keep in mind that especially the smaller projects are the most lacking in terms of IA.
However, at the same time, these are the projects that don’t even need the creators to think about user surveys, card sorting, or other specific techniques of full-grown information architects. If you’ve served your clients without any IA basics so far, this article should definitely give you some food for thought.
Now, we’ve at least laid the foundation.
“A picture is worth a thousand words.” That is the motto of a photojournalist. It is their objective to produce direct, truthful and bold images that tell the stories for those who have no voice.
According to Mark M. Hancock, a professional photojournalist, “is a visual reporter of facts. The public places trust in its reporters, to tell the truth. The same trust is extended to photojournalists as visual reporters.This responsibility is paramount to a photojournalist. At all times, we have many thousands of people seeing through our eyes and expecting to see the truth. Most people immediately understand an image.”
Photojournalists are doing really a great job over the world for humanity, they are working for peace, for human rights, for raising humanity problems and issues, for pointing out the people living below the bottom line of poverty, for raising awareness about educational and child labor issues and much more… Our today’s post is about Inspirational Documentary and Photojournalism Photos. In this post, we showcase 35 powerful, touching and emotional photos that do not just display state of affairs but also tell a story.
We express sincere appreciation of the hard work of all photojournalists who are working for humanity, sometimes risking their lives for the sake of their duties and responsibilities. This article is a tribute to all of them and their accomplishments and works.Photojournalism & Documentary Photos Man Mutilated, Rwanda
Rwanda, June 1994. Hutu man mutilated by the Hutu ‘Interahamwe’ militia, who suspected him of sympathizing with the Tutsi rebels. About the image, Nachtwey says his specialty is dealing with ground level realities with a human dimension. He feels that people need photography to help them understand what’s going on in the world, and believes that pictures can have a great influence on shaping public opinion and mobilizing protest.
World Press Photo of the Year: 1994 James Nachtwey, USA, Magnum Photos for Time.Losing
In this picture, Lurlena cries in the back of the family car after losing the contest for Carnival Princess at her school. She spent the day getting ready, with a new white dress and new shoes. The winner was decided based on whose parents bought the most tickets, and Lurlena’s family could only afford eight dollars worth.Hard Work in Hong Kong tbaur
This photo, titled Candy Cigarette, not just displays something, it tells a story. It is both emotional and beautiful. This is what the originality of black-and-white-photography is all about.Pilgrim
Tibetans believe, once in their life, a pilgrimage to Lhasa is of exalted purpose and moral significance. Therefore, we see people like this, especially in spring and autumn, on their journey of faith, sometimes thousands of miles long, kowtowing every few steps.Arirang Mass Games
Even during the Arirang Mass Games in North Korea, the ultimate expression of the state ideology, an individual can still sometimes stand out from the crowd and break free of the collective. If only just for a moment. (Photo and caption by Brendyn Zachary)Iguazu Falls in Brazil
“On my second day visiting the astounding Iguazu falls on the Brazilian side I was forced to change to my telephoto lens as my wide angle had been damaged by the water vapor. In had rained solidly for 10 days prior to my arrival and so the falls were at their most spectacular. Standing on the elevated viewing platform I was able to shoot this school group who stood transfixed, emphasizing the incredible size of the falls. (Photo and caption by Ian Kelsall)”Malawian Boy Running After 4×4
“I took the photo while on my one-month stint in Malawi Africa where I mainly worked in orphan day-care centres, also visiting Mulanji Hospital. The photo was taken from the Mulanji Hospital four-wheel-drive ambulance, travelling on the extremely rough roads from village to village, visiting the sick who were unable to reach the hospital.” Photo taken by Cameron Herweynen.Sewing Machine
A damaged sewing machine after the cyclone hit, Amtali, Patuakhali, Bangladesh 19 November 2007. EPA/ABIR ABDULLAHShelter
Child takes shelter with his mother before the cyclone hit. Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh.New Year’s Eve, St. Jacques, Perpignan, 2006
This picture of a five year-old gypsy boy was taken on New Year’s Eve 2006 in the gypsy community of St. Jacques, Perpignan, Southern France. For Christmas and New Year’s Eve, the men would gather in the Café in their best suits to drink and dance while their wives would prepare dinner at home. It is quite common in St. Jacques for little boys to smoke.Riot in the City
Riot in Toulouse, France (March 25th, 2007) after the campaign of a politician.Jump! Pain and Beauty Bhopal Disaster
This photograph from December 4, 1984 shows victims who lost their sight in the Bhopal poison gas tragedy as they sit outside the Union Carbide factory in Bhopal, India.From the Series “Children of Black Dust”, Dhaka, Bangladesh
A woman holds her child, blackened by carbon dust. His nose bleeds due to infections caused by exposure to dust and pollution during play in the workshop in Korar Ghat by on the outskirts of Dhaka. Many women bring their children along so they can look after them while working.New York City
USA. New York City. September 15, 2001. Signing a memorial in Union Square.Hhaing The Yu
Hhaing The Yu, 29, holds his face in his hand as rain falls on the decimated remains of his home in the Swhe Pyi Tha township, near Myanmar’s capital of Yangon (Rangoon), on Sunday, May 11th, 2008. Cyclone Nargis struck southern Myanmar a week ago leaving millions homeless and has claimed up to 100,000 lives.Sandra Gil
A long line of visitors forms in front of Sandra Gil outside the Krome Detention Center in Miami where her husband, Oscar Gonzalez, is being held. On the morning of November 8, Immigration and Customs Enforecment (ICE) officers arrested the family at their home. They detained Gonzalez and released Gil with her son, American born Joshua Gonzalez, 5, with orders to leave for Colombia within weeks, The family was denied asylum after seven years living and working legally in teh country.Memories
Sitting alone on a little place surrounded by cars traffic. Self-isolation. Waiting for nothing. He talked to me for about an hour. Of a lost life. An ordinary life like mine, like many others. And now…Tap-Tap
Tap-tap buses waiting to get full and depart for their regular route in the downtown of Port-au-Prince.Swiss Pilot Yves Rossy
Swiss pilot Yves Rossy, the world’s first man to fly with a jet-powered fixed-wing apparatus strapped to his back, flies during his first official demonstration, on May 14, 2008 above Bex, Switzerland. (Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images)María A.C. (ernieland) Unknown Gold Price
In Wall street, a man holds a placard of ” We Buy Gold”, as the gold price has increased due to the current financial crisis or economic melt-down.
New York, Oct 13, 2008.
Final construction at the Maponya mall in Piville township, Soweto. The 650 million Rand mall is one of the largest shopping centers in South Africa, and its opening is a sign of the commercial awakening of Soweto.Child Labor. Bangladesh
Child labor is not a new issue in Bangladesh as children here remain one of the most vulnerable groups living under threats of hunger, illiteracy, displacement, exploitation, trafficking, physical and mental abuse. Although the issue of child labor has always been discussed, there is hardly any remarkable progress even in terms of mitigation. 17.5 percent of children aged 5-15 are engaged in economic activities. Many of these children are engaged in various hazardous occupations in factories.Aftermath of Earthquake in Balakot, Pakistan. 2005
This image was taken about one month after the earthquake in Pakistan. People were still coming down from the mountains trying to find shelter and were suffering from trauma. Winter was on the way and the need for shelter was urgent. This father with his child had been collecting food. I spent ten days in Balakot documenting the situation after the quake. People were still digging for their family members.Seen in Ludwigsburg, Germany Huge Wave
Kerby Brown rides a huge wave in an undisclosed location southwest of Western Australia July 6, 2008, in this picture released November 7, 2008 by the Oakley-Surfing Life Big Wave Awards in Sydney. Picture taken July 6. (REUTERS/Andrew Buckley)The Head of a Male Student
The head of a male student, still alive, trapped under the debris is pictured at the scene of the church school that collapsed on the outskirts of Haiti’s capital Port-au-Prince, November 7, 2008. At least 30 people were killed when the three-story La Promesse school building collapsed while class was in session and some of the walls and debris crushed neighboring homes in the Nerettes community near Port-au-Prince. (REUTERS/Joseph Guyler Delva)Starving Boy and Missionary
Wells felt indignant that the same publication that sat on his picture for five months without publishing it, while people were dying, entered it into a competition. He was embarrassed to win as he never entered the competition himself, and was against winning prizes with pictures of people starving to death.
(World Press Photo of the Year: 1980 Mike Wells, United Kingdom. Karamoja district, Uganda, April 1980).Afghan Girl
And of course the afghan girl, picture shot by National Geographic photographer Steve McCurry. Sharbat Gula was one of the students in an informal school within the refugee camp; McCurry, rarely given the opportunity to photograph Afghan women, seized the opportunity and captured her image. She was approximately 12 years old at the time. She made it on the cover of National Geographic next year, and her identity was discovered in 1992.
A man is crying while he flips through a family album he found in the rubbles of his old house.
(The article was originally composed by Aquil Akhter, but has been updated since.)
(Featured Image: Depositphotos)
In general, the best design is always the one that is so simple it doesn’t need an explanation. The best design has an intuitive interface and is understood without words. That said, is brutalism the best design?
When walking through your city and noticing a terribly ugly concrete block, you can either call it an ugly eyesore in the cityscape or an expression of the architecture trend of brutalism. It stays true to the motto “is this art or trash?”
Hold up! Stop! It’s not that easy after all.
Advocates of the trend put the focus on the functionality of a building, leaving little to no room for the appearance. The culinary principle “You eat with your eyes first” doesn’t apply here.Habitat 67, Montreal (Photo: Matias Garabedian)
Originally, brutalism was a more minimalistic, sober way to view the world, rather than art, and was more of an expression of the functionality-oriented past generation of architecture. At the same time, the design was also meant to be a political protest, like a concrete left-wing party.Web Design of the Nineties = Brutalism?
Transferred over to web design, these aspects are only a subordinate factor. Nonetheless, artistic aspects, like the expression of a certain protest culture, are still in effect here.
However, pretty much every website of the nineties was brutalistic frome a visual standpoint. There were very few options available to make a design visually appealing. For the most part, the designers where the people that have earned that reputation with their completely overloaded Powerpoint slides.
We all remember Beepworld, Geocities, and pretty much all websites available back then. Since, “back in the days, we had nothing”, web design was done using a sledgehammer. Some sites were so ugly that visiting them would make you go to your local oculist shortly after.
Homepage builders like Wix or Webydo, which operate fully graphically, take the last bit of ambition to look deeper into basic web technology off our hands.HTML or no HTML: Culture Battle of the Web
Terrible is what some say when they want to go back to the days where someone without a rather profound webmaster knowledge and HTML skills was a nobody.
Perfect is what the others say because the web was not meant to be a playground for designers and coders. It is supposed to be a technology that allows content from all around the world to be published and viewed freely. Today, we’re a lot closer to the publishing of content by anyone than we were in the nineties.
So we can be certain that the web’s basic concept is content, and not design. Early webmasters like Justin Jackson will agree without further ado. This look into the motivation of the web inventor Tim Berners will have a positive effect as well.
Do the two approaches even contradict each other? Sure, modern tools move us further away from the web’s technological foundation, especially the manual coding of HTML. On the other hand, this situation enables a large number of people to actively share content on the web in the first place.
Of course, the impression of a uniform web design is valid. The only controversy is whether this is a good or a bad thing.Brutalism in Web Design
We can definitely connect the current brutalism trend to the protest regarding the situation. Here, people purposely use a style for their website design that is not even necessary anymore, as our technological options are way past the state of the nineties.
Is nostalgia a factor here? Was everything better in the old days? Is a matter of ideology? Is it about web-purism following the initial statements of Berners-Lee? Is it like punk or gothic? A striking way of separating yourself from the norm, so that said norm notices?
This is hard to judge. We can safely say what it isn’t, though. Usually, the reason is not a lack of knowledge.
Pascal Deville, partner of the Zurich-based creative agency “Freundliche Grüße”, figured this out rather quickly, after he released his collection of brutalist websites titled “Brutalist Websites” in 2014.Brutalist Websites: Collection of Ugly Web Designs. (Screenshot: D. Petereit)
Deville got this result via code analysis. Oftentimes, this showed the use of modern technology and optimized processes that still lead to terribly ugly layouts. There was no way these were not bad on purpose.Pros of Brutalism in Web Design?
The creators of some of the listed websites have answered the question why the chose to run a brutalist site in brief interviews. The answers vary from “because it’s fun” to “I come from a brutalist environment,” all the way to “because it’s trending right now. There doesn’t seem to be a clear motivation behind this.
If the designers themselves can’t even give us good reasons, we have to resort to speculation. When looking at the topic from a marketing point of view, we have to admit that a brutalist website is very likely to gain more attention than a streamlined version of the latest template bestseller. If things are going well, the design can even go viral. However, we should definitely make up an answer in case we get asked why we launched a website that looks like a leftover from the nineties in 2018.
Generally, minimalism is one of the megatrends of the recent past. And where’s the difference between brutalism and minimalism? Well, it is a very ugly form of minimalism, but this is more of a detail question.
If your brutalist design is done well, it is pretty much automatically accessible and responsive, without any other technological preparations. If it wasn’t so ugly, it could easily pass as a best practice.
Relentlessly executed brutalism can only have one plausible explanation aside from the protest aspect: art, as you can’t argue about art. At least at the Yale University, this is the consensus. Take a brave look at the website of their School of Art:This is the actual website of the Yale School of Art. (Screenshot: D. Petereit)
Overall, it is striking that brutalism is more common in the purely artistic corner than anywhere else on the web. So, if you’re an artist, you might want to take a brutalist look at your public image.This is How it Could Work: Brutalism in a Defused Form
Assuming we neither want to convey protest nor seem progressively artistic, what else could we use brutalism for? Not at all? Of course, this works as well.
However, it is definitely possible to take advantage of the positive effects of modern brutalism without turning into a design dyslexic.
Take a look at the online magazine The Outline for example:The brutalist online magazine The Outline. (Screenshot: D. Petereit)
Ugly design elements harmonize with modern design consensus, shifting the focus towards the magazine’s individual articles. Of course, this doesn’t work for everyone, but the look suits the concept of The Outline. Just take a look at the underlinings. They are wave-shaped and move. Eerily beautiful.
The design agency AKU from Tallinn in Estonia offers an eerily beautiful brutalist look as well. As the agency specifically addresses artists, it makes sense for its presentation to be extraordinary. Average Joe will struggle with this, but potential clients will love it:The presentation of the design agency AKU from Estonia is not any less astonishing. (Screenshot: D. Petereit)
All it takes to make use of the options of brutalism is fantasy and courage. In today’s design world, it is hard to make new paths aside from the existing ones and make your visitors follow them. If you succeed, however, you have a unique characteristic at your hands.
Designer Maria Grilo takes this as far as claiming that brutalism is just the kind of bad influence that we need to revive our designs. Is this true, though?
Picture credit: Post image by Ralf Roletschek / Roletschek.at also shows the Habitat 67.
Among other things, contemporary marketing is based on being able to react to users fast and precisely. For that, WebEngage provides plenty of tools that allow you to notify users on different channels, like email, the web, as well as in-app messages, encouraging them to interact with you. Thanks to the new “Journey Designer”, you can now comfortably develop sophisticated online marketing strategies using a graphical interface.Find the Perfect Marketing Strategy Via Drag and Drop
WebEngage offers your website’s users ways to communicate directly with you. This works conventionally via feedback form, but also thanks to lots of online marketing tools. For example, you’ll know who of your shop’s visitors moved a product into the shopping cart, but didn’t buy it.Creating a “Journey” Via Drag and Drop
The WebEngage tools let you try to convince these users to purchase the product by sending them a web-message or push notification. The new “Journey Designer” makes it significantly easier to develop a marketing strategy based on defined criteria. That’s because it quickly lets you create so-called “triggers”, meaning rules that you want to react to, followed by the according actions via drag and drop.Reacting to Events or Segments
As WebEngage sets up profiles for all users, it is very easy to trace back when a user has visited your website, and what he did back then. Thus, instead of reacting to a particular event, it is also possible to respond to so-called segments.Segments: Filtering Users According to Different Factors
A segment allows you to define a particular target group, like e.g. users from a certain country, new or returning visitors. Instead of creating a segment, you can also address individual users. As you can see, there are a bunch of options when it comes to determining a trigger for an action.Defining Actions and Addressing User Behavior
Once you’ve placed a trigger onto your working space, the next step is to add an action that you want to execute. Then, link the trigger to that action. This is done by visually drawing lines from the trigger to the action.Creating Web Messages From Many Templates
The actions are the actual measures that you get to execute within the scope of a marketing strategy. Sending web messages would be such an action. Additionally, you think of things such as banners that are displayed on your website, or sticky headers, and sticky footers, meaning custom areas that are attached at the top or bottom of the page.In-App Messages for Android and iOS Devices Are Possible as Well
WebEngage provides a broad range of web messages. Design, content, and target URLs are customized by you. However, the marketing journey doesn’t have to stop with the execution of an action. For each action, a follow-up action can be defined, depending on how a user reacted to the previous action.
Thus, you get to work down a diverse array of actions, depending on whether a web message was seen, or whether it was opened or closed. According to the reaction, you can chain multiple different actions, like sending an email or push notification.
While doing so, you combine actions for the website with actions for the smartphone, which are only executed within an app. You also get to communicate with your users via email or SMS.Conditions and “Flow Control” for Complex Strategies
To allow for even more precise reactions, the “Journey Designer” offers different conditions. Depending on whether a condition was met or not, define two different paths that are executed.Conditions Allow for the Reaction to Different Behavior
For instance, there is a condition that lets you check if a user has triggered an event or not. Use the “Journey Designer” to set up two unique chains of actions for both cases.
Of course, it is also possible to define very complex chains. Even reaching one action in different ways is doable. An action can consist of multiple connections of triggers, conditions, and other actions.Waiting Until the Next Action is Executed Via “Flow Control.”
Last but not least, find the so-called “Flow Controls.” These allow you to make the continuation of a chain of actions dependant on the occurrence of certain factors. For example, you could make the execution of an action dependant on how much time passed since the last action. This could be hours, days, or even years.
Making an action dependant on triggering an event in a specific timeframe works just as well.Evaluation and Statistics
Once you’ve set up your journey, all you need to do is publish it. From that point on, it is not possible to make any more changes. To do that, you need to stop your journey first.
During publication, the “Journey Designer” shows you how often triggers occur for a visitor of your website, and how often which actions are conducted. This gives you a really clear and up-to-date statistic on how your journey develops.Published “Journey” With Statistics
Additionally, you get to download reports that you define yourself in CSV format. These contain all statistics that the “Journey Designer” can provide you with.
This statistic makes it very easy to get an overview of your marketing strategy’s success, and to potentially refine single actions.Conclusion
The “Journey Designer” by WebEngage is a powerful marketing tool that lets you develop strategies for your online marketing ranging from simple to complex. The clear and intuitive interface offers you a smooth and easy start. The “Journey Designer” combines the many options of WebEngage in one central switch point that is easy to learn for newcomers, and always clear, even when it is used to handle complex strategies.