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Performance: Simple Tips for Optimizing Video on Websites

17 août, 2017 - 10:00

Video on websites has become a common element that is often used purely for design purposes. It’s a factor that you should definitely optimize for performance reasons.

Too Much Eye Candy: When the Website Becomes Fatter

We complain about loading times. Visitors vanish forever after a few seconds without pixels. We discuss if we can squeeze the last bit of air out of our image material. And then, we go ahead and put a video into our website’s header area, or even set it as a full-screen background. Hero videos are one of the newest trends in the design panopticon.

Video don’t only waste bandwidth as a useless background element, though. Even with tutorials or image films, it’s worth keeping some tips in mind, in order to keep your website’s loading time under control. It’s not a secret that the average site is becoming heavier. According to HTTPArchive, the average weight has reached 3.061kb, while the value was about half a megabyte less a year ago. Another year ago, it was another half MB lower.

Source: HTTParchive

As image compression is becoming more common and better, and designs tend to favor less, but more meaningful images, blaming the weight gain on videos is pretty obvious. HTTP Archive also confirmed that the average video weight has risen from 204kb to 729kb over the last two years.

Optimization doesn’t only mean optimizing code, requests, and images, but also optimizing videos. Thus, web developer Estelle Weyl has compiled a few tips that can help you put your website on a balanced diet.

Waiver is the Best Optimization

For me, there doesn’t have to be a hero video. I have a hard time thinking of application cases where that would be different. Generally, I’m always skeptical when it comes to videos, as it is often only used because it’s hot right now. I often notice that videos don’t say anything that the accompanying text doesn’t say. Even worse, in many cases, videos are being used in the style of Powerpoint to display text content faster. One word: useless.

When in Doubt, Leave Out the Video.

Estelle Weyl suggests at least making sure that hero videos are not loaded on small screens. This can be realized using a breakpoint, and can look like this:

@media screen and (max-width: 650px) { #hero-video { display: none; } } Only Optimized Videos Belong Into the Web

This is similar to images. Here, you wouldn’t show your web visitors an uncompressed camera image. When looking at your videos, not doing so is even more important, as they are a whole lot larger.

How You Shouldn’t Define Videos on Websites. (Photo: Pixabay)

Thus, make sure to always compress videos. FFmpeg is a flexible tool for that job. It also comes with a few developer tools, allowing you to pretty much convert any format into any other format, while compressing it, replacing or extracting audio, and much more.

The tool you use for the production of videos should be able to avoid the biggest bandwidth catastrophes on its own, though. Saving in various formats also belongs to the optimization. After all, some formats, like WebM, have much smaller file sizes than others of the same quality. Unfortunately, not every browser comprehends every format.

If you have compressed your videos and saved them in different formats, you should pay attention to the order in which you enter them into your website’s source code. As HTML is processed from top to bottom, Estelle Weyl recommends putting the lightest format, or the smallest file, in first place. The user browser will display the first video it can interpret. Now, if it could do the lighter one, while it could also do the heavier one, but the heavier one came first in the order – you know what happens.

<video width="400" height="300" controls="controls"> <!-- WebM: 10 MB --> <source src="video.webm" type="video/webm" /> <!-- MPEG-4/H.264: 12 MB --> <source src="video.mp4" type="video/mp4" /> <!-- Ogg/Theora: 13 MB --> <source src="video.ogv" type="video/ogv" /> </video>

The rules of image optimization also apply here: don’t overdo it. If you can’t keep the video quality high, leave it out entirely.

Coverrs provides free videos, if you can’t avoid it. (Screenshot: Noupe)

If you use a video as a hero only, I’m sure you wouldn’t want its audio track to play. Of course, this can be prevented with a simple parameter:

<video autoplay="" loop="" muted="true" id="hero-video"> <source src="banner_video.webm" type='video/webm; codecs="vp8, vorbis"'> <source src="web_banner.mp4" type="video/mp4"> </video>

However, the audio track still exists in the video, is loaded, and wastes bandwidth. Thus, you should remove the audio track before using it as a hero. FFmpeg or your favorite video editor can help with that.

[via Standardista]

 

Catégories: News dév web

Ditch Self-Improvement: Just Stay the Way You Are

16 août, 2017 - 10:00

Freelancers are very susceptible to a trend that has been a thing since the eighties but has been gaining momentum for the last couple years. It’s called self-improvement.

You Still Have Potential

The name self-improvement itself is already one of the main problems of the trend. The general social stance in Western industrial nations prevents us from realizing this issue and abolishing it right away.

I’ve been an advocate for self-improvement for a long time, about twenty years. I guess I was made susceptible due to the skepticism towards my own opportunities, that I was raised to behave by the common education strategies of the postwar decades. Today, the reason for this skepticism of younger people is less a result of the education, but more a result of the environment. Every day, Instagram, Facebook, and all the other life time killers show you the great lives of the people you follow. My house, my boat, my car. Seems like you’re the only one that rents a place and the only one without a boat.

On a lower level of excitement, where you don’t care for the boats of others, you can still easily get the thought that you could get more out of your time than you do right now. The blogs of the competition are full of success stories, while you make your normal living. Your boss also likes to send signs that he wouldn’t mind some extra effort.

Somehow, I got on the wrong track and started buying a bunch of guides. Most of them turned out to be junk filled with commonplace, while others actually helped me boost my performance. I did this until two years ago. I was always looking for ways to improve myself, raise my productivity, and I was ready to question myself consequently.

You Are Not a Machine

What I didn’t notice was that I had already gone too far. On the morning of New Year’s Eve of 2015, my autonomic nervous system made that very clear by knocking me out without warning. After a marathon of doctor appointments, burnout syndrome was determined to be the cause. Since then, I’ve been questioning the things I do, not only from a contentual, but also from a formal standpoint. Do I have to do this, and if yes, how do I have to do it?

Performance optimization is not the focus of any of this. I refuse to continue assuming that I am always unfinished, flawed and that I should always strive to improve. This should become a social attitude. One of my favorite quotes is one of a business leader that has been absent for a long time due to burnout, who was asked for a bit of advice after he returned: “Protect the Assets.”

Common sayings, like “Sleep is for the Weak” work for a while. I know that. But in the long run, everything that speeds you up is harmful. Continuous performance can only be accomplished by “protecting the assets”. The keyword is not “acceleration”, which self-improvement always aims to do, but “deceleration”. Sure, you can work all day today and tomorrow. That won’t hurt. But I promise, your body won’t forget that. And in twenty years, when you still have to work, you can’t do it anymore. Avoid that.

After the upheaval that I had to go through, the fast life of the time before the crash seems surreal to me. From today’s point of view, I can’t get behind the majority of my decisions and behavior of past years. Of course, I threw away all of my self-improvement guides.

You Work to Live, Not the Other Way Around

Instead, I set up a small library of books that don’t preach “get better”, but say “stay the way you are”, or slow down a bit more. The interesting thing I noticed is that, after I looked into the deceleration strategies for one and a half year now, my productivity has actually increased, not decreased.

I don’t do multiple things at once anymore, and I don’t work into the nights and weekends anymore. I don’t write a todo list for the next day, and I don’t have a bucket list that says where I want to be in two, five, and ten years. I don’t get up at five to jog for an hour, read for an hour, before driving to the office after a buttered coffee.

You Are Not Perfect, But You Are Not Defective Either

Instead, I just do what has to be done, in the least agitated way possible. I don’t jump from opportunity to opportunity, from chance to chance. I don’t consider myself perfect, meaning I do still see room for improvement. However, I refuse to consider myself flawed, or something that needs improvement to be competitive.

This is merely the illusion that we are supposed to believe in to make the self-improvement preachers, as well as our employers rich, as they can live very well off the voluntary exploitation. If you can’t do it anymore, they’ll get the next one, until that one’s worn out too. There are enough human resources. I think of improvement in the opposite way. Not getting faster, but more relaxed. Not working more, but working less.

So, what’s the ideal way? To me, this is a sure thing. I plead for “stay the way you are”. More precisely, this means, make sure to keep control over all truly important things, but don’t get lost in the details. Don’t let yourself get hounded, no matter by who. As an employee, you’ve usually signed a contract for 40 hours a week. Stick to that. As a freelancer, be even more restrictive with that, as you are your most important asset, and you can’t afford to fall out of action.

So, stay the way you are, unless you’re already on the wrong path of self-improvement. If that’s the case, turn around as soon as possible. Right now, if you can.

Catégories: News dév web

How Do You Create a Timeless Web Design?

15 août, 2017 - 10:00

The thought experiment that CSS Tricks’ Chris Coyier came up with is an interesting one. How do you create a timeless web design for a site that is meant to last forever?

“By the Way, the Website Has to Run Unchanged For 10 Years!”

Have you ever thought about this? I’ll admit it, I haven’t. Chris Coyier asks himself, and us, how a website has to look when the client wants to run them without any changes for at least ten years. Looking at the continuously stabilizing best practices, this question might not be that uncommon in the future. Let’s see which results we can come up with together.

Chris Coyier lists different designer types that can react to the fictional client’s unusual request in very different ways. At one end of the spectrum, there’s the designer that deems any type of layout and design unnecessary and believes that a simple HTML text is fully sufficient. At the other end, there are the designers that would decline the request right away.

Most of us would probably be somewhere in between and think about what’s required to provide a contemporary design, and what can be forgone. When thinking about it in-depth, we can get to completely different ideas.

Deterring Example: the Million Dollar Homepage

A few days ago, I read an interesting article by the Library Innovation Lab, which dealt with the popular million dollar homepage. I’m sure you remember the website where every single pixel was sold to provide the operator with a million dollars in the end.

On 1,000 x 1,000 pixels, at a price point of one dollar per pixel, prospects were able to buy a spot to place their ads. The project made waves in 2005. The operator easily made the planned million dollars in a pretty short amount of time.

Today, 12 years later, the million dollar homepage still exists, although it seems like a relic of the past. Sure, one of the reasons for that is that there was no design guideline. This couldn’t result in anything but a completely random design. Under this aspect, we shouldn’t even judge the project.

The striking thing is something else. It’s the fact that more than half of the 3.000 links on the page can’t be accessed anymore. Almost 600 links lead into the web nirvana, and the others lead to partially suspicious redirects.

Thus, the million dollar homepage’s use is not only reduced for the visitors, but for the former pixel buyers as well.

What does this tell us when it comes to selling a client a website that can be run for at least 10 years without any changes?

Requirements For Sustainable Websites

It’s pretty obvious. We have to avoid links that don’t originate from our client’s link cosmos. And even then, we have to make sure that the client remembers to adjust the internal links whenever he makes changes.

We also have to forgo external resources, as we don’t have an influence on the permanent availability of these elements. As alluring as it may seem, we should avoid integrating external scripts from web repositories or communicated CDN locations. Instead, move required resources to the client’s site, and integrate them locally. However, make sure that the scripts don’t reference external resources. Prepare for a bit of work.

It’s also important to think about which functions might not be available in the future. Luckily, features that count as deprecated, can be identified rather easily.

In this context, using frameworks is not recommendable either. The new hot shit, like React or Vue is sure to be a problem in ten years. Vanilla JavaScript should be safe though.

What to do about fonts? Typography is a pretty important design elements. Coyier points out that it’s older than web design itself, so it shouldn’t be one of the expendable design elements. So, let’s use fonts. But, once again, save and integrate them locally. Instead of the older WOFF format, we can use WOFF2 to integrate a certain sustainability. We’ve already presented WOFF2 here.

The only trend that we can rely on for this project is minimalism. At least, it includes the modest use of animations. I would only use the latter when it comes to micro interactions.

In the future, we can probably still rely on SVG as our graphic technology. This way, we don’t depend on resolutions. Jpg and Png will still run the scene in ten years. WebP wasn’t able to establish itself so far, and it probably won’t do so in the future.

Generally, we do have to admit that we can only create a timeless website when it doesn’t have to provide advanced functionality. I would decline a request for an online shop that has to run unchanged for 10 years. A web business card or another purely representative presence shouldn’t be a problem though, as long as the above-mentioned requirements are met.

What do you think? What has to be provided for the client to be able to receive his 10-year website?

Catégories: News dév web

How to Know When and What to Upgrade About Your Website

14 août, 2017 - 11:00

Your website is a core part of your business, although you might not feel that it is. It sure is at the fore front of your battle for attention. Keep it shiny, performant and on top of the evolution.

Disclaimer: This post was written by Noupe staff through an activation with HireInfluence on behalf of Liquid Web. Although we received compensation for participating in the campaign, all thoughts and opinions are our own.

We all know these people. They put as low an effort as possible into their web presence and then run around complaining that their site has no value for their businesses. In the worst (and wrongest) case they claim that running a website is useless. I still hear business owner make these statements. It astonishes me every time. People, we are in the year 2017. Wake up. Well, as you are currently reading this article I suppose you are not that kind.

But even those that know the real value of a strong website struggle from time to time. As the site ages and the services mature should the site not reflect that? Should it not grow or at least develop over time?

The answers to these questions are not straightforward. Instead, it depends. It certainly depends on how you built the site initially. Did you use the latest technology, are you hosting with a powerful partner, did you put effort into the design, visually and in terms of UX? Even if you did, web technologies develop darn fast. On the other hand, you need not jump on every train that passes.

So, let’s take a look at the top reasons for upgrading your website and how to recognize them.

Your Web Host is Invisible

I know hosts that you don’t hear from at all unless you forget to pay their bill. In this case, you hear them very loudly and, boy, are they responsive then. I prefer hosts that keep themselves involved; hosts that do not only offer storage space and a cloud connection. It’s easy to come to the conclusion that these hosts do not even exist.

In fact, most hosting companies seem to not care much about the customers’ businesses. It’s their duty to provide space, but not more. Luckily, there are a few hosts that define themselves as an extension of you and your team. People that want your website to run in the best way possible.

You need a web host for people who make a living from the web, who create for themselves and their clients and who don’t feel web hosting being at the core of their business, although it sure is a core part of the necessary infrastructure.

People like you and me need a web host that takes the technical part of running the websites we create seriously and fights to keep them up and running. It’s not so much a question of machine power; it’s more a question of mindsets.

Liquid Web™ is an example of a web host that commits to both aspects. They offer the technical stack for any demand from their own data centers, not from a shared space in some other’s server farm. And they work with the right mindset, as they aim to become the World’s Most Loved Hosting Company where The Most Helpful Humans in Hosting work.

One of the Most Helpful Humans in Hosting at Work. (Photo: Liquid Web™)

Liquid Web™ specifically targets web designers, developers, and digital agencies creating mission-critical sites or storing business-critical data for small- and medium-sized businesses aka You.

They offer the whole array of possible hosting solutions. Whether you need Dedicated Server Hosting, Managed VPS Hosting, Cloud Hosting, PAAS or Managed WordPress Hosting, and more. It’s all there.

Does your website need a faster foundation? Consult the team over at Liquid Web™. They will be happy to support you on your way away from servers to services.

Your Website Does Not Function Well on Mobile Devices

Are you serious? But, yes, I know that the vast majority of sites out there do not function well on the smaller screens of mobile devices. This should be not only a warning sign but a bold red alert sign. Change that immediately.

I know that there are clients with small budgets, the smaller the business, the smaller the budget. But still, they need a digital representation on the web. Sure it’s supposed to look quite decent and not as if it was born yesterday. But it doesn’t have to be cutting edge technology either.

Do you have clients with these tiny budgets or are you one of these clients and looking to do a responsive website on your own? Take a look at Mobirise then.

Mobirise Builds Websites from Blocks. (Screenshot: Noupe)

Mobirise is a website builder that comes as an installable app for Windows and MacOS. The app is completely free to use, only some themes and extensions are available as a paid offering. The installation is done in two minutes, no information is requested. I had the software running faster than any web-based site builder I know. With Mobirise you use Bootstrap without even knowing or needing to know it.

There is no faster way of building a responsive version of your or your client’s website.

Your Website Has That Nineties Look

Design is not art. Design has to be effective in achieving its goals. Still, we can’t deny that a vísually appealing design has more chances to succeed than one that looks outdated.

(via Brutalist Websites)

Even visually appealing design can be bad, however. Always keep the goal of your site in mind. Does the design help with that? Make sure that the looks of your site fit with your brand. The latest hipster looks might not be fully appropriate for your tax consultant business.

Design is always best when it is frictionless. All these gimmicks or foot angles left unseen hamper the user in reaching the information or service he was looking for. As users are an illoyal bunch, you shouldn’t risk loosing them that easy. Do some serious UX design and follow the best practices.

Even the visuals can be objectified, more or less. We have the psychology of color, the color theory, typography knowledge and we know that people like proportions such as the golden cut promotes.

Conclusion: Don’t Go With Every Fashion, But Care For Solid Basics

First and foremost, find the web host of your dreams. The right technology supported by a motivated team of staffers can do wonders to your web presence and free you from the tedious tasks that don’t bring in any money. Care for responsiveness in design. There are way too many smartphones and tablets out there to ignore all these potential customers. Keep your website visually updated. Don’t go with the latest fashion. Instead turn to proven tactics, knowledge, and skills to #KeepBuildingBrilliant.

Catégories: News dév web

40 Excellent SVG Tools and Dozens of Icon Sets

14 août, 2017 - 10:00

On one hand, the web is becoming more and more visual, and even the shortest of texts are supported by images. On the other hand, we have to pay lots of attention to loading times, in order to prevent us from scaring off visitors, or Google. With the development of the responsive web, a third component was added: a graphic’s ability to handle the different resolutions.

SVG image material, also known as scalable vector graphics, is the solution. Small file sizes and a flexible adjustment to the screen size are given here. We have compiled the prettiest online tools and icon sets.

SVG Web Tools Method Draw

Method Draw is a free web app to edit SVG files with. Specifically designed as an online vector editor, its controls are very simple: open a file, edit it, and save: done!


© Method Draw

Snap.svg

With Snap.svg, SVG files can be created and edited for free, even turning them into lovely animations.


© Snap.svg

SVG Morpheus

Those who want to see some motion in their icons use SVG Morpheus, allowing two or more icons to transition into each other.


© SVG Morpheus

quasi-svg

Use this app to create pretty crystalline patterns. Plenty of input fields allow you to create custom patterns, which can be used as backgrounds for your projects.


© berjon.com

Plain Pattern

The Plain Pattern App is an easy to control application for the creation of patterns that can be exported from the SVG format.


© kennethcachia.com

Chartist.js

Chartist helps designers and developers to turn contents into interactive dynamic diagrams, which look the same on all terminal devices.


© gionkunz.github.io

bonsai

Bonsai offers a library for graphic editing, which also supports an API and render platform for SVG.


© bonsaijs.org

SVGMagic

If the browser is too old to display SVG, SVGMagic can help you out. Blocked SVG content is converted into PNGs, allowing the browser to display it. Here’s where jQuery comes into play in the background.


© SVGMagic

Glyphter

Glyphter provides you with easy access to 16 different sources of SVG-optimized icons and fonts.


© Glyphter

iconizr

If you have a whole bunch of SVG animations or graphics, put them all together: Iconizr converts them into an applicable CSS icon kit.


© iconizr

SVG Icon Sets Free SVG icons for popular brands


© simpleicons.org

Responsive E-Commerce Icon Set


© plugandplaydesign.co.uk

Freebies – Social flat icons set


© Christophe Kerebel

Simple Line Icons – Freebie


© Nimasha Perera

Web Hosting & Technical Support Icons


© Vecteezy

Free Fruit Icons


© James George

UI UX Icons


© Armantas Zvirgzdas

Free vector Foldicons


© James George

60 Free Industrial Icons


© speckyboy.com

Rounded Icon Set


© Jerry Low for Myplanet

The Free Bitcoin Icon Set


© speckyboy.com

Freebie: Pixelvicon Icon Set (80 Icons)


© Mohammad Amiri

Free vector icons


© Dan Skrobak

60 Stylish Round Icons – Meet The Roundicons


© smashingmagazine.com

Stroke Gap Icons – Webfont


© graphicburger.com

60 Astonishing Flat Icons For Free


© smashingmagazine.com

Basic


© linea

36 Beautiful Rounded Icons


© smashingmagazine.com

240 Free Kitchen / Restaurant Icons


© ewebdesign.com

200 Free Valentine’s Day Icon Pack


© ewebdesign.com

50 File Type Vector Icons


© Chris B

Free Download: 40 Valentine’s Icons


© webdesignerdepot.com

CaptainIconWeb


© mariodelvalle

150 outlined icons – PSD AI SVG Webfont


© Dario Ferrando

nastyicons.com


© nastyicons.com

Metrize Icons


© alessioatzeni.com

Simple Line Icons – 100+ free icons


© Mirko Monti

200 Holidays & Travel Icons Pack


© graphicsfuel.com

100 Free Line-Style Icons


© elegantthemes.com

Weather icons set Free Vector


© freepik.com

Catégories: News dév web

Nostalgia Alert: Windows 95 in the Browser

11 août, 2017 - 10:00

Do you miss the nineties and the early days of visual interfaces for the mass market? If you do, I have a functional version of Windows 95 that doesn’t need to be installed for you.

I’ll admit it, this is an article for the lunch break, but this project made me feel nostalgic. The execution is actually impressive from a technological viewpoint, even though the project is two years old already.

20 Year Old Developer Recreates 20 Year Old OS

The Scottish developer Andrea Faulds, who’s younger than Windows 95, managed to bring a nearly fully functional version of the ancient OS to your browser. No plugins or other tricks are needed here. This Windows 95 runs via Javascript in the browser. For the execution as a browser app, Faulds used the runtime compiler Emscripten, that compiles C and C++ to the runtime in JavaScript.

Win95: As Much of a Puzzle As Ever

You should be aware that “working” with this emulation is more of a puzzle than anything, as the image buildup and the reaction times are very slow. This might actually match the performance from back then. After all, humans don’t have a good memory for pain. Maybe, we’ve simply forgotten the slowness of the ’95 Windows.

One thing that I like a lot is that the feeling of nostalgia will vanish pretty quickly, once you realize what modern OS actually have to offer in comparison. I don’t think anyone actually wants Windows 95 back. Everything was better in the old days, my ass. More like “We had nothing”.

Even the Unstable Internet Explorer is Here

The perfect match with the original is the fact that the Internet Explorer crashes all the time. Faulds did a great job with that :) Microsoft Pain is available too, allowing you to keep creating awful graphics if you want to.

Oh boy, Minesweeper looked horrible back then, and I won’t even talk about Solitaire. It impressed us nonetheless. I can still remember dozens of lunch breaks spent with Solitaire.

Go Ahead, Waste Your Time

Windows 95 for the browser is still a veritable way to waste your lunch break, and to follow nostalgic emotions. Of course, this implies that you have been able to use a computer in 1995. Otherwise, you won’t care about this Win95 emulation at all.

Catégories: News dév web

Subscription Models: Does it Make Sense to Become the Netflix of Design?

10 août, 2017 - 10:00

Subscription models are on the rise. There’s no doubting that. Could a subscription model be a good choice for designers?

Subscriptions Are Everywhere

I’m a fan of the subscription concept. Thus, you probably won’t be surprised to hear that I’m subscribed to Sky, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Save.tv, Zattoo, Deezer, Spotify, and Apple Music. I pay for my domains on a monthly basis, just like my websites, and the newspapers that I want to read regularly. When it comes to books, I use Kindle Unlimited. My tariff for mobile calls and data is a monthly flat rate, and I also pay for my internet access in my home office like that. Data gets stored in Dropbox, and notes are saved in Evernote. In both cases, I pay annually.

This way, I make sure that I have access to the entire supply at any time. Usage varies from month to month. The amount of money taken from my account stays the same, but it’s acceptable so that I don’t have to think about it for too long.

More and more providers take inspiration from Netflix and co. You can now subscribe to monthly deliveries of new razor blades or new diapers for your first born. Most of the today’s digital services work like that.

Subscriptions For Designers

The amount of designers on the market that work with subscriptions is increasing as well. Just think of all the theme clubs where you pay a flat rate, but gain access to all the themes of the respective club. Stock material is also being offered as a monthly subscription increasingly more often, providing you with a certain maximum number of elements. In most cases, stock providers also offer illustrations or other vector elements, like infographics components. Envato Elements, the popular design market place, is moving in the same direction. The same goes for different font foundries.

Adobe’s Creative Cloud wasn’t popular at first but turned out to be a success in the end. Here, users have been paying monthly fees for a couple of years now, in return for access to the entire tool palette of the graphic giant.

For social media or email marketing, subscriptions are the typical approach. Edgar, Hootsuite, MailChimp, and so on, all go for monthly payments. Performance differences are priced via contingents or features. SEO agencies like working on a subscription base too.

Designer Subscriptions: the Advantages Prevail

Classic design and developer services aren’t typically offered as a subscription. The benefits are quite obvious, though.

Projects never come in regularly. You know this. Sometimes, there’s a lot of work, and sometimes there’s no work at all. A balance that would cover your time well without overloading you is incredibly rare.

Plannable Income

Had you designed your services as a subscription model, you’d have a pretty fixed, monthly income, as well as an upper limit. You could easily plan for growth. More workers would need more subscription revenue, allowing you to keep them occupied for a long time.

Today, you can book freelancers to help you on projects, or decline larger commissions. Sustainable growth can’t really be created on this base. However, if you hire staff, some months will cost, and some will gain you money. Hopefully, over the span of the year, you earn more than you pay.

Less Conflict Potential

If I look at where most conflicts in classic client businesses come from, I can see two main aspects. Firstly, there’s almost always a disagreement in terms of the contract scope. The client want to get more than you think he commissioned. Secondly, there’s always an argument regarding the question of the time for payment. While you think that the scope of services for the third payment was met, your client has a very different opinion.

If you had a subscription model, both of these aspects would be eliminated. For one, there wouldn’t really be a contract scope. The client would be free to make use of your services however he wants to. He wants to scrap the entire design and rebuild it? No problem. Payments are due every month. There would be no more arguments regarding this aspect either.

Simplicity is Key

When developing a subscription model, it is recommendable to keep it as simple as possible. The easier the model, the more likely it is that the customers choose it. Here, Apple has been showing us how to sell for ten years now. Apple reduces the purchase decision for a smartphone to a simple yes or no. Clients won’t face upsetting configuration orgies.

Pricing Difficulties

The main difficulty of pricing a design subscription is the fact that the service is not provided and made use of continuously. Naturally, a design project is a lot more work up to the golive than it is afterwards.

Using a minimum run time could be a possible option. Similarly to the mobile companies handle handle subsidized smartphones, you could make back your effort over the first 12 to 24 months, and then offer a lower monthly rate after that. Of course, this would require a standardized scope of services, as well as a size definition of the website you are commissioned to create, depending on the number of pages, for instance.

An approach similar to a leasing contract is possible too. The customer pays an extra fee, in order to compensate the initial effort before the subscription model comes into play.

The Client Benefits From Higher Liquidity and Better Marketability

Whatever the solution for your services may look like, it’s important to think about it. Here, you can be optimistic, as the liquidity argument doesn’t only work for you, but for your typical client as well. Otherwise, cars would be bought a lot more than leased. In reality, it’s the other way around.

So what’s the problem with thinking about offering your design services like Netflix offers films?

Catégories: News dév web

Dreary: Does UX Design Kill Your Brand’s Core?

9 août, 2017 - 10:00

It’s a clear statement: UX design is boring. Thus, it kills any brand, always leaving the same stale aftertaste.

Leveling Down: Nobody Sets Himself Apart From Others

Kim Jong Anderson, a Danish designer, and founder has a clear stance on the position of a conventional UX designer. According to him, UX design kills the brand core of any business, as it always works and has to work similarly.

He states that UX design was more of a formal discipline. He says that it was pretty much intended to apply the same principles to all websites. After all, that is the only way to create recognizable patterns for user orientation. Empiric is what gives the UX designer the objective knowledge on where the user is most likely to click, how long the path to the result can be, and how information and navigation should be designed.

Accurate and Rational, Absolutely Symmetrical. Yawn…

He says it was logical that the application of these principles would result in tendentially similar websites. Anderson even uses the unflattering term “Template Syndrome.” He claims that everything was forced to fit the template, and adjusted to do so.

Supposedly, for web designers, there’s nothing left to do other than making the UX designer’s wireframes a bit prettier, and adding colors, like painting a coloring book. And, even though all of this may seem entirely logical, and easy to sell to customers and colleagues, it was still the wrong approach.

According to him, this would never result in excellent work. Instead, the results would always seem interchangeable, dull, and not different from the masses of other “Best Practices.”

Where’s the Brand, Where is the Excitement?

Brands have to try to impress, though. They have to exceed the expectations of their potential customers and have to be innovative and thrilling. Nobody would stay on a website because of convincing boredom. It would take better arguments than that.

She’s Screaming With Joy. On Your Website?

Thus, Anderson recommends moving the brand core more into the center of the development process. If it were necessary to burn the templates, you’d have to do so. Standardization was a good thing looking at the financial aspects, but creative work could not be churned out on the assembly line. And even if that were the case, it wouldn’t do the result any good.

Because of that, his suggestion is uniting the positions of the art director, and the UX designer. For lone wolves, this means either leaving the rudder to the artist, without putting the seemingly plausible best practice into the foreground.

Emotionality over rationality – that seems like a good summary of Anderson’s appeal. But is it really true that rationality kills the brand core?

Emotionality and Rationality as Opponents?

I think that a differentiation would be appropriate here. Not all brands are highly emotional and in need of a thrillingly exciting web presence. In fact, for most brands, a formal, reserved approach would be the more promising one, and also what the customers would expect. A financial service provider with an unforgettable web performance; do I, as a customer, want this?

Okay, Nothing Should Look This Old Anymore.

On the other hand, Coca-Cola shouldn’t present itself like an accountant. Personally, I don’t see this problem at all, though. Sure, they are well-made but horribly boring internet presences. But I’d doubt that the UX designer who has destroyed the brand core with his rational considerations is to blame. That’s just the fault of bad designers.

In any case, it can’t hurt to keep the emotional aspect in mind, next to the “functional patterns” and “best practices.” Is the design fun? Is it memorable? Does it suit the brand? Does it invoke sympathies? A majority of purchase decisions are made intuitively rather than deliberately.

Thus, a combination of proven UX design and a focus on the brand core would be crucial. The “Either-or” scenario as presented by Anderson is just as ineffective as a one-sided reduction to boring default templates.

UX Designers Are Surprised

UX designers would probably throw in that their job is to optimize the user experience, which requires the integration of a brand’s distinctive characteristics. The user experience can only be truly good when rational and emotional aspects are considered equally.

Looking at it from this perspective, Anderson seems to know more bad than good UX designers. Or is the average UX designer a stiff bureaucrat that builds his interfaces following strict checklists?

Catégories: News dév web

Emojis: Useful Resources Around the Popular Symbols

8 août, 2017 - 10:00

The rise of the smartphones was the rise of the emojis as well. You’ll rarely find a short message without the tiny symbols.

In communication, emojis are valuable, as they can make up for a part of the missing nonverbals. Pure text communication can be misunderstood. A winking smiley or an angry face leave users with much less room for interpretation.

In today’s article, I’ll introduce you to a few resources around the emojis topic. You’ll surely be able to make use of some of them.

Emoji Finder

The Emoji Finder by Graham Hicks is especially useful for desktop use. You won’t have any trouble using it. Enter a word into the search bar at the top, and one or multiple emojis that fit the term will be returned as a result. The finder presents a scrollable list with all associated symbols. In the screenshot example, I searched for “Love.” Below that, you can see the results.

Now, if you click an emoji from the results, it’s copied to the clipboard, from where it can be pasted to Facebook, Twitter, or Slack. The display of the emojis is large enough for them to be used as screenshots, and as a graphic in Word or other programs.

You can also add the search term to the Emoji Finder’s URL directly, like this: https://emojifinder.com/love

Find the Emoji Finder Here >>

Emoji Pics Composer

The Emoji Pics Composer by Amplifr allows you to create a social media cover pic, as shown in the screenshot example. Add symbols to the three spots for freely selectable icons. Within this selection, there’s the standard categorization, as well as a free text search.

Once you’ve chosen your icons, add a logo or a short text below them. The background can be configured using a color picker.

Find the Emoji Pics Composer Here >>

Emojify

Tomasz Stefaniak’s Emojify is a URL shortener. Similarly to Bit.ly and its competition, Emojify creates short links that can then be used to share the original page on social media.

The unique thing about Emojify is the fact that the short links contain an emoji, as you can tell by this screenshot example for Noupe. This doesn’t have any actual use but looks funny. In exchange for money, Tomasz also offers a short link domain where you get to choose the emoji yourself. This might be attractive for surfers, guitarists, and other services that can easily be described using one emoji.

Go to Emojify >>

The History of Emojis

Our colleagues over at the Webdesigner Depot have created an in-depth article on the history of emojis. Author Marc Schenker explains how the popular symbols were created, and where, why, and how they were used originally.

You’ll definitely be interested in the story about Shigetaka Kurita from Japan, who felt like text communication was too boring, in the nineties already.

Read the Article >>

Emoji SEO

Kelsey Jones of Search Engine Journal deals with the question whether it is possible to rank for emoji-based searches, and figures out that it actually happens. She experimented with different combinations of an emoji and the local search parameter “near me.”

With a pizza emoji and “near me,” she managed to find a local pizzeria. This pizzeria most probably hadn’t optimized their web presence for this emoji, however.

The experiment shows that search engines process emojis, and it seems like they index them as well. In reality, however, nobody seems to incorporate emojis into their search terms. It’s still possible, though.

In the near future, it may well make sense to pay attention to the optimization for certain emojis during SEO. At least keep it in mind.

Find the article Here >>

Catégories: News dév web

Awareness and Design, a Dream Team

7 août, 2017 - 10:00

If you are in the process of integrating awareness into your life, you should also do so on the professional level. In design, this helps you in many different ways.

Barely Anyone Draws the Right Conclusions Voluntarily

At the start of last year, I started integrating awareness exercises into my daily routine. In the beginning, I had massive difficulties doing that. After all, I was used to 100 percent busting my ass upon entering the office.

Only once I started getting physical symptoms of burnout, I came to the conclusion that I should not ignore my body’s warning signs any longer. “I’ll sleep when I’m dead. Sleep is for the weak.” All of this has been a part of my mindset up to that point.

By now, I live a lot calmer, and surprisingly, I don’t accomplish that much less. However, my whole approach has changed. The first thing I got rid of was multitasking. Today, I complete my tasks one by one. While working on one, I don’t think about the next one either. One by one, step by step.

Awareness – You Can do it, You Just Have to Start.

Awareness is nothing you’d have to put effort into to learn it, even though that was what I expected initially, so I visited tons of courses. Awareness simply means focusing on the task at hand, and only on that. Essentially, it’s about differentiation.

There’s one ability you may have to learn first, though, and it’s how to say no. No, I’m currently working on XYZ. No, I can’t take care of that as well. No, no, no. No is immensely relaxing.

When focusing on a single thing, all other things, like your remaining tasks, become a lot less scary. Procrastination, creative embargos – all of this goes away after a while.

I mentioned differentiation. By that, I didn’t just mean differentiating oneself from human time thieves, which you’ll find in virtually every office, but the distinction from time thieves of any kind. When working on task A, put your smartphone away, turn on airplane mode, don’t surf the web on the side, and close the Twitter and Facebook apps.

The First Exercise: Only You, the Computer, and a Task

Now, there’s only you, your computer, and the task at hand. I recommend starting to practice awareness right there. Don’t get distracted. If it does happen, stop the distraction, and move your focus back to the actual task. It’s pretty logical that this type of focus leads to better and faster results. In that regard, awareness doesn’t block you; it actually accelerates you.

Once you’ve gotten in some practice in awareness during design work, you may have gotten into the state known as flow a few times. Now, you can expand your awareness exercises to other areas.

Other Attentive Behaviors That Improve Your Condition and Your Work Result

During conversations, no matter with who, put your smartphone to the side and just listen. You’ll be surprised at the things you catch when you’re doing nothing else. Listen very carefully, especially when it comes to customers. This doesn’t only show appreciation, but professionality as well. All of that for doing nothing but being completely present and attentive.

When it comes to project time schedules, don’t put yourself under pressure. Calculate your effort conservatively, but of course, not superabundantly. Keep in mind that you want to work on projects one by one, not simultaneously. Apparently, this comes with a longer duration of the individual project. During calculation, keep in mind that you only have a limited working time per day. Be attentive when it comes to yourself. You are the most valuable tool for earning your income. Don’t break it, and maintain it regularly.

Before you start designing, define the goals you need to achieve, and agree on fixed success criteria with your client. This is a criterion of differentiation as well. Projects often become stressful when there are different ideas on what is included in the scope of service, and what isn’t. This can be avoided by being attentive in that regard.

Be cautious when it comes to your toolbox. Don’t jump from tool to tool because everything is cute and colorful. Tie yourself down, at least for the project, preferably in general. You’ve been using Photoshop for your layouts for ten years? Stick with it. Sketch may be better. Who knows? But do you really want to put in the learning effort, just to find out that Sketch is half a second faster? I’ve decided to stick to the tools that I master. After all, when walking, I always rely on the same motions as well, avoiding experiments.

Are you not ready for these insights? If that’s the case, my “No “Bullshit” Guide for Creative Workers” might be a good point to get you started.

Catégories: News dév web

Who Invented the Design of the Eighties?

4 août, 2017 - 10:00

I grew up in the eighties. Back then, I loved the typical 80ies design. Today, I have a more differentiated opinion on that.

On behalf of Vox, Dion Bell has looked into the question who had a significant influence on the design of the decade with the best music ever. In contrast to other decades, in the eighties, there actually was a single modern Italian studio that has shaped the entire decade.

(Photo: Dennis Zanone)

 

The Memphis Group From Italy Defined the Look of the Eighties

Said studio is the Milan-based studio “The Memphis Group,” and you’ll definitely recognize their style if you have been alive and aware of your surroundings back then. The Memphis Group was able to draw attention towards them from 1981 to 1987. In a fashion similar to Colani, the Italians dared to touch virtually any product. Their designs didn’t always meet the taste of the masses. Especially their furniture collection was more of a collector’s piece than a product for the mass market.

The following video displays the era of the Memphis Group and is sure to rekindle tons of memories of the good old days. Take these six minutes for nostalgic feelings, and learn something along the way.

P.S.: Although I grew up in the eighties, I have never heard of the Memphis Group before. So don’t fret if you feel the same way.

(Image Source for the Article Image: The Memphis Group)

Catégories: News dév web

CSS Grid Layout: Masonry Layout Made From Pure HTML and CSS

3 août, 2017 - 10:00

Codepen user Kseso convinces us with a simple but impressive application case for CSS Grid, by creating a clean Masonry layout from pure HTML and CSS.

CSS Grid Layout is Available Across the Board

The fact that the CSS Grid Layout is an important design function for modern websites has been a given ever since its near comprehensive availability in all modern browsers. As a perfect addition to Flexbox, CSS Grid provides the option to design entire pages, while Flexbox is restricted to individual element areas within the page.

By now, CSS Grid Layout is supported natively. Opera Mini is an exception. In the Internet Explorer, the prefix ms is required. The same applies to Microsoft Edge in its current version 15. Both IE and Edge don’t fully support CSS Grid, even with the prefix. This flaw will be fixed starting from version 16 of the current Redmond browser. If you can afford to only develop projects for current browsers, you can go all out here.

Kseso is a very active border crosser that likes to experiment in the cutting edge area. He likes to add the hashtag #impoCSSible, documenting that he doesn’t present an established default solution.

Simple But Universal Masonry Layout With CSS Grid

The Masonry layout that Kseso presents in this Codepen is meant to be an inspiration, but it can also be used as it is. The necessary prefixes are missing. However, you can easily add them yourself; the code is not that long.

Kseso also didn’t put much effort into optimizing the solution, but it should be sufficient for many application cases. Aside from the version of pure HTML and CSS, Kseso offers another version, where he integrated a JavaScript for lazy loading, which is the need-based loading of images. For large image galleries, this solution should be more practicable.

Kseso Has a Lot More to Offer

It’s worth following Kseso on Twitter. He also runs a blog, but it’s only available in Spanish. The Google Translator can somewhat help with that, but it doesn’t handle Kseso’s way of enunciating too well. The blog layout is interesting. It takes a lot of inspiration from Tweetdeck and HootSuite, and will seem familiar to social media fans right away.

Kseso had already been publishing on CSS Grid layout in 2015. He was far ahead of his time back then. I’ll forgo integrating source code here, as you can easily grab everything from the Codepen, and potentially even experiment with the parameters. Let’s go.

By the way: In this article including a video, Jen Simmons shows you what the new CSS Grid inspector from the Firefox Nightly build is capable of. You can definitely use it in this context.

Catégories: News dév web

How to Tell if a Design is Good or Bad

2 août, 2017 - 10:00

Your own taste is a bad guide when it comes to the question whether your design is good or bad. Let’s take a more objective approach.

Design is Not an Art Form

You might know the old saying that the bait has to be tasty for the fish, and not for the fisher. This is a step in the right direction when it comes to judging the bait, which is a design in our case, with you and the client joining forces as the fisher. The target group of your design is the fishes.

Even among fishes, you won’t find a unanimous opinion. Thus, we can’t rely on the target group’s subjective opinion just as little as we can rely on our, or our client’s opinion. The taste question, asking if you like something or not, is definitely not suitable for judging if a design is good or bad anyway. Of course, taste is a factor in the further process, but not the main one. More on that later.

Design is not an art, but a method of communication. A few designers that define themselves as artists won’t like this, but that doesn’t make it any less true. And as the products are not art, they are not subject to the same conditions. You can try greeting your potential client by throwing two pounds of butter into the corner of the conference room, expecting him to thank you for his new grease corner. I’m pretty sure you’ll be disappointed.

Design serves a purpose, which, in most cases, is selling a service or product. This is never the case for art. Art itself is the purpose. Oftentimes, it is supposed to sell, but it always sells itself. Design is much more ambitious. This point, the judgment of the purpose, is where we start with the objective criteria that show if a design is good or bad.

Does the Design do Its Job?

Look at the following design. It doesn’t fulfill its purpose. Some may find it pretty. But that doesn’t change anything, as the mug is supposed to allow the user to consume a drink. It doesn’t do that. Thus, the design is bad.

The problem you need to solve or the purpose you need to fulfill is not always as easy to see as it is with this mug. That’s why it’s even more important to talk to your client to figure out what they want your design to do. Is it for a website that is supposed to sell a product? Is it supposed to entertain? Does the client want a logo that is attractive to his target group? Who’s that?

The more you know about the wish of your client, the more efficient your design can be.

Does the Design Suit the Brand?

When designing a great Away-Jersey for the German soccer club BVB 09, that is as comfortable as warm sun rays on your skin, as sturdy as titanium, and looks fantastic, but you end up coloring it blue and white, then that’s not a good design. This wouldn’t fit the brand at all.

Ideally, the brand already has a loyal audience, customers – a target group. This target group will ave some core ideas of the design for the brand. Going back to the example, blue and white won’t be a part of that. In the beginning, Red Bull heavily supported niche sports. Accordingly, the previous design was more extreme, closer to sports like surfing, motocross, and parkouring. The wider the target group, the tamer the design has to become. With a very limited group, you can focus on the characteristics of that audience, creating proximity and credibility. A more conventional approach is recommended for more widespread brands.

So, the design has to fit the brand, and transport said brand to the target group. If you can tick off this sentence for your design, it’s a good design.

Is the Design Not Recognizable as Such?

Poor design will be noticed, but negatively. You’ll notice bad design, for example, when the used font is way too small, or the website’s layout doesn’t adjust to the smartphone display correctly. Bad design creates a learning effort on its own. However, if the design feels seamless, and doesn’t create an expense for the user, it’s good.

Does the Design Stick to Approved Best Practices and Fundamentals?

Of course, a design has to look good as well. These good looks shouldn’t be determined by your taste, but rather using data and facts. The psychology of colors is a good starting point for creating the color scheme, while typographic basics help you select and use appropriate fonts. For the division of your design, you can use the theory of the golden ratio for orientation.

This will result in a visually appealing design, fully independent of individual tastes.

Catégories: News dév web

Design Resources: Curated Collection of Recommendable Designer Bookmarks

1 août, 2017 - 10:00

There are lots of collections of design resources. Only a few of them are curated properly. Jessica Paoli promises to do so with her Designresources.party.

Jessica Paoli is a designer like you and me. She takes care of her toolbox with useful bookmarks, although she’s weeding out more than she’s sorting in. On her Github page on the project, Jessica says that just because a service exists, this doesn’t mean she’d recommend it. Of course, she admits that her list is a product of her own opinions and beliefs. However, she claims to pay close attention to quality, so she wouldn’t inflate her list in favor of quantity.

The Party of Design Resources

The collection that you can find under Design Resources Party is a recommendation list that has grown over many years, and Jessica has previously only shared it with her close colleagues. We’re lucky that this experienced colleague of ours now chose to make her recommendations publicly accessible.

The collection under the above-linked party domain is identical to her Github list. The first one looks better though. Good thing she didn’t stick to her previous format as a Google Doc.

Adding to the resource collection via Github is asked for explicitly. Whether the respective suggestion is actually included in the list, is up to Jessica’s editorial decision.

Books, Magazines, Fonts, Tools, Stock Material and More

Jessica doesn’t think of resources as a collection of as many templates as possible, as known from other places on the web. Instead, she tries to give recommendations on various topics that we face in our daily design routine.

Here, you’ll find tips on accessibility as well as design books and magazines worth reading, or websites that want to inspire. Of course, Jessica also provides you with tips on good stock material and important tools.

The website for the collection is pretty much a one-pager, but you can directly access its individual segments using the navigation on the left. The individual elements are equipped with brief descriptions and links, which take you straight to the respective website.

Conclusion: Significant Expansion of Your Bookmark List

Although I can’t really get behind the association with a party domain, the collection is still impressive. Even long-time colleagues will find recommendations they didn’t know before. Thus, take Jessica’s list as a significant boost to your bookmarks.

Catégories: News dév web

Modern Web Design Means Achieving Goals

31 juillet, 2017 - 10:00

Before you start sketching design suggestions, you should make sure you know the goal of the website you’re creating. If you do that, you can focus on the things that matter right away.

The Gold Digging Years: As Pretty as Possible.

In the nineties, questions were not our primary focus. I’ll admit it. Us designers wanted to create a cute website with a few unique features to brag about. Seemingly, that’s what the customer used to want as well, as he didn’t really look into marketing aspects either. The only relevant question was: how much is it?

This way, we got to fire up our favorite pixel editor right after the first conversation and create a bunch of different visual drafts. Here, we made sure that all the drafts were very different from each other. There was at least one repulsive one among them every time. Sales psychology tells us that people have an easier time making decisions the more extreme the options are.

Of course, some designs weren’t pretty at all. This one is still alive today, and just as ugly as ever. (Screenshot: Noupe) Modern Era: We’re Still Not Over Pretty Things

Those were the days. Now, when I look around the web, I feel like there is a significant number of designers that still follow that approach. Even though web design has turned into a completely different direction in the past twenty years.

Then again, it’s no surprise that beauty is still an important factor. After all, there are tons of showcases dealing with that type of design. Name a designer that doesn’t visit SiteInspire or Httpster, or at least Dribbble every once in a while.

At httpster, it’s All About Beauty. (Screenshot: Noupe)

The criterion for the inclusion of a design in all of these services is never the goal: “look at how much my client made off that website.” It’s always all about the beauty, or individual aspects, like a draft’s responsiveness.

All the tons of template and theme sellers and gifters don’t care about anything else. Basically, they don’t even care about the looks. Some of them are focused on profit, but that only goes as far as the revenue made off the own theme.

Pretty Above All Else, Or is the Goal More Important After All?

Thus, the actual goal is only a criterion if we make it one. The catch is that we have to start very early if we want the goal to be the primary factor. “Very early” doesn’t mean after the third draft, but rather before the first one.

Once you think about it, you’ll quickly realize that the design will have to subordinate itself to the defined goal. It’s not possible to go for any look and hoping that it will meet the defined goal.

The first question when designing a new website, or redesigning an old one is: “What is the client trying to achieve with his site?”

Does he want to sell the product? Does he want to generate readers? Does he want to gain subscribers? Does he want to inform people about his activities? Does he only want to entertain people?

Whatever the goal of the website may be, you have to figure it out. Not only the design itself but also the content depends on what the website is supposed to accomplish. How are you going to write a call to action if you don’t know the desired action?

Not All Clients Know Their Own Goals

Surprisingly, you’ll encounter customers that will be caught off guard by the question on what the goal is. There are quite a few people that don’t think about this. If that’s the case, it’s imperative that you start that process. This is for your own good as well. Once a project’s goals are defined, it is possible to evaluate its success regarding them.

This is how to get away from the client’s subjective feeling. Who doesn’t know this type of client?

Even if you have the impression that your client knows exactly what he wants to accomplish, don’t rely on that alone. Put your own thoughts into it. Intense thinking has never hurt anybody. This always puts you in the position of an expert that can do more than just put out lovely layouts.

Of course, your individual view on the given problem can also lead to aspects that the business economists in the client’s business couldn’t even spot.

Reaching the Desired Audience is Always One of the Goals

By the way, there’s no reason not to use the one goal all websites have in common as the starting point for your deliberations. Every site wants to connect a business with its customers, its audience. What’s the most efficient way to create this connection?

You’ll only be able to answer this question if you know the audience. Have your client describe the structure of his audience. Who’s the competition, and how do they approach the situation?

The project definition is what comes at the end of the process. What do we do, what do we do it for, and how do we do it? How can we tell if we accomplished the goal? What’s success in this context? Of course, the project definition has to be attuned with the client.

Design Decisions Originate From the Project Definition

Now is the time to start with the design. Here, it is important to base on the gained realization from the target audience analysis in the design. For instance, you may have figured out that the target group exclusively consists of people above sixty. Now, it would not be a bad choice to select an easily legible font with enhanced size. The contrast situation on the website also deserves special attention.

You can only react once you know who will visit the website. Only if you reach the targeted audience, the customer will reach his goal. And only then, the project can be called successful.

Catégories: News dév web

Tool Tip: Quickly Uncover Image Theft With Copypants

28 juillet, 2017 - 10:00

Who doesn’t know this? You use your own image on your website. Others like them too, and suddenly, your image is being passed around. Copypants helps you protect your property.

There Are Lots of Services Against Image Thieves

There are many services that help you find image thieves. The easiest method is feeding your images to the Californian image search and asking it to search for its application areas. This works just fine, but it’s pretty inconvenient and takes some time.

Other services work automatically, but some of them demand some extreme prices. One thing I really like about the new service Copypants from Vancouver, Canada is that the Canadians don’t just find and report. They offer further support as well. But let’s start at the beginning.

Turn on and Wait, That’s All You Have to do. (Screenshot: Noupe) Copypants Doesn’t Just Help You Find Thieves; it Continues to Help Afterwards

Connect Copypants to the online storage location of your images, typically your website. However, it’s also possible to monitor Dropbox, 500px, Facebook, Flickr, and Deviantart. With Facebook and Dropbox, you can limit the monitoring to individual folders, and in all other services, all images are being monitored.

Once connected, Copypants continuously looks for copies of your images on the web, reporting the results. You can view them in the service’s backend at all times.

Now, of course, this brings up the question how you’re going to handle the reported applications of your images. Here, Copypants provides multiple options. Apparently, you might notice that the indicated image isn’t even yours. You can let Copypants know about that with a simple click. You may also see that the reported image usage was authorized. In this case, you’d allow for the image to be used with a click.

From Soft to Draconic: Copypants Helps You Enforce Your Image Rights. (Screenshot: Copypants)

Now, it might be a utilization that you would permit if you were mentioned as the author. Here, Copypants lets you contact the image thief, asking them to place an author reference. However, if your image is being used commercially, you’d probably want to achieve a licensing fee, instead of a simple author credit. Copypants also supports this approach, while dealing with the payment traffic as well. As Ultima Ratio, Copypants lets you turn in a takedown notice following the DMCA.

Copypants Offers an Excellent Cost-Benefit-Ratio

This way, you’re well equipped when it comes to image rights. You probably already expected that Copypants’ feature set wouldn’t be available for free. However, there actually is a free account that allows you to monitor up to 100 images from one storage location. Two further actions (demanding a takedown, licensing fee, and so forth) are available for free as well. In the case of a successful raise of a license fee, Copypants keeps a 30 percent cut. In the charged plans, Copypants’ share amounts to five percent of the fee.

If the free account is insufficient, you should think about getting a starter account for 8.25 USD a month (annual payment). It protects 2,500 images from two storage locations and allows for five actions a week. Even the Growth account for about 25 USD and 15,000 images won’t break your bank if you create images professionally. One successful license fee demand can already pay for the service.

Conclusion: At Least Check Out the Free Account

Copypants left an excellent impression on me. Finally, the topic is dealt with in its entirety, and supported by features. The costs are very reasonable, even for the largest accounts. Get a free account and check out the service. You can upgrade whenever you want to.

Catégories: News dév web

Managing Permissions With the WordPress Plugin Members 2.0

27 juillet, 2017 - 10:00

After eight years of development, the free WordPress plugin Members has recently made it to version 2.0. And it might well become the standard for member websites.

Members 2.0: No Genuine Member Management System

Members was created by WordPress celeb Justin Tadlock and is eight years old already. For a long time, Tadlock didn’t put much take into Members and pretty much only fixed errors. Recently, he’s been going on the offensive.

In version 2 of his plugin for permission management, he turned Members into a framework for the construction of a member website. Up to that point, Members was not capable of more than adding a few more user roles to the WordPress default ones. This made the access to the contents much more precisely controllable, down to the level of an individual article.

In its current version, Members is not to be confused with a real member management plugin, like MemberPress, either. Giants like MemberPress do a lot more than rights management. They e.g. also process the payment of paid member functions.

Members 2.0 as a Framework

In version 2.0, Members opens itself to third party add-ons. This way, it is now possible to offer free or charged individual features from third parties for special needs. Available add-ons are displayed in the backend.

Tadlock himself wants to contribute to the growth of the supply with additional add-ons. Providing add-ons is his monetization strategy. Thus, Members will always be available for free under the GPL. Only a few additional features may require payment. The core functionality is unaffected.

Legible Permissions

Tadlock made Members easier to use for the admin. Now, all system permissions can be displayed in a way that’s legible for humans. This could turn edit_posts into Edit Your Posts, for example. A side effect of this change is, that permissions can now be translated. As long as third-party plugins have their own permission requirements, they can now register them with Members, allowing them to benefit from the translatability.

On the content level, error messages or other text notifications can now be written and formatted using the WordPress editor. This way,  for example, the unauthorized reader will see that he has to register first in a pleasant way.

Full WordPress Integration

Just like before, Tadlock makes sure to keep Members fully integrated into WordPress. This way, you are are not really dependent on it. With a dedicated membership system, this can happen very quickly.

When planning a membership website, you should definitely test Members first and see how far it can get you. You can still buy MemberPress if Members proves not to be sufficient.

Members can be found in the WordPress repository. It’s taken care of via Github.

Members (Free, WordPress) →

Catégories: News dév web

Tool Tip: Sizzy Accelerates Responsive Designing

26 juillet, 2017 - 10:00

Sizzy is a web app and a Chrome extension that provides a fast way of testing your responsive designs. And by that, I mean really fast.

There are a bunch of tools that show you previews of your websites on all kinds of devices. However, I have yet to find one that’s faster than Sizzy.

Different Live Previews at a Glance. (Screenshot: Noupe)

Sizzy was made by the Dutch developer Kitze and is based on React.js. It is being distributed under the GNU license, meaning it open source. You can find the source code at Github.

Sizzy was created from its developer’s wish to be able to check his responsive designs on all supported devices at once, instead of accessing every single one via Chrome separately. The most interesting of Sizzy’s features is the option to zoom the overview page, proportionally shrinking the individual previews.

Sizzy With the Total Overview. (Screenshot: Noupe)

If you want to use Sizzy, you can either do so using the website, where you enter the URL of the page you want to test, or you install the Chrome extension. From that point onwards, you just click the Sizzy icon to check any desired page’s responsiveness by a single click.

Sizzy (Free, Chrome Web Store) →

Once you’re in the Sizzy interface, you have several options. To me, personally, there are two striking features, even in comparison to other services. Firstly, I find the option to display the keyboard of the respective mobile device to be beneficial. The second one is the above-mentioned zoom function, allowing you to take a final look at all devices at once.

Catégories: News dév web

Smart Text Detection and Manipulation in Images

25 juillet, 2017 - 10:00

Everyday Web Developers are looking for better ways to enhance user experience when it comes to images. Often, when dealing with user uploaded or 3rd party images, there could be sensitive information which would call for the need to manipulate text embedded as content in an image. Car registration numbers, identity cards, road signs, and commercials are some of the possible scenarios in which you may need to manipulate the text content of an image.

The requirement gets even more interesting when applied to more advanced scenarios, where you translate text written in a foreign language.

Manually this seems simple but if you have hundreds of images being regularly, automation is necessary for efficiency. Services like Cloudinary can simplify the complex process involving image text extraction and manipulation. Cloudinary is a cloud-based, end-to-end image and video management service. Storage, manipulation, transformation and media delivery is what Cloudinary knows how to do best. The wide range of manipulations includes character recognition, extraction, and manipulation of text in images.

Optical character recognition (OCR) available as an add-on is powered by Google Vision API.

OCR for Manipulation

The first thing we want to attempt with OCR is manipulating an image based on the characters found in the image. For example, on a real estate website, you may want to hide the agent’s contact details. Though you may be able to restrict agents from displaying in their contact information, they may discover different ways to leave these details in the image, like shown below:

http://res.cloudinary.com/demo/image/upload/w_1.1/home_4_sale.jpg

The sign clearly shows the agent’s phone number, which might violate your terms and conditions. With OCR, you can replace the text with your own contact information.

To achieve this with Cloudinary, we need to use three parameters:
1. The overlay image: The image on which we intend to cover the detected text.
2. Set Gravity to text_ocrfor correct positioning
3. fl_region_relative to adjust the width of the overlay image to that of the detected text element.


http://res.cloudinary.com/demo/image/upload/l_call_text,fl_region_relative,w_1.1,g_ocr_text/home_4_sale.jpg

To replicate the above example, you’ll need a free Cloudinary account. Once you have created your account, upload the image above to your provisioned cloud, and start manipulating the image URL as we’re doing above.

Of course, you can use an SDK to achieve this. Here’s an example using the JavaScript SDK to deliver a transformed image:

js
cloudinary.image("home_4_sale.jpg", {overlay: "call_text",
flags: "region_relative",
width: "1.1",
gravity: "ocr_text"})

Rather than overlaying the text in the image with another image, we could also blur the text if we don’t want to display any contact information on the image.

Using the same example:

js
http://res.cloudinary.com/demo/image/upload/e_pixelate_region:15,w_1.1,g_ocr_text/home_4_sale.jpg

So, instead of using an overlay, we are setting the e_pixelate_region to blur the region with 15 being the level of blur applied. Notice that g_ocr_text is still there to specify the OCR instruction.

OCR for Text Extraction

Another common use case is retrieving the text detected in the image. The extracted text can then be further analyzed to fit the user’s need. You can retrieve this text while uploading or updating an image stored on your Cloudinary server.

Let’s upload the following Pexel image to Cloudinary and extract the text found on the image:

To get started with doing this, you need to create an account on Cloudinary. Once you have an account, there will be a cloud provisioned for you to store your images and transform them as you wish. You also will be handed your API credentials, which include the cloud name, API key, and secret. Retrieve these credentials and store them safely.

Next, you will need to enable the OCR add-on by going to your add-on settings and clicking the free option under the OCR add-on configurations.

Next, create a simple Node environment by running:

“`bash

Create a Node project

npm init –y

Add an entry point

touch index.js
“`

We also create an index.js entry point for the example. Before heading right into this file, we need to install the Cloudinary SDK:

bash
npm install --save cloudinary

You can now head back into the index.js entry file and configure a Cloudinary instance to connect to your Cloudinary cloud:

“`js
const cloudinary = require(‘cloudinary’);

cloudinary.config({
cloudname: ‘CLOUDNAME’,
apikey: ‘APIKEY’,
api
secret: ‘APISECRET’
});
“`

You’re all set to start uploading images while trying to retrieve the text content in the images. Here is how:

js
cloudinary.v2.uploader.upload("https://static.pexels.com/photos/164542/pexels-photo-164542.jpeg",
{ ocr: "adv_ocr" },
function(error, result) {
if(error) {
console.log(error);
return
}
console.log(result.info.ocr.adv_ocr.data[0].textAnnotations[0].description)
});

Basically, the upload method is used to send images to your Cloudinary server. But if you want the upload process to retrieve the text contents while uploading as a response, you need to to set the ocr option to adv_ocr.

Run the app with the following command and watch the output in the console:

bash
node index.js

The image we uploaded prints the following in the console:

This text can be used as per your requirements.

Conclusion

It’s amazing what we can achieve with Cloudinary’s OCR add-on. We just had to fix in parameters in the delivery URL of images to replace text or blur them out. You can also easily setup a process to block images with adult or sensitive words by extracting the text. Cloudinary OCR enables this, and many more use cases.

Sign up for free to get started.

Catégories: News dév web

WordPress Maintenance Checklist: What You Should Watch Out For

24 juillet, 2017 - 10:00

No matter if you’re a newbie or an experienced webmaster, WordPress maintenance is always a key factor when it comes to improving the quality of your website.

When using WordPress as your site’s engine, creating the website, and not taking care of it afterward won’t be enough. Your WordPress should be a well-oiled machine that’s always at your service.

Especially if you want to make a living off your content, you should create a checklist to go off of when taking care of your website. This article should help you with that.

You Take Care of Your Car, So Why Not Take Care of Your WordPress? Why Maintenance Work is so Important

If your website is supposed to add to your income, or even make up its entirety, you need to maintain it. A lot of things can happen quickly, without us noticing.

Only activating a plugin can already destroy parts of your theme’s design. You could also become the target of a hacker. A lot of things can happen, so pay attention to your WordPress and maintain it.

You can’t just leave your website alone for a longer period. Treat it like your care, and it will be of excellent service to you. Thus, here’s my checklist for you.

WordPress Maintenance Checklist: What to Watch Out For

If you’ve already realized some of these aspects, that’s great! But maybe, there will still be a few aspects that you don’t have on your list. Let’s begin:

1 – Look at Your Website Like a Visitor

Sounds weird? It is an essential aspect, though. Most of the time, we only see the admin area of our website, and barely look at what our visitors get to see.

But that’s very important, as it allows you to see if a plugin destroys some parts of your design, or if it is not tied into the website design properly.

It’s also possible that the user friendliness could use some improvement. If you notice something in that regard, make sure to fix it immediately. Your website is not for you, but for your visitors.

2 – Create a Child Theme

Whenever you want to make significant changes to your theme’s design or add a new function via the functions.php, you should use a child theme to do so. If you do that, your changes remain after a theme update.

3 – Create Proper Backups VaultPress: Optimal Backup Solution For Only $3,50 a Month.

Having a backup of your internet presence is crucial! WordPress is the world’s most popular content management system, making it a favorite in the hacker community. Every day, WordPress websites are being attacked, no matter how small and insignificant they may be.

Thus, make sure to have a working backup of your site. From my experience, it’s advantageous to store the backups on the same server as your website.

Most free plugins work like that, though. You also need some extensive knowledge on recovery. I recommend subscribing to VaultPress for that job. Even newbies can use it quite easily.

Currently, it costs $3.50 a month. You can either recover the entire website with one click or individual files. I’ve been using this service for years, and it has always been constructive.

visit VaultPress » 4 – Keep WordPress, the Theme, and the Plugins Up to Date at All

The three worst WordPress security gaps are called WordPress, plugins, and themes. Let me explain:

WordPress Core: with every new version, the security gaps of the previous one become evident. Because of that, you have a real safety issue if you don’t update quickly, so you shouldn’t be surprised when the friendly neighborhood hacker abuses the gaps.

The Plugins: The code quality of the plugins from WordPress’ free index isn’t something to write home about, as there is no real quality control for the inclusion of a plugin into the index. Thus, you should only choose the plugins that are regularly updated.

Attention: plugins that are not active pose a significant security threat as well. You should delete them.

The Themes need regular updates as well. Use a child theme to assure that your updates remain after a design change. You should delete the themes that you’re not using. They are a threat to your security as well.

Take care of all updates regularly, and your website will be a lot safer than before. Delete unused themes and plugins.

5 – Optimize the Loading Time of Your Website

The loading time of your site should be as low as possible. There are two reason why continuously improving your speed is advantageous: the faster the site, the better your rank in the Google search. And if your website loads quicker than the competition, you’ll appear before them in the search results.

The second reason is improved user-friendliness. A bit earlier, I mentioned that you don’t run the website for yourself, but for your visitors. The average user is impatient, and, when your WordPress site loads too slowly, he’ll leave it and won’t return.

Google likes to keep the ceiling at a loading speed of 1,5 seconds. However, an average WordPress website takes about 4 seconds to load. Eighty percent of this can be blamed on excessive use of plugins, with the leftover twenty percent being due to not optimized images.

Delete all plugins that you don’t need. Toys like sliders suck up lots of speed while annoying the visitors. Optimize your images regarding measurements and file size before using them in articles. Look into things that speed up your website.

Testing the Loading Time: The Pingdom Tools

The Google Page Speed Tools are not the right tool for a speed optimization, as they don’t show the loading speed. For that, use the Pingdom tools. There, you get to see the real speed, as well as things you can improve. Enter your URL, and select »Test from Stockholm, Sweden«.

An Example:

The correct entry of URL and test location. The result of the speed test for my website. The improvement potential of my website: the images. Accessing Speed-Test » 6 – Check Your Links Regularly

You’ve probably never checked the function of the links on your website. Don’t worry; you’re not alone. Nonetheless, broken links are a real problem. Having broken links means losing valuable SEO points, as Google also evaluates the user friendliness of a website.

Your visitors do that too, and nobody likes to click a link that can’t deliver the desired information.

Make sure to check your links regularly. You can use a plugin for that; I recommend the plugin Broken Link Checker.

Automatic, Good and Useful: the Broken Link Checker Plugin 7 – Check and Optimize Your 404 Error Page

Users get to see this part of a website rather often. They’ve either entered a wrong URL, or a link doesn’t work anymore. Of course, the content could have been moved as well.

Especially because users get to see this page now and then, optimizing it is very useful for you. This is the page that determines if you will lose the visitor or not.

Most themes offer a template for the error display, it’s called 404.php You can open and edit this template using an HTML editor. Integrate a search function, and list your best posts. A link to the sitemap shouldn’t be missing either.

8 – Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

This part is easy to forget, although it’s one where you can score a lot of points for Google. A lot of SEO plugins already have this part integrated; like Yoast SEO, for example. Below the text editor in WordPress, you’ll find the designated box.

Work Off All Items of the SEO Box and Your Posts Are Well Prepared For Google. 9 – Post New Content on a Regular Basis

The more articles you post, the more visitors you’ll get. That’s logical, as that means you’ve placed more articles in the Google search. To turn Google visitors into your regular readers, you should post new content consistently.

One article a week is consistent. So is one article every 14 days. It only depends on you doing it regularly, allowing your readers to rely on it.

10 – SEO: Revise Your Content Regularly SEO: Additional Points Via Current Content.

Once you’ve written a couple of articles, you have a good foundation for additional SEO and user points. I strongly recommend revising your old posts regularly, keeping them up to date.

The higher the number of current articles on your blog, the easier you will be found in the search results.

Brian Dean from Backlinko only writes one article a month, but keeps all of his posts up to date. This gets him top spots in the ranking for a couple of keywords. Your visitors will be impressed as well, as all the information you provide is relevant.

11 – Test Your Forms Frequently

Almost every website offers a contact form. Some use a much higher number of forms for all kinds of purposes. It would be highly disadvantageous for you if these forms didn’t work.

To avoid that, check if the forms can send emails and if they might end up in the email client’s spam folder. While you’re at it, also update your admin email address.

If the address is not up to date anymore, you won’t be able to receive emails from your website. Plugins like Contact Form 7, for instance, use the admin email as the recipient address.

Conclusion

Now you know the 11 aspects that are essential for a regular maintenance of your WordPress website. Work off all items on the list, and set dates to repeat some of them.

Check for new updates twice a week, revise your articles once or twice a year, and post new content reliably. If you do so, there’s nothing in the way of your website’s success.

Catégories: News dév web

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Yves Bresson, ingénieur en informatique, consultant freelance, spécialisé dans le développement web (CMS, PHP, Laravel, Ajax, jQuery, Bootstrap, HTML5, CSS3) et d'applications mobiles (iPhone, Android). Voir le profil de Yves Bresson sur LinkedIn