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User Experience is a crucial consideration for any web developer or designer; the only way to ensure that you’re delivering a successful website is to ensure that the end-user or customer will feel comfortable using it. 

A strong user experience increases your client’s chances of successful audience engagement and conversions.

What you might not realize, however, is that the strategies you use to enhance UX as a web developer or designer can also influence how the search engines respond to a website. 

Though many designers assume that SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is the work of a copywriter or content producer, there are design elements to consider too. 

After all, the definition of optimization is “the action of making the best version of a resource.”

So, how are UX and SEO connected?

Adding UX to a Successful SEO Strategy

SEO used to be easy. To stand out on the search results, you just needed to stuff a page full of as many keywords and phrases as possible. Now, it’s a little more complicated. 

Leaders in search engine development, like Google and Bing, know that they need to offer their customers excellent experiences to keep them. In this new experience-focused landscape, SEO and UX share common goals. 

Search engines don’t just want to provide customers with any answers to their questions. Instead, Google and its competitors are using everything from artificial intelligence to machine learning algorithms to ensure that search results are accurate, relevant, and engaging. 

In the same way, user experience is about providing users with easy access to the information and resources they want. 

Now that SEO is a multi-disciplined approach, UX is just one of the essential tools that makes it possible for developers to optimize their websites properly. 

Where UX Developers Influence SEO 

There are plenty of connections between UX and site indexability

We all know that since 2018, site speed has become a crucial ranking factor for companies in search of better search results. As a developer, it’s up to you to ensure that there aren’t too many elements weighing a website down that would prevent it from delivering fast results. 

Bounce rate is another critical factor in search engine ranking algorithms. When customers click on a website, Google wants to see that they get the answers they want. If your navigation is difficult to understand, or the correct information isn’t easy to see on a page, end-users will just hit the back button. 

Let’s take a closer look at how developers can influence SEO with their UX strategies. 

1. Site Navigation and Ease of Use

It’s no secret that today’s digital consumers crave easy-to-use sites.

A complex website with pages ranking for different terms might seem like an excellent idea for SEO. However, from a UX perspective, the easier it is to navigate your website, the more your end-users will benefit. 

According to a study from Ahrefs, well-optimized pages that rank for several keywords can be more beneficial than dozens of pages ranking for similar terms. At the same time, if the search engines have difficulty crawling all your pages due to a poor site navigation strategy, then some pages won’t get indexed. 

So, how do you improve navigation and SEO at once? Follow the proper structure for your site first, categories and subcategories on the retail page help customers find exactly what they need. A solid internal linking structure allows the crawlers to examine your website and index each essential page individually.

Keep navigation simple when designing a website for both UX and SEO potential. 

2. User-Friendly Page Layouts

There are countless cases where poor layout design and formatting disrupts SEO potential. For example, cluttering a page with too much information makes it tougher to read and index. At the same time, if your pages aren’t attractive and easy to navigate, customers are more likely to hit the back button. 

If customers come to a website and immediately leave it again, this tells the search engines that they’re not finding what they need on those pages. That means Google will bump you to a lower position on the SERPs. 

So, how do you make your layouts more UX and SEO-friendly?

  • Get your category pages right: Say you’re creating a blog page for your client. They want to list all of their blogs on one main page while linking to separate locations for each article. A design that puts a large chunk of content from each blog on the main page can be problematic for UX and SEO. It means your customers have to scroll further to find what they need. At the same time, the search engines never know which words to rank that main page for. On the other hand, listing blogs on smaller cards, as Fabrik does in this example, makes sorting through content easier. 
  • Leverage headers and tags: Your customers and the search engines habitually “scan” your pages. When trying to improve UX and SEO simultaneously, you must ensure that it’s easy to find crucial information quickly. Header 1 or H1 tags can help by showing your audience your website’s critical sections. Title tags also give search engines more information on the term you want to rank for. Organizing your content into a structure that draws the eye down the page also means your customers are more likely to stay on your website for longer. That shows the search engines that you have quality, relevant content. 
  • Make the most of images and videos: Visual media isn’t just an excellent way to engage your audience. With videos and pictures, you can convey more vital information in a quick and convenient format. This leads to greater satisfaction from your audience from a UX perspective. However, visual content is also great for SEO. You can optimize every image with alt text and meta descriptions. That means you have a higher chance of ranking both in the main search results and the image searches on Google. 

3. Using Search Data to Inform Site Architecture

Today, SEO is less about building hundreds of landing pages for individual queries. Now, it’s more important to take a simple, de-cluttered approach with your website. SEO can determine what kind of architecture you need to create for a successful website. 

For instance, say you wanted to rank for eCommerce SEO. There are tons of related words that connect to that primary search term. Rather than making dozens of different pages that try to rank for distinct phrases, you can cover a lot of other ideas at once with a larger, more detailed piece of content. 

If a topic is too big to cover everything on a single page, then you might decide to create something called “pillar” content out of your main terms. This involves using one main page where you discuss all of the topics you will cover. Then, you design several smaller sub-pages that link back to that central pillar. 

Once again, this helps the search engines to navigate your website and index your pages while assisting the customers in finding the correct information. At the same time, you combine more pages on a website and remove anything that might be detracting from your site’s authority or not offering enough value. 

4. Improving Website SERP Listings

It’s easy to forget as a developer that a customer’s first experience with a website won’t always happen on that site’s homepage. Usually, when your customers are looking for solutions to a problem, they’ll find your website on the search engine results instead. 

This means that you need to ensure that you make the right impression here:

There are a few ways that developers can ensure the search engine listings they create for their clients are up to scratch. For instance, a reasonable title tag for each page that includes appropriate keywords is excellent for SEO and UX. A title tag lets your customers know they’re in the right place and helps them find the information they need. 

Remember, around eight out of ten users on search engines say that they’ll click a title if it’s compelling. 

Another component you have control over as a developer or designer is the “rich snippet.” Rich snippets are the informative chunks of content that Google adds to a search listing to help it stand out. You can use rich snippet plugins on a website to tell Google what kind of extra information you want to include on a page. 

For instance, you might want a company’s ratings to show up on your search results, so customers can see how trustworthy they are:

5. Local Business Rankings

When you’re creating a website for a company, it’s easy to forget about local rankings. We see the digital world as a way of reaching countless people worldwide. Local orders are easier to overlook when you have a global scope to work with. 

However, as a developer, you can boost a company’s chances of attracting the right local audience and boosting its credibility. For instance, you can start by ensuring that the correct directory information appears on your client’s website and social media profiles.

Another option is to create dedicated location pages for each area the company serves. This will make it easier for clients to find the contact details they need for their specific location. 

At the same time, pages that have been carefully optimized to rank for specific locations will earn more attention, specifically from search engines. The more of the search engine landscape your client can cover, the more chances they have to attract new customers and leads. 

Combing SEO and UX

In a world where experience is crucial for every business, it’s no wonder that UX and SEO are blending more closely together. There are a lot of areas where SEO and UX work in harmony together if you know where to find them. Improving your client’s SEO ranking with UX doesn’t just mean ensuring that their pages load quickly anymore. 

Simple strategies, like making sure a call-to-action button is clickable on a mobile page, can simultaneously boost a website’s UX potential and SEO performance. At the same time, adding images and alt text to a website provides search engines with more information while adding context to your content. 

The key to success is understanding how SEO and UX work together. If you look at SEO and UX as part of the same comprehensive strategy to give end-users a better online experience, achieving the right design goals is much easier. 

Of course, just like any strategy, it’s also worth making sure that you take the time to track the results of your UX and SEO campaigns. Examine which systems help you, and examine customers from an SEO perspective with design and development strategies.

 

Features image by gstudioimagen on Freepik

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In part 1 of this multi-part blog series on continuous compliance, we detailed the personas and their role in the compliance processes. We concluded that the key to achieving compliance automation and hence continuous compliance is the compliance artifacts programmatic representation, as code, expressed in generic and standard security language terms.

In this blog post, we introduce Trestle, our open-source implementation of the NIST Open Security Control Assessment Language (OSCAL) standard framework adopted as a workflow automation of compliance artifacts managed as compliance as code. Trestle enables those diverse personas to collaboratively author the compliance artifacts and offers a platform and OSCAL SDK for teams to automate their specific native processes and formats. Trestle implicitly provides a core opinionated workflow driven by its pipeline to allow standardized interlocks with other compliance tooling platforms.

Source de l’article sur DZONE

The purpose of a website is to reach new customers and keep current ones engaged. Therefore, customer-first should be at the top of your list for design features. After all, without your clients, your business won’t grow or succeed.

Customer-first has been a buzzword for a few years now. In a nutshell, it’s easy to imagine what customer-first design means. The needs of consumers come before anything else. However, the concept isn’t quite as simple in practice. A lot of nuances enter the equation.

Just what does it mean to have a customer-first web design? What are the must-haves to reach users on their level and keep their attention for the long haul?

Embracing quality customer experiences has driven loyalty for as long as anyone can remember. However, we now live in a time of uncertainty, and when people leave companies on a dime if they’re dissatisfied with any aspect. So you must hit the high notes on every song – your website is your purest online persona and must engage users and keep them entertained.

Whether you embrace causes that matter to your customers and share information on them or tweak your design to meet accessibility guidelines, many factors come into play with a customer-centric design.

In a recent report, researchers found that about 88% of company leaders feel customer engagement impacts revenue. You can’t control every variable, but you can ensure your website hits all the strong points for a customer-first web design that grabs them and keeps them on your page.

Here are our favorite tips to create a customer-first approach. You may already be doing some of these things. Pick and choose what makes the most sense for your business model. Even small changes can have a big impact.

1. Know Your Customers

Before creating a website centered around your customers’ needs, you must know who they are. What are the demographics of your typical clients? Survey them and find out what their needs and expectations are. How can you best help them?

You may also want to survey them about your website. What’s missing that might help them? Is there anything they love? What do they hate? The more you know, the better your design can match their expectations. Create buyer personas based on their preferences.

At the same time, buyers will sometimes say one thing but actually feel another way. No one is quite sure why people do this when being surveyed. One way around that issue is to do some A/B testing to see how they actually feel about various changes. Do they respond the way you thought? What other adjustments need to be made?

2. Find the Right Color Palette

Different industries trend toward various hues. For example, businesses in the banking industry trend toward blues and occasionally reds. Blue elicits trust from users and has a calming effect. On the other hand, the fashion industry might tap into brighter shades, such as lime green. Think about what colors people expect in your industry, and then find your color palette.

Each hue has its emotional impact. For example, red is a color of power and can elicit excitement in the viewer. Choose your shades accordingly to get the most emotional punch possible.

3. Accept Feedback

One of the best ways to improve your site over time to match the needs and preferences of your audience is by allowing feedback. Add reviews, place a feedback form in your footer, and even send out requests for feedback to your mailing list.

It’s also a good idea to find a mentor who has been successful at running a business. Ask them to look at your site and give you advice. You might also enlist the help of a marketing professional.

4. Stick With the Familiar

Have you heard of Jakob’s Law? The rule of thumb states that people prefer common design patterns they’re most familiar with. So when they see a pattern they know, such as a navigation bar layout, it boosts their mood and improves their memory of the site.

When making edits, don’t make significant changes. Instead, implement minor adjustments over time to give your followers a chance to acclimate to the shift.

5. Cut the Clutter

If you want users to feel wowed by your page and engage, you have to limit their choices. Add in too many options, and they may not know where to go first.

Start by choosing an objective for the page. Cut anything that doesn’t point the user toward the goal. Ideally, you’d have a little info, an image, and a call to action (CTA) button. However, this may vary, depending on where your buyer is in the sales funnel and how much information they need to decide to go from browser to customer.

6. Choose Mobile Friendliness

Recent reports indicate about 90% of people use mobile devices to go online at times. With phones gaining greater capabilities and 5G bringing faster speeds to communities, expect people to use their mobile devices even more frequently for internet browsing.

Making sure your site translates well on smaller screens makes sense for your company and for your customers. Be sure to test everything. Click through all links. Fill in forms. Ensure images and text auto-adjust to the correct size, so people don’t have to scroll endlessly.

7. Make Multiple Landing Pages

Like most businesses, you probably have several buyer personas as you segment your audience. Don’t just create a single home page and expect it to fulfill the purpose of every reader. Instead, create unique pages for each persona to best meet their needs.

Make sure each landing page speaks in the natural language patterns of your specific audience. Think about the unique needs of each group. How do their pain points differ? How can you best meet their needs?

8. Keep Important Info Above the Fold

People are busy. They work, have families, and might visit your site on the 15-minute break they get in the afternoon. Most consumers want the information they need to decide and don’t want to dilly-dally around with other things.

Place the essential headlines and info they need above the fold, so they see it first. Make it as readable as possible by using headings and subheadings. Add in a few bullet points. People also absorb information easier in video format, so add a video highlighting your product’s or service’s main benefits.

You should also place a CTA button above the fold if it makes sense for your overall design. Keep in mind people may have visited and already read some of the information. Some users return just to sign up and want to find the CTA quickly.

Step Into Your Customers’ Shoes

Look at your site through the eyes of your audience. What works well? What needs to be adjusted? Over time, you’ll develop a customer-first web design that speaks to those most likely to buy from you. Then, keep making changes and tweaking your site until it hits the perfect balance for your customers.

 

Featured image via Freepik.

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There are a lot of dark, retro vibes trending in website design right now. Although there are still some light projects popping up – including a pastel trend below – a lot of what we are seeing has a quite moody feel.

Here’s what’s trending in design this month.

Pastel Color Palettes

Let’s start with the trend with a lighter feel – pastel color palettes. While much of the web is trending toward dark aesthetics, there’s a segment that’s going in the exact opposite direction. Those sites feature soft, pastel color palettes that serve as a balance to all the super dark websites out there.

One thing about this website design trend is that it jumps out because of the stark contrast with all of the dark color palettes out there.

Each of these designs seems to use a pastel color palette as the basis for a background. A blur effect is paired with the colors to use pastels in a way that has a natural feel without appearing too feminine or light.

Robust uses blue and earth tones for a pastel background that feels modern and strong when paired with the hard-edged headline font.

Atmos uses a light pastel theme that takes you through the clouds with blues, and pinks, and purples. The pastel color scheme works well with the content which is airline-themed and makes you feel like you are flying through the sky. The colors are also soft enough to provide an easy reading experience.

Klezma is another design with the same pastel background with graduated color. The peach tones are fairly neutral and give plenty of room to the content.

Fonts with a Distinct Retro Look

Every one of these websites uses a typeface with a similar look and feel. This retro headline style is trending in a major way.

The best way to use this design element is for short words. This typeface design isn’t meant for a lot of words or when readability is a high priority.

This style is all about creating a specific kind of vibe for your website. The typefaces in this trend have a quite retro look and feel with an almost 1960s or ’70s feel to them. The rest of the design mimics this feel as well with colors and surrounding elements that contribute to the overall look.

A couple of common elements here include the use of all capitals font sets and letterforms that include odd shapes and lines.

Sretks not only uses a retro typeface but bends and twists it a bit too to add to the old-school feel. The background color helps add to the groovy vibe.

Barge 166 uses a retro typeface with the same design feel as the other examples but with a sharper, more serif-style edge. It’s easier to read but still carries a retro look and feel. Use a typeface similar to this if you want to capture that retro font style for a trending look while maintaining as much readability as possible. This option works best for multiple lines of words in a large size.

Picky Joe uses a retro typeface with rounded letters and a bit of a tilt to the characters to create a distinct feel. This is definitely a style that has to be used sparingly but can be a fun option, depending on the content of your website design.

Dark “Product” Sites

Dark mode design is probably the biggest design trend of 2022. Everywhere you look, websites are using dark color palettes and styles. Designers are creating more projects with a dark/light toggle so users can control their experience.

This visual concept is carried over to website designs that feature products as well. This is one of the last places the dark aesthetic had not touched. It’s been a bit of an unwritten rule that product images should be on white or light backgrounds to help make them easy to see and inspect digitally.

This design trend bucks that idea and features products on dark backgrounds – some with so little contrast that you almost have a hard time seeing the products. (Maybe these brands are banking on the idea that you already know them or are selling a lifestyle product.)

HQBC sells bike accessories such as glasses and helmets and the site has a sleek look and feel. You know it is cool from the second you land on it. The question though – is there enough visual information with the dark background to help you make a purchase? This design probably works because it only encourages you to find a physical location to make a purchase rather than buy online.

Doggystyle Shop also banks on the idea of you knowing the shopping experience or brand when you arrive. What the design does do though is put products on white backgrounds after you have clicked through far enough to make a commitment to buy. This helps you see the product well one final time before making a purchase. (The challenge is that it is three to four clicks in for the most part.)

FirstFit uses the design trend in a way that’s similar to the first example. They are showing a product, but not actually trying to convert sales on the website. Other links take you to more product information and content – using a lighter background and color scheme – and the dark background with the product serves mostly as a highly visual landing page that will help entice users to learn more. When it comes to dark mode and products, this seems to be the best option for most website designs.

Conclusion

The state of the world around us and our emotions can play hard into websites and other design projects. Some of the darker elements that are popular now may be a reflection of that or it could be more of a lean into dark mode schemes.

Either way, the web has a pretty dark feel right now.

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Starting your own business is a process with a fair share of challenges. Even in the web design world, where you can potentially minimize costs by working from home and collaborating with freelance contractors, many expenses exist. 

To run a successful web design business, you need enough money to invest in everything from skilled colleagues to resources (like fonts and themes), software subscriptions, and technology tools. Finding a way to fund your company can be the most complicated part of ensuring its success.

For most new companies, the easiest option to generate opportunities is “bootstrapping.” Learning how to bootstrap a web design business means knowing how to bring your business to life with virtually no starting capital. 

Here’s how to get started.

What is Bootstrapping? 

Successful bootstrappers take an idea, such as creating a web design company and create a fantastic company without the backing of investors. It takes significant dedication, commitment, and single-mindedness to accomplish your goals, but some of the world’s greatest entrepreneurs, like Steve Jobs and Sam Walton, got their start this way. 

The term “bootstrapping” comes from the phrase “to pull yourself up by the bootstraps,” which indicates overcoming challenges on your own without any external support. 

The pros and cons of bootstrapping include:

Pros:

  • Full control: Bootstrapping allows entrepreneurs to retain full ownership over their business. Alternatively, engaging with investors means allowing other professionals to own a portion of your company or make a share of the decisions. 
  • Innovation: Business owners in a bootstrapping model are forced to invest in agile and innovative business models. You must develop processes to produce immediate, lasting cash flow from day one. 
  • Accomplishment: Building something from the ground up creates a powerful sense of satisfaction and accomplishment. 
  • Ownership: You won’t have to sell any equity in your business to other investors, which means you can benefit fully from the company as it grows.

Cons:

  • Risks: Self-funded businesses generally run out of funds faster and struggle to scale as quickly as other companies, limiting the brand’s ability to reach its potential.
  • Limited support: Traditional financing methods (like working with investors) also provide networking opportunities and support from specialists who want to see your company succeed. 
  • Pressure: Bootstrapping businesses need to be meticulous about everything from keeping books to making the right decisions for brand growth. 
  • Hard work: With limited resources, connections, and options, bootstrapping entrepreneurs need to work harder than most and take on more roles.

How to Bootstrap Your Web Design Business: Step by Step

Bootstrapping a web design business can be complicated, but it works for many companies if you follow the right strategy. The good news is web design companies generally don’t require as much initial capital as some other types of companies, like standard retail brands or companies with a need for brick and mortar offices.

However, there are still steps you’ll need to follow to ensure success.

Step 1: Source Some Initial Funds

While you might not work with investors when bootstrapping your web design business, you’ll still need some essential initial funds. To run a web design business, you won’t necessarily need a massive initial investment, but you will need something. 

To determine how much capital you need to raise from your income, savings, a line of credit, or other common bootstrapping sources, think about:

  • Where you’re going to work: The upfront costs of operating your own web design business will be a lot lower if you choose to work from home and with remote specialists. The less you have to pay for office space, the better.
  • Business fees: You may need to pay fees for registering your business name, hosting your own website for advertising, and dealing with any registration costs.
  • Equipment and software: Think about what you will use daily for web design. Subscription-based services like Adobe Creative Cloud can cost quite a bit to access. You’ll also need a good computer, and perhaps a tablet for sketching.

Step 2: Find a USP 

The easiest way to ensure a bootstrapped web design business is a success is to ensure you are offering specific clients something they genuinely need. In a service-based landscape like web design, you need to know what your customers want and offer something they can’t get elsewhere.

For instance, can you differentiate yourself from other web design companies by helping with modern trends like 360-degree video and XR-ready design? Can you build apps for companies from scratch and provide ongoing maintenance for the websites you make?

An excellent way to find your USP is to examine your competitors. Find out what other companies in your area are offering their customers, and listen to consumers in your industry when they talk about what they need from a website designer. 

Step 3: Choose a Cash Flow Optimized Model 

Since you’re relying only on your cash and the money you make from your web design business to fuel its growth, choosing a model optimized for consistent cash flow is essential. Bootstrapping a business often means you place most of the profit you gain from your company back into the development of the brand. 

With this in mind, consider how you’ll offer services and charge your customers. Are you going to ask for a portion of the fees up-front before starting a web design project? Can you provide your customers with subscription models to improve your revenue consistently?

For instance, you could provide help with ongoing maintenance, development, and support rather than just offering to build websites for companies. Another way to make additional income is with professional services, like consulting. 

Make sure there’s a market for the services you’ll offer before launching your business by examining the surrounding environments and services your competitors provide.

Step 4: Keep Costs Low and Profits High

Keeping costs low will be essential to ensuring your success when bootstrapping a business. Fortunately for web designers, it’s relatively easy to cut down on fees. For instance, WordPress is free to use for your development projects, making it an excellent choice for many web design strategies. 

You can also look into common free and cheap alternatives to web design tools online, like GIMP. Shop around for the things you will be paying ongoing fees with. For instance, it’s best to check out multiple vendors when looking for web hosting and marketing support. 

While keeping your costs low, it’s also essential to accelerate profits as much as possible. You can look for ways to boost customer retention by building stronger relationships with your clients and offering them deals on long-term subscriptions. 

If you have time outside of your web design business, you can also try taking on some side hustles. Options include:

  • Selling web design assets on sites like ThemeForest
  • Offering your services on a freelance basis with sites like Dribbble and Toptal
  • Designing and selling NFTs for the metaverse
  • Teaching web design or selling webinars

Step 5: Grow Cautiously

Finally, while the goal of successfully bootstrapping your web design business will be to grow as rapidly and consistently as possible, it’s important to be cautious. For instance, you’ll need to be able to afford the fees of every new designer you bring onto your team, so consider looking for freelancers and contractors rather than permanent hires.

Use organic channels for marketing your services, like blogging and content marketing which can help improve your SEO standing and attract attention among clients. Plus, encourage your customers to recommend your services to other brands. 

As new clients approach your business, ensure you only take on as many customers as you can reasonably handle. Compromising on quality will damage your relationships with customers and harm your reputation. 

Good Luck Bootstrapping Your Business

When you’re bootstrapping a business, you get the benefit of being able to eliminate any outside influences from your growth. You’re free to focus on building relationships with companies of your choice, and you get to make decisions about your growth. However, there are downsides, too, like significant stress and limited financial opportunities.

While bootstrapping your business is tough, if you manage to complete the process successfully, the results can be fantastic. 

 

Featured image via Unsplash.

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Automation is the theme of this month’s collection of exciting new tools for designers and developers. There are tools to make your images better, tools to create illustrations, and tools to make your workflow more efficient. Plus, a whole host of tools that are just plain fun.

Here’s what is new for designers this month…

designstripe

designstripe lets you create beautiful illustrations with no design skills. Drag and drop different elements into place, then customize them for your brand.

DesignMaestro

DesignMaestro is a free keyboard extension app that lets you automate the tasks you repeat daily. Set up a macro with a keyboard shortcut, and tap the shortcut to perform the action.

Ghost 5.0

Ghost is one of the best personal blogging platforms around, and version 5 enhances it with custom code, support for video, and performance upgrades.

Yep

Yep is a new search engine from the makers of Ahrefs. Built from the ground up, Yep will give 90% of its ad revenue to content creators.

The CTO Field Guide

The CTO Field Guide is a free ebook for anyone newly promoted to a technology officer role or looking for a tech leadership role. It’s a simple guide to making the most of your first 90 days on the job.

ASCII Art Paint

ASCII Art Paint is a free, open-source web app for creating images made up of text characters and hieroglyphs. It’s a great way to add pictures to text-only formats.

Effekt

Make your own fun, wallpaper art at up to 8k resolution using Effekt, a mix between an image editor and a visual toy.

Animatiss

Animatiss is a fantastic collection of CSS animations that you can use for free. Tailor the speed of the animation, preview it, then copy and paste the code into your project.

Skiff

Skiff Mail is an email app that features end-to-end encryption. This means your email stays private and secure, so you’re free to discuss sensitive matters.

Super Designer Tools

Super Designer is a collection of design tools for performing simple tasks. There’s a background generator, a pattern generator, a blob generator, and more—all free to use.

Web UI

Web UI is a collection of UI kits and templates for Figma and Adobe XD. Most designs are free to download and use for projects, and some require payment.

Free Online Background Remover

Use this free online background remover to quickly and easily delete the background of photos, leaving you free to paste the foreground over flat colors, gradients, or even different backgrounds.

Untitled UI Icons

Untitled UI Icons is a set of clean, consistent, and neutral icons made for Figma in Figma. There are 3,500 icons in total. The line style is free to download.

OS

Turn your Mac or iPhone into an old-school Macintosh with this retro wallpaper and icon set, and transport yourself back to 1984. OS is a premium download.

Shrink.media

Shrink.media is a free app for web, iOS, and Android that lets you reduce the size of your image file size and dimensions to reduce its footprint.

3D Avatars

This big library of 3D avatars is perfect for any project that needs staff images. There are different ethnicities, clothing, facial expressions, and accessories, so you never run out of options.

Felt

Felt is a modern map maker for the web that gives you more control, more design options, and easier sharing than Google maps.

SureScan

SureScan is a helpful app that hunts through terms and conditions for dubious conditions on your behalf, so you can spend your time doing something less boring.

Reform

Reform is a no-code form builder that you can use to create clean, branded forms for your business without any design or code skills.

Copy Foundry

Discover how the best brands evolve their messaging over time with Copy Foundry, a brand positioning, and copywriting library to help your products stand out.

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Organizations that want to use the cloud but don’t want to entrust their data to an external provider build their own on-premises cloud, also known as a private cloud. They build their own infrastructure, buy their own software, and build an in-house team to oversee everything. While the goal is to stay in control of your data, this technique is fraught with security threats and other pitfalls. 

Haven’t you ever thought about migrating to the cloud? If you are already migrated to the environment of a private cloud, there are a few security risks in the private cloud that are found crucial.  

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Websites haven’t always been as adaptable as they are today. For modern designers, “responsivity” is one of the most significant defining factors of a good design. After all, we’re now catering to a host of users who frequently jump between mobile and desktop devices with varying screen sizes. 

However, the shift to responsive design didn’t happen overnight. For years, we’ve been tweaking the concept of “responsive web design” to eventually reach the stage we’re at today. 

Today, we’re going to take a closer look at the history of responsive web design.

Where Did Web Design Begin?

When the first websites were initially created, no one was worried about responsivity across a range of screens. All sites were designed to fit the same templates, and developers didn’t spend a lot of time on concepts like design, layout, and typography.  

Even when the wider adoption of CSS technology began, most developers didn’t have to worry much about adapting content to different screen sizes. However, they still found a few ways to work with different monitor and browser sizes.

Liquid Layouts

The main two layout options available to developers in the early days were fixed-width, or liquid layout. 

With fixed-width layouts, the design was more likely to break if your monitor wasn’t the exact same resolution as the one the site was designed on. You can see an example here

Alternatively, liquid layouts, coined by Glenn Davis, were considered one of the first revolutionary examples of responsive web design. 

Liquid layouts could adapt to different monitor resolutions and browser sizes. However, content could also overflow, and text would frequently break on smaller screens. 

Resolution-Dependent Layouts

In 2004, a blog post by Cameron Adams introduced a new method of using JavaScript to swap out stylesheets based on a browser window size. This technique became known as “resolution-dependent layouts”. Even though they required more work from developers, resolution-dependent layouts allowed for more fine-grained control over the site’s design. 

The resolution-dependent layout basically functioned as an early version of CSS breakpoints, before they were a thing. The downside was developers had to create different stylesheets for each target resolution and ensure JavaScript worked across all browsers.

With so many browsers to consider at the time, jQuery became increasingly popular as a way to abstract the differences between browser options away.

The Rise of Mobile Subdomains

The introduction of concepts like resolution-dependent designs was happening at about the same time when many mobile devices were becoming more internet-enabled. Companies were creating browsers for their smartphones, and developers suddenly needed to account for these too.

Though mobile subdomains aimed to offer users the exact same functions they’d get from a desktop site on a smartphone, they were entirely separate applications. 

Having a mobile subdomain, though complex, did have some benefits, such as allowing developers to specifically target SEO to mobile devices, and drive more traffic to mobile site variations. However, at the same time, developers then needed to manage two variations of the same website.

Back at the time when Apple had only just introduced its first iPad, countless web designers were still reliant on this old-fashioned and clunky strategy for enabling access to a website on every device. In the late 2000s, developers were often reliant on a number of tricks to make mobile sites more accessible. For instance, even simple layouts used the max-width: 100% trick for flexible images.

Fortunately, everything began to change when Ethan Marcotte coined the term “Responsive Web Design” on A List Apart. This article drew attention to John Allsopp’s exploration of web design architectural principles, and paved the way for all-in-one websites, capable of performing just as well on any device. 

A New Age of Responsive Web Design

Marcotte’s article introduced three crucial components developers would need to consider when creating a responsive website: fluid grids, media queries, and flexible images. 

Fluid Grids

The concept of fluid grids introduced the idea that websites should be able to adopt a variety of flexible columns that grow or shrink depending on the current size of the screen. 

On mobile devices, this meant introducing one or two flexible content columns, while desktop devices could usually show more columns (due to greater space). 

Flexible Images

Flexible images introduced the idea that, like content, images should be able to grow or shrink alongside the fluid grid they’re located in. As mentioned above, previously, developers used something called the “max-width” trick to enable this. 

If you were holding an image in a container, then it could easily overflow, particularly if the container was responsive. However, if you set the “max-width” to 100%, the image just resizes with its parent container. 

Media Queries

The idea of “media queries” referred to the CSS media queries, introduced in 2010 but not widely adopted until officially released as a W3 recommendation 2 years later. Media queries are essentially CSS rules triggered based on options like media type (print, screen, etc), and media features (height, width, etc). 

Though they were simpler at the time, these queries allowed developers to essentially implement a simple kind of breakpoint – the kind of tools used in responsive design today.  Breakpoints refer to when websites change their layout or style based on the browser window or device width.

Viewport Meta tags need to be used in most cases to ensure media queries work in the way today’s developers expect. 

The Rise of Mobile-First Design

Since Marcotte’s introduction of Responsive Web Design, developers have been working on new ways to implement the idea as effectively as possible. Most developers now split into two categories, based on whether they consider the needs of the desktop device user first, or the needs of the mobile device user. The trend is increasingly accelerating towards the latter. 

When designing a website from scratch in an age of mobile-first browsing, most developers believe that mobile-first is the best option. Mobile designs are often much simpler, and more minimalist, which matches a lot of the trends of current web design.

Taking the mobile first route means assessing the needs of the website from a mobile perspective first. You’d write your styles normally, using breakpoints once you start creating desktop and tablet layouts. Alternatively, if you took the desktop-first approach, you would need to constantly adapt it to smaller devices with your breakpoint choices.

Exploring the Future of Responsive Web Design

Responsive web design still isn’t perfect. There are countless sites out there that still fail to deliver the same incredible experience across all devices. What’s more, new challenges continue to emerge all the time, like figuring out how to design for new devices like AR headsets and smartwatches. 

However, it’s fair to say we’ve come a long way since the early days of web design. 

 

Featured image via Pexels.

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