Articles

Inversion of Code – HTTP Lambda functions

Normally when we create an HTTP REST endpoint, we add code to our server endpoint, and assume the client provides the arguments to our code. What if we could reverse this responsibility, such that the client provides the code the server executes?

Among other things, this implies we can have one endpoint doing "everything". We wouldn’t need to create dozens of endpoints to expose our API, and we could get away with creating a single endpoint, that clients invokes, regardless of what they want to do. If the client wants to create a record in our database, read records from our database, or count records in our database is irrelevant – He’d still use the same endpoint for all of these tasks. In addition, the client could become much more creative in regards to how he interacts with our API, and do things we couldn’t even imagine as we created our API. The latter of course sums up the problem, which is that clients could inject malicious code into our server.

Source de l’article sur DZONE

Branding 101: Choosing the Right Business Name

When starting a new business (or even venturing into the world of freelancing for the first time), there are some really big, important steps you have to take.

Step #1 is choosing the right business name for your brand identity.

Your business name isn’t something you can casually choose either — especially if you have lofty long-term goals for your company. It’s not as though you can’t change the name down the road, but that comes with a ton of work and will require you to rebuild pretty much everything all over again: your visual brand identity, your reputation, and your SEO…

So, it’s a good idea to spend time choosing a business name that’s going to work for you now and long into the future.

Today, we’re going to go through the process of how to name your brand. These questions will have you thinking beyond just “What name do I like the sound of?” and have you more focused on important questions like “What is my unique value proposition?”.

Let’s get started:

How to Name Your New Business

For those of you considering taking the easy way out and using a business name generator tool, let me show you why that’s a bad idea:

This is a list of business names suggested to me when I told the generator that my business is related to “design”:

  • Design
  • Normal Design
  • Regional Design
  • Design Partner
  • Design Stock

Even the more unique names on the list are unusable; they have no connection to me personally or to the kind of business I plan to start.

This is why it’s so important to sort out your brand identity and make sure you pick a business name that resonates with you, and your target audience. To do this yourself, answer the following seven questions:

1. What Services Will You Provide Or Products Will You Sell?

The one thing that name generators get right is including a descriptive word related to your business. That way, it doesn’t take an actual visit to your website or a look through your portfolio to figure out what you do.

Even if you have a very niche specialty, sum up your offering in one or two words. For instance:

  • Web design
  • Digital design
  • Design & development
  • UX design
  • Graphic design

Unless you run your business through your own name (which I’ll talk about shortly), your business name should include a simplified version of your offering in it.

2. Who Is Your Target User Persona?

A user persona is a fictional character created using the demographics and psychology of your ideal customer or client. You can use Hubspot’s Make My Persona generator to create a card that documents these details:

Once you sort out who you serve, what makes them tick, and how it fits into the bigger picture of their business, you can better pitch your solution to them.

For instance, Joanna above is a real estate agent and owner whose primary goal is to capture leads and generate sales. You know how effective a real estate website can be for improving an agent’s visibility online and streamlining how they earn money.

So, including words in your business name that speak to that persona as well as their goals might be really useful.

Just keep in mind that web designers don’t always commit to one niche or stick with the same niche over the long run. So, you might not want to make your business name too specific to an industry (e.g. “Real Estate Design Solutions”) and more related to higher level themes and goals.

3. What Are The Names Of Your Top Competitors?

Do you know who your main competitors will be upon entering this space? If not, now’s the time to look them up.

When it comes to business names, you want to see if you can identify common threads among them. Perhaps they use puns or include location-specific descriptors. Or they just stick with the names they were born with.

While you don’t want to come off as a copycat, you can imbue your business name with a similar theme or tone if it’s proven to be successful with your shared audience. 

4. What Makes You Different?

Every business has a unique value proposition (UVP) — something that sets them apart from everyone else in the space. What’s yours?

Do you operate within a large metropolitan area where your prospective clients’ industry is booming?

Did you previously work in the industry for which you now build websites?

Are you an SEO expert who builds enterprise websites that rank?

In business, it’s good to be different — so long as it benefits your clients.

If you have a particular UVP that’s going to make you stand out, you’re going to use it everywhere to market yourself — your website, social media, sales pitches, etc. So, you might want to consider using a unique keyword from it within your business name.

5. Where Do You Envision Yourself In Five Years?

No one’s future is set in stone. However, if you’re seriously thinking about starting a new web design business, you have some ideas about where you want to go with it:

  • Do you like the idea of being a lifelong freelancer or digital nomad?
  • Would you like to operate your own design agency?
  • Do you have aspirations to build and sell website products, like plugins, themes, or UI kits instead?

If you expect to pivot your business at some point, be careful about choosing a business name that paints you into a corner. Keep it broader so that prospects don’t have to wonder what it is you really do.

And if you plan on scaling your business beyond yourself, using your own name might not be the best idea. You’ll want clients to associate the brand name with your agency, not with you specifically.

6. Will Your Business Name Be Easy To Remember?

At this point, you have some business names brewing. So, now we need to look at the more technical aspects of naming your brand.

Here’s what you need to do.

a. Write down no more than three to five business names you like.

For example:

  • Honeymooners Web Design
  • Charles Murphy Design & Development
  • FoREver Websites
  • SOLD Web Design Agency

b. Mash each name into one long lowercase string. Don’t include any punctuation.

For example:

  • honeymoonerswebdesign
  • charlesmurphydesignanddevelopment
  • foreverwebsites
  • soldwebdesignagency

c. Are any of the names difficult to read? Too long? Do any of them cause confusion and look like they mean something else?

If so, get rid of them as a matching domain name won’t work. Or, if you absolutely love them, fix the name so it’s clear, readable, and short. For instance:

charlesmurphydesignanddevelopment becomes charlesmurphydesign or just charlesmurphy.

7. Does The Name You Want Already Exist?

It’s a good idea to have a backup name in case you discover that the name you want already exists. Due to trademarking issues as well as possible confusion for your clients, you’ll want to avoid using a name that overlaps with or is the same as any other company (in or outside of web design).

Do a Google search for the business name you want to use. Check out the top 10 search results to see if there are any other matches.

You’ll also want to test out the domain name. Go to Domain.com and run your business name string through it:

You have a few options if this happens:

  1. Choose a different top-level domain (e.g. .tech, .io, .design).
  2. Use an abbreviated version of your business name  (e.g. solddesignagency.com).
  3. Move your backup business name to the front of the line and see if it’s available.

It all depends on how attached you are to the business name you’ve chosen. Just make sure that any changes you make to it (like shortening the domain name or using an alternate TLD) doesn’t cause confusion for prospects who look you up online. You don’t want them confusing someone else’s domain name for yours if business name and domain name don’t line up.

Choosing a Business Name Is Just the First Step…

Once you’ve settled on your business name, share it with a few people you trust. They’ll let you know if you’ve totally missed the mark or if it’s something you should be excited to run with.

As soon as you’re 100% sure it’s the right name, buy the domain name and register your company. Then, it’ll be official!

Of course, this isn’t the end to branding your new business. In our next Branding 101 post, we’re going to look at the next step: How to create the visual identity for your business.

Stay tuned!

 

Featured image via Pexels.

Source


Source de l’article sur Webdesignerdepot

Who Do Web Designers Really Work For?

It would be way too easy to answer this question with: “Whoever pays your bills.” And, honestly, I don’t think you can be a very successful web designer if you’re only driven by what the person paying you tells you to do.

Then again, that doesn’t mean you should swing to the exact opposite end and say that you only serve the end user.

When you take an extreme view or approach to this, you’re bound to leave someone or something important out. Everyone along the chain of command — your boss (if you work at an agency), your client, and their customers — matters.

So, what I’d suggest you do instead is approach the idea of who you really work for the way you would Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

Establishing Your Own Hierarchy of Needs

Who do web designers really work for? I think the true answer to this question is: “Everyone.” But there’s a catch…

Think about some of the requests you’ve received from superiors, or clients in the past. How many times have you rolled your eyes at their wacky requests?

  • “The contact form would be better in the header so visitors can always see it.”
  • “Let’s use this stock photo of two women shaking hands that I’ve seen a few other companies use.”
  • “Why don’t we redesign all of this and make it look like this site my brother built last night?”

You’re the design professional. That’s why they’re paying you to design their website and they’re not doing it themselves. So, there comes a point where you have to push aside what they want for what they need. And this will ultimately help you figure out who you work for and what you actually owe them (because fulfilling every nitpicky and unreasonable request will never lead to anything good).

So, here’s where the Hierarchy of Needs comes in. If we’re creating our own, it would look like this to start:

Working for the Boss

According to Dr. Neel Burton on Psychology Today:

Maslow called the bottom… levels of the pyramid ‘deficiency needs’ because we do not feel anything if they are met but become anxious or distressed if they are not.

I’d argue that these basic needs are like the ones we fulfill for bosses (or clients, if you’re a freelancer and work for yourself). It would look something like this:

Of course, you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment by meeting these needs, but, as a creator, how important are these really to you? These are the basic things you have to do in order to make your boss happy and to stay gainfully employed. They also help to ensure that the client is happy with the boss and agency in the end.

Bottom line: Without these needs fulfilled, you won’t be able to move any deeper into the triangle/hierarchy. So, when focusing on working for your boss, make sure the basic needs are met so you can move on and serve others as they need you to.

Working for the Client

Now, if your boss and client are two different people, you’ll have a second layer of needs to attend to here.

Just as your boss wants you to help them make more money and earn a strong reputation within their space, so too does your client. However, the work you owe them is different. Here’s how it would be represented in the triangle:

Again, you’ll be pleased if you can do and be all these things that your client needs, but is this ultimately what drives you as a designer? Sure, you want to build great relationships with clients so they return to you time and time again with all their website and marketing needs. But in terms of being fulfilled by being a good listener or a timely communicator? Probably not.

All the same, it’s important to be skilled in this type of work and to know how to serve your clients in order to get to that top level. It’ll also help you prioritize their needs accordingly, so you’re not jumping at every single thing or request they claim to “need” and blowing the budget or scope of the job.

For example, if they start demanding more of you (like bombarding you with emails every day wanting to know what’s going on), you can confidently remind them that things are under control (because you’re adhering to the project deadlines, per your boss) and you’ve already scheduled the next client check-in for this week (because you’ve been a good communicator, just as they need you to be).

Working for the End User (Customer)

Maslow refers to the top-level of the pyramid as the growth need. And here’s how Dr. Burton sums this one up for us:

Once we have met our deficiency needs, the focus of our anxiety shifts to self-actualization, and we begin, even if only at a sub- or semi-conscious level, to contemplate our bigger picture. However, only a small minority of people are able to self-actualize because self-actualization calls upon uncommon qualities such as independence, awareness, creativity, originality, and, of course, courage.

These characteristics perfectly sum up everything you want to and should be as a web designer. Unfortunately, it’s those employer and client needs that can stand in your way before you can truly flex your muscles as a creative.

Once you’ve attended to the basics, though, you’ll get your chance to design the kinds of user experiences you know will delight your client’s customers.

Here’s how their part of the triangle should look:

These are universally applicable needs and cannot be ignored.

After you’ve addressed them, though, you will have fulfilled your responsibility to all three parties: your boss, your client, and your end users. And once you’ve done that, you are free to be the creative designer that you are.

Wrap-Up

What I want you to take away from this, is that there are certain basic needs which you must fulfill when working as a web designer. These are the ones you’ll put into your own hierarchy of needs.

Take a systematic approach, starting with your boss and ending with the customer:

  • What do you have to do to ensure that your boss is happy to have you on the team?
  • And that the client is pleased with the site you’ve built them?
  • So you can design a website and experience that end users respond to positively?

Once you’ve figured all this out, you’ll unlock the answer to whom you work for and, more importantly, how you should work for them.

 

Featured image via Pexels.

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Source de l’article sur Webdesignerdepot

Neutral Quality metrics for your code

Disclaimer – I am not in any ways affiliated with Sonar Source, I just happen to be using their product(s), and the stuff I’ve seen so far, is simply amazing as far as I am concerned!

As software developers, we are non-stop fighting the never ending recurring battle against "code rot". Code rot often implies that our Program Manager asks us for a feature, and we sneak in an additional "if" statement in one method, and a couple of "while" statements in another method, and our program manager is pleased with the effect. Slowly over time of course, the effect this approach has on our code, is less cohesion, clarity, and readability, in our classes, methods, and modules – And our code slowly mutates over time to become "a big ball of mud", until it reaches that point where it’s no longer possible to maintain.

Source de l’article sur DZONE

5 Best Free Courses and Resources to Level Up As a Web Designer

I often see freelancers on social media asking what the secret is to working fewer hours, making more money, and helping new clients to find them. While those things tend to happen the longer you’ve been freelancing, it doesn’t happen without some effort.

If you’re wondering how you can change things so that your business becomes more profitable and easier to manage, education is the key.

But it’s not just mastering new design techniques that will take you to the next level. It’s important to invest your time in a well-rounded education so that you can grow not just as a web designer, but also as a freelancer and business owner.

The good news is that you don’t have to spend a ton of cash on courses or resources. In the following round-up, I’m going to share some of the best free courses to help you level up.

5 Best Free Courses and Resources for Web Designers

Rather than sign up for Udemy, Skillshare and other premium course membership sites, I recommend taking a bootstrapping approach to self-education. I mean, the whole point in learning new skills and strengthening existing ones is so you can run a better business and make more money, right?

Once you have extra funds to throw at premium courses, definitely explore those options. For now, let’s focus on the free courses and resources that’ll help get you to that next level:

1. edX

edX was created by Harvard and MIT in order to provide university-level training and education to anyone, anywhere. While you can’t get certified without paying a few hundred dollars, you can go through entire courses for free.

Courses are offered over a wide range of categories. As a freelance web designer, you’d do well to focus on the following areas:

Design
Learn more than just how to design beautiful interfaces. Learn about the technical side of it, too — things like AI, IoT, and cybersecurity.

Computer Science
Learn web development and coding.

Business & Management
Learn essential business skills like:

  • Project management
  • Finance management
  • Leadership
  • Marketing and analysis

Communication
Learn things like branding, negotiation, reputation management, and critical thinking.

2. Envato Tuts+

Envato Tuts+ might be best known for its succinct step-by-step design and development tutorials. However, it has a new section of free video courses to take advantage of.

Although you won’t learn any soft skills here, this is a great resource if you want to master the tools of your trade.

Free courses give you a deeper look at tools like:

  • HTML, CSS, and JavaScript
  • Adobe’s suite of software
  • Sketch
  • WordPress
  • Video conferencing tools

3. YouTube

YouTube is more than just a place to watch entertaining videos. There are some amazing YouTube channels for web designers at all skill levels.

When choosing a design channel and course to follow, look for ones that are well organized. If they’re just posting videos at random without any rhyme or reason, it’ll be difficult to focus on and master one skill set before moving onto the next.

Here are the channels I recommend you follow:

Flux

Learn skills related to:

  • Web design
  • Getting started as a freelancer
  • Strengthening your processes
  • Building your portfolio
  • Design theory and strategy

CharliMarieTV

Learn skills related to:

  • Web design
  • Building sites with Figma or Webflow
  • Career paths for designers
  • Productivity hacks

NNgroup

Learn skills related to UX:

  • Web design
  • User psychology
  • Usability testing
  • Design thinking
  • Research and data analysis
  • Journey mapping
  • Get access to UX Conference seminars, too

4. Moz Whiteboard Fridays

Even if you don’t offer SEO as a standalone service, it’s important for web designers to understand the role they play in SEO and to stay abreast of the latest and greatest strategies.

If you haven’t tuned in for one of Moz’s Whiteboard Fridays yet, I’d recommend you start now.

Some of the topics might not be relevant to you (like creating a content strategy). However, there are others you’ll get some great tips from, like the one above that talks about creating great visuals, preparing web pages with tags and schema markup, and optimizing for featured snippets.

5. Nir Eyal – Indistractible

Nir Eyal has made a name for himself over the years as an author and presenter on the subject of human psychology and behavior. His first book (Hooked) examined consumer behavior and how to design around it. His second (Indistractible) turned the focus on us — the doers and creators who build experiences and products for consumers.

The first of his free resources to explore is this 30-minute presentation on why we’re so easily distracted and how to keep those distractions (and ourselves) from getting in the way.

The second free resource to snag up is the 80-page workbook available on the homepage. Here’s a preview of what it looks like:

You’ll learn about common distractions, identify those that are specific to you, and then work through exercises to defeat them.

If this is something you’re struggling with, these resources will empower you to make a much-needed change.

BONUS: WebDesigner Depot

Although WebDesigner Depot doesn’t offer video courses, I consider each of the articles contained within this site to be mini-courses of their own. And you’ll learn everything you’ve ever wanted to know about becoming a web designer and growing your freelance business.

 

Featured image via Unsplash.

Source


Source de l’article sur Webdesignerdepot

8 Easy Ways To Ruin Your User Onboarding

To understand why user onboarding is such an indispensable tool, we need to empathize with the people using our products; we all come from different backgrounds and cultures, we make different assumptions, and we see the world differently.

User onboarding helps mitigate these differences by making your product’s learning curve less steep.

However, companies often make unfortunate mistakes that hinder user experience and cause frustration. In today’s article, we’ll take a look at eight ways companies ruin their products’ onboarding process.

Let’s dive right in, shall we?

1. No User Onboarding at all

As a part of the team that created a product, you’ve probably spent hundreds of hours going over its features and the most minute detail. Naturally, you know the product like the back of your hand. The user does not.

Naturally, you know the product like the back of your hand. The user does not

We may believe that the app we’ve worked on is straightforward and that user onboarding is probably overkill — but that’s almost never the case. Guiding our users through a product will help with retention, conversion, and their overall satisfaction.

However, there are very rare cases when you can do without user onboarding, here are a few:

  • Your product is too straightforward to cause any confusion;
  • Your product has a formulaic structure, similar to that of other products’ in your category, i.e., social media or e-commerce;
  • Your product relies heavily on Google or iOS design guidelines with common design patterns;
  • Your product is too complex (enterprise or business-oriented) — in such cases, users need special training, rather than just an onboarding;

2. Assuming That Users “Get It”

 One of the vital UX mottos we should always be mindful of is that “we are not our users.” When onboarding them, we always need to assume that they’re at square one. We should communicate with them as if they have no prior knowledge of our product, its terminology, and the way it works.

Providing freshly-registered users with highly contextual information will most likely confuse them. As a result, this will render your attempts to create a helpful onboarding process useless.  

3. Onboarding Users on a Single Touchpoint

it’s tempting to brainstorm which features should make it into the onboarding, then design and code them; that’s a very bad idea

The main problem with the previous point is that it’s too contextual for new users. However, providing no context altogether can be problematic as well. This is commonly found in onboarding processes that focus on a single touchpoint while leaving out the rest of the product.

By choosing to inform users of our product’s features, we force them to detour from their “normal” course of action. This comes at the cost of the user’s frustration.

Since we’re asking people to pay this price, it’s best to provide them with information that will also help them navigate the entire product. As a result, this will decrease the number of times we’ll have to distract them from their ordinary flow.

4. Forcing Users Through Onboarding

We’ve previously mentioned that we mustn’t assume that users have any background knowledge about our products.

The opposite argument can be made — experienced users don’t need a basic onboarding process. It will most likely frustrate them, and it won’t provide them with any real value. Also, forcing users through this process will most likely take the onboarding frustration to a whole other level.

This is why it’s essential that we allow them to skip the parts they don’t find useful. This way, we’ll address the knowledge gaps of the people who really want it and need it.

5. Onboarding Based Purely on Assumptions

This is yet another point that’s implicit in “we are not our users”. Oftentimes, it’s tempting to brainstorm which features should make it into the onboarding, then design and code them; that’s a very bad idea.

Here’s what every designer should do instead:

  • Do user interviews: You should conduct these before having anything designed; user interviews will help you shortlist and prioritize features in terms of their significance, so that the onboarding is focused around the features that matter most.
  • Do usability testing: Once you have a good idea of what features your users consider most important, design onboarding that reflects that; having completed your design, make sure to conduct at least 5 usability testing sessions with users, so that you can make sure that your design works.

6. Just Letting Users Quit

While we shouldn’t force people to go through onboarding, it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t nudge them in the right direction.

find that sweet spot between being front of mind and annoying

People choose not to onboard for many reasons, but showing them around will benefit both parties. Therefore, it’s never wrong to remind them that they can always resume onboarding via email or push notifications (unless you’re too pushy). Make sure to find that sweet spot between being front of mind and annoying. 

Similarly, these two mediums are a great way to deliver valuable information as well.

Here’s a great example of an onboarding email from InVision:

And here’s a clever notification from TripPlanner:

Source: clevertap.com

7. Asking For Too Much Information

We need to always be mindful of the fact that the product’s spokesperson should act as a guide during onboarding. Its goal at the very beginning is to build trust.

We can ask for small favors when we’ve built a solid and lasting relationship

Not only is asking for too much information from the get-go unproductive, but it will also undermine the trust that the user already gave us.

It’s best to abstain from asking freshly-registered users for their credit card information. Nearly 100% of businesses care about profits — and there’s no shame in it. However, today’s most successful companies make money by providing users with value. So it’s best to stimulate users to share their financial data in subtler ways while focusing on customer experience.

The same can be said about subjecting the people using your service to extensive questionnaires. At the first steps of our interaction, it’s all about giving and gaining trust. We can ask for small favors when we’ve built a solid and lasting relationship.

8. Onboarding for the Sake of Onboarding

While there are dozens of reasons why you should guide your users through your product, it needs to be done well. A pointless onboarding process that doesn’t provide users with value is more frustrating than the lack thereof.

Onboarding can be a bit frustrating at times. Pointless onboarding will just raise eyebrows. It will slow users down and disengage them, which is exactly the opposite of what we want.

Conclusion

The process of introducing your users to your product is one of the factors that will define its success.

A critical aspect of user onboarding that we need to always take into account is value. Is this detour from our user’s ordinary course of action valuable to them? Will this improve their experience with the product?

Onboarding demands careful and continuous tailoring. Once perfected, this process will help you win new users’ hearts and help you build brand loyalty.

 

Featured image via Unsplash.

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Source de l’article sur Webdesignerdepot

The Latest Research for Web Designers, August 2020

While a lot of the research for web designers that’s come out this year has to do with COVID-19, we’re starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel. Many of these reports aren’t just looking at the effects of the pandemic on business and marketing today. They’re now looking at what consumers plan to do once the pandemic is gone.

So, I have some very interesting research for you here today. Three of the reports have to do with coronavirus side effects — pertaining to ecommerce, market research, and freelancing — and one of them is just a really great argument against using PDFs on websites.

1. The Digital 2020 Survey Says Ecommerce Growth Will Continue Post-Coronavirus

Obviously, everyone is paying close attention to COVID-19’s impact on the world. For the purposes of the work you do as a web designer, you should be clued into what it’s doing to the business and marketing fields. Because, if those opportunities dry up or companies begin to pivot, you need to be ready to adapt.

The Digital 2020, a joint monthly report from we are social and HootSuite, brings interesting news about the state of ecommerce thanks to COVID-19.

Because the pandemic has forced consumers indoors, online shopping has increased. But, according to about half of those surveyed for this report, this isn’t some temporary solution. They plan on doing more online shopping even after the pandemic ends.

This means that web designers are sitting in an enviable position now and for the foreseeable future. If you’re not already helping businesses sell through their websites, now is the time to do so as more and more businesses are going to need reliable online stores to sell their offerings through.

2. eMarketer Shares Data on Social Listening

When conducting research at the beginning of a design project, what kinds of sources do you turn to for quick and reliable information? Your client provides you with information on their business, industry, and the competition, of course, but what else?

You can conduct user surveys and interviews, but those take time and resources. It also usually means working with clients who have existing businesses and user bases to tap into. Unless you’re working as a UX designer where that’s a big part of the work you do, you might not have the ability to do that level of research.

As reported by Gartner (via eMarketer), leading marketers are now learning about their target audiences through the following channels:

Thanks to the surge of traffic online right now, social listening platforms have become really useful resources for learning about one’s users, with 51% of marketing leaders using them.

If you feel as though your initial research and planning phases could use a boost, I’d recommend taking advantage of one of these social listening tools now.

If you build websites for a specific niche, you can set up keywords/hashtags that are universally relevant to (most of) your clients. By listening in on these conversations regularly, you can become more attuned to what the visitors of your websites actually need and you can proactively build better experiences for them as a result.

3. Upwork Reports Increasing Numbers of Freelancers Entering the Market

The main focus of the Upwork 2020 Future Workforce Report is on how employers are changing their approaches to hiring now and in the near future. And the basic premise is this:

  • It’s long been predicted that more and more of the workforce would be allowed to work remotely.
  • COVID-19 has escalated those predictions to the point where most of the workforce is remote right now.
  • Businesses see the value in remote work arrangements, especially if it enables them to get work done more quickly and cost-effectively by freelancers.

While this is certainly great news for web designers looking for new clients, the report also provides us with this data:

64% of professionals in the top of their field work independently. That statistic alone means you’re up against some tough competition. But there’s also the 50% rise in signups on freelancer marketplaces that should have you worried.

Even though business demand for freelance talent is growing, this unprecedented rise in freelance competition may pose some problems. So, if you’re not already doing everything you can to position yourself as the web designer in your niche, get going on that now so you don’t get drowned out by the rising number of competitors.

4. NNG Says That PDFs Are Unsuitable for the Web

While I don’t have statistics to share with you from the Nielsen Norman Group’s post on why the PDF is “Still Unfit for Human Consumption”, I do have a ton of usability arguments against them that are worth summing up here:

  1. PDFs are written in the style of print documents, which means that strategies we use to design content on websites — like making a page scannable and accessible — don’t apply.
  2. They’re not designed to be as concise or attractive as a web page.
  3. They don’t operate like a website, which disrupts the seamless experience you’ve worked so hard to create when one is opened up from your site.
  4. The website navigation disappears and any sense of orientation (besides the browser “Back” button) goes out the window.
  5. There’s no way to build an internal navigation in a PDF document, save for internal linking or a table of contents.
  6. If they’re formatted for paper sizes, scrolling through them can be difficult for mobile users.
  7. They load more slowly the bigger they get, so unless it’s something like a small and optimized menu, expect visitors to wait for the download to appear.

And those are just the arguments that came from NNG’s researchers. Take some time to read through real user complaints about PDFs and you’ll never want to include one on a client’s website again.

Wrap-Up

Thankfully, the research for web designers and marketers is finally starting to move away from the confusion and speculation we saw a lot of earlier this year.

Just as with anything we do on the web, the more time you give it, the more data you can collect. And, luckily for us, the data suggests that there’s a pretty positive outlook for web designers if they position themselves the right way now.

 

Featured image via Unsplash.

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Interview: Redesigning the Empire State Building’s Website

In 2019, to keep pace with an interior redesign of its visitor experience, the Empire State Building decided to redesign its website. Blue Fountain Media were engaged to deliver the project. With the new site launching, we spoke to Head of Design, Tatyana Khamdamova about designing for the world’s most famous building.

Webdesigner Depot: The Empire State Building is probably the most iconic building in America, if not the world. Were there any points at which you thought, “Oh God, this is too much pressure”?

Tatyana Khamdamova: Yes, of course, it was a lot of pressure knowing that people all over the world will be looking at your work. But with the pressure, we also felt excitement and pride that we got to work on such an iconic project. Just thinking that we are doing the site for Empire State Building made us feel proud of all that other work we did during our whole life that gave us the opportunity to be a part of this project.

WD: Blue Fountain Media is a large agency. Did you utilize the whole company, or was there a smaller, dedicated team tasked with creating the site?

TK: On a project like this one, you need the expertise of the team members from all departments in the agency. You want people to work together from the beginning to ensure that their knowledge helps to shape the project and produce the best possible outcome. It’s important for designers and marketers, for example, to be a part of the strategy and UX phase to provide their input which minimizes tunnel vision and generates more ideas. You can only achieve the best results if every single detail from strategy to design to development is done right.

WD: That’s a lot of people to coordinate. Did any roles naturally come to the fore, or is design leadership a quality that varies from person to person?

TK: Some people are natural leaders in their fields. But, sometimes a certain project requires people to take responsibility and show their leadership skills within the team. So I would say that it’s a quality that varies from person to person and doesn’t depend on a role or a title at all.

WD: What were the central aims of the redesign?

TK: ESB’s previous website did not reflect the level of design to match their iconic brand, UX was not user friendly, the content was outdated, and they wanted to grow online individual and group ticket sales. In addition to competing with global and NYC based tourist attractions, ESB was also faced with growing competition in the NYC Observatory market with Top of The Rock, One World Observatory, and Edge at Hudson Yards.

While the building underwent a $165 million renovation, BFM was tasked with creating a best in class website that reclaimed their iconic brand identity while providing an intuitive, and enjoyable user experience for both domestic and international visitors looking to learn about the building, exhibits, and the many ticket experience packages that they offer to visitors.

WD: How do you approach researching a unique project like this?

TK: We went to the source! First, we spoke to visitors of the Empire State Building while they were in line. What was their experience, did they use the website, what made them choose to visit the observatory instead of or in addition to some of the other competing observatories in the city. We then looked at other key tourist towers worldwide to see how they are positioning themselves globally to draw inspiration. We did in-depth stakeholder interviews that included folks working at the building every day and the types of interaction and questions they field from visitors. We conducted surveys of international travelers to understand their motivations and concerns. Finally, we dug into the website itself by testing using various protocols and platforms to understand the visitor paths, what they were able to easily do, and what tasks they may have found challenging. Drawing from all of those insights, we planned and designed the site using an iterative process.

WD: ESB visitors come from all over the world; how did you tackle designing for an international audience?

TK: People across the globe speak different languages, have different cultures and needs. Our goal was to learn about the audience and give them a site that looks and feels like it was created for them. Luckily we were working for the iconic building that is well known internationally and capturing the design aesthetic of the building itself already made the site recognizable across the globe. When working on the project we also were making sure that all users can see the information in their local language when they land on the site and have easy access to the language selector in case they want to change it. When you translate from one language to another the number of words and characters is not always the same. It was important to make sure that the site is designed and developed with an understanding of how the content will be displayed in other languages. With the localization help of our parent company Pactera EDGE we successfully translated the site in several languages and tested it to ensure that it looks right for the local and international audience.

WD: The famous view of the ESB is the external view, but your design feels more in keeping with the experience of the building’s interior. Was that a conscious decision?

TK: It was a conscious decision to create a site that makes you feel like you are visiting the building. Our goal was to make the visitor excited to buy a ticket and see all that beauty with their own eyes. But, if someone doesn’t have an opportunity to come to NY we wanted to make that online experience as close to the real one as possible. We understand that nothing will replace the actual visit to the Empire State Building but we wanted the website to feel real and by using the great photography and amazing Art Deco design elements, we were able to do so.

WD: How did you interpolate such a complex style as Art Deco into a functional site?

TK: Fortunately for us, our office is located a couple blocks away from the building and we had the opportunity to go there and see some of the details. We also had access to the great photos of the renovated hallways, exhibits, and observatory decks, which gave us the idea of how the Art Deco elements were used in the interior design of the building. We all know that interior design and web design have different needs and goals so it was an interesting challenge to design a site that makes you feel like you are inside the building without overwhelming users and that content is easy to read and the ticket purchasing process is simple and clean. We re-created a lot of design elements used on the ceiling, walls, and floor of the building simplified those elements and made them part of the website design. A lot of those elements were used in the background, call to actions, icons, and maps, and combined with the brand colors used in both interior and web designs we were able to give the site the Art Deco look.

WD: There’s been speculation in the design community recently that Art Deco may re-emerge as a trend in the 2020s. Having worked with the style, do you think it could benefit the wider web?

TK: This was a very specific design approach for a very specific project that takes us back to the 1920’s and emphasizes that era through modern twists in web design. I do not see how it can be applied on the web in general unless the client specifically asks for it, for example, architecture website, real estate, or furniture site. Every project is unique and has its own goals and style and there is no one solution that will fit all. As of today, The ESB is Art Deco in a sense and it truly owns that style.

WD: Can you share some details on the technology stack you employed?

TK: The site was built on the Drupal CMS, integrates with Empire’s partner Gateway Ticketing System, and is hosted on Acquia.

WD: Why Drupal? Does it have qualities that suit a project of this scale, or is it simply the case that BFM had the pre-existing expertise of Drupal to facilitate the build?

TK: BFM is a dev-agnostic production team and we always ensure we’re making the best recommendation to our clients. In this case, the previous website was built on Drupal, so in order to decrease the effect of a new platform rollout that would be unfamiliar to the internal ESB teams, we decided to keep the site on the Drupal platform. Luckily, Drupal is an extremely flexible CMS and the needs of the site perfectly align with what Drupal provides.

WD: With visitors from around the world, the range of browsers and devices you had to consider was vastly larger than most projects. Did you draw a line for support? If so, where was it?

TK: BFM constantly updates our list of supported browsers and devices to stay in line with changing technology trends and device usage around the world. We’re extremely lucky that our larger organization, Pactera EDGE, has deep roots in globalization and localization, so we leveraged their team to help us with all aspects of website visitors from the many regions around the world, including translation services and testing. Since this was a complete overhaul, we ensured the baseline standard for all devices was met and will continue to enhance as the future technology needs become apparent.

WD: The Empire State Building gets millions of visits each year, what sort of server resources do you need to throw at it to guarantee uptime?

TK: BFM is a partner of Acquia, and Empire State Building is hosting their new site with them. Acquia is a wonderful ecosystem built specifically for high performing drupal websites and provide many tools for their hosted sites to be able to handle fluctuations in visitors, traffic surges, and with the 24/7 support offered, they can easily manage the changing needs of worldwide visitors.

WD: Now it’s live, how does the new ESB site relate to its real world presence?

TK: The Empire State Building defines the New York City skyline. The world’s most magnificent Art Deco skyscraper, it’s a living piece of New York history and an instantly recognizable symbol of city culture today. The old site did not reflect the amazing interior and exterior design of the building and we had a chance to showcase the redesigned interior and bring more attention to the beautiful Art Deco design elements. We wanted to create the site to make you feel like you are visiting the building. By showcasing the exhibits, renovated halls, and observatories through compelling photography and architectural details, our goal is to make the visitor excited to buy a ticket and see all that beauty with their own eyes.

We’d like to thank Tatyana for taking the time out of her day to talk to us.

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Choose Your Own Adventure with the Parsons Web Design and Development Certificate

Many people dream of a career in web design, but it may actually be more attainable than you think.

There are countless online courses, of variable quality, with little to no academic structure; self-learning is an option, but it doesn’t come with a curriculum. Without a professional structure and a comprehensive curriculum your dream career might never be more than that.

But there is a practical, fast-track option to making a career in web design a reality, and that’s the Parsons Web Design and Development Certificate.

Built around the innovative teaching approach that Parsons is known for, you’ll learn human-centered design, explore the latest tools, evaluate techniques and approaches, and uncover the secrets of UX. The certificate even offers two distinct tracks, one for designers, and one for developers, so you can take control of your own future.

It’s one of the most creative approaches to a formal design education in the world, and what’s more, because it’s entirely online you can study from anywhere.

What Will I Learn?

Parsons offers a flexible curriculum to suit both designers and developers. There are two core courses, followed by three specialist courses.

learn human-centered design, explore the latest tools, evaluate techniques and approaches, and uncover the secrets of UX

The core courses cover the essentials of web and mobile design, plus JavaScript for designers. Each of the core courses lasts nine weeks. When you’ve completed them, you can opt for a design specialism or a development specialism. (You don’t have to make your choice until you’ve completed the core courses!)

If you prefer design work, you’ll spend a total of 21 further weeks learning mobile design patterns, studying emerging platforms, working with interactive typography, and mastering design systems.

If development is more your thing, then on the 21 week development track you’ll cover advanced HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, learn how to work with APIs, and finish up with experimental JavaScript.

To earn the Web Design and Development Certificate you need to complete the two core courses, plus three specialist courses within two years — a total of 39 weeks of study. Parsons recommend that you take two courses per semester, but it’s possible to complete the entire certificate program in one year.

Is This Really For Me?

Parsons Web Design and Development Certificate is a recognized qualification from a reputable institution that will stand you in good stead in future job interviews. But what’s more important, is the knowledge and experience you’ll gain from the course.

Thanks to the creative, flexible approach to learning, the certificate is suitable for designers and developers at any stage of their career

Thanks to the creative, flexible approach to learning, the certificate is suitable for designers and developers at any stage of their career.

If you’re just starting out, the certificate is a superb way of exploring the field, all the while building skills that will make you stand out to employers.

If you’re a print designer, or a programmer, the Web Design and Development Certificate is a great way to supplement your existing skills and make a lateral move into web work.

And if you’re a grizzled industry professional with decades of experience, you’ll benefit from the track you know least well; designers studying development, developers studying design. Not only will it open up new creative avenues to you, but you’ll find project management easier with a broader outlook on the web.

The best thing about the Parsons Web Design and Development Certificate is that because it’s made up of modules, you can still work part-time as you tick off the courses.

Why Choose Parsons?

Parsons College of Design is part of The New School, a New York-based university. Open Campus, the platform that will run the certificate, is the New School’s online system for pre-college, professional, and continuing education courses.

Thanks to Covid-19, most learning institutions are planning online-only courses for at least the next 12 months, so why not enroll in a program run by an institution that already excels at online teaching.

Innovative courses, underpinned by the creative approach to teaching that Parsons College of Design is renowned for, mean the design education you embark on this fall will be second to none.

Individual courses cost between $577 and $850, with the entire Web Design and Development Certificate costing just $3,704.

 

[– This is a sponsored post on behalf of Parsons College of Design –]

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FizzBuzz on Mule 4 With a While Loop Using VM Queue

A friend shared this youtube video on the Art of Code where FizzBuzz was demonstrated on SonicPi and also at end of the video (I won’t spoil it for you). After watching it, I was highly inspired to also implement it on Mule, because why not? I even searched the web to see if anyone had already done a FizzBuzz loop on Mule. The fact that I then did it last night kinda tells you that the answer was no.

It turns out that I also learned a thing or two implementing FizzBuzz on Mule 4. FizzBuzz is one of the ways loops are introduced when learning a programming language. Even the recent Golang course I took also introduces loops using FizzBuzz. For the uninitiated, FizzBuzz is derived from a children’s game, the problem statement for a FizzBuzz program is pretty straightforward. This is the same one you can find at HackerRank.

Source de l’article sur DZONE