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How to Get Dark Mode Design Right

Dark themes are everywhere these days. 

As human beings continue to spend more of their time interacting with technology, dark themes provide a more relaxing way to engage with the digital world. More often than not, these themes are easier on the eyes, more attractive, and perfect for the dedicated user

Throughout 2020, countless leading brands have debuted their own version of the dark theme. Google has a solution for your Drive, while Apple and Android have built dark theme performance right into their operating systems. 

If you haven’t learned how to make the most out of dark mode yet, then you could be missing out on an excellent opportunity to differentiate your design skills, and earn more clients going forward. 

Why Dark Mode?

Before we dive too deeply into the possibilities of creating your own dark theme, let’s examine what dark mode is, and why it’s so effective. 

Ultimately, dark themes are created to reduce the amount of luminance emitted by everything from your desktop and laptop, to your smartphone and smartwatch. Dark themes help to improve the visual ergonomics of design, by reducing eye strain, adjusting brightness to suit current lighting conditions, and more. Additionally, many dark mode offerings are also fantastic at conserving battery life. 

Here are some of the main benefits of adding dark themes to your design portfolio

  • Better user experience: A focus on user experience is one of the most important trends of the digital age. You need to be willing to deliver incredible experiences to everyone who visits your website if you want to stand out today. Dark mode reduces everything from eye strain, to battery power consumption. This helps to keep customers on a website for longer.
  • Innovation and cutting edge appeal: Most companies want to prove that they can stay on the cutting edge of their industry. The ability to offer an opt-in dark mode version of a website theme or appearance can help your clients to stand out from the crowd. As the environment becomes more mobile-focused, more companies will be looking for designers that can provide the best mobile experiences. 
  • Support for universal design: Dark mode isn’t just great for people who have light sensitivity at night. This solution could be more comfortable for visually-impaired users who would struggle with eye strain when visiting your websites otherwise. If you want your content to be more inclusive for a wider range of viewers, then learning how to design for dark mode is a good way to start.

Best Practices When Designing for Dark Mode

Designing for dark mode is easier than you’d think. Most of the time, it involves simply thinking about how you can replace some of the brighter, more overwhelming aspects of your site, with something deeper and darker. 

Here are some useful tips that will get you moving in the right direction. 

1. Experiment with Colors

A big issue for a lot of web designers when it comes to developing a dark mode solution is that they get too caught up with things like pure white text against pure black backgrounds. However, this high-contrast option can be a little much after a while. 

It’s often much easier to use a dark grey as your primary surface color, instead of a true black. Additionally, rather than using bright white, think about slightly off-white alternatives that will be warmer to the eye.

Experiment with surfaces and color combinations that are unlikely to cause too much eye strain. Dark grey foundations often offer a wider range of depth, too, because you can demonstrate shadows on grey. 

Additionally, when you are experimenting with colors, remember that saturated colors often vibrate painfully against very dark surfaces, making them harder to read. Desaturating your colors will help to reduce the contrast and make your websites more welcoming. 

Lighter tones in the 200-50 range will have better readability on dark themes. However, you can always experiment with your choices. Google Material Design recommends using a contrast level of around 15:8:1 between your background and text. 

2. Consider the Emotional Impact

Much of the effort involved with dark mode design is figuring out how certain colors work together. It’s easy to get carried away with stark contrasts, particularly when you’re used to working with a white background. However, you need to remember that you’re designing for a user that’s primarily looking for an easier and more subdued browsing experience.

While you’re working, remember to consider the emotional aspect of the design too. The emotion in colors can make or break a buyer’s journey in any environment. However, an often overlooked-aspect of color psychology, is that people perceive shades differently when they’re on a black background

For instance, think of the color green. On a light background, it conveys nature and even financial wealth. However, on a dark background, the same green could come across as something venomous, toxic, or even sickly. It’s important to think about the kind of impressions end users are going to get when they arrive on your site.

3. Give Users the Freedom to Choose

One of the biggest mistakes you can make when you begin designing for dark mode, is thinking that you should focus entirely on your dark themes, and nothing else. This lines you up for a problem if you interact with users who want the best of both worlds. If you’re designing for apps in particular, you’re going to need web pages that can switch naturally between light and dark themes. 

Learning how to implement both a dark mode and a light mode option into the desks you create will help you to reach a wider selection of customers. Remember, you’ll need to test the performance and impact of your designs in both themes, to check that they deliver the same kind of experience, no matter how your user chooses to browse. 

Although dark mode should offer a different experience to end-users, it still needs to feel as though they’re browsing on the same website. That means that you’re going to need to experiment with the most natural combination of light and dark mode options.

4. Remember the Basics

Remember, although the three tips above will help you to get on the right path for dark mode design, you’ll also need to consider the opportunities and limitations of the platforms that you’re designing for. The kind of dark mode experience you can deliver for Google Chrome websites is going to be very different to what you can create for something running on iOS.

Examining the documentation provided by the system that you’re designing for will help you to develop something with a close insight into what’s actually possible. 

Other top tips for dark mode design include:

  • Focus on your content: Make sure that your content stands out on the page, without being too overwhelming. 
  • Test your design: In both light and dark appearances, you need to make sure everything is working as it should be.
  • Adopt vibrancy for your interfaces: Vibrancy helps to improve the contrast between your background and foreground. 
  • Use semantic colors: Semantic colors adapt to the current appearance of a website automatically. Hard-coded color values that don’t adapt can seem more aggressive. 
  • Desktop tinting: Try experiment with things like transparency and filters to give your websites and apps a slightly warmer tint – ideal for late-night browsing
  • Icons: Use individual glyphs and icons for dark and light modes if necessary. 

Ready to Design for Dark Mode?

Preparing your web development and design portfolio for an era addicted to dark mode can be a complex experience. You need to think carefully about how people are going to browse through your websites and apps when they’re searching for something more subtle, and less visually overwhelming than the websites that we’re used to making. 

The most important thing to remember is that everything on your website or application should look just as beautifully tailor-made in dark mode as it does in light mode. Simply adding a dynamic black background when people want to switch settings in an app isn’t enough. You need to go in-depth with your designs and examine how different fonts, colors, and images work together.

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Source de l’article sur Webdesignerdepot

20 Freshest Web Designs, September 2020

This month we’re going big and bold. Oversized type, strong colors, in-your-face layouts, and little touches of playfulness exude confidence and make a statement. There are some quieter moments too, with thoughtful illustration and more gentle use of color. Animation still features strongly in the details, with circles proving popular in rollover effects. Enjoy.

Fledge

Fledge is a film production company based in Belgium. Their site uses split screen with looped text scrolling in opposite directions on each side. A minimal color palette adds extra punch.

2ºC Earth

2ºC Earth is a beautiful and also scary website that explores the effects of rising global temperatures by focusing on 5 specific locations. Some stunning photography and subtle use of sound take you to these locations as they are now, then show what they could become. The experience is both immersive and unsettling.

pill&pillow

Unlike many digital studios who use the design of their own site to demonstrate their skills, pill&pillow have taken a very basic approach. It is very self-assured, and it works. Random colored strikethroughs on visited links add a nice touch of playfulness.

Ferrum Pipe

Metal fencing is not the most interesting of subjects to most of us, but this site for Ferrum Pipe is surprisingly appealing. On scroll animation and some off-grid image layout brings life to what would normally be, well, a bit dull.

Lucciano’s

With its focus on mouth-watering photography and videography, the site for gelato makers Luccianos, will have you checking your freezer for any leftover salted caramel or stracciatella. The zoom on rollover is a nice effect, and the use of circles with ice cream color backgrounds for rollover text reinforces the gelato theme.

Björn Wieland

UI designer and artist Björn Wieland has created a portfolio site with a simple, relaxed feel and pleasing transitions. It feels simple, but behind the scenes there is quite a lot going on.

Coloursmith

Coloursmith is a tool from Taubmans paint company which allows you to create a custom paint color by uploading a photo. You name your color and can add a story, then you order a test pot. colors are presented well, in different light and with suggestions for complementary colors.

Finn 

Finn make diet supplements for dogs. Their site is fun, modern and clean. Bright colors and an illustration that manages to be cute but not too cutesy make a bold impression.

Highcourt

Highcourt is a new private membership leisure club set to open in New York in spring 2021. Dark blue text on cream gives a softer edge than black on white. The background color changes on scroll are pleasing, and simple line illustrations with occasional gentle animation add to the overall sense of calm.

Elevence

Elevence is the company of product designer Kazuo Kobayashi. The site uses only black, white, and grays allowing the color photos of his work to really stand out. Circular thumbnails are used to good effect, appearing on rollover.

Playtype

Playtype is a Danish type foundry whose site seems to fit their name. It has a playful, almost chaotic feel, with bright blocks of color and occasional animation. Some pretty nice typefaces too.

Neri Oxman 

Neri Oxman is many things: architect, scientist, engineer, inventor, and designer. This site feels like a really beautiful coffee table art book that you want to pick up and look through every so often. There are some nice details too, like the lens ‘reveal’ effect on rollover in a few places.

Modern Recovery

Modern Recovery is a project by sobriety program Tempest. The interactive illustration encourages exploration, to discover different stages of recovery from alcohol abuse and insights from others who have followed the program. The aim is to change our social attitudes towards alcohol and not drinking.

Bliss

Have you clicked on the link to visit Bliss Search? Yes, the link is correct, no you haven’t been redirected to a Google search results page. This Australian digital marketing company have copied the appearance of different well-known sites for their pages — Google, Instagram, LinkedIn, Tinder all make an appearance. The humor in this approach shows confidence, and makes it memorable.

Miilkiina

Miilkiina describe themselves as a digital media space and creative agency. Punchy typography, with great use of blackletter, well chosen images, and a strong header video give this home page an in-your-face edge.

Ukrainian Railroad Ladies

Ukrainian Railroad Ladies is a book by photographer Sasha Maslov. Its subjects are the, mostly, women who work as traffic controllers and safety officers at railroad crossings in Ukraine. It’s a simple site — outsized type, black and white, basic image grid, only very brief text — but it is effective in its simplicity.

Una Europa

Una Europa is an alliance of 8 European universities with the aim of offering joint research and study programs. There is some playful scrolling behavior with geometric shapes moving and changing color that enlivens what could otherwise be quite a dry site.

Bureau Cool

There’s a bit of an old school feel about the site of digital design studio Bureau Cool, with its recent traffic animation. The changing backgrounds on scroll are a nice touch.

Gridspace

Gridspace is a multimedia entertainment studio based in Montreal, and their website is a visual feast. Lots of movement, lots of video, some good use of sideways scrolling.

Nolii

Nolii make cases and accessories for iPhone that work together. The sorbet color palette complements the product colors and the block layout provides a visual reflection of the interlocking of the different products.

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Django Async: What’s New and What’s Next?

Starting with Django 3.1, the latest version that dropped a couple of weeks ago, Django now supports fully asynchronous request path. This is exciting for everyone who’s been waiting on the edge of their seats ever since Andrew Godwin’s DEP 0009 was approved by Django Technical Board in July 2019. Read on to know all about what this release means if you have a Django application in production and looking to add async support. At DeepSource, we’re working on adding more Django issues in our Python analyzer, which will also include async-specific bug risks and anti-patterns.

Support for Asynchronous Views and Middleware

In Django 3.1, async features are now supported across the request-response cycle. This means you can define fully asynchronous views using the async keyword:

Source de l’article sur DZONE

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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Source de l’article sur Webdesignerdepot

17 Tools I Can’t Design Without

I think of a creative practice as a combination of an approach (a design philosophy) and a series of techniques (craft skills); a good tool facilitates a technique, which in turn supports an approach.

It wasn’t until I sat down to write a list of tools I can’t design without, that I realized just how many tools I rely on as an integral part of my creative process. The danger of tools is that they promote certain techniques, and that bias can alter your approach.

First and foremost a good tool does no harm, it does not dictate, or obstruct your approach. Secondly, a good tool offers flexibility in the techniques you choose. Thirdly a good tool is invisible, it leaves no marks on the end product.

If I’d written this post a year ago the list would have been different, and I hope that in a year it will be different again. These are the tools that I currently find enabling, that have contributed to my craft, and supported my approach.

Affinity Designer

I’ve always used Adobe products. Photoshop and Illustrator were the de facto graphic tools for half my life. I’ve never had an issue with the subscription licensing of Creative Cloud, which I think is proportionate for a professional set of tools. Then, around 18 months ago I got very frustrated with how sluggish Illustrator had become.

I’d written an early review of Affinity Designer, I’d been impressed at the time, so I decided to give it another try expecting the sojourn to last an hour or two before I gravitated back to Illustrator. Running the latest version of Affinity Designer was a revelation, I’ve simply never wanted to switch back.

Why not Sketch? Well, I do occasionally jump into Sketch, especially for pure vector wireframing. I was an early adopter of Sketch, but the reliability issues (long since resolved) poisoned my relationship with it. Why not Figma? Well, Figma’s real strength is in collaboration, something that I get with Sketch, and personally I find some of Figma’s features unintuitive.

Affinity Designer isn‘t perfect. I dislike the color tools, especially the gradient tool, which I find clunky. But it’s the first design app I’ve used in years that syncs closely with my creative process.

Affinity Photo

I don’t do a lot of photo manipulation, so when I switched away from Creative Cloud for design work, I was relaxed about switching from Photoshop to Affinity Photo.

In my experience, Affinity Photo is stronger than Photoshop in some areas, and weaker in others. Affinity Photo’s bitmap scaling is much better than Photoshop’s, largely due to Lanczos 3 sampling.

Affinity Photo also solves a lot of little irritations that Adobe has chosen not to address for legacy or philosophical reasons, such as the toggleable ratio setting when resizing the canvas — I’ve lost track of the hours I’ve spent in Photoshop manually calculating vertical whitespace so that it’s proportionate to the horizontal.

TinyPng

Both Affinity Photo and Photoshop are poor at web format optimizations. Photoshop perhaps has the edge, but its output certainly isn’t acceptable for production.

I run bitmaps through TinyPng, which on average halves the size of the file without any appreciable loss of quality. (It stripped 66% off the images for this post.)

Fontstand

When I started to drift away from Creative Cloud, the one service that delayed me was Adobe Fonts (née Typekit). Not so much for the webfonts — which are faster and more reliable self-hosted — but for the ability to sync desktop fonts into my design apps.

I tried Fontstand when it was first released, and I loved the concept, but was worried about the small library. When I took a second look and discovered the library is now substantial for both workhorses and experimental typefaces, it was an easy decision to switch.

Fontstand is a desktop font rental service. Once you’ve found a typeface you’re interested in, you can activate an hour-long trial, then choose to rent the font for a small fee. You can auto-renew the rental if you need to, and if you rent the font for 12 months it’s yours forever.

If there’s one tool on this list I genuinely could not design without it’s this one. Fontstand makes working with fonts from independent foundries affordable for freelancers, and it’s enriched the typographic palette available to me.

Khroma

Every designer has strengths and weaknesses. Since day one of art school, my weakness has been color. It just doesn’t come naturally to me, and I have to work quite hard at it.

An incredibly helpful tool that I’ve been using for a few months is Khroma. It helps my eyes warm up before approaching color, and helps me find a starting point that I can then refine. Comparing my design work before, and after Khroma, the latter color choices are cleaner, more vibrant, and more interesting.

Atom

A good code editor is essential, and I’ve never found one that I’m completely happy with. For years I’ve flitted back and forth between Brackets, Sublime Text, and BBEdit. I think that probably reflects the changes in the type of coding I’m doing.

For now, I’ve settled on Atom. It’s fast, reliable, and it’s not biased to front or back-end code.

CodeKit

I held out on compilers longer than I should have, using apps like Minify to minify CSS and JavaScript, and the command line to process Sass (see below). Then I found CodeKit and it’s been essential to my workflow ever since.

What I like best about CodeKit is that it’s a GUI. Which means I can change settings while coding, like toggling off the JavaScript linting, without switching mental gears into another language.

MAMP

MAMP is a tool that allows you to run a local server environment, meaning I can run PHP and MySQL without the tedious process of FTPing to a server to test a change. Mac comes with Apache, so this isn’t strictly necessary, but it’s simple to use and works well with both CodeKit and Craft (see below).

There’s a pro version of MAMP, which allows you to switch seamlessly between projects, but it’s heavily geared towards WordPress. I’m still trying to find the time to evaluate Laravel Valet.

Dash

When you first start coding you try and memorize the entire language. It’s very possible to become fluent in the core of a language, but there are always nuances, defaults, and gotchas that you miss. As you grow more experienced, you realize that all professional coders Google the answer at least once per day.

When I got tired of Googling I started using Dash which is a superb app that combines the docs of numerous different languages into a searchable window. I use it daily for everything from SVG to Twig.

LambdaTest

It doesn’t really matter what you’re building, even the indy-web needs to be tested. Ideally you’ll test on real devices, but if you can’t afford a device library — and who but the largest agencies can — you need a live testing solution.

There are a few upstarts, but your choice is basically between BrowserStack and LambdaTest. I went for LambdaTest because I prefer the style of the UI, but that’s entirely subjective. If you’re not sure, toss a coin, you’ll get the same results with both.

Sass

I can’t write CSS without Sass — and I mean that literally. If I try and write vanilla CSS I guarantee I’ll nest something with @at-root and it will throw an error.

Craft CMS

Stating any preference for a CMS online that is not WordPress inevitably invites impassioned protests from developers whose career is built on the WordPress platform. So let me say preface this by saying: if WordPress works for you, and more importantly for your clients, then more power to you; I think it’s a dog.

Shopping around for a CMS is challenging, and I’ve gone through the process several times. A good CMS needs to be in sync with your mindset, and it needs to be appropriate for your clients — all of them, because unless you’re in a large agency with multiple coders, you need to commit to a single solution in order to master it.

I have looked and looked, and finally settled on Craft CMS. Craft makes it easy to build and maintain complex, high-performance sites. It has a shallow learning curve that grows exponentially steeper, making it easy to get started with plenty of room to grow.

Vue.js

Way back when Flash went kaput I switched to jQuery, and that was a really easy route into JavaScript — ignore the people who tell you to master the core language first, do whatever it takes to start using a language, that’s how you learn. But jQuery is heavy, and I found I needed it less and less.

These days 90% of the JavaScript I write is progressive enhancements in vanilla JavaScript to keep the dependencies low. Occasionally I encounter a job that requires complex state management, and then I fall back on Vue.js. JavaScript developers are as partisan as CMS aficionados, so let’s just say I favor Vue.js because it’s not controlled by a mega-corp and leave it at that.

Ulysses

As editor at WDD, I cannot emphasize enough that the right way to write copy for the web is markdown.

Markdown is faster to write so you don’t lose the thread of your thought process, and it doesn’t impose formatting so you can easily migrate to a CMS. If you’ve ever spent 20 minutes stripping the class, id, and style tags out of a file created in Word, Pages, or (by far the worst offender) Google Docs, then you don’t need to be sold on this point.

There are a few markdown-based writing apps available, I tested half a dozen, and the one I settled on was Ulysses. I like its distraction-free mode, I love its clean exports. Everything I write, I write in Ulysses.

Screenshot Plus

Much like markdown editors, there’s no shortage of screenshot apps. My current favorite is Screenshot Plus.

Screenshot Plus has one feature that makes it standout for me, and that is its Workflows. It sounds like a small problem, but when you’re taking screenshots of a dozen sites, the extra clicks to save, switch to your editor, and open the file are laborious. I have several workflows setup in Screenshot Plus that allow me to take a screenshot, save it to a specified folder on my local machine, and then open it in Affinity Photo, all with a single click.

Spark

I get a lot of email, a lot. At one point the influx was so bad I was using multiple email apps to segment it. Yes, I use Slack daily, but it doesn’t eliminate the need for email.

I‘ve been using Spark for around six months and it’s radically sped up my workflow. I’m a big fan of the smart inbox that allows me to compartmentalize email like newsletters, and email that warrants a reply. I like that I can switch to a chronological list if I’m looking for something specific. I love the ability to pin, or snooze messages, which helps me triage my inbox.

Todoist

I’m one of those people who can’t make it through the day without being organized. I need lists and sublists, and I need something native that opens automatically when I boot my Mac, and something that sits on the home screen of my Android.

There are as many to-do apps as there are things to do. When I’m working in a team I’ll use whichever task-tracking system it prefers. But by choice I always use Todoist thanks to its balance of simplicity and power. At this point it’s something of a meta-tool, and the app I open first every morning.

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How to Improve Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) and SEO

Contentful; Webster’s Dictionary defines “contentful” as… not found. Clearly someone made up this word, but that is not necessarily a bad thing.

The world of user experience metrics is moving quickly, so new terminology is needed. Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) is one of a number of metrics measuring the render time of content on a web page.

What is Largest Contentful Paint?

Google defines LCP as “the render time of the largest content element visible within the viewport.” For what we are talking about in this blog, we will consider “content” to be an image, typically a JPEG or PNG file. In most cases, “largest” points to a hero image that is “above the fold” and is one of the first images people will notice when loading the page. Applying optimization to this largest content is critical to improving LCP.

It is probably more instructive to view LCP relative to other metrics. For example, First Contentful Paint (FCP) and Visually Complete book end LCP.

Each metric has its pros and cons, but LCP is a happy medium. LCP marks when web page loading starts to have a substantial impact on user experience.

In Google’s opinion, to provide a good user experience, LCP should occur within 2.5 seconds of when the page first starts loading. Poor values are anything greater than 4 seconds.

How Does Largest Contentful Paint Impact Lighthouse Scores and SEO?

LCP is now part of several “Core Web Vitals” scores that Google will measure in its ranking algorithm. Each of the Core Web Vitals represents a distinct facet of the user experience, is measurable in the field, and reflects the real-world experience of a critical user-centric outcome.

In the case of the overall Google Lighthouse score, LCP represents 25% weighting on the performance score of Lighthouse version 6.0. This makes LCP the most important Core Web Vitals metric in determining the performance score.

While Google has indicated that content is still the most important factor in SEO ranking, a better user experience (as measured by Core Web Vitals) will generate higher rankings in a crowded field. If there are many websites competing for the top search engine spots, then Largest Contentful Paint will play a critical factor in rankings.

How to Improve Largest Contentful Paint

Now that you know that LCP is important, what can you do to improve it by making content load faster? Google provides a number of suggestions, but the most effective technique is to optimize content for the device requesting it.

For example, a website includes an 800kb JPEG image that is intended for high resolution desktops. On a smartphone, that would be optimized down to less than 100kb, with no perceptible impact on quality. LCP can improve by more than 60% — or several seconds — through this single optimization.

Find Savings in Largest Contentful Paint by using Image Speed Test

Image Speed Test is a great tool offered by ImageEngine.io that provides an analysis of LCP improvement opportunities. Just paste in the URL of the web page you are interested in optimizing, and the test will show you:

  • Image Payload Reduction
  • Speed Index
  • Largest Contentful Paint
  • Page Load Time (Visually Complete)

It also provides a video of the web page loading with and without optimizations. Finally, it analyses each image to provide an estimate of payload savings. In this case, the “largest content” on the page is this image. With optimizations, the image payload is reduced by 94%. That delivers a huge improvement in LCP.

How Does ImageEngine Improve LCP

ImageEngine is an image content delivery network (CDN) service that makes image optimization simple. Basically, for each image on the page, the image CDN will:

  1. Detect the device model requesting the web page;
  2. Optimize the image in terms of size, compression, image format;
  3. Deliver via a CDN edge server that is geographically closest to the user.

ImageEngine improves web performance for every image on the page, including the largest. You can learn more about ImageEngine here, and also sign up for a free trial.

Best Practices: Preconnect

In addition to using an image CDN like ImageEngine, a few other best practices can improve LCP. Using the resource hints to provide a preconnect for your content can streamline the download process.

For example, putting the following link statement in the HTML will accelerate the download process. The link statement will make the browser connect to the third party as early as possible so that download can start sooner. ImageEngine’s optimizations make each image download smaller and faster, but preconnect save time in the connection phase.

Best Practices: Minimize Blocking JavaScript and CSS

When JavaScript or CSS is “blocking” it means that the browser needs to parse and execute CSS and JavaScript in order to paint the final state of the page in the viewport.

Any website today relies heavily on both JavaScript and CSS, which means that it is almost impossible to avoid some render blocking resources. On a general note: be careful with what kind of CSS and JavaScript is referenced inside the <head> element. Make sure that only the strictly necessary resources are loaded in <head>. The rest can be deferred or loaded asynchronously.

When looking to improve the LCP specifically, there are some practices worth looking into more deeply.

Inline Critical CSS

It is not an easy task, but if the browser can avoid making a request to get the CSS needed to render the critical part of the page – usually the “above the fold” part – the LCP is likely to occur earlier. Also you will avoid content shifting around and maybe even a Flash of Unstyled Content (FOUC).

The critical CSS — the CSS needed by the browser to set up the structure and important styles of the part of the page shown above the fold — should in-inlined. This inlined CSS may also refer to background images, which of course should also be served by an Image CDN.

Do Not Use JavaScript to (lazy) Load Images

Many modern browsers natively support lazy loading, without the use of JavaScript. Because images usually are heavily involved in the performance of LCP, it is best practice to leave image loading to the browser and avoid adding JavaScript in order to lazy load images.

Lazy loading driven by JavaScript will add additional latency if the browser first has to load and parse JavaScript, then wait for it to execute, and then render images. This practice will also break the pre-parser in the browser.

If an image CDN is used to optimize images, then the benefits of lazy loading become much smaller. Especially large hero images that are above the fold have a large impact on LCP and will not benefit from being lazy loaded with JavaScript. It is best not to make JavaScript a blocking issue for rendering images, but rather rely on the browser’s own ability to select which images should be lazy loaded.

 

[– This is a sponsored post on behalf of ImageEngine –]

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8 Design Secrets of B2B Vs B2C Websites

Web design clients come from a wide variety of backgrounds. One day, you’ll be designing a portfolio website for a voiceover artist, the next you’ll be creating a comprehensive ecommerce site for a leading retailer. In an ideal world, you’ll get to a point where you eventually specialize in a niche. However, you’ll need to master both avenues first.

The more time you spend in this industry, the more you’ll learn that every client comes with their own unique requirements and challenges to consider. However, there’s a particularly huge divide between the kind of web design projects you do for B2B clients, and the ones you do for B2C customers.

Both B2B (Business to Business) and B2C (Business to Consumer) websites need to be clear, concise, and aesthetically pleasing. They should always have a strong focus on user experience, and they need to work consistently across devices. However, being aware of the difference between B2B and B2C projects will help you to deliver better results to your customers.

Defining the Differences Between B2B and B2C Sites

Some web design trends remain consistent in any environment.

Whether you’re creating a site for a hairdresser, or a leading SaaS company, you’ll need to deliver responsive design, intuitive navigation, and excellent site security.

Your process is unlikely to differ from B2B to B2C much in terms of project milestones, phases, prototyping and wire-framing. The differences that arise between B2B and B2C projects often come in the approach you take to building certain elements.

Let’s take a closer look at the things you might need to consider:

1. The Target Audience

In any design project, it’s always important to keep the end customer in mind. Knowing your client’s target audience will help you to create both an image and a tone of voice that appeals to the right people.

B2B Websites

With B2B websites, you’ll be speaking to a range of highly-educated individuals who already have a general knowledge of your service. The aim here will be to show the end-user how you can help them achieve better results. For instance, m.io highlights “syncing communication” so you can “effortlessly chat” with your team.

The language and content of the website is all about highlighting the key benefits of the products, and the kind of outcomes that they can deliver. The Nielsen Norman Group reports that there’s often a lot of discussion between decision-makers when they’re checking out a B2B website.  

Designers need to work harder at convincing B2B buyers that they’re making the right decision. This is particularly true when you’re selling something like a software subscription that requires a lot of long—term investment.

B2C Websites

On the other hand, while B2B customers make decisions based on logic, information, and well-explained benefits, B2C customers are more influenced by emotion. They want quick solutions to their problems, and the opportunity to purchase from a brand that “understands” them.

Look at the Firebox website, for instance. It instantly highlights an ongoing sale at the top of the homepage, addressing any concerns a customer might have about price. That combined with a quirky layout full of authentic photos and bright colors means that customers are more inclined to take action.

2. The Purpose

Another factor that can vary from B2C to B2B websites, is the motive behind a customer’s purchase. Knowing what’s pushing a target audience to interact with a brand will help you to create a website that appeals to specific goals.

B2B Websites

B2B websites often aim to solve expensive and time-consuming problems for companies. To sell a decision-maker on the validity of a solution, it’s important to thoroughly explain what the solution is, how it works, and how it addressees a specific pain point.

Look at the Zoom website for instance, they don’t just tell people that they offer video conferencing, they address the practical applications of the platform:

B2C Websites

Consumers are a lot easier to appeal to in terms of emotional impact, because many of them come to a website looking to fulfill an urgent need. Because of this, many web designers can take advantage of things like urgency and demand to encourage conversions. For instance, look at this website from TravelZoo. It takes advantage of a customer’s desire to get away:

A B2B website needs to focus on providing information that helps companies to make more confident decisions. What’s more, with B2B sites, decisions are often made by several stakeholders, while B2C sites ask a single person to make a choice. A B2C website needs to address immediate concerns and connect with customers on an emotional level. B2C buyers still want to do their research on products or services, but the turnaround is much quicker, and often requires less information.

3. The Design Elements (Visual Appearance)

Just as the focus of your website design and the audience that you’re creating the experience for can differ from B2B to B2C websites, the visual elements of the design might change too.

B2B Websites

In most cases, B2B websites are all about presenting a highly professional and respectable image. You’ll notice a lot of safe and clear choices when it comes to typography and imagery. It’s unusual to see a B2B website that takes risks with things like illustrations and animations.

Look at the Green Geeks website for instance. Everything is laid out to encourage clarity and understanding. Information is easy to find, and there are no other issues that might distract a customer.

B2C Websites

On the other hand, B2C websites can be a little more daring. With so many different options to choose from, and most customers buying out of a sense of urgency or sudden demand, designers are under pressure to capture attention quick. This means that it’s much more likely to see large pieces of eye-catching imagery on B2C sites, with very little text.

Movement, like slideshows and animations often play more of a role here. Additionally, there’s a good chance that you’ll be able to experiment more aggressively with color. Take a look at the Yotel website, for instance. There’s very little textual information here, but the appeal of the website is conveyed through sliding images:

4. Website Content

The way that information is conveyed on a B2B website is very different to the messages portrayed on a B2C site. Usually, everything from the language, to the amount of content that you use for these projects will differ drastically.

B2B Websites

When designing for a B2B website, you’ll need to be careful with content, as you’ll be speaking to a very mixed audience. If your site caters to different industries, you’ll need to ensure that you show authority, without using too much jargon. Some companies even create different pages on their site for specific customers. The aspin.co.uk website covers the benefits from a company, sale and integration perspective:

Rather than try to talk to all business owners about their differing communication pains, G-Suite anticipates its audience and creates pages for each.

B2C Websites

Alternatively, B2C websites can make things a little simpler. For instance, on glossybox.co.uk, there’s no need to provide a ton of information for different types of shopper, designers can appeal to one audience, i.e. the “beauty addict”:

In both B2B and B2C websites, the aim of the content should always be to answer any questions that the end user might have.

5. CTA Buttons

Call to Action buttons are often a crucial part of the web design journey. However, it’s sometimes difficult to determine where they should be placed, or how many buttons you need.

B2B Websites

Because the decision to buy something won’t always happen immediately with a B2B website, these kinds of sites often use a variety of CTAs. For instance, you might have a “Request a Quote” button at the top of a page, as well as a Sign in button.

On the Klaviyo site, for instance, you can request a demo, sign up or log in:

You can place CTAs lower on the page with B2B websites too, as it’s more likely that your customers will be scrolling through the site to collect more information before they decide to buy.

B2C Websites

On the other hand, with B2C websites, you usually don’t need to give your visitors as many options. A single option to “Add to Cart”, or perhaps an extra choice to “Add to Favorites” is all your user will need. Customers need to instantly see what they need to do next as soon as they arrive on a page:

On the Evil Hair website, you immediately see how to add a product to your cart.

Remember, the sales process is a lot quicker with B2C customers. This means that you need your CTA buttons to be front and center as soon as someone clicks on a page.

6. Contact Forms

In a similar vein, the way that you design your contact forms will also depend on the end-user that the website wants to appeal to. There’s a very different process for getting in touch on a B2B website, compared to a B2C site.

B2B Websites

B2B websites often require longer contact forms, as clients need to collect additional information about a prospect’s position in a company, and what that company does. B2B companies need to share things like what they’re looking for in a service, and how many users they have, so a sales team knows what kind of demonstration to give.

As with any strategy for contact form design, you should always only include the fields that your client needs and no more. If you demand too much from any client, you could send them running in the opposite direction. Check out this straightforward option from Ironpaper, for instance:

The form addresses as many relevant questions as possible without overwhelming the customer. Because the site handles things like design, it makes sense that they would ask for a link to the company’s existing website.

B2C Websites

On a B2C website, there are very different approaches to contact forms. You may have a dedicated contact form on your website where people can get in touch if they have any questions. A FAQ page where customers can serve themselves is another great way to help your client stand out from the competition. Check out this option from River Island, for instance:

On the other hand, you might implement pop-up contact forms into a website if your client wants to collect emails for email marketing. In that case, it’s important to make sure that you’re only asking for the information you need, and nothing more.

The easier it is to sign up for a newsletter, the more likely it is that customers will do it. Being able to enter their name and email address and nothing else will make the signup seem less tasking.

7. Search Bars and Navigation

Whether you’re designing for B2B or B2C companies, navigation will always be a critical concern. End users need to find it easy to track down the information that they need about a company, whether they’re looking for a particular product or a blog.

B2B Websites

On a B2B website, the search bar often takes up a lot less prominence than it does on a B2C site. That’s because all of the information that a client needs, and the buttons they need to take their next steps, are already visible front-and-center.

As a designer, it will be your job to push as many people to convert as possible, by making the purchasing journey the most appealing path for visitors. For instance, on the Copper website, the “Try Free” buttons are much easier to see than “Continue with Google” or “Login”:

With B2B sites, the focus is on a very specific goal. Although navigation still needs to be available, it doesn’t need to be as obvious as it is on a B2C site.

B2C Websites

On the other hand, most B2C websites offer a wide range of products, and they’re perfectly happy for their customers to purchase anything, as long as they eventually convert. Because of this, they make navigation a much more significant part of the customer journey.

The search bar is often presented at the very top of the screen where customers can see it immediately. Additionally, there may be multiple pages within certain product categories, so that customers can browse through the items they’re most interested in. For instance, look at the homepage on the IWoot website:

The navigation elements in B2C websites need to be a lot more obvious, because consumers are more likely to use them when they’re searching through their options.

8. Social Proof and Testimonials

Finally, social proof is one of the things that will work well for improving conversions on any kind of website. When your customers aren’t sure whether or not they should buy from you, a review or testimonial could be just the thing to push them over the edge.

B2B Websites

On a B2B website, the decision-making process takes a lot longer. Because of this, it’s worth including as much social proof as possible in every part of the website. Client testimonials, reviews and ratings, and even high-profile company logos make all the difference. Many B2B websites include a page dedicated to case studies highlighting the success of other brands.

Your client might even go as far as to ask for a page that highlights their awards and recognition or showcases comparison tables that pit their products against the competition.

For instance, Authority Hacker has a “what the pros say about us” section as social proof:

B2C Websites

With a consumer website, you can include consumer ratings and reviews wherever you like. However, it’s most likely that you’ll want to have a place where customers can see the reviews of other clients on the product pages themselves. On the EMP website the company gives users the option to click on the star review section to jump to a different space on the page where testimonials are listed. This ensures that customers don’t have to scroll through a lot of excess information if they just want to add an item straight to their cart.

Designing for B2B vs B2C

In the world of web design, no two customers are ever the same. While you’ll need to adapt your processes to suit each customer you interact with, you can set your expectations in advance by learning the differences between B2B and B2C strategies.

 

Featured images by Chris Ross Harris and Mike Kononov.

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CERTFR-2019-ALE-004 : Multiples vulnérabilités dans Microsoft Edge et Internet Explorer (01 avril 2019)

Le 30 mars 2019, le site thehackernews.com a publié un billet dans lequel un chercheur en sécurité annonce avoir trouvé deux vulnérabilités de type 0 jour dans Microsoft Edge et Internet Explorer.

Ces …
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