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15 Ways To Secure Your Business WiFi Network

Configuring your wireless network is one of the essential tasks to upkeep the security of your corporate wireless network.

At least among IT professionals, it is not a big secret how important it is for the Wi-Fi networks to be safe for any business. You can do a quick search on Google or skim through the social media or news feed to read about it. You will indeed read some interesting content about how vulnerable wireless networks are to attacks and data stealing.

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Top Blogging Platforms Worth Considering in 2021

Want to know which of the top blogging platforms you should consider using this year?

Blogging is still one of the best ways to draw attention to your brand, generate thought leadership, and build your credibility. Research suggests that US internet users spend 3x more of their browsing time on blogs than on email. Additionally, people view about 20 billion blog pages on average each month. 

So, how do you join the blogging revolution? You’ll need the right platform. 

Essentially, a blogging platform is a CMS (Content Management System) which supports blog creation. Many come with additional tools like SEO support and integrations with email marketing too. There are tons of great blogging platforms out there, which means knowing where to start searching can be tough. To help you, we’ve put together this list of the leading blogging platforms.

What to Look for in a Blogging Platform

Before we sort through our list of the leading blogging platforms, let’s start with a quick overview of what the best blogging solutions typically include. Notably, depending on what you’re going to be using your blog for, you may have other features to prioritize besides those listed here. These features will act as a starting point for your comparisons:

Ease of Use

Uploading, publishing, and sharing your blog shouldn’t be a headache. 

There are many website builders out there that seem to have blogging tacked on as an “extra” rather than having it built into the foundations of the software. This often leads to a clunky backend experience when you’re building your site. 

If you’re a new blogger or don’t want to spend time messing around with HTML and coding, make sure that your blogging environment is easy to use. The simpler it is to distribute your content, the more likely you’ll stick to your blogging strategy. 

Cost and Revenue Opportunities

Many of the top blogging platforms come with a fee to think about. Even if you use an open-source platform for blogging, you still need to consider domain names, hosting, and security costs. Finding the right balance between spend and return on investment is crucial. 

Remember, just because a blogging platform is cheap doesn’t mean it’s good value. Similarly, expensive software may not be the best for your business. Ideally, you want something that’s going to deliver a good blogging experience, combined with plenty of opportunities to grow your readership for the lowest possible price. 

If you want to get the best return on investment, focus on the kind of monetization options you can access with each platform. Medium, for instance, has a partner program that allows you to earn money on the posts that customers read. Platforms like Wix, WordPress, and Squarespace can all offer earning opportunities too. You can use them to place certain content behind a paywall, create subscriptions, and sell products or services. 

Marketing and Growth Tools

Most blogging platforms will come with at least some tools to help you build your online presence. Wix and WordPress integrate with Google marketing, so you can purchase PPC campaigns and track your organic content through an SEO dashboard. 

The majority of CMS tools equipped with blogging capabilities also come with integrations for your email marketing service. This ensures you can create automated campaigns that inform your audience whenever a new blog post goes live. 

One of the best things about WordPress is how many plugins you can access to boost your readership levels. Access to extra tools like SEO solutions, landing form creators, and pop-ups can all boost your chances of converting and capturing leads. 

Custom Branding

If you’re keen to save money on your blogging platform, you might be tempted to start with a free version of a popular service. This is fine when you’re just testing the waters. However, you will need to spend extra if you want to remove the ads that other website builders put on your site. For instance, Wix’s free version will place ads on your pages and show the Wix identity in your footer. 

To build your own brand identity, you’re going to need to replace that CMS branding with your own. Look for a blogging service where you can buy your own domain name, customize your themes, and add your own colors, images, and logos into the mix. 

While tools like Medium won’t run ads on your campaigns, they also don’t allow you to customize your site to showcase your brand personality. It’s much easier to build a memorable identity when you can control what your site looks like. 

Upkeep and Maintenance

This ties in a little with the “ease of use” factor above. Before you invest in any blogging platform, think about how much work it’s going to require. A hosted blogging platform is pretty easy to manage because you don’t have to worry about security and uptime yourself.

Products like Wix and Squarespace will give you access to SSL certificates, patch security issues on your behalf, and handle other complicated site maintenance issues. WordPress and other open-source solutions require you to take more of a hands-on approach. You’ll need to manage your own web hosting and check the security of your site regularly. 

Flexibility

This feature is often overlooked in some guides to the best blogging platforms, but it’s also growing increasingly more important in today’s digital age. If you want your website to work for years to come, you need to make sure it’s flexible. This could mean that you look for something that allows you to upload different kinds of content, like written blogs and connecting podcasts. 

It could also mean investing in a service that has a lot of integrations and add-on options available. Plugins are fantastic for extending the functionality of your blog without having to move your entire site to another location. 

The right plugins can even allow you to transform your blog into a store if you decide to start selling your services or products later. 

The Best Blogging Platforms for 2021

Now we’ve covered what to look for in a blogging platform, we can begin to explore some of the top platforms on the market today. We’ve chosen these platforms for their ease of use, flexibility, performance, customization options, and value. 

WordPress

The best-known and most popular blogging platform in the world, WordPress is the go-to choice for most bloggers and website creators. Currently, there are around 64 million websites actively using WordPress as their chosen CMS. Usage stats also show that around 400 million people visit WordPress websites every month. 

WordPress powers most of the internet as one of the most flexible and easy-to-use platforms around. The biggest decision most users need to make is between WordPress.com and WordPress.org. 

You can create a blog for free at WordPress.com, and the company will host your site for you. However, you have to use a subdomain (rather than your own domain) with the free version. You’ll also lose control of your ads with the free package until you upgrade to a premium plan. 

A personal plan on WordPress.com starts at about $4 per month, and it removes all ads from your site. The more functionality you need, the more you’ll need to upgrade. WordPress.com is very easy to use and requires minimal initial setup, but it’s not very scalable. There are no custom themes, and you don’t technically “own” your blog this way. 

WordPress.org is a different story. With WordPress.org, you’re accessing an open-source blogging platform that allows you to build your site from scratch. You do need to purchase your own domain name and hosting with this service, but the software is free to use. 

WordPress.org is a lot more appealing to most bloggers because it’s so customizable. Features include:

  • Free and premium themes that you can customize to suit your brand;
  • Thousands of plugins to help with security, SEO, subscriptions, and more;
  • Gutenberg block editors to make creating and publishing blogs easy;
  • Tons of SEO friendly solutions to help you stand out online;
  • Access to a huge community of experts;
  • Infinite control over your design options;
  • Advanced user permissions and roles.

Pricing: WordPress.org is different from most blogging platforms because the foundation technology is free. You just pay for the a-la-carte options, like plugins, hosting, and domain name subscriptions. This means you can choose how expensive your site is going to be.

Pros:

  • Extremely easy to use with lots of community support available;
  • Free platform (though you do need to pay for the domain and hosting);
  • Lots of customization and plugin options to expand site functionality;
  • Search engine friendly as-standard, to help you grow;
  • Plenty of ways to make your brand stand out.

Cons:

  • It can be difficult to control your own website at first;
  • You have to manage your own backup and security;
  • Extra costs can quickly build up.

Squarespace

Squarespace is one of the more popular website design and blogging tools for people with a creative streak. Unlike WordPress.org, Squarespace gives you everything you need to build your own website straight out of the box. This includes hosting, the option to purchase your own domain name, and access to a range of beautiful templates. 

Squarespace stands out for its focus on small business owners. You can choose from a range of stunning designs and customize them however you choose with a convenient drag-and-drop builder. There’s also a fantastic customer service experience available from Squarespace, with a team that’s ready to help you with anything you need. 

Like many other hosted blogging platforms, you start on Squarespace by choosing the templates you like and customizing from there. There are some limitations in what you can do here, particularly if you have a lot of coding knowledge, making Squarespace less appealing to growing companies or larger brands. On the plus side, you do get features like:

  • Dedicated blogging templates to get you started;
  • Categories, tags, and featured post options;
  • Built-in scheduling for your blog posts;
  • Contributor roles and permissions;
  • Analytics to track your readers’ favorite posts;
  • Email marketing tools;
  • Social media and SEO solutions built-in;
  • Mobile app access.

Pricing: Compared to some of the other leading blogging solutions on the market, Squarespace is also quite affordable. The personal package at $12 per month will power a website with a stunning blog. You can also upgrade to the Business version for $18 per month, or if you decide to start selling your own products through your blog, you can transition to “Basic Commerce” at $26 per month.

Pros:

  • Squarespace is easy to use for beginners;
  • Fantastic range of stunning templates included;
  • SEO, email marketing, and social media marketing included;
  • SSL and HTTPS support;
  • Access to eCommerce features on some plans;
  • Useful analytics tools.

Cons:

  • Not very scalable for bigger brands;
  • Limited in terms of integrations and customization.

Medium

Medium is a different kind of blogging platform to many of the options mentioned here. This isn’t a tool you can use to build your own websites, like Wix or Squarespace. Instead, it’s a community you join with a monthly membership fee. 

Medium comes with a built-in audience, so you can immediately start speaking to customers and generating results from your content. As mentioned above, there’s also a Partner Program, which is free to join. The Partner Program allows you to earn money if people are reading your blogs regularly. 

For companies or individuals who just want to generate brand awareness but don’t want to invest in an entire blog-ready website yet, Medium can be a powerful choice. You can easily share posts and view what other people are posting. The biggest downside is that you can’t build an entire community and earn a fortune through your website with Medium. 

Medium is more like a social networking site, where you can begin to develop thought leadership than a true space to carve out your piece of the online world. But it does feature things like:

  • An easy-to-use environment for publishing content;
  • Analytics and insights into your campaigns;
  • Some design customization for your blog layout;
  • Access to a pre-existing audience of readers;
  • Support for monetization in the Partner program;
  • Access to picture uploading options;
  • Mobile-responsive blog posts.

Pricing: You don’t have to be a paid member of Medium to sign up for the partner program and start publishing blogs. This does make it a pretty good way to enhance your existing blogging strategy if you’re trying to generate more attention online. 

Pros:

  • Free to use for Partners and creators;
  • Excellent for appealing to already-engaged customers;
  • Easy to use, with no coding required;
  • No requirement to create a website or pay for hosting;
  • Communicate with a team of like-minded people.

Cons:

  • Limited customization options;
  • No ownership over your audience or readership;
  • Limitations to how you can make money (no ads).

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is among the most popular platforms for professionals in the world. It’s the go-to place for people in search of reliable ways to develop their professional network. Currently, there are around 756 million members on LinkedIn. When they’re not searching for connections with their peers or chatting about work opportunities, they’re checking out the content on the platform. 

If you’re keen to develop your position as a thought leader but prefer social media accounts to full websites, LinkedIn is the perfect choice. The more you publish on LinkedIn, the more you’ll attract new people who might want to work with you, invest in your company, or just work as part of your team. 

LinkedIn is a great place to generate attention if you’re in the B2B marketplace because most professionals already have their own account. You can also earn social proof by getting people to “endorse” your work. Some of the features of LinkedIn for bloggers include:

  • Private messaging for interactions with connections;
  • Notifications to help you keep track of valuable content;
  • A full profile posting section where you can publish your blogs;
  • A convenient network of active B2B professionals;
  • Endorsements for social proof;
  • A resume and blogging platform in one (you can list your skills);
  • Job searching and employee searching features.

Pricing: It’s free to access a basic membership with LinkedIn, but you will be limited on some of the features you can unlock. For instance, you can only send messages to people already in your network, and you’ll have limited analytics. LinkedIn Premium gives you slightly more functionality, with Business accounts starting at around $29.95 per month. 

Pros: 

  • Tons of people ready to read your blogs;
  • Great for building your professional network;
  • Good environment for thought leadership;
  • Access to extra tools like job listings;
  • Notifications to keep you on top of relevant posts;
  • Engagement options like private messaging;
  • Reports and insights.

Cons: 

  • No access to full website branding;
  • Limits to how you can monetize your content;
  • You don’t own the site or your traffic.

Wix

Easily one of the most popular website building solutions for beginners, Wix can help you build both a blog and a fully-featured website. You can even design your own store with Wix and start selling products whenever you choose. 

Wix is a straightforward site builder which you can use to build a site in a matter of minutes. There are hundreds of website themes to choose from, and you can also add as many customizations as you choose with the convenient drag-and-drop editor. The blog manager section of the CMS is also simple and intuitive, with SEO and analytics built in already. 

Wix aims to make jumping into blogging as quick and painless as possible. Elements like comments, social tools, hashtags, and subscriber forms are already available, and you can add further plugins if you choose. There’s also the option to include sharing buttons for social media accounts like Twitter, Facebook, and more. Features of Wix include:

  • An extensive range of blog templates;
  • Drag-and-drop customization (no coding required);
  • Subscriber forms, comments, likes, and categories;
  • Social media connections;
  • Extra features like store access;
  • Analytics and insights;
  • Quick and easy blogging interface.

Pricing: 

The most basic features of the Wix website builder are free to use. With a free Wix account, you’ll get a subdomain where you can’t choose the name of your own website, unfortunately. However, you can add a custom domain for only $4.50 per month. If you want a full premium plan with Wix, costs start at $8.50 per month and extend to $24.50 per month.

Pros:

  • Lots of pre-built blogging themes;
  • Easy customization options with no coding skills required;
  • Quick and easy to load and publish blogs;
  • Connections with social media platforms;
  • Access to various third-party apps and integrations;
  • Free option for beginners.

Cons:

  • Some limitations to the free account;
  • Ecommerce features are limited to paid plans;
  • Not as scalable for bigger companies.

Ghost

Lesser known than some of the options we’ve discussed so far but still brimming with value, Ghost is a minimalist blogging platform that’s all about content creation. Ghost promises a range of ways for you to turn your blogging into a business, with access to customizable templates, newsletter integrations, premium subscriptions, and more. 

The dashboard for Ghost is clean and intuitive, with access to simple sections where you can add tags to your posts, create drafts, track published content, and access valuable insights. You’ll have an easy view of important metrics like email open rates and numbers of paid members at a glance. You can also find integrations to make your Ghost experience even better. 

Ghost works alongside things like Buffer, Stripe, Twitter, Slack, MailChimp, and many other tools so you can take your blog to the next level. There’s no need for any coding knowledge, and because everything is written in JavaScript, it’s ultra-fast too. Features include:

  • Easy-to-use and intuitive interface;
  • Blogging and writing focused;
  • Clean and clutter-free design;
  • Integrations with various powerful tools;
  • Super-fast JavaScript coding;
  • Lots of templates and customizations;
  • Comment, mobile apps, A/B testing, and more;
  • Analytics and reporting.

Pricing: There’s a 14-day free trial to get you started with Ghost, then subscriptions start at $9 per month when billed annually for up to 1,000 members, 1 staff user, 2k views per month, and an SSL and CDN. The same plan is $15 per month billed monthly. Prices go all the way up to $199 per month billed annually, or $249 per month for 1 million views per month, 35,000 members, 15 staff users, and a 99.99% uptime SLA. 

Pros: 

  • Focus on writing and blogging;
  • Clutter-free and clean backend environment;
  • Easy to use and speedy performance;
  • Lots of packages to choose from;
  • Great integration options.

Cons:

  • Some limitations in scalability;
  • Complicated setup when installed;
  • Not a huge number of themes.

Choosing Your Blogging Platform

Whether you’re blogging because you want to build your personal brand or you’re looking for a way to strengthen sales opportunities for your company, you’re going to need the right blogging platform. The options above are just some of the best blogging solutions available right now. 

Remember, do your research and explore the free versions available whenever possible, so you can confidently invest in the software that’s best for you.

 

Featured image via Unsplash.

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What is ETL?

These days, companies have access to more data sources and formats than ever before: databases, websites, SaaS (software as a service) applications, and analytics tools, to name a few. Unfortunately, the ways businesses often store this data make it challenging to extract the valuable insights hidden within — especially when you need it for smarter data-driven business decision-making.

Standard reporting solutions such as Google Analytics and Mixpanel can help, but there comes a time when your data analysis needs to outgrow capacity. At this point, you might consider building a custom business intelligence (BI) solution, which will have the data integration layer as its foundation.

Source de l’article sur DZONE

How to Use GitBook for Technical Documentation

Intermine, where I was tasked with creating new user training documentation. For this project, I entirely rewrote the Intermine user documentation — which included images, code snippets, tables, mathematical formulas, and more — using GitBook. This guide will share my experience creating technical documentation using GitBook and act as a de-facto quick-start guide to GitBook.

What is GitBook?

GitBook is a collaborative documentation tool that allows anyone to document anything—such as products and APIs—and share knowledge through a user-friendly online platform. According to GitBook, “GitBook is a flexible platform for all kinds of content and collaboration.” It provides a single unified workspace for different users to create, manage and share content without using multiple tools. For example:

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Poll: Will You Adopt Google’s Material You?

This week at I/O, Google unveiled the latest version of its Material Design design system, Material You.

Initially presented as an upgrade for Android 12, Material You is the biggest revision to Material Design since its launch in 2014 and will be rolling out across all Google products in the coming year.

Material You is an adaptable system that takes the building blocks of Material Design — the spacing and component approach — and skins it to allow a more personal design language, albeit a distinctly Google personal design language.

Google isn’t shy about its intention to define what constitutes good UI design, even if its efforts have so far fallen short of its ambition. Material You potentially leads us back to that undesirable state where every new site looks like a Google clone. The more cynical might suggest that Google actually does perceive all websites as Google products — a view that’s not entirely without merit given the source of most web traffic — so a homogenous approach is warranted.

Material You will certainly make its way into web design. Expect a rash of Material You ‘updates’ to popular themes and site builders that will consist mainly of pastel color palettes.

Hopefully, two major benefits of Material You will not be overlooked: firstly, Material You introduces far more emotion than Material Design allowed; secondly, Material You is flexible enough to ensure accessible design is harder to ignore.

Fundamentally, Material You is still Material Design. The basic approach remains, but it’s less rigidly enforced. Think of it less as a rulebook and more as a disapproving parent who, despite their better judgment, is willing to let you make your own mistakes.

Material Design has looked dated for a few years now, and it’s possible that Material You is just Google hoping to nail down a trend that’s escaping them. But it’s equally possible that Material You is a step closer to what Material Design was meant to be: an invisible design system that feels natural to all seven billion individuals on the planet.

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Getting started with Java Serverless Functions using Quarkus and AWS Lambda

The serverless journey started with functions – small snippets of code running on-demand and a short period in Figure 1.  AWS Lambda in the “1.0” phase made this paradigm very popular, but it had its limitations around execution time, protocols, and poor local development experience. 

Since then, developers realized that the same serverless traits and benefits could be applied to microservices and Linux containers. This leads us into what we’re calling the “1.5” phase in Figure 1.  Some serverless containers here completely abstract Kubernetes, delivering the serverless experience through an abstraction layer that sits on top of it, like Knative.

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26 Exciting New Tools For Designers, May 2021

From dev tools to productivity to a little bit of fun with sudoku, this month’s collection of new tools is packed with something for everyone.

Here’s what new for designers this month.

May’s Top Picks

Am I FLoCed?

Am I FLoCed? Is a tool to see if you are part of a Google Chrome origin trial. It tests a new tracking feature called Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC). According to Google, the trial currently affects 0.5% of users in selected regions, including Australia, Brazil, Canada, India, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, the Philippines, and the United States. The page will try to detect whether you’ve been made a guinea pig in Google’s ad-tech experiment.

According to the designers of Am I FloCed: “FLoC runs in your browser. It uses your browsing history from the past week to assign you to a group with other ‘similar’ people around the world. Each group receives a label, called a FLoC ID, which is supposed to capture meaningful information about your habits and interests. FLoC then displays this label to everyone you interact with on the web. This makes it easier to identify you with browser fingerprinting, and it gives trackers a head start on profiling you.”

Uncut

Uncut is a Libre typeface catalog that just got started in April. It features contemporary typefaces and styles and is set to be updated regularly. Sort by sans serif, serif, monospace, or display typefaces. Plus, you can submit a typeface for inclusion.

Dashblock

Dashblock allows you to build automations without coding. Use it to create visual automations, or turn blocks into use-cases. (It is a premium tool, but comes with a 14-day free trial to test it out.)

Instant

Instant is a fast and secure one-click checkout tool that works with WooCommerce. Users fill out a short form the first time they shop and then join the network to enable instant, frictionless, 1-click checkouts without passwords. It makes shopping easier and cuts abandoned carts.

5 Image Tools

Triangula

Triangula uses a modified genetic algorithm to triangulate images. It works best with images smaller than 3000px and with fewer than 3000 points, typically producing an optimal result within a couple of minutes. The result is a nifty-looking image.

Content-Aware Image Resizing in Javascript

Content-Aware Image Resizing in Javascript solves that problem with images where you have a photo but it just doesn’t quite fit. A crop doesn’t work because you lose important information. The carver slices and cuts photos to give you the image elements you want in the size you want them. It’s probably a good idea to read through the tutorial before jumping into the open-source code on GitHub.

Globs Design

Globs Design uses toggles and drag and drop to help you create funky shapes and fills that you can save in SVG format for projects.

Root Illustrations

Root Illustrations is a stylish set of people-based illustrations that you can customize to create scenes for your projects. Construct a scene and then snag your set of vector graphics that also work with Sketch and Figma. The set includes 24 characters, more than 100 details, and the ability to change colors and styles.

Make Your Photo 16×9

Make Your Photo 16×9 is as simple as it sounds. It is a cropping tool that allows you to upload any shape of photo – even vertical – and pick options to fill the space to make it fit the standard 16×9 aspect ratio.

6 Dev Tools

Devbook

Devbook is a search engine for developers that helps them to find the resources they need and answer their questions faster. Fast, accessible right from a code editor, and fully controllable with just a keyboard.

Madosel

Madosel is a fast, advanced responsive HTML front-end framework that’s in an alpha version. The open-source tool is made to create websites and apps that look great on any device. Plus, it is semantic, readable, flexible, and customizable.

Say Hello to CSS Container Queries

Say Hello to CSS Container Queries helps solve a problem with media queries and smart stacking of elements. CSS Container Queries allow you to make a fluid component that adjusts based on the parent element and everything is independent of viewport width. This post takes you through everything you need to do to implement this yourself.

Frontend Toolkit

Frontend Toolkit is a customizable dashboard that you can use to keep up with recurring tasks. It’s one of those little tools that can speed up workflows.

Flatfile

Flatfile is a production-ready importer for SaaS applications. It allows you to auto-format customer spreadsheets without manual cleaning of data and you can do it all without a CSV parser. The tool also includes an elegant UI component to guide users through the process.

Plasmic

Plasmic is a visual website builder that works with your codebase. It’s designed to speed up development with developers focusing on code (not pixel pushing) and allows non-developers to publish pages and content. The premium tool works with any hosting, CMS, or framework and you can adapt it by the component, section, or page.

2 Productivity Tools

Calendso

Calendso is an open-source calendar scheduling tool. It’s flexible with the ability to host it yourself or with the makers of the calendar. It is API-driven and allows you to control events and information. The interface is simple and sleek and can integrate into your website.

Slidev

Slidev is a set of presentation slides for developers. What’s different about this presentation deck is that you can write slides in a single markdown file with themes, code blocks, and interactive components.

4 Icons and UI Kits

Iconic

Iconic is a set of pixel-perfect icons that gets updated each week. The collection of 24×24 px elements in SVG format contains 160 icons and counting. The simple style is easy to implement and you can search for just what you need by category.

5 Dashboard Templates for Figma

5 Dashboard Templates for Figma is a set of free ready-made screens with light and dark modes for each that you can use with components such as calendars, charts, tables, and more. The free elements are a preview of a larger premium Figma set if you like how they look and work.

Free Mobile Chat UI Kit

Free Mobile Chat UI Kit is a tool of components for Sketch, Figma, and Adobe XD that includes more than 50 messaging screens with light and dark modes.

Stratum UI Design Kit

Stratum UI Design Kit is a collection of more than 9,000 consistent elements for Figma. It’s packed with elements and tools that make this premium UI kit a tool that gets projects moving quickly.

4 Type Tools and Fresh Fonts

Fluid Typography

Fluid Typography is a nifty tool that allows you to test headings in any size at different viewports to ensure it looks great everywhere. Then you can copy the CSS and use it in your projects.

Eighty-Eight

Eighty-Eight is a funky block-style typeface for display use.

Harmonique

Harmonique is a robust typeface family with lovely serifs and alternates. It’s a type family of two styles that work in harmony together to add distinction and personality to your own typographic compositions. Harmonique’s low contrast forms have the appeal of a humanist sans serif typeface.

Sketchup

Sketchup is a charming display typeface that has a nice pen style. The free version has a limited character set.

Just for Fun

Generating and Solving Sudokus in CSS

Generating and Solving Sudokus in CSS by Lee Meyer for CSS-Tricks is a fun deep dive into using CSS for something you might not expect. It’s a complicated – but fun – look at some of the things CSS can do with plenty of code snippets. The final result is a solvable puzzle with 16 squares.

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Infographic: YouTube By The Numbers

YouTube is the Web’s biggest video channel. Hundreds of hours of video are uploaded to the service every minute. The volume of data it stores and streams is beyond comprehension.

Owned by Google, YouTube has been central to our lives online in such a big way, that it’s almost unbelievable that it’s been with us for less than two decades.

If you’ve ever wondered just how big it is, which videos broke its records, or how many users it has, this is the infographic for you!

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Create Beautiful WordPress Pages with Optimized Images Using Elementor and ImageEngine

WordPress powers nearly 40% of all websites, thanks to its commitment to making publication possible for everyone, for free. Combined with premium plugins and themes, it’s possibly the ultimate tool for building attractive, unique, and feature-rich websites without any coding or design experience.

However, you do pay the price for this experience, with WordPress and its third-party products not always being built for performance – whether it’s page loading times or SEO.

Image optimization is a particularly big concern. Images are one, if not the largest, contributors to page weight, and it’s growing significantly by the year. So, while images are crucial for beautifying your website pages, they are also one of the biggest factors slowing it down.

In terms of image optimization, WordPress+Elementor brings very little to the table. WordPress core now comes with both responsive syntax and lazy-loading. Elementor itself also only comes with responsive syntax out-of-the-box. However, these are baseline techniques for image optimization that will deliver the bare minimum of improvements.

This means that, while Elementor makes it easy to design sweet-looking WordPress pages (with tonnes of creatively utilized images), you will probably pay the price when it comes to performance. But don’t worry. We will show you how to dramatically improve web performance by over 30 points on scoring tools like Google’s PageSpeed Insight

Why Optimize Your Elementor Images with ImageEngine?

In general, image CDNs use various techniques to get image payloads as small as possible and deliver image content faster, all while minimizing the visual impact. ImageEngine is no different in that regard.

Firstly, ImageEngine, when used in auto mode, will apply all of the following optimizations that web performance tools like Google’s PageSpeed Insight recommend. For example:

  • Properly size images – ImageEngine automatically resizes images for optimal size-to-quality ratios depending on the screen size of the user device. ImageEngine supports Retina devices.
  • Efficiently encode images – Applies different rates of compression depending on the PPI of the user devices. For example, ImageEngine adapts and more aggressively compresses on higher PPI devices without losing visual quality.
  • Next-gen format conversion – Automatically converts images to the optimal next-gen format according to the browser, device, or OS. ImageEngine can convert images to WebP or JPEG-2000 as well as GIFs to MP4 or WebP.  AVIF is also available in a manual directive mode.
  • Strip unnecessary metadata

While these features are standard for most image CDNs, ImageEngine is unique for its use of WURFL device detection. This gives ImageEngine much deeper insight into the user device accessing a website page and, by extension, its images. Using the screen size, resolution, PPI, etc., ImageEngine can make more intelligent decisions regarding how to reduce image payloads while maintaining visual quality.

This is why ImageEngine brands itself as an “intelligent, device-aware” image CDN and why it can reduce image payloads by as much as 80% (if not more).

ImageEngine also provides a proprietary CDN service to accelerate image delivery. The CDN consists of 20 globally positioned PoPs with the device-aware logic built-in. This allows you to deliver image content faster in different regions while also serving images straight from the cache with a ~98% hit ratio.

ImageEngine also supports Chrome’s save data setting. If someone has a slow connection or has activated this setting, ImageEngine will automatically compress image payloads even more, to provide a better user experience on slower connections.

How to Use ImageEngine with WordPress and Elementor

If you’re using WordPress and Elementor, then chances are you want to spend as little time on development and other technicalities as possible. Luckily, ImageEngine is a highly streamlined tool that requires little to no effort to integrate or maintain with a WordPress site.

Assuming you already have a WordPress website with Elementor, here are the step-by-step instructions to use ImageEngine:

  1. Go to ImageEngine.io and sign up for a 30-day free trial.
  2. Provide ImageEngine with the URL of the website you want to optimize.
  3. Create an account (or sign up with your existing Google, GitHub, or ScientiaMobile account).
  4. Provide ImageEngine with the current origin where your images are served from. If you upload images to your WordPress website as usual, then that means providing your WordPress website address again.
  5. Finally, ImageEngine will generate an ImageEngine delivery address for you from where your optimized images will be served. This typically takes the form of: {randomstring}.cdn.imgeng.in. You can change the delivery address to something more meaningful from the dashboard, such as myimages.cdn.imgeng.in.

Now, to set up ImageEngine on your WordPress website:

  1. Go to the WordPress dashboard and head to Plugins -> Add New.
  2. Search for the “Image CDN” plugin by ImageEngine. When you find it, install and activate the plugin.

  1. Go to Settings -> Image CDN. OK, so this is the ImageEngine plugin dashboard. To configure it, all you need to do is:

a. Copy the delivery address you got from ImageEngine above and paste it in the “Delivery Address” field.

b. Tick the “Enable ImageEngine” box.

That’s literally it. All images that you use on your WordPress/Elementor pages should now be served via the ImageEngine CDN already optimized. 

ImageEngine is largely a “set-it-and-forget-it” tool. It will provide the best results in auto mode with no user input. However, you can override some of ImageEngine’s settings from the dashboard or by using URL directives to manipulate images.

For example, you can resize an image to 300 px width and convert it to WebP by changing the src attribute like this:

<img src="https://myimages.cdn.imgeng.in/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/banner-logo.png?imgeng=/w_300/f_webp">

However, use this only when necessary, as doing so will limit ImageEngine’s adaptability under different conditions.

What Improvement Can You Expect?

Let’s see what results you can expect from using an image CDN to improve your page loading times.

For this, I created two identical WordPress pages using the Elementor theme. The one page purely relied on WordPress and Elementor, while I installed and set up ImageEngine for the other. The page had some galleries as well as full-size images:

The pages used many high-quality images, as you might expect to find on a professional photography gallery, photography blog, stock photo website, large e-commerce site, etc. I then ran page performance tests using Chrome’s built-in Lighthouse audit tool, choosing scores representing the average results I got for each page.

For thoroughness, I tested both the mobile and desktop performance. However, I focused on the mobile results as these showcase more of the image CDN’s responsive capabilities. Mobile traffic also accounts for the majority share of internet traffic and seems to be the focus for search engines going forward.

So, first of all, let’s see the mobile score for the page without ImageEngine:

As you can see, there was definitely a struggle to deliver the huge amount of image content. Google has shown that 53% of mobile users abandon a page that takes more than 3s to load. So, clearly, this page has major concerns when it comes to user experience and retaining traffic.

The desktop version fared much better, although it still left much to be desired:

When digging into the reasons behind the slowdown, we can identify the following problems:

Most of the issues related somehow to the size and weight of the images. As you can see, Lighthouse identified a 3.8 MB payload while the total image payload of the entire page was close to 40 MB.

Now, let’s see what kind of improvement ImageEngine can make to these issues by looking at the mobile score first:

So, as you can see, a major improvement of 30 points over the standard WordPress/Elementor page. The time to load images was cut down by roughly 80% across the key core web vital metrics, such as FCP, LCP, and the overall Speed Index.

In fact, we just reached that critical 3s milestone for the FCP (the largest element on the visible area of the page when it initially loads), which creates the impression that the page has finished loading and will help you retain a lot of mobile traffic.

The desktop score was also much higher, and there was further improvement across the key performance metrics.

If we look at the performance problems still present, we see that images are almost completely removed as a concern. We also managed to bring down the initial 3.8 MB payload to around 1.46 MB, which is a ~62% reduction:

An unfortunate side effect of using WordPress and WordPress plugins is that you will almost inevitably face a performance hit due to all the additional JavaScript and CSS. This is part of the reason why we didn’t see even larger improvements. That’s the price you pay for the convenience of using these tools.

That being said, the more images you have on your pages, and the larger their sizes, the more significant the improvement will be.

It’s also worth noting that lazy-loaded images were loaded markedly faster with ImageEngine if you quickly scroll down the page, again making for an improved user experience.

Thanks to its intelligent image compression, there was also no visible loss in image quality, as you can see from this comparison:

Conclusion

So, as you can see, we can achieve significant performance improvements on image-heavy websites by using the ImageEngine image CDN, despite inherent performance issues using a CMS. This will translate to happier users, better search engine rankings, and an overall more successful website.

The best part is that ImageEngine stays true to the key principles of WordPress. You don’t have to worry about any of the nuts and bolts on the inside. And, ImageEngine will automatically adjust automation strategies as needed, future-proofing you against having to occasionally rework images for optimization.

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3 Essential Design Trends, May 2021

Spring and fresh designs are in the air. This month, it’s obvious that designers are feeling creative with new and interesting concepts that range from a new style for cards, homepage experimentation with multiple entry points or calls to action, and risky typography options.

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

1. “Flat” Cards

Card-style design elements that allow users to click through to other content aren’t new, but the design of these cards is fresh and interesting.

Rather than more heavily designed cards with shadows and layers of content, flat styles are trending. Expect this trend to explode thanks to usage by Google for a shopping experience page.

The Google example below is interesting because Google’s Material Design guidelines are what helped card-style elements grow in popularity previously. However, those cards did include more layers, color options, buttons inside the cards, and shadows.

Today’s trending cards are completely flat. And beautiful.

Each of these websites does it in a slightly different way.

Heartcore, a consumer technology VC company, uses a series of flat cards as a navigation element to help users find their way through the website. Each features a bright color background with an illustration and a simple text block.

Each card has a nice hover state where only the illustration zooms inside the card frame. This is an interesting effect because it is exactly the opposite of the previous iteration of cards, which zoomed the entire card as a hover state.

Google Shopping uses that whole card bounce hover state (plus a not-so-flat shadow) for each card. The initial design is sleek with the pairing of white and image cards with simple text in each. You are enticed to click around to see what happens.

Click on Greece is a travel website design that uses simple cards with a minimal color and text overlay. The consistency of these cards makes the design pop and the beauty of the images draw you in. Each card also has a hover state with a darker color mask to guide navigation and make text elements easier to read.

2. Multiple Homepage Entry Points

For a long time, designers have been working off the philosophy that the homepage should have one direct entry point, creating a direct funnel for the user experience.

These designs throw that idea out the window, with multiple entry points and click elements.

You can think of it as the “create your own adventure” option for these designs.

It can be a risky concept if you are diving into analytics to pay attention to user paths. You want to make sure you know what choices users are making so that you can help them on the journey to the content and information that you want them to get from the visit.

But this type of design scheme does feel somewhat personalized, putting the user in more control.

Parcouse Epicuriens uses three flat card-style elements to help users pick what they want to see from the home page. There’s no other button or direct call to action, which is somewhat uncommon in today’s website design landscape. Users have to pick from one of the cards, scroll, or enter using the hamburger menu icon.

Tasty Find uses search options to help users start their journey. What’s interesting here are the choices – search for the food you want, pick something random, or (in the small print) find even more options. Users get three choices to begin their journey with the website.

What’s interesting is how simple this complex user journey looks. The design is easy to digest, but so many options could overwhelm users. This is one of those situations where you have to watch return search data and information and weigh the risk versus the reward of so much choice. It’ll be interesting to watch this design over time and see if the options decrease in number.

Accord also has several levels of user engagement opportunity. Option 1: Every block contains a click element. Option 2: Use the search at the top to narrow choices. This is an interesting configuration as the homepage for an e-commerce website because they get right to product selection and shopping without a softer sell or introduction.

3. Risky Typography

Typographic risk has been an ongoing theme for a little while. Designers are embracing experimental and novelty typefaces to stand out in the cluttered website space. Sometimes it works beautifully, and other times, it can fall short.

Here, each of these trending website designs uses a risky typography treatment. The risks are a little different for each design, from readability to comprehension to font delivery.

How Many Plants has duel typography risks: A funky typeface paired with odd word breaks. Interestingly enough, readability isn’t as big of a concern as you might think. This is likely because there aren’t many words, and they are short. Plus, the imagery ties in nicely.

Do you notice a similarity between How Many Plants and The Great Lake? The typography has the same style with a blocky, slab, sans serif with alternating thick and thin strokes. (It’s the same font.)

The risk in the typography design for The Great Lake isn’t in the homepage display, although you might wonder what the design is about. It is carrying this font throughout the design. While it looks great large and with only a few words, it gets a little more difficult the more you see it. This type of mental reading weight can be difficult for visitors over time, creating an element of risk.

Zmaslo uses an interesting typeface with a liquid effect on top of an unusual word. That combination of text elements makes you think hard to read the homepage, despite its neat looks. The risk here is weighing visual interest against comprehension. Depending on the audience, this risk can be worth the chance.

Conclusion

Spring always seems to be that time of year where designers start thinking about new, fresh design elements. That might explain some of the “riskier” design choices and experimentation here.

Regardless of the motivation, it is always fun to see the creative stretch happen. It can be even more interesting to see what elements from these trends continue to grow in the coming months.

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