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Top New CMS Plugins, October 2020

Plugins offer a ton of benefits to developers and website administrators; from flexibility, to saving time in development, the right plugin is priceless to a project.

In this article, we’ll cover a list of the best new plugins for October 2020. You’ll find useful plugins for WordPress, Craft, Shopify, and Joomla.

Let’s get started.

WordPress

Sticky Post Expire

Sticky Post Expire is a simple plugin for WordPress that allows you to add an expiration date to your sticky posts. When the expiration date you set on a post expires, the post will automatically no longer be sticky. All you need to do is install/enable the plugin and a meta checkbox will appear in your posts admin area. It’s in this checkbox you will set the post’s expiration date.

Product page shipping calculator for WooCommerce

The Product Page Shipping Calculator plugin allows your customers to calculate the cost of shipping before adding the product to their cart. The plugin also allows customers to see the available shipping methods for their area. If the product cannot be shipped to the customer’s location, the plugin will notify the customer. All calculations are done using Ajax, so you don’t have to worry about the plugin slowing down your site.

Payment Page

Payment Page makes it easy to collect payments on your WordPress website. The plugin allows you to connect to any payment gateway platform of choice. You can also receive one-time or recurring payments using Payment Page. The plugin comes with beautifully designed templates that you can customize to fit your brand and style. The form builder helps you increase your sales and conversions. You can collect payment in any currency. After payment, customers will also receive a confirmation message.

WP Roadmap

Wp Roadmap is a product feedback board for WordPress. The plugins allow you to display your company’s product roadmap on your WordPress website or blog. The plugin will display your new products, business developments, upcoming events, achievements, awards, and future projects on your site. WP Roadmap also gives you the option to collect and create feedback boards. The plugin comes with an intuitive interface and works with any WordPress theme.

LiveSession

LiveSession is a session replay plugin for WordPress. The plugin allows you to record everything happening on your site, including clicks, scrolls, and mouse movements. This plugin helps you understand how your visitors interact with your website. You can rewatch the videos as many times as you like. Instead of recording every single visitor on your site, LiveSession will record visitors with a high engagement score.

The plugin also comes with a feature called Rage Clicks. This feature helps you identify when visitors encounter Javascript errors. The plugin also has a beta feature called Clickmap. It helps you identify the specific elements on your site that visitors clicked and how many times. There is also a heatmap feature that identifies which pages on your site get the most interaction. The plugin is very useful in improving your user experience (UX) and conversion rates. It easily integrates with Google Analytics, Segment, Intercom, LiveChat, HelpScout, Olark, Wix, Shopify, and WooCommerce.

Auction Feed

Auction Feed makes it easy to display eBay items on your WordPress website. Visitors to your website will be able to search and buy products directly from your site. The plugin comes with a variety of styles to fit any WordPress theme. You can also add a product description above or below the product image. Customers won’t have to leave your website before making their purchases. The plugin is also free to use.

Floating Related Posts

Floating Related Posts is a WordPress plugin that allows you to display a banner with a list of related posts on your website. The banner can appear at the top or bottom of the web page. You can set the banner to pop up using a time filter or scroll trigger. The plugin is also compatible with Google Analytics. You can customize the banner background color, font size, button style, and text color. The plugin can be translated into any language.

Simple Restrict Content

The Simple Restrict Content plugin allows you to restrict the content that visitors can access on your WordPress site. You can choose who can access content on your website by setting up roles. The simple lightweight plugin restricts different content types, including, posts, web pages, and WooCommerce products. The plugin is available in Spanish and English.

Easy Video Publisher

Easy Video Publisher is a WordPress plugin that allows you to easily publish YouTube videos on your website. You can import YouTube videos from multiple channels. You can also schedule the YouTube videos to automatically upload to your website. Note that a YouTube API key is needed to import multiple videos at a time from a specific channel. The plugin allows you to use multiple API keys.

Preloader Awesome

Preloader Awesome is a preloader plugin for WordPress that allows you to create a page preloader interface while the rest of the webpage is still loading. Preloaders are interface elements that notify visitors that your website hasn’t crashed, just processing before serving content. Some of the features of the plugin include 14 page transition styles, progress bar, GIF support, 10+ default CSS loader, progress status counter, unlimited color, and counter font size options. The plugin is responsive and works on all modern browsers.

Menu Hover Effect

The Menu Hover Effect plugin allows you to add hover effects to the menu bar on your website. With this plugin, you don’t need to learn CSS. This plugin gives you 20 CSS menu hover options to choose from. It is a lightweight plugin and won’t affect your website speed.

Better Comments

The Better Comments plugin allows WordPress users to easily customize the comment section of their website. With the plugin, you can customize the look of your comment form fields, match the submit button with the colors of your site, and hide the comment’s date. The plugin also allows you to create a comment policy section. You can further customize the comment fields to highlight when they are selected and typed in. If you find rounded avatars common, the plugin also offers a hexagonal avatar option.

WP Pocket URLs

WP Pocket URLs is a handy WordPress Plugin that helps you manage your affiliate links. The plugin allows users to automatically shorten and track any affiliate link on their website. You can also manually shorten the links on your website. Each time a visitor clicks on a link you get access to information like click date/time, country, IP address, etc. You can also categorize your links and also create custom permalinks. There is also a dashboard widget that displays your top 10 links. On the “Reports” page, you can generate clicks reports. You can filter the reports by Month/Year, link category, country, and link title.

Craft CMS

Formie

Formie is a Craft CMS plugin that allows you to create user-friendly forms. The plugin comes with a drag and drop builder for creating forms. You can store user form submissions in your control panel in case you want to review them later. When a user submits a form, you will get an email notification. Formie also has an in-built keyword blocking feature to protect you from spam. The plugin has several integrationS: API for Elements, Address Providers, Captchas, CRM tools, Webhooks, and Email Marketing software. You can also create your custom integration. You can add over 25 fields to your forms using Formie.

Craftagram

Craftagram is a Craft CMS plugin for adding any Instagram feed to your website. Since the plugin uses the official Instagram API, you don’t have to worry about your website getting blacklisted. Craftagram also handles pagination for your Instagram feed. 

Shopify

We’re Open

We’re Open is a handy plugin for Shopify users. The plugin lets your customers know when you are open to receive new orders. Once your business hours are close, customers won’t be able to make new orders. A message will be displayed in your store that you are closed. The plugin ensures that you only receive orders when you are open. It works in any time zone and the API easily integrates with mobile apps.

Punch Metrics

Punch Metrics is a Shopify Plugin that helps you track your store’s visitors and also analyze their behavior. The plugin offers real-time data on your site’s visitors, the pages that see the most engagement, and which devices are the most popular. You can also record and replay visitors’ sessions so you can know exactly what they did on your site. Punch Metrics also has a heatmap tracking feature to understand which elements on your site get the most clicks.

Joomla

Simple Sliders

Simple Sliders is a content plugin for Joomla. The plugin allows users to easily create accordion sliders in their articles. You can add the sliders to your Joomla articles by adding this code:

{s​lider title="Slider 1 Title" class="blue"}
Slider 1 content.
{s​lider title="Slider 2 Title" class="red"}
Slider 2 content.
{/s​liders}

Jitsi Conferencing

Jitsi Conferencing is a video conferencing plugin for Joomla. The plugin will allow you to host meetings and easily connect with your clients. The module is simple and effective to use.

 

Featured image via Unsplash.

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Source de l’article sur Webdesignerdepot

Popular Design News of the Week: October 12, 2020 – October 18, 2020

Every week users submit a lot of interesting stuff on our sister site Webdesigner News, highlighting great content from around the web that can be of interest to web designers.

The best way to keep track of all the great stories and news being posted is simply to check out the Webdesigner News site, however, in case you missed some here’s a quick and useful compilation of the most popular designer news that we curated from the past week.

34 Impressive Examples of Fullscreen Navigation Menus

 

Radix Icons – An Open Source Crisp Set of 15×15 Icons

 

Nocode – Turn Google Docs into a Website

 

How to Design a Great Dashboard for your UI

 

The Most Futura. Ever.

 

5 Mistakes to Avoid When Designing your Nonprofit Website

 

UCalc – Functional Calcs and Forms

 

AreYouInterested – A Super-Simple Landing Page Builder for Bulk Idea Validation

 

Unlearning to Learn Design

 

Just FYI: Acronyms are Hurting your UX and ROI

 

3 Concrete Steps to Learning a Programming Language

 

MathJax – Beautiful and Accessible Math in all Browsers

 

What is a WordPress Child Theme?

 

How to Create a UX Writing Portfolio

 

A Step-By-Step Guide to User Experience Research

 

5 Most Common Mistakes in FinTech Design

 

31 Ways to Improve your Web Design Skills

 

Designing the Ada Lovelace Hashflag Emoji

 

Powered by Buttons – An Acquisition Channel Nobody is Talking About

 

Top 10 Tools for Managing Remote Teams Efficiently

 

Email Design Accessibility: Why it is Important to Improve it

 

Why Web Design Client Referrals Aren’t a Slam-Dunk

 

Host Rider: A Game for Learning CSS Flexbox

 

Stanza – Learn Coding Concepts Faster

 

How to Present your Logos to the Client

 

Want more? No problem! Keep track of top design news from around the web with Webdesigner News.

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Source de l’article sur Webdesignerdepot

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

API Security Weekly: Issue #105

This week, we take a look at API vulnerabilities in HashiCorp Vault, Azure App Services, and more. There is also an introductory video on finding information disclosure in JSON and XML API responses, and another cheat sheet and a webinar on OWASP API Security Top 10.

Vulnerability: HashiCorp Vault

Felix Wilhelm from Google’s Project Zero has written a very detailed write-up on an authentication bypass he found in the Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Google Cloud Platform (GCP) integration of HashiCorp Vault. As a central storage of credentials, Vault makes an attractive target for attackers, and therefore a vulnerability in it is also very bad news. Looking for the silver linings, this attack was definitely quite advanced, and thus not easily exploitable.

Source de l’article sur DZONE

Branding 101: Choosing the Right Business Name

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s get started:

How to Name Your New Business

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. Who Is Your Target User Persona?

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

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

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

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

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

3. What Are The Names Of Your Top Competitors?

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

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

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

4. What Makes You Different?

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

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

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

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

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

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

5. Where Do You Envision Yourself In Five Years?

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

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

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

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

6. Will Your Business Name Be Easy To Remember?

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

Here’s what you need to do.

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

For example:

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

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

For example:

  • honeymoonerswebdesign
  • charlesmurphydesignanddevelopment
  • foreverwebsites
  • soldwebdesignagency

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

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

charlesmurphydesignanddevelopment becomes charlesmurphydesign or just charlesmurphy.

7. Does The Name You Want Already Exist?

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

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

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

You have a few options if this happens:

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

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

Choosing a Business Name Is Just the First Step…

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

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

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

Stay tuned!

 

Featured image via Pexels.

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Source de l’article sur Webdesignerdepot

The Ultimate 10 UX Influencers to Follow

The digital world is a place of constant change. Just as you get used to a new design trend, another one appears, forcing you to rethink the way that you approach each client project. 

As a web designer, it’s up to you to make sure that you have your finger on the pulse on the latest transformations in the industry. However, it can be challenging to know for sure which trends you should be taking seriously, and which you can simply ignore. 

One option to refine and enhance your design journey is to pay attention to influencers. 

Influencers aren’t just there to guide customers into making purchasing decisions. These people are thought-leaders in their field. They spend all of their time tracking down ideas and concepts that really work. That way, they can maintain a successful reputation online.

Sourcing information and motivation from the following UX influencers could help you to create some truly amazing websites in 2020: 

1. Andrew Kucheriavy 

Andrew Kucheriavy is the phenomenal co-founder and CEO of a company named Intechnic. Andrew was one of the first people in the world to be given the “Master in User Experience” award. This means that he’s an excellent person to pay attention to if you want help understanding the ins and outs of user experience design

As one of the leading visionaries in UX, business strategy, and inbound marketing, Andrew has a lot of useful information to offer professionals and learners alike. Andrew is particularly active on Twitter, where he’s constantly sharing insights on design and marketing. You can also find input from Andrew on the Intechnic blog. 

2. Jeff Veen 

Another must-follow for designers who want to learn more about understanding their audience and their position in the marketplace, Jeff Veen is a leader in UX and product design. Veen got his start with the founding team for Wired, before he created the Adaptive Path company for UX consulting. Jeff Veen is also known for being responsible for various aspects of Google Analytics. 

Over the years, Jeff has expanded his knowledge in the design space, and mentored various companies, from WordPress to Medium. He also has a fantastic podcast that you can listen to for guidance when you’re on the go. 

3. Jared Spool 

Jared Spool has been tackling the most common issues of user experience since before the term “UX” was even a thing. Excelling in the design world since 1978, Jared has become one of the biggest and most recognizable names in the user experience environment. He’s the founder of the User Interface Engineering consulting firm. The company concentrates on helping companies to improve their site and product usability. 

Jared offers plenty of handy information to stock up on in his Twitter feed. Additionally, you can find plenty of helpful links to blogs and articles that he has published around the web on Twitter too. He’s followed by Hubgets, PICUS, and many other leading brands. Make sure that you check out his collection of industry-leading talks on UIE. 

4. Jen Romano Bergstrom

An experimental psychologist, User Experience Research coach, and UX specialist, Jen is one of the most impressive women in the web design world. She helped to create the unique experiences that customers can access on Instagram and Facebook. Additionally, she has a specialist knowledge of eye-tracking on the web. You can even check out Jen’s books on eye-tracking and usability testing

When she’s not writing books or researching user experience, Jen is blogging and tweeting about usability and researching new strategies in the web design space. It’s definitely worth keeping up with Jen on Twitter, particularly if you want to be the first to know about her upcoming seminars and learning sessions. 

5. Katie Dill 

Katie Dill is the former Director of Experience for Airbnb, so you know that she knows her way around some unique experiences. With an expertise in working with companies that harness new technologies and UX design, Katie Dill is at the forefront of the user experience landscape. Dill attends various UX conferences throughout the year, and publishes a range of fantastic videos on YouTube. 

You can find blogs and articles from Katie published on the web; however, you’ll be able to get the most input from her by following Katie on her Twitter account. 

6. Khoi Vinh 

Khoi Vinh is one of the most friendly and unique UX bloggers and influencers on the market today. He knows how to talk to people in a way that’s interesting and engaging – even about more complicated topics in UX design. Vinh is a principle designer at Adobe, and he has his own podcast called Wireframe. However, he still finds time to keep his followers engaged on Twitter. 

Over the years, Khoi has worked as a Design Director for Etsy and the New York Times. Vinh also wrote a book called “Ordering Disorder” which examines grid principles in web design. According to Fast Company, he’s one of the most influential designers in America. Additionally, Khoi has a brilliant blog where you can check out all of his latest insights into UX design. 

7. Cory Lebson

Cory Lebson is a veteran in the world of web design and user experience. With more than 2 decades of experience in the landscape, Cory has his own dedicated UX consulting firm named Lebsontech. Lebson and his company concentrate on offering UX training, mentoring, and user experience strategy support to customers. Cory also regularly speaks on topics regarding UX career development, user experience, information architecture and more. 

Cory is an excellent influencer to follow on Twitter, where you’ll find him sharing various UX tricks and tips. You can also check out Cory’s handbook on UX careers, or find him publishing content on the Lebsontech blog too. 

8. Lizzie Dyson

Another amazing woman in the industry of UX, Lizzie Dyson is changing the experience landscape as we know it. Although she’s a relatively new figure in the web design world, she’s recognized world-wide for her amazing insights into the world of web development. Lizzie also helped to create a new group specifically for women that want to get involved in web design. 

The Ladies that UX monthly meet-up welcomes a community of women into the digital landscape, helping them to learn and expand their skills. Lizzie regularly publishes content online as part of Ladies that UX. Additionally, she appears on the Talk UX feed – an annual design and tech conference held for women around the world. 

9. Chris Messina 

Chris Messina is a product designer and a technical master who understands what it takes to avoid disappointing your users. With more than a decade of experience in the UX design landscape, Messina has worked for a variety of big-name brands, including Google and Uber. He is best known as the inventor of the hashtag!

Chris is a highly skilled individual who understands the unique elements that engage customers and keep people coming back for more on a website. You can see Chris speaking at a selection of leading conferences around the world. Check out some of his talks on YouTube or track down his schedule of upcoming talks here. Chris also has a variety of fantastic articles on Medium to read too. 

10. Elizabeth Churchill

Last, but definitely not least, Elizabeth Churchill is a UX leader with an outstanding background in psychology, research science, psychology, artificial intelligence, cognitive science, human interaction with computers and more. She knows her way around everything from cognitive economics, to everyday web design. Churchill also acts as the director of UX for Google Material Design. 

A powerhouse of innovation and information, Churchill has more than 50 patents to her name. She’s also the vice president of the Association for Computing Machinery too. When she’s not sharing information on Twitter, Elizabeth also has a regular column that you can tune into on the ACM Interactions magazine. 

Who Are You Following in 2020?

Whether you’re looking for inspiration, guidance, or information, the right influencers can deliver some excellent insights into the world of web design. There are plenty of thought leaders out there in the realm of user experience that can transform the way that you approach your client projects. You might even discover a new favourite podcast to listen to, or an amazing series of videos that help you to harness new talents. 

Influencers are more than just tools for digital marketing; they’re an excellent source of guidance for growing UX designers too.

 

Featured image via Pexels.

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Popular Design News of the Week: September 28, 2020 – October 4, 2020

Every week users submit a lot of interesting stuff on our sister site Webdesigner News, highlighting great content from around the web that can be of interest to web designers.

The best way to keep track of all the great stories and news being posted is simply to check out the Webdesigner News site, however, in case you missed some here’s a quick and useful compilation of the most popular designer news that we curated from the past week.

6 Great Open Source SVG Icon Libraries You Should Check Out Now

 

Codedamn – Teach Yourself to Code

 

Zoop – Unlimited Serverless Hosting

 

Sitemaps: A Complete Guide

 

Shoelace 2.0: A Forward-thinking Library of Web Components

 

How to Become a UX Designer – No Matter What You Studied at Uni

 

Buttons that Spark Joy

 

How to Solve any Design Problem by Understanding its Roots

 

Ooooops I Guess We’re* Full-Stack Developers Now

 

Blue People Illustrations, or How to Kill a Brand

 

How to Pick More Beautiful Colors for your Data Visualizations

 

Stop Doing Design System Projects

 

Please Don’t do That: 4 Things to Ask Clients to Avoid

 

What’s Driving so Many Car Brands to Redesign their Identity?

 

How to Prepare Sites for 2020 Holiday Shopping

 

Nova

 

Show Off your Design Skills by Crafting Eye-Catching iOS 14 Layout Themes

 

How to Create Onboard and Login Screens for a Dating App Template in Figma

 

Bidirectional Scrolling: What’s not to Like?

 

Basic Guidelines to Product Sketching

 

The Era of UI Unification

 

The Typography of Star Trek: The Motion Picture

 

The Guide to UX Research

 

In Search of Illustration: Design Process for Illustration Set

 

Looking at an Online School Through a Web Designer’s Eyes

 

Want more? No problem! Keep track of top design news from around the web with Webdesigner News.

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7 All-Too-Common Landing Page Errors You Must Avoid

And it does this 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year without ever asking for a pay raise.

But this is true only if your website landing page is designed well, maintained, and optimized to the gills. The art and science of a flawless landing page is beyond the scope of a single article, but we can start with helping you spot seven of the most common – and damaging – trouble spots.

1. Unclear Value Statement

Typically, new visitors to your page will only stay on it 3 to 15 seconds before they get distracted. In that span of time, you must offer a clear and visible reason to stick around and interact with the page.

That reason is your value statement. What value do your readers get in exchange for the time you ask them to spend? High-quality content is a must (and hopefully a given), but you also need to pull them in so they experience that content.

Does your landing page do that? If yes, great! If no, you should fix that. If you’re not sure, ask yourself:

  • Is there a compelling, visible headline that expresses the end benefits clearly and succinctly?
  • Is there a subheadline explaining your offering in more detail?
  • Are there supporting graphics that pull the eye toward your headline and subheadline?

If there aren’t, add them now.

2. Poor Signposting

Your landing page isn’t just there to be pretty. It’s meant to convince people to take action. If you don’t make it easy to find your call to action, most viewers won’t look for it.

deliver enough value to make it worth the hassle

You must make it clear — in as succinct and efficient terms as possible — why the action you want a reader to take will deliver enough value to make it worth the hassle. Tell them, in words that stand out from the rest of the page, what you want them to do next and what they’ll receive for doing so.

Improving your signposting stats by asking yourself the following questions:

  • Do you have a clear understanding of what the next step in a visitor’s customer journey should be?
  • Is it easy to find and take that step on your website?
  • Does your copy make a clear and compelling argument in favor of taking that step?

If you can answer yes to all three questions, your signposting is likely good (or at least good enough for now). If not, now you know what you have to do to improve it.

3. Slow Loading Time

Remember that 3 to 15-second maximum time limit we mentioned earlier? That span includes time spent waiting for your landing page to load, and every microsecond of that wait increases a reader’s likelihood of bailing on the whole thing. You must get your loading time to be as quick as possible.

Viewers who exit your landing page early – including while still waiting for it to load – increase your site’s bounce rate. Higher bounce rates reduce your rankings on Google and other search engines, meaning a page that loads too slowly not only impresses fewer viewers, but it also gets fewer viewers overall.

Improving your loading time is usually a job for your tech team or whoever in the office is responsible for overseeing your hosting service. That said, here are a few of the most important ways to optimize this important factor:

  • Optimize image size, file format, and compression;
  • Clean up your database by deleting saved drafts, old revisions, unused plugins, and similar virtual detritus;
  • Confirm that your WordPress theme (if applicable) is optimized for quick loading;
  • Use a content distribution network for file storage;
  • Analyze server response time with your hosting service, and work with them to reduce it;
  • Install tools that leverage browser caching;
  • Fix all your broken links;
  • Remove all render-blocking from JavaScript;
  • Reduce the number of redirects necessary to reach your page;
  • Optimize your code, especially in CSS, JavaScript, and HTML;
  • Enable file compression — except for on images;
  • Replace all PHP content with HTML wherever possible.

This is technical, detailed work, but it’s important. If you don’t have team members up to these tasks, it can be worth hiring an outside consulting company to do it for you.

4. Only One Landing Page

You have a good idea of your ideal customer’s hopes, fears, pain points, demographics, likes and dislikes, and other important information. If you have several different types of customers, you can’t use the same landing page for each of your customer groups. Each group has different characteristics that will prompt them to follow your call to action, so you don’t want to offer just one landing page.

Similarly, you also probably have more than one product or set of content and offerings to generate sales. Having only one landing page can lose leads because the page is only optimized for one of those products or content sets.

Ideally, you should have a unique landing page with a tailored offer for each of your customer models that would send those individuals to each of the products and content sets. An ad for professionals in their 30s making over $50,000 a year would lead to a landing page built for them, while an ad for heads of households working from home would lead to a landing page built for them.

Yes, that means a company with three profiles and four content sets would need 12 landing pages. And yes, it’s worth that kind of effort.

5. Insufficient Visuals

“A picture is worth 1,000 words” is ancient wisdom, but it’s far from true in the internet world – it’s actually worth more. A quick look at social media and blog performance will tell you many people will look at, enjoy, and share a photo or video, but not many will read an entire 1,000-word post on the same topic.

How well your landing page performs depends on the images you use and how you present them. Does your page’s layout conform to the best practices of visual web design:

  • Including images that emotionally reinforce the value expressions of your product’s core benefits;
  • Containing sufficient white space to not be intimidating;
  • Providing data images to indicate the worth of what you do;
  • Using visual design cues to lead the eye toward your conversion points;
  • Applying color gradients to highlight offers and your call to action;
  • Using infographics to replace the dreaded “wall of text”.

If you can say yes for half of these things, carry on. If not, this point may be among the better places to start with a landing page redesign.

6. Asking For Too Much, Too Soon

Craft a custom calls to action that meet all levels of interest, need, and desire

Not every landing page visitor is created equal. Some are hardcore fans and experts in what you do, ready for a 10,000-word white paper that dives deeply into the research supporting your use case. Others might have heard about your industry on an Instagram page and want to know the basics of what you do.

There’s nothing worse than going to a website and being asked for all of your personal information right away. If your call to action requires too much knowledge, too deep a commitment, or even too much personal information, consider scaling back. Otherwise, you risk turning away potential customers.

Better yet, go back to No. 5 above and build a new landing page for beginners and early-stage leads. Craft a custom calls to action that meet all levels of interest, need, and desire.

7. No Trust Elements

Offering some type of authentic customer referral or testimonial is important. It all boils down to the same thing: telling those who read your landing page that other people already like what you do and how you do it.

Examples of effective modern trust elements include:

  • Quotes from positive reviews next to a photo of the reviewer;
  • Screenshots of social media posts praising your company or product;
  • Short video interviews of happy clients;
  • Blurbs for industry thought leaders approving of you;
  • Images portraying business credentials and certifications;
  • Links to positive press coverage;
  • Logos of known business customers who buy and trust your brand.

Final Thought: What’s Next?

There isn’t one guaranteed way to turn a landing page from something full of holes into something perfect. But first, run an audit of your landing page using this list as a guide. Note which errors are there. Next, sort them in order of what takes the least time to fix to what takes the most time to fix.

Then, fix them in that order. We find that getting the quick fixes done builds excitement and momentum, whereas starting with a harder fix can mire down the whole process.

If none of these errors exist on your landing page, congratulations. There’s still lots of work to do on your website and content marketing, but it’s not among these rookie mistakes.

 

Featured image via Pexels.

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Why AI & Automation Are Actually Friends to Design

Artificial intelligence. Just hearing the phrase has been a trigger for many in the technology world since that creepy Haley Joel Osment film circa 2001. But more recently, artificial intelligence and machine learning strike fear into the hearts of skilled workers for an entirely different reason: job security, or lack thereof.

Smart-home devices, streaming services, self-checkouts, even Google searches are ways that artificial intelligence has seeped into everyday life, exemplifying the abilities of computers and machines to master both simple and complex tasks. In some instances, these technological advancements make our lives easier, but for some people, their proliferation has meant job loss and skill replacement. There’s no wonder that when artificial intelligence starts being mentioned along with web design and site creation, the spidey senses of designers all over the world start tingling.

designers think outside the box, something that AI just can’t do

But let’s get real about what AI and automation really mean for designers for a second. Talented designers with busy schedules should view these advancements as virtual assistants. For some small businesses on a limited budget, the websites that artificial intelligence can pump out might be fine…for a while. However, as businesses grow, change, require updating and customization to adapt to their customer base, the expertise of creative and talented designers will always be needed. Even the best AI that we see today is limited by evaluating, replicating, and revising what already exists. It may be able to mix 1,000 different color schemes into 10 million potential combinations, but great designers think outside the box, something that AI just can’t do.

In fact, rather than being scared of automation, designers ought to embrace automation and artificial intelligence as a way to unleash their creative thinking. Delegate repetitive, straightforward tasks to the right software, and suddenly you have time to bring your best ideas to the table and push the boundaries of your own innovation. 

Where AI has Failed in Design

The ultimate goal of artificial intelligence and automation in design work is a grand vision that has yet to be realised.

Consider the case of The Grid, which began as a crowdfunding campaign in 2014. The “revolutionary” product posed itself as an artificial intelligence solution for building thoughtfully, yet automatically, designed websites in five minutes. Research “Reviews of the Grid” in any search engine and you’ll be met with scathing criticism with only some small praise sprinkled in. Most of the initial users cite underwhelming results, the feeling of being duped by the Grid’s marketing tactics, nonsensical placement of text, and ultimately, the Grid being a complete waste of money for the resulting product. Even at the low cost of $100, compared to hiring a talented designer, most users felt their investment was wasted.

For the AI capabilities that exist now, most small business owners, or those looking to put together a simple website, are better off using drag and drop site builders (Wix, Squarespace, Weebly, etc) that have been around for ages. Even so, there are plenty of businesses still willing to hire designers to take this simple task off their plate due to a lack of technical expertise or lack of time. And let’s be honest, are there even enough talented (keyword here!) designers out there to keep up with the millions of websites created every year, without each one working themselves to death? 

Where Automation Shines for Designers

Fortunately for good designers, it appears for now that the days of artificial intelligence completely taking over their jobs is a fantasy. However, what AI and automation do offer designers is a solid starting point for success, eliminating much of the lower-level grunt work that most designers would rather skip anyway.

Even well-received AI website builders like Firedrop still require a basic eye for design and specialised knowledge to produce truly unique, high-converting, and user-friendly websites. Tools and practices that designers should adopt are the artificial intelligence and automation resources that will help them do their jobs better, faster, and leave them with more time to focus on project elements that AI cannot accomplish on its own.

Bridging the Gap Between Designers and Developers

Well-established brands are likely to already have design systems in place that guide the creation of new elements across their digital profiles whether on social media, various mobile apps, or different sections of a website. But even in large corporations — excepting those who have perfected the process — there’s often a breakdown between a designer’s vision and resulting product from the developers. It stems from the basic difference in how they each approach their work and the limitations of the systems they use.

While component libraries — or even full design systems for that matter — won’t reconcile every question, they provide both developers and designers a source of truth to work from that both parties can understand. Design collaboration tools like Invision and Visme, specifically, keep designers and developers on the same page with automated version saving and code-friendly workflows.  

Understanding the Consumer

I don’t suggest using artificial intelligence to produce content for your site

Digging into and understanding the behaviours and habits of site users is a relatively new component of site design, but offers invaluable insights. Tools like HotJar, Mouseflow, or Smartlook make it simple to see holes or leaks in your conversion funnels, detect which page elements users are interacting with, and which they’re not interested in to refine the look and feel of a page for maximum conversions. Even though these tools provide the data, it still takes a keen eye and understanding of design to implement the right changes to improve site performance.

Site content is another way that artificial intelligence has the potential to improve our understanding of customer behaviour and improve site performance for individual users. I don’t suggest using artificial intelligence to produce content for your site, no matter how much the results have improved. However, static landing pages or a single set of further reading recommendations are unlikely to appeal to the majority of site visitors. Artificial intelligence tools like CliClap and Personyze instantly collect and analyse consumer data to provide dynamic, personalised experiences that drive more leads and encourage conversions. Creative designers will also learn from this data to improve customer experience with other pages or elements throughout the site.

Removing Distracting, Time-Sucking Administrative Tasks

Because “artificial intelligence” has become a term with such negative connotations, we often overlook the simple way that AI actually makes our work lives better and easier. Machine learning in email filtering is a great example of this. Consider a simple interface like a Gmail inbox. We have the option to mark certain senders as spam or as important, and our inbox learns that type of communication is and isn’t useful to the user. Pandora, Spotify, Apple Music, and more all take cues from the user behaviour of liking a certain song, artists, or genre of music to build customised playlists. There are a myriad of ways that artificial intelligence and its branches of disciplines merge with our everyday lives. 

Some of the most useful automations for business, and especially for designers, are related to the administrative tasks that frequently take time away or distract from more pressing projects. A perfect example of automation that can relieve stress and cut down on mindless work is an email autoresponder. I’ve always found that having time blocked off in my calendar to tackle complex or important projects helps me to focus on the task at hand and be more efficient. In order to more effectively block out my time, closing my email and setting an autoresponder to reply to all incoming emails serves two purposes: 

  1. Lets those trying to get in touch with me know that I only check my email at certain times of the day and that my response may not be immediate — tempering their expectations of when they might hear from me.
  2. Relieves my personal stress of being tethered to my inbox, splitting my focus, and also saves the time of having to initially respond to each email individually. 

This is just one simple way to use automation in your email, although there are many others to explore.

While Zapier isn’t the only workflow automation service on the market, it’s probably the most well known. Workflow automation reduces time spent on mind-numbing, repetitive tasks and helps designers connect apps that might not natively work together. Do you keep a task list in Todoist? Set up a Zap, then create a task in Todoist anytime someone mentions you on Asana or assigns you a task in Trello.

This is especially helpful for freelance designers who work with multiple clients across various project management platforms. The potential for automation to relieve unnecessary mental overhead for designers is nearly limitless.

Don’t be Afraid of AI, Embrace It

The bottom line of this brief overview of artificial intelligence and automation in design is that this emerging technology isn’t something designers should be scared of. In fact, it’s something to welcome with open arms because ultimately it can make our jobs, and our lives, better. Leave the monotonous tasks of collecting and analysing huge amounts of data or administrative minutiae to the machines; they can handle it.

Save the interesting, creative, abstract work for the talented designers who can turn AI recommendations into unique and intuitive digital experiences. Making the relationship between artificial intelligence and design symbiotic will yield the best results for every entity involved: the business, the AI, and yes, even the designer.

 

Featured image via Unsplash.

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