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Top New CMS Plugins, November 2020

Since there are so many CMS plugins out there, it can be overwhelming to choose the best ones for your website. We’ve done the research for you; this list contains the top new CMS plugins for November 2020. You’ll find useful plugins for WordPress, Craft, Shopify, and Joomla.

Let’s get started…

WordPress

404 Page Editor

404 Page Editor is a simple WordPress plugin that helps you add custom text to the default 404 page on your website. The plugin comes with seasonal and industry-related 404 templates. One useful feature of the plugin is that it backups your current 404 page before changing it. So you can restore the backup page anytime you choose. The plugin duplicates your current 404.php page to wp-content/uploads/404-page-editor/ so you can easily find it. You can also change the text on the plugin to fit your local dialect. 

UnusedCSS Power-Up

Most WordPress themes and plugins load their CSS in the wrong areas of your website. This can slow down your site. A slow website will reduce user experience and lead to increased bounce rates.

UnusedCSS will help reduce the size of your website’s CSS files by up to 95%. The best part is that the plugin works automatically. It will remove any unused CSS when visitors view any page on your website. UnusedCSS will automatically reduce your website’s load times by reducing your CSS files and page size. The plugin also optimizes the performance of other WordPress plugins and extensions. UnusedCSS also works with WooCommerce themes and plugins.

Simple Redirects

Simple Redirects is a WordPress plugin that helps you to automatically redirect requests to another page on your site or any other place on the web. The plugin allows you to easily redirect users from your old web pages to new pages using 301 or 302 redirects. You don’t have to worry about losing backlinks or page rank. Any incoming links to the old web page will be automatically passed along to the new page. The page rank on the old page is also transferred to the new page. The plugin is useful when migrating a WordPress site when don’t want to retain the URL structure. 

HTML Validation

HTML Validation plugin helps you identify any HTML validation errors on your website. The plugin works automatically in the background of your website and will send you regular reports. There is a progress bar on the report screen to show you the progress of the scan. The plugin uses WordPress Cron to scan the content of your website. There is also an option for the plugin to automatically fix any HTML validation issues on your website. You can also choose to fix the issues manually. 

Just Highlight

Just Highlight is a simple WordPress plugin that helps you highlight text in your posts or pages. You can use this plugin to highlight any portion of the page you want to draw the reader’s attention to. You can highlight the background of the page and also add animation to the highlighted text. In the WordPress admin area, you can change the speed and color of the animation. The plugin is compatible with Gutenberg, and the WordPress classic editor. 

DeviantArt Embed

DeviantArt Embed is a simple plugin that helps you embed any work from Deviant Art into a post. The plugin provides a block for the WordPress block editor so you can easily embed the image. It uses a DeviantArt oEmbed API to pull the images and their descriptions, and creates an embedded image. 

Static Optimizer

Static Optimizer is a static file optimization plugin that serves and optimizes static files on your website. The plugin will help you increase your website speed by automatically compressing your static files. It is easy to set up, you just need an API key to get started. Other useful features that the plugin offers include automatic JS and CSS minification, automatic image optimization, and processing of responsive images. You don’t have to worry about losing your files if their server is down. The plugin automatically backs up your files and will load your original files when their servers are down (either because of an upgrade, maintenance, or outage).  By default, only images are compressed when you activate the plugin; you can also choose to optimize fonts, CSS, and JS files. 

RankBear

RankBear is a keyword rank tracker plugin that helps you analyze your SEO efforts. With RankBear, you can track the keywords for each of the posts and pages on your site. While the plugin has a paid plan, you can track up to five keywords for free. On the free plan, you will receive weekly reports on each keyword you are tracking. You can search for the rank and volume of a keyword in every location supported by the Google search engine. RankBear is a lightweight software-as-a-service plugin hosted by Amazon Cloud Services. The plugin also offers the option to download the keyword reports to CSV. 

Table of Contents Block

Table of Contents Block is a plugin that allows you to easily create a Table of Contents for your WordPress posts. The plugin is lightweight and will automatically add a Table of Content in your website’s posts and pages. You can select the heading tags you want to add to the Table of Content. It also has a dedicated support team to assist you. The plugin works fine with all standard WordPress themes. 

Markease For WooCommerce

Markeaze is an all-in-one communication plugin that allows you to add live chat to your online stores. The plugin will help you improve your customer service by decreasing your response times. With the plugin, you can collect your visitor’s contact information via a widget. This feature is useful in building a subscriber database. You can also use the plugin to track customer behavior on your site, inform customers about new products, help customers with active orders, and collect customer feedback. You can also use the auto-reply function to answer commonly asked questions. 

Craft CMS

Image Toolbox

Image Toolbox is a Craft CMS plugin that offers image-related tools for your templates. The plugin will automatically create a WebP variant of the images you upload. It also has a fallback for browsers that do not support WebP images. Other useful features the plugin offers include automatic creation of placeholder images and generation of responsive images with multiple variants. The plugin also supports Imager-X (or old Imager). 

Element Panel

Element Panel plugin allows you to add elements and an eager-loading panel to the debug toolbar. This feature will help you benchmark your templates in Craft CMS. For elements, the panel has a dashboard that shows how many elements are populated. It also shows how many elements are duplicates. The plugin also shows you how many eager-loading elements are detected. Duplicate elements are grouped by field name. 

Shopify 

VStore Shoppable Videos

VStore Shoppable Videos is a Shopify plugin that allows your customers to shop directly from your videos. The plugin allows you to embed your products into any video. Since videos have a high engagement rate, this plugin will significantly improve your store’s conversion rates. 

ProofMotion Video Testimonials

ProofMotion Video Testimonials plugin helps you to easily collect video testimonials. The plugin sends an automated email or SMS requests to customers asking for their satisfaction feedback after making a purchase. The responses are analyzed to determine whether the customer had a negative or positive experience. Customers that offer negative feedback are sent to customer care to help them with the problem they encountered. Happy customers are prompted to make video testimonials of their positive shopping experience. ProofMotion guides the customer through the interview so they can give the best testimonial. They also offer an on-site widget so you can easily share your testimonials. 

Real ID

Real ID is a Shopify plugin that allows you to verify customers’ real identity using a photo ID and facial biometrics. The plugin is perfect for orders that have an age restriction, verifying flagged fraud goods, and selling expensive goods. Real ID will help you identify whether a government-issued-ID is fake during fulfilment. All the customer needs to do is take a selfie on their phone. This way, even if a customer has access to a stolen physical ID, they won’t still be able to make any purchase. The plugin can verify documents such as passports, visas, national IDs, driver licenses, and more. Real ID will help you handle GDPR compliance. The plugin is available in hundreds of countries around the world. 

Joomla

Accessibility

Accessibility is a Joomla plugin that allows your website visitors to easily access your website content. The plugin will remove any barrier between the visitor and your Joomla site. There is no coding required and you can customize the plugin directly from the module manager. The plugin has a useful feature called Dyslexic Readability; this feature allows your visitors to set the entire document font to a dyslexic-friendly font. Visitors can also grayscale the page, resize the fonts, and resize the word space. From the backend module, you can add any custom CSS and JS. The plugin is also available in 12 different languages. 

Reading Time

Reading Time is a simple plugin that will help you easily show the reading time of your Joomla articles. The plugin is easy to set up and does not require any coding. You can customize every parameter, including the text, in minutes. You can also choose to exclude categories, articles, and menu items. Reading Time also allows you to easily add custom CSS code from the plugin parameters. 

 

Featured image via Pexels.

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Source de l’article sur Webdesignerdepot

Exciting New Tools for Designers, October 2020

This month’s collection of new tools, resources, and freebies for designers is a smorgasbord of sorts. You’ll find everything from useful APIs to icons to tutorials to fonts.

Let’s get right into it, here’s what new for designers this month:

Tooltip Sequence

Now that your app or website is ready, you might need to help users engage with it. Tooltip Sequence is a simple JavaScript package that helps you create a series of small tooltips that will guide users through product features with a small description of what they need to know. It looks great and the best part is this tool saves you from having to create each tooltip description manually on each page and link them together.

Serenade

Serenade allows you to free up your hands with voice coding technology. Use natural speech and stay productive with this tool that allows you to code without typing. It works across multiple coding languages and platforms. It’s as easy as “add function hello” and the tool knows what syntax to use.

Gazepass

Gazepass, which is still in beta, is a nifty API that allows for passwordless multi-factor authentication for any website or mobile app. It uses biometrics on any device or platform to make getting into apps or websites easier for users.

Filters.css

Filters.css is a CSS-only library to apply color filters to website images. Installation only takes three steps and includes a variety of filers, such as blur, grayscale, brightness, contrast, invert, saturate, sepia, and opacity.

Sidebar Webring

Sidebar Webring is a collection of blogs and websites that are focused on web design. The curated list is handpicked for superb content for designers and developers. But, what’s a webring? It’s a collection of linked websites in a circular structure that are organized around a theme. The term is a throwback to the early days of the web in the 1990s and 2000s.

Wicked Templates

Wicked Templates is a set of responsive HTML templates made with Bulma and Tailwind CSS that you can style and use as you wish. Use these templates to jumpstart projects. Free and paid options available.

WP Umbrella

WP Umbrella will help you keep sites running in a healthy and safe manner on WordPress. Monitor uptime and performance, PHP errors, and keep up with hundreds of websites from one dashboard.

Servicebot

Servicebot helps you create customer-facing embeddable billing pages that work with Stripe payments. This premium tool is quite user-friendly and works with websites or SaaS.

Custom, Accessible Checkboxes with Perfect Alignment

Create custom, accessible checkboxes with perfect alignment every time. This walkthrough shows you how to use CSS to align elements and labels.

Sombras.app

Sombras.app is a nifty tool that creates 3D object shadows. Use the easy on-screen controls to get just the right orientation and shape.

urlcat

Urlcat is a tiny JavaScript library that helps you build URLs with dynamic parameters and without mistakes. The friendly API has no dependencies, includes TypeScript types, and is just 0.8KB minified and gzipped.

Reacher

Reacher is a real-time email verification API that lets you check the validity of an address before you send the email. Reduce bounce rates in an instant. (The personal version is free.)

Swell

Swell is a most powerful headless ecommerce platform for modern brands, startups, and agencies. Create fast and flexible shopping experiences with the API and headless storefront themes. This is a premium tool but does have a free trial.

No Code Founders 2.0

No Code Founders 2.0 is a platform for discovering the latest startups built with no-code and the tools used to build them. Browse startups, tools, perks, interviews, jobs, meetups, posts, and more as part of the no-code movement. The community engages on Slack and requires an email to sign up.

How to Pick More Beautiful Colors for Your Data Visualizations

Beautiful color choices will make your data visualizations that much more impactful. This tutorial by Lisa Charlotte Rost will help you make better color choices on the way to better infographics and charts. Plus, it’s well developed, designed, and packed with useful information.

IconPark

IconPark is a collection of more than 1,200 high-quality icons with an interface that allows you to customize them. It uses a single SVG source file that can be transformed into multiple themes. The library includes cross-platform components and is free to use.

Mono Icons

Mono Icons is a simple and consistent open-source icon set that uses mono spacing. The collection includes 136 icons.

BGJar

BGJar is a free SVG background generator for digital projects. Pick a category and customize the result to fit your project or needs.

HitCount

HitCount is almost too simple to be true. This tiny tool lets you add a hit counter to your website that’s as easy as adding an image. Copy the code and make any customizations you want. Then paste it to your design. That’s it!

Blacklight

Blacklight is a real-time website privacy inspector. The tool by Surya Mattu scans any website you enter in the scan bar and shows what user-tracking technologies are used on the website. This allows you to see who might be gathering data about your visit.

Alter

Alter is a customizable – and experimental – three-dimensional typeface that you can experiment with. It’s as fun to play with as use.

Autobus Omnibus

Autobus Omnibus is a simple all capitals font with new wave styling. The character set has 96 glyphs that are perfect for display use.

Deathmatch

Deathmatch is a seasonal blackletter font that’s ideal for the upcoming Halloween holiday. The character set includes plenty of options and there’s a full version (paid) for commercial use.

Futura Now

Futura Now is a premium typeface and update to a font you may already know and love. The new version has 107 styles in a massive family.

Pumpkin Soup

Pumpkin Soup is a fun almost handwriting style typeface with a cartoonish vibe. It includes a regular and italic style and is most appropriate in limited use.

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Source de l’article sur Webdesignerdepot

7 Essential Tools for a Competent Data Scientist

A data scientist extracts manipulate and generate insights from humongous data. To leverage the power of data science, data scientists apply statistics, programming languages, data visualization, databases, etc.

So, when we observe the required skills for a data scientist in any job description, we understand that data science is mainly associated with Python, SQL, and R. The common skills and knowledge expected from a data scientist in the data science industry includes – Probability, Statistics, Calculus, Algebra, Programming, data visualization, machine learning, deep learning, and cloud computing. Also, they expect non-technical skills like business acumen, communication, and intellectual curiosity.

Source de l’article sur DZONE

Editors’ Picks: Summer 2020


Agile 

AI

Big Data

Cloud

Database

DevOps

Integration

  • Mulesoft 4: Continuous Delivery/Deployment With Maven by Ashok S — This article is a great example of what we want every tutorial to look like on DZone. The main aim of this article is to provide a standard mechanism to release project artifacts and deploy to Anypoint Platform, from the local machine or configure in continuous delivery pipelines.
  • Integration With Social Media Platforms Series (Part 1) by Sravan Lingam — This article helps you to build a RESTful API through MuleSoft that integrates with LinkedIn and shares a post on behalf of one’s personal account. I like this article because, in the age of social media, it’s so important for businesses to be connected and integrated!

IoT

Java

Microservices

Open Source

Performance

  • What Is Big O Notation? by Huyen Pham — Aside from a silly name, this article is an example of an in-depth analysis on a little-spoken-about concept. In this article, take a look at a short guide to get to know Big O Notation and its usages.
  • Is Python the Future of Programming? by Shormisthsa Chatterjee — Where is programming going? This article attempts to answer this question in a well-rounded way. The author writes, "Python will be the language of the future. Testers will have to upgrade their skills and learn these languages to tame the AI and ML tools".

Security

Web Dev

  • A Better Way to Learn Python by Manas Dash: There’s so many resources available for learning Python — so many that it’s difficult to find a good and flexible place to start. Check out Manas’ curated list of courses, articles, projects, etc. to get your Python journey started today. 
  • Discovering Rust by Joaquin Caro: I’m a sucker for good Rust content, as there’s still so many gaps in what’s available. Joaquin does a great job of giving readers his perspective of the language’s features in a way that traditional docs just 

Source de l’article sur DZONE

Should We Be Designing For Voice?

Voice is one aspect of technology that is getting bigger and bigger, and showing little sign of relenting. In fact, 2019 data revealed that 22% of UK households owned a voice-controlled digital home assistant device such as an Amazon Echo or Google home. This is double the figure recorded in 2017 and it is predicted that over the next five years nearly 50% of all homes will have one. Smart home adoption rates are increasing, and it shows how voice control is something we are all becoming more accustomed to.

With these high figures, does it follow that voice should be something web designers build into sites? Or is it merely a gimmick that will die out and render sites with hardware and complex design issues? You only have to look at the failed introduction of Google glass to see that certain technological advancements don’t always have the outcome that might be expected.

Multiple Voices

One of the first issues with voice is establishing whether you want sites to recognise everyone’s voices, or just those who have registered. If you’re using the site in a crowded room will it pick up on snippets of conversation from others and think these are instructions? Google Home has a feature whereby you have to register your voice with its app to use more personalised features such as the shopping list. Is this the sort of thing websites would need?

Accents

The implementation of voice is complex, not only does it need to understand certain languages (such as English), but all the accents and variations too. With 160 English dialects alone, that is a lot that the technology needs to understand – not including mispronunciations, slang, and colloquialisms. Also, if a site is used all over the world (which many are) how many languages will it need to know?

Privacy Issues

if there are clips of your voice out there on the web…it can easily be imitated

If a website involves a feature such as online shopping or other functions which require sensitive details to be input, this could put people off using voice. Users need to know where this saved data is being stored, how it will be used and if it is secure. In 2018, HMRC had signed up about 6.7 million people to its voice ID service and HSBC said over 10,000 were registering each week. This shows many trust the service, but experts say that if there are clips of your voice out there on the web (such as in a podcast) it can easily be imitated. Bringing with it security and privacy issues.

According to futurologist Dr Ian Pearson, who invented the text message back in 1991, it won’t be long until we can complete a financial transaction with just a few words and a gesture. This can be a time-saver for things such as online shopping, but we need to ensure there are the correct security steps in place.

Users Don’t Talk The Way They Type

When speaking we tend to use shortened and more colloquial language as opposed to when we type. The voice function on a website will need to be able to adapt for this. One example is if you are filling in a form or comment box by voice for a website, you will need to tell it what to punctuate, letting it know where to add a comma, exclamation mark etc.

Website Processes Need to be Simpler

With the web as we use it now, we often browse through pages, reading other snippets of information before clicking through to the page we want. With voice recognition it will cut out these middle steps. For example, if you are looking for a recipe of something specific, you will just say the command “Show me the … recipe” and it will take you straight there. This direct access to what we are looking for could lead to a simplification of websites.

Regular Updates

With websites as they are now, they need updates semi-regularly, depending on how they are built, how complex they are, and what features we have built into them. A voice-based site will need updating regularly, whether to add new words or processes or to keep up with the fast-adapting technology. It might end up being quite a complex process.

Mistrust

While there are more of us now than ever using voice control via tech such as Alexa, Google, and Siri, there is still a level of mistrust over it. It’s still not quite clear where data is being stored, if it is being stored, and how easy it could be to abuse.

Larger Storage and Bandwidth

If a site is built for voice, will it utilise a ready-built plugin or will it have its own software built by developers? Will this feature require a greater amount of storage and bandwidth to cope with it? These are further factors to consider when thinking of the future of implementing voice to websites.

We Still Don’t Know Where It Will Go

Voice technology while working in some respects, is still a bit of a grey area when it comes to future use. Will it be the next big thing as many have predicted, or will it simply die down?

Look at Google Glass – highlighted as the big new technology, they soon died down and were eventually discontinued. Smart watches were another thing. You can see their initial downfall by reading an article published in 2017 about smartwatches – how major smartwatch makers such as Apple and Samsung rushed into the market before the technology was ready and they subsequently failed. Motorola exited the smartwatch market, Pebble and Jawbone shut down and Fitbit sold 2.3 million fewer devices than in their previous quarter. It was perceived as being a fad. However, fast forward to 2020 and more people than ever are wearing and using smartwatches. The smartwatch market was valued at shipment volumes of 47.34 million in 2019 and is expected to reach 117.51 by 2025, reaching a growth of 15.4 over the next five years.

Will voice follow a similar trend?

No More Impulse Buying

People enjoy browsing websites and many businesses rely on user’s impulse buying and ask their websites to be designed to reflect this. With voice taking you directly to the page’s users want to find, will they bypass these potential selling traps and just buy what they want – rather than added extras? Will it end up being a negative for businesses and see users not as satisfied for the experience?

Voiceless Still Matters

You will also have to remember that not all devices might work with voice, or people might be browsing somewhere where voice cannot be used. This means in the design process it needs to work both for voice instruction and manual use. It needs to work just as well for both to ensure the customer journey isn’t affected.

There are many ways voice can affect how we design websites in the upcoming future. It’s important to take note of market trends and usage – seeing how people use voice and thinking of the customer journey. It’s vital we don’t forget the end goals of websites – whether it’s to inform or to sell, the implementation of voice needs to assist this process not make it harder.

 

Featured image via Unsplash.

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Source de l’article sur Webdesignerdepot

3 Ways to Select Features Using Machine Learning Algorithms in Python

Artificial intelligence which gives machines the ability to think and behave like humans are gaining traction since the last decade. These features of artificial intelligence are only there because of its ability to predict certain things accurately, these predictions are based upon one certain technology which we know as machine learning (ML). Machine learning as the name suggests is the computer’s ability to learn new things and improve its functionality over time. The main focus of machine learning is on the development of computer programs that are capable of accessing data and using it to learn for themselves. 

To implement machine learning algorithms, two programming languages, R and Python for machine learning are normally used. Generally, selecting features for training data on machine learning in python is a very complex and technical process. But here we will go over some basic techniques and details regarding what is machine learning and how it works. So, let us start by going into detail regarding what ML is, what feature selection is and how can one select feature using python.

Source de l’article sur DZONE

Exciting New Tools for Designers, August 2020

The common theme in this month’s collection of new tools and resources is “things that help you show off your work.” Many of these tools are made to help you better web products or apps or showcase designs with others.

Here’s what new for designers this month.

Naturaltts

Naturaltts is an online text to speech converter, that allows you to download an mp3 recording. The tool has more than 60 voices to choose from in six languages. There’s a free plan for personal use (based on characters converted) and affordable paid plans for higher volumes and commercial users. One application of this tool is voiceover for videos or tutorials.

Handz

Handz is a library of hands with different gestures in three-dimensional shapes. The collection includes 12 gestures with nine skin colors, and three different sleeve types. Put all that together and you have 320 potential combinations that you can use for projects. The library is completely free and works in a variety of formats with different tools.

Isoflow

Isoflow allows you to create isometric diagrams for presentations and illustrations with ease. You can edit and then export diagrams for print or website use, thanks to vector rendering.

Device Shots

Device Shots is a small web app that helps you generate a high-resolution device mockup using a screenshot of your website or mobile application. It supports almost every device type you can think of and resizes for social media platforms.

Barchartrace

Barchartrace is a simple MIT open source bar chart generator. Use it to create some of the animated charts you see on social media. Just insert your information (upload via CSV file), choose animation settings, and go.

Zettlr Markdown Editor

Zettlr is a free and open source markdown editor for Mac OS. Zettlr supports simple notations, references, includes a dark mode, and tagging. It’s made for note takers who need a tool to amp up their projects, and is used primarily in higher education.

CSS Leaning Card Effect

The CSS Leaning Card Effect replicates the bookshelf feel you get when rectangles lean with a shadow against planes. Lynn Fisher does it in the pen with code that you can see and work on with your own images.

Lemon.io

Lemon.io is a tool that matches you with freelance developers to get projects moving more quickly. You are guaranteed a match in 24 hours and there is no risk if the match doesn’t work out. Just tell Lemon.io what you need and the algorithm will match you with a dev from the database. Prices for development through the platform start at $35 per hour.

Papercups

Papercups is a customer messaging tool that lets you chat in real-time. The customizable widget works with your favorite tools, such as Slack and Gmail, and is free to use. Chat apps are one of the most in-demand website features right now.

CSS Click to Animate Gif

Christian Heilmann has created a great guide/experiment in pure CSS that adds a play button on top of animated GIFs so that users can control the motion. He developed the concept because GIFs can get overwhelming and annoying. Learn how he did it and see it in action.

3D Book Image Generator

Here’s another little bit of CSS magic with a 3D Book Image Generator. Just input your image and set some specifications and get a 3D book cover image that you can use in projects. (There’s also an accompanying tutorial if you want to learn how to generate the CSS on your own.)

Luckysheet

Luckysheet is an online spreadsheet – it’s a lot like Microsoft Excel – with powerful data functions and tools. It’s user-friendly and open source. It even has quite a few built-in mathematical formulas and supports various table types.

RevKit

RevKit is a design system UI kit that works with Sketch, Figma, and Adobe XD. It includes plenty of organized components that you can pop right into designs to help get them started faster. It also includes a style guide, elements, and form controls. The download is free.

Card

Card allows you to store social media profiles, websites, and files in a customized profile. Share it in one click. Replace awkward contact exchange and multiple usernames with a simple QR code or link.

Scale Nucleus

Scale Nucleus helps visualize data, curate interesting slices within your dataset, review and manage annotations, and measure and debug model performance. This tool claims to be “the right way” to develop ML models.

Previewed

Previewed is a mockup generator to create beautiful promotional graphics for your app. Browse a variety of templates, pick one, customize, and download your design to show off.

NSFW Filter

NSFW Filter is a browser extension that blocks images that aren’t safe for work. The best part is that it runs locally in-browser and doesn’t access any of your data. Plus, it saves you from on-the-job embarrassment.

ColorFlick for Dribbble

ColorFlick for Dribbble is another browser extension that makes it easy to copy hex codes from the tool to your clipboard with ease. You can also create palettes you can share from your favorite shots using Coolors.

Tabler Icons

Tabler Icons is a collection of more than 550 SVG icons that you can customize. Change the color, size, or stroke width with on-screen controls and then click to copy the icons you want to use. It’s that simple!

Teenyicons

Teenyicons might be some of the cutest icons out there. This collection includes minimal 1px icons in outline or solid fills. And there are plenty of icons to choose from. Adjust the size and grab the ones that you need for projects.

Basicons

Basicons is a set of simple icons for product design and development. Plus, they are updated weekly.

Chozy Mermaid

Chozy Mermaid is a super funky novelty typeface to close out summer. The characters feature beach themes within slab characters. It might be hard to find an application for this one, but it is too fun not to share.

Dotuku

Dotuku is a dingbats font with a back to school theme. The limited character set features filled and outline styles that are perfect for classrooms.

Margin

Margin is a fun retro style typeface with a 1970s vibe. It’s a “chubby serif” with 60 characters and 58 glyphs.

Rollanda

Rollanda is a signature-style script with a thicker weight and rough stroke. The character set is pretty robust.

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Source de l’article sur Webdesignerdepot

Interview: Redesigning the Empire State Building’s Website

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WD: What were the central aims of the redesign?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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17 Tools I Can’t Design Without

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

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

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

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

Affinity Designer

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

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

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

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

Affinity Photo

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

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

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

TinyPng

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

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

Fontstand

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

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

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

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

Khroma

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

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

Atom

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

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

CodeKit

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

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

MAMP

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

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

Dash

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

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

LambdaTest

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

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

Sass

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

Craft CMS

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

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

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

Vue.js

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

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

Ulysses

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

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

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

Screenshot Plus

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

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

Spark

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

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

Todoist

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

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

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Exciting New Tools for Designers, July 2020

Some of the changes we are seeing with where we work are starting to pop up in the type of new tools made for designers and developers. More tools with remote collaboration as a key feature are increasing in popularity. (You’ll find a few of those here.)

Here’s what new for designers this month.

Webdesign Toolbox

Webdesign Toolbox is a collection of tools, apps, and resources all in one location for designers and developers. The best part of this resource is that it is human-curated, so every tool is quality checked and makes the list because it has been tested and researched. Search the collection by design, dev, stock, typography, UX, or workflow tools (and more) and use them to help create more efficiently. The collection is constantly growing, too.

CodeStream

CodeStream might be the new-world workflow tool for web designers and developers. It is made for remote teams to review code right inside your IDE without breaking from development flow. You can post and review changes and comments are all independent of the code itself, even though they link to it.

Litur

Litur is a color management app for iOS. Use it to find and collect color swatches, create custom palettes, and even check color combinations against accessibility standards. The app can even generate color codes for you from swatches you find from a photo or image upload or create. The app works on mobile and desktop Mac devices and is a paid app.

Editor X

Editor X, which is still in beta, is a website building tool that combines advanced design and prototyping capabilities with secure web hosting and integrated business solutions. Go from an idea straight to production in a highly intuitive design workspace. The best feature might be exact design precision tools.

Grid Cheatsheet

Grid Cheatsheet is a visual and code-based set of “cheats” based on the W3C CSS Grid Specifications. What’s nice is it makes these guidelines easier to understand and use if reading through them makes you a little uneasy.

Tutorialist

Tutorialist brings together some of the best development tutorials on the web. All of the tutorials are free videos available on YouTube, and this project collects them all in one place.

Pure CSS Halftone Portrait from JPG

Pure CSS Halftone Portrait from JPG is a beautiful pen from Ana Tudor that shows how to change the visual representation of an image. The examples are brilliant and in true halftone fashion. The code snippet works with color, or black and white images as well.

VoiceText for Slack

VoiceText for Slack is another work from home productivity tool. Integrate it with Slack and send messages with text that’s transcribed right in your channels. It’s a free integration and supports 18 languages.

Feature Peek

Feature Peek is a developer tool that helps you get frontend staging environments on demand and gather team feedback earlier in the development process. It’s made for use with GitHub and works with a variety of other tools as well.

Formbutton

Formbutton is a simple and customizable pop-up form. (And we all know websites have plenty of them right now.) It connects to other services you already use, such as Google Sheets and MailChimp, and is simple to set up.

Blocksy Theme

Blocksy is a WordPress theme that’s made for non-coders. It’s a zippy and highly visual theme made for Gutenberg. It works with other builders and allows the user to customize pretty much everything visually. (There’s even a dark mode.) The theme is packed with tools and options and is a free download.

Oh My Startup Illustrations

Oh My Startup Illustrations is a set of vector illustrations in several categories featuring a popular style on many projects. Use the characters and scenes to create a semi-custom story for your startup project.

1mb

1mb is a code editor and host where you can create a static website with a custom domain and SSL included. The editor works in-browser and everything is saved in the cloud.

Linear

Linear is an issue tracking Mac app for teams. It’s designed to help streamline software projects, sprints, and tasks, and can integrate with standard tools such as Github, Figma, and Slack.

Hosting Checker

Hosting Checker solves a common issue – a client wants you to work on their website, but has no idea who hosts it. Hosting Checker shows the user hosting provider and IP address the website uses, along with where its server computers are located and the host’s contact details. It also claims to be 82% faster than other similar tools.

Spike

Spike alerts you to website incidents before customers. Create alerts and get a phone call, text message, email, or Slack notification right away. The tool provides unlimited alerts and integrations to you can stay on top of issues before they become real problems.

Magnus UI

Magnus UI is a framework that helps you building consistent user interfaces in React. It comes with plenty of components ready to use and you can customize the theme.

SpreadSimple

SpreadSimple uses data in Google Sheets to create styled websites with features such as filtering, search, sorting, cart, order collection via forms, and much more. Update the sheet and instantly see changes on the website.

WebP vs. JPEG

Google is starting to suggest using it’s WebP image format to decrease load times, because of the lighter file size. But is WebP better than the traditional JPEG? Developer Johannes Siipola tested the file types at different sizes to answer the question. The answer is a bit complicated, but sometimes it might be better; read the full analysis for more.

Oh Dear

Oh Dear is a website monitoring tool that can help you keep a check on websites. Monitor uptime, SSL certificates, broken links, and more with notifications that come right to you if there’s an issue.

Airconnect

Airconnect is a Zoom video conferencing alternative that you can use for your brand with a custom header, colors, and portal for clients. The tool includes video calling as well as the ability for customers to access their data and automate your onboarding process.

Free Faces

Free Faces is a curated collection of free typefaces that you can browse and use in projects. Search by type style with visual results that include a download link.

All the Roll

All the Roll is a fun novelty font for just the right type of project. It includes 167 characters with swash characters that can be added before or after certain letters.

Backrush

Backrush is a handwriting-style typeface with easy strokes and a pen-like feel. It includes thicker letterforms with nice swashes and a full character set.

Thuner

Thuner is a slab display font with interesting quirks. It’s made for larger than life designs. It includes a full uppercase character set and numerals.

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