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One of the key components of microservices is how to manage and access data. The means to do that are different compared to traditional monolithic or three-tier applications. Some patterns are quite common, but others are specific and need to be evaluated before being incorporated into a solution. We will briefly go over some of these common database patterns for microservices before exploring CQRS (including how it differs from CRUD) and, finally, look at how it can be combined with event sourcing.

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The purpose of a website is to reach new customers and keep current ones engaged. Therefore, customer-first should be at the top of your list for design features. After all, without your clients, your business won’t grow or succeed.

Customer-first has been a buzzword for a few years now. In a nutshell, it’s easy to imagine what customer-first design means. The needs of consumers come before anything else. However, the concept isn’t quite as simple in practice. A lot of nuances enter the equation.

Just what does it mean to have a customer-first web design? What are the must-haves to reach users on their level and keep their attention for the long haul?

Embracing quality customer experiences has driven loyalty for as long as anyone can remember. However, we now live in a time of uncertainty, and when people leave companies on a dime if they’re dissatisfied with any aspect. So you must hit the high notes on every song – your website is your purest online persona and must engage users and keep them entertained.

Whether you embrace causes that matter to your customers and share information on them or tweak your design to meet accessibility guidelines, many factors come into play with a customer-centric design.

In a recent report, researchers found that about 88% of company leaders feel customer engagement impacts revenue. You can’t control every variable, but you can ensure your website hits all the strong points for a customer-first web design that grabs them and keeps them on your page.

Here are our favorite tips to create a customer-first approach. You may already be doing some of these things. Pick and choose what makes the most sense for your business model. Even small changes can have a big impact.

1. Know Your Customers

Before creating a website centered around your customers’ needs, you must know who they are. What are the demographics of your typical clients? Survey them and find out what their needs and expectations are. How can you best help them?

You may also want to survey them about your website. What’s missing that might help them? Is there anything they love? What do they hate? The more you know, the better your design can match their expectations. Create buyer personas based on their preferences.

At the same time, buyers will sometimes say one thing but actually feel another way. No one is quite sure why people do this when being surveyed. One way around that issue is to do some A/B testing to see how they actually feel about various changes. Do they respond the way you thought? What other adjustments need to be made?

2. Find the Right Color Palette

Different industries trend toward various hues. For example, businesses in the banking industry trend toward blues and occasionally reds. Blue elicits trust from users and has a calming effect. On the other hand, the fashion industry might tap into brighter shades, such as lime green. Think about what colors people expect in your industry, and then find your color palette.

Each hue has its emotional impact. For example, red is a color of power and can elicit excitement in the viewer. Choose your shades accordingly to get the most emotional punch possible.

3. Accept Feedback

One of the best ways to improve your site over time to match the needs and preferences of your audience is by allowing feedback. Add reviews, place a feedback form in your footer, and even send out requests for feedback to your mailing list.

It’s also a good idea to find a mentor who has been successful at running a business. Ask them to look at your site and give you advice. You might also enlist the help of a marketing professional.

4. Stick With the Familiar

Have you heard of Jakob’s Law? The rule of thumb states that people prefer common design patterns they’re most familiar with. So when they see a pattern they know, such as a navigation bar layout, it boosts their mood and improves their memory of the site.

When making edits, don’t make significant changes. Instead, implement minor adjustments over time to give your followers a chance to acclimate to the shift.

5. Cut the Clutter

If you want users to feel wowed by your page and engage, you have to limit their choices. Add in too many options, and they may not know where to go first.

Start by choosing an objective for the page. Cut anything that doesn’t point the user toward the goal. Ideally, you’d have a little info, an image, and a call to action (CTA) button. However, this may vary, depending on where your buyer is in the sales funnel and how much information they need to decide to go from browser to customer.

6. Choose Mobile Friendliness

Recent reports indicate about 90% of people use mobile devices to go online at times. With phones gaining greater capabilities and 5G bringing faster speeds to communities, expect people to use their mobile devices even more frequently for internet browsing.

Making sure your site translates well on smaller screens makes sense for your company and for your customers. Be sure to test everything. Click through all links. Fill in forms. Ensure images and text auto-adjust to the correct size, so people don’t have to scroll endlessly.

7. Make Multiple Landing Pages

Like most businesses, you probably have several buyer personas as you segment your audience. Don’t just create a single home page and expect it to fulfill the purpose of every reader. Instead, create unique pages for each persona to best meet their needs.

Make sure each landing page speaks in the natural language patterns of your specific audience. Think about the unique needs of each group. How do their pain points differ? How can you best meet their needs?

8. Keep Important Info Above the Fold

People are busy. They work, have families, and might visit your site on the 15-minute break they get in the afternoon. Most consumers want the information they need to decide and don’t want to dilly-dally around with other things.

Place the essential headlines and info they need above the fold, so they see it first. Make it as readable as possible by using headings and subheadings. Add in a few bullet points. People also absorb information easier in video format, so add a video highlighting your product’s or service’s main benefits.

You should also place a CTA button above the fold if it makes sense for your overall design. Keep in mind people may have visited and already read some of the information. Some users return just to sign up and want to find the CTA quickly.

Step Into Your Customers’ Shoes

Look at your site through the eyes of your audience. What works well? What needs to be adjusted? Over time, you’ll develop a customer-first web design that speaks to those most likely to buy from you. Then, keep making changes and tweaking your site until it hits the perfect balance for your customers.

 

Featured image via Freepik.

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UX laws are an invaluable tool, providing guidelines for designers that ensure we don’t have to continually reinvent the wheel when crafting experiences for the web.

However, UX laws tend to be devised by scientists and psychologists — people who are more than comfortable with the exceptions and allowances of academic language. By the time they filter down to us in the trenches, the language has invariably been over-simplified, and the wisdom behind the idea diluted.

Today we’re going to look at seven well-known and commonly cited rules of UX design that too many designers get wrong.

1. Jakob’s Law

Jakob’s Law, named for the UX researcher Jakob Nielsen, states that users spend most of their time on other sites and as a result prefer sites that work the same way as the sites they already know.

Jakob’s Law has often been used to limit experimentation and encourage the adoption of common design patterns in the name of usability.

However, the word ‘prefer’ is hugely loaded. While it’s true that a user will more easily understand a familiar design pattern, they do not necessarily prefer familiar experiences.

It has been widely proved that new experiences boost our mood and that new experiences improve our memory. If your goal is a memorable site that leaves users with a positive impression, introducing novelty is a sound decision.

2. Goal Gradient Hypothesis

The Goal Gradient Hypothesis assumes that the closer users are to their goal, the more likely they are to complete it.

It’s an attractive theory, especially in e-commerce, where it is often used to justify simplifying the initial purchase process and postponing complexity to move users along the funnel — a typical example is leaving shipping charges until the final step.

However, anyone who has studied e-commerce analytics will know that cart abandonment is a huge issue. In North America, shopping cart abandonment is as high as 74%.

We don’t always know what the user’s goals are, and they may not match ours. It may be that users are treating your shopping cart as a bookmark feature, it may be that they have a last-minute change of heart, or they may be horrified by the shipping charges.

While providing a user with an indication of their progress is demonstrably helpful, artificially inflating their proximity to your preferred goal may actually hinder conversions.

3. Miller’s Law

Never in the whole of human history has any scientific statement been as misunderstood as Miller’s Law.

Miller’s Law states that an average person can only hold seven, plus or minus two (i.e., 5–9) items in their working memory. This has frequently been used to restrict UI navigation to no more than five items.

However, Miller’s Law does not apply to items being displayed. While it’s true that too many options can lead to choice paralysis, a human being is capable of considering more than nine different items.

Miller’s Law only applies to UI elements like carousels, which have been widely discredited for other reasons.

4. Aesthetic-Usability Effect

Edmund Burke once said, “Beauty is the promise of happiness.” That belief is central to the Aesthetic-Usability Effect, which posits that users expect aesthetically pleasing designs to be more usable.

Designers often use this as a justification for grey-on-grey text, slick animations, and minimal navigation.

Critical to understanding this is that just because users expect a design to be usable does not mean that it is or that they will find it so. Expectations can quickly be dashed, and disappointment often compounds negative experiences.

5. Peak-End Rule

The Peak-End Rule states that users judge an experience based on how they felt at the peak and the end, rather than an average of the experience.

Designers commonly use the Peak-End Rule to focus design resources on the primary goal of each experience (e.g. adding an item to a cart) and the closing experience (e.g. paying for the item).

However, while the Peak-End Law is perfectly valid, it cannot apply to open experiences like websites when it is impossible to identify a user’s starting or ending point.

Additionally, it is easy to see every interaction on a website as a peak and even easier to make assumptions as to which peak is most important. As such, while designing for peaks is attractive, it’s more important to design for exceptions.

6. Fitts’ Law

In the 1950s, Paul Fitts demonstrated that the distance to, and size of a target, affect the error rate of selecting that target. In other words, it’s harder to tap a small button and exponentially harder to tap a small button that is further away.

UX designers commonly apply this law when considering mobile breakpoints due to the relatively small viewport. However, mobile viewports tend not to be large enough for any distance to affect tap accuracy.

Fitts’ Law can be applied to desktop breakpoints, as the distances on a large monitor can be enough to have an impact. However, the majority of large viewports use a mouse, which allows for positional corrections before tapping.

Tappable targets should be large enough to be easily selected, spaced sufficiently, and tab-selection should be enabled. But distance has minimal impact on web design.

7. Occam’s Razor

No collection of UX laws would be complete without Occam’s Razor; unfortunately, this is another law that is commonly misapplied.

Occam’s Razor states that given any choice, the option with the least assumptions (note: not necessarily the simplest, as it is often misquoted) is the correct choice.

In an industry in which we have numerous options to test, measure, and analyze our user interfaces, you shouldn’t need to make assumptions. Even when we don’t need extensive UX testing, we can make decisions based on other designers’ findings.

Occam’s Razor is a classic design trap: the key to avoiding it is to recognize that it’s not your assumptions that matter, it’s the users’. As such, Occam’s Razor applies to a user’s experience, not a design process.

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The goal for a successful continuous delivery process is to minimize the time it takes for development teams to go from idea to usable software by practicing agile techniques and automating the entire software delivery system: build, deploy, test, release. This Refcard explains detailed patterns and anti-patterns for core areas of CD, including the delivery and deployment phases, rollbacks, pipeline observability and monitoring, documentation, as well as communication across teams and within the organization.
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Are you a creative person looking for the perfect career path to take? If so, there are not many more creative professions than that of a web designer.

However, becoming a web designer can be challenging, especially if you do not know where to start. For example, do you need to attend college to become a web designer? And what kind of computer and software do you need to own to be successful as a web designer?

This guide aims to answer all these questions and show you the steps you need to follow to build a career in web design.

Web Designer: Main Skills and Responsibilities

Generally speaking, a web designer is a professional who creates, manages, and maintains content for the web. Nothing is left out from designing pages and visual elements via programming languages and creating user-friendly websites.

Web Designer (Hard and Soft) Skills:

  • UX, UI, and visual design knowledge (web fonts, colors, etc.)
  • Management of design software (e.g., Adobe Photoshop)
  • Coding knowledge (HTML, CSS, JavaScript, etc.)
  • Time management
  • Communication skills
  • Problem-solving and teamwork skills
  • Research skills

Web Designer Responsibilities:

  • Plan and create web pages
  • Design appealing layouts
  • Use codes to create user-friendly pages
  • Ability to meet deadlines
  • Listen and advise clients
  • Able to work as part of a team and effectively solve occurring problems
  • Analyze the client’s niche, explore new web design opportunities/ innovative digital marketing approaches

If you feel overwhelmed reading this table, don’t be! You do not have to master all of the above skills. No one expects you to either. Becoming a top-notch web designer takes some dedication, but ultimately it’s nothing more than a series of steps. Let’s dive deeper into them.

Becoming a Web Designer: 7 Essential Steps

1. Gaining the Knowledge Needed: Theory and Certifications

Let’s start with the most common question, “Do I need to go to college to become a web designer?” Research shows that more than 65% of web designers are self-taught (fully or partially). Of course, that does not mean you can jump into design from the start.

Instead, we recommend that you learn some essential web design elements and how to use them in your future projects. This includes UX (user experience), UI (user interface), protocols, and patterns. The same goes for technical knowledge like programming languages, frameworks, and design software.

2. Developing Certain Skills

So, there are numerous aspects you can explore regarding technical skills. To be specific, your first steps in web design include developing the following skills: 

  1. Theory and certifications: Learning the theory to understand how the web and the market work
  2. Web design tools: Finding the web design tools you need to start designing (.e.g Webflow, Sketch, Figma). This will allow you to learn how to prototype web design mock-ups.
  3. Graphic design tools: Becoming familiar with software like Photoshop, Illustrator, etc.
  4. Programming languages: Especially if you think of becoming a freelance web designer, you should at least learn how to use fundamental languages (HTML, JavaScript, CSS).
  5. SEO (Search Engine Optimization): Learning how to optimize your web pages to rank on search engines is crucial.  

3. Mastering Web Design Software 

What software do you need as a beginner to start creating web designs? There are numerous apps that will help you gradually enter the fascinating world of web design. 

When it comes to CMS platforms, WordPress is by far the most popular in the market. The good thing about WordPress is that it is very beginner-friendly and comes with thousands of pre-built themes and plugins that you can use when creating a website.

But the same is true for InVision Studio. Unlike WordPress, InVision Studio is specifically designed to help web designers prototype and design a website. Finally, when it comes to graphic design software, we recommend you start with Photoshop (for creating visual samples and prints) and Sketch (for UI designs). 

4. Learning How Much Computing Power you Need

Although online CMS platforms like WordPress do not require special hardware, that’s not true for web design and graphic design software. To be precise, both InVision Studio and Photoshop have quite demanding system requirements. 

Still, a mid-range desktop or an entry-level gaming laptop can easily handle such applications. You need a reliable CPU, 8 GB RAM, and a dedicated graphics card.

I find working with two screens perfect when it comes to prototyping. You do not need to spend thousands of dollars to buy a laptop or desktop for web design.

5. Practice, Practice, and Practice

As with any other profession, practice makes perfect in web design. Therefore, the good idea is to get involved with personal web design projects before you start seeking clients or applying for job offers. This way, you can gradually acquire the technical skills you need.

Also, by working on some personal projects first, you can build a professional portfolio.

6. Creating a Professional Portfolio

If you want to draw attention to your talent, you should have a comprehensive portfolio as a web designer. This way, potential customers to trust you by having a look at your work and previous experience.

When creating a portfolio, make sure to showcase all aspects of your work and make it user-friendly. In other words, think of your online portfolio representing your talent and treat it accordingly.

7. Choosing the Web Designer Type That Best Suits Your Needs and Preferences

Last but not least, before working as a web designer, you should know that there are three main types of web designers: Freelance web designers, Agency web designers, and In-house web designers.

If you prefer to be self-employed and believe that you have the required soft skills, freelancing is probably the best path.

On the other hand, working for an agency or a company is usually easier (especially for beginners) and will provide you with a stable income. But, in the end, it all depends on your needs and preferences.

Wrap Up

Being a web designer can be an exciting career. As long as you have the necessary dedication and willingness, nothing will stand in your way.

Learning different aspects of the profession and mastering specific software will only make you better. All you need to do is respond positively to (and ask for) incoming feedback and practice!

 

Featured image via Pexels.

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Designing for user experiences is what all designers do. UX is often thought of as the preserve of app or web designers; however, even a print designer laying out a magazine anticipates reader reaction to the scale of type, the placement of adverts, and the art direction of successive stories.

Because all designers design user experiences, the role of UX Designer has come to mean someone focused on creating a product or service utilizing research and testing to guide decision-making.

To research and test anything, you need metrics: a baseline and a target against which to measure. No one set of metrics is suitable for all projects, but because UX tends to be for financial profit, the Pirate Metrics Framework — Acquisition, Activation, Retention, Referral, Revenue — is a good starting place.

You might seek out very different metrics in some cases. For instance, a museum might measure the success of its education program based on how many students go on to study paleontology. However, those types of metrics are notoriously difficult to quantify. Excepting a few niche cases, successful UX increases user productivity, decreases errors, reduces the cost of support, and increases sales.

So if it’s as easy as counting dollars, why does UX go bad?

UX vs. Design Principles

To understand what UX is, you need to understand what UX is not.

One of the most straightforward design principles to understand is hierarchy: bigger is more important, i.e., a heading is visually stronger than a sub-heading, a sub-heading is visually stronger than the body text.

Design principles stem from one thing: human-centered design. At the most basic level, bigger is more important because the bigger a saber-toothed tiger appears, the more likely it intends to eat me.

The evolution of human beings is so slow that had a smartphone existed at the time, a neanderthal would have been able to tap a button with the same level of precision as me. Prehistoric man shares the same minimum button size as modern man: 48 x 48px. Design principles don’t change, don’t require research, and don’t need verifying with tests.

On the other hand, a neanderthal would not have understood a smartphone, let alone an app. You only need to step back by a single generation to find perfectly intelligent people baffled by a commonly employed design pattern.

Unlike design principles, user experience is a house built on sand. When the sand shifts, the walls crack. The bricks are still solid, but the rain gets in.

Because effective UX is temporary, so is the ROI.

Technology Breaks UX

Technology unfolds at a rapid pace. As technology develops, the user experience defined by that technology changes.

The classic example is the mobile revolution, but technological change does not necessarily mean hardware. One of the most significant shifts in UXD (User Experience Design) in my career has been the popularisation of AJAX — the process of using JavaScript to load new data without refreshing the page. This seamlessness has been around since the early 2000s, but it’s only in the last ten years, as the code to achieve it has simplified, that it’s been widely used.

Jakob’s Law states that users spend most of their time on other sites and, as a result, prefer your site to function like other sites by following familiar design patterns.

Even if your UX is rigorously tested and optimized, when other sites and services carry out their own research, they are testing against the background of younger technology, and the “other sites” Jakob Nielsen refers to begin to change. As a result, the UX of your site is gradually eroded.

The consequence of continual technological change is that user research is constantly invalidated. The UX of an app, site, or service begins to degrade as soon as it is created.

User-Experience Lifecycle

Human beings have two deep-seated motivations: survival and procreation. The most important, survival, depends on discovery — new food sources, new routes through dangerous territory, new ways to skin a mammoth. We are biologically programmed to seek out the new.

A typical user passes through three phases of a relationship with a site, app, or service: discovery > comfort > boredom. Churn, or drop-off, tends to occur in the discovery phase (if the comfort phase is too slow in developing) or the boredom phase. The sweet spot is the comfort phase. That’s the part of the business-customer relationship in which the customer requires minimal support and is least likely to drop off.

The most effective form of UX — meaning the one that satisfies most metrics — rapidly moves a user from discovery to comfort and then continually eases the user back to the start of the comfort phase without tipping back into discovery.

This can be achieved with numerous micro-discoveries, tiny chunks of new experience, from simple functionality tweaks to style revisions.

Summary

All UXD, regardless of the quality, level of investment, and skill of the practitioner, begins to degrade the moment it is created.

Design principles like simplicity are good indicators of successful UID (User Interface Design) and are timeless; comprehensive design systems, brand assets, and content offer good ROI.

The most effective UX is broadly familiar and continually refreshed in small ways, allowing users to enjoy the comfort of the familiar while also experiencing the excitement of discovery again and again.

 

Featured image uses photos by Wolfgang Hasselmann & Shainee Fernando.

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MicrostarterCLI is a rapid development tool for Micronaut applications. It helps you as a developer to generate standard reusable codes, configurations, or patterns as you need in your application. 

Application Description

In this article, we will develop an ArabicNames service that has REST and GraphQL endpoints. To begin with the development, we will generate a Micronaut application project from Micronaut Launch. Then, we will use MicrostarterCLI to develop the following: 

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