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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, November 2020

In the spirit of fall feasts, this month’s collection of tools and resources is a smorgasbord of sorts. You’ll find everything from web tools to icon libraries to animation tools to great free fonts. Let’s dig in.

Here’s what new for designers this month.

The Good Line-Height

The Good Line-Height is the tool you won’t be able to live without after using it a few times. The tool calculates the ideal line-height for every text size in a typographic scale so that everything always fits the baseline grid. Set the font size, multiplier, and grid row height to get started.

Link-to-QR

Link-to-QR makes creating quick codes a breeze. Paste in your link and the tool creates an immediate QR code that you can download or share. Pick a color and transparency, plus size, and you are done.

Quarkly

Quarkly allows you to create websites and web apps both using a mouse and typing code – you get all the pros of responsive editing, but can also open the code editor at any time and manually edit anything and it all synchronizes. The tool is built for design control and is in beta.

UnSpam.email

Unspam.email is an online spam tester tool for emails. Improve deliverability with the free email tester. The service analyzes the main aspects of an email and returns a spam score and predicts results with a heat map of your email newsletter.

Filmstrip

Filmstrip allows you to create or import keyframe animations, make adjustments, and export them for web playback. It’s a quick and easy tool for modern web animation.

CSS Background Patterns

CSS Background Patterns is packed with groovy designs that you can adjust and turn into just the right background for your web project. Set the colors, opacity, and spacing; then pick a pattern; preview it right on the screen; and then snag the CSS. You can also submit your own patterns.

Neonpad

Neonpad is a simple – but fun – plain text editor in neon colors. Switch hues for a different writing experience. Use it small or expand to full browser size.

Link Hover Animation

Link Hover Animation is a nifty twist on a hover state. The animation draws a circle around the link!

Tint and Shade Generator

Tint and Shade Generator helps you make the most of any hex color. Start with a base color palette and use it to generate complementary colors for gradients, borders, backgrounds, or shadows.

Pure CSS Product Card

Pure CSS Product Card by Adam Kuhn is a lovely example of an e-commerce design that you can learn from. The card is appealing and functional.

Free Favicon Maker

Free Favicon Maker allows you to create a simple SVG or PNG favicon in a few clicks. You can set a style that includes a letter or emoji, font and size, color, and edge type and you are ready to snag the HTML or download the SVG or PNG file.

Ultimate Free iOS Icon Pack

The Ultimate Free iOS Icon Pack is a collection of 100 minimal icons in an Apple style. With black and white version of each icon and original PSD files, you can create sleek icons for your iPhone screen in minutes. And it’s completely free! No email address or registration required.

Phosphor Icon Family

Phosphor is a flexible icon family for all the things you need icons for including diagrams and presentations. There are plenty of arrows, chats, circles, clocks, office elements, lists, business logos, and more. Everything is in a line style, filled, or with duotone color. Everything is free but donations are accepted.

3,000 Hands

3,000 Hands is a kit of hands that includes plenty of gestures and style in six skin tones and with 10 angles of every gesture. They have a 3D-ish shape and are in an easy to use PNG format. This kit has everything you need from a set of hand icons.

Radix Icons

Radix Icons is a set of 15px by 15px icons for tiny spaces. They are in a line style and are available in a variety of formats including Figma, Sketch, iconJar, SVG, npm installation, or GitHub.

Deepnote

Deepnote is a new kind of data science notebook. It is Jupyter-compatible with real-time collaboration and running in the cloud and designed for data science teams.

ZzFXM Tiny JavaScript Music Generator

ZzFXM is a tiny JavaScript function that generates stereo music tracks from patterns of note and instrument data. Instrument samples are created using a modified version of the super-tiny ZzFX sound generator by Frank Force. It is designed for size-limited productions.

Image Tiles Scroll Animation

Image Tiles Scroll Animation is a different type of scrolling pattern using Locomotive Scroll. The grid creates a smooth animation in a fun and modern style.

Bubbles

Bubbles is a Chrome extension that allows you to collaborate by clicking anywhere on your screen and then dropping a comment to start a conversation with anyone. This is a nice option for work from home teams.

Tyrus

Tyrus is a toolkit from the design team at Airbnb to help illustrators make the most out of their design businesses. It is broken into sections to help you with design briefs, originality, deadlines, and feedback.

PatchGirl

PatchGirl is an automated QA tool for developers. You can combine SQL and HTTP queries to build any possible state of your database.

Apparel

Apparel is a beautiful premium typeface family with plenty of versatility in a modern serif style. It is a contemporary, classy, and fresh serif typeface with a laid-back. Its medium-large x-height makes it ideal for headlines and brand identity design.

Christmas Story

Christmas Story is a nice solution if you are already starting to think ahead to holiday projects or cards. The long swashes and tails are elaborate and fun.

Nafta

Nafta is a fun handwriting style font that has a marker-style stroke. It’s a modern take on the popular Sharpie font. It includes all uppercase letters.

Safira

Safira is a wide and modern sans with ligatures and a stylish feel. The rounded ball terminals are especially elegant.

Shine Brighter Sans

Shine Brighter Sans is a super-thin sans-serif with a light attitude. The limited character set combined with its light weight is best for display use.

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Source de l’article sur Webdesignerdepot

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

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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AccessiBe Review 2020: Solving Web Accessibility with AI and Scalability

Web accessibility is important for two reasons:

  1. Being ADA & WCAG compliant is required by law (we’ll explain this further) so if your website isn’t compliant, you can get sued.
  2. It allows people with disabilities to browse your website, which increases your potential audience and it is the decent thing to do.

In this accessiBe review, we’ll cover:

How Does accessiBe Work

accessiBe is an automated solution that combines two applications to achieve full compliance.

Foreground application: the accessibility interface. This is the accessibility menu that allows users with disabilities to adjust the various UI and design elements on your website so it meets their unique needs.

Background application: proprietary AI technology that’s responsible for the ‘heavy lifting’, screen-reader, and keyboard navigation optimization.

The combination of these two applications is unique for accessiBe for a few reasons. While most available accessibility solutions offer just one of the two or rely on manual remediation, accessiBe checks both boxes and does it in a fully automated way.

Additionally, and most importantly, accessiBe continuously scans your website, every 24 hours, identifying and fixing new accessibility issues as they arise. Websites are dynamic – meaning, keep updating constantly with new content, pages, images and so on; being ADA and WCAG compliant is an ongoing concern, not a one-time fix.

How to Install and Setup accessiBe

You install accessiBe by inserting a single line of code on your website.

From your end, that’s all it takes.

The first thing that happens is that the accessibility interface appears on your website. The menu is available via the accessibility icon (that also appears automatically.)

Source: accessiBe website

Next, the AI application scans and analyzes your website for accessibility issues and compatibility with screen-readers and keyboard navigation requirements and fixes them. This automated process takes 48 hours.

Once the initial 48 hours have elapsed, your website is compliant.

From here on, accessiBe automatically scans your website every 24 hours to identify and fix new accessibility issues as they arise due to website updates.

Why Ongoing Compliance is Important

We’ve mentioned this already, but it’s important to stress this point.

Whether you have an e-commerce website or a company website, you keep updating and changing your website; new items go up for sale, new videos and content pieces are added. Every addition or removal from your website has the potential of creating accessibility gaps (like missing alt text for images.)

By continuously scanning and fixing your website, accessiBe ensures that you stay compliant. An accessibility audit remediates your website for the specific point in time the audit took place. Meaning, you’ll need to audit your website periodically to remain compliant, which is a costly affair. With accessiBe you don’t need to worry about this.

accessiBe Front End Features – The Accessibility Interface

The accessiBe accessibility interface (the menu that is available for users) is installed automatically on your website once you insert the line of code. Let’s look at the various features that are available for people with disabilities.

Accessibility Profiles Explained

First, it allows you to choose from a pre-defined set of profiles optimized for various disability needs:

When one of the profiles is selected, the required adjustments are instantly applied to your entire website.

For example, The ADHD Friendly Profile creates a reading mark that follows your mouse movements that diminish distractions and allows better focus:

The Cognitive Disability Profile frames all the elements in bounding boxes and adds an ‘reading cursor’ that acts as your mouse to allow enhanced orientation:

Each of the predefined profiles includes a suite of features that target the unique accessibility needs of the disability; the Epilepsy Safe Profile prevents videos from playing automatically, dims all the colors on your website and eliminates flashing and blinking animations; the Visually Impaired Profile enhances all your website’s visuals, enlarges all fonts to allow most visual impairments conditions (degrading eyesight, tunnel vision, cataract, glaucoma and more) to be able to browse your website with ease.

The last two profiles, Blind Users and Keyboard Navigation, work in unison. They allow blind and motor-impaired individuals to browse and use your website as they are used to, through screen-readers and keyboard functionality, respectively.

Two things need to be mentioned here:

  1. Blind individuals have screen-readers installed on their computers in the OS-level, meaning, on the hard drive of the computer. They use them to navigate the internet by having the software read for them every text that appears on the screen. As can be seen in the screenshot above, the Blind User profile is ‘launched’ automatically once accessiBe detects that the user is using a screen-reader. This is a crucial functionality since obviously blind users aren’t able to locate the accessibility icon.
  2. The same goes for individuals that are using the keyboard instead of a mouse to navigate the web, both the motor-impaired and the blind. accessiBe detects and automatically enables keyboard navigation on your website.

On top of the predefined accessibility profiles, accessiBe’s interface allows for further adjustments that can be controlled specifically to allow a personalized browsing experience according to the user’s needs. Let’s look at these adjustments.

Accessibility Content Adjustments Explained

The content adjustments allow you to control every aspect of the written content on your website. The menu looks like this:

Each of these elements allows for granular control of the way content, or text, is presented. From altering the entire website’s text to a readable, sans-serif font that is easier to follow, to highlighting titles and links, to adjusting font size, the spacing between lines and letters and using a text magnifier that follows your cursor on the screen.

Here’s how it looks with Highlight Titles and Highlight Links turned on:

You can see all the links are highlighted with an orange bounding box while all titles are highlighted with a blue bounding box.

Accessibility Color Adjustments Explained

The color adjustments allows users to control every aspect of the color scheme on the website:

From adjusting contrast and saturation, to switching the entire website to a monochrome color scheme, to adjusting textual elements and background colors. Let’s look at a few examples.

Here’s a side-by-side of default appearance and the Dark Contrast adjustment turned on:

And here’s how it looks with the Monochrome adjustment turned on:

Accessibility Orientation Adjustments Explained

The orientation adjustments allow full control of ‘distractions’ that make it hard for individuals with epilepsy, ADHD, and cognitive disability to browse the web:

As such, the orientation adjustments allow users to mute sound, hide images, stop animations and additional ‘focus’ features such as an enlarged cursor and reading assistance that highlights the text being read.

Here’s how the Remove Images adjustment works:

accessiBe Back End Features

Unlike ‘accessibility plugins’ (more on that later) accessiBe provides a comprehensive back end treatment to your website – automated, AI-powered analysis of compatibility with accessibility requirements and fixing of the elements that need adjustment.

It should be noted that 70% of the WCAG compliance requirements deal with screen-reader and keyboard navigation compatibility and all these requirements are not answered by installing an accessibility interface widget that merely makes UI and design adjustments.

For example, an accessibility widget will enable you to enlarge the font on your website, to adjust the saturation or to highlight links, but it won’t enable a blind individual to differentiate between a shopping cart icon and a checkout icon, nor will it enable a motor impaired individual to easily navigate a menu.

This is a crucial consideration to make when choosing a web accessibility solution. Being WCAG compliant is a YES / NO situation. Your website is either compliant or it’s not, there is no middle ground here.

accessiBe’s back end features come to solve and answer all these compatibility issues that enable full screen-reader and keyboard navigation functionalities.

Screen Reader Compatibility Explained

Screen Reader is a software for blind individuals to use computers and browse the web. As the name suggests, the software reads aloud what is seen on the screen for blind individuals.

The screen reader software is installed on the computer. But in order for it to work with websites, the website needs to be compatible with the software. To achieve compatibility with screen reader software, WCAG requires that a website should adhere to a set of attributes called Accessible Rich Internet Applications (ARIA) that are installed within the website’s code, allowing it to ‘communicate’ with the screen reader.

Let’s take social icons as an example. We are all familiar with those icons – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram – they are instantly recognizable for us visually. A screen reader software doesn’t actually ‘see’ elements on the screen, rather it scans the website’s code to understand what appears on the screen. As such, a Facebook icon code simply says ‘link’ and has the URL that directs the user when clicking the link.

So with a website that isn’t compatible with a screen reader, that doesn’t have ARIA tags implemented, the screen reader will read to the blind person “link” for the Facebook icon; not very helpful, is it?

When ARIA tags are implemented, additional information is added to the Facebook icon – and any other visual link on the website – that describes what is the link. So the screen reader will read to the blind person “Facebook link”.

It’s not difficult to imagine the scope and effort of the work needed in order to implement ARIA tags on your entire website.

Keyboard Navigation Compatibility Explained

Keyboard navigation means that motor-impaired individuals are using their computers only through their keyboard, rather than a mouse. Scrolling, clicking links and menu buttons, opening and closing tabs – everything is done using designated keys.

There are many issues relating to keyboard navigation as today’s websites are highly complex, layered with content elements, and react dynamically to user behavior. Any element of the website must be compatible to allow full keyboard navigation.

Let’s look at a popup as an example.

Popups can be triggered for a variety of reasons. For mouse users, it is a simple occurrence; you can bring the cursor to the area of the popup, click on one of the fields to input details or click the X to close the popup.

But how do you handle the popup using only the keyboard? How do you differentiate between ‘regular’ functionalities of the website and that of the popup? How do you ‘shift the focus’ of the keystrokes to a layered element? You need to allow unique keystrokes to operate the popup, keystrokes that are activated only when a popup appears.

It’s one example of the many challenges making your website compatible with keyboard navigation. The list of WCAG requirements for compatibility with keyboard navigation is a long one, and understandably so as it needs to enable motor-impaired individuals to navigate your website with the same ease as the rest of us using a mouse.

How accessiBe’s Background Processing Achieves Screen Reader and Keyboard Navigation Compatibility

Without getting too technical, what accessiBe does is scan the entire code of your website and adds keyboard functionalities and ARIA tags to various elements on your website directly. It won’t interfere with your site’s code, but rather add an additional ‘layer’.

accessiBe’s AI ‘learned’ all of ARIA’s tags and keyboard functionalities required by WCAG and when scanning your website’s code implements all the required adjustments to achieve full compliance.

How accessiBe Makes Menus Accessible

Menus are a good example for understanding what the accessiBe background processing does and the benefits it provides.

We recognize menus on websites instantly, because we saw thousands and thousands of them. We know how they look, we know what their functionality is, and we know where to hover and click in order to reach the various pages of the website.

But if you remember, we said that screen readers don’t ‘look’ at the screen, but rather scan the site’s code to understand structure, identify links and read them aloud with all the text that appears on the page.

So menus are coded as a list structure, because in a way they are. A screen reader will announce a menu as a list, which might be confusing for a blind user. Additionally, many menus have drop-down sub-menus, accessible via a hover or by clicking a little triangle. Without proper ARIA tagging, a screen reader will miss the sub-menu.

What accessiBe does is adding readable tags for every element in the menu so a screen reader will recognize and announce each element properly. The ‘list’ code structure will get a “menu” tag, and the sub-menu will get a tag for ‘sub-menu’, thus allowing the blind individual to utilize the full functionality of the website.

Additionally, accessiBe alternates the tags on-the-fly while the site is being browsed. Once a sub-menu has been opened, a tag that says “sub-menu open” will be added to indicate to the screen reader what has happened, and will be changed with the tag “sub-menu close” once the sub-menu has been closed.

Image Recognition

One of the key elements of accessibility compliance with screen readers is to provide accurate alternative descriptions for images, known as alt text.

accessiBe utilizes various image, object and character recognition technologies (OCR and Iris) to provide highly descriptive and accurate depictions of images displayed on the website. Without adding screen-reader compatible alt tags to images a blind individual would simply not be aware of the existence of images, and miss out on the information usually displayed on images.

Let’s look at the following banner images from an e-commerce website:

As you can see, valuable information is communicated via the images – sales and discounts – the kind of information any shopper would want to know.

This is the descriptive text that accessiBe’s AI assigned to these images, completely automated with no human intervention (from left to right):

  • Image contains: shopping,  shorts, woman, ashion; image text: extra 50% off shorts
  • Image contains: shopping, red top, woman, jeans, fashion; image text: 50% off bottoms
  • Image contains: shopping, blue jumpsuit, woman, fashion, bed, ; image text: 50% off jumpsuits & rompers
  • Image contains: shopping, shoes, ocean, woman, fashion; image text: 50% off shoes

Again, doing this kind of work for the hundreds to thousands of images that are displayed on every e-commerce website requires a lot of time and effort. accessiBe achieves this in a completely automated way, and every image added to your website instantly gets its alt text.

In-Depth Feature Review and Demo of accessiBe

Comparison of accessiBe with Accessibility Plugins

There are many web accessibility plugins out there. They offer a ‘quick fix’ for ADA and WCAG compliance – add an accessibility menu and you’re done.

As tempting as it may sound, the distinction between an accessibility menu and being fully compliant must be made.

As we’ve mentioned earlier, there are two parallel tasks that need to handle in order to achieve ADA and WCAG compliance:

  • Front end – UI and design adjustments, achieved by the Accessibility Interface (the visible menu for content, font, color and orientation adjustments)
  • Back end – screen-reader and keyboard navigation compatibility, achieved by implementing ARIA tags and further code adjustments

Reminder: 70% of accessibility compliance requirements deal with back end adjustments, meaning, screen-readers, and keyboard navigation compatibility.

Accessibility plugins, whether free or paid, only answer the front-end requirements. Meaning, after installing an accessibility plugin, you are just 30% compliant. Since accessibility compliance is not a scale (you don’t ‘get points’ for making it halfway through) you’ll need to turn to an additional provider to do the back end work.

accessiBe, on the other hand, provides a full accessibility compliance solution, covering both UI and design requirements through the accessibility interface AND screen-reader and keyboard navigation compatibility requirements through it’s automated AI technology that analyzes and makes adjustments in the code-level of the website.

Benefits of Using accessiBe Over Accessibility Plugins

  • Achieving complete accessibility compliance
  • Dealing with a single provider, rather than two or more
  • Cost-efficiency (manual audit and remediation service are expensive)
  • Complete compatibility with screen-readers and keyboard navigation
  • Enabling true accessibility to individuals with disabilities

Comparison of accessiBe with Manual Accessibility Services

Manual accessibility services can help you achieve full accessibility compliance, but it comes with two major disclaimers:

  1. You’ll still need an additional solution for an accessibility interface, which the service companies don’t provide
  2. The compliance achieved is for the point in time the audit and remediation were performed. Let’s explain this point further.

Companies that offer a manual accessibility service assign a team of accessibility experts to do an audit of your website. The result of this audit is a lengthy document detailing all the accessibility faults that your website has. It is a valuable document as it gives you a precise depiction of what needs to be fixed in order to achieve compliance.

From here there are two possible paths:

You can either take the audit results to your development team and have them remediate your website accordingly.

Or, some of the service companies offer a remediation service, meaning, they’ll assign their own engineers to manually make the necessary changes in your website. Needless to say this extra service isn’t given for free.

In both cases, you are looking at a process that takes weeks if not months (depending on the number of pages your website has.)

Additionally, since it is a manual process done by experts, it comes with a hefty price tag.

But most importantly, the audit and remediation hold for the time they were done. Unless you have a 100% static website, meaning, you do not make any changes to your website – never add or remove products, never update content – the ‘effect’ of the audit and remediation fades away with time.

Since the process was manual, any changes you make to your website must be handled manually accessibility-wise. You added a new banner with a link to items on sale, you’ll need to go into the code and add ARIA tags. You added a new image, you’ll need to go into the code and add alt text compatible with screen-readers. And so on.

Some of the manual accessibility service companies offer maintenance services as well. They will periodically audit your website (manually) and provide a remediation document that will need to be implemented (manually) either by your development team or by theirs for an additional cost.

These costs add up. Having your website audited and remediated for compliance on an ongoing basis takes time, effort, and money. But you don’t have a choice. Being ADA and WCAG compliant is an ongoing task, since websites are dynamic and being updated regularly.

accessiBe, on the other hand, offers a 100% automated and ongoing compliance solution. The initial audit and remediation process is carried out – with no human intervention – in 48 hours (compared to weeks or months by a manual provider). Then, your website is scanned every 24 hours to identify and fix accessibility issues using accessiBe AI technology. Meaning, compliance maintenance is constantly carried out ‘in the background’ keeping you ADA & WCAG compliant at all times.

Which brings us to another crucial point regarding manual accessibility services. They make it extremely hard for you to scale up. Every business has a constant aim to grow, but with a manual accessibility service, scalability becomes a pain point. The more you grow the more time, effort and money you need to put in to remain compliant. You want to add another section to your website, you want to launch an additional website? Using a manual accessibility service will hold you back. You’ll need to account for additional time before going live to manually enable accessibility and additional funds. For fast-moving companies, time becomes a serious burden.

Since accessiBe offers an automated and ongoing accessibility solution, scalability is not an issue.

Benefits of Using accessiBe Over Manual Accessibility Services

  • Time-efficient
  • Cost-effective
  • 100% automated
  • Ongoing compliance
  • Infinite scale
  • Single provider for full compliance (front end and back end)

How to Check Your Web Accessibility Compliance Level

Before you get started on your path to being ADA & WCAG compliant it’s important to understand the current state of accessibility your website provides.

Obviously, if you’ve never taken any steps to make your website accessible to individuals with disabilities, there’s no need for this – your website isn’t accessible in any way.

This is actually highly important if you have taken steps to make your website accessible, like for example, installing one of the accessibility plugins. You might be under the impression that by doing so your website is both compliant and accessible to individuals with disabilities.

There’s a simple and quick way to face the accessibility reality.

accessiBe offers a free, automated compliance audit tool available online named aCe. It uses accessiBe AI technology to scan your site, detect accessibility issues and provide quite a detailed report on the various elements that impact your website’s accessibility, and those include:

  • General score
  • Clickables
  • Titles
  • Orientation
  • Menus
  • Graphics
  • Forms
  • Documents
  • Readability
  • Carousels
  • Tables

Each of these elements is given a score and some explanations to the specific issues that need attention within the context of these elements.

In addition to gaining a compliance audit with the remediation steps needed to be taken in order to fix these issues, aCe gives you a very clear idea of where you stand and what needs your attention in order to achieve compliance.

We gave it a try. We ran a website that has installed one of the accessibility plugins (which was recognized, by name, by the aCe audit tool) and the results cement the point that these plugins aren’t comprehensive enough of a solution for true ADA & WCAG compliance.

Here are the results:

As can be expected, the UI and design side got relatively high scores, due to the accessibility plugin installed on the website, but anything that has to do with back end compatibility with screen readers and keyboard navigation got a failing score.

Conclusion

accessiBe is an automated and comprehensive web accessibility solution that achieves ongoing compliance with ADA and WCAG regulations for your website.

It offers a unique combination of front end and back end compatibility, meaning, it provides an end-to-end solution for both user-facing accessibility interface, and compatibility with screen readers and keyboard navigation.

The solution offered by accessiBe is a no-touch, no-code, continuous compliance utilizing proprietary AI technology that audits and remediates your website.

It is by far one of the most affordable web accessibility solutions, starting at $490 for websites with up to 1,000 unique pages.

When compared to accessibility plugins, accessiBe’s offering is robust and comprehensive, delivering full compliance that plugins aren’t able to.

When compared to accessibility manual services, accessiBe offers a speedy and automated audit and remediation process compared to the lengthy, manual and highly expensive offering of the service companies. Additionally, accessiBe, unlike accessibility manual services, delivers ongoing compliance and the ability to scale with ease and speed.

The combination of AI-based audit and remediation, the most comprehensive accessibility interface on the market, ongoing compliance, scalability, and a highly affordable plan makes accessiBe stand out from the competition by offering a unique end-to-end solution for achieving ADA and WCAG compliance in a fast and simple way.

 

[– accessiBe is a partner of WebdesignerDepot –]

Featured image via Unsplash.

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Exciting New Tools for Designers, September 2020

It’s fun to see new website design tools that reflect current times and the state of the world. That’s very true this month with new databases devoted to diversity and women in technology, as well and resources to make your design life easier.

Here’s what’s new for designers and developers this month:

Ztext.js

Ztext.js is an easy to implement, three-dimensional typography tool for the web that works with any font you want to use. With the popularity of 3D effects and animation, this tool has a lot of practical applications. Everything you need, including documentation, is available from developer Bennett Feely on his website and GitHub. (It’s free but you can show appreciation with a donation if you like it.)

Gradient Magic

Gradient Magic is a free gallery of fun and interesting CSS gradients. You can sort through a random selection or by category of color to find just the right gradient for your project. Some of them would make really neat backgrounds or image overlays.

Impossible Checkbox

Impossible Checkbox is a fun little divot that you’ll want to play with and emulate. Click or tap the slider to activate and a nifty little friend pops up. Now here’s the fun part: You can’t leave it checked, and take note of the changing expression of the checkbox character.

Diversify Tech

Diversify Tech isn’t your average job board; it is a collection of resources – and opportunities – for underrepresented people in technology. It includes a weekly roundup and everything from scholarships, to events, to jobs, to speaking opportunities.

Women in Tech

Women in Tech is a list of apps made by women. The apps are ranked and chosen based on upvotes and is a good resource if you want to help support women-owned projects. Search or submit an app for inclusion.

Devello Studio

Devello Studio is a tool that allows you to write code in the cloud. You don’t have to install anything and no matter where you are, just can open a project in-browser, and continue development where you had left off last time. Plus, it works with GitHub support built right in.

Hustl

Hustl is a premium Mac app that allows you to create time-lapse videos of your screen. Use it to show off work or projects or create a cool video for your portfolio. Plus you can use it to capture just one active app so you don’t have to do a lot of editing later.

FeedBaxley

FeedBaxley is a user feedback tool that helps you (and users) figure out what’s frustrating before it becomes a real issue. You can customize everything to match your brand and set it up with copy and paste tools. Feedback integrates with Slack, making it easy for you to analyze information with a team.

BestTime

BestTime launched a major update with a new tool that makes it possible to analyze visitor peaks of public business (cafe, gym, etc) for whole areas. Using the heatmap API you can find businesses at popular times, locations, or by business type.

Pixeltrue

Pixeltrue is a new collection of free SVG illustrations and Lottie animations in a trendy style. They are available for commercial and personal use and add a bit of whimsical delight to website projects. (The error illustrations are particularly fun.)

Previewed

Previewed has tons of cool and realistic mockups that you can use to create the perfect setting for digital projects. You can find mockups for a variety of devices and cool panoramas that work perfectly for elements such as app store previews.

Alt Text Overlay Bookmarklet

The Alt Text Overlay Bookmarklet solves a common problem: It shows what images use alt text and what that text is. The tool was created by Christian Heilmann and he’s put it on GitHub for you to play with and test.

MergeURL

MergeURL allows you to merge and shorten up to five links. Enter the links and mergeurl.com/o/xxxxx, for example, will open all the URLs associated with that link. The tool is free to use and you don’t have to register to use the service.

Infinity Search

Infinity Search is a new search engine that lets you look for things privately and efficiently. Search the web, images, or videos. Here’s a little about how it works: “While we retrieve results from other search engines like Bing and Wikipedia, we also have our own indexes of links that are displayed in our search results. We are actively working on improving these indexes and they will only get better.”

Blade UI Kit

Blade UI Kit is a set of renderless components to use in Laravel Blade Views. It’s built for the tall stack and is completely open source. It includes 26 components and you can contribute as well.

Trusted News

Trusted News is a Google Chrome extension that uses AI to assist in evaluating the quality of the online content. In its first release, it scores the objectivity for a selected article, testing whether it is written from a neutral perspective as opposed to a subjective one.

BaseDash

BaseDash allows you to edit production data without coding. You can make changes to the database with the ease of a spreadsheet. This tool makes it easy to find and edit information in a hurry. It works with all major databases including MySQL, PostgreSQL, Amazon Redshirt, Microsoft SQL Server, and more.

Email2Go

Email2Go is a service that helps you create email templates and test them on dozens of physical devices and applications. It’s free right now while it is in early release.

Iconscout Converter

The Iconscout Converter allows you to convert icons and images from one file format to another for free. Convert SVG, PNG, JPG, and PDF with a single click.

Shape 2

Shape 2 is a massive collection of 5,000+ unique icons and illustrations with a full-blown web editor. Customize colors, stroke width, size and full variations that can export to SVG, PDF, PNG, GIF, and React. This is a premium tool and includes a discounted release price for now.

Aestetico

Aestetico is a beautiful sans serif that includes a massive family with 54 styles. This premium typeface is highly readable and has modern lines and curves that make it a great option for a variety of uses.

Arcades

Arcades is a modern display font with a retro, 1980s-style vibe. It includes regular and italic styles.

Brimington

Brimington is a handwriting style typeface with rough strokes and smooth curves. It includes a set of 227 characters and 219 glyphs in a readable design.

California Signature

California Signature is a typeface duo with a slab serif and handwriting style that are perfectly paired. The thick and thin options provide a yin and yang effect.

Eastblue

Eastblue is a script typeface with long swashes and interesting curves. It includes a solid character set and is free for personal use only.

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5 Best Free Courses and Resources to Level Up As a Web Designer

I often see freelancers on social media asking what the secret is to working fewer hours, making more money, and helping new clients to find them. While those things tend to happen the longer you’ve been freelancing, it doesn’t happen without some effort.

If you’re wondering how you can change things so that your business becomes more profitable and easier to manage, education is the key.

But it’s not just mastering new design techniques that will take you to the next level. It’s important to invest your time in a well-rounded education so that you can grow not just as a web designer, but also as a freelancer and business owner.

The good news is that you don’t have to spend a ton of cash on courses or resources. In the following round-up, I’m going to share some of the best free courses to help you level up.

5 Best Free Courses and Resources for Web Designers

Rather than sign up for Udemy, Skillshare and other premium course membership sites, I recommend taking a bootstrapping approach to self-education. I mean, the whole point in learning new skills and strengthening existing ones is so you can run a better business and make more money, right?

Once you have extra funds to throw at premium courses, definitely explore those options. For now, let’s focus on the free courses and resources that’ll help get you to that next level:

1. edX

edX was created by Harvard and MIT in order to provide university-level training and education to anyone, anywhere. While you can’t get certified without paying a few hundred dollars, you can go through entire courses for free.

Courses are offered over a wide range of categories. As a freelance web designer, you’d do well to focus on the following areas:

Design
Learn more than just how to design beautiful interfaces. Learn about the technical side of it, too — things like AI, IoT, and cybersecurity.

Computer Science
Learn web development and coding.

Business & Management
Learn essential business skills like:

  • Project management
  • Finance management
  • Leadership
  • Marketing and analysis

Communication
Learn things like branding, negotiation, reputation management, and critical thinking.

2. Envato Tuts+

Envato Tuts+ might be best known for its succinct step-by-step design and development tutorials. However, it has a new section of free video courses to take advantage of.

Although you won’t learn any soft skills here, this is a great resource if you want to master the tools of your trade.

Free courses give you a deeper look at tools like:

  • HTML, CSS, and JavaScript
  • Adobe’s suite of software
  • Sketch
  • WordPress
  • Video conferencing tools

3. YouTube

YouTube is more than just a place to watch entertaining videos. There are some amazing YouTube channels for web designers at all skill levels.

When choosing a design channel and course to follow, look for ones that are well organized. If they’re just posting videos at random without any rhyme or reason, it’ll be difficult to focus on and master one skill set before moving onto the next.

Here are the channels I recommend you follow:

Flux

Learn skills related to:

  • Web design
  • Getting started as a freelancer
  • Strengthening your processes
  • Building your portfolio
  • Design theory and strategy

CharliMarieTV

Learn skills related to:

  • Web design
  • Building sites with Figma or Webflow
  • Career paths for designers
  • Productivity hacks

NNgroup

Learn skills related to UX:

  • Web design
  • User psychology
  • Usability testing
  • Design thinking
  • Research and data analysis
  • Journey mapping
  • Get access to UX Conference seminars, too

4. Moz Whiteboard Fridays

Even if you don’t offer SEO as a standalone service, it’s important for web designers to understand the role they play in SEO and to stay abreast of the latest and greatest strategies.

If you haven’t tuned in for one of Moz’s Whiteboard Fridays yet, I’d recommend you start now.

Some of the topics might not be relevant to you (like creating a content strategy). However, there are others you’ll get some great tips from, like the one above that talks about creating great visuals, preparing web pages with tags and schema markup, and optimizing for featured snippets.

5. Nir Eyal – Indistractible

Nir Eyal has made a name for himself over the years as an author and presenter on the subject of human psychology and behavior. His first book (Hooked) examined consumer behavior and how to design around it. His second (Indistractible) turned the focus on us — the doers and creators who build experiences and products for consumers.

The first of his free resources to explore is this 30-minute presentation on why we’re so easily distracted and how to keep those distractions (and ourselves) from getting in the way.

The second free resource to snag up is the 80-page workbook available on the homepage. Here’s a preview of what it looks like:

You’ll learn about common distractions, identify those that are specific to you, and then work through exercises to defeat them.

If this is something you’re struggling with, these resources will empower you to make a much-needed change.

BONUS: WebDesigner Depot

Although WebDesigner Depot doesn’t offer video courses, I consider each of the articles contained within this site to be mini-courses of their own. And you’ll learn everything you’ve ever wanted to know about becoming a web designer and growing your freelance business.

 

Featured image via Unsplash.

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12 Best Google Design & Development Tools

Google resembles an iceberg: there’s the part above the water we can see and use everyday; there’s also the part beneath the water, that we don’t see and know little about.

While many of us are concerned about the aspects of Google we don’t see — the parts that threaten our privacy, or monopolize the web — there’s no denying that Google offers some amazing products and tools, many of them free, all from the convenience of a single login.

Today we’re going to take a look at 12 tools from Google that really do bring something positive to the table.

1. Polymer

Polymer is an open-source JavaScript library from Google for building web applications using Web Components. The platform comes with a ton of libraries and tools to help designers and developers unlock the web’s potential by taking advantage of features like HTTP/2, Web Components, and Service Workers. 

The main feature of Polymer is Web Components. With Web Components, you can share custom elements to any site, work seamlessly with any browser’s built-in elements, and effectively use frameworks of all kinds. Products like LitElement (a simple base class for creating fast, lightweight web components) and PWA Starter Kit make Polymer easy to use. If you like, you can build your app entirely out of Web Components.

2. Lighthouse

Google Lighthouse is an open-source, automated tool for improving the quality of web pages. The software allows you to audit web pages for performance, SEO, accessibility, and more. You can run Lighthouse using ChromeDevTools, directly from the command line, or as a Node module. 

To use Lighthouse in Google Chrome, just go to the URL you want to audit (you can audit any URL on the web), open ChromeDevTools, and click the Audits tab. After you have run the audit, Lighthouse will give you an in-depth report on the web page. 

With these reports, you will see which parts of your web page you need to optimize. Each report has a reference doc that explains why that audit is important and also shows you the steps you can take to fix it. 

You can also use Lighthouse CL to prevent regression on your sites. Using Lighthouse Viewer, you can view and share reports online. You can also share reports as JSON or GitHub Gists. 

Lighthouse also comes with a feature called Stack Packs that allows Lighthouse to detect what platform a site is built on. It also displays specific stack-based recommendations.

3. Google Analytics

Google Analytics is the gold standard of analytics services. Google analytics can be installed on your site for free with a small amount of JavaScript and allows you to see all kinds of details about your site visitors, like what browser they’re using, and where they’re from.

By using Google Analytics you can make decisions about your site based on science, and therefore be somewhat confident that the decisions you make will result in the outcome you are expecting.

4. Flutter

Flutter is Google’s UI toolkit for building natively compiled applications for mobile, web, and desktop from a single codebase. The toolkit is open source and free to use. The best part of Flutter is that it works with existing code. 

The toolkit has a layered architecture that allows for full customization, which results in fast rendering and flexible designs. It also comes with fully-customizable widgets that allow you to build native interfaces in minutes. With these widgets, you will be able to add platform features such as scrolling, navigation, icons, and fonts to provide a full native performance on both iOS and Android.

Flutter also has a feature called hot reload that allows you to easily build UIs, add new features, and fix bugs faster. You can also compile Flutter code to native ARM machine code using Dart native compilers. 

5. Google API Explorer

Google has a huge library of APIs that are available to developers but finding these APIs can be difficult. Google API Explorer makes it easy for developers to locate any API. On the Google API Explorer web page, you will see a complete list of the entire API library. You can easily scroll through the list or use the search box to filter through the API list. 

The best part of Google API Explorer is that each link to a reference page comes with more details on how to use the API. API Explorer is an excellent way to try out methods in the Monitoring API without having to write any code.

6. Puppeteer

Puppeteer is a project from the Google Chrome team. The platform enables web developers to control a Chrome (or any other Chrome DevTools Protocol based browser) and execute common actions, much like in a real browser. Puppeteer is also a Node library and it provides a high-level API for working with headless Chrome. It is also a useful tool for scraping, testing, and automating web pages. 

Here are some things you can do with Puppeteer: generate screenshots and PDFs of pages, UI testing, test Chrome Extensions, automate form submission, generate pre-rendered content, and crawl Single-Page Applications. 

7. Codelabs

Google Developer Codelabs is a handy tool for beginner developers and even advanced developers who want to improve their knowledge. Codelabs provide a guided, tutorial, hands-on coding experience. Codelabs’ site is broken down into several tutorial sessions on different topics. 

With the tutorials on Codelabs, you can learn how to build applications from scratch. Some of the tutorial categories include Augmented reality, TensorFlow, Analytics, Virtual Analytics, G Suite, Search, Google Compute Engine, and Google APIs on iOS. 

8. Color Tool

Color Tool makes it easy for web designers to create, share, and apply colors to their UI. It also measures the accessibility level for any color combination before exporting to the palette. The tool comes with 6 user interfaces and offers over 250 colors to choose from. 

The tool is also very easy to use. All you need to do is pick a color and apply it to the primary color scheme; switch to the secondary color scheme, and pick another color. You can also switch to Custom to pick your own colors. After you have selected all your colors, use the Accessibility feature to check if all is good before exporting it to your palette. 

9. Workbox

Workbox is a set of JavaScript libraries and Node modules. The JavaScript libraries make it easy to add offline support to web apps. The Node modules make it easy to cache assets and offer other features to help users build Progressive Web Apps. Some of these features include pre-caching, runtime caching, request routing, background sync, debugging, and greater flexibility than sw-precache and sw-toolbox. 

With Workbox, you can add a quick rule that enables you to cache Google fonts, images, JavaScript, and CSS files. Caching these files will make your web page to run faster and also consume less storage. You can also pre-cache your files in your web app using their CLI, Node module, or webpack plugin. 

10. PageSpeed Insights

PageSpeed Insights is a handy tool from Google Developers that analyzes the content of a web page, then generates suggestions on how to make the page faster. It gives reports on the performance of a web page on both desktop and mobile devices. At the top of the report, PageSpeed Insights provides a score that summarizes the page’s performance. 

11. AMP on Google

AMP pages load faster and also look better than standard HTML pages on mobile devices. AMP on Google allows you to enhance your AMP pages across Google. It is a web component framework that allows you to create user-first websites, ads, emails, and stories. One benefit of AMP is that it allows your web pages to load almost instantly across all devices and platforms hence improving the user’s experience. 

12. Window Resizer

When creating websites, it is important that developers test them for responsive design – this is where Window Resizer comes in. Window Resizer is a Chrome extension that resizes the browser window so that you can test your responsive design on different screen resolutions. The common screen sizes offered are desktop, laptop, and mobile, but you can also add custom screen sizes. 

 

Featured image via Unsplash.

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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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17 Open Source Fonts You’ll Actually Love

The right typeface can make or break your website. As designers, we will always be naturally drawn towards the premium fonts such as Circular, DIN, or Maison Neue; Before you know it, your website is racking up a font bill larger than your hosting bill.

We’ve put together a list of open-source fonts that will rival your fancy fonts, and might even persuade you to switch them out. All the fonts listed here are completely open-source, which means they’re free to use on both personal and commercial projects.

Manrope

Manrope has sprung onto the font circuit in style, with a website better than most early startups. It’s a variable font, which means you have a flexible range of font weights to choose from in a single font file. Manrope is a personal favorite of mine, it has every ligature you could want, and is fully multi-lingual. It’s a lovely bit of everything as it states on the website: it is semi-condensed, semi-rounded, semi-geometric, semi-din, semi-grotesque.

Gidole

DIN – the font we all love, the font that looks great at every size, and the font that costs quite a bit, especially with a large amount of traffic. Gidole is here to save the day, it’s an open-source version of our favorite – DIN. It’s extremely close to DIN, but designers with a keen eye will spot very few minor differences. Overall, if you’re looking to use DIN, try Gidole out before going live. (There is also a very passionate community around the font on Github)

Inter

Inter is now extremely popular, but we wanted to include it as it’s become a staple in the open-source font world — excellent releases, constant updates, and great communication. If you’re looking for something a bit fancier than Helvetica and something more stable than San Francisco, then Inter is a great choice. The font has now even landed on Google Fonts, making it even easier to install. As of today: 2500+ Glyphs, Multilingual, 18 Styles, and 33 Features… do we need to say more?

Overpass

Overpass was created by Delvefonts and sponsored by Redhat, it was designed to be an alternative to the popular fonts Interstate and Highway Gothic. It’s recently cropped up on large ecommerce sites and is growing in popularity due to its large style set and ligature library. Did we mention it also has a monospace version? Overpass is available via Google Fonts, KeyCDN, and Font Library.

Public Sans

Public Sans is a project of the United States Government, it’s used widely on their own department websites and is part of their design system. The font is based on the popular open-source font Libre Franklin. Public Sans has great qualities such as multilingual support, a wide range of weights, and tabular figures. The font is also available in variable format but this is currently in the experimental phase of development.

Space Grotesk

Space Grotesk isn’t widely known yet, but this quirky font should be at the forefront of your mind if you’re looking for something “less boring” than good old Helvetica. Space Grotesk has all the goodies you can expect from a commercial font such as multiple stylistic sets, tabular figures, accented characters, and multilingual support.

Alice

Alice is a quirky serif font usually described as eclectic and quaint, old-fashioned — perfect if you’re looking to build a website that needs a bit of sophistication. Unfortunately, it only has one weight, but it is available on Google Fonts.

Urbanist

Urbanist is an open-source variable, geometric sans serif inspired by Modernist typography. Designed from elementary shapes, Urbanist carries intentional neutrality that grants its versatility across a variety of print and digital mediums. If you’re looking to replace the premium Sofia font, then Urbanist is your best bet.

Evolventa

Evolventa is a Cyrillic extension of the open-source URW Gothic L font family. It has a familiar geometric sans-serif design and includes four faces. Evolventa is a small font family, generally used across the web for headlines and bold titles.

Fira Sans

Fira Sans is a huge open source project, brought to you, and opened sourced by the same team that makes Firefox. It’s Firefox’s default browser font and the font they use on their website. The font is optimized for legibility on screens. (And it’s on Google Fonts!)

Hack

Building a development website, or need a great code font to style those pesky code-blocks? Then Hack is the font for you. Super lightweight and numerous symbols and ligatures. The whole font was designed for source code and even has a handy Windows installer.

IBM Plex

IBM needs no introduction. Plex is IBM’s default website font and is widely used around the web in its numerous formats Mono, Sans, Serif, Sans-Serif, and Condensed – it has everything you’d need from a full font-family. The whole font family is multi-lingual, perfect for multi-national website designs. (It’s fully open-source!)

Monoid

Another great coding font, Monoid is a favorite of mine for anything code. The clever thing about Monoid is that it has font-awesome built into it, which they call Monoisome. This means when writing code, you can pop a few icons in there easily. Monoid looks just as great when you’re after highly readable website body text.

Object Sans

Object Sans (formally known as Objectivity) is a beautiful geometric font family that can be used in place of quite a few premium fonts out there. The font brings together the top qualities of both Swiss neo-grotesks and geometric fonts. The font works beautifully as large headings but can be used for body content as well.

Lunchtype

Lunchtype has a very interesting back-story, originally designed during the creator’s daily lunchtime during a 100-day project. If you’re looking for something a bit “jazzier” than the typical Helvetica for your project, then Lunchtype is a perfect choice. The family comes with numerous weights as well as a condensed version — enough to fill any lunchbox.

Jost

Inspired by the early 1920’s German sans-serif’s, Jost is a firm favorite in the open-source font world. Jost brings a twist to its closest web designer favorite Futura. When you want a change from the typical Futura, then Jost is a great option with its variable weighting as well as multilingual support.

Work Sans

Work Sans is a beautiful grotesk sans with numerous little eccentricities that may delight or annoy some designers. The font has variable weighting, multilingual support and is optimized for on-screen text use but works perfectly well for print also.

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