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9 Amazing Design-Resource Package Sites

Every designer has their own preferred strategy for collecting resources. Some pluck brushes, fonts, and templates from different “stock photo sites” and public marketplaces. Others collect graphics from swipe files and forums around the web.

The never-ending desire for themes, visual content, and graphical components has prompted an influx of “design packages” to appear around the web. These all-in-one bundles, ranging from Envato Elements to Elegant Themes, promise a selection of valuable creative content in exchange for a single fee or monthly subscription. 

If you’ve been planning to seek out a few of these high-value subscriptions yourself, you’re in the right place! Today, we’re going to talk about some of the top designer resources available on the market. 

1. Envato Elements

Probably the best-known of all the designer resource marketplaces, Envato Elements advertises itself as the unlimited creative subscription. On this website, you’ll be able to access around 54 million creative assets through a single subscription. There are endless resources to unlock here, ranging from templates for your graphics to video templates, audio, and stock photos. 

Unlike most marketplaces, Envato gives you peace of mind by promising only the highest quality designs and graphics. Your content comes with quality assurance, and there are many PSD elements on the site, too, including stationery and web design templates, mock-ups, and more. Categories for your creative content include:

  • Stock photos
  • Video templates
  • Music
  • Sound effects
  • Graphic templates
  • Graphic designs
  • Presentation templates
  • Fonts
  • Photos
  • Web templates
  • Add-ons
  • CMS templates
  • WordPress resources
  • 3D content

Pricing: Pricing starts at only $16.50 per month, and this gives you unlimited access to everything on the site, including millions of digital assets and stock photos. You’ll also be able to use various courses and tutorials on the website too.

2. Elegant Themes

Elegant Themes is an all-in-one creative resource for website themes. The solution offers you access to some of the most popular WordPress themes worldwide. 

You’ll also get access to a visual page builder as part of the kit. When you sign up for the Elegant Themes subscription, you get access to all of the resources within, including the Divi page builder and WordPress theme, Extra, Monarch, Bloom, and more. If you’re a site builder or work on building pages for clients, this is a must-have subscription. 

Elegant themes are currently the go-to resource for more than 750,000 people. It’s also home to some of the highest-rated themes around. Features include:

  • Divi WordPress page builder
  • Endless WordPress themes
  • Page editing tools
  • Monarch, Bloom, and Extra 
  • Hundreds of website packs
  • Lifetime premium support
  • Unlimited website usage

You can either pay for yearly access with Elegant Themes or pay a one-off price for lifetime access. For most, the lifetime option is likely to be a pretty appealing one. You don’t have to worry about renewing your subscription this way.

3. Template Monster

Template Monster offers the “ONE” web development membership, perfect for creative professionals. The MonsterONE offering is a complete unlimited subscription for all of your creative needs, with access to unlimited downloads, new weekly items, and simple licensing. You also get plenty of support from the Template Monster Team. 

A goldmine for anyone who needs to upgrade their selection of video and photo assets, graphic templates, HTML templates, or anything else, Template Monster is packed full of amazing resources for any project. You can also find new products from fresh contributors all the time, so the value of your membership is constantly increasing. 

Features include:

  • HTML templates
  • Presentation templates
  • CMS templates
  • Graphic templates
  • Video assets
  • 3D models
  • Audio assets
  • WordPress themes and plugins

Pricing starts at a tiny $6.90 per month, with a slight discount if you pay yearly. The lowest-cost package gives you access to all of your graphic and design assets, but you won’t get any eCommerce or WordPress themes. However, if you upgrade to the all-in-one package at $14.95 per month, you get a more extensive range of resources.

4. Creative Market

Creative Market is another one of those amazing all-in-one environments for creatives and designers. This marketplace is supplied by thousands of independent artists from around the globe, each offering a host of top-quality designs and resources. You’ll find photos, graphics, templates, fonts, web themes, and countless other tools on the Creative Market. 

If you’re looking for sheer size, it’s hard to find another company that competes with the Creative Market package. There are literally millions of ready-to-use products available, including Instagram templates, textures, and procreate brushes. 

You’ll have access to 3D content for your immersive website designs and a host of purchasing products. Although there’s no “subscription model” per-se for this marketplace, you can invest in a credit plan that allows you to set how much you spend on your assets each month. 

Features include:

  • Millions of creative products
  • Huge selection of independent designers
  • Brushes, textures, templates 
  • Fonts and web content available
  • Huge selection of stock photos
  • Convenient credit plan

The individual purchasing plan is likely to appeal more to people just beginning to test Creative Market for the first time. However, if you want a subscription experience, we’d recommend using the credit plan to estimate how many credits you’ll need each month.

5. Adobe Stock

All web designers know Adobe. The chances are that no matter what kind of creative work you do, you’ve developed a few skills with an Adobe product, from Photoshop to Lightroom. Adobe Stock is also one of the leading platforms for images on any topic. 

Although Adobe Stock doesn’t compete with other marketplaces in terms of versatility, it still stands out as one of the main resources for designers. There are hundreds of millions of stock images, videos, editorial content, and vectors. You can also access a premium collection of custom content and 3D resources too. The great thing about Adobe stock is that you can easily create your own libraries and download content into your Adobe software. Resources include:

  • Stock photos
  • Premium images
  • 3D content
  • Vectors and brushes
  • Stock video footage
  • Royalty-free templates
  • Vector art and illustrations
  • Stock music and audio
  • Integration with Adobe software

Adobe Stock is a little pricier than some of the other marketplaces available today, but it’s still pretty impressive. You’ll pay around $29.99 per month for 10 assets per month, or you can access a full annual plan at $199.99 per month. The amount you pay will depend on the quality of the resources that you want to download.

6. Motion Elements

If Elegant Themes is the go-to resource for designers searching for WordPress themes and web design solutions, Motion Elements is the top choice for “motion” content. Here, you’ll find videos, SFX content, images, music, 3D solutions, and so much more. 

Though it’s located in Asia, Motion Elements is available worldwide. The marketplace offers a monthly subscription plan wherever you can download unlimited products to suit your needs. There are tons of resources to choose from here, including After Effects elements, tools for Lottie, Premiere Pro, FCPX motion, DaVinci Resolve, and more. 

Features include:

  • After Effects elements
  • Premier Pro resources
  • FCPX Motion
  • DaVinci Resolve
  • Video and audio content
  • Stock images
  • SFX resources
  • 3D content

Pricing starts at $16.50 per month for an unlimited annual plan. This means that you can download as much as you like without having to pay any more. There is a small discount if you pay for a full year of access in one go.

7. Creative Tim

Simple but effective, Creative Tim is an amazing resource for front-end and back-end content bundles. You get fully coded UI tools here that can help you create various mobile and web apps and a huge selection of dashboards and templates. If you’re the kind of designer who likes working on top of things like Bootstrap, React, Angular, Laravel, Node.js, and more, then Creative Tim has you covered. 

This is one of the more technical creative resource packages that we’ve looked at so far, but it has a lot of value to offer. That’s probably why there are already more than 1.5 million people using the service. You can search through administration dashboards, UI kits, premium templates, free content, and design systems. Of course, everything is easy to access too. Features include:

  • Frontend design technologies for endless platforms
  • Soft design, light design, paper design, and more
  • Bootstrap content 
  • Resources and third-party tools
  • Complete design and web kits
  • UI kits and templates
  • Admin and dashboard templates

There’s a free version of Creative Tim available for beginners if you want to keep your costs low, but it’s generally much better to sign up for the premium subscription. You can also purchase kits and templates on a one-off basis if you prefer to start small. However, the best prices generally come from buying the bundles from Creative Tim’s subscription side. 

8. Storyblocks

Similar in style to Motion Elements, Storyblocks is a creative design resource for any designer getting involved with the video world. This website is home to some of the best free-to-use videos around, with simple licensing available at a click. Aside from high-quality videos and templates, you also get audio and sound effects as part of your subscription and images or illustrations. 

The unlimited access pass gives you all the resources you might want, from 4K and HD footage to music and sound effects, After Effects templates, and photos, vectors, or illustrations. You can also export a host of your own video projects with access to the Maker video editor, which allows you to make various changes to your custom video content. Features include:

  • HD and 4K video footage
  • After Effects Templates
  • Sound Effects and Music
  • Photos, Illustrations, and Vectors
  • Unlimited video exports
  • Video editor access
  • Licensing support

The standard all-access plan from Storyblocks starts at a very affordable £39 per month for all of the content you might want. In addition, everything you get here is unlimited, so you don’t have to worry about running out of credits. There’s also an enterprise option available if you want to share access to resources with your team.

9. Motion Array

Motion Array is an all-in-one video creation platform for those with an eye for visual content. This fantastic resource center is packed full of valuable tools, from Da Vinci Resolve templates to Adobe Premier Pro Content. As part of your subscription payment, you’ll get endless presets, audio effects, plugins, video footage, tutorials, and more. 

Though a little more expensive than some of the other premier subscription services on the market, Motion Array does offer a lot of content that you can’t get anywhere else. There’s an unlimited marketplace constantly updating with access to royalty-free footage, stock photos, music, and sound effects. You also get plugins built for Premiere Pro. Features include:

  • Adobe Exchange elements
  • Final Cut Pro and DaVinci resolve templates
  • Royalty-free music and sound effects
  • Stock footage and video
  • Photos and images
  • Time-saving integrations with your favorite apps
  • Portfolio site builder
  • Stock media requests

There’s a free subscription option for Motion Array, which you won’t find from most alternatives. This only gives you access to some basic stock photos and assets, but it’s a nice way to start. When you are ready to upgrade, you can pay $29.99 per month for the full stock media library, as well as requests for custom media assets and exclusive plugins.

Start Stocking Up on Designer Resources

As a designer or creative professional, keeping a constant stack of resources available is crucial to your ongoing productivity. Fortunately, there are tons of premium marketplaces out there today, making it easier to access everything you need. 

Whether you’re looking for full UI kits and templates, or you want some free-to-use images and videos for the website content you’re creating, there’s something for everyone. With most monthly subscription services available at a highly affordable price, you could even sign up for multiple sites at once. 

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The post 9 Amazing Design-Resource Package Sites first appeared on Webdesigner Depot.


Source de l’article sur Webdesignerdepot

Using PGBouncer With CockroachDB

PGBouncer is a lightweight connection pooler for PostgreSQL. CockroachDB is a cloud-native SQL database for building global, scalable cloud services that survive disasters.

CockroachDB is a PostgreSQL wire compatible database, which means it aims to have tight compatibility with the PG ecosystem. Today, we’re going to wire PGBouncer to work with CockroachDB. This article is meant to scratch the surface of possibilities unblocked by PGBouncer with CockroachDB and not meant to be an in-depth overview. We’re currently researching this topic and will follow up with official docs on the proper architecture and sizing of PGBouncer and CockroachDB.

Source de l’article sur DZONE

Leadership Is About Growth, Not Brilliance

Does it ever cross your mind that praise can be negative? I guess not. After all, it looks harmless and seems to be quite effective. Conventional wisdom says that if you praise people, they are motivated to do better.
People who have been praised throughout their life by their well-meaning parents, friends, and teachers for their talent and smartness or those who have experienced extreme focus on talent and smartness throughout their childhood learn to value only intelligence. No wonder when these people enter the workforce, they continue to seek approval and demand praise every step of the way.
Every opportunity is a measure of their intelligence — do I look smart, how will I be judged, what if others find my ideas dumb. With a single-minded focus on validating themselves, all their actions are rooted in establishing their worth. Every mistake hurts their reputation and every failure is a reflection of their competence. They care less about learning and more about proving themselves. Their sense of morality sometimes takes a hit as they resort to brutal behaviors — demeaning others by yelling, insulting, controlling, or taking undue credit — all in an attempt to boost their self-esteem.
Carol Dweck, professor of Psychology at Stanford University summarised this unfortunate reality from Morgan McCall’s book High Flyers:

People often like the things that work against their growth. . . . People like to use their strengths . . . to achieve quick, dramatic results, even if . . . they aren’t developing the new skills they will need later on. People like to believe they are as good as everyone says . . . and not take their weaknesses as seriously as they might. People don’t like to hear bad news or get criticism. . . . There is tremendous risk . . . in leaving what one does well to attempt to master something new.

What Do Organizations Do with Such People?

They feed and promote this mindset. They praise people for their brilliant ideas conveying the message “we value talent and smartness.” They shower people with rewards and bonuses for their achievements communicating to everyone else around “all we care about is success.”
What happens when these people take on a leadership role? Their mindset of valuing brilliance above everything else amplifies leading to disastrous results. History is full of leadership fiascos with great promises that turned out to be the biggest disasters. This article from Malcolm Gladwell in The New Yorker is as valid now as it was 18 years ago. Describing the talent mindset at Enron and the consultants at McKinsey who wandered the hallways at the company’s headquarters, he points out “They were there looking for people who had the talent to think outside the box. It never occurred to them that, if everyone had to think outside the box, maybe it was the box that needed fixing.”
He also talks about the impact of an environment that values innate talent and what happens when times get tough and that self-image is threatened “They have difficulty with the consequences. They will not take the remedial course. They will not stand up to investors and the public and admit that they were wrong. They’d sooner lie.”
Really, is praising people for their intelligence and achievements the only way to develop people who will be the leaders of tomorrow? Is there a better way out?
What if we praised people for their hard work, for their ability to persist despite failures and setbacks, for taking initiatives to build new skills, for standing up to their mistakes, for believing in their growth, and implementing the right strategies to overcome their shortcomings. What does this kind of praise tell them?
It tells them the value of effort in building abilities. It teaches them the importance of implementing the right strategies to solve problems. It encourages them to seek help to make progress on their task. It creates a passion for learning that’s not driven by the need to look smart, but with a desire to cultivate skills, to stretch themselves to grow.
When these people take on leadership positions, this mindset guides them to put the well-being of the company and its people before their own needs, to place value on teamwork over individual accomplishment, and to foster growth and development of their people.

As growth-minded leaders, they start with a belief in human potential and development — both their own and other people’s. Instead of using the company as a vehicle for their greatness, they use it as an engine of growth — for themselves, the employees, and the company as a whole.
– Carol Dweck

Unlike leaders who pull their companies down with their focus on brilliance, these leaders lead their companies into greatness and gratitude filled in their own hearts and those of the people around them.
Choose your praise carefully as you will see the tremendous benefits in praising for growth over brilliance.

When Leaders Focus on Brilliance

They live in a world of personal greatness and entitlement, vie for labels, and will do anything to boost their image. Instead of building a long-lasting company, they spend time and money on enhancing their image.
With the constant need for validation, they use people in the company to feed their egos and showcase their superiority. Everything is about pleasing the boss. They surround themselves with people who boost their self-esteem. Agreement earns them admiration and disagreement is an attack on their intelligence. Instead of hearing people out, they punish dissent and shut people down.
They pounce at the less talented for their lack of intelligence and find those who are more talented than they are as threatening. They mistreat employees, yell, insult, control and abuse them into their way of doing things. They feel better about themselves by making other people feel worse. Employees worry about being judged all the time. When people are ridiculed for mistakes, they soon learn to keep their heads down, stop putting their critical thinking skills to use, and give in to groupthink.
Their belief in their superiority blinds them to see reality. They turn a blind eye to complaints, ignore warning signs, and fire people who tell them what they don’t want to hear. Their decision-making criteria are based on what would make them look good as opposed to what’s good for the company long term.

What happens when a leader refuses to confront the brutal facts? “The minute a leader allows himself to become the primary reality people worry about, rather than reality being the primary reality, you have a recipe for mediocrity, or worse. This is one of the key reasons why less charismatic leaders often produce better long-term results than their more charismatic counterparts.
– Jim Collins

Since success and failure are a part of their identity — success means they are smart and failure means they are not — they find excuses and blame others for failures instead of taking personal responsibility. Instead of investing in the future growth of their company, they play safe with fear of failure, become less responsive to challenges from competition, go with what’s tried and tested, and refuse to take risks. Why take up the challenge that can hurt their reputation? On the other extreme, they may not shy away from crossing ethical boundaries to beat the competition at all costs. Success is what they are after and it doesn’t matter how they get it.
With more focus on talent and less on potential, they do not invest in mentoring and coaching employees. Instead of putting practices in place to develop employees and help them collaborate together, they make them compete against each other.
Carol Dweck sums up their brilliant mindset “My genius not only defines and validates me. It defines and validates the company. It is what creates value. My genius is profit. Wow!”

When Leaders Focus on Growth

They operate with a learning mode. They don’t claim to be genius but promise to invest in development, their own development, and the development of their people. The drive and enthusiasm to grow their companies make them adopt long-term strategies over short-term tactics. They aren’t in the game to boost their ego or establish their self-esteem. It’s the pure joy of shaping the future of their company that excites and motivates them. More than prestige, they are in it for the challenge.
They understand that the path to success goes through failure. Why lose the opportunity that can drive their future growth? So instead of hiding behind their failures, they face them head-on. Failures don’t define their competence, they are glaring moments of self-reflection. They are opportunities to build skills, explore possibilities, experiment, and invest in the promise of a better future.
They lead with vulnerability. They accept mistakes to shift the focus in the organization from hiding mistakes to finding solutions. When they don’t know something, instead of pretending to hide their ignorance, they say “I don’t know”. These three powerful words show humility and self-confidence. To make decisions, they invite others to share their opinion which promotes the culture of constructive criticism. Since they do not connect their identity to their opinion, more value is placed on seeking the right answers which require open disagreements and championing flexibility of opinion over their sense of righteousness.
Difficult situations make them uncomfortable, no doubt. Instead of letting their discomfort get in the way of meaningful conversations, they embrace it. They choose to look past their discomfort in the value that these discussions provide — saving a lot of time that can be wasted due to stress and anxiety that comes from misalignment of expectations and lack of clarity of purpose.
They are tough but compassionate. They do not shy away from giving critical feedback while also challenging the people in their organization to step outside their comfort zone. They empower people to make decisions with the right channels of feedback to assist in better decision-making in the organization.
Leaders with the growth mindset operate with what Lou Gerstner, who turned IBM’s fortunes around by saving it from near bankruptcy said “Hierarchy means very little to me. Let’s put together in meetings the people who can help solve a problem, regardless of position.” Not blinded by reality, they focus on finding solutions that will push their company forward. This requires keeping an open eye to change in market trends, identifying and investing in future growth areas, and taking calculated risks.
With a focus on potential and growth, they invest in identifying and building future skills of the organization — skills that will be useful during difficult circumstances giving them an advantage over the competition. They foster productivity through coaching and mentoring, place value on teamwork by encouraging collaboration and defining shared measures of success.
Warren Bennis, a scholar, author, and widely regarded as a pioneer of the contemporary field of Leadership studies, writes in Organizing Genius:

Leaders are people who believe so passionately that they can seduce other people into sharing their dream.

His most admirable view on leadership says:

Good leaders make people feel that they’re at the very heart of things, not at the periphery. Everyone feels that he or she makes a difference to the success of the organisation. When that happens people feel centred and that gives their work meaning.

What kind of leaders think like this — those focused on brilliance or the ones driven by growth?
Previously published here.

Source de l’article sur DZONE

Is It Time to Reset HTML?

HTML is one of the foundational building blocks of the Web. But just as web design best practices and techniques change over time, so does the code we use. As HTML evolves, some of its older markup has been deprecated while other parts have been repurposed.

Does that create more problems for us, though? Would we be better off starting over so we can make sure we’re all working from the same language rather than trying to edit out the bits we don’t want or need?

Problems With Holding Onto Legacy HTML

Let’s take a look at what happens when we amend the rules of HTML over time and how it impacts the Web:

1. It’s Risky to Leave Deprecated HTML Behind

Whether certain features have become outdated and need to go, or browsers have stopped supporting certain tags altogether, deprecated code eventually becomes a problem.

You’ll find a long list of deprecated HTML on the HTML.com website:

For many of these, HTML tags and attributes have been replaced by more efficient CSS styling. There are also examples of HTML deprecation because the features have become outdated (like frames).

Yet, there are still websites out there that contain deprecated HTML.

In some cases, the HTML sits silently on the other side of the website. If there’s enough of this errant code hanging around, though, those extra characters and directives could slow down your server’s processing time and render pages more slowly than usual.

In other cases, the HTML breaks features on the front-end of a website. Take, for instance, this warning from Mozilla regarding the <nobr> tag:

Using deprecated code can create inconsistent and poor experiences on the front-end. And when all browsers finally get on board and decide not to support an HTML tag anymore, all visitors will be left with a broken UI.

So, while it’s great that HTML5 has deprecated legacy HTML that’s no longer useful or necessary, that’s not to stop everyone from using it or leaving it behind on older websites. 

2. Legacy Code Focuses on Style; Not Semantics

As I mentioned, a lot of deprecated HTML has been phased out and replaced by CSS styling. And that’s a good thing.

Let me give you a simple example of this…

My favorite book is <i>The Stand</i> by Stephen King. The first time I read it, I didn’t sleep for <i>three days</i>. Thankfully, when I revisit it every year, I have fewer nightmares and can more greatly appreciate the storytelling aspect of it.

In the above paragraph, I’ve used the <i> tag to italicize several words.

In the early days of HTML,<i> stood for “italics” (the way<b> stood for “bold”). With HTML5, however,<i> will still render as italics, but its semantic meaning isn’t as broad. It’s been repurposed to indicate a stylistic change, which is important for things like book and film names, foreign words, and so on. To express emphasis, we use the <em> tag instead. 

Keeping the legacy <i> and <b> tags can lead to issues, though. 

In the statement above, I’ve italicized the name of the book (The Stand) as well as the number of sleepless nights I had (three days) with<i>. Whether the designer decides today, tomorrow or ten months down the road that they want to change the way literary or cinematic references are styled, my choice of HTML will stand in their way.

Because all of my italic text is indicated by <i>, styles can’t universally be applied to specific content (like book references). Instead, the designer would have to go through and clean up my code so that it looks like this:

My favorite book is <i>The Stand</i> by Stephen King. The first time I read it, I didn’t sleep for <em>three days</em>. Thankfully, when I inevitably revisit it every year, I have fewer nightmares and can more greatly appreciate the storytelling aspect of it.

This would then allow the semantically italicized content to remain intact while the designer or developer adjusts the styles of the book title here and across the site. (Though, really, the first italicized phrase should be surrounded by <cite> as it would be more semantically accurate.)

While it’s great that we’ve created guidelines for using legacy HTML today, keeping old code around can confuse writers, designers, and others who are familiar with the previous way of formatting content. By resetting HTML, throwing out old styles, and creating one language we use consistently across the web, we won’t create more work for ourselves later on.

3. Deprecated Code Hinders Accessibility

Another big reason why repurposed and deprecated HTML is a problem is because of accessibility.

For starters, when you leave deprecated and unsupported code behind, it’s likely to cause issues for screen readers, search engines, and browsers that use HTML for clues about the content.

Header tags (e.g.<h1><h2><h3>), for instance, aren’t just used to visibly break up large chunks of text. Header tags and, more specifically their hierarchy, present important information about the relationship between subjects on a page — and this is the kind of thing that screen readers and search engines pick up on.

That’s why we need to be very careful about the code we leave behind the scenes, even if readers on the front end can’t visibly see it. Let’s look at an example of how this can affect accessibility:

Is there an <i>à la carte</i> menu or is it just <i>prix fixe</i> tonight?

If a screen reader were to read over this sentence, the French phrases would be said with the same emphasis as any other italicized words on the page.

This is why HTML5 encourages semantic coding instead of purely stylistic.

The proper way to write HTML in the line above would be:

Is there an <i lang="fr">à la carte</i> menu or is it just <i lang="fr">prix fixe</i> tonight?

There are two reasons to do this:

  1. To indicate to screen readers that there’s a language change.
  2. To make it easier for designers or developers to create a custom style for foreign phrases.

Semantic coding is essential for designers that work on multilingual websites.

As the World Wide Web Consortium explains, languages like Japanese don’t use italicization or bolding for emphasis — at least not the way English speakers do.

So, to properly translate a page from English, a Japanese designer would need to remove the italics or bolding and add surrounding brackets to the words. However, if everything is coded with <i> and <b>, or there’s a mix of <i> and <em> and<b> and <strong>, it’s going to be really difficult to Find-and-Replace the correct HTML with ease.

So, if accessibility or internationalization are concerns for you at all, getting clear on the HTML you write with is going to be really important.

Wrap-Up

The fact of the matter is, it requires a lot of work to have the rules of HTML rewritten. So while it would be great to reset HTML, I don’t know that it’s all that practical.

All we can really do is stay abreast of what’s happening with the language, edit out legacy code from our websites the second it becomes deprecated, and always use tags and attributes that are supported. By playing around with deprecated or repurposed code, we only put the website visitors’ experience in jeopardy, so it’s best to take the time to clear out the old any chance we get.

If we can all get on the same page about this, problematic legacy HTML will eventually disappear from our websites and memories.

 

Featured image via Unsplash.

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The post Is It Time to Reset HTML? first appeared on Webdesigner Depot.


Source de l’article sur Webdesignerdepot

Is It Time to Reset HTML?

HTML is one of the foundational building blocks of the Web. But just as web design best practices and techniques change over time, so does the code we use. As HTML evolves, some of its older markup has been deprecated while other parts have been repurposed.

Does that create more problems for us, though? Would we be better off starting over so we can make sure we’re all working from the same language rather than trying to edit out the bits we don’t want or need?

Problems With Holding Onto Legacy HTML

Let’s take a look at what happens when we amend the rules of HTML over time and how it impacts the Web:

1. It’s Risky to Leave Deprecated HTML Behind

Whether certain features have become outdated and need to go, or browsers have stopped supporting certain tags altogether, deprecated code eventually becomes a problem.

You’ll find a long list of deprecated HTML on the HTML.com website:

For many of these, HTML tags and attributes have been replaced by more efficient CSS styling. There are also examples of HTML deprecation because the features have become outdated (like frames).

Yet, there are still websites out there that contain deprecated HTML.

In some cases, the HTML sits silently on the other side of the website. If there’s enough of this errant code hanging around, though, those extra characters and directives could slow down your server’s processing time and render pages more slowly than usual.

In other cases, the HTML breaks features on the front-end of a website. Take, for instance, this warning from Mozilla regarding the <nobr> tag:

Using deprecated code can create inconsistent and poor experiences on the front-end. And when all browsers finally get on board and decide not to support an HTML tag anymore, all visitors will be left with a broken UI.

So, while it’s great that HTML5 has deprecated legacy HTML that’s no longer useful or necessary, that’s not to stop everyone from using it or leaving it behind on older websites. 

2. Legacy Code Focuses on Style; Not Semantics

As I mentioned, a lot of deprecated HTML has been phased out and replaced by CSS styling. And that’s a good thing.

Let me give you a simple example of this…

My favorite book is <i>The Stand</i> by Stephen King. The first time I read it, I didn’t sleep for <i>three days</i>. Thankfully, when I revisit it every year, I have fewer nightmares and can more greatly appreciate the storytelling aspect of it.

In the above paragraph, I’ve used the <i> tag to italicize several words.

In the early days of HTML,<i> stood for “italics” (the way<b> stood for “bold”). With HTML5, however,<i> will still render as italics, but its semantic meaning isn’t as broad. It’s been repurposed to indicate a stylistic change, which is important for things like book and film names, foreign words, and so on. To express emphasis, we use the <em> tag instead. 

Keeping the legacy <i> and <b> tags can lead to issues, though. 

In the statement above, I’ve italicized the name of the book (The Stand) as well as the number of sleepless nights I had (three days) with<i>. Whether the designer decides today, tomorrow or ten months down the road that they want to change the way literary or cinematic references are styled, my choice of HTML will stand in their way.

Because all of my italic text is indicated by <i>, styles can’t universally be applied to specific content (like book references). Instead, the designer would have to go through and clean up my code so that it looks like this:

My favorite book is <i>The Stand</i> by Stephen King. The first time I read it, I didn’t sleep for <em>three days</em>. Thankfully, when I inevitably revisit it every year, I have fewer nightmares and can more greatly appreciate the storytelling aspect of it.

This would then allow the semantically italicized content to remain intact while the designer or developer adjusts the styles of the book title here and across the site. (Though, really, the first italicized phrase should be surrounded by <cite> as it would be more semantically accurate.)

While it’s great that we’ve created guidelines for using legacy HTML today, keeping old code around can confuse writers, designers, and others who are familiar with the previous way of formatting content. By resetting HTML, throwing out old styles, and creating one language we use consistently across the web, we won’t create more work for ourselves later on.

3. Deprecated Code Hinders Accessibility

Another big reason why repurposed and deprecated HTML is a problem is because of accessibility.

For starters, when you leave deprecated and unsupported code behind, it’s likely to cause issues for screen readers, search engines, and browsers that use HTML for clues about the content.

Header tags (e.g.<h1><h2><h3>), for instance, aren’t just used to visibly break up large chunks of text. Header tags and, more specifically their hierarchy, present important information about the relationship between subjects on a page — and this is the kind of thing that screen readers and search engines pick up on.

That’s why we need to be very careful about the code we leave behind the scenes, even if readers on the front end can’t visibly see it. Let’s look at an example of how this can affect accessibility:

Is there an <i>à la carte</i> menu or is it just <i>prix fixe</i> tonight?

If a screen reader were to read over this sentence, the French phrases would be said with the same emphasis as any other italicized words on the page.

This is why HTML5 encourages semantic coding instead of purely stylistic.

The proper way to write HTML in the line above would be:

Is there an <i lang="fr">à la carte</i> menu or is it just <i lang="fr">prix fixe</i> tonight?

There are two reasons to do this:

  1. To indicate to screen readers that there’s a language change.
  2. To make it easier for designers or developers to create a custom style for foreign phrases.

Semantic coding is essential for designers that work on multilingual websites.

As the World Wide Web Consortium explains, languages like Japanese don’t use italicization or bolding for emphasis — at least not the way English speakers do.

So, to properly translate a page from English, a Japanese designer would need to remove the italics or bolding and add surrounding brackets to the words. However, if everything is coded with <i> and <b>, or there’s a mix of <i> and <em> and<b> and <strong>, it’s going to be really difficult to Find-and-Replace the correct HTML with ease.

So, if accessibility or internationalization are concerns for you at all, getting clear on the HTML you write with is going to be really important.

Wrap-Up

The fact of the matter is, it requires a lot of work to have the rules of HTML rewritten. So while it would be great to reset HTML, I don’t know that it’s all that practical.

All we can really do is stay abreast of what’s happening with the language, edit out legacy code from our websites the second it becomes deprecated, and always use tags and attributes that are supported. By playing around with deprecated or repurposed code, we only put the website visitors’ experience in jeopardy, so it’s best to take the time to clear out the old any chance we get.

If we can all get on the same page about this, problematic legacy HTML will eventually disappear from our websites and memories.

 

Featured image via Unsplash.

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Top Blogging Platforms Worth Considering in 2021

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

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

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

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

What to Look for in a Blogging Platform

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

Ease of Use

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

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

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

Cost and Revenue Opportunities

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

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

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

Marketing and Growth Tools

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

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

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

Custom Branding

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

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

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

Upkeep and Maintenance

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

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

Flexibility

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

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

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

The Best Blogging Platforms for 2021

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

WordPress

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pros:

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

Cons:

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

Squarespace

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

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

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

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

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

Pros:

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

Cons:

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

Medium

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pros:

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

Cons:

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

LinkedIn

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

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

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

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

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

Pros: 

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

Cons: 

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

Wix

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

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

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

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

Pricing: 

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

Pros:

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

Cons:

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

Ghost

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

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

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

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

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

Pros: 

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

Cons:

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

Choosing Your Blogging Platform

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

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

 

Featured image via Unsplash.

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Quiz: Find Your Design Career Heaven

Psychologists tell us that by answering a handful of oblique questions, we can gain greater insight into our real desires. Today, we’re going to put that to the test with a simple fill-in-the-gaps story that will help you determine your ideal career in design.

We’ll tell you a short story, and ask you to add a few key details, from which we’ll work out what kind of career probably suits you; what kind of roles you should pursue, what kind of clients suit you best, and what type of day-to-day practice you’ll find most fulfilling. Remember: there are no wrong answers, and this is a guide only, you’re always free to make your own choices.

To begin, relax, and imagine the following scenario: You’re at the pinnacle of your career, and you’ve achieved more than you ever hoped; you’re internationally respected as a design leader, and to celebrate your work, you’re being given a lifetime achievement award by a design organization; the ceremony is tonight…

Images via Anna Shvets, Karolina Grabowska, Kumpan Electric, and Andrea Piacquadio.

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Start Using a Smart DAM and Image Optimization Stack

Asset management and website performance optimization are two of those unavoidable headaches faced by every website owner.

A digital asset management (DAM) platform can provide centralized asset repositories with intuitive dashboards to help you manage assets. On the other hand, an image CDN can help you get rid of that messy responsive syntax and provide dynamic asset optimization with huge performance boosts.

The problem is that website performance has become such a competitive factor that DAMs with other priorities tend to fall short. On the other hand, specialized image CDNs don’t solve the problems associated with image management, particularly within organizations.

With that in mind, I propose solving these problems for good by putting together image management and optimization stack using ImageEngine and Cloudinary. Instead of being a comparison between these two tools, this article describes the benefits of using them to complement each other.

Features and Asset Management Capabilities

As a DAM, Cloudinary provides you with a visual interface to store, manage, and edit your image and video assets. In that way, it’s not much different from any other professional image managing software such as Adobe Bridge, except that it’s an online, browser-based service.

Using the Media Library, you can upload, delete, and organize images in folders, for example. The visual image editor allows you to make advanced transformations and image touch-ups and see the results instantaneously using tools like sliders, dropdowns, etc. You can even chain transformations together for multi-layered effects.

Cloudinary also allows you to manipulate images and videos this way using their URL-based API.

Cloudinary has additional auxiliary features that make asset management easier (especially in organizations), such as backups, role-based multi-user admin, and feature extensions via third-party integrations and add-ons.

This is something most image CDNs don’t provide. Instead, they allow you to access and transform images using URL manipulation. Transformations are usually made using string-based parameters or directives. A serverless, headless DAM, if you will.

However, the advantage of using a dedicated image CDN like ImageEngine, is that it can usually provide enhanced asset optimization. ImageEngine, for example, is an intelligent image CDN that uses WURFL device detection to finely read the context an image is accessed from (device model, PPI, OS, browser, resolution, etc.) and then chooses the optimal image for that configuration.

This frees up website owners from having to do any additional optimization. This business logic is also built-in to all of their global PoP servers, and ImageEngine specifically delivers cache-hit ratios close to 100%. The following performance section will illustrate the difference this can make in practice.

Check out the key differences between ImageEngine and Cloudinary. And, for a deeper insight, see the comparison with other similar CDNs, like imgix and Cloudflare

Performance

Just to cover our bases and prove that this is an effective asset management and optimization stack, I’m also going to affirm it using a Lighthouse performance audit. Here is a quick summary of the results:

For this test, I built a web page with a tonne of images with overly large file sizes. In this first Lighthouse audit, I didn’t apply any optimization to the images. Here’s the result:

As you can see, we had some major problems when it came to the loading time of our assets. Overall, the page took more than 10 seconds to load. One of Google’s crucial user-centric performance metrics, LCP, scored a miserable 7.5s. Lighthouse suggested that some of the main problems encountered were the asset file size, inefficient cache policies, using non-optimal image formats, and improperly sized images.

Both Cloudinary and ImageEngine are supposed to address all of these factors with their auto image optimization. In the next audit, I used the same page and content but served my images via Cloudinary:

As you can see, there is improvement in most factors. FCP is now in the green, and both the Speed index and LCP times have almost halved. Even TTI and CLS improved slightly. That being said, it’s still nowhere near optimal, and we’re still falling short of the all-important 3-second loading time ceiling.

So, finally, let’s do another Lighthouse audit – this time using ImageEngine on top of Cloudinary. Here are the results:

With ImageEngine, I finally scored in the green with 95. All the metrics that have to do with the sheer speed at which image content loads improved. The Speed Index and LCP, which is the most important, improved dramatically. CLS scored worse, but this typically varies from test to test.

You can find another and more extensive breakdown of the performance and pricing comparison here.

Transformations, Bandwidth Utilization, and Cost

Cloudinary’s pricing plans work on a credit-based system. Starting with the free account, you get 25 credits/month. Each credit can be used for 1,000 transformations, 1 GB of storage, or 1 GB of net viewing bandwidth. The other two packages cost $99 for 225 credits and $249 for 600 credits, respectively.

You should plan to generate a minimum of 5 transformations per image. In effect, that limits you to around 200 images with the free plan, excluding whatever manual transformations you make.

ImageEngine’s Basic plan costs $49 and provides you with 100 GB of Smart Bytes. Smart Bytes are based on optimized image content and translate to roughly 400-500 GB of raw images.

So, with Cloudinary, you have to compromise between bandwidth and storage usage as well as the number of transformations you can make. Transformations for Cloudinary are counted as they are dynamically generated on-demand.

However, if you use ImageEngine for optimization, you can switch off Cloudinary’s auto-optimization. When a new image variant is needed, it will be generated and delivered via ImageEngine. Considering variant count isn’t limited by ImageEngine, this will drastically cut down on the number of credits you’ll need to spend on transformations.

Effectively, that means you could use the bulk of your Cloudinary credits purely for storage and specific transformations. For example, advanced cropping, applying effects, or color adjustments. These are, after all, the main functions of a DAM.

With this setup, ImageEngine’s Basic plan and Cloudinary’s free plan should be adequate for most websites, saving around $50 a month.

How to Implement Cloudinary with ImageEngine

Signing up for Both Services

As it will house all of your image assets, the logical place to start would be to sign up with Cloudinary.

Create a (free) account, and make sure to take note of your “cloud name” during the setup wizard. This will be the name of your designated storage location on the Cloudinary platform and is usually a garbled string like di2zgnxh0 by default. However, you can change this to something more meaningful.

Once you’ve signed up, you can start uploading your image assets and creating different versions/transformations of them. Setting up Cloudinary integration on a CMS, like WordPress, is usually straightforward. Just indicate the CMS you’ll be using, copy the API key, install the plugin, and activate it.

Next, sign up for a free trial with ImageEngine. There will also be a short setup wizard during which you will:

  1. Provide ImageEngine with the website where your images will be delivered.
  2. Supply your image origin (in this case, your Cloudinary web folder). For now, you can only add the Cloudinary, e.g., res.cloudinary.com.
  3. Get your ImageEngine image-serving domain, e.g., {randomstring}.cdn.imgeng.in

When in your ImageEngine dashboard, you’ll see this domain listed under “Engines” as well as an entry for Cloudinary under “Origins.” Edit the latter and under “Advanced,” add your Cloudinary folder to the “PATH” field.

That’s it, you should now be able to store and manage images via Cloudinary and serve them via the ImageEngine CDN.

Dynamically Loading Specific Image Variants

Let’s take a look at a use case for loading different transformations of individual images on your site. This example will showcase how you can use Cloudinary’s advanced image editing tools to transform images while still reaping the optimization rewards of using ImageEngine as your image CDN.

A popular practice today is to use rounded images for team, client, or profile portraits. Using Cloudinary, you can load this transformation using the following URL:

https://res.cloudinary.com/myimages/image/upload/w_400,h_400,c_crop,g_face,r_max/w_200/profile.jpg

This will resize the image to 400 by 400px, focus on the face, and apply the maximum amount of radial cropping around it – to a width of 200px.

The same image can then be accessed via your ImageEngine delivery engine simply by swapping out the domain:

https://images.myimageengine.com.imgeng.in/image/upload/w_400,h_400,c_crop,g_face,r_max/w_200/profile.jpg

NOTE: I added my Cloudinary folder designation (“myimages”) as the path to my image origin. With that config, I don’t need to include it every time I use the image URL.

For example, you can set up the origin like this:

And, then under advanced:

If I specifically wanted to load the profile picture in WebP format (for transparency support, for example), I could add the ImageEngine directive f_webp:

https://images.myimageengine.com.imgeng.in/image/upload/w_400,h_400,c_crop,g_face,r_max/w_200/?imgeng=/f_webp/profile.jpg

ImageEngine and Cloudinary – The Wrap Up

Both ImageEngine and Cloudinary are superb platforms that can make managing image and video assets easier and improve your website maintenance. However, both services have their specialty in which they outperform each other.

For ImageEngine, it’s delivering blisteringly fast image loading times in next-gen formats and with a minimal loss of visual quality.

For Cloudinary, it’s providing a visual interface to organize, store, and edit your image and video assets.

As a further incentive, letting each of these services handle what they’re best at can lead to lowering your long-term operating costs.

 

[– This is a sponsored post on behalf of ImageEngine –]

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20 Best New Websites, May 2021

This month we have several examples of brutalism used to good effect as a foil to showcase products and/or work. By contrast, at the other end of the scale, we have brands who have chosen to go more of an immersive experience route, using full-screen images, sound, animation, and even VR.

Both are valid approaches, depending on the content. The former tends to work better as a backdrop for artwork, photography, and artisanal craft goods — acting as a virtual gallery space — while the latter is better for consumer goods and experiences, particularly food, drink, and accommodation.

There is, of course, a whole range in between these extremes, and we’ve got that covered too. Enjoy!

Grainne Morton

A simple layout, soft pastel colors, and clear navigation provide an excellent backdrop for Grainne Morton’s handmade jewelry creations.

Gage Hotel

Good photography and a heritage-inspired color scheme give the Gage Hotel’s site a luxury feel.

Tejidos Roca

Tejidos Roca is a fabric manufacturer, and the design of their site uses a circle motif to bring rolls of fabric to mind.

La Passation Synerghetic 2021

Synerghetic is part of the Junior Enterprises Europe scheme – a network of businesses run by students. This year they are not holding the usual handover ceremony, so Synerghetic created this rather fun little digital celebration instead.

Redwood Empire

For Earth Month, Redwood Empire Whiskey has created a microsite promoting a competition styled to match their bottle labels.

Gabriel Cuallado

This site focusing on Spanish photographer Gabriel Cullado’s life and work features some great transitions and good use of horizontal scrolling.

Ombia Studio

In Ombia Studio’s site, atmospheric photographs stand out in a minimal layout. There is a sense of almost gallery curation here.

Headup

Headup uses a pleasing color scheme and geometric graphics to create a welcoming but businesslike approach.

the Figo

Spherical curves and line animations create interest in this site for boutique hotel, the Figo.

Boon Market

Boon Market is about promoting a toxin-free and waste-free lifestyle, and their site reflects this with its use of simple type and soft colors.

Unspoken Agreement

Unspoken Agreement’s website has a quietly confident feel, with clean lines and some pleasing type.

hnst

Another brutalist-inspired design here, but the use of bright red makes it fresh in hnst’s take on the style.

InteriorLAB

Part minimalist, part glossy magazine, InteriorLAB have succeeded in making the simple feel luxurious.

Bowmore Experience

Bowmore has opted for immersive video and visually beautiful images to present their limited-edition Timeless whisky range.

Oly Sheet

There is a slightly old-school start-up feel to Oly Sheet’s website, but it is still appealing with fresh, spring colors and well-organized content.

Aalto University

Aalto University has provided a pretty in-depth tour of its campus here. The navigation is clear, and the information is presented in ideal-sized chunks — enough detail, but not too much at once.

Wisr

Wisr features a Heath Robinson style machine that ‘runs’ as the user scrolls down the page. It provides a bit of interest (no pun intended) to the not very exciting subject of personal loans.

Rudl und Schwarm

Bright colors, cute, but not too cutesy, illustration, some nice scrolling, and transition effects are used really well on Rudl und Schwarm. And it’s got bees; bees are good.

Dr. Maul

This site for Dr. T. Maul manages to take orthodontistry past the usual image of uncomfortable wiring, elastic bands, and ‘train tracks and make it seem just a little more glamorous.

My Drink

There is a slightly vintage feel to this site for My Drink with its cocktail illustration. The blue text on grey is soothing without being bland.

Bonus Site: Imperial Style Guide

And finally not new, but a bonus in honor of May 4th, the Imperial style guide. Well, the Web would get boring if it was serious all the time.

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