5 Items You Need To Take Your Designs Away On Business

Original Source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/Designrfix/~3/PE8NyWxfrQM/5-items-you-need-to-take-your-designs-away-on-business

Design is one of those businesses where one day you could be working for a client in the USA, the next Singapore and by the end of the week you’re pitching to build a website in France. But what that also means is that plenty of travel could also be in your cards. While most […]

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How to Customize Media Upload Directory in WordPress

Original Source: https://www.hongkiat.com/blog/wordpress-custom-upload-dir/

Despite improvements in the WordPress media manager, one thing has not changed: how WordPress stores media (e.g. files, images, videos, and audios) in the server. Currently, WordPress organizes files…

Visit hongkiat.com for full content.

Adobe Experience Manager vs. WordPress: The Authoring Experience Compared

Original Source: https://www.smashingmagazine.com/2019/01/adobe-experience-manager-comparison-wordpress/

Adobe Experience Manager vs. WordPress: The Authoring Experience Compared

Adobe Experience Manager vs. WordPress: The Authoring Experience Compared

Kevin Weber

2019-01-30T13:45:55+01:00
2019-01-30T17:20:05+00:00

Thanks, WordPress and Gutenberg, for making block-based editing the standard for authoring web pages. In this article, I’m going to compare the new authoring experience in WordPress with the experience from Adobe Experience Manager (AEM), an enterprise content management system that also embraces block-based editing. I’ve implemented both WordPress and AEM for multiple companies (such as Informatica and Twitter) and had to realize that despite the authoring experience is critical for non-technical authors, it is often neglected by developers.

Note: With the term “authoring experience” I’m referring to the user experience for those people whose goal it is to create and publish content on a website. I’m not referring to the people that are going to consume the published content. If you haven’t thought about the authoring experience before, here’s a primer by Eileen Webb who was also featured in Smashing Book 5.

Adobe Experience Manager is, compared to WordPress, a complex system with a steep learning curve, especially for developers. At the same time, AEM is easier to use than more established and more expensive content management solutions, placing AEM somewhere in between free and very costly solutions.

From a technical perspective, AEM is a conglomerate of open source technologies with several touches from Adobe, placing AEM somewhere in between open-source and proprietary software. It is those touches from Adobe that make the system shiny and usable. For example, a visual drag and drop page builder has been the standard way for creating pages in AEM — long before WordPress Gutenberg was born.

Let’s take a look at some of the features that elevate the authoring experience above average.

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Table of Contents →

Components (Blocks)

One of the most significant ideas for websites is the concept of a component (or block in WordPress lingo). A component represents a piece of content that follows specific rules instead of being a blob of anything. For example, you can have a video component where the author can only paste in a Youtube link and control Youtube-specific settings. Or you can have a quote component where the author adds a quote to one text field and the name of the person being quoted to another text field. You can even have a layout component that contains other components and displays them below each other on a mobile device, whereas on a large screen, those components get spread across three columns.

Title component in AEM with an overlay that includes an edit button

Authors can update components right in the visual editor. Available editing options get displayed based on the selected component. (Image source) (Large preview)

An author knows exactly what to expect from a specific component and can easily fill it with the appropriate content. Equally important are the long-term benefits and new opportunities that wouldn’t be feasible for the old school “one text field fits all content” approach that has been prevalent for the past decades:

If a component requires a date input, the component authoring dialog can display a date picker instead of a plain text field, making it easier for the author to pick a date with the right format.
If a designer wants the name of a quoted person to be displayed above the quote instead of below the quote, the developer can easily rearrange the code because the quote and the name are stored separately. If the quote and name would be stored the old-fashioned way, the developer would have to manually extract the name from the text blob and move it in front of the quote.
If a quote needs to be translated from English to German, the quote can be submitted to a translation service. If the translation service has translated this quote before already, it can return the saved translation. If the quote would be part of a longer paragraph instead of being standalone, the translation would be much harder and probably require a human translator.
If a video lacks a transcript and therefore prevents deaf users from consuming it, the component can be complemented with a summary text that makes the video more accessible to deaf users.

Component-based editing has been embraced by users of AEM for a while already, and because of the arrival of Gutenberg in WordPress 5.0, component-based editors are now the de facto standard for authoring web pages.

Note: Leonardo Losoviz dives deeper into the implications of blocks in the context of WordPress.

Fragments

Content fragments and experience fragments are new terms that have been dominating the AEM scene for the past year. I’ll summarize those two concepts simply as fragments. In essence, fragments allow authors to create neutral content that can be used across web, mobile, social media and other channels.

Fragments are created outside of a page editor and are, compared to a component, less opinionated about how their data is going to be used. Let’s imagine a fragment called “Quote of the day” that authors update once a day with a new quote. Now the quoted text of this fragment can be used in a variety of places:

A footer widget displays the quote of the day at the bottom of every page. As soon as an author updates the fragment, the footer updates as well. The fragment determines what is going to be displayed whereas the footer widget determines how the quote is going to be displayed.
A quote component allows authors to import a quote from past “Quotes of the day” and add it to the blog post.
A plugin adds a “Share quote of the day” button to the homepage. Whenever someone clicks on that button, the plugin takes the quote of the day and formats it to meet best practices for sharing via Facebook, Twitter, and email.

Fragment editor for populating a component with airport data

Using an editor for fragments, authors focus on related data without having to know how exactly it is going to be displayed on websites and in apps. (Image source) (Large preview)

In WordPress, widgets and menus resemble fragments: Authors create menu items in a neutral interface, then developers display those items as part of the theme in a way that makes sense for the theme. If the theme gets replaced with a new theme, those menu items persist and can be displayed in the new theme as well, even though the new theme might look very different from the previous one.

I expect fragments to become more widely used, even though the concept has different names in different systems. Indeed, Matt Mullenweg already announced that his team is currently focusing on “expanding the block interface to other aspects of content management [including the creation of] a navigation menu block [and] porting all widgets over to blocks.”

Page Templates

Pages templates can be described as higher-level components because they include several other components. In AEM, authors can create templates that lock components such as a header component into a fixed position while also defining flexible areas where components can be added on a per page basis.

Page template editor

The template on this screen provides a heading, image and text component by default. It prevents authors from removing the “Text Locked” text and allows authors to add more components below that text. (Image source) (Large preview)

One important aspect of this is that such a flexible area can limit which components can go into it. That way you can create page templates for different purposes:

Template #1: Article page template
Header, title, content area and footer are fixed. The author can update the title component but can’t remove it. The author can drop text, image and video components into the content area.
Template #2: Landing page template
Only a logo and a title component at the top of the page are fixed. The author can choose among a set of landing page-specific components that are optimized for converting visitors into customers.

Permissions And Workflows

It’s unlikely that every author in a large team should be able to modify critical templates such as the article page template. In order to prevent people from being able to accidentally and irrevocably break the site, it is important to define who can modify which part of the site. Welcome to the concept of permissions and workflows. This concept is neither new nor special, but it’s important for large teams.

Screen where admins handle detailed permissions.

Yes, AEM’s interface for handling permissions could need a facelift. Anyhow, it works. (Image source) (Large preview)

A typical AEM site includes the actual production website and at least one production-like site, aka staging. Authors can publish content to a private staging site before publishing it to the public production site. The process of publishing content to staging followed by publishing content to production can be called a workflow. Another common type of workflow is that the content must go through an approval process before it can be published to the production site, and only certain people are able to hit the “publish to production” button.

Page editor with workflow message

This page indicates that a workflow has been initiated and the author can either complete or delegate the “Request for Activation”. (Image source) (Large preview)

Permissions and workflows are features that are negligible on small teams. However, as a team grows, those features become critical for the productivity and success of the team. Despite AEM comes with the basics for creating workflows and developers can make AEM work for any specific need, it requires quite some code changes and isn’t implemented with the snap of a finger. This is even more true for WordPress. It would be nice to have an authoring-friendly tool to create custom workflows.

Visual workflow editor in Git

Imagine how a user-friendly tool could simplify the creation of workflows. Here is how the creation of workflows in Github will look like once Github Actions are out of beta. Unfortunately, AEM doesn’t offer such a tool. (Large preview)

Editing Modes

In AEM, authors can quickly edit and view each page in different modes. The author switches between modes based on what job needs to get done:

To arrange components and edit their content, choose Edit mode.
To change how components should be arranged on an iPad, choose Layout mode.
To look at the content as if you were a visitor, choose Preview mode.

Page editor emulating an iPad-sized screen

On this page responsive layout mode is active. The author can emulate different device sizes and adjust the position of components within a responsive grid. (Image source) (Large preview)

There are a few more modes that show up based on how the site is set up. One ideal scenario is that A/B testing and personalization is set up by integrating AEM with Adobe Target. Using Targeting mode, authors can define when to show certain components based on a visitor’s location, age, referral page, the time of the day, etc.

Integrations in AEM are comparable to plugins in WordPress but with the difference that AEM integrations are more complex and usually custom-tailored. Especially integrating AEM Target can be more painful than salespeople make it sound. 😉

Dropdown with layout modes

Switch the mode through a dropdown. (Image source) (Large preview)

Editor where author defines a target audience

In targeting mode, content can be personalized and tested right from the page editor. (Image source) (Large preview)

Putting development complexity and money aside, the consequence of such an effort can result in a superb authoring experience. The concept of editing modes demonstrates how a simple dropdown creates an opportunity for authors to get a range of jobs done while staying on a single page.

Visual Single-Page Editor

Looking at the screenshots in this article, you must have realized that AEM’s page editor is not just component-based but also visual: If a component gets updated, the change becomes visible immediately and the author doesn’t have to open a preview in a new window. Quite a feature. Even though page builders are omnipresent in the WordPress ecosystem, the team behind WordPress has yet to define a best practice for visual editing. Let me take this one step further and ask: What happens if you marry visual editors with single-page applications (SPAs)?

SPAs are websites where navigating from one page to another feels seamless because the browser doesn’t have to reload the whole page. Some popular websites such as Gmail and Facebook are SPAs but most of the sites on the internet are not. One reason for rather low adoption is that creating SPAs is hard, and maintaining SPAs with thousands of pages is even harder. There are currently two major ways for managing content in SPAs:

The content of a site gets updated by updating code. That’s obviously not authoring-friendly.
The content is managed in a CMS that is decoupled from the visitor-facing part of the website. The content from the CMS is consumed via an API, for example by a React app. The authoring interface looks different from the assembled site that the visitor will see.

Implementing a visual editor and an SPA each by itself is already a tough technical challenge. Having a visual editor that works with an SPA is nearly unheard. Adobe’s team is working on supporting SPAs in AEM while trying not to compromise any benefits of their existing system. Even though promising first versions have been released to the AEM community in 2018, there’s still a lot of work to be done.

Weather component with overlay

This page shows a React app. Note how AEM has added a layer on top of the weather component so authors can edit its properties. (Image source) (Large preview)

Summary

Adobe Experience Manager comes with several useful features that have already made or will make their way into popular open-source projects. AEM didn’t necessarily invent the concepts highlighted in this article, but it certainly commercializes well as one of the most authoring-friendly systems on the market.

The concept of components became mainstream with the introduction of blocks in WordPress. The concept of fragments, page templates, permissions and workflows are at least partially implemented in WordPress and are important for teams with many authors that serve content to multiple channels.

The authoring experience can be improved even more using a visual editor with edit modes and support for single-page applications. Such an editor is difficult to implement but as the efforts by Adobe indicate, the improved experience might be worth the effort and eventually make it into WordPress as well.

Further Reading

“Building A Better Authoring Experience,” Eileen Webb
“Authoring: The Environment And Tools,” Adobe Help Center
“Designing A User-Friendly Web Content Management System,” Christopher Hallahan
“Authoring Experience,” Rick Yagodich

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Game Changing Email Marketing Trends in 2019

Original Source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/1stwebdesigner/~3/h95ImU4IUOs/

There are now close to 4 billion email users worldwide – that’s almost half of the entire world population! And with an average ROI of 3,800%, you should be doing your best to hone your email marketing craft.

Here are some email marketing trends that could take your business to the next level in 2019.

AI Infusion

If you haven’t started yet, 2019 should be the year you begin implementing AI into your email marketing efforts. There are plenty of available tools on the market that can help you do the following:

Coming up with subject lines and images
Customizing content based on an individual’s past interactions with previous emails
Predicting when users could unsubscribe
Curate nurture emails
Provide insights into which types of content leads to website traffic

These are just a few examples among a whole host of features that AI could bring to your email marketing. But before you jump into a solutions provider, take a look at what elements you think can help your campaign and make a decision based on need.

Brain Diagram

AMP for Email

AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) is a Google initiative designed to speed up the rendering time of web pages on mobile devices. The tech allows marketers to create website-like experiences within an email. These could include:

Use of carousels and accordions
Accepting user input
Browse content straight from the inbox

But the most exciting possibility brought to email by AMP is the ability for content to be updated. For example, if you visit the Ritz Carlton website today, the following day, the hotel could email you a list of available rooms. When you return to the same email the following week to find the hotel’s contact info, you find that the content has been updated with the latest available listings.

Email that doesn’t get stale – that would be a blessing to marketers.

Additionally, because it is yet to be available to all email service providers, AMP is also backwards compatible with unsupported email clients. This means content would only fall back to older markup language if it’s unsupported.

Google AMP Home Page

Increased Segmentation

If you’re not segmenting your list in 2019, you’re not doing it right. According to HubSpot, segmented and targeted emails account for an estimated 58% of all earnings. This is mainly because it allows you to target highly specific groups of people with a personalized message relevant to their individual needs.

For example, you can segment a group based on preferred content streaming services, geographic location, and email opt-in dates. So if, say, a marketer is organizing a music festival in Calabasas, California, they can target a campaign based on:

People who live within a 200-mile radius of Calabasas
People who regularly open promotional emails from the company
People who have purchased a music-related product from the company
People under 40

Because you send targeted segmented emails to people who are actually interested in receiving them, this will lead to higher open rates, higher click-through rates and better customer relationships.

Dart Board

Interactive Content

SnapApp defines interactive content as content that requires participants’ active engagement, beyond simply watching or reading. Those who engage, in return, will receive real-time, hyper-relevant results they care about.

The Geek's Guide to London

The animated infographic above goes beyond the generic image slide shows of travel and lifestyle content. For example, if you click on “Walking Tour,” you’ll be presented with a suggested tour provider, why it’s different from the usual tour, and a CTA to check the tour’s availability. It’s not only highly-engaging and visually appealing, it’s extremely useful.

According to Martech Advisor, interactive content increases click-to-open rate by 73%. And if you’ve ever interacted with it yourself, you’ll understand why.

Hand Touching an Email Icon

More Storytelling in Content

Speaking of engaging content, emails in 2019 will be shifting from hard selling to more storytelling. Storytelling in email means that you’re providing content that engages audiences by creating an emotional connection.

As noted by Benchmark, these types of email content:

Provide stories focused on a customers’ pain points
Furthers the connection between the brand and its customers
Reduces the spam/promotional vibe of brand emails

In the “More Storytelling in Content” example mentioned in the Benchmark link above, Patagonia talks about their efforts to champion environmental sustainability. This subject resonates with their audience as they’re outdoors enthusiasts who care about their playground.

Paper That Reads "Once Upon a Time"

Countdown Timers

Countdown timers create a sense of urgency, which has been a proven technique to increase sales and conversions. These attention-grabbing timers also create a strong, visual CTA that can be processed by email recipients in an instant.

As well, countdown timers serve as a great tool for building anticipation, which would then increase the open rates of your successive emails. For example, if you send an email with a timer for a flash sale, if your recipient has been carefully targeted, chances are they’ll be looking forward to the next email with more info on the sale. This could then lead to future emails being instantly noticed in their inboxes.

Clock

Human Conversations

As people lean more and more toward authenticity, they prefer to engage with other people as opposed to a corporate message. This means that your email content should have more personality in order to create a genuine connection with your audience.

It’s important to note, though, that the tone of your emails should still take into consideration the target audience.

In the “Writing in Conversational Tones” example mentioned by Benchmark, Chubbies plays into their brand personality of being the carefree person who likes to chill and enjoy a few beers. While they’re essentially nudging their customer towards a purchase, they make it sound like a buddy just making a friendly suggestion.

Coffee Cups on a Tray

Takeaway

Email marketing will continue to be a valuable tool into the foreseeable future. Taking advantage of trends and technological innovation will elevate not only your email marketing, but your business as well.

What do you plan on implementing in 2019?


The Complete Web Animation Design Guide

Original Source: https://inspiredm.com/the-complete-web-animation-design-guide/

Believe it or not, you don’t have a lot of time to convince your site visitors to stay around. Your window is actually much shorter than you assume.

In essence, it takes just 0.05 seconds after your page loads for visitors to form an opinion. More specifically, that translates to 50 milliseconds. Surprisingly short, right?

Ok, some of them will leave. But others might choose to stay.

Then comes the impression stage, which basically lasts for only 10 seconds. If your site can’t manage a solid one, you’ll lose the bulk of your traffic before they even start off on the conversion process. They just to proceed to hit the back or close buttons.

And if you had any hopes of recovering them, here’s the hard truth. 88% of them are not likely to return to a website after a bad experience.

But, hold on a minute. Whose job is it to retain web traffic once they land on the site?

Ok, of course, it’s only natural to blame the site’s content manager. And you might be right. But only partly.

It turns out that it all starts with the web designer. As a matter of fact, a study that extensively surveyed a wide range of consumer feedback established that 94% of the negative ones were design related.

What does this mean?

For starters, there’s no escaping this. The principal responsibility lies with you. In addition to implementing all the design best practices we’ve covered in our past pieces, you’ve got to wear a PR hat and consider elements that effectively connect with the traffic.

I’m talking about things like web animations.

And why are we specifically suggesting that?

Well, that’s something I’m going to reveal shortly. This guide will walk you through all the critical aspects of web animations. But first, let’s explore the basics…

The Basics of Web Animations

Picture your favorite cartoon character strolling across the screen. Or perhaps your phone’s logo dancing around the screen when you restart the device. What do they have in common?

Well, they are both basic examples of animations.

Animation essentially occurs when a still element is “brought to life”. It then starts exhibiting some form of movement.

We don’t know exactly when this practice began. But, we do have an idea that the first animated film in history was made over a century ago. The trend has developed quite extensively since then, thanks to progressive advancements in tech.

However, one thing has remained constant- the principles of animation. In fact, Disney’s Ollie Johnston and Frank Thomas later wrote about them in their book, “The Illusion of Life: Disney Animation”. Here’s the complete list:

Appeal
Solid drawing
Exaggeration
Timing
Secondary action
Arc
Slow in and slow out
Follow through and overlapping action
Straight ahead action and pose to pose
Staging
Anticipation
Squash and stretch

The twelve still provide the framework for the design of animations today, including ones published on the web as videos, WebGL, SVG, CSS, and GIF.

Now, web animations can be as simple as a highlight that shows up when you hover over a letter, to a complex multilayered series of full-screen videos. In other words, you can take a subtle approach, or choose to go all out with dominant animations that scream for attention. It all depends on the situation.

And that begs the question- when are you even supposed to use animations?

When Should You Use Web Animations?

Of course, they are cute. And they’d certainly be interesting additions to your site’s layout.

But, you know what? Their subsequent efficacy levels is a different thing altogether. So, it goes without saying that animations are not suitable for all website projects. And most importantly, it would be a bad idea to adopt them haphazardly.

It just so happens that 46% of online consumers judge a site’s credibility based on its overall visual appeal and aesthetics. You simply cannot afford to comprise that with a poorly designed animation framework. At the same time, it would be unfortunate to persistently miss out on golden conversion opportunities by failing to capitalize on animations.

So, when should you leverage them?

Well, here’s the thing. Web animations are principally ideal when you need to boost usability by perhaps drawing attention or helping users with the navigation process.

How?

Generally, it takes 2.6 seconds for a visitor’s eyes to land on website section that primarily influences their first impression. Skillfully using an animation, however, can speed things up by immediately drawing their attention to the most critical areas of the site.

Animations also come in handy when you’re seeking to direct users through the conversion funnel. An animated form pop up, for instance, would be a thoughtful strategy for building mailing lists. Then when it comes to the buying process, you might consider embedding videos. They’ve been proven to convince 73% of the buyers to proceed and purchase a product or service.

Finally, you can use web animations purely for aesthetic purposes. A decorative animation that is smooth and seamless can improve the overall visual appeal quite significantly, then consequently establish an emotional connection between users and the interface. And that’s how you get to progressively boost the levels of user engagement.

Web Animation Tools

Ready to start creating web animations? Perfect! But, where should you start?

Well, how about seeking a robust tool to convert your ideas into actual animations? Thankfully, there’s a wide range of neat options on the web, which are well-optimized for various users and different types of animations. What you choose for your projects depends on your skills, primary objectives, budget, and the type of site you’re working on.

That said, here are some prominent examples, each with its own unique use case:

js
3D Lines Animation with Three.js
js
Flubber
Color animation
jqClouds
Scrollissimo
Cel-animation
js
js
CSS3 Animation
Transform-when
js
Rellax
AOS
js
ScrollTrigger
Scrollanim
js
js
js
js
Foxholder
Animatelo
css
Animista
js
CAAT
AnimateMate
js
Stylie
GFX
js
js
js
jQuery DrawSVG
Ramjet
Wallop
MixItUp
css
css
js
Ceaser
CSSynth
Saffron
CSShake
css
js
Rocket
Transit
css
js
Popmotion
GSAP by GreenSock
js
js
CSS Animate
It’s Tuesday
Shifty
js
js
js
js
js
Wait! Animate
Motion UI
js
Lazy Line Painter
js
js
js
AnijS
js
Magic Animations
css

Designing Web Animations
Hover Effects

Hover animations are undoubtedly some of the simplest on the web. They come to life and highlight selected elements when the pointer moves over them. The animation itself can occur in various forms- like shifting in size or changing in color.

The trick here is to adopt the effects sparingly. Otherwise, you risk highlighting way too many elements, which might subsequently confuse users.

It’s also advisable to maintain some form of consistently with the methodology throughout the site. If your homepage buttons turn from green to red, for instance, use the same framework for additional highlights in other web pages.

Background Animations

Embedding a background animation is an effectual strategy to add excitement and vitality to your web page without necessarily interfering with the main emphasis. You can use anything from videos to subtle images that shift sequentially.

The best approach here is keeping things structured and simple. If you choose to integrate a video, shorten it accordingly and maintain a loop that’s relevant to your site. Then ensure the motions are subtle enough to attract attention without overwhelming users.

GIF-Style Animations

A GIF is worth considering if you’re particularly interested in an animation that’s exceptionally easy to set up. A typical one can perhaps be something like shifting text or a smiling clown embedded within your content layout.

All you need to do is come up with a solid idea, obtain a relevant video or image, and then convert it into a perfect GIF using a suitable editing software. Uploading the resultant creation in GIF format generates a video-like animation that loads as fast as a small image.

Transitional Animations

Transitional animations are used to introduce vigor when users are moving from one section of the site to another. They are similar to slideshow animations that appear as you move from one slide to the next.

For a perfect outcome, ensure the animations are smooth and consistent throughout the site. They should also be short enough not to delay the actual transition process.

Loading Animations

Fact is- 47% of online consumers expect your web pages to load in at least 2 seconds. If you fail to achieve this, each additional second translates to 7% fewer conversions.

Going by the current average loading time of 22 seconds, it’s pretty evident that meeting the 2-second expectation is fairly difficult. But, you can salvage a substantial chunk of the traffic by keeping them busy with animations as other site elements continue to load.

Focus on creating simple ones that are light enough to load almost immediately traffic is redirected to your site. They should be designed to systematically introduce visitors to the brand and overall website theme.

Scroll-Triggered Animations

Eye tracking studies have established that website users spend about 57% of their time above the fold. But, it turns out that many of them are willing to scroll down- as long as you provide a favorable design structure and mechanism.

And that’s precisely where scroll-triggered animations come in. They swing into action immediately users start scrolling to create the illusion of a smooth, unending page. It’s a thoughtful way to eliminate transitions that would otherwise discourage scrolling.

Navigation and Menu Animations

Let’s be honest. Menu options take a considerably large amount of screen space, particularly on holistically dynamic sites with multiple levels of selections. Fortunately, you can capitalize on animations to hide the options, then reveal them only when a user clicks on or hovers over the corresponding buttons.

This type of animation also streamlines and simplifies the navigation process by compressing the entire structure into visually connected menu options. The framework should be designed with submenu segments that systematically pop up whenever a user clicks or points on the overlaying menu options.

Gallery and Slideshows

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the average attention span of human beings is 8 seconds- at least according to a recent study conducted by Microsoft. Even a goldfish is capable of staying attentive for longer than a typical individual. Therefore, you can bet that most of your site’s visitors won’t be persistent enough to click through all your gallery items.

But guess what? You can cleverly leverage gallery and slideshow animations to automatically showcase numerous images, without necessarily forcing users to navigate through them.

The most important thing here is the image display time. Short displays with quick transitions would feel rushed, while long displays with slow transitions would turn out to be boring and sluggish. With that in mind, design the overall layout to show each image for about 5 to 8 seconds, before swiftly transitioning to the next.

Conclusion

All in all, you should analyze animations based on how much they subsequently improve the user experience. A great one should either trigger an emotional connection from users or ease the navigation process. A perfect one, on the other hand, should be able to comfortably attain both at the same time.

To achieve that, take your time to critically assess all the relevant parameters as you design and embed animations into your site. And remember- keep it simple, light and well-aligned to your brand.

header image courtesy of Alfrey Davilla | vaneltia

The post The Complete Web Animation Design Guide appeared first on Inspired Magazine.

Watercolour pencils: the best you can buy

Original Source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/CreativeBloq/~3/5K7uEdtyWk8/best-watercolour-pencils

Like drawing and painting, and want the best of both worlds? Well in a sense, that's what watercolour pencils offer. 

With normal coloured pencils, the pigment is contained in a waxy or oil-based binder, but watercolour pencils have a water-soluble binder. That means you can draw normally, but if you add water to the marks you've made, it becomes more like a watercolour paint wash, which you can spread around the paper with a brush, sponge or other tools. 

This is opens up a range of creative possibilities and painting techniques to try out. Also, because they can be sharpened, watercolour pencils allow you to add fine details that are hard to achieve with a brush. And finally, if you're travelling, there's also a big practical advantage to watercolour pencils, in that they're much easier to transport than paints.

How to choose a watercolour pencil

There are a number of things to consider when choosing a watercolour pencil. They include the thickness of the lead: thinner leads are better for fine detailed work, while thicker leads will help you cover more area quickly. Also think about the shape of the pencil: will a round, hexagonal or triangular pencil sit more comfortably in your hand?

Another consideration in the number of pencils in the set. Do you need a wide a spectrum of colours as possible (making a bigger set useful)? Or do you plan to do a lot of blending (which means you can live with a smaller one)? 

Finally, how tough do you need your pencil to be? If you tend to break lot of leads, you might want to go with a brand that prides itself on its toughness and durability.

In this article, we've rounded up our pick of the best watercolour pencils for artists and designers. Each offer slightly different things, but they're all excellent products, from leading brands with great track records. If you need tools for sketching and note-taking too, be sure to check out other best pencils post.  

Faber-Castell watercolour pencils

Watercolour pencils: set of 120 Faber-Castell Albrecht Durer pencils

Established in 1761 by the cabinetmaker Kaspar Faber, Faber-Castell is one of the world’s leading manufacturer of wood-cased pencils. And its Albrecht Durer model is one of our favourite watercolour pencils on the market today.

These pencils are made using high-quality materials, and the company's SV (Secural Bonding) process results in super-strong 3.8mm leads that are less likely to break. They provide sharp, fine lines and excellent point retention, while the colours are rich, vivid and attractive, and blend beautifully when water is added. The colours also match the company's Polychromos oil pencils, so the two sets can be used together easily.

Quite simply, whether you use them wet or dry, these little beauties perform superbly and are superbly flexible, whatever kind of art you're creating. They come in sets of 12, 24, 60, and the full range of 120 watercolour pencils. A 10mm paintbrush is included in the tin.

Watercolour pencils: set of 24 Faber-Castell Albrecht Durer Magnus pencils

A less well-known but similarly high-end watercolour pencil from Faber-Castell is the Albrecht Dürer Magnus. With a 5.3mm lead and a very soft and vibrant colour laydown, this is an ideal choice for large-scale drawing and covering large areas quickly. 

These are big, fat pencils, with big, fat leads, and this bigger size and shape makes them easier to hand and gentle on the wrist during long periods of use. 

These pencils are available in tins of 12 or 24, and as with the standard Albrecht Dürer pencils (above), a 10mm paintbrush is included. Again, you're paying a little more for these pencils, but getting a high-quality product for your cash.

Staedtler watercolour pencils

Watercolour Pencils: set of Staedtler Karat Aquarell pencils

The German Staedtler company, founded in 1835, claims to have invented the colouring pencil. So it's not surprising that the have some of the best watercolour pencils on the market.

These lovingly designed pencils are easy to hold and manoeuvre, and their hexagonal shape means they're less likely to roll off the table. They lay down colour beautifully, they're easy to sharpen with a quality metal pencil sharpener, and the 3mm, high-pigment lead is powerfully break-resistant. 

The colours are easy to blend and create marvellous washes. There's a good range of colours and the brighter hues really stand out, even when mixed with water. 

Available in sets of 12, 24, 36, 48 and 60, this is pretty much the perfect watercolour pencil for both hobbyists and pro artists, aside from being more expensive than other brands.

Watercolour Pencils: set of Staedtler Ergosoft Aquarell 156 SB24 Triangular pencils

If your kids want to have fun experimenting with watercolour pencils, we'd highly recommend these slim pencils from Staedtler, which are suitable for all age groups. 

With a triangular shape and with a non-slip, they're uniquely ergonomic and comfortable to hold and use over long periods. They're also more difficult to break: as with all Staedtler watercolour pencils from benefit from break resistant lead, and are easy to sharpen with any quality sharpener. 

The 3mm wax-based leads are lovely and soft, and produce vibrant colours. Overall, kids will love these pencils, which come in boxes of 12 and 24, whether they want to draw freehand or complete colouring books.

Derwent watercolour pencils

Watercolour Pencils: set of Derwent Watercolour Pencils

Made with natural wood barrels and quality water-soluble pigments, the soft wax of Derwent's watercolour pencils blends and dissolves easily in water, making them a great choice for mixing colour. 

With up to 72 pencils in the range, you won't be short of colour to mix, either, although very vibrant hues are conspicuous by their absence. Also note that these colours dry quite quickly, so depending on how fast you work, you may have to keep applying fresh colour and water as you go.

These hexagon barrelled pencils are a little cheaper than their Faber-Castell rivals, but still perform well in terms of usability (they're nice to hold, and easy to sharpen) and finished looks. With a 3.4mm lead, they're available in sets of 12, 24, 36, 48 and 72. Overall, at this mid-budget price, these represent the best value watercolour pencils on the market right now.

Watercolour Pencils: set of Derwent Inktense pencils

Derwent's Inktense and Watercolour collections are often confused, so let's be clear. Both ranges are water soluble, but that's where the similarity ends. 

With Derwent's Watercolour pencils, once your layers have dried, they can be re-worked by adding water on top. With Inktense pencils, however, once your layer has dried, it's permanent, so layers added on top don’t affect it: more colour can be added on top without affecting the layer beneath. 

Furthermore, while the Derwent Watercolour pencils' colours, as mentioned previously, are more subtle and muted, the Inktense pencils produce a vivid, ink-like colour when combined with water that really leap off the page. (Note that used dry, however, they're pretty dull and inspiring.) Note, too, that they work well on fabric as well as paper.

These round-barrelled pencils come with a 4mm lead and are available in sets of 12, 24, 36, 48 and 72. 

Prismacolour watercolour pencils

Watercolour Pencils: set of  Prismacolor Premier pencils

These pencils produce deep, thick and creamy colours that are easy to apply and blend beautifully. We'd therefore recommend them as the best watercolour pencil for beginners to the discipline. 

More experienced artists can also consider them as well, because these are very good quality pencils that lay colour down smoothly and are highly break-resistant. The only downside to bear in mind is being limited to just 36 colours (albeit well-chosen ones). If you're happy to blend your colours, of course, that may not be a concern, and as noted, these pencils do make blending easy.

These round-barrelled pencils come with a 4mm lead and are available in sets of 12, 24 and 36.

Watercolor pencils: set of Caran d’Ache's Prismalo Aquarelle pencils

Swiss brand Caran d’Ache's Prismalo Aquarelle Watercolor pencils sit at the higher quality end of the market, with a higher price to match. 

The hexagonal barrel is a delight to hold and use. The vivid colours mix beautifully with water on the page, and are easy to control. And the small 3mm leads can be sharpened to a fine point, making these pencils perfect for drawing in fine detail.

If you're an experienced artist who wants to see if a pricier pencil can improve your art (particularly if you're working on intricate designs), and you can afford to splash out, then we'd recommend you take these top-quality pencils out for a spin and see what they can do. They're available in sets of 12, 30, 40 and 80 .

Read more: 

How to draw: the best drawing tutorials10 great notepads for designersThe best mechanical pencils for artists and designers

Buildings Wave Animation with Three.js

Original Source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/tympanus/~3/qxwRZJKr2kU/

This tutorial is going to demonstrate how to build a wave animation effect for a grid of building models using three.js and TweenMax (GSAP).

Attention: This tutorial assumes you already have a some understanding of how three.js works.
If you are not familiar, I highly recommend checking out the official documentation and examples .


Inspiration

Source: View
by: Baran Kahyaoglu


Core Concept

The idea is to create a grid of random buildings, that reveal based on their distance towards the camera. The motion we are trying to get is like a wave passing through, and the farthest elements will be fading out in the fog.

side-view

We also modify the scale of each building in order to create some visual randomness.

Getting started

First we have to create the markup for our demo. It’s a very simple boilerplate since all the code will be running inside a canvas element:

<html lang=”en”>
<head>
<meta charset=”UTF-8″>
<meta name=”viewport” content=”width=device-width, initial-scale=1.0″>
<meta http-equiv=”X-UA-Compatible” content=”ie=edge”>
<meta name=”target” content=”all”>
<meta http-equiv=”cleartype” content=”on”>
<meta name=”apple-mobile-web-app-capable” content=”yes”>
<meta name=”mobile-web-app-capable” content=”yes”>
<title>Buildings Wave</title>
<script src=”https://cdnjs.cloudflare.com/ajax/libs/three.js/100/three.min.js”>></script&gt
<script src=”https://Threejs.org/examples/js//loaders/OBJLoader.js” &gt</script&gt
<script src=”https://Threejs.org/examples/js/controls/OrbitControls.js”&gt</script&gt
<script src=”https://cdnjs.cloudflare.com/ajax/libs/gsap/1.20.3/TweenMax.min.js”&gt</script&gt
</head>
<body>
</body>
</html>

Basic CSS Styles
html, body {
margin: 0;
padding: 0;
background-color: #fff;
color: #fff;
box-sizing: border-box;
overflow: hidden;
}

canvas {
width: 100%;
height: 100%;
}

Initial setup of the 3D world

We create a function called init inside our main class. All subsequent methods will be added inside this method.

init() {
this.group = new THREE.Object3D();
this.gridSize = 40;
this.buildings = [];
this.fogConfig = {
color: ‘#fff’,
near: 1,
far: 138
};
}

Creating our 3D scene
createScene() {
this.scene = new THREE.Scene();

this.renderer = new THREE.WebGLRenderer({ antialias: true, alpha: true });
this.renderer.setSize(window.innerWidth, window.innerHeight);

this.renderer.shadowMap.enabled = true;
this.renderer.shadowMap.type = THREE.PCFSoftShadowMap;

document.body.appendChild(this.renderer.domElement);

// this is the line that will give us the nice foggy effect on the scene
this.scene.fog = new THREE.Fog(this.fogConfig.color, this.fogConfig.near, this.fogConfig.far);
}

Camera

Let’s add a camera for to scene:

createCamera() {
const width = window.innerWidth;
const height = window.innerHeight;

this.camera = new THREE.PerspectiveCamera(20, width / height, 1, 1000);

// set the distance our camera will have from the grid
// this will give us a nice frontal view with a little perspective
this.camera.position.set(3, 16, 111);

this.scene.add(this.camera);
}

Ground

Now we need to add a shape to serve as the scene’s ground

addFloor() {
const width = 200;
const height = 200;
const planeGeometry = new THREE.PlaneGeometry(width, height);

// all materials can be changed according to your taste and needs
const planeMaterial = new THREE.MeshStandardMaterial({
color: ‘#fff’,
metalness: 0,
emissive: ‘#000000’,
roughness: 0,
});

const plane = new THREE.Mesh(planeGeometry, planeMaterial);

planeGeometry.rotateX(- Math.PI / 2);

plane.position.y = 0;

this.scene.add(plane);
}

Load 3D models

Before we can build the grid, we have to load our models.

models

loadModels(path, onLoadComplete) {
const loader = new THREE.OBJLoader();

loader.load(path, onLoadComplete);
}

onLoadModelsComplete(model) {
// our buildings.obj file contains many models
// so we have to traverse them to do some initial setup

this.models = […model.children].map((model) => {
// since we don’t control how the model was exported
// we need to scale them down because they are very big

// scale model down
const scale = .01;
model.scale.set(scale, scale, scale);

// position it under the ground
model.position.set(0, -14, 0);

// allow them to emit and receive shadow
model.receiveShadow = true;
model.castShadow = true;

return model;
});

// our list of models are now setup
}

Ambient Light
addAmbientLight() {
const ambientLight = new THREE.AmbientLight(‘#fff’);

this.scene.add(ambientLight);
}

Grid Setup

Now we are going to place those models in a grid layout.

initialgrid

createGrid() {
// define general bounding box of the model
const boxSize = 3;

// define the min and max values we want to scale
const max = .009;
const min = .001;

const meshParams = {
color: ‘#fff’,
metalness: .58,
emissive: ‘#000000’,
roughness: .18,
};

// create our material outside the loop so it performs better
const material = new THREE.MeshPhysicalMaterial(meshParams);

for (let i = 0; i < this.gridSize; i++) {
for (let j = 0; j < this.gridSize; j++) {

// for every iteration we pull out a random model from our models list and clone it
const building = this.getRandomBuiding().clone();

building.material = material;

building.scale.y = Math.random() * (max – min + .01);

building.position.x = (i * boxSize);
building.position.z = (j * boxSize);

// add each model inside a group object so we can move them easily
this.group.add(building);

// store a reference inside a list so we can reuse it later on
this.buildings.push(building);
}
}

this.scene.add(this.group);

// center our group of models in the scene
this.group.position.set(-this.gridSize – 10, 1, -this.gridSize – 10);
}

Spot Light

We also add a SpotLight to the scene for a nice light effect.

spot-light

addSpotLight() {
const light = { color: ‘#fff’, x: 100, y: 150, z: 100 };
const spotLight = new THREE.SpotLight(light.color, 1);

spotLight.position.set(light.x, light.y, light.z);
spotLight.castShadow = true;

this.scene.add(spotLight);
}

Point Lights

Let’s add some point lights.

point-lights

addPointLight(params) {
// sample params
// {
// color: ‘#00ff00’,
// intensity: 4,
// position: {
// x: 18,
// y: 22,
// z: -9,
// }
// };

const pointLight = new THREE.PointLight(params.color, params.intensity);

pointLight.position.set(params.position.x, params.position.y, params.position.z);

this.scene.add(pointLight);
}

Sort Models

Before we animate the models into the scene, we want to sort them according to their z distance to the camera.

sortBuildingsByDistance() {
this.buildings.sort((a, b) => {
if (a.position.z > b.position.z) {
return 1;
}

if (a.position.z < b.position.z) {
return -1;
}

return 0;
}).reverse();
}

Animate Models

This is the function where we go through our buildings list and animate them. We define the duration and the delay of the animation based on their position in the list.

showBuildings() {
this.sortBuildingsByDistance();

this.buildings.map((building, index) => {
TweenMax.to(building.position, .3 + (index / 350), { y: 1, ease: Power3.easeOut, delay: index / 350 });
});
}

Here is how a variation with camera rotation looks like:
https://tympanus.net/codrops/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/variation.mp4

Credits

Models by Backlog Studio. Check out their Instagram.

Buildings Wave Animation with Three.js was written by Ion D. Filho and published on Codrops.

What’s Really Behind Most UX Issues

Original Source: https://www.sitepoint.com/whats-behind-most-ux-issues/

What’s Really Behind Most UX Issues

Let’s start with this premise:

The vast majority of UX defects don’t come from a lack of skill or talent or technique or process.

They don’t exist because there are no UXers or Designers on staff. They don’t exist because nobody “gets” the idea of good UX or UI design.

They don’t, in my experience, exist because people don’t know what they’re doing.

That certainly happens, to be sure. But in the last five years of my nearly three-decade career in particular, it’s exceedingly rare.

Instead, what I’ve seen is that UX and design issues that are present in software products — sites, apps, systems — come directly from misalignment of individual intent. And there are three flavors of this: personal, organizational and political.

And in the interest of being even more mysterious and cryptic, I’ll say this: while I’m sure you’ve heard that you should focus on and uncover that intent, I say it’s a hell of a lot deeper than that.

In fact, the most mission-critical thing that needs to happen in project planning is the one thing that’s almost never discussed. You don’t read about it in articles or blog posts. You don’t see it in videos or online courses or keynote speeches.

In fact, virtually no one talks about it at all.

Which, of course, is why you and I, dear reader, are here together now. To share a story.

I worked with a client several years ago, and my experience with them taught me a lesson I’ve never forgotten — and never will.

That lesson came, like most things, the hard way.

The client was a 2.8-billion-dollar organization, at the top of its industry. Basically, they served as in-house fulfillment for nearly every piece of personalized, printed collateral investors receive from just about any and every investment organization you can think of. They owned 85% of that market.

But being that big also meant that they were unbelievably sloooooooooooooow — slow to adapt to change, to the pace of technology, to the growing demand by end-consumers to research and manage their investments themselves.

So the company’s clients — the Merrill Lynches and TD Ameritrades and Edward Jones of the world — had been screaming for an online, self-service portal solution from my client for well over a year … and they had nothing to offer but promises of “we’re working on it.”

By the time I got to them, several of their biggest clients had become tired of waiting; they cancelled their million-dollar contracts and began developing their own solutions for their customers. So big, big money was being lost on a steady basis.

In digging to find out why they weren’t able to at least roll out a solid MVP for clients, I learned that the stumbling block was a disconnected workflow made up of several legacy systems and an unreal amount of human intervention. Add in a shocking lack of consistency across processes and practices and a willingness to jump and deliver different flavors of custom functionality for every client, and you’ve got a recipe for chaos.

Every single job was, in essence, a custom project, with very little repeatable efficiency.

Fast-forward: after several months, we developed a recommendation for replacing these cobbled-together systems and processes with Adobe Livecycle, which, at the time, had the processing/automation power and the tight integration they needed between the print and digital worlds. So I and four other people dotted i’s and crossed t’s and presented comprehensive recommendations and budgets.

And were met with complete and total hostility from stakeholders most closely connected to customer fulfillment.

I’m not talking about full-blown screaming matches, argument or pushback. More like a deep, dangerously simmering silent treatment.

The post What’s Really Behind Most UX Issues appeared first on SitePoint.

Complete Guide to Using WebP Image Format

Original Source: https://www.hongkiat.com/blog/webp-guide/

WebP, or unofficially pronounced as weppy, is an image format introduced by Google Developers around 5 years ago. if you are a web designer, or a developer who strives to reduce and optimize your…

Visit hongkiat.com for full content.

How to Tell If Vue.js Is the Right Framework for Your Next Project

Original Source: https://www.sitepoint.com/vue-right-framework/

How To Tell If Vue.js Is the Right Framework for Your Next Project

Vue.js grew from a one-man project to a JavaScript framework everyone’s talking about. You’ve heard about it from your front-end colleagues and during conferences. You’ve probably read multiple comparisons between Vue, React, and Angular. And you’ve probably also noticed that Vue outranks React in terms of GitHub stars.

All that’s made you wonder whether Vue.js is the right framework for your next project? Well, let’s explore the possibilities and limitations of Vue to give you a high-level look at the framework and make your decision a little easier.

Please note that this piece will draw strongly on Monterail’s experience with Vue and other JavaScript frameworks. As a software development company, we’ve delivered around thirty Vue-based projects, and we strongly evangelize it among developers and businesses with initiatives like State of Vue.js and Vue Newsletter.

Let’s dive in.

Vue.js Overview

Back in 2014, the first public version of Vue.js was released. Its template syntax — similar to AngularJS — and a component-based architecture — similar to what React offered — made it approachable to JS devs at the time. Vue.js really took off only a year later, when it was discovered by the Laravel (popular PHP framework) community.

A few years later, it now records the highest satisfaction rating among all JS frameworks (91.2%), according to State of JS data. More and more devs report having heard of it and the wish to use it in the future. Companies like IBM, GitLab, and Adobe have already adopted Vue for their products.

According to Evan You, the creator of Vue:

The original goal was to “scratch my own itch,” to create a frontend library that I would enjoy using myself.

And apparently he and the whole Community managed to accomplish this mission. But what is so special about Vue that makes programmers want to use it?

This is what the project’s official website says:

Vue (pronounced /vjuː/, like view) is a progressive framework for building user interfaces. Unlike other monolithic frameworks, Vue is designed from the ground up to be incrementally adoptable. The core library is focused on the view layer only, and is easy to pick up and integrate with other libraries or existing projects.

There it is! Progressive and easy to pick up and integrate. But is that enough to make it your primary choice?

The Business Perspective on Vue

At Monterail, we believe that it should not make a substantial difference to a JavaScript programmer which framework or library is chosen for an app’s front end. Building blazing fast, beautiful, and maintainable products is not trivial at all, but if something is feasible, it’s feasible with any modern JS framework.

Yet, we love Vue.js and recommend it to our clients in most cases. That’s because Vue is great for a number of reasons. Let’s explore them.

When Your App Is Full of Animations and Interactive Elements

Vue offers a truly elegant and flexible API — not just for composable architecture for the front end, but also for seamless transitions between views. Transitions and animations enhance user experience, smoothing changes between states. Human brains love movement, so it’s an important part of modern websites and apps. Animating is key when we need to grab user attention, when we want to keep the user on our website for a longer stretch, or simply to make our product more fun.

The release of Vue 2.0 has introduced a lot more flexibility with regard to transitions. We now have more granular access to the transition hooks — which, in turn, makes it possible to leverage third-party libraries and deliver on complex animations while still using Vue at the core. That means there are tons of different ways of doing animations in Vue. All you need to do is apply a custom attribute and add some CSS magic. Vue provides us with <transition> and <transition-group> components already built in and based on CSS animations, allowing for both CSS and JS hooks. It also integrates easily with non-HTML elements — like SVG, for example.

In our portfolio, we have this really great example of a project with many different transitions, where we used Vue.js in tandem with Nuxt. We managed to deliver a beautiful UI for Easyship that was 37% more performant than their AngularJS version. Vue’s incredible possibilities in terms of transitions also make it a good choice for marketing campaign websites. Airbnb’s “Until we all belong” is another great example — an award-winning campaign delivered in six weeks, written completely with Vue.js.

The post How to Tell If Vue.js Is the Right Framework for Your Next Project appeared first on SitePoint.