Collective #543

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Faster Image Loading With Embedded Image Previews

Christoph Erdmann writes about the Embedded Image Preview (EIP) technique that allows us to load preview images during lazy loading.

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Postwoman is a minimal API request builder made by Liyas Thomas.

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Chart.xkcd is a chart library for plotting hand-drawn styled charts.

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JavaScript to Know for React

An article on what JavaScript features you should be familiar with when learning and using React. By Kent C. Dodds.

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A really nice tool to create a mini map for your web page.

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React Layouts

Grab-and-go layouts for React including code examples for Rebass, Theme UI, or Emotion. By Brent Jackson.

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Ruffle is an Adobe Flash Player emulator written in the Rust programming language. Ruffle targets both the desktop and the web using WebAssembly.

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A fantastic psychadelic scroll journey made with Cables.

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Radial Menu

A highly customizable radial menu that’s very easy to setup.

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JavaScript: The Modern Parts

An article by Andrew Montalenti on the exciting evolution of JavaScript.

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Friend NDA Generator

FrieNDA is a NDA generator for you and your friend’s secret (for fun).

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Consume less, create more

A great read on how modern technology makes us consumers instead of creators.

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Animated Portrait w/ GSAP 2.0

A lovely portrait demo with a switch animation made by Darin Senneff.

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How to build a plugin system on the web and also sleep well at night

Rudi Chen on a big challenge for Figma: designing a robust plugin system.

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Mario HTML

A TypeScript version of the iconic game. Made by Neil Barkhina.

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Jeremy Keith – Building The Web – View Source 2019

An interview with Jeremy Keith on the state of the web, how we evolved over all these years, the tooling and the skills necessary to know for front-end engineers today.

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How DNS works

A fun and colorful explanation of how DNS works.

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Animated Verbs

Ryan Mulligan created some fun letter animations.

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100 Dots #2 : Tornado

Adam Kuhn created this fun demo of a tornado.

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Svelte tutorial

A tutorial that will teach you everything you need to know to build fast, small web applications easily with Svelte.

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Introducing nushell

The introduction of a new shell, written in Rust that draws inspiration from the classic Unix philosophy of pipelines and the structured data approach of PowerShell.

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From Our Blog
React Slider with Parallax Hover Effects

Walk through the build of a React slider and learn how to implement a parallax hover effect.

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Collective #543 was written by Pedro Botelho and published on Codrops.

Collective #544

Original Source:


Inspirational Website of the Week: Save whales

A beautiful website dedicated to a wonderful creature. Lovely transitions and 3D models. Our pick this week.

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SVG Artista

SVG Artista is a useful tool that helps you animate strokes and fills in your SVG image with CSS transitions.

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Designing Dark Mode

Jon Friedman shares how Dark Mode experiences are being crafted across Microsoft 365.

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Bottom Navigation Pattern On Mobile Web Pages: A Better Alternative?

Arthur Leonov explores a better alternative to the mobile top navigation pattern with a hamburger menu.

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Color Palette Generator

A superb color palette generator that will create truly working color themes.

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Sorry Not Sorry

A fantastic experiment that shows the magical power of variable fonts.

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3D Switch animation

A truly amazing little switch component with a 3D twist. By Aaron Iker.

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Creating a Maintainable Icon System with Sass

Tracy Rotton explains how to tackle the drawbacks of the data URL background image technique for including icons.

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Get started with GPU Compute on the Web

François Beaufort plays with the experimental WebGPU API and shares his journey with web developers interested in performing data-parallel computations using the GPU.

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Color Collision

A really cool game made by Sikriti Dakua.

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Optional chaining

Learn all about the optional chaining operator and what you can do with it.

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Announcing TypeScript 3.6

Learn about all the exciting new features of Typescript 3.6 in this article by Daniel Rosenwasser.

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How to Accessibly Split Text

Michelle Barker takes a look at why splitting a string of text can be problematic from an accessibility point of view, and what we can do to make sure that split text is accessible to everyone.

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Label Studio

Label Studio is a multi-type data labeling and annotation tool with standardized output format.

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Drag & Drop Elements with Vanilla JavaScript and HTML

Jess Mitchell shows how to create a drag and drop feature using the HTML Drag and Drop API with a little vanilla JavaScript to set up the event handlers.

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Voice User Interface Design by Cheryl Platz

Jeremy Keith’s liveblog of Cheryl Platz’s An Event Apart presentation on voice interfaces.

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Optional HTML: Everything You Need to Know

Jens Oliver Meiert gives an overview of what HTML code is optional.

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Perfect loops in Processing

Some valuable tips on creating slick looping animations in Processing.

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Color this sofa! – SVG + Blend Mode trick

Kyle Wetton created this amazing demo where you can color a sofa using some smart SVG and blend mode trickery.

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Calculating PI Using Raindrops

A great demo by Mustafa Enes which is based on a real-life experiment that gives an approximation to PI.

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CSS Can Do This… And It’s Terrifying!

Aaron Powell lists some interesting ways to “exploit” CSS.

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Bear Illustration Process

Illustrator Pierre Kleinhouse shares some insight on his process and answers some interesting questions.

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Johan Karlsson implemented the Bowyer-Watson algorithm to perform the Delaynay triangulation. Click to generate a new pattern.

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The problem with tooltips and what to do instead

Adam Silver lists the numerous problems that come with using tooltips to reveal more content.

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A friendly reminder that the epic JavaScript coding competition for HTML5 Game Developers is still running for 2 weeks.

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Collective #544 was written by Pedro Botelho and published on Codrops.

Creative Essentials: Professional Tools That Make My Work Better

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My name is Suzanne Scacca and I am a tool snob. 

Before I became a writer, and before I entered the world of marketing and web design, I was a long-time project manager. And although I could’ve stepped into any of my project management jobs and simply executed the tasks employers asked of me, I was never happy with the status quo. 

We’re living in an amazing time for technology and I knew there would always be a better way to work, if only we could find the right tool for it. And that’s the key, isn’t it? Finding tools that are right for the job and that are right for you. 

Adopting the wrong-fit tools can do a lot of harm to one’s productivity and success, which is why we should all be picky about what we use. It’s also why we should be loyal to tools once we’ve found ones we know we can trust. 

There are 13 tools I’m 110% dedicated to and use on a daily basis. These tools help me write, optimize websites, and even create fake web pages in order to demonstrate points I’m trying to make or to show how tools work in my articles. I also rely on a number of communication and productivity apps to keep me on top of things without being overwhelmed or distracted by them. 

Curious to see how a tool junkie runs her day? Check these out:

1. Google Apps

Google is pretty much the central hub of my business. I do all my major communicating through it with Gmail. 

I do all my note-taking, brainstorming, writing, editing, and content collaboration in Google Drive. 

I’ve also integrated a number of my applications with Google (like Zoom, Asana, and Zoho), so I have fewer steps to take as I move things from one platform to another. 

2. Boomerang for Gmail

Because I worked as a project manager for so long, it’s my natural instinct to reply to messages and tackle new tasks the second they hit my inbox. This is a major problem for me as a writer because once I lose track of what I’m working on, it takes a couple minutes to get back into the swing of things.

That said, I can’t focus if my Gmail isn’t at Inbox Zero. It’s just how I operate. 

So, I fake it with Boomerang for Gmail. 

What it does is it prevents new messages from entering Gmail and holds them in a hidden queue for me. While it took some getting used to, it’s actually helped me become less dependent on email during the workday. I also use it at night and on the weekends when I really shouldn’t be working anyway. 

Another cool feature is that I can schedule my emails. That way, if I want to wait on sending something to a client or prospect, but don’t want to forget about it, I can schedule it to go out when I want it to.

3. Asana

I’ve used enough project management systems to know what works for me and what doesn’t. And Asana has nearly everything I need.

With color-coded “Teams” for each of my clients and an easy-to-use system of creating and completing tasks, Asana gives me great relief that I’ll never miss an assignment or deadline.

I also create templates for different parts of my workflow here, too.

I don’t know what I’d do without Asana. As I’ve scaled my business, I’ve worried that something will inevitably fall through the cracks, but this tool always helps me keep my head on straight.

4. WordPress

I’ve been a WordPress user for almost 10 years. First, it was to create websites for myself. Then, I worked for an agency where I created, documented, and refined our processes inside and outside of WordPress. Now, I write guides on how to build websites, use plugins, and customize themes. 

I occasionally help small business owners build WordPress websites, in addition to running my own. I also upload and optimize blog content I write for clients that have WordPress websites. 

5. Google Analytics & 6. Google Search Console

I use Google Analytics weekly to measure my website’s stability and overall reception with visitors. 

I also use Google Analytics to determine what kind of topics to write for my clients.

I use Google Search Console in conjunction with Google Analytics. (It’s very rare I’ll go into one without accessing the other.)

While Google Analytics tells me most of what I need to know about my website traffic and how they’re responding to my content, I need Google Search Console to help me fill in the searchability and ranking piece.

7. My iPhone

It’s very difficult for me to work without my iPhone since I’m constantly having to take screenshots of mobile websites or apps for articles. Because of this, I’m very easily tempted by distractions. 

But then I discovered the iPhone’s distraction free mode that makes my phone look like this: 

I’ve set limits on how long I’m allowed to access certain apps for and turn off all notifications on them until the workday is over. It’s been great for helping me focus on what I need to do in the browser and then encouraging me to put the phone away when I’m done.

8. Local by Flywheel

On occasion, I write articles or film videos that teach others how to use WordPress. Since I don’t want to use my own website to demonstrate these lessons, I use Local by Flywheel to create my simulations.

Essentially, it allows me to set up a local installation of WordPress so I can safely build anything I want. If I were still working on websites for clients, I’d be using this to safely handle updates and edits for their sites, too. For now, though, it’s just my playground.

9. KWFinder

As part of my writing services, I optimize the content I write for search. Now, there’s a lot more to SEO than just keywording. However, I do always use KWFinder to ensure that the keywords I’ve chosen will help my clients’ content rank well in search. 

What’s more, because I write for a number of clients in Australia, I can filter my keyword lists for that specific audience. That way, my optimizations aren’t skewed to the wrong people, at least geographically speaking. 

10. CoSchedule Headline Analyzer

I like to think of blog titles as gatekeepers. They appear in search results on behalf of our pages and posts. They appear in social media, attached to said pages. And they appear in RSS feeds, easy to miss if they don’t stand out from the content all around them. 

So, whenever I write something new, I break out the CoSchedule Headline Analyzer and run a test.

Every time I enter a new title, it saves and scores it for me. Red is bad, yellow is okay, and green is good.

While it can take some time finding the perfect combination of power words and title structure to get it right, it’s worth it. Without a strong headline, I can’t help my clients get clicks or reads.

11. Zoho Vault

I’m not going to name names, but there was a different password manager I used for years before Zoho Vault. 

However, after they experienced a server outage last year, it corrupted all of the login and password records I had stored there (along with countless others). Because their customer support disappeared during and after the outage, and because I had to spend hours recreating passwords for all of my tools as a result, I decided to switch to a provider I knew and trusted: Zoho.

Since I log in and out of over a dozen tools every day, it’s absolutely critical that I have a way to quickly generate super-strong passwords and store them somewhere safe. Zoho Vault is the one that takes care of that for me now.

12. Nimbus Capture

Sometimes I feel like my job is “professional screenshot-taker”. As such, I need a tool that will take all kinds of screenshots for me: 

Selected areas of a screen
A full screen
An entire browser window
And video

What I like even more about Nimbus Capture is that it allows me to edit and annotate my screenshots before I ever save them to the file type of my choice. 

13. MockUPhone 

When I do screenshoting from my mobile phone, I don’t really like to share the raw portrait files from it. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with them. It’s just that they’re usually too tall and force readers to scroll in order to view the entire image. 

That’s why I use MockUPhone. It automatically places my screenshots into an iPhone UI. It also adds a horizontal buffer so it sits more comfortably within my content on a page. (You can see an example of this under “My iPhone” above.)


I remember a time when Excel spreadsheets and sticky notes were the best way to stay organized, productive, and sane. Needless to say, I’m really grateful for all of the tools that power my business and improve the work I do for clients on a daily basis. I can’t imagine being a freelancer and making any sort of profit without them.


Featured image via Unsplash.


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How Prevalent is Dark UX?

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Iconic comedy duo Mitchell and Webb once asked a very important question: “Are we the baddies?” Given that, at the time, they were dressed in Nazi uniforms with skulls on their hats, and looked like rejected villains from a Wolfenstein game, the answer was something of a foregone conclusion.

But what about us? No, no web or UX designers that I know of have ever invaded Poland, or done any of the more horrifying things that Nazis are known for, thankfully. But then, we’ve got a whole field of design called “Dark UX”, and that’s… concerning.

It sure feels like dark UX is everywhere…

In other words: “Are we the baddies?” How bad is it these days? It sure feels like dark UX is everywhere, with companies trying to get their hands on your cash no matter the cost.

The generally accepted definition of dark UX is something along the lines of: Intentionally malicious, deceitful, or even just highly manipulative design patterns that try to trick you into doing something you otherwise wouldn’t. I think, to answer that question, we need to establish that the first bit—the intentional malice, deceit, or manipulation—is the defining characteristic of dark UX.

Just getting people to do something they might otherwise not… it’s not always a bad thing — doctors and especially dentists, try to do that all the time, to varying degrees of success. Marketing, even, introduces you to ideas and products you may not otherwise know about, and so would not otherwise buy. While marketing can very often feel scummy, I am forced to admit that there is technically nothing wrong with putting your brand out there.

But when designers (and the companies that hire them) flat-out disregard the will, and/or well-being of the users, that’s when we have a problem. Let’s look at some classic examples, several of which come courtesy of the Dark Patterns twitter feed, because websites never behave badly when you want to take screenshots:

Opt-Out Newletters (or Even Purchases!)

Sign-up forms often come with the option to get their newsletter pre-selected. I’ve also run into airlines that have some of their add-on services pre-selected during the ticket purchase process. Forgetting to unselect those is an expensive mistake to make. But then there’s this process for unsubscribing from an email newsletter, which is pretty flagrant:

Scummy “No” Buttons

You know, the ones that say things like: “No, I don’t want to better my life immeasurably by receiving these product offers. By clicking this button, I acknowledge that my life is worthless, my children will be left homeless, and I am a terrible person.” Even Amazon is doing it:

The Complete Lack of “No” Buttons

Then there are the people that don’t even include a “no” button, or an “exit” button. I’ve had it happen with Google Play Music sometimes giving me no way to listen to my music unless I either sign up for their family plan, or refresh the page. I couldn’t get a screenshot of that, so here’s one of CrazyEgg doing something similar:

Also, Twitter won’t even let you turn off their more annoying features. There’s only a button to “see less” of them, and no one’s sure if it actually works.

Intentionally Frustrating Products

Recently, I reviewed a service named Smashinglogo (no relation) for another website. See how I’m not linking it? That’s for a reason.

It’s supposed to be an AI-based logo generator and… well it does that. But you have to depend almost entirely on the AI to randomly give you the logo you want. The customization features are minimal, and partially random too. But the site makes very sure to tell you that you can hire one of their professional designers to finish up your logo at any time. It just costs a bit more.

This sort of design is actually a notorious problem in the world of video games, and not just the mobile titles. Middle Earth: Shadow of War launched as a very grindy sort of game that took a long time to complete, but you could make it easier on yourself by purchasing “just a few, simple time savers” on top of buying the full-priced game. Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey took flak for pretty much the same reason. It wasn’t too bad if you like playing all the side quests in a game, but it was still a problem.

Predatory Features/Mechanics

We can look to video games for even more examples. Mobile games introduced the idea of the “loot box”, a purchase which will always grant you some sort of digital reward within the game. But what you get is randomized, so you can never be sure of getting what you want.

It used to be just an industry controversy, but now governments the world over are looking into this situation

They’ve made their way into 60 USD desktop titles as well, and they’re specifically designed to tap into the gambler’s instinct. It used to be just an industry controversy, but now governments the world over are looking into this situation, with UK Mainstream outlets like the BBC documenting what happens when someone who has compulsive gambling tendencies gets suckered in by video games, which are supposed to be comparatively “safe”.

Dark UX is Everywhere…Oops

I wish I had better news.

Look, it’s not that the majority of websites are necessarily using dark UX patterns. I frankly couldn’t find any hard data on that, but I doubt it. Is all their marketing honest? I don’t know about that, but I don’t think that most websites are trying to trick users into clicking stuff.

But not every website is Amazon, Twitter, or Google. While most sites may not have dark UX, a lot of the biggest sites and products do, affecting a number of people that is potentially in the billions.

I’d like to think designers are mostly good people, but the ones employed by bad companies have done a lot of damage. What can we do to correct this? Either we can burn it all down and try to develop a post-money society, or we can try to convince our corporate overlords that treating people right will net them more money in the long run.

I’ve always believed that true (brand) love is better than Stockholm Syndrome. Now we just need to convince everyone else.  


Featured image via DepositPhotos.



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Top 4 DevOps Tools in 2019

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The best DevOps tools this year can support your workflow and augment your organization’s ability to bring software products to market. In this post, we’ll talk about four practical DevOps platforms and tools your team can put to work now for a more streamlined project.  But first, let’s briefly talk about the value DevOps can […]

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What Is Graphic Design: Our Complete Guide

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?Graphics are a visual way of communicating with someone. Billboard along highways try to sell us things or get us to stop at some location while images online work in much the same way. Somewhere at some point in time, a person designed everything we see that’s not part of nature. Quick Navigation A Deeper […]

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94% Off: Get the Fundamentals of Drawing Bundle for Only $39

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Most people believe that drawing is a natural talent. You’re either born with it or not. But the truth is that drawing is a skill that can be learned over time. If you’re considering taking a basic drawing class for the first time, be sure to check out the Fundamentals of Drawing Bundle. Fundamentals of […]

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Building Creative Websites Can Be Easy. Here’s How

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Web designers, ready for some good news? We have some for you, and it involves designing creative websites. The ever-expanding global market is creating an equally expanding number of opportunities….

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Get Lifetime Access to the 2019 Interactive Coding Bootcamp for Only $39

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The demand for programmers is high and continues to increase. As the market for programmers grow, the buzz around coding bootcamps grow louder. If you want to get a quick dose of coding education, but you don’t have the luxury of time, then the 2019 Interactive Coding Bootcamp is for you. Here, you can learn […]

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92% Off: Enroll in the Complete Programming Language Bootcamp for Only $36

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Learning is crucial for success. If you want to take your career to the next level, you need to invest in yourself. After all, an investment in knowledge pays the best interest. As such, we encourage you to enroll in short courses, attend some seminars or workshops. If you want to explore different programming languages […]

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