Abstract Digital Art: Tech Styleframes

Original Source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/abduzeedo/~3/OT6ZCPwzl-A/abstract-digital-art-tech-styleframes

Abstract Digital Art: Tech Styleframes
Abstract Digital Art: Tech Styleframes

abduzeedoJan 07, 2020

Luca Genovese shared an incredible digital art project titled Tech Styleframes – Exploration. He used Cinema 4D and JSplacement to create a series of abstract images that look like computer motherboards and electronics. The outcome is simply beautiful, full of light effects and different perspectives. Honestly, I would love to have some of those as desktop and mobile wallpapers.

Digital Art

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16 essential tools for graphic designers in 2020

Original Source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/CreativeBloq/~3/5viPRuctSck/tools-every-graphic-designer-should-have-6133208

In this guide, we've rounded up the hardware, software and other graphic design tools that will help creatives of all levels work more effectively. Whether you're starting from scratch or looking to upgrade a specific piece of equipment, our recommendations will help you pick the best option.

Reliably equipment doesn't have to be expensive (take a look at our guide to the best free graphic design software if your budget it particularly tight), but here we've hand-picked the very best kit that money can buy. We wouldn't hesitate to recommend each item to our own friends and colleagues. Some might be a big investment, but all will be worthwhile in the long run.

We've split the products here into four sections: hardware (covering everything from workstations to extra storage); creative software; creative tools (think sketchpads and Pantone books); and home office items. You'll find our list of essential graphic design books elsewhere on the site.

Here are 16 must-have graphic design tools for starters…

01. Laptop

Apple MacBook Pro 16-inch (2019)

Apple's most powerful laptop to date, the 16-inch MacBook Pro is the perfect tool for graphic designers, whether you're working on the move or at home.

When creating the new MacBook Pro, Apple's stated aim was to give fans "more of what they love", and it did exactly that. The most obvious feature is the new, larger screen, which is ideally suited to design work. It's also improved the keyboard; gone are the troublesome Butterfly switches that plagued earlier models, replaced with more responsive scissor switches, as found on the Magic Keyboard.

Battery life is exceptional too, which is particularly impressive considering this laptop's powerful components. It can be configured with up to 64GB RAM (a first for a MacBook) and up to 8TB storage so you don't need to rely on an external hard drive. 

Of course, all this doesn't come cheap, and the highest specifications command particularly high prices, but if you're looking for a laptop that'll keep performing flawlessly for years and will never hold you back, this is an excellent investment.

Also read: The best laptops for graphic design

02. Desktop

Apple iMac Pro

A desktop powerhouse created with professionals in mind, the iMac Pro remains the gold standard for graphic designers. It features a true 5K Retina display, and can be configured with an astonishing 256GB RAM, an 18-core Intel Xeon W processor and Radeon Pro Vega 64X graphics with 16GB of HBM2 memory.

As with the MacBook Pro above, this kind of power comes at a price, but for resource-intensive work like rendering 3D models, video editing and animation, the cost will be well worth the time saved.

Despite some serious upgrades under the hood, Apple has maintained the iMac Pro's signature look, with a chassis that's just 5mm thick and weighs a mere 700G, keeping your desk clear and clutter-free.

We've yet to get our hands on the new (and even more powerful) Mac Pro, but until then, this is the best desktop machine a graphic designer can buy.

Also read: The best desktops for graphic design

03. Monitor calibrator

Datacolor Spyder5ELITE

A properly calibrated monitor is essential for making sure your screen displays colours as accurately as possible. Windows and macOS both include their own calibration tools, but for the best results you can't beat a hardware calibrator like the superb Datacolor Spyder5ELITE.

This calibrator is a particularly choice if you need to calibrate several displays to a single target configuration, whether they're laptops, desktop monitors or a mix. It features both wizard and expert settings for different levels of experience.

You also get a 90-day trial of the Adobe Creative Cloud Photography Plan thrown in, so you can put your newly calibrated screens to work.

Also read: The best monitor calibrators for creatives

04. Reliable hard drive

Western Digital My Passport Ultra

The Western Digital My Passport Ultra is a neat external drive that gives you up to 5TB for your most important files. The optional WD SmartWare Pro software (available for Windows and macOS) lets you easily configure automatic backups, so you never need to worry about losing a client's work.

The My Passport Ultra is fast too, with impressive read and write speeds for quick transfers (essential for large image and video files). This is made possible by its USB-C connectivity, though it comes with a USB 3.1 adaptor for older devices too (albeit at slower rates).

At just 231g, it's ideal for carrying on the move, and fits neatly into a backpack, satchel or pocket in its own cloth carry bag.

Also read: The best external hard drives

05. Graphics tablet and stylus

iPad Pro 11

Only a couple of years ago, the name Wacom was synonymous with graphics tablets for professionals, but the iPad Pro and Apple Pencil have now stolen the crown – particularly for designers who struggle to justify a tool that's tied to their desk. The iPad Pro is a superb device for digital drawing, but does far more besides.

Whether you opt for the 11-inch or 12.9-inch model, the latest iPad Pro borrows the nearly bezel-free design of recent iPhones, giving you an expanse of smooth glass to work on. Apple's Smart Keyboard transforms it into a powerful laptop, and the new Apple Pencil makes it even more versatile. 

Apple has dropped the Lightning connector in favour a magnetic function, so the Pencil now snaps smartly onto the top of a new iPad Pro for pairing, charging and storage. What's more, gesture support has also been added, allowing you to switch between app tools with a quick double tap, for example. 

We're likely to see a new iPad Pro later in 2020, with even more impressive specifications, but either of the current models is an excellent choice for digital drawing, wherever you happen to be.

Of course, some designers and artists will prefer the precise pressure sensitivity and control you can only get with a dedicated graphics tablet. If you're among them, the Wacom Cintiq 22 is our tablet of choice, providing a great balance of screen, size, ergonomics and value. If your budget will stretch a little further, the Wacom Intuos Pro is an even more powerful option, and is available in a choice of sizes (with prices to match).

Also read: The best drawing and graphics tablets

06. Top-end smartphone

Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus

The iPhone 11 Pro Max might be the most sought-after flagship phone of 2020, but our handset of choice is the Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus. The Snapdragon 855 processor makes it one of the fastest Android phones around, but there's a lot more here for designers to take note of.

The S10 Plus is slightly larger than the regular S10, giving you a full 6.4 inches of Super AMOLED screen to work with. Colour reproduction is excellent, and there's impressive dynamic range.

The trio of rear-facing cameras (for normal, telephoto and wide-angle photos) are superb, too. The main camera's dual-aperture lens captures sharp images, even in low light, and the wide-angle lens captures a 123-degree field of view. Even Google can't match that. Videos benefit from image stabilisation, and this is the first Samsung phone able to record video in HDR.

The battery will last a whole day in typical conditions, and you can even use the S10 Plus to charge other devices wirelessly.

Also read: The best smartphones for designers

07. Studio camera

Nikon D5300

The Nikon D5300 is an ideal DSLR if you're looking for something that will perform well and provide many years of reliable service. Together with a versatile lens kit, it'll help you achieve great shots without breaking the bank.

This is definitely an entry-level DSLR, and can't record video in 4K, but its still images are super crisp (partly due to the absence of an anti-aliasing filter) and the new EXPEED 4 processing engine means noise is well controlled, even in dark images.

The camera's chassis is made from a single piece of polycarbonate, meaning there are fewer joints, seams and potential weak points. It's also unusually light, making it easier to carry when you need to leave the studio. It's a shame there's no touchscreen, so you'll have to navigate the camera's many menus using physical buttons, but the interface is pretty straightforward and shouldn't present much of a barrier to you achieving professional quality images.

Also read: The best cameras for creatives

08. High-res monitor

Asus Designo Curve MX38VC

Unlike many ultra-wide monitors, the Asus Designo Curve MX38VC is designed with creatives rather than gamers in mind and eschews flashy design for a smart frameless look and practical features. Of course, the main attraction here is the huge 38-inch panel, which gives you masses of workspace without the need for multiple monitors. 

It's designed to be kind to your eyes, too, minimising glare and flicker to help avoid strain and discomfort when you're putting in long hours. It doesn't offer the fastest refresh rates around, but the viewing angles are excellent and its unusual height means it doesn't feel as compressed as some ultra-wide monitors.

Its connectivity is excellent, with DisplayPort, USB-C and two HDMI connections at your disposal, plus Bluetooth. It even features a built-in Qi wireless charger, so you can simply set your phone down underneath your screen and pick it up later, fully powered up.

Also read: The best monitors right now

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09. Creative software

Adobe’s Creative Cloud

Adobe’s Creative Cloud is the industry standard for design professionals

Adobe Creative Cloud is the industry standard for design professionals – the range and depth in its suite of tools is unrivalled by any other company. But it comes at a cost, and even if you can snap it up during one of Adobe's occasional sales, an all-apps subscription represents a big investment.

Still, you get Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, After Effects and loads more. If you’re looking to be truly multi-disciplined and regularly share a workflow with other designers, go for it. But if your work revolves purely around vector design and photo-editing/manipulation, it's not the only choice.

Affinity Designer and Affinity Photo are both excellent tools from Serif – even topping Photoshop and Illustrator in some areas – and cost around £50 each, outright, with free updates. Superb file compatibility means you can collaborate with Photoshop and Illustrator users too. You could also check out these 6 amazing free Adobe CC alternatives.

If you own an iPad, the newly released Adobe Fresco is well worth considering, It aims to recreate the feeling of drawing and painting with traditional media on a tablet, and has been created with professional designers and artists in mind (though it's also accessible enough to pick up quickly).

10. Antivirus software

Bitdefender Antivirus Plus 2020

It's all too easy to fall victim to a virus or malware. You don't even need to be doing anything particularly risky; simply opening a PDF that appears to be a client invoice could be enough to infect your computer, encrypting or deleting your extremely valuable work. If you've made regular backups, this could be extremely frustrating; if you haven't, it could be catastrophic.

Bitdefender Antivirus Plus 2020 is a full security suite that can protect up to 10 devices, including Windows PCs, Macs and Android phones. It provides real-time protection from viruses and malware, plus phishing attempts (when a person tries to trick you into entering usernames, passwords and financial details into a fake website). Even if it hasn't come across a particular threat before, the software can identify suspicious programs based on their behaviour and quarantine them before they have the chance to cause harm.

Bitdefender Antivirus Plus 2020 also comes with a super-secure browser specifically for online banking and shopping, to help keep your card and account details secure. There's also a file shredder if you need to delete any confidential information from a client so it can't be recovered.

Bitdefender often runs special offers, so if you're lucky you'll be able to save a considerable amount off the regular asking price, which is great value already.

Also read: The best antivirus software for designers

11. VPN software

ExpressVPN

A VPN can be essential if you're travelling, and not just for countries like China where tools like Google Docs are blocked by a national firewall. ExpressVPN will also protect you when you're using public Wi-Fi hotspots in cafes and shared workspaces, preventing any would-be crooks from snooping on your online activity.

It does this by using an encrypted connection to redirect your web traffic through one of 160 servers, spread throughout 94 countries. If that sounds intimidating, don't worry; ExpressVPN's interface makes it all easy to use and understand, and if you do happen to get stuck there's live support available 24/7.

It doesn't just work with laptop and desktop computers, either; there are mobile apps for your smartphone and tablet too, and you can even install ExpressVPN on many routers to secure every device on your home Wi-Fi network.

Unlike many VPN services, ExpressVPN also gives a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you won't be left out of pocked if you discover it's not the right service for you.

Also read: The best VPN deals

12. Productivity software

Google docs

In 2020, Google Docs is much more than a web-based version of classic productivity suites like Microsoft Office, and has come along in bounds and strides since it first appeared as a free service.

Apart from making your documents, spreadsheets and slides accessible from any browser (as well as supremely easy to collaborate on with other users), the online suite employs an intuitive interface that even integrates Google's vast search features when you need them.

There's a range of quality templates ready for you to use, plus third-party add-ins available that offer features you'd normally find in Microsoft Office, like mail merge and a more advanced equation editor. You can also use Google Translate to convert one of your documents into another language. And if you want more collaboration features, you can always plump for the subscription-based version of Google Docs, now called G Suite.

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13. Quality sketchbook or notebook

MOO Hardcover Notebook

MOO is a brand best known for its made-to-order business cards, but it also produces some of the best notebooks for designers. It might sound unlikely but the MOO Hardcover Notebook was created by the company's in-house designers, and their expertise really shows. It features non-glare ruled paper, plus 16 sheets of shaded paper in the middle for sketches, and can be laid completely flat on your desk for easier working.

If you need an unruled notebook, a Moleskine Classic is still impossible to beat. It comes in a huge variety of shapes, styles and paper types, but whichever one you opt for, the quality is consistently excellent. The company also makes some of the world's best sketchbooks, including the Moleskine Art Collection Sketchbook. Its paper has enough tooth for most dry media while still being pleasantly smooth, and its price is very reasonable for 240-page pad.

14. Pantone swatch book

Pantone Plus ColorBridge: Coated and Uncoated

When you're working in print, you need to know exactly how spot colours are going to look. The only way to do that is to invest in a Pantone swatch book, and while they aren't cheap, they are invaluable. 

Before making a purchase, consider exactly which swatches you actually need. Neons and metallics are particularly hard to simulate on-screen, so dedicated swatch books for these are a good choice. Alternatively, a five-part Pantone Plus Solid Guide Set will cost you £288/$329, and will cover both.

For more versatile day-to-day use, the Pantone Plus Color Bridge Set presents the spectrum of spot-colours alongside their closest CMYK match – ideal where your client’s budget doesn’t stretch to a fifth colour for a certain job. Books of Pantone 'chips' are also available, which are great to pin to printers' proofs to ensure everyone's on the same page, colour-wise.

If you specialise in quality print and packaging work, and spot colours are a significant part of your daily workflow, it may be worth investing in the full-blown Pantone Reference Library for your studio to have the entire range at your fingertips, complete with fetching display stand. But you'll be paying £1,179/$1,620 for the privilege, so make sure you really need it.

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15. Variable desk

Flytta

A standing desk can encourage you to be less sedentary, help reduce back pain and even decrease your risk of illness. With the Flytta 2 you have the option to switch between sitting and standing whenever you want, and adjust the level of the work surface to suit your height.

There's no need to fiddle with crank handles; the desk is raised and lowered smoothly by a pair of powerful motors, and can store your preferred height settings for quick access in future. Collision detection helps you avoid bumped knees, and the 120kg lift capacity means even heavy desktop computers won't be a problem.

16. Ergonomic chair

Herman Miller Mirra 2

If there's one item that's really worth investing in, it's a high quality chair, and the Herman Miller Mirra 2 is our number one choice for keeping you comfortably supported all day. It's a little more affordable than the iconic Aeron chair, and features 10 different adjustment systems so you can customise it for the perfect sitting position.

The posture support is superb, helping you avoid back problems down the line, and alleviating any issues you may already have. The mesh design also helps regulate temperature, so there's no risk of getting hot and sweaty while working at your desk all day.

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Read more:

The best computer for graphic design10 productivity tools you can't be withoutThe best travel laptops right now

Collective #578

Original Source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/tympanus/~3/oJy4h4RzvKk/

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Front-End Performance Checklist 2020

A front-end performance checklist with everything you need to know to create fast experiences on the web today.

Check it out

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Kinesis

Kinesis lets you easily create interactive animations with Vue.js.

Check it out

Divi Freelancer

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Learn how to develop websites with the most popular WordPress theme in the world and secure your success as a freelancer.

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Min and Max Width/Height in CSS

A practical dive into min-width and min-height in CSS by Ahmad Shadeed

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Sampling bias, FDR, and The State of JS

A very insightful article on sampling bias and why the results of the State of JS survey should be taken with a grain of salt.

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Excalidraw

Excalidraw is a whiteboard tool that lets you easily sketch diagrams that have a hand-drawn feel to them.

Check it out

Exifer

A lightweight JavaScript image meta-data reader that can extract EXIF, GPS, XMP & IPTC data.

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2019: Projects of the Year

A collection of the most beautiful projects made with Readymag.

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A short history of body copy sizes on the Web

An interesting article on the history of body copy font sizes and the challenges that come with responsiveness.

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Jesper Landberg Portfolio

The fantastic portfolio of creative front-end developer Jesper Landberg.

Check it out

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Line Through Effect

A great video tutorial on how to create a cool line through effect with CSS and JavaScript.

Watch it

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Get Moving (or not) with CSS Motion Path

Dan Wilson explores some possibilities with the new CSS Motion Path properties.

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Instagram Font Generator

Pick, preview, copy and paste fancy text to use on Instagram and other social networks.

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Understanding CSS Grid: Creating A Grid Container

In a new series, Rachel Andrew breaks down the CSS Grid Layout specification and takes a detailed look at what happens when you create a grid container.

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Craft.js

A React Framework for building extensible drag and drop page editors.

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Snowflake painter

A fantastic snowflake creator made by Yoksel.

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“Watercolor” effect in WebGL

A fantastic WebGL demo made by Robin Delaporte.

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Another Damn ToDo App in Vue.js

Raymond Camden shares how he built the classic ToDo app in Vue.js.

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Getting Started with Front End Testing

Amy Kapernick showcases different tests for accessibility, visual regression and end-to-end testing as well as linting.

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Sscaffold

Sscaffold is a modern, lightweight CSS library that builds on Milligram, Skeleton and Normalize.

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Beautiful React Hooks

A collection of useful React hooks to speed-up your components and hooks development.

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What is the JAMstack?

A January series of compact articles on JAMstack.

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The Hidden Treasures of Object Composition

As part of the “Composing Software” series on learning functional programming and compositional software techniques in JavaScript ES6+, Eric Elliott explores the topic of object composition.

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Awesome Mobile Security

An effort to build a single place for all useful Android and iOS security related resources.

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Collective #578 was written by Pedro Botelho and published on Codrops.

How To Decide Which PWA Elements Should Stick

Original Source: https://www.smashingmagazine.com/2020/01/mobile-pwa-sticky-bars-elements/

How To Decide Which PWA Elements Should Stick

How To Decide Which PWA Elements Should Stick

Suzanne Scacca

2020-01-02T12:30:00+00:00
2020-01-02T22:08:46+00:00

As the number of website visitors and shoppers grows on mobile, it’s important to consider how small additions to your design will encourage them to do more than just research and browse. One of the elements I think mobile designers — for PWAs and mobile websites — need to do more with is the sticky bar.

What exactly do I mean by “more”? Well, I mean using the fixed navigation bar at the top or bottom of a mobile site for more than just navigation or branding.

Today, I’m going to show you some creative uses for sticky elements in mobile design, so you can help more of your visitors to take action.

Sticky Element Inspiration For Mobile Design

Think about the main challenge we face when it comes to mobile. While users are more than willing to take their first steps on a website or PWA from their mobile devices, conversion often happens on desktop (if they remember to do it at all).

When used properly, fixed elements can encourage more mobile visitors to take action right where they are. And this works for all kinds of websites.

1. Make the Top Sticky Bar Useful

The sticky bar at the top of your mobile site shouldn’t just be there for branding.

That said, I get that it can be tricky using that space when the logo may end up comprising a good chunk of that space. But if you design it thin enough, you can stack another banner beside it. Just make sure it’s useful.

The Lancome PWA is an interesting example because it simultaneously does this well and poorly:

Lancome sticky bars

Lancome has three sticky bars at the top of its PWA. (Source: Lancome) (Large preview)

There are three sticky bars at the top of the PWA:

A banner promoting a special offer,
A standard navigation bar,
A secondary navigation bar with shop categories.

The two navigation bars are great. Together, they don’t take up too much space and they make it much easier for users to find what they’re looking for and to complete their purchases. However, that promotional banner is not very well executed.

For starters, it’s too big and demands too much attention. Secondly, there’s no way to dismiss the message. It just stays there, stuck to the top of the PWA, no matter where the visitor goes.

If you’re going to use a sticky bar to promote an offer — no matter its size — give your users the option to move it out of the way if it’s irrelevant or if they’ve already collected the pertinent details from it.

George.com is another e-commerce web app that takes advantage of the top sticky bar. This one, however, doesn’t waste the space with distracting elements.

George.com sticky navigation and search

George.com uses a standard navigation bar and sticky search bar on its PWA. (Source: George.com) (Large preview)

On the home page, George.com attaches a sticky and voice-enabled search bar to the top of the page. This is great as it caters to a number of visitor types:

Visitors that prefer to use the standard navigation from the menu.
Visitors that prefer to type a quick search to the exact item they need.
Visitors that want to use their voice to search for something.

It checks off all the boxes.

In addition to providing a great search experience for its store, George.com also customizes this sticky element as visitors go deeper into the site:

George.com sticky Sort and Filter

George.com provides shoppers with a sticky Sort and Filter bar. (Source: George.com) (Large preview)

As shoppers peruse product pages, the sticky search bar becomes a Sort and Filter bar that follows them down the page. For big online stores, this is a useful tool so mobile users don’t have to scroll all the way to the top to adjust their search results.

The top sticky bar isn’t just useful for e-commerce stores as you’ll see in the rest of the examples in this article. However, when it comes to mobile, there’s a greater opportunity for e-commerce sites to pack extra value into this space, so take advantage of it.

2. Add a Bottom Navigation Bar with Quick-Tap Actions

Okay, so we’ve established what makes for a good sticky top bar. But what about a bottom bar? Is it even necessary?

One of the benefits of designing a PWA instead of a mobile site is that we can give it the top and bottom wrapper. But it’s not always needed. I’d say as a general rule of thumb to include a bottom bar when there are commonly used actions you want users to have easy access to.

Let’s start with an example that’s a mix of the good and the eh: Twitter.

Twitter sticky bottom navigation bar

Twitter places its sticky navigation bar on the bottom of the PWA. (Source: Twitter) (Large preview)

Twitter has chosen a different placement for its navigation bar. While the sticky bar at the top provides a place to access user settings, the bottom is for:

Visiting one’s news feed;
Searching for posts, people, hashtags, etc.;
Checking on notifications and direct messages.

For a social media app, this design makes a lot of sense. It’s not as though users are going to spend much time updating their settings, so why not put it out of the thumb zone and keep the regularly used elements within reach?

The issue I take with Twitter’s sticky elements is the click-to-tweet button (the big blue button in the bottom-left). While it’s not high enough to cover content being read at the top of the page, it does cover part of it down below.

It’s awfully reminiscent of those floating social icons that used to cover content on mobile. You don’t really see that anymore and I think it was for that exact reason.

If you’re thinking about adding a free-standing sticky element of your own to your site, make sure it doesn’t cover any content. Twitter may be able to get away with it, but your brand might not.

As for other examples of bottom bars, let’s turn our attention to the Weather Channel PWA:

Weather Channel PWA sticky bars

The Weather Channel PWA uses both a sticky top and bottom bar. (Source: Weather Channel) (Large preview)

What’s nice about the top bar, in particular, is that it prioritizes the user experience instead of its own branding. Once a visitor enters their location, the rest of the site’s content is personalized, which is great.

As for the bottom navigation, Weather Channel has done a really nice job with this. Similar to how Twitter places commonly used buttons in its bottom bar, the same idea is present here. After all, it’s not as though Weather Channel visitors are coming to the site to read about Dover Federal Credit Union. They want to get precise predictions for upcoming weather.

Now, the two examples above show you how to use the bottom navigation bar as a permanent fixture on a mobile site. But you can also use it as a custom feature on your internal pages as job search site The Muse does:

The Muse bottom sticky bar

The Muse uses a sticky bar to shortcut various actions visitors might want to take. (Source: The Muse) (Large preview)

This bottom sticky bar appears only on job listings pages. Notice how it doesn’t just say “Apply”.

I’m willing to bet The Muse designer spent time studying its user journey and how frequently job seekers actually apply for a position the first time they see it. By including “Email Myself” and “Save” buttons in this action bar, it addresses the fact that job seekers might need time to mull the decision over or to prepare the application before filling it out.

So, while you can certainly use a sticky bottom bar as a type of secondary navigation for commonly-clicked pages, I’d also suggest looking at it the way The Muse has: by designing a sticky bar that’s tailor-made for your own user’s journey.

3. Simplify Order Customization with Sticky Elements

Remember the days when you’d have to call up your local restaurant to place an order for delivery or when, gulp, you had to actually visit a store to buy something? Online ordering is an amazing thing — but it could be even better if we set up our mobile sites and PWAs the right way for it.

Again, I want to start with an example that kinda gets it right.

This is the PWA for MINI USA:

MINI USA PWA car customization

Users customize their Mini Cooper on a page with an oversized sticky element. (Source: MINI USA) (Large preview)

This is what users go through when they want to customize their car before purchasing. Looking at it from this screenshot, it looks nice. You can see the car in its customized state along with the updated price.

However, that entire section — down to the “Review” and “Save” buttons — is fixed. That means that all customization takes place on about a third to a quarter of the screen down below. It’s not an easy customization experience, to say the least.

While the customization screen needs some work, it’s the final Review screen that is done nicely:

MINI USA sticky action bar

The MINI USA Review page adds a sticky action bar to the bottom. (Source: MINI USA) (Large preview)

Here the top bar has gone back to a normal size while a new action bar has been added to the bottom. This is similar to what The Muse does to streamline the next steps with job applicants. In this case, MINI gives potential customers the ability to choose one of a number of options, even if they don’t lead to an immediate sale.

There are other types of PWAs and mobile sites that can and should simplify the online ordering process. Like MINI, Uber Eats uses custom sticky elements to help users put together their orders.

Uber Eats sticky menu

Uber Eats includes a top menu navigation bar in its PWA. (Source: Uber Eats) (Large preview)

When a user has selected a restaurant to order from, a sticky menu bar appears at the top of the page. This is especially useful for lengthy menus as well as to help users quickly navigate to the kind of food they’re jonesing for.

Assuming the user has found an item they want, the next page removes the top sticky bar and adds an “Add to Order” button/bar instead.

Uber Eats “Add to Order” button

Uber Eats places an “Add to Order” button at the bottom of its web app. (Source: Uber Eats) (Large preview)

This way, the distraction of other menu categories is gone and now the user only has to focus on customizing the selected item before placing it in the cart.

Again, what this comes down to is being able to predict your users’ steps before they even get there. You can use either the top or bottom navigation to aid in this process, but it’s best to place initial steps in a sticky top bar and later steps at the bottom as they near conversion.

4. Display “Sidebar” Widgets On Digital Publications

Without a sidebar on mobile, you might try to tuck the widgets that would otherwise be there at the bottom of your content. But unless you know that your content is going to be read all the way through and that visitors will keep scrolling for more, there’s no guarantee they’ll see anything you put down there.

So, when it makes sense to do so, use sticky bars to add only the most essential sidebar-esque content.

Let’s take Inc., for example.

nc.’s sticky bars and elements

Inc.’s PWA comes with a sticky subscription bar, banner ad and secondary hamburger menu. (Source: Inc.) (Large preview)

There are three sticky elements that appear around Inc.’s articles:

A subscription form (which can be dismissed),
A banner ad (which cannot),
A floating hamburger menu.

The first two elements are fine since at least one of them is dismissible. However, the floating hamburger menu is problematic since it covers part of the content. Considering this is a content-centric site, it’s probably not a good idea to cover any part of the page.

The only way we might be able to excuse the placement of this fixed element is if it were to add extra value to the content. However, all it does is give readers more articles to read:

Inc. floating hamburger menu

Inc.’s floating hamburger menu contains more articles to read. (Source: Inc.) (Large preview)

The goal on any content website is to get visitors to actually read the content. But if you’re presenting them with other options straight away, you’re only giving them more content to get distracted by.

The concept of this floating menu is a good one, but the execution isn’t great. I’d recommend displaying it as visitors get at least 75% of the way down the page. That way, it only comes into view when they should be looking for related content to read.

As for publications that get the sticky elements right, look for ones that keep it simple.

The New Yorker, for instance, does a nice job of using the sticky navigation bar and a darker, less distracting bottom bar to promote its subscriptions:

The New Yorker sticky bars

The New Yorker uses sticky bars to promote its paid subscriptions. (Source: The New Yorker) (Large preview)

If it’s important to you to get subscribers for your publication — especially paid ones — this is a good way to make use of the fixed bars on mobile.

If, instead, you’re more focused on getting the word out about your content, then a sticky bar like the one The Billings Gazette uses would be better:

The Billings Gazette sticky social bar

The Billings Gazette prioritizes sharing over subscribing of its content. (Source: The Billings Gazette) (Large preview)

This is really well done. Social media sharing options are limited to the ones that make the most sense for mobile users. The same goes for the other share options here: WhatsApp, text, and email. When clicked, the corresponding app opens, so readers don’t have to use their browser sharing options or copy-and-paste the link.

In all honesty, I’m not sure it should be an either/or. I think you could use the top bar to promote your subscription so long as it’s easy to dismiss. Then, the bottom bar could be used for sharing links. Just make sure one of the bars moves out of the way so you can maximize the reading space.

Wrapping Up

Bottom line? It’s time to start using your sticky mobile elements for more than just storage of a logo, hamburger menu or search bar.

As we’ve seen here today, the key is to figure out what your users need most from you. Then, use your sticky elements to build a shortcut that makes a difference in their experience.

Smashing Editorial
(ra, yk, il)

How to change the font in your Instagram bio

Original Source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/CreativeBloq/~3/RSxXfLi-UdA/change-the-font-in-your-instagram-bio

When you know how to change the font in your Instagram bio, you can tailor your profile to your heart's content. But how is it done? Luckily it's quick and easy to customise your Insta profile, and you're in the right place to learn how to do it.

Having the right font for your Insta handle is just one element of crafting the perfect Instagram bio, but you need to pick your font wisely to make it work. If you need some inspiration, check out our list of free fonts to help you decide on the type of font you might like. You can then use one of these Instagram font generator tools  to customise your own text styles (more on this below).

Your Insta bio should be short and sweet – stick to a few carefully chosen key words rather than long sentences – and include any relevant links to other accounts you manage, as well as any relevant hashtags. The odd emoji is also good for breaking things up and adding a bit of personality and colour, but don't go overboard or your bio may become hard to read.

Follow Creative Bloq on Instagram

You should also consider that changing your Insta bio involves the use of unicode characters, which are often not accessible for people who use screen readers, so you definitely don't want your whole bio in a different font. Most people just use them for their name, or perhaps a small part of their description.

Changing the font in your Instagram bio from the Insta standard is a quick and easy adjustment that can really make your feed stand out, and it's very easy to switch it back at a later date if you change your mind. It's also free. Want to give it a go? In this post we'll show you how to change the font in your Instagram bio in just two easy steps.

01. Choose your font

How to change the font in your Instagram bio: fonts for instagram

The options in Fonts For Instagram range from the simple to the emoji-studded

There are various font generator tools that can be used on Instagram. You can try Instagram Fonts, Insta Fonts or LingoJam, for starters. You could also experiment with Cool Symbol, although the interface is more cluttered than the other options. 

Type in the text that you want to change, and the tool will come up with a list of fonts that can be used in Instagram, showing you how your text would look in each. Some fonts are pretty simple, while some use emoji and symbols – with varying degrees of success – and others have so much going on they are almost impossible to read. 

Once you've found the font for you, copy it.

02. Paste in Instagram

Gavin Strange uses typography to highlight his name

Open Instagram, and go to Edit Profile, then paste in your new font. Click Submit and you are done. If you don't like the look of the font you've chosen, you can easily go back to step one and choose another.

If you'd prefer a wider selection of fonts, check out the iOS Fonts – for Instagram app. 

To see other Instagram hacks, including how to add line breaks to your bio or posts, see our post on Instagram hacks.

Read more:

7 ways to boost Instagram engagement5 steps to an irresistible Instagram bioHow to turn on Instagram's Dark Mode

How to Divert Traffic Using IP2Location in a Next.js Website

Original Source: https://www.sitepoint.com/ip2location-next-js-divert-traffic/?utm_source=rss

How to Divert Traffic Using IP2Location in a Next.js Website

This article was created in partnership with IP2Location. Thank you for supporting the partners who make SitePoint possible.

In a world where online commerce has become the norm, we need to build websites that are faster, user friendly and more secure than ever. In this article, you’ll learn how to set up a Node.js powered website that’s capable of directing traffic to relevant landing pages based on a visitor’s country. You’ll also learn how to block anonymous traffic (e.g. Tor) in order to eliminate risks coming from such networks.

In order to implement these features, we’ll be using the IP2Proxy web service provided by IP2Location, a Geo IP solutions provider. The web service is a REST API that accepts an IP address and responds with geolocation data in JSON format.

ip2location website

Here are some of the fields that we’ll receive:

countryName
cityName
isProxy
proxyType
etc.

We’ll use Next.js to build a website containing the following landing pages:

Home Page: API fetching and redirection will trigger from this page
Landing Page: supported countries will see the product page in their local currency
Unavailable Page: other countries will see this page with an option to join a waiting list
Abuse Page: visitors using Tor networks will be taken to this page

Now that you’re aware of the project plan, let’s see what you need to get started.

Prerequisites

On your machine, I would highly recommend the following:

Latest LTS version of Node.js (v12)
Yarn

An older version of Node.js will do, but the most recent LTS (long-term support) version contains performance and debugging improvements in the area of async code, which we’ll be dealing with. Yarn isn’t necessary, but you’ll benefit from its faster performance if you use it.

I’m also going to assume you have a good foundation in:

React
React Hooks

As mentioned earlier, we’ll be using Next.js to build our website. If you’re new to it, you can follow their official interactive tutorial to quickly get up to speed.

IP2Location + Next.js Project Walkthrough
Project Setup

To set up the project, simply launch the terminal and navigate to your workspace. Execute the following command:

npx create-next-app

Feel free to give your app any name. I’ve called mine next-ip2location-example. After installation is complete, navigate to the project’s root and execute yarn dev. This will launch the Node.js dev server. If you open your browser and navigate to localhost:3000, you should see a page with the header “Welcome to Next.js”. This should confirm that we have a working app that runs without errors. Stop the app and install the following dependencies:

yarn add yarn add next-compose-plugins dotenv-load next-env @zeit/next-css bulma isomorphic-unfetch

We’ll be using Bulma CSS framework to add out-of-the-box styling for our site. Since we’ll be connecting to an API service, we’ll set up an .env file to store our API key. Do note that this file should not be stored in a repository. Next create the file next.config.js. at the root of the project and add the following code:

const withPlugins = require(‘next-compose-plugins’)
const css = require(‘@zeit/next-css’)
const nextEnv = require(‘next-env’)
const dotenvLoad = require(‘dotenv-load’)

dotenvLoad()

module.exports = withPlugins([
nextEnv(),
[css]
])

The above configuration allows our application to read the .env file and load values. Do note that the keys will need to have the prefix NEXT_SERVER_ in order to be loaded in the server environment. Visit the next-env package page for more information. We’ll set the API key in the next section. The above configuration also gives our Next.js app the capability to pre-process CSS code via the zeit/next-css package. This will allow us to use Bulma CSS framework in our application. Do note we’ll need import Bulma CSS code into our Next.js application. I’ll soon show you where to do this.

Obtaining API Key for the I2Proxy Web Service

As mentioned earlier, we’ll need to convert a visitor’s IP address into information we can use to redirect or block traffic. Simply head to the following link and sign up for a free trial key:

IP2Proxy Detection Web Service

ip2proxy trial key packages

Once you sign up, you’ll receive the free API key via email. Create an .env file and place it at the root of your project folder. Copy your API key to the file as follows:

NEXT_SERVER_IP2PROXY_API=<place API key here>

This free key will give you 1,000 free credits. At a minimum, we’ll need the following fields for our application to function:

countryName
proxyType

If you look at the pricing section on the IP2Proxy page, you’ll note that the PX2 package will give us the required response. This means each query will costs us two credits. Below is a sample of how the URL should be constructed:

http://api.ip2proxy.com/?ip=8.8.8.8&key=demo&package=PX2

You can also submit the URL query without the IP. The service will use the IP address of the machine that sent the request. We can also use the PX8 package to get all the available fields such as isp and domain in the top-most package of the IP2Proxy Detection Web Service.

http://api.ip2proxy.com/?key=demo&package=PX8

In the next section, we’ll build a simple state management system for storing the proxy data which will be shared among all site pages.

Building Context API in Next.js

Create the file context/proxy-context and insert the following code:

import React, {
useState,
useEffect,
useRef,
createContext
} from ‘react’

export const ProxyContext = createContext()

export const ProxyContextProvider = (props) => {
const initialState = {
ipAddress: ‘0.0.0.0’,
countryName: ‘Nowhere’,
isProxy: false,
proxyType: ”
}

// Declare shareable proxy state
const [proxy, setProxy] = useState(initialState)
const prev = useRef()

// Read and Write Proxy State to Local Storage
useEffect(() => {
if (proxy.countryName == ‘Nowhere’) {
const localState = JSON.parse(localStorage.getItem(‘ip2proxy’))
if (localState) {
console.info(‘reading local storage’)
prev.current = localState.ipAddress
setProxy(localState)
}
} else if (prev.current !== proxy.ipAddress) {
console.info(‘writing local storage’)
localStorage.setItem(‘ip2proxy’, JSON.stringify(proxy))
}
}, [proxy])

return(
<ProxyContext.Provider value={[ipLocation, setProxy]}>
{props.children}
</ProxyContext.Provider>
)
}

Basically, we’re declaring a sharable state called proxy that will store data retrieved from the IP2Proxy web service. The API fetch query will be implemented in pages/index.js. The information will be used to redirect visitors to the relevant pages. If the visitor tries to refresh the page, the saved state will be lost. To prevent this from happening, we’re going to use the useEffect() hook to persist state in the browser’s local storage. When a user refreshes a particular landing page, the proxy state will be retrieved from the local storage, so there’s no need to perform the query again. Here’s a quick sneak peek of Chrome’s local storage in action:

chrome local storage

Tip: In case you run into problems further down this tutorial, clearing local storage can help resolve some issues.

Displaying Proxy Information

Create the file components/proxy-view.js and add the following code:

import React, { useContext } from ‘react’
import { ProxyContext } from ‘../context/proxy-context’

const style = {
padding: 12
}

const ProxyView = () => {
const [proxy] = useContext(ProxyContext)
const { ipAddress, countryName, isProxy, proxyType } = proxy

return (
<div className=”box center” style={style}>
<div className=”content”>
<ul>
<li>IP Address : {ipAddress} </li>
<li>Country : {countryName} </li>
<li>Proxy : {isProxy} </li>
<li>Proxy Type: {proxyType} </li>
</ul>
</div>
</div>
)
}

export default ProxyView

This is simply a display component that we’ll place at the end of each page. We’re only creating this to confirm that our fetch logic and application’s state is working as expected. You should note that the line const [proxy] = useContext(ProxyContext) won’t run until we’ve declared our Context Provider at the root of our application. Let’s do that now in the next section.

Implementing Context API Provider in Next.js App

Create the file pages/_app.js and add the following code:

import React from ‘react’
import App from ‘next/app’
import ‘bulma/css/bulma.css’
import { ProxyContextProvider } from ‘../context/proxy-context’

export default class MyApp extends App {
render() {
const { Component, pageProps } = this.props

return (
<ProxyContextProvider>
<Component {…pageProps} />
</ProxyContextProvider>
)
}
}

The _app.js file is the root component of our Next.js application where we can share global state with the rest of the site pages and child components. Note that this is also where we’re importing CSS for the Bulma framework we installed earlier. With that set up, let’s now build a layout that we’ll use for all our site pages.

The post How to Divert Traffic Using IP2Location in a Next.js Website appeared first on SitePoint.