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Preparing for the WordPress Gutenberg Editor

Original Source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/1stwebdesigner/~3/xlnNo1XEq5g/

If you use WordPress, a big change is coming. The impending release of version 5.0 will bring along with it the new Gutenberg editor. It’s poised to become a major step up in terms of the ability to customize the look of your content in a default WordPress installation.

It’s a very different experience in that this new editor will break content sections down into “blocks”. Blocks will enable you to, say, add a full-width image right in the middle of a blog post. Or you might build your own custom blocks that allow users to implement different layouts.

In short, Gutenberg brings a little bit of what page builder plugins have been doing for years – without some the fancier bells and whistles. It’s a more unified way to mix text and multimedia into your content. And it promises to be a much more user-friendly and visual way to do things.

This evolution has brought about a ton of debate and, naturally, a good bit of concern. WordPress boasts an enormous market share and designers/developers/users are rightfully wary of such a big change. The team responsible for Gutenberg is taking steps to assuage concerns, but the bottom line is that we won’t know the full effect of things until the official release.

While WordPress 5.0 will be released sometime in 2018, you can try Gutenberg now in the form of a plugin. If you want to get a behind-the-scenes look, check out the 2017 State of the Word Address, which features a live demo.

Gutenberg is something that all of us should be aware of. In order to take full advantage of the new editor, there are some steps we’ll have to take. Plus, some may decide not to use it at all as the “classic” editor will still be available as a plugin for the foreseeable future.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at how to prepare for the big change. We’ll look at the considerations and share some helpful resources that can guide you along the way.

The Gutenberg Editor

The Decision to Switch (Or Not)

Major changes to any software usually lead a healthy portion of users to avoid upgrading. Operating systems are a great example as many larger companies are still a version or two behind. Of course, for security and compatibility reasons, it’s never recommended that we run outdated versions of WordPress. So, in that way, upgrading to 5.0 isn’t really optional.

But since we can decide to continue using the classic editor via a plugin, the decision of whether to utilize Gutenberg is one we’ll all have to make. Depending on the setup of your site, switching could be kind of a big deal. Developers will have to consider:

Any potential complications with existing themes, plugins and customizations.
If a client is responsible for managing content, some training may be required.
The increased demand for customer support, should something unexpectedly break.
If you’re already using a page builder plugin, does it make sense to change?

One thing is for sure, it will be a process for many of us. For mission-critical sites, it might not be a great idea to implement changes without testing them first within a development environment. If you manage multiple sites, that can be a whole lot of work.

I would suspect that some developers would choose to hold off on switching for some time – at least for existing sites. On the other hand, if a site could really benefit from the added capabilities of Gutenberg, then it might make sense to take the plunge.

Your Theme and Gutenberg

By default, your theme should work with Gutenberg just as it does now with the classic editor. But you do have the ability to add in extra styling for the various available blocks. For example, the image block places code similar to the following into a published page:

<figure class=”wp-block-image”><img src=”your-image.jpg”></figure>

So, you could provide some CSS for .wp-block-image to jazz things up a bit – although it’s not required.

But where the editor really holds promise with themes is the ability to create your own custom blocks. Think of the potential to add site-specific layouts and content directly into the editor. Then add in the fact that you can pass styles on to the back end of your site, providing users with a more accurate WYSIWYG experience. This could be quite the game-changer when building a site. Check out the resources section below to learn more.

Your Theme and Gutenberg

Plugin and Customization Compatibility

This is where much of the concern lies with both developers and site owners. Untold numbers of websites have had their back end customized in some shape or form. And just about everyone with a website that runs on WordPress uses plugins. So yes, there is the potential for something to go wrong.

However, this is an area where the folks behind-the-scenes are really working diligently. Backwards compatibility has always been a key part of WordPress and that doesn’t figure to change now. And the larger plugins out there all have an incentive to make sure that their products work with the new editor. There’s simply too much to lose for everyone involved for this not to work.

But, as mentioned earlier, testing everything out in a development environment is the best way to know how Gutenberg will affect the setup of your site. From there, you can figure out what (if any) issues you might need to clean up.

While it certainly sounds like most configurations will work just fine, there is always that chance that something doesn’t play nice with the new editor.

Client Considerations

One other area of interest is how Gutenberg may affect your clients. The way it stands, not everyone knows that an entirely new editing experience is on the way. Casual users probably aren’t paying close attention, even though recent WordPress upgrades have mentioned the coming changes. So they may be in for a bit of a shock when 5.0 drops.

But this is where we can take it upon ourselves to make a difference. Engage clients and let them know that Gutenberg is on the horizon. Provide a general background and maybe a few user-friendly links that might help them become more familiar with the UI.

A little bit of education now can (hopefully) save you from a few panicked calls later on.

Client Considerations

Resources

As Gutenberg continues to evolve, there are more valuable resources coming out to help you learn and prepare:

Gutenberg Handbook
There is a process behind creating custom blocks. To learn more, check out the Gutenberg Handbook. It takes an in-depth look at how the editor works and provides some tutorials on block creation.

Gutenberg Boilerplate
Ahmad Awais has created a boilerplate for building custom blocks for Gutenberg. He has included a few different scenarios that can serve as a great learning tool.

Gutenberg Theme
If you want to see an example of how a theme can take advantage of Gutenberg, take a look at the free Gutenberg Theme over on GitHub. It was built by Tammie Lister, who is the head of the team working on the new editor. The theme isn’t necessarily meant for a production environment, but provides a useful playground for interested developers.

WordPress Gutenberg Guide
Codeinwp has put together an illustrated guide that will get you familiar with the basics of Gutenberg, along with some more advanced tricks.

Development Updates
The official source for Gutenberg Development Updates is a great way to keep up with new features, along with thoughts from the developers themselves.

Block Party

The full release of Gutenberg will be a watershed moment in the history of WordPress. And, overall, it looks to be a change for the better. There will certainly be an adjustment period and some bumps in the road. But that is only more the reason to dig in now and see how everything works.

You’ll get a sense of how you might benefit from Gutenberg and valuable knowledge on how to handle the transition ahead.


Monthly Web Development Update 1/2018: Browser Diversity, Ethical Design, And CSS Alignment

Original Source: https://www.smashingmagazine.com/2018/01/monthly-web-development-update-1-2018/

I hope you had a great start into the new year. And while it’s quite an arbitrary date, many of us take the start of the year as an opportunity to try to change something in their lives. I think it’s well worth doing so, and I wish you the best of luck for accomplishing your realistic goals. I for my part want to start working on my mindfulness, on being able to focus, and on pursuing my dream of building an ethically correct, human company with Colloq that provides real value to users and is profitable by its users.

What Is Node and When Should I Use It?

Original Source: https://www.sitepoint.com/an-introduction-to-node-js/

So you’ve heard of Node.js, but aren’t quite sure what it is or where it fits into your development workflow. Or maybe you’ve heard people singing Node’s praises and now you’re wondering if it’s something you need to learn. Perhaps you’re familiar with another back-end technology and want to find out what’s different about Node. […]

Continue reading %What Is Node and When Should I Use It?%

The Freelancer’s Guide to Success and Happiness

Original Source: https://www.webdesignerdepot.com/2018/01/the-freelancers-guide-to-success-and-happiness/

In 2016, 34% of the US workforce worked as freelancers, and by 2020, it’s estimated that number will rise to 43%. Freelance opportunities aren’t going anywhere, and more professionals are swapping in their office key cards for a home office.

While the idea of sitting around in sweatpants or relaxing on a beach while working sounds like perfection, freelancing isn’t always a walk in the park. From juggling business responsibilities and invoices to finding your next gig, freelancing comes with its issues. Despite these challenges, a few tips can help you find success and happiness in your career.

1. Believe in Your Worth

Particularly when you’re new to freelancing, it can be intimidating to set your fee. While some projects or jobs may entail negotiation, it’s best to set your rates and stick to them. Depending on your niche, you may work on an hourly rate or quote per project. Set a rate that’s on trend with your industry rather than settle. While you may find more gigs when charging less than the industry average, you’ll experience more stress trying to juggle enough projects to meet your income goals.

2. Network Even When You’re Not Seeking Work

Networking is the lifeblood of freelancing; it’s necessary to keep your business alive. Even when you have contracts, freelancing jobs can be unpredictable. You may have ten small projects one month and three ongoing projects another month.

Finding yourself low on projects can be stressful to your mental health and your wallet. Keep networking with other professionals, freelancers, and potential employers even with plenty of projects on your plate. This effort makes it easier to find a job when you’re looking for your next gig.

3. Hire an Accountant

If you make a single business investment, hire an accountant. Unlike W-2 employees, who have a portion of taxes paid by their employers, freelancers have to cover all of their own taxes and manage their own expenses.

During tax season, it can be confusing and overwhelming to determine the tax credits for which you qualify and what taxes you owe. Working with an accountant not only makes it easier to track expenses and save on taxes but also gives you clearer insight into how much you’re earning after taxes.

4. Set a Schedule and Stick to It

Working the standard nine-to-five Monday through Friday can feel restrictive, but businesses are onto something when they adhere to a consistent schedule. Whether you prefer to work late at night or early in the morning, set a regular schedule for your work week, including the days and hours you’ll work. Aim to schedule four days of work and one day for handling administrative tasks, such as following up on emails, taking care of bills and invoices, and networking. A regular schedule helps you get into a work mindset each time you start your day.

5. Don’t Skimp on Business Necessities

Working as a freelancer means wearing a business-owner hat too. While it’s tempting to cut back on costs wherever you can, it’s worth investing in the tools you need to do your work efficiently. One service you should never skimp on is a reliable high-speed internet connection for communicating with employers and completing projects. Take the time to find the fastest internet in your area and calculate your bandwidth needs based on the type of work you do. With a fast connection, you can complete your work faster and avoid the frustrations of lag.

6. Don’t Be Afraid to Say “No”

When you determine your income, it’s easy to make the mistake of taking on too much work. If you’re tempted to take on another project for the additional income, consider the cons: additional stress and less time to decompress. Don’t risk your mental health for a bump in pay. Before agreeing to any new project, look to see if it will realistically fit into your schedule. If it won’t, turn it down or explain what deadline would work for you.

Working as a freelancer is an exciting career move, offering independence and opportunities to challenge yourself and enhance your skills. While freelancing isn’t the easiest gig, following these helpful tips can help you find happiness and success in your career.

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How to Increase Your Productivity as a Freelance Web Designer?

Original Source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/1stwebdesigner/~3/MdA45-G7g4w/

Freelancers often find themselves wondering how to be more productive. They look into ways to do more work in the same amount of time or do the same amount of work in less time.

This frustration is often based on an inability to stay focused. Freelancers are not tied to strict schedules, nor do they work under the supervision.

An obvious solution is to become more disciplined. However, this piece of advice is about as useful as being told to “work smarter”. This is unless, of course, you’re given some direction on how to go about it.

The following three productivity techniques can turn things around for you. They’re easy to put into practice, and you can start today!

Productivity Technique #1: With Be Theme’s pre-built websites, you can finish a client’s website in 4 hours

Be Theme’s gallery of pre-built websites is not only impressive; at 300+ and counting, it’s the largest on the market. Not only can you find the right one to work within a matter of minutes, but you can install it with a single click.

You need not worry about writing code or building wireframes either. You just need to pick your pre-built website.

Be Theme’s powerful assortment of pre-built websites will allow you to build a website in 4 hours. How’s that for productivity?

Here’s what other freelancers have to say:

10 Be Theme pre-built designs you could use to build a functioning website in a matter of hours
Be Salmon

The large food presentation images are guaranteed to capture user attention, as is the customer’s testimonials section. Users also appreciate how the interactive menu assists navigation.

BeDetailings2

A bold, professional appearance featuring before and after images is what clients and users want to see in a website representing a niche of this type. The price listing for services encourages users to respond to a call for action.

BeMeeting

Features include a standard menu for events & meetings websites, and an eye-catching countdown clock. A “clean” design like this one, always supports a user’s need for easy navigation.

BeManicure

Luxurious imagery, soft design, and an overall feeling of elegance and professionalism is what can make any website serving this niche successful. The integrated eShop will impress the client, and is a real productivity booster for the designer.

BeDenim

Bold imagery & color combinations are used to attract and engage the audience this website is speaking to. Its intuitive icons that promote easy navigation, and the integrated eShop do the rest.

BeHipHop

A creative website serving a pop culture deserves a hip design like this one. The integrated video and audio player will keep users interested, and the section outlining concert and album release announcements ensures repeat visitors.

BeCafe2

It’s amazing how large images like this one inside the online menu can draw in customers. This pre-built website also features a photo gallery of the business, and an informative “About Us” page.

BeDrawing

This pre-built website’s key features contribute to the success of a creative business’s online presence. They include an impressive gallery, a presentation video, and a simple and clean design.

BeTraining

Important features in a website for this niche include an intuitive menu for an eLearning platform, the ability to easily navigate through an events calendar, and the use of large, attention-getting video thumbnails.

BeClinic2

A sharp, simple design like this one, is always a good design approach for this niche. It is easy to navigate and easy to find and read important information.

Productivity Technique #2: Be more flexible instead of forcing yourself into a strict schedule

Being more disciplined can make you more productive. Yet, taking a “nose-to-the-grindstone” approach can sometimes do more harm than good. Working to a schedule (something not always easy for a freelancer) has its good points, but it’s all too easy to overdo it.

As a freelancer, you can manage to be flexible in your workday activities. Like that, you’ll generally be better off, in terms of productivity.

What does “being flexible” mean?

When you’re working on a task and get stuck; take a break. Go outside for some fresh air; take your dog for a walk; enjoy a cup of coffee with a friend.

Your subconscious mind will continue to work your problem. It does a better job of it without your “conscious” interference. With this approach, you’re much more apt to experience those rewarding “Got it!” moments.

Being flexible can also mean working to a general to-do list, rather than an overly specific one. Make a list of what you want to get done, but not the steps you need to take on how to get things done. People have a greater tendency to get hung up on specific tasks than on more general ones. This can lead to frustration, and an inability to get anything done.

Productivity Technique #3: Calculate how much a lack of productivity can cost you every day

There is no doubt you are familiar with the saying that “time is money”. In fact, you can, without much effort, calculate how much a lack of productivity can cost you every day.

The hard way is to keep track of the time you spend on each of the tasks you work on a day. Doing so can hint at how productive you might be, but doesn’t tell you much about how you could be more productive.

A better approach is to keep track of those periods where you’re not being productive when you should be. For instance, when you find yourself procrastinating or wasting your time. This is what you need to know.

These non-productive periods are habits you’ve acquired that slow down the process. But, you can do something about. These do not include walking your dog or enjoying a cup of coffee, or taking a 15-minute break to clear your mind!

You might be working on an hourly fee basis or a fixed fee basis on an assignment. Either way, you can generally calculate the cost per hour you’re charging. Now, it’s simply a matter of adding up the times you’ve wasted rather than working. That will tell you what procrastinating or being non-productive is costing you!

Write that time down on a sticky note, and periodically update it. Like that, you can see the progress you’re making as you strive to become more productive.

Conclusion

These then, are 3 effective techniques you can use to increase your productivity. They will help you to improve yourself as a freelancing web designer:

Let Be Theme help you create websites in as little as 4 hours (or less)

Do not work to strictly-segmented schedules or detailed to-do lists. Instead, be more flexible in your approach to your work

Calculate how much procrastination is costing you. You’ll quickly become motivated to do something about it

What is the best part of these techniques? They don’t force you into a productivity-boosting stratagem. You are free to choose whichever path suits you or your lifestyle better.


Collective #382

Original Source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/tympanus/~3/h1ZR9xbsr48/

C382_Be

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300+ pre-built websites with a 1 click installation

Be Theme has more than 300 pre-built websites. Pick a pre-built website, install it with the most intuitive installer ever and easily edit it.

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C382_designmockupscode

Turning Design Mockups Into Code With Deep Learning

Emil Wallner shows how Deep Learning can be used to automatically create markup from design mockups.

Read it

C382_addy

JavaScript Start-up Optimization

Addy Osmani writes how to employ a little discipline for your site to load and be interactive quickly on mobile devices.

Check it out

C382_emojis

The Making of Apple’s Emoji: How designing these tiny icons changed my life

Read Angela Guzman’s fascinating story about designing the epic emojis.

Read it

C382_risingstars

2017 JavaScript Rising Stars

See which GitHub projects were the most popular ones by added stars in 2017.

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C382_faqs

No More FAQs: Create Purposeful Information for a More Effective User Experience

An interesting article on the problematic of FAQs. By Lisa Wright.

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C382_hooks

Hooks Data

With this API you can get updates as webhooks on thousands of topics when something important happens.

Check it out

C382_robust

Robust Client-Side JavaScript

A developer’s guide to robust JavaScript and how to achieve it. By Mathias Schäfer.

Read it

C382_smartphone

Your smartphone is making you stupid, antisocial and unhealthy. So why can’t you put it down?

A very interesting read on how digital distraction is damaging our minds. By Eric Andrew-Gee.

Read it

C382_character

Gentleman Character Generator (AI, PNG, SVG)

A great character generator perfect for profile images made by Kavoon and available on Pixel Buddha.

Get it

C382_headlesswp

Off with their heads. Building a headless WordPress to manage content.

Drew Dahlman shows how to use WordPress as a headless CMS for publishing static JSON.

Read it

C382_fontrapid

FontRapid

An interesting plugin that lets you design and create fonts directly in Sketch.

Check it out

C382_polka

Polka

Polka is an Express.js alternative micro web server that is very fast.

Check it out

C382_sketchicon

Sketch Icons

Import icons into Sketch and automatically apply a color mask with this great plugin. Read more about it in this article.

Check it out

C382_accessibility

Small Tweaks That Can Make a Huge Impact on Your Website’s Accessibility

Andy Bell shares some practical and useful tips for better accessibility.

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C382_handdigital

Free Font: HandDigital

Jason Forrest created this unique looking font.

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C382_mockups

The Mockup Club

A place to find free, high-quality mockups for your projects.

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C382_12

J.A.R.V.I.S.

J.A.R.V.I.S. (Just A Rather Very Intelligent System) will put all the relevant information you need from your Webpack build in your browser.

Check it out

C382_vrplus

XR.+

Publish and share 3D models in AR and VR for the browser.

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C382_ssl

Free static websites with SSL for hackers

A tutorial that shows how to set up a free static website with custom domains and SSL. By Rodrigo López Dato.

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C382_cierge

Cierge

Cierge is an open source authentication server (OIDC) that handles user signup, login, profiles, management, and more.

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C382_skia

Skia Graphics Library

In case you didn’t know about it: Skia is an open source 2D graphics library which provides common APIs that work across a variety of hardware and software platforms.

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C382_letteranimations

From Our Blog
Decorative Letter Animations

Some decorative shape and letter animations based on the Dribbble shot “Us By Night” by Animography.

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Collective #382 was written by Pedro Botelho and published on Codrops.

Debugging JavaScript with the Node Debugger

Original Source: https://www.sitepoint.com/debugging-javascript-node-debugger/

It’s a trap! You’ve spent a good amount of time making changes, nothing works. Perusing through the code shows no signs of errors. You go over the logic once, twice or thrice, and run it a few times more. Even unit tests can’t save you now, they too are failing. This feels like staring at an empty void without knowing what to do. You feel alone, in the dark, and starting to get pretty angry.

A natural response is to throw code quality out and litter everything that gets in the way. This means sprinkling a few print lines here and there and hope something works. This is shooting in pitch black and you know there isn’t much hope.

You think the darkness is your ally

Does this sound all too familiar? If you’ve ever written more than a few lines of JavaScript, you may have experienced this darkness. There will come a time when a scary program will leave you in an empty void. At some point, it is not smart to face peril alone with primitive tools and techniques. If you are not careful, you’ll find yourself wasting hours to identify trivial bugs.

The better approach is to equip yourself with good tooling. A good debugger shortens the feedback loop and makes you more effective. The good news is Node has a very good one out of the box. The Node debugger is versatile and works with any chunk of JavaScript.

Below are strategies that have saved me from wasting valuable time in JavaScript.

The Node CLI Debugger

The Node debugger command line is a useful tool. If you are ever in a bind and can’t access a fancy editor, for any reason, this will help. The tooling uses a TCP-based protocol to debug with the debugging client. The command line client accesses the process via a port and gives you a debugging session.

You run the tool with node debug myScript.js, notice the debug flag between the two. Here are a few commands I find you must memorize:

sb(‘myScript.js’, 1) set a breakpoint on first line of your script
c continue the paused process until you hit a breakpoint
repl open the debugger’s Read-Eval-Print-Loop (REPL) for evaluation

Don’t Mind the Entry Point

When you set the initial breakpoint, one tip is that it’s not necessary to set it at the entry point. Say myScript.js, for example, requires myOtherScript.js. The tool lets you set a breakpoint in myOtherScript.js although it is not the entry point.

For example:

// myScript.js
var otherScript = require(‘./myOtherScript’);

var aDuck = otherScript();

Say that other script does:

// myOtherScript.js
module.exports = function myOtherScript() {
var dabbler = {
name: ‘Dabbler’,
attributes: [
{ inSeaWater: false },
{ canDive: false }
]
};

return dabbler;
};

If myScript.js is the entry point, don’t worry. You can still set a breakpoint like this, for example, sb(‘myOtherScript.js’, 10). The debugger does not care that the other module is not the entry point. Ignore the warning, if you see one, as long as the breakpoint is set right. The Node debugger may complain that the module hasn’t loaded yet.

Time for a Demo of Ducks

Time for a demo! Say you want to debug the following program:

function getAllDucks() {
var ducks = { types: [
{
name: ‘Dabbler’,
attributes: [
{ inSeaWater: false },
{ canDive: false }
]
},
{
name: ‘Eider’,
attributes: [
{ inSeaWater: true },
{ canDive: true }
]
} ] };

return ducks;
}

getAllDucks();

Using the CLI tooling, this is how you’d do a debugging session:

> node debug debuggingFun.js
> sb(18)
> c
> repl

Continue reading %Debugging JavaScript with the Node Debugger%

What’s New for Designers, January 2018

Original Source: https://www.webdesignerdepot.com/2018/01/whats-new-for-designers-january-2018/

Start 2018 by deleting some of those old tools from your computer that you never use in favor of some fresh, new options. While old favorites can be great for a while, there are so many great new elements out there that can streamline your workflow, or help add more creative spark to projects.

If we’ve missed something that you think should have been on the list, let us know in the comments. And if you know of a new app or resource that should be featured next month, tweet it to @carriecousins to be considered!

Let’s Enhance

Do you ever have an image that is just too small for what you need? Let’s Enhance is here to solve that problem. The free tool allows you to upload an image—just drag and drop—and it will remove JPEG artifacts and upscale by up to four times the original size without losing any quality. (And it actually works!) State of the art neural networks are used to help removed image noise and imagines missing details for images that look totally natural.

Design Principles

The open-source Design Principles project is a collection of resources that are the basis for good projects. According to the curator, “Design Principles help teams with decision making. A few simple principles or constructive questions will guide your team towards making appropriate decisions.” You can browse more than 1,000 principles and examples already in the database or submit your own.

Hexi-Flexi

Hexi-Flexi is an SCSS component built on the CSS grid layout that creates a lattice of hexagons. Without JavaScript, you can customize the number of shapes, cells and rows to fit your design or content. It also supports auto-populating backgrounds.

Snippetnote

Snippetnote is a note-taking app that allows you to copy snippets for later. You can copy private snippets and change the layout as needed. Notes are available offline and in a drag and drop interface that’s easy to use. The interface is streamlined and simple without ads or social prompts.

Manta

Manta is a simple invoice-building app for Mac, with sleek design and customizable templates. Users can drag and drop items in invoice fields, include an SVG logo for better printing, and export invoices to a PDF or email format. (Plus, it’s a totally free-to-use invoice tool if you are looking for a simple product to streamline billing, which can be great for freelancers.)

Sketch Elements

This free iOS user interface elements kit has everything you need for your next app project. The kit includes 35 screen designs, 45 icons and 175 symbols. Plus, every element can be further customized so that your project feels unique. The kit is made for Sketch 48 or later.

Minimalist Icons

Themeisle has a set of free, minimalist vector icons that you can download and use in a number of projects. Each icon comes in a line-drawn, colorless style with a variety of options. The pack includes more than 100 icons.

StatusTicker

Keep up with the status of critical services in one location. Get real-time notifications that you can see on screen or have them emailed or messaged to you. The ticker supports more than 145 services.

Instagram.css

Looking for Instagram-style images for your projects? Instagram.css is a complete set of Instagram filters in pure CSS.

Epic Spinners

These simple CSS-only loading animations are fun and functional. Just grab the code and you are ready to use them.

Buy Me a Coffee

It’s like Kickstarter for creatives. Buy Me a Coffee allows you to showcase work and ask supporters for a small donation to fund the project.

Keepflow

Keepflow is a team-based project management tool for design freelancers and agencies. Currently in pre-launch beta, the software is designed to help you onboard clients and then manage a project – from an information-gathering questionnaire to the final product.

Tutorial: Using SVG to Create a Duotone Effect

CSS-Tricks has an excellent new tutorial that helps you navigate the world of SVG and create a trendy design element at the same time. The tutorial breaks down how to create a duotone effect in both the traditional manner using Adobe Photoshop and with SVG filter effects.

Product Manual

Product Manual is a collection of resources that help you build and understand the process of creating great products. The website is packed with resources by category—you can also add your own—so that every project can start here.

One Year of Design

Pixels collected a pretty cool collection of great website designs from 2017 all in one place. The retrospective is a nice bit of design inspiration.

CopyChar

Need a special character? Rather than digging through typefaces or struggling to remember keyboard shortcuts, use CopyChar to click and add a special character right to your clipboard. Special character options include everything from letters and punctuation to math and numbers to symbols, arrows and emoji.

Dulcelin

Dulcelin is a simple script that’s available free for personal use. It has a nice structure that’s readable and comes with a set of 177 characters.

Kabrio

Kabrio is a fun sans serif with the added bonus of having multiple corner options for typeface styles. The alternate variant features slightly rounded corners, that become even more round in the soft variant. Abarth features cut corner for a more mechanical, cold look. Each variant has seven weights and italics.

Promova

Promova is a blocky sans serif that would make a nice display option for website projects. The typeface includes regular and italic styles with wide character sets. The type family includes upper-and lowercase letters and is highly readable.

Studio Gothic

Studio Gothic is a nice sans serif with a rounded feel. The free version includes Extra Bold Italic and the Alternative Regular variations. The pair have an extensive character set and would work nicely for a variety of project types.

Sunshine Reggae

Sunshine Reggae is a lowercase typeface with a brush-stroke handwriting style. The limited font includes just 26 lowercase characters without any extras or frills, but it can make a fun display option.

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Source

p img {display:inline-block; margin-right:10px;}
.alignleft {float:left;}
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Getting Ready for Web Video

Original Source: https://inspiredm.com/getting-ready-web-video/

Inspired Magazine
Inspired Magazine – creativity & inspiration daily

Video is one of those really contentious points about web design. There are some people who feel like web pages should not have embedded video at all. These people are wrong.

Like any technology, however, we should respect it and not abuse it. The two worst things you can do are:

AutoPlay videos, without express consent from the user
Embed too many videos in one page

Both of these things are likely to cause annoyance to users and should be avoided unless you have a very good reason.

Knowing what not to do will only get you so far. The rest of your online video success story will depend on knowing the things you ought to do, which is what we’ll cover in the rest of this article.

Video categories

There are six different types of videos that are commonly used on sites. These are:

Regular video – you point a camera at something and record it
Live stream – you point a camera at something and don’t record it
Slide show – composed from a series of still images, often with voice over plus added descriptive text
Animation – various methods, but more commonly 3D rendered animations made with Maya3D or Blender.
Screencast – software records images from your computer, normally used for tutorials, usually with text overlays and voice narration.
Hybrid screencast – a screen cast with regular video segments, and possibly also slideshow segments.

Knowing which type of video you want to produce is a good start. Actually that brings us neatly to the next topic.

Plan your video

Good video doesn’t normally happen by accident. Meticulous planning pays off, and that means you know what kind of video you’re going to produce, how you’re going to produce it, and (very importantly) why.

Don’t fail to plan. For a start, your video should be scripted. This is true even if there is no dialog or narration. The script gives you a clear impression of how the video is supposed to unfold. You can also optionally story board the video, but a crew that can’t work straight from a script is not a very visionary crew.

If you’re making a bigger production, you’ll also benefit from budget planning, scene breakdown, shooting sequence (shot list), location scouting, etc. The more time you invest into planning, the better your video is likely to be. Professional preparation leads to professional results.

Software that can help you with script writing and planning includes Trelby and CeltX.

Invest in quality equipment

The equipment you use will have a big impact on the result. It may be difficult to believe, but the camera is not the most important part of your equipment investment.

That’s because for web video (in 2018, at least) it’s rarely sensible to shoot video above normal HD (1920px wide), and in fact it’s better to shoot in SD (1280px wide) or lower, and the aspect ratio should always be 16:9.

One source of confusion with these resolutions, by the way, is the slightly misleading standard names used, which references the vertical height (720p / 1080p) rather than the width, which is the most natural thing people think about.

In thinking about this, bear in mind that a video with a frame height of 720px will not fit on the screen real estate of most users, so it is easy to see why shooting above 720p will not give superior results for web video.

The larger your video frame is, the more resources it will hog on the user’s device, including in some cases failing to play at all, or playing very poorly. Your goal really should be to get the highest image quality and the lowest file size (in bytes).

The reason all this is mentioned is because cameras up to HD will be quite inexpensive compared to cameras that can shoot at higher resolutions, and you’ll just be wasting your money if you invest in them, because most users in 2018:

Do not have screens large enough to support the enormous frame size
Do not have connections fast enough to stream anything above HD smoothly
Do not have connections able to stream anything above SD smoothly either
Are not overly concerned about quality as long as it is reasonable

Quality of your content is the more important thing. So cameras for web video are cheap. What matters a lot more is the audio, and that is where you should invest sensibly.

Cheap audio solutions are likely to result in poor results, so avoid cheap audio and invest in quality. What you save on your camera can be reinvested into sound. Literally what you’d regard as a sound investment.

The main microphone types are shotgun, boom, and wireless. The top brands include Rode, Senheiser, Shure, and Audio-Technica.

Shotgun microphones will do the job if the camera is reasonably near and there is no wind. A boom mic can be made from a shotgun mic mounted on a pole with an extension cable. Wireless is the most expensive and the most likely to give you trouble.

You should invest in a good quality tripod as well, with the generally accepted best brand on the market being Manfrotto. What you should invest in lighting depends on the location. Other items you’ll need could include reflectors and shaders.

Completely optional items that can be useful include sliders, dollies, jibs, and lens filters. Don’t invest in these items unless your production warrants their purchase.

Set the scene

The best idea with online video is to keep it short whenever possible, and when it’s not possible, break it down into segments. This is far better than one long continuous narrative, and makes your video look more professional.

For each segment, think about what will be in the frame. If the camera will pan, track, or otherwise follow your movement between two or more points, think about what will be in the frame at each point. Rehearse it and mark the spots where you will stand if you’re in an on-camera role.

How you can mark ground spots is with chalk, tape, small bean bags, or stones. The camera operator should use a tripod or Steadicam for best results. Shaky video is truly horrible.

For screen casts and slideshows, think about how well the user can see what you’re showing. Zoom in on key elements if necessary, and be willing to switch betweeen different zoomed and unzoomed views, as the situation requires.

Make your own green screen

If you are presenting from behind a desk, a green screen can be a big improvement to your presentation. Simply get yourself a large, flat, solid surface, which should be smooth and unblemished, and paint it a bright shade of green.

For ultimate compatibility, also create magenta and cyan screens that can be swapped in if you need to show anything green colored in your frame.

With a green screen (or magenta, or cyan) you can use a technology called chroma key to replace the solid color with any image, including another video.

Obviously there’s not much point in making a video if nobody wants to watch it, so try to keep things interesting. Beware, however, not to be insincere or act out of character, because poor acting is worse than no acting at all.

Humor can be powerful if it is done well, and used only where it is appropriate. Likewise solemn, somber, and scandalous tones can also create interest when used appropriately.

Product videos and testimonials should be delivered enthusiastically and highlight the best features, however product reviews should be brutally honest in order to boost your credibility and win the trust of your viewers. Nothing is more valuable than trust.

Editing

Editing your video is the biggest task of all. For this, you’ll need software, and that software must be a nonlinear video editor (NLE). With this you can put mix and match the various clips you’ve shot to make a coherent narrative.

Not all editing software is equal. The best video editors are Cinlerra, Adobe Premiere Pro, Blender, and Sony Vegas Pro.

Rendering

Rendering is usually done, at least on the first pass, by the video editing software. When rendering for DVD, your goal is to get maximum video quality, regardless of the file size. Rendering for the web is a whole different thing.

The only formats worth considering are MP4 and WEBM, and while the latter will give you a better file size, it is not currently universally supported by all browsers. It is worth keeping in mind for the future.

Although your sound capture needs to be first rate, your rendered audio definitely should not be. In fact this is where most people go wrong, leaving their sound at ridiculously high fidelity when it’s not necessary. Reducing the audio quality will go a long way towards reducing file size while not noticeably affecting the outcome.

Codecs are a hotly debated topic, but the general consensus of professionals is to use the H.264 codec (or equivalent), because this will ensure maximum compatibility and a good balance between quality and file size.

Finally, consider shrinking the physical dimensions of the video if it is going to be viewed within a pre-defined space, and the user would not be expected to view it in full screen mode (doing so will work, but results in pixelation… their problem, not yours).

You can also use video transcoders such as Handbrake for your final render to fine tune the resulting file and ensure maximum compatibility. In some regions ISPs have restricted access to Handbrake downloads, but that’s just a testament to how good it is.

Captioning

Don’t under-estimate the power of captioning. Investing the time to create proper closed captions (subtitles) for your video production will be a very good investment. At the very least, allow auto-captions, but creating your own, especially if you allow a choice of languages, is always a good idea except when your video contains no speech.

Hosting

Considering how many mobile users there are and the prevalence of 3G connections, with 4G still being a (slowly growing) minority, HD video is not the best of ideas, and since Vimeo’s support for captioning is not on a par with Google’s, this makes Google the better choice for online video hosting at present.

Notice, however, that it was Google, not YouTube, that got the mention there. For numerous reasons, YouTube is not the best way to host your video, however there is nothing to prevent you uploading multiple versions of your video, one you host on a private Google account and one you host on YouTube.

The version embedded on your site should be the version hosted on your Google account.

The one exception to the rule is if you’re producing feature content, where you are showing off your film making prowess. In this case, Vimeo may have the edge.

For low bandwidth sites (those that attract less traffic than the bandwidth they have available), you could consider hosting the video on your own server. This can provide some advantages, especially in terms of loading time.

This post Getting Ready for Web Video was written by Inspired Mag Team and first appearedon Inspired Magazine.