Visualize & Debug Website’s Accessibility with Tota11y

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A free toolkit for checking your website’s accessibility problems along with providing recommendations.

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Create a leather material in Substance Designer

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Although there are plenty of pre-made free textures around, if you want a specific material to use in your 3D art, it isn't that difficult to make your own. In this article, I'll show you how to create a simple leather material (shown above) using Substance Designer. You can watch a time-lapse of my process below, or read on for a step-by-step guide. 

When you have to create materials using nodes, like you can do in Substance Designer, Blender and other software, my pro tip is to keep a clean work environment in order to have control over all the elements of the material. So try to avoid overlapping elements and so on.

01. Add nodes

For this type of material, select the Physically Based (Metallic/Roughness) Graph Template and delete the Metallic output, since it isn’t necessary here. 

Now add these nodes from the Substance Designer library: the Cells 3 and BnW Spots 1 noises (these two are the main elements of the material), the Height to Normal World Units filter, four Levels filters, a Blend filter and, last but not least, the Gradient Map filter.

02. Link the elements

Now we can start to link these elements. Start by placing the Cells 3 at the beginning of the graph with the BnW Spots 1. These two generators will be linked to the first two Levels filters, and linked together with the Blend filter. 

Link the Levels filter of the Cells 3 generator to the Height to Normal World Units filter, the third Levels filter and the fourth Levels filter. The Height to Normal World Units filter will be linked to the Normal output, the third Levels to the Roughness output and the fourth to the Height output. Finally, connect the Blend filter with the Gradient Map, and this one directly to the Base Color output. 

03. Adjust parameters

Once you've finished linking every element of the scene, it's time to fix some of the parameters. In particular we need to fix the first two Levels filters of the substance: the first is linked to the Cells 3 generator and must be adjusted in order to increase the brightness of the texture, and the second generator (linked to the BnW Spots 1 noises) must be adjusted in order to decrease the contrast of the texture. 

For the other parameters of the Levels filters choose arbitrarily – but as always I suggest you don’t exaggerate. 

The latest element to fix is the Gradient Map. This filter is probably one of the most important; in fact it can help to give colour to the material. For this project I created a shade of red, but this element, like the others, can be changed as you prefer.

This article was originally published in 3D World, the world's best-selling magazine for CG artists. Buy issue 236 or subscribe.

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Create a tiles material in Substance DesignerSubstance Designer 5.5 reviewCreating convincing 3D materials

Collective #443

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This content is sponsored via Syndicate Ads
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A Native Lazy Load for the Web Platform

Learn about the new Chrome feature “Blink LazyLoad” in this article by Ben Schwarz.

Read it


Designing For Micro-Moments

An in-depth article with examples on how to optimally design for micro-moments. By Suzanne Scacca.

Read it


Puppeteer’ing in Firebase & Google Cloud Functions

Eric Bidelman shows how it is possible to run Puppeteer and headless Chrome in Google Cloud.

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Getting Started with React – An Overview and Walkthrough

Tania Rascia gives an easy to understand overview of React.

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A new concurrent key-value store designed for point lookups and heavy updates by Microsoft.

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Time-saving CSS techniques to create responsive images

Some quick solutions for responsive images by Adrien Zaganelli.

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Matrix Theme JavaScript Webcam Face Filter

A tutorial by Xavier Bourry on how to create a great Matrix webcam filter.

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Nano ID

A tiny, secure, URL-friendly, unique string ID generator for JavaScript.

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Web Payments, Payment Request API and Google Pay

Eiji Kitamura explains the differences between Web Payments, Payment Request API, and Google Pay.

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Experimenting With CSS Variable / Custom Property DOM Inheritance

Ben Nadel experiments with CSS Custom Properties and shows how scoping and inheritance work.

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Puppeteer Recorder

Puppeteer recorder is a Chrome extension that records your browser interactions and generates a Puppeteer script.

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Perlin Noise

Victor Vergara created this fantastic configurable Perlin Noise demo.

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Building Battleship in CSS

Daniel Schulz shares an interesting experiment of creating the Battleship game in CSS.

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Capitalist: Food & Drinks Icon Set

A free gastronomic icon set in various formats by Pixelbuddha.

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CSS Box Dog

An adorable animated dog illustration in CSS based on Tony Babel’s Dribbble shot.

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A free app for managing finances.

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Open Source Universal User Registration System

An open source project for building a React Apollo registration system.

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Checkbox vs Toggle Switch

Saadia Minhas shows some practical use cases of form design.

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Git Tutor

With Git Tutor you can generate step-by-step markdown tutorials from your git history. By Andrei Volchenko.

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Collective #443 was written by Pedro Botelho and published on Codrops.

93% Off: Get the Film Director Essentials Bundle for Only $19

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A director is the chief person, who is responsible for the creative aspects of the project. He/she is in charge of bringing a story to life. Being a film director is a fulfilling career path. But just like any other career, it is filled with challenges. If you’ve been wanting to direct your own movie, […]

The post 93% Off: Get the Film Director Essentials Bundle for Only $19 appeared first on

10 Free Infographic Templates for Web Designers

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Whether you’re writing an article, sprucing up a webpage or giving a presentation, an infographic is a great inclusion. Visual content breaks up the monotony of text, making readers more engaged and interested.

However, creating stylish infographics can be pretty time-intensive. If you’re short on time and need to give a client a presentation, creating a chart of analytics for your personal use, or simply would rather use a pre-made template, these free graphics are easy to download and edit!

Your Designer Toolbox
Unlimited Downloads: 500,000+ Web Templates, Icon Sets, Themes & Design Assets


15 Free Infographic Templates by Hubspot

15 Free Infographic Templates by Hubspot

These 15 infographics are packed with color and personality. Designed for PowerPoint, you also get five templates for Adobe Illustrator as well. There are timelines, data charts and all sorts of interesting designs. To get them, you’ll need to fill out a short form about your company, but the download is entirely free.

50+ Editable Infographic Templates

50+ Editable Infographic Templates

If you want to check out a huge package of templates, curated for multiple kinds of job fields, take a look at these infographics. There are charts for marketing, science, food and much more. You can either download them as PDF files or edit them in Edraw’s diagram-creating program.



Canva is an online graphic design tool, and the go-to for many artists. There are thousands of infographic templates to choose from – all unique, beautiful, and easy to edit. However, you’ll need to use Canva’s tool to work with these templates. You can export the results later, but if you prefer to work in your own program of choice, try a downloadable template. Canva’s licensing can also get messy, so make sure to do your research.



PresentationGo is a library for free PowerPoint resources, infographics among them. These templates are simple but effectively and cleverly designed. You can sort by color or by tags, and the templates are fully editable – even the shapes within them. Copyright is “free with attribution”, so remember to credit the website!



This freemium website has plenty of free infographics available for download. Created by both the website and its community, the templates are mostly vectors. Adobe Illustrator users will enjoy using Freepik. You’re limited to five downloads a day as a free user, and you must credit the author and Freepik. If you’re looking for variety, this is the place to find it.



Vecteezy is a vector resource site with over 100,000 vectors. There are premium graphics here, but thousands of free vectors available as well. Vecteezy has its own vector editor, so you can tweak an image before downloading if you want to!



A graphics and presentation editing software, the free version of Visme comes with a limited but stunning array of templates. You can either work in the online editor, or download it as a PowerPoint, HTML, PDF or PNG file. Some of these preserve the functionality while others do not.

17 Infographic Resume Designs

17 Infographic Resume Designs

Trying to stand out with your resume? These infographic designs can help you put together something eye-catching. But if you want to get creative, do some tweaking and use these simplistic, beautiful templates for anything!

How to Make an Infographic in PowerPoint? Free Infographic Template

How to Make an Infographic in PowerPoint? Free Infographic Template

If you’re new to infographic making and need to learn the ropes, this tutorial comes with a free template for you to practice with! And you can of course use this template in your other projects. It’s full of useful graphs.

Create Beautiful Presentations

With the right template, you can wow visitors and get across your information clearly. Everyone loves viewing infographics – just the extra visual element can make facts a lot easier to read and retain. So, go ahead and pick your favorite and getting started making a fun and engaging presentation!

Security Essentials for Site Developers and Admins

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Of all tech topics, security is possibly the most complex, and certainly the most important. This is because security is always evolving. It is a forced evolution, as we must adapt to constantly emerging threats.

There are various levels of security that we’ll have responsibility for. The first level is ourselves or the organization we work for. The second level is our clients. And the third level is the users of the websites or applications we develop for our clients.

Despite our best efforts, clients will always find ways to undermine the protections we provide for them. They rely on us as IT professionals to help them stay safe, but paradoxically also rarely follow the safety advice we provide them with. Most users really are their own worst enemies.

What we need to do, then, is make it as difficult as possible for clients to compromise their own security, while also making it as easy as we can for them to do the tasks they need to do. Achieving both goals to perfection may be impossible, but in this article we’ll cover some things you can do to cut down the risks of a security breach occurring.

gif by Patswerk

Protecting your own devices and data

You are the first line of defense for yourself and your clients. If your systems are compromised, then everyone you work for could be at risk. Here are some recommendations for the minimums you can do to avoid operating in an increased risk environment:

Use a secure desktop operating system. This is the single most basic upgrade you could make, if you’re not already using a secure operating system. The most secure operating systems are Linux, Unix, and BSD. You should be using one of these operating systems as your primary desktop operating system.
The bonus for both developers and administrators is you get access to a much larger library of free development and security tools, and most of them work better than their Windows or OSX equivalents. To really operate in paranoid mode, choose the more secure Linux distros such as Parrot, Qubes, and Tails.
Maintain separation between the operating system and your data. If you’re running Linux or Unix, this is easy. You simply make sure that you have created a partition or separate hard disk to host your home partition on. Then all user files will survive any number of operating system installations, and as a bonus can be accessed from multiple operating systems on multi-boot systems.
Use a journaling file system to help prevent data loss if your system crashes or is halted unexpectedly.
Mirror your home partition. Regularly back up important files and use file versioning to avoid unintentional overwrites.
Consider using cloud backup (not to be confused with cloud sync, which is nowhere near as safe and secure as a genuine backup). Sensitive data should be encrypted before being uploaded.
Keep your system up to date, never ignoring security patches. Systems that use rolling updates have the advantage that you’ll always know when patches are available, what needs patching, and why.
Train people within your organization to be alert to social engineering methods that may be used against them to gain access to your systems.
Avoid running software from unverified sources. When downloading software from trusted sources, verify file signatures to be certain you have an authentic copy.
Maintain the physical security of your computers, especially when traveling. Carrying your laptop everywhere may not be practical, but it’s better than letting some evil maid corrupt your BIOS. If it’s really not an option to carry your computer, lock it up in a lockable case and secure that case in a safe or otherwise as best you can.
Always remember it’s better to be paranoid than to be an idiot who got hacked.

illustration by Phantom Points Creative

Protecting clients

Keeping clients safe from IT threats is difficult, because they don’t all understand the scale of the threat they face. Many will also have the view that if their site is compromised, then it’s your problem to sort out, not theirs.

Many sites have been exploited for years without the site owners being aware of it, because most malicious attacks against sites are not supposed to let their presence be known. You therefore can’t rely on the clients to inform you of problems. You’ll need to take a proactive approach.

Try to educate your clients about the risks. Most of the problem is due to ignorance that there is any risk to be on guard against.
Inform corporate clients that the greatest threat they will face is insider threats created by their own employees and contractors (often inadvertant, but not always so). Also make sure they’re aware of problems like social engineering, shoulder surfing, and dumpster diving.
Keep servers patched. Perform regular backups.
Scan for evidence of back door exploits or other malicious activity. Designing the file and folder structure for the site to be as simple as possible will help make detection easier. Know which files should be in each folder. If you see new files that are not familiar or seem to have computer generated names, that’s a serious red flag.
Know what files should be in the cgi-bin folder (for most sites, that will be no files), because this is a favorite location for stashing malicious programs.
Periodically check the htaccess file to make sure it hasn’t been tampered with.
Code that you write is unlikely to make extensive use of encoding and decoding strings, or to contain heavily encrypted content. If PHP files contain unusual code, it’s not very likely that those are legitimate files. Unusual character encoding instructions are also a giveaway. It’s not likely that your legitimate files will be encoded in Windows-1251 encoding, for example.
After confirming a breach, change your passwords. Check file permissions are set correctly for all files and folders. Monitor signs the intruder has returned. Even after changing your password, the attackers may have a way in. You’ll need to be sure they don’t. Set your server to inform you by email when any changes are made to the server.
Help your users choose passwords appropriately by explaining the rules to them in a way they can understand. This is how most people like to set their passwords: 

jenny23This is how system administrators usually advise them to set their passwords:


n@^2z`jGAnd the problem is the first password can be cracked in seconds, while the second password can be cracked in a few hours. Also there is no hope whatsoever that the user will remember the more complex password. Here’s an example of a password that would take several lifetimes to crack and could never be forgotten:


Ialwaysfly@40,000feetCharacteristics of the above password include: Over 20 characters in length, mix of upper and lowercase characters, includes both numbers and letters, includes non-alphanumeric characters, easily memorable. A similar example might be:




asImove^inlife,Iwillnever4getwhereIstartedThere’s really no limit to how creative you can get with passwords, and there is so much more advantage with

asImove^inlife,Iwillnever4getwhereIstarted compared to n@^2z`jG. The first example (41 mixed characters) would take until the end of time to crack and is easy to remember, while the second example (8 mixed characters) can be cracked in under six hours and is almost impossible to remember.Don’t think you can just string words together and everything will be fine, because the hackers are onto that. You still need to mix cases and use non-alphanumeric characters, but certainly length is more important than complexity as things stand now. Combining both gives you an edge over those who use only one or the other.

Most dictionary based attacks focus on English because it’s the most widely used language and most of the best sites to target (in terms of the value of what they can yield) are sites managed by people who speak English. If you know another language, use it when creating your passwords.

As excellent as 

asImove^inlife,Iwillnever4getwhereIstarted is, it’s still not as perfect as aMedidaQue^enLaVida,nuncaolivdarededondecomence because this adds yet another layer of complexity, forcing the cracker to resort to brute force.Learning another language just to create better passwords may be a bit much, so the other thing you could do is just become (or stay) really bad at English when you design a passphrase. For example:



For the ultimate, you could use badly spelled foreign language words and replace all the vowels with Leet vowels: 


I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t have the patience to type that. Still, it is a very secure password, and forces the cracker to do an insane amount of work (to hopefully then discover that all they’ve accessed is a collection of cat pictures).
Make sure clients understand the dangers inherent in sending sensitive information by email, Skype, etc.

gif by Hoang Nguyen

A special note for developers

A quick and easy cultural shift for developers to adopt that would prevent countless security breaches each year is simply to minimize the external dependency chain of their sites. We are needlessly connecting to third party hosted scripts. Many of these scripts may have their own external dependencies. All for the sake of saving a few bytes.

Whenever possible, we should try to host all our scripts ourselves. A popular third party hosted script is a tempting target for an attacker, because by gaining control over the script, it is possible to run exploits on thousands of computers.

Concluding remarks

Computer security is a never ending challenge, and there is big money to be made on both sides of the challenge. The stakes are very high, and no one is completely safe, even those who believe they have nothing to hide. Winning is mostly a matter of using common sense and staying alert, never allowing yourself to become complacent.

header image courtesy of Josh Warren

The post Security Essentials for Site Developers and Admins appeared first on Inspired Magazine.

81% Off: Get The Ultimate Home Improvement Software Bundle for Only $19.99

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Being a homeowner has always been a part of the American dream. According to studies, 80% of millennials want to buy their own home. One of the benefits of homeownership is having the freedom to decorate your space. You can make improvements in your home without getting approval from your landlord. Get ready to step […]

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Easy and Responsive Modern CSS Grid Layout

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In this article, I’ll show how to create a responsive modern CSS Grid layout, demonstrating how to use fallback code for old browsers, how to add CSS Grid progressively, and how to restructure the layout in small devices and center elements using the alignment properties.

In a previous article we explored four different techniques for easily building responsive grid layouts. That article was written back in 2014 — before CSS Grid was available — so in this tutorial, we’ll be using a similar HTML structure but with modern CSS Grid layout.

Throughout this tutorial, we’ll create a demo with a basic layout using floats and then enhance it with CSS Grid. We’ll demonstrate many useful utilities such as centering elements, spanning items, and easily changing the layout on small devices by redefining grid areas and using media queries. You can find the code in this pen:

See the Pen css-grid-example4 by SitePoint (@SitePoint) on CodePen.

Before we dive into creating our responsive grid demo, let’s first introduce CSS Grid.

CSS Grid is a powerful 2-dimensional system that was added to most modern browsers in 2017. It has dramatically changed the way we’re creating HTML layouts. Grid Layout allows us to create grid structures in CSS and not HTML.

CSS Grid is supported in most modern browsers except for IE11, which supports an older version of the standard that could give a few issues. You can use to check for support.

A Grid Layout has a parent container with the display property set to grid or inline-grid. The child elements of the container are grid items which are implicitly positioned thanks to a powerful Grid algorithm. You can also apply different classes to control the placement, dimensions, position and other aspects of the items.

Let’s start with a basic HTML page. Create an HTML file and add the following content:

<h2>CSS Grid Layout Example</h2>

<!–… –>

Copyright 2018

We use HTML semantics to define the header, sidebar, main and footer sections of our page. In the main section, we add a set of items using the <article> tag. <article> is an HTML5 semantic tag that could be used for wrapping independent and self-contained content. A single page could have any number of <article> tags.

This is a screen shot of the page at this stage:

The basic HTML layout so far

Next, let’s add basic CSS styling. Add a <style> tag in the head of the document and add the following styles:

body {
background: #12458c;
margin: 0rem;
padding: 0px;
font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont,
“Segoe UI”, “Roboto”, “Oxygen”, “Ubuntu”, “Cantarell”,
“Fira Sans”, “Droid Sans”, “Helvetica Neue”,

header {
text-transform: uppercase;
padding-top: 1px;
padding-bottom: 1px;
color: #fff;
border-style: solid;
border-width: 2px;

aside {
color: #fff;
border-style: solid;
float: left;
width: 6.3rem;

footer {
color: #fff;
border-style: solid;
clear: both;

main {
float: right;
width: calc(100% – 7.2rem);
padding: 5px;
background: hsl(240, 100%, 50%);

main > article {
background: hsl(240, 100%, 50%);
background-image: url(‘’);
color: hsl(240, 0%, 100%);
border-width: 5px;

This is a small demonstration page, so we’ll style tags directly to aid readability rather than applying class naming systems.

We use floats to position the sidebar to the left and the main section to the right and we set the width of the sidebar to a fixed 6.3rem width. Then we calculate and set the remaining width for the main section using the CSS calc() function. The main section contains a gallery of items organized as vertical blocks.

A gallery of items organized as vertical blocks

The layout is not perfect. For example, the sidebar does not have the same height as the main content section. There are various CSS techniques to solve the problems but most are hacks or workarounds. Since this layout is a fallback for Grid, it will be seen by a rapidly diminishing number of users. The fallback is usable and good enough.

The latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Opera and Safari have support for CSS Grid, so that means if your visitors are using these browsers you don’t need to worry about providing a fallback. Also you need to account for evergreen browsers. The latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Edge, and Safari are evergreen browsers. That is, they automatically update themselves silently without prompting the user. To ensure your layout works in every browser, you can start with a default float-based fallback then use progressive enhancement techniques to apply a modern Grid layout. Those with older browsers will not receive an identical experience but it will be good enough.

The post Easy and Responsive Modern CSS Grid Layout appeared first on SitePoint.

7 times you should turn a design job down

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You know it’s a mistake to accept every job that you’re offered – but when should you say no? When you start out as a freelancer, the temptation is to say yes to every job that's offered to you. But not every job is a good career move – and some could even end up costing you more than it’s worth in terms of work-life balance, stress, or even actual money. Here, seven designers explain where they draw the line.

9 things nobody tells you about going freelance
01. When expectations are unrealistic

Designer Anna Negrini has some clever ways of spotting when a client is going to be trouble. “Situations that are deal-breakers for me include when the proposal has the words ‘superstar’ or ‘ninja’ in it – you probably won’t get paid; if the client estimates the time you’re going to spend on the project; or when the expectations are entirely unrealistic – £1,500 for a website like Gucci’s… really?” she smiles. 

“Sometimes, though, it’s just a gut feeling: I start sweating and I feel ‘trapped’. In these circumstances, I’ve learned to trust my instincts and just say no.”

02. When it’s in the wrong location

If the job is in-house, make sure you consider where the job is, and the time and money required to get there. Location is the biggest deal-breaker for digital designer John Taylor – so much so, he’ll look into this before even discussing the project and looking at the brief. 

“Travel time and costs aren’t usually billable, so I need to ensure the job’s financially viable before agreeing,” he explains. “Travelling can also be tiring and stressful, so to ensure I maintain a good work-life balance I factor in what time I’ll have to get up in the morning and get home in the evening.”

03. When you won’t learn anything

Krisztina Toth doesn’t say yes to every job – and her portfolio looks great as a result

When it comes to projects, full-stack developer Krisztina Toth looks for work that will help her advance her skills. “I draw the line at copy-paste sites and ‘coming soon’ pages, because even though they’re easy money, they offer no professional or personal development,” she says.

04. When the client is dismissive

You can tell a lot about a potential client by the way they speak to you when they first get in touch. “Going beyond basic politeness, I look for people committed to their goals, with a clear vision of what they want to accomplish,” says Toth. “I instantly reject the ‘I could do it myself but don’t have the time’ type.”

Creative director Stephen Dawe agrees. If a client thinks design is just about knowing how to use Photoshop, that’s a big red flag. “It’s our role as industry professionals to educate new clients on exactly what it is we do. Design is about problem solving, not just aesthetics. Moving forward comes down to whether they’re open to learning that or not.”

05. When the contract causes problems

Any project should start with a clear contract that outlines everyone’s expectations, costs, and an estimated timeline. If the client gets funny about signing, step back. “When you don’t have that, the project often stalls and doesn’t get completed in a timely fashion – and as a business owner, that can get costly,” says designer Shelby Sapusek. 

She points out that if you’ve already created a development site, you’ve done the work regardless of whether it’s live or not. “I’ve experienced project stalls that have lasted for months – that’s a lot of extra cost if you don’t have an agreement beforehand,” she adds.

06. When the client doesn’t respect copyright

Graphic designer Ranjit Sihat has no tolerance for clients wanting to use images where the copyright is held by someone else. “The relationship between client and designer should be based on trust, creating a unique design and selling the identity of the individual business, not someone else’s,” she says. While often these issues can be resolved, occasionally a client will refuse to listen, and push to include the image anyway. At that point, it’s time to walk away.

07. When it’s underpaid

It should go without saying that for any professional designer, pay should be a major decider in the jobs you take – even when you’re at the start of your career. “If I’ve learned anything in life, it’s to not undervalue yourself,” says designer Cliff Nowicki. “The low-paying jobs and freelance gigs I took on earlier in my career were the most soul-sucking times of my life. However great a position seems in terms of environment and benefits, I can’t accept it if it’s paying half the market value.” 

While you might have family or loved ones that can help you out with financial responsibilities, taking on an underpaid job for ‘exposure’ or ‘experience’ rarely pays off – and has knock-on effects for the health of the entire industry.

This article was originally published in net, the world's best-selling magazine for web designers and developers. Buy issue 308 or subscribe.

Web design event Generate London returns on 19-21 September 2018, offering a packed schedule of industry-leading speakers, a full day of workshops and valuable networking opportunities – don’t miss it. Get your Generate ticket now.

Read more:

8 portfolio mistakes that drive clients madHow to write the perfect brief10 time-sucks for creatives and how to minimise them

Designing For Micro-Moments

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Designing For Micro-Moments

Designing For Micro-Moments

Suzanna Scacca


A couple of years ago, Google announced a new mobile-first initiative it wanted web designers and marketers to pick up on. This was our introduction to micro-moments.

These are not to be confused with micro-interactions, which are miniscule engagements websites have with visitors when they “touch” key points of the interface. A mouse changes its appearance when a user hovers over a clickable element. A display error appears after a field is incorrectly populated. A checkbox briefly enlarges and changes color after it’s been ticked off. These are micro-interactions.

A micro-moment, however, originates with your visitor. In Myriam Jessier’s “Things Designers Should Know About SEO In 2018”, she sums up Google’s four micro-moments:

“I want to know.”
“I want to go.”
“I want to do.”
“I want to buy.”

Basically, these are four key moments in every consumer’s life when they decide to pick up their mobile device for a specific purpose. As such, it’s your job to know how to specifically design for these micro-moments.

Recommended reading: What You Need To Know To Increase Mobile Checkout Conversions

How You Should Be Designing For Micro-Moments

When a visitor arrives at a mobile website (or app), they’ve come with a clear motivation:

“I want to know.”
“I want to go.”
“I want to do.”
“I want to buy.”

Seems pretty simple, right? However, as Google launched this initiative a couple of years ago, its had time to quietly observe users in these micro-moments as well as the websites that have most aptly responded to them. As you will soon see, consumers have incredibly high expectations for what the mobile web can do for them. Basically, they want you to be a mind reader and anticipate their every need (and even their location) without them having to say a word.

Is your pattern library up to date today? Alla Kholmatova has just finished a fully fledged book on Design Systems and how to get them right. With common traps, gotchas and the lessons she learned. Hardcover, eBook. Just sayin’.

Table of Contents →

Is that intimidating? It shouldn’t be. You already have all the information you’d ever need to answer that question.

Here is how you should be designing your mobile website to respond to and draw in consumers as they experience these micro-moments:

1. Start With The Data

Google Analytics will help you decipher where they’re spending the most time productively on your website.

Google Analytics Behavior breakdowns

An example of Google Analytics’ visitor behavior breakdowns. (Source: Google Analytics) (Large preview)

Google Search Console will tell you which keywords are most effective in driving high-quality leads to the site.

Google Search Console keywords

An example listing of keywords and associated clicks and impressions for a website. (Source: Google Search Console) (Large preview)

Once you know where exactly visitors see the greatest value in your product, you can then turn to third-party tools like Answer the Public to give you some insights into what relevant questions your users may be asking about you.

Answer the Public sample answers

An example of how Answer the Public provides micro-moment answers. (Source: Answer the Public) (Large preview)

Ultimately, this data needs to tell you all about your customers’ journey before they ever reach you. What exactly was the question that triggered them to pick up their smartphone and do that search? If you can identify those micro-moments, you can start using various design elements to respond to these questions.

2. Respond With Immediacy

According to Google:

People are searching at the exact moment they need something and are looking for places that can meet their immediate need. In other words, when making these on-the-spot decisions, they are more loyal to their need than to any particular place.

Although we’ve heard a lot about customer loyalty to brands in the past, it’s interesting to get Google’s take on this matter.

While consumers may indeed still remain loyal to brands that take very good care of them and produce a high-quality product nearly 100% of the time, this opportunity to steal attention from those customers in one of their micro-moments is real. Do that enough times and your brand and website could realistically win that customer over so long as you are there every time they go searching to fill that need.

One of the ways you can do this is by providing users with instant solutions. Is your business open now? Can you mail out that new product same-day? Will there be an open table at your restaurant tonight? Answer that immediately and you could find conversions increase dramatically.

Take the Delaware State Fair website, for example.

Delaware State Fair gives users what they need to know

The top of the Delaware State Fair home page gives users easy access to everything they want to know and do. (Source: Delaware State Fair) (Large preview)

Look at the top of the homepage. There are the dates of the fair, which probably answer one of the most commonly searched questions. There is a link to the concert lineup as well as calendar, which answers anything people would want to know about special events they might want to go to. And then there’s a button to buy tickets right away. It’s all right there.

Office Depot is a company that also explicitly addresses immediate needs:

Office Depot includes time-driven design elements

The Office Depot mobile site uses a variety of time-driven design elements to satisfy visitors’ needs. (Source: Office Depot) (Large preview)

As you can see in the example above, Office Depot uses a number of design tactics and elements to play into this need for immediacy.

There is a search bar at the very top. Consumers don’t have to even bother with navigation or scrolling through pages if they don’t want to/have the time to.
You’ll also see that the closest store’s hours are posted and boldly tell me how quickly I can have any products available in store.
Finally, you have the promotional categories for upcoming needs for parents that are about to send kids back to school.

Another website is Universal Studios Orlando; it does a great job sparing mobile users the trouble of sifting through irrelevant information and instead gets them to exactly what they need:

Universal Studios provides immediate research and booking options

Universal Studios includes immediate options for research and booking on the home page and navigation. (Source: Universal Studios) (Large preview)

Aside from a single banner at the top of the home page, the Universal Studios website design gives visitors exactly what they want right away. The navigation includes only the most pertinent links to information and booking as does this succinct section on the home page. There’s really no time to waste when the options are so clear.

And here is one final example of a website that deals in immediacy, albeit with a more subtle design technique: Nordstrom:

Nordstrom uses color for immediacy

Nordstrom appeals to immediacy with this one subtle trick. (Source: Nordstrom) (Large preview)

As you can see, this is a pretty typical e-commerce product page. However, there’s one key difference: Nordstrom is subtly calling attention to its Anniversary Sale and the main reason why there is a significant price drop for this purchase. Rather than use an obtrusive pop-up to announce the sale and pester users to shop, it’s made the price change directly on the page and drawn attention to it with the highlighted text.

3. Respond With Relevant Content

According to Google:

Not only have mobile searches for ‘best’ grown over 80% in the past two years, but searches for ‘best’ have shown higher growth among ‘low-consideration’ products than ‘high-consideration’ products. In other words, we’re all becoming research-obsessed, even about the small stuff.

We understand that the opinions of family, friends, and colleagues matter greatly in the minds of consumers. But as more and more of them to turn the web to make their purchases, it means being open to trusting other opinions online as well — ones that may be more conveniently expressed from a company’s website, from an influencer’s blog, or from social media.

Wherever those words of wisdom happen to come from, it’s important to take Google’s research to heart. With so many consumers now obsessed with this idea of having the best of everything and being able to get it in a pinch, your website needs to be the answer to that question.

But that’s the tricky part. According to Google, it’s not as simple as being a dog food manufacturer and configuring your site to be the answer to:

“Best Dog Food”

Consumers experience these micro-moments at a granular level. Sure, there may be some who think, “What is the best dog food?” But isn’t it more likely that question would be more specific in nature? For instance:

Best puppy food?
Best grain-free dog food?
Best vegan dog food?

Let’s take a look at Google, for example. Here’s a variety of searches for a singular “best of” concept:

Best searches example from Google

Example of the variety in “Best” searches in Google. (Source: Google) (Large preview)

As you can see, it goes beyond the basic questions. Through your design and your content, you must be ready to answer the most relevant questions your users have about your product or service.

With content, you’ll be able to answer many of the “I want to know” questions that are related to the brand with things like:

Informational pages regarding services and products.
Whitepapers, ebooks, case studies, reports, and other long-form content that provide heavily researched answers on related matters.
Blog posts, vlogs, podcasts, and other shorter content that can dabble more in appealing to the emotions of consumers.
Tutorials and guides that directly answer questions that consumers are asking.

As far as the design piece is concerned, it’s your responsibility to highlight these pages, so visitors don’t have to dig through various parts or layers of the site (like the footer or secondary navigation) to find their answers.

Google told them it was here, so it’s your job to get them right to it.

The navigation will play a big part in this, as evidenced by Globus Journeys:

Globus answers users in the navigation

Globus Journeys provides answers to micro-moments in the navigation. (Source: Globus Journeys) (Large preview)

As you can see in this example, Globus Journeys answers many of those micro-moments right within the navigation: tips on touring (Touring 101), tips on travel best practices (Travel Tips), deals available for travel (Deals & Offers), etc.

Another way to use navigational design to inform visitors on what they’ll learn/know from this experience can take place on the blog. Salesforce has an interesting example of this:

Salesforce has informative blog navigation

Salesforce includes a navigation menu for the blog. (Source: Salesforce) (Large preview)

There is the standard navigation for the Salesforce website, and then there is the navigation that’s specific to the Salesforce blog. This gives you — as the designer and planner of the site’s layout — a chance to better and more clearly organize content found within it. So, when visitors show up and want to know tips specific to one of those categories, it doesn’t require random searches or (even worse) endless scrolling through a full blog feed.

Another way you can more quickly and thoroughly inform visitors on topics of interest to them is by using strategically placed sections within blog posts.

While you likely won’t have anything to do with the writing of a website’s blog content, you will have control over its layout and formatting. The first thing you can do to expedite the knowledge acquisition process is by using callouts to detail and link to the various sections covered on the page as Be Brain Fit does:

Be Brain Fit has an index of topics

Be Brain Fit calls out a linkable index of topics from the blog post. (Source: Be Brain Fit) (Large preview)

Of course, the post itself is easy to scan, so readers could guide themselves to the most relevant parts. However, by placing this towards the top of the piece, you’re enabling them to get right to the information they seek.

I’m also going to suggest that pop-ups would be helpful in this matter.

I know, I know. Mobile pop-ups can be annoying, but not when they’re used properly as Fit Small Business has done here.

Fit Small Business uses a helpful pop-up

Fit Small Business not only provides all the information needed, but also offers an alternative solution to what they seek. (Source: Fit Small Business) (Large preview)

I encountered this blog post after doing a search for the best way to create a Facebook page. This was one of the links on the first SERP. I was actually quite pleased with the post as a whole. It broke it up into easy-to-follow steps, attractive and informative visuals, and got me the answer I needed.

However, I was especially pleased to see the bottom banner pop-up after I finished getting through the post. Not only has Fit Small Business attempted to reach its audience by providing helpful content, but it’s also providing an alternative solution to anyone who got here and realized, “Eh, I really don’t want to bother with this on my own.”

4. Respond With Geotargeting

According to Google:

Looking for something nearby — a coffee shop, noodle restaurant, shoe store — is one of the most common searches we do. In fact, nearly one-third of all mobile searches are related to location.

Here’s the thing though: users aren’t using “near me” qualifiers as much anymore.

Near me qualifiers dropping in use

Google demonstrates how location qualifiers are decreasing in use. (Source: Google) (Large preview)

According to Google, this is because many consumers now assume that search engines, websites, and mobile apps are tracking this sort of information already. They expect that if they search for something like “dog food,” Google will automatically serve them the most relevant results — and that includes taking into account location proximity.

In Google’s research, it found that about two-thirds of mobile consumers are more likely to buy something from a website or app if information is geographically personalized. There are a plethora of ways to communicate this local-friendliness to visitors — through the copy, through various design elements, and even photos.

Google is a pioneer in this space and so I want to give it a special shout-out in this section for what it does with search results:

Google auto-populates search questions.

Google’s auto-populated search results aren’t just for Google. (Source: Google) (Large preview)

The biggest thing to take away from here is the fact that Google provides its users with auto-populated search recommendations. These are based on the users’ geography, behavior, history, as well as what Google knows about the query itself. As you can see here, it expands on Baltimore to provide more specific results based on the area of the city in which the user wants to drink.

With AI-assisted search functionality, any website can offer this same level of smart search for its users.

Of course, you first need to get access to visitors’ geographic data before you can provide them with these kinds of smart and geographically relevant results. One way to do this is to require them to sign in and fill out a profile with these details. Another way, however, is by serving them with this geotargeting request as Best Buy has done:

Best Buy asks for geo access

Best Buy requests for access to users’ geographic location. (Source: Best Buy) (Large preview)

Once you have access to a visitors’ current location, however, you can start providing them with information that helps them with the “I want to go”, “I want to do”, and the “I want to buy” micro-moments that caused them to reach for the phone in the first place.

Here is what the Best Buy website shows me after I granted it permission:

Best Buy provides geo-specific details

Best Buy uses its visitors’ location to provide helpful in-store visit details. (Source: Best Buy) (Large preview)

The top of the page now displays the nearest location to me as well as opening hours. As I peruse the rest of the site, I will receive relevant information regarding in-store product availability, buy-online-pick-up-in-store options, and so on. This is a really great option for businesses with a sales website and brick-and-mortar location that want to merge the two experiences.

You could also benefit from using this on websites that offer services, appointments, and reservations. Here is an example of what The Palm Restaurant does with my information:

The Palm Restaurant geotargeting

The Palm Restaurant streamlines the reservation process with geotargeting. (Source: The Palm Restaurant) (Large preview)

To start, it uses my information to let me know right away if there even is a location close to me. Philadelphia isn’t too far, but it’s still nice to have the address fully displayed so I can make up my mind about whether I want to dine there. And, if I do, I can choose the “Reservations” button above it.

What’s especially nice about this is that the reservation form is pre-populated:

The Palm Restaurant streamlines conversion

The Palm pre-populates its reservation form based on user information. (Source: The Palm Restaurant) (Large preview)

As you can see, it’s used a mixture of my geographic location along with the most popular reservation types (i.e. two people at 7 p.m.) to pre-populate the form. This saves me, as the user, time in filling it out and making my reservation.

5. Respond With Convenience

According to Google:

Every day, people are becoming more reliant on their smartphones to help make last-minute purchases or spur-of-the-moment decisions. In fact, smartphone users are 50% more likely to expect to purchase something immediately while using their smartphone compared to a year ago.

Recently, I wrote a post about what you need to know to increase mobile checkout conversions. The underlying message was that mobile consumers have certain expectations that need to be met if you intend on converting them there (as opposed to switching back to desktop).

Convenience in getting the information they want is one of them.
Speed in getting to and through checkout is another.
Handling their contact and payment information securely is the final piece.

Clearly, web designers are doing something right as over half of smartphone users reach for their phone to buy something and subsequently do. But it can’t stop with the 10 tips offered in that article. You need to be able to predict what they’re going to purchase and what exactly they want to do when you catch them in those exact micro-moments.

Let’s use UPack as one example.

UPack shows a price quote form first thing

UPack includes a price quote form at the very top of the website. (Source: UPack) (Large preview)

At the very top of every page is a short price quote form that asks only the most pertinent details they need in order to provide a quote to interested customers. By anticipating that’s what they’re looking to do when they visit a moving company’s website, UPack likely experiences very high conversion rates.

However, if someone should arrive at this form and wonder, “Should I even bother with a quote from UPack?”, they’ve provided an answer to that on the next step down on the home page:

UPack’s explainer graphic reaches users on the fence

UPack uses an explainer graphic to sell the value of its service right away. (Source: UPack) (Large preview)

This explainer graphic is simple. It includes four points and shows how exactly someone uses the UPack service to move their home from one destination to another. When someone arrives there with the intention of getting help with their move, UPack has already made it all the more simple in just one scroll and two panels of the home page.

Then, you have a company like HostGator that doesn’t waste any time at all:

HostGator provides shortcut to purchase

HostGator’s home page includes smart design callouts that sum up its services. (Source: HostGator) (Large preview)

If someone shows up on a web hosting company’s website — especially one that is well known as they are — of course they know what they want to do. Now, they could hop into the navigation and dig deeper into the various hosting plans (which some may do). However, HostGator is probably hoping to appeal to two specific audiences with these “Buy Now!” callouts on the home page:

The web developer who knows exactly which plan he or she needs, and doesn’t need a full page to explain the benefits to him.
The small business owner who doesn’t know a thing about web hosting, but trusts HostGator’s good name and just wants to get their web hosting purchases ASAP.

This is a really good choice of design techniques if you know that a good portion of your audience will be immediately ready to buy upon entering the site. If they don’t have to click through to another site, don’t make them do it.

And, of course, CTAs, in general, are an important element to use when designing for micro-moments. When they’re designed well — colorful, large, well-labeled — you’re essentially giving your users a shortcut to conversion.

BarkBox uses a number of these right on its home page:

BarkBox’s CTA shortcuts

BarkBox has a number of CTA shortcuts available on its website. (Source: BarkBox) (Large preview)

Since the brand is particularly well-known among dog owners, this is a good move. While there are some people who enjoy scrolling through the site to see the funny dog pictures and find out more about what’s in this month’s BarkBox, if they’ve arrived here on mobile, they shouldn’t have to wait to subscribe. BarkBox provides those shortcuts in a number of locations, ensuring there’s no friction between its customers and their goals.

Wrapping Up

It’s pretty amazing to watch the web change so quickly as consumers become more trusting of their mobile devices. Now, nearly two years after Google first began recommending that we design with micro-moments in mind, it appears that these suggestions have really paid off.

Designing for micro-moments gives us the opportunity to more effectively reach consumers in their moment of need. This, consequently, means reaching consumers who are in a more purchase-intent mindset as opposed to ones casually browsing the web. If you can use your data and design to actively reach consumers in their micro-moments, you can effectively increase your mobile site’s conversion rate in the years to come.

Smashing Editorial
(lf, ra, yk, il)