An Infinitely Scrollable Vertical Menu

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Note: from now on I’m planning to release simple “components” and explain their basic working principle in tiny articles. In this first one I’m going to look at the infinite looping scroll illusion.

A while back a came across a really nice menu on Madeleine Dalla’s incredible website that was infinitely scrollable. I wondered how that was achieved and after searching for existing solutions, I found this great demo by Vincent Orback on Codepen. It shows how to pull off that effect with sections on a page. I wanted to use his script to make it work for a menu.

The principle of how this works is not too complicated: there’s a bunch of menu items that we need to clone in order to make sure that we have enough items to create a scroll illusion. The illusion works like this: once we scroll and reach the cloned items, we reset the scroll position to 0. So, as soon as the same (visual) point is reached, we jump back to the beginning.

How many clones do we need? We need as many clones as items fit into the visible area. As an example, if 8 items fit into the height of the viewport, than we need to create 8 clones.

The amount of menu items is important when considering how much space they’ll take up on the screen (or scroll area). If your items don’t fill the screen fully, the illusion will break. So you need to make sure to have enough and to set a reasonable font size for the items to occupy enough space.

We let the menu be scrollable but we hide the scrollbar. The menu is covering the whole viewport and this is the element we scroll.

Tip: if you want to visualize the illusion, just make sure that the scrollbar is not hidden. You’ll see it jumping back to the top, once the “cloned” zone is reached. Just delete:

::-webkit-scrollbar {
display: none;

… and the line scrollbar-width: none; for Firefox.

Note that I use a fallback for mobile where I simply want to show the complete menu.

Hope you find this little component useful!

An Infinitely Scrollable Vertical Menu was written by Mary Lou and published on Codrops.

7 Reasons to Use Illustrations on Your Website (And Examples of How to Do It)

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When building a new website, one of the very first decisions you’ll need to make is: 

What kind of visual style do you want to use? 

Does the practical and realistic nature of photographs fit well with your brand? Or does it make more sense to turn to a more abstract and creative approach and use illustrations instead? 

If you decide that you want to take the illustrative approach, keep in mind that it comes in many different forms. As a result, a very different style and story can be depicted from illustrated website to illustrated website. 

This is something we’ve accounted for when creating our pre-built sites for BeTheme. We wanted to reflect a wide array of illustration styles so our customers not only get to see how diverse this visual style is, but also have a robust source of inspiration for their own designs. 

We’re not alone. There are many great websites out there that creatively use illustrations. And, today, we’re going to take a look at a number of them as we explore the seven reasons why you may want to use illustrations to style a website:

1. When a photograph can’t fully capture a complicated subject

If you’ve ever tried to find a photo for a brand and struggled to pick out something that accurately reflected who they were or what they did, it’s probably because the subject was too difficult to capture. 

That can mean any number of things. 

It could mean that the subject itself is too difficult to photograph. Copywriters are a good example of this. While they could get someone to photograph them while typing away on their computer, there’s nothing very exciting about that. A photograph would simply capture the mundane task of writing, which is what the client would be trying to avoid. 

If you take a look at the BeCopywriter 2 pre-built site, you’ll see that an illustrative style is a much better way to approach this: 

The design is striking. The words are powerful. And the illustrative touches add a unique touch to the overall look. 

There are other kinds of websites that would be better off with illustrations if their subjects are too complicated to capture. Take, for instance, a recycling services company like WeRecycle: 

While it’s possible to pick out images or take real-life photos of recycling, that doesn’t fully capture what this company does. Rather than focus on individual scraps of trash, illustrations enable companies like these to give website visitors the full scope of what they do. 

It’s a much more powerful image, to say the least. 

2. When a brand has a unique look that requires a unique approach

Every brand has its own style and personality. Without a unique edge, it would be hard for consumers to differentiate between similar solutions. 

That said, some companies have styles that are way out there, which means that some of the traditional rules of web design can get thrown out the window. 

One way we see this happening is when photographs and illustrations blend. This allows a brand with a surreal, edgy, imaginative, or whimsical look to leverage the traditional elements of design while shaking things up. 

For example, this is how the BeFoodTruck pre-built site handles it: 

The illustrations are a unique choice for a business in the food industry, which would instantly make this site a standout. That said, without real photos of food, it would be difficult to convince customers to dine in or out. 

That’s why the balance between the two styles works so well. 

Handwrytten is a website that uses a similar balance between real photos and eye-catching illustrations:

In this case, the illustrations are animated, which gives the homepage yet another unique twist. This concept alone is already quite innovative and now they have a site to match it.

3. When a company wants to stand out from photo-strewn sites

When it comes to certain industries, the expectation is that their websites will have a similar look to them. 

Take the travel and hospitality industries, for instance. Because they’re in the business of selling in-person experiences — or telling stories about them — you’d figure that photos are the only option for those websites. 

But if your website is trying to compete amongst an endless supply of lookalike companies, using illustrations may be the thing that sets them apart. 

Case in point, BeJourney 2: 

Although the site isn’t complete devoid of photos, the majority of it is designed with illustrations or illustrative touches. 

Bateau Mon Paris is a boat rental company in France that takes a similar approach: 

You can see the peekaboo photo poking out there, but, for the most part, this website’s main visual style is illustration. 

4. When a new company wants to leverage the style of a brand that consumers already trust

You see this quite often when brand new companies enter high-risk spaces. They design their branding and website to be reminiscent of a well-established company that customers already trust. 

That way, there’s an unconscious association in prospects’ minds between the two companies and it eases the concerns and doubts that often arise when working with a new company.

One such company’s website that became the standard for other software companies entering the space is Stripe: 

Stripe’s illustrative style (as well as its choice to use gradients) has been copied for years. And it’s been a good look to emulate. 

Our BePay 2 site takes the trust-building elements that we see in Stripe and puts a unique spin on them:

The site is designed using illustrations, including the mobile application images. The color blue is also prevalent, which is a color that’s symbolic of stability and trust. 

5. When a creator has an interesting story and work to share

Although you’ll find some design agencies and web developers who use photos of themselves and their teams on their websites, many times creative types use illustrations instead. 

One reason why they go this route is because it’s another way to flex their creative muscles and to show prospective clients what they can do. 

Another reason takes us back to point #1 in this post. Unless they have a large team and an interesting-looking studio they work from, photos aren’t going to be the most exciting way to capture what it is they do.  

The BeBand 5 pre-built site, for example, uses illustrations and animations to give its site an 80s-style look. 

Unless band members are in the habit of dressing up like rockers from the 80s, photos wouldn’t accurately capture the style of music the band plays. But this unique illustrative style certainly does and also proves useful in drawing attention over to their music. 

 Artist Polly Kole has taken a unique approach to building an illustrative website:

In addition to the dramatic and intriguing look of the site, it’s interactive too. It’s almost as though the site emulates the experience of going to look at art (maybe not the interacting part, but being able to walk around it).

6. When a company is selling a smart app or resource

Companies that sell “smart” tools to users commonly design their websites with illustrations instead of photographs. And it makes a lot of sense. 

For one, these companies aren’t really selling the product itself. While the experience inside an app or using a device matters, what they’re selling on a website is a solution to the users’ problems which often involves managing a lot of data. That’s not an easy thing to depict with photos. 

Another reason they use illustrations — or, more specifically, vector graphics — is because geometric styling is a good way to give a website a stable and logical feel. 

BeApp 6 uses data visualizations to really hammer home the strengths of the app: 

While designers could use screenshots from within their apps to do something similar, this approach enables them to highlight important elements within the product in an attractive way.

Swiggy Labs builds products that solve big problems for consumers: 

While the designer of the site could’ve chosen to display the actual products they’ve built, this is a much more interesting approach. When you drag the “Swiggy It” toggle to the right, the hero image comes to life with animations and messages that allude to what the company does.

7. When a brand’s target audience is children (or their parents)

This is another no-brainer use case for illustrations on the web. Considering how comfortable children are with cartoons, games, and apps, an illustrative style is much more relatable when trying to reach this audience — or even their parents. 

You might also argue that illustrations are presented in a manner that’s easier for kids to understand because of how much better illustrations are able to simplify a complex subject.

BeLanguage 3 is an interesting case because it’s a language learning website:

You might argue that illustrations are a universal language. You don’t need to understand English or Japanese or Italian in order to understand what is going on with a website or the company it represents when illustrations tell the story. 

Other kinds of organizations that serve children or their families can use illustrations to simplify language and strengthen their sales pitch as See Make Play does: 

The illustrations on this site give it a fun and youthful quality. In this particular part of the homepage, the illustrations are static images. However, elsewhere on the page, parents and their kids will encounter animated graphics that bring a lighthearted touch to this site. 

Will you use illustrations to style your website?

If you’re finding it difficult to use photography to tell your brand’s visual story or are thinking about pursuing something a little less conventional, illustration might be the solution. 

As you can see in the websites from BeTheme and others around the web, illustrated websites are in no short supply. And, yet, whenever you encounter one, they tend to have a unique look you can’t help but look away from. 

If you want to make your website really stand out, an illustrated website would be a fantastic style to experiment with.

7 Reasons to Use Illustrations on Your Website (And Examples of How to Do It) was written by Bogdan Sandu and published on Codrops.

A Short Guide to Help You Conduct User Research

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User research has become a significant part of every designing process. It was long overlooked by many UX designers and their clients in the past, but many professionals have recently become aware of the benefits user research can give to their products. If you have just looked at why it is necessary, then it about […]

The post A Short Guide to Help You Conduct User Research appeared first on

This Week In Web Design – May 22, 2020

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Another Friday, another edition of “This Week In Web Design”,  our weekly roundup of all of the web design news, blog posts, and tutorials published in the past seven days. This week’s list includes tools, WordPress tips and tricks, UX discussions, JavaScript, CSS, and much more. So pull up a chair and dive into this week’s web design news!

Your Web Designer Toolbox

Unlimited Downloads: 500,000+ Web Templates, Icon Sets, Themes & Design Assets
Starting at only $16.50/month!



Design Handoff Tools

A list of the best design handoff tools to aid in the design handoff process.

Responsive Design Checklist: Your 7-Item List for Responsive Design

Your extensive responsive design checklist to ensure that you provide the best possible website experience to all users — no matter what device they use.

5 UX Tips To Design an Excellent Mobile Checkout Process

The essential principles of a great mobile checkout process to help you multiply sales and reduce abandons.

How to Check if Post has Taxonomy Term In WordPress

To check if a Custom Post Type belongs to a specific term in a Custom Taxonomy, use has_term() instead.

5 Reasons to Avoid the Desktop Hamburger Menu Icon

Why would you do it? Other than to maintain or establish a certain aesthetic, it’s hard to find an answer that makes any sense.

A Website Proposal Template That Will Impress Your Clients

Everything you need to know about website proposal templates — what they are, why you should use them, and how to build one that will have people paying attention.

Tackling Authentication With Vue Using RESTful APIs

Vue can’t actually do authentication all by itself, so we’ll be using another service (Firebase) for that, but then integrating the whole experience in Vue.

Error Handling in JavaScript

An easy introduction to error handling in JavaScript.

Simple Strategies for Winning the Positions Other Developers Want

How do they do it?

12 Ways to Increase Your Website Conversions using Design Principles

12 tips that can help boost your site’s conversion without sacrificing good web design.

A “new direction” in the struggle against rightward scrolling

Some interesting thoughts on various solutions.

How to Build a Grayscale to Color Effect on Scroll (CSS & JavaScript)

Start with some grayscale images and learn how to smoothly reveal their colored variants on scroll.

Solving the “right” problem

There are a few simple specific tactics we can use to ensure that our products are designed for solving the right problem for its users.

WordPress Block Transforms

This has been the year of Gutenberg for the CSS-Tricks website.

How to Create a Custom Bootstrap Template from Scratch

How you can create a Bootstrap template from scratch in minutes.

Building Trust with Transparency

Web designers need to be ready to help clients communicate that transparency through their websites.

Radio Buttons Are Like Selects; Checkboxes Are Like Multiple Selects
Understanding Machines: An Open Standard For JavaScript Functions

Become familiar with what machines are and how to implement them.

Handy Tips on Productivity in Terms of Remote Work

A bunch of tips on how to increase productivity and stay focused on the conditions of remote work.

18+ Amazing Pure CSS Animated Buttons

Latest Collection of free Amazing Pure CSS Animated Buttons Code Examples.

16 Pitch Deck Templates You Need to See

We’ve done the hard part for you and sourced 16 pitch deck templates that offer real functionality and look great doing it.

10 Tips to Create the Best Website Style Guide

A website style guide is an important aspect when it comes to bringing coordination and collaboration amongst the team.

Beautiful Examples of Login Forms for Websites and Apps

The basics of login forms, consider good UX tips, get clues from beautiful login form examples to find out how to create a pleasurable experience, and eliminate user obstacles.

How Uber uses psychology to perfect their customer experience

Uber tackles their biggest pain points with science.

Figure It Out

Color is, without a doubt, the visual element most often misunderstood and misused.

How to Make Taxonomy Pages With Gatsby and

How to make taxonomy pages with Gatsby with structured content from

How to Hack, Redesign, & Customize the Django Admin with Bootstrap

The Django administration site is great — fully-featured, easy to use, secure by design, rock solid … and somewhat ugly.

Flexbox-like “just put elements in a row” with CSS grid

It’s worth noting though that grid can do the same thing in its own special way.

How to Redirect With PHP

How to redirect to another page with PHP.

43 Habits of Successful Web Designers

If you not only want to create a business that you love but also be able to enjoy your life at the same time, start incorporating these strategies.

19 JS Libraries/Plugins for Typography

As with almost every part of web design, there are several tools available to help make you more effective. Typography is no different.

How to Use Envato Elements to Create Online

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When presented with the task of creating things for the Internet, knowing where to start can be half the battle. If you lack design skills or if you’re pressed for time, using some premade resources can be extremely helpful. The first order of business is locating a resource that has what you need. The second? Searching within this resource for templates, tools, and items that can aid you in making content.

Thankfully, we can handle the first part easily. Envato Elements is truly a one-stop resource for so many templates, themes, graphics, illustrations, photos, and more that you can use immediately in your work. Once you sign up, you gain access to thousands of items.

But if you’re not convinced, let’s talk about some of the ways you can use Envato Elements to make stellar online content starting immediately.

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


Build a Website Using a Template

If you’re creating online, you need a website. And Envato Elements makes it super easy to do this. It features a wide array of templates that make it easy to build and launch a site quickly. There’s no shortage of options as well, so you can choose anything from an HTML template to a full CMS template. Here’s the full breakdown of the types of templates offered here:


And within these options you can narrow your search by features (responsiveness, eCommerce, PSD files included) by focus (admin, landing page, or site) and topic (beauty, corporate, fitness, etc).

WordPress Themes at Envato Elements.

Create Presentations to Accompany Online Courses

If you want to offer or sell online courses, you may wish to create and share this content via presentations. This means you’ll need some solid templates on hand if you want to make a real impact. Lucky for you, Envato Elements offers these as well. You can select from templates for Keynote, PowerPoint, and Google Slides, all of which are super professional-looking and easy to use. Just download the template, add your custom content, and export it. That’s all there is to it.

The crux of the situation here is that you shouldn’t have to labor over these elements of your work if you don’t have to.

Presentations at Envato Elements.

Create Graphics for Social Media

If you run a business online, you should have a social media presence. But yet again, that’s another thing you have to create consistent content for. If coming up with an endless supply of compelling graphics doesn’t sound fun to you, Envato Elements can help. Its graphic templates section is loaded with a wide variety of options including templates for infographics and logos.

They also have scene generators or mockups, which make it easy to display your product or app on a background that’s been carefully (and stylishly) presented.

You can pair these templates with some other resources as well like the selection of graphics available. You can select from graphics that encompass the following categories:


They also have a dedicated Social category that you can browse for social media platform specific templates.

As if all of that weren’t enough, there’s also a Photo category that includes thousands of photographs you can use for anything under the sun.

A Social Media Resource from Envato Elements.

Make Explainer and Promotional Videos

The last thing we’ll discuss here today is how you can make videos using resources on Envato Elements. If you haven’t already dipped your toes into the video-making market, now’s the time. Video is extremely popular and it’s been proven to increase visitor engagement. Because of this, many opted to create promotional videos or explainer videos that describe something practical. And while you may need to film some footage yourself, having stock footage on hand is beneficial. Wouldn’t you know it that Elements has this as well?

Hundreds of thousands of stock videos and motion graphics are available to choose from to add to your creations.

Or, if you need a templated solution, there are thousands of video templates to pick from as well. They cover categories like:

Logo stings
Product promos
Video Displays
And more

And you can find specific options for the likes of After Effects, Premiere Pro, Apple Motion, and Final Cut Pro.

When you’re in edit mode, you can add in sound effects or music as well. The sky’s the limit here.

Video Intro Template from Envato Elements

Don’t Wait to Start Creating

So you see, you really have no excuses not to start creating unique content for your online presence, whatever that may look like for you. From websites to videos, Envato Elements has you covered from top to bottom.

What will you create next?

5 Tips for Streamlining Your Freelance Workflow

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When you work as a freelancer, it’s essential to save time in your workflow wherever you can. After all, it’s likely that you’re required to wear many hats every single day. From marketing to finances, freelancers are in charge of steering their own ships – and that means being well-rounded business managers. And that’s on top of the actual workload you have. You know, the tasks that actually earn you an income?

Again, that’s why streamlining operations as much as possible is so important. You should be spending most of your work time completing assignments that make money. So, the more you can limit the time you need to spend on day-to-day operations the better. What follows are five tips and suggestions for streamlining your freelance workflow starting immediately.

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All starting at only $16.50 per month


1. Use a Project Management Tool

If you do nothing else on this list, setting up a project management tool alone will save you a ton of time. Why? Because these tools already eliminate the need for so many other apps and software.

For instance, some tools allow you to add projects, create milestones or tasks for each project, and assign tasks to other people. These tools are also helpful for organizing assignments, creating priorities, and tracking progress. The “at-a-glance” ability project management tools make it easy to see where you’re at on your projects, keep tabs on how projects are progressing, and manage all related files and communication.

The latter point is the most time-saving, in my opinion, because you’ll no longer have to hunt through emails to find that PDF a client sent over as a reference or the login information to someone’s WordPress site. It’ll all be stored safely in one spot for quick-access and reference at any time.

A few popular choices for project management tools include Trello, Asana, and Basecamp. Personally, I use Trello to keep track of my assignments, due dates, article specifications, and client information.

A sign that reads "PROJECTS".

2. Streamline Communication

This ties into number one on our list but it warrants its own section. One of the things that can take up most of your time as a freelancer is correspondence. Responding to messages is time-consuming enough, but add in the actual wrangling of messages and you’ve got a huge time suck on your hands.

Many project management tools include chat or commenting features. However, if you need a live chat option, Slack is always a good choice. This app allows you to create channels for talking with clients and colleagues. With paid plans, you should be able to create dedicated channels for each of your clients. This makes it super easy to stay in touch and to ask questions (or answer them) quickly. It has an accompanying desktop and mobile app as well, so communicating is easy and intuitive.

Basically, if you want to free up some time, ditch emails for good.

A chat application on a smartphone.

3. Create a Project Scope Document for Each Project

Scope creep is a real problem for freelancers. And it happens all too often. You start out on a project with an idea of what it will entail. Cut to a few weeks later and you’re five rounds of edits in with no end in sight. When the scope of a project continually expands, you lose time and money.

To prevent this issue, take the extra time at the beginning of your projects to write up a quick project scope document. After having initial talks with your client, write out what you both agreed the project would involve. Send it to the client for review. Detail the number of revisions you’ll cover before additional fees are required.  After you both agree upon the document’s contents, you can begin working in confidence.

People viewing documents.

4. Automate Invoicing and Finances

Dealing with the financial part of your freelance business can be super time-consuming. But it doesn’t have to be if you use the right tools. First of all, don’t spend hours manually creating invoices each month to send out to your clients. Use templates, for starters. Or better yet, use an invoicing service like FreshBooks, Harvest, or Invoicely to create, manage, and send invoices. In fact, you can configure these services to automatically send your invoices on a given date each month to save you even more time.

All of this financial info is compiled in a straightforward way as well, so it can be exported into your financial tracking software or linked directly to it so the data is updated in real-time without you having to lift a finger.

Dollar signs.

5. Eliminate Guesswork in Creating Media

A major part of doing work online is creating media. Now, certainly those in the graphic design field will need to create a lot more media and images than those who aren’t. But the need for media and graphics applies across the board. From writers to videographers, the need for stock images and graphical elements remain.

To save time, you can use a reliable source of images for everything. A one-stop shop, if you will. For that, I like to use Envato Elements, which streamlines how I find templates and graphics to accompany articles. With it, I source hundreds of photos, graphics, and media templates, which is a huge time saver for everything from marketing to actual client work.

Once you get your resource materials, you can customize as you see fit. Many use something like Photoshop for this work, but something simpler like Canva is highly effective, too.

A woman using a computer.

Make Your Freelance Workflow Easier

Hopefully you’ve found these five tips useful. With them, you can shave time off your freelance workflow and find ways to simplify how you do business. And at the very least, you’ll be more organized overall.

Best of luck to you!

How To Feel More Energized Even When You’re Stuck At A Desk All Day

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How To Feel More Energized Even When You’re Stuck At A Desk All Day

How To Feel More Energized Even When You’re Stuck At A Desk All Day

Suzanne Scacca


Let me tell you a little story.

I used to work for a translation agency. It was my job to copy-and-paste translations from one document into another and then to review the writing for errors. I worked between 10 and 12 hours every day, usually taking lunch at my desk (if I remembered to do so) and physically repeated the same thing over and over: mousing back and forth between my two giant computer screens and staring at too-small type.

Two years later, I found myself in physical therapy because I’d worn away the tissue beneath my right shoulder cap and had developed tennis elbow. Despite the months of therapy to repair my arm, I primarily use my left arm to work today. And although it feels a heck of a lot better than trying to power through the pain that happens when working with my right…

It makes me much slower than I used to be…

Which can lead to longer hours in front of the computer…

And I experience higher levels of stress, frustration and fatigue as a result.

I feel like if you’ve had a desk job for long enough, you have a similar story to tell. Maybe yours isn’t due to bad posture or technique. Maybe it has to do with the fact that you forget to eat lunch most days and don’t remember what it’s like to be outside when the sun is at its brightest. Or you move from your desk to the couch to the bed and back again, never giving your body or mind the physical activity it needs to stay energized.

Rather than let this be our collective fate because of the nature of our work, let’s try and change the narrative. Today, we’re going to look at some things you can do to feel more alert and energized even if you’re stuck at your desk for most of the day.

Fix Your Desk Setup and Alignment

Even if it feels more comfortable to work from your couch or bed or to slouch down in your work chair, the long-term benefits of not sitting properly will haunt you. Trust me.

I don’t know how old most of you are, but you may or may not have had to go through typing classes in school as I did. We didn’t just learn to type in them. We learned the right posture for sitting before a computer. This graphic from wikiHow sums it up:

wikiHow graphic - right and wrong postures working at desk

An illustration that depicts the right and wrong posture when sitting at a desk. (Image source: wikiHow) (Large preview)

Basically, you want to aim for the following:

Body folded at 90-degree angles,
Back straight against the chair,
Feet flat on the floor,
Arms bent at the elbows,
Fingers hover above the keyboard or mouse without bending or resting the wrists,
Eyes level with the computer screen.

This is a good place to start, regardless if you sit in a chair, on a stool or a stability ball. That said, it’s not the only thing you can do to fix your body at your workstation.

Another thing to think about is using a standing desk.

According to Dr. Edward R. Laskowski and the Mayo Clinic, sitting can be really bad for your health. People who sit for long periods of time are more prone to increased blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, and cancer.

Even if you switch to a standing desk for just a few hours a day, you can increase the number of calories burned and stave off some of those health issues. In a study conducted back in 2011, researchers found additional health benefits when using a standing desk:

“The Take-a-Stand Project reduced time spent sitting by 224% (66 minutes per day), reduced upper back and neck pain by 54% and improved mood states.”

You don’t need to go investing in a standing desk to make this change. They can be expensive, especially when you already have a setup you’re comfortable with. However, what you can do is invest in a riser.

Desk modified to be standing

A modified desk turns into a standing desk with an adjustable riser. (Image source: Suzanne Scacca) (Large preview)

Not only can I adjust the height of the riser, but I can tilt it, too. This is useful not just for turning my desk into a standing desk setup, but I can take this with me when I work in hotels to make sure I’m always maintaining proper alignment.

Use Time-Blocking To Schedule Your Day

Usually when people recommend the Pomodoro Technique — developed by Francesco Cirillo — they’re going to tell you to break your day into 25-minute intervals. That’s not really what the goal of this time management method is though.

The reason you break your workday into blocks is because it’s easier to focus when you have a clear and reasonable end-time in sight. It’s also useful for structuring your day.

For someone like a salesperson who has to get on call after call with leads or to sit in an endless string of meetings, half-hour blocks make a whole lot of sense. That’s naturally how their day breaks apart. Web designers would benefit from much longer blocks. Here’s why:

A study from the University of California and Humboldt University looked at what happens after work is disrupted. These were their findings and interpretations:

“When people are constantly interrupted, they develop a model of working faster (and writing less) to compensate for the time they know they will lose by being interrupted. Yet working faster with interruptions has its cost: people in the interrupted conditions experienced a higher workload, more stress, higher frustration, more time pressure and effort. So interrupted work may be done faster, but at a price.”

You have to be careful about managing the “cost” of taking a break. 25-minute blocks are just too costly for a web designer. I’d recommend looking at how your tasks naturally break apart.

Would prototyping a landing page take an hour or two? How about research and planning? Take a close look at the tasks you commonly perform and how long they take, on average, to complete.

I’d also look at where you naturally start to “fail” and lose focus. It’s the same thing that happens in workouts — when you reach your breaking point, your body just gives up. Unfortunately, some people try to push through it when it’s the brain screaming, “Stop!”

Another thing to look at is where your peak energy hours are. We all have them. For me, it’s between 2 PM and 5 PM every day. I always schedule my hardest projects then.

Use those as benchmarks for your blocks. On top of creating blocks and breaks throughout the workday, also be sure to set dedicated hours and limits for yourself. It’s a lot harder to get fatigued if you know you only have to put in a specific number of hours of work that day.

As for building this out, use a tool that makes it easy to set recurring breaks and stick to the same schedule every day. It could be as simple as using your Google Calendar:

Google Calendar time-blocking example

An example of how a web designer might schedule their work and breaks in blocks. (Image source: Google Calendar) (Large preview)

Whatever you choose, make sure you can slot in each task by time and color-code tasks based on things like client, priority, type, design stage, etc.

Get Outside During The Workday

Okay, so let’s talk about what you should be doing with your scheduled breaks.

Unless there’s a dangerous storm outside, you should make an effort to get outside at least once a day. There are a ton of health benefits associated with sunlight, including an increase in vitamin D and serotonin.

Vitamin D is useful as it helps increase our immune systems and fight off disease. If you’ve ever tried to work while battling a cold or the flu, you know how difficult that can be — especially when your bed is just a matter of steps away.

Serotonin is also useful for work. Serotonin is what gives us the energy and good mood to power through longer days. Melatonin, on the other hand, is what puts us soundly to sleep at night. If we don’t get the right balance of it — which can happen if you’re stuck inside with artificial lighting all day — you could end up with sleepless nights and exhausting days.

Walking around India Point Park in Providence, Rhode Island

Despite the extra coverings, I was enjoying the boost of sunshine on my lunch break as I walked around the Providence waterfront. (Image source: Suzanne Scacca) (Large preview)

According to Russel J. Reiter, a melatonin researcher:

“The light we get from being outside on a summer day can be a thousand times brighter than we’re ever likely to experience indoors. For this reason, it’s important that people who work indoors get outside periodically and moreover that we all try to sleep in total darkness. This can have a major impact on melatonin rhythms and can result in improvements in mood, energy and sleep quality.”

But it’s not just sunlight and fresh air that help with energy and productivity. Exercise is important, too. And what better way to fit in fitness than when you’re already outside and on a break from work?

For some people, taking a long walk is their preferred mode of outdoor exercise. It’s also a great option if you’re a dog owner and want to give them a big dose of exercise at the same time.

Ann Green, a fitness studio owner, yoga teacher and heptathlon world athlete, explains the benefits of walking:

“There are many reasons to walk for exercise. Walking improves fitness, cardiac health, alleviates depression and fatigue, improves mood, creates less stress on joints and reduces pain, can prevent weight gain, reduce the risk for cancer and chronic disease, improve endurance, circulation and posture and the list goes on.”

If you want something a little more exhilarating without breaking a major sweat in the middle of the workday, why not take an electric bike out?

There are many great things about this option. For starters, because e-bikes (like the ones you get from Rad Power Bikes) take some of the work out of pedaling for you, you can ride for a lot longer and go further.

Researchers at the University of Colorado conducted a study with 20 volunteers to see what would happen when they traded their car for an e-bike when commuting to work. Their objective was to ride for at least 40 minutes, three times a week, for a full month.

They found that electric bikes had improved their:

Cardiovascular health,
Aerobic capacity,
Blood sugar control.

Rad Power Bikes - grocery run GIFRad Power Bikes e-bikes aren’t just healthier for you, they’re healthier for the environment. (Image source: Rad Power Bikes)

Another reason an e-bike is an attractive option is because you can use it for a variety of purposes.

You can use it for commuting, if you have an office you work out of. You can use it for general exercise whenever you feel like it. You can also use it to get more done during your breaks. If you ever feel stressed out about when you’re going to have time to pick up groceries, for instance, an e-bike would be a great way to knock out your exercise and chores all at once.

Bottom line:

You’re carving time out of your workday to get away from your computer and give your brain and body a rest so it can recharge. Don’t waste it by putting yourself in front of another screen. If you can get outside, not only will you improve your overall health, but you’ll give yourself an instant boost of energy and mood, too.

Wrapping Up

Just because working indoors, at a desk, in front of a computer screen has been known to cause issues, that doesn’t mean you can’t take steps to lessen or remove those negative side effects from your workday.

Focus and energy are both very important in your line of work. By making just a few small adjustments, you can ensure that both remain high while you’re desk-side.

Smashing Editorial
(ra, il)

Create an iOS app for your product without coding

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A few years ago, building an app for your product would’ve meant relentless research to find the right software development company, hefty down payments, months spent in specification and wireframes, and another lifetime till you finally got the ready app in your hand. This process would be so overwhelming for businesses that in a majority […]

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How to Hack, Redesign, & Customize the Django Admin with Bootstrap

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Hacking the Django Admin with Bootstrap

The Django administration site is great — fully-featured, easy to use, secure by design, rock solid … and somewhat ugly, which can be something of a downside when you want to integrate it with the look and feel of the rest of your website. Let’s sort that out.

If It Ain’t Broke …

The default Django adminThe default Django admin. (Source)

Say you’ve just prototyped a web app with Django and Vue.js. For a wide array of cases, using Django’s admin for back office purposes as is, and even handling it over to your client after appropriately setting permissions, is just fine. After all, it works perfectly well and it can be heavily customized with the built-in tools to cover many situations.

So again, why bother?

Reasons to Hack the Look and Feel of the Admin

However, there are a number of valid reasons to take integration a step further:

Branding: there’s nothing wrong in wanting the name and colors of your company instead of “Django administration” (and for the record, this is in compliance with Django’s BSD license).
Seamless integration between main site and admin: you might want to be able to transition between back office functionality while navigating the site, and vice versa, by having a common navigation bar.
Prettifying: while the admin looks okay, and it has even implemented responsive web design principles ever since v2 (it works well on both, mobile and desktop), there’s a lot a well-crafted style sheet can do to make it look better.
Bypass functionality: you might also just want to create custom dropdown menus for the admin, displaying the options that you actually use and hiding from the user interface what you don’t really need, which could make for a better user experience.

A Practical Example

For this example, and not to repeat ourselves, we’ll resume the simple publishing web application we started for the Prototyping a Web App with Django and Vue.js article.

In a nutshell:

a Django app with two models:
Article with fields name author (linked), content and slug
Author: with fields name and slug
A single view called frontend that queries all registries in both models.
A single template called template.
Implementation of Vue.js with Vue Router and Vuex for a reactive scalable interface.

We won’t particularly care for the Vue.js integration in this installment, and we won’t modify it here.

The Basic Template


Django templates are very versatile and powerful, and can either be created at the app level (a component of the Django site) or at the site level, and can even override the templates that come with Django (which is what we’ll do here).

Bootstrap logoSource

We created a basic template that links to Bootstrap‘s JavaScript and style sheet, and also its companion tools, jQuery and Popper.

Here’s the base template we’re using for the main site, not at all different from what we would normally use for any other Django site:

<!doctype html>
<html lang=”en”>
<!– Required meta tags –>
<meta charset=”utf-8″>
<meta name=”viewport” content=”width=device-width, initial-scale=1, shrink-to-fit=no”>

<!– Bootstrap CSS –>
<link rel=”stylesheet” href=”” integrity=”sha384-Vkoo8x4CGsO3+Hhxv8T/Q5PaXtkKtu6ug5TOeNV6gBiFeWPGFN9MuhOf23Q9Ifjh” crossorigin=”anonymous”>

<title>Django and Vue.js</title>
<body class=”bg-light”>
<div class=”bg-white container”>
<h1>Prototyping a Web App with Django and Vue.js</h1>

<!– Content –>

<!– Vue.js –>
<script src=””></script>
<script src=””></script>

<!– jQuery first, then Popper.js, then Bootstrap JS –>
<script src=”” integrity=”sha384-J6qa4849blE2+poT4WnyKhv5vZF5SrPo0iEjwBvKU7imGFAV0wwj1yYfoRSJoZ+n” crossorigin=”anonymous”></script>
<script src=”” integrity=”sha384-Q6E9RHvbIyZFJoft+2mJbHaEWldlvI9IOYy5n3zV9zzTtmI3UksdQRVvoxMfooAo” crossorigin=”anonymous”></script>
<script src=”” integrity=”sha384-wfSDF2E50Y2D1uUdj0O3uMBJnjuUD4Ih7YwaYd1iqfktj0Uod8GCExl3Og8ifwB6″ crossorigin=”anonymous”></script>

Next, we’ll integrate this into the admin, and add a shared navigation bar across both ends — the main site and the back office!

Integrating the Main UI Template with the Admin

As mentioned, we can override templates, including those of the admin. However, because of Django’s design, and unsurprisingly, the main site and the back office are two different systems, each with its own templates, style sheets, and contrib packages. So even if they will be almost identical, we’ll need to maintain two different templates — one for the main UI, and one for the admin.

Enabling a Directory for Templates in General

First, we need to tell Django where we’ll store the hacked admin template in the base directory.

Se we’ll need to edit myproject/ firstly, find the TEMPLATES constant and this DIRS key:

‘DIRS’: [],

Change that code to this:

‘DIRS’: [os.path.join(BASE_DIR, ‘templates’)],

Wrapping the Admin Template (admin/base Hack)

If we just wanted to do cosmetic changes, like passing a custom style sheet to the admin, or removing/replacing its header, we could get along with that by just editing the admin/base_site template and skipping this current step altogether. However, if we want to go all the way and “wrap” the admin section as if it was contained within our main site, with the possibility to have a common header and footer, then keep reading.

We’ll need to copy Django’s admin/base.html to our templates directory in templates/admin/base.html, so that we can place our wrappers.

We’ll edit the code around the container section, so that it goes from this:

<!– Container –>
<div id=”container”>
<!– END Container –>

to this:

{% block bodyheader %}{% endblock %}

<!– Container –>
<div id=”container”>
<!– END Container –>

{% block bodyfooter %}{% endblock %}

And that’s all! We simply created bodyheader and bodyfooter block tags, so that we could inject the code that will wrap the admin on the next step.

Coding a Custom Admin Template (admin/base_site Hack)

Then, we’ll code the actual template in templates/admin/base_site.html (we’ll need to create the directories on the root of our project):

{% extends “admin/base_site.html” %}

{% block title %}Django with Bootstrap | Admin site{% endblock %}

{% block branding %}{% endblock %}
{% block breadcrumbs %}{% endblock %}

{% block bodyclass %}bg-light{% endblock %}

{% block extrastyle %}
<link rel=”stylesheet” href=”” integrity=”sha384-Vkoo8x4CGsO3+Hhxv8T/Q5PaXtkKtu6ug5TOeNV6gBiFeWPGFN9MuhOf23Q9Ifjh” crossorigin=”anonymous”>
#header, .breadcrumbs { display: none; }

/* Bootstrap issues with admin */
* { box-sizing: unset; }
div.module caption { caption-side: top !important; }
.collapse { display: block !important; }
{% endblock %}

{% block bodyheader %}
<div class=”bg-white container”>

<div class=”jumbotron”>
<h1 class=”display-4″>Hacking the Django Admin with Bootstrap</h1>
<p class=”lead”>
The <a ref=””>Django administration site</a> is great—full-featured, easy to use, secure by design, rock solid… and somewhat ugly, which can be something of a downside when you want to integrate it with the look-and-feel of the rest of the website. Let’s sort that out.
{% endblock %}

{% block bodyfooter %}

<!– jQuery first, then Popper.js, then Bootstrap JS –>
<script src=”” integrity=”sha384-J6qa4849blE2+poT4WnyKhv5vZF5SrPo0iEjwBvKU7imGFAV0wwj1yYfoRSJoZ+n” crossorigin=”anonymous”></script>
<script src=”” integrity=”sha384-Q6E9RHvbIyZFJoft+2mJbHaEWldlvI9IOYy5n3zV9zzTtmI3UksdQRVvoxMfooAo” crossorigin=”anonymous”></script>
<script src=”” integrity=”sha384-wfSDF2E50Y2D1uUdj0O3uMBJnjuUD4Ih7YwaYd1iqfktj0Uod8GCExl3Og8ifwB6″ crossorigin=”anonymous”></script>
{% endblock %}


Let’s try to explain what we’re doing here:

We tell the template engine that we are “extending” the admin/base_site.html template, to effectively override some of its definitions.
We make use of the title block to customize a title for the admin page being browsed.
We empty the content of branding and breadcrumbs blocks, as we don’t really need them.
We use the bodyclass block to set Bootstrap’s bg-light, as we did in the frontend template.
We use the extrastyle block to embed Bootstrap, and some CSS code.
a. Okay, #header, .breadcrumbs { display: none; } is something of a restatement of number 3; but it’s useful to know you can disable the branding and breadcrumbs sections both ways.
b. There can be some issues when overlapping Bootstrap with Django’s CSS in the admin, so these are some fixes.
Use the bodyheader and bodyfooter blocks to wrap the admin content.

Now that we have access to the admin template, we could further its style sheet, or just leave it at that with a shared style with the main UI.


We’re maintaining two different templates (main UI and admin) to do essentially the same presentation. Admittedly, this isn’t ideal, as we’re explicitly breaking one of the maxims of software development: don’t repeat yourself (DRY).

As we commented, this is because the Django admin has been designed to be detached from the main UI. And there’s nothing wrong with that, just as there isn’t anything wrong with thinking out of the box. But yes, that forces us to use two templates with nearly the same content.

Actually, in principle we could design a template pattern that included that navbar and other common elements from the main UI and the admin, and reuse them from that single source; but at this point, and for the purpose of this article, that approach would be a little overkill. Anyway, I’ll leave the idea planted for you. 😉

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50 Cool 3D Street Art & Murals, Vol. 4

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Creativity can be expressed in many different forms, and one of the most powerful form of public art is the street art. However, nowadays, street artists are working in certain unconventional forms…

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