Deal: Huge Discount on Samantha Craft Font

Laura Worthington is one of the new generation of type designers who are rewriting the rules of type foundries. Her beautiful lettering and professionally crafted fonts have made her one of the most popular type designers working today.

One of her best-known, and most-loved type families is Samantha, a bright and cheery font family based on slick pen lettering. The consistent rhythm and the open shapes create a surprisingly readable font with a touch of 1950s glamor.

Until now, Samantha has only been suitable for a restricted set of uses. That’s because the design features fine lines, which can be lost at smaller sizes, or lower resolutions.

So we were delighted to discover Samantha Craft, a brand new reworking of Samantha that radically increases the font’s usability. Samantha Craft features the same beautiful lines as the rest of the Samantha family, but the thickness of the strokes has been carefully increased to make Samantha Craft far more versatile.

Thanks to Samantha Craft’s thicker strokes, the font can be used at smaller sizes without the details being lost. You can use Samantha Craft on lower quality paper, even newsprint. The name “Craft” is a tribute to the crafters who use die-cutting machines, and the extra thickness on the strokes makes cutting out and weeding far easier too.

With wedding season just a few months away, Samantha Craft is a great choice for those invitations. It’s also a great option for clothes labels, or even restaurant menus.

We liked Samantha Craft so much that our sister-site, MightyDeals.com, has arranged a huge deal on it. You can get Samantha Craft for just $17, that’s a 77% discount on the $75 RRP!

But that’s not all! If you buy before February 3rd, you’ll get an even mightier 84% discount, that’s the Samantha Craft font for just $12.

Not only that, but the MightyDeals deal includes Samantha Frames, an exclusive set of decorative elements to extend the font.

Jump over to MightyDeals to grab this awesome deal today.

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8 Ways to Shipwreck Your Next 
Website Design

Ahoy Mateys! You’ve probably noticed lately that your website is looking a little worse for wear. What she needs is a bit more than fair skies and wind in her sails. She needs a redesign, something that’ll bring her into the modern age and truly make her a jewel of the digital sea.

But how do you even get started? The last thing you want to do is try and navigate a redesign without a plan in place.

There are countless articles out there telling you what to do. Instead, we wanted to give you some tips on what not to do. Follow the tips below to ensure your users will “jump ship” without hesitation:

1. Redesigning for all the Wrong Reasons

One of the best reasons to go beyond scrubbin’ the decks of your website is because your competitors are. From a seamless shopping cart to compelling, engaging content, there’s nothing like seeing your competitor’s redesigned website to show you how stale and outdated your own site is. It doesn’t even matter why they did it, just that they did. And now you have to keep up.

2. Make it All About You

This is your company website, so make sure you tell customers all about how great your business is. Some might caution you toward making the copy too “company-focused”, but who else is going to sing your praises? Your competitors certainly aren’t! Your redesign needs to leave absolutely no doubt as to how amazing you are, so use every square inch of space to tell customers about it.

3. Let Them Figure it Out

People looking for stuff on the web love searching. Why else do you think Google is so popular? To help them out, make sure your site search is as slow and inaccurate as possible. You want to keep people on your site longer? Make them work for it!

Same goes for navigation. By laying everything out in a nice, neat, coherent order, you just make them find what they need faster and leave. You want them to spend as much time as possible sifting through every page to get to where they’re going. If you can throw in some loud, auto-play videos or pop up ads, so much the better!

4. Worry About the Technology Later

You don’t need to know how a ship runs to navigate on the open sea. All you need is wind in your sails and a fire in your belly. Same goes for website technology. SEO? Integrations? CRM? CMS? Leave all that mumbo-jumbo behind. All it’s going to do is weigh you down like a lead anchor. You can figure it all out later when your site is up and running.

5. Who Cares about the Crew?

In the process of redesigning your website, you might hear about all the people you’ll need on your crew. Marketers and copywriters, programmers and social media experts. Bah! All you need is a reliable crew what can follow orders. Remember, you’re the captain here, and the last thing you want is a bunch of bilge rats scurrying around making your life difficult.

Speaking of crew, they’re all gonna have an opinion on your website. Marketing’s gonna blather on and on about optimizing this and that, while the copywriter’s going to nag about the content. You don’t need a bunch of lazy ne’er-do-wells telling you how to run your ship. Remember: feedback is another word for mutiny.

6. Mobile Users Can Walk the Plank

Some of your customers are gonna browse your website on their tiny little smartphones. That’s akin to looking at a ship through the wrong end of a spyglass! If they can’t see how big, beautiful and majestic your site is on the biggest possible screen, they can walk the plank! Ye want real users who can appreciate all the effort you’ve put into your redesign, not a bunch of scallywags attached to their smartphones.

7. Looks are all that Matter

If a customer comes across your site, you think they’re gonna ooh and aah about how fast your site search is or how easy it was to find what they were looking for? No! They don’t care about any of that. All you need to think about are the looks. Big, bold visuals are what puts the gleam in customers’ eyes. Why do you think so many stores have huge billboards and placards out front? To draw people in! And that’s exactly what your website should do, the bigger, the better.

8. Once You’ve Launched, You’re All Set!

Once your website is launched, that’s it. You can sit back and relax and let the customers start pouring in. You don’t even need to optimize — optimizing is what people do when they don’t get it right the first time, but by following this guide, you’ll have circumvented all of that, leaving your competitors in the dust!

Of course…

…if you actually follow any of this advice, you’ll be all set to sail…right into a jagged coastline.

The truth is, a solid redesign is a team effort, with carefully planned goals and a path of milestones that take advantage of both analytical data and customer preferences to create something that lends itself well to a unique and effective user experience.

By following best practices along with having a detailed understanding of what works for your specific target audience, you’ll not only attract and retain more customers, but you’ll also help ensure smooth sailing for your website.

 

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6 Ways Designers Can Avoid Infringing Intellectual Property Rights

As the managing attorney of a commercial law boutique practice, I am asked several times per week some variation of the following question:

How should I best protect my intellectual property from being stolen? Is it as simple as filling out a copyright or trademark application and paying a small fee to a do it yourself on-line service? Will that really provide sufficient protection?

What do you think?

I have set forth below a few of the many aspects of protecting your intellectual property in the United States that go beyond blindly filing such a copyright or trademark application. It is a complex area of the law, and this article does not address all of the potential issues. For example, intellectual property in the United States is protected not just by federal law (as one might expect), but in many cases, state-specific law applies (such as when dealing with trade secret or confidentiality agreements).

“Move fast and break things” is a terrific way to end up being sued

The nature of potentially protectable intellectual property ranges from the typical (such as literature, television, film and music) to the esoteric (such as clothing lines, video games and apps). Infringement can range from outright copying and use of someone else’s registered intellectual property to merely exceeding the rights granted under a license to use it.

This article should be considered only a beginning; the reader should consult counsel to address specific situations.

1. When it Comes to Intellectual Property Filings, Self-Reliance is Not a Virtue

“Move fast and break things” is a terrific way to end up being sued. It does not take a great deal of time to file a trademark or copyright incorrectly. It is actually fairly quick, painless and inexpensive. But as in all things relating to the law, the hard way is still the right way.

Simply put, you must understand why you are filling out those boxes on the form, what the ramifications of the alternatives are and what else you need to do to protect yourself beyond simply filling out the form. When filing a copyright application with the United States Copyright Office or a trademark application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, you should be asking some basic questions, including: what is protectable and what is not; are you going to infringe on someone else’s existing intellectual property; and can anyone else on your end assert that they have rights as a co-creator in what you are registering?

2. A Search of the USPTO Website for Similar Trademarks to Yours Should Not Be Relied Upon

Admittedly, the United States Patent and Trademark Office website has a search function for finding registered trademarks. But, generally speaking, that will not pick up everything a private investigation firm specializing in intellectual property matters will locate. Moreover, the database only identifies registered trademarks. That means other parties may have superior rights to yours—and potential claims against you for infringement—merely by using the mark. Accordingly, whether they have a registered mark that is searchable in the USPTO database is not the sole issue.

other parties may have superior rights to yours…merely by using the mark

However, generally speaking, although search results of any type won’t tell you when to go forward with an application, they will tell you when you should not go forward with one. In other words, if it is obvious that your application is for something that is already registered, you will know not to file your application. But the absence of a search result does not mean an absence of anything that is infringing. That is a tougher call.

3. Do Not Ignore Intellectual Property Rights Outside the United States

We are fortunate that the United States is a member of the Madrid Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Marks (commonly known as the Madrid Protocol), a means by which registration in one country can be leveraged to allow for intellectual property protection in others that are signatories to that treaty. The important point to keep in mind is that any potential infringement issue relating to use in the domestic United States must also be viewed in terms of whether there is a corresponding infringement outside the United States.

4. The Term “Quitclaim Assignment” Should Become Part of Your Vocabulary

There is a clear correlation between the number of people claiming some level of ownership of intellectual property and the value of that intellectual property. Simply put, success breeds claims for financial participation.

It is usually far better to ask someone to waive those claims before the intellectual property is actually utilized in a way that creates value. One of the problems is that it is not always clear what rights everyone has, nor what everyone is giving up.

In an ideal world, rights ownership would be discussed before any intellectual property were even created, and those rights would then be memorialized in a joint intellectual property ownership agreement, a work-for-hire agreement or other document that would establish precisely who would own what. But we do not live in that ideal world, and often the issues are ignored until the filing is about to be made. The law accounts for that as well. Believe it or not, the law generally provides for a way of assigning all right title and interest to whatever a person has, regardless of whether they know what that is. It is called a “quitclaim assignment”.

But be careful. The very request might jumpstart a discussion about royalties and licensing fees that would otherwise not have occurred

Before filing any sort of copyright or trademark application with the government, the applicant should analyze whether anyone else has a potential claim to that intellectual property. If so, every such person should sign such a quitclaim assignment, to the extent that they are willing to do so.

But be careful. The very request might jumpstart a discussion about royalties and licensing fees that would otherwise not have occurred (at least at that time). There is a school of thought that it is better to let sleeping dogs lie—I am not, by the way, of that school—instead, I would argue that, if such a discussion is even potentially on the horizon, it is better to have it earlier before time and money is expended on protecting and monetizing the intellectual property. As in all things legal, it is primarily a judgment call based upon the particulars of the given circumstances.

(This is an unusually nuanced area of the law. For example, how should one account for the fact that the assignment may later be revoked? Also, whose assignment is necessary, the company that did the work or the individual(s) in that company who handled the engagement (or both)? These are not insignificant details.)

5. A Quitclaim Assignment Should Have Certain Key Terms

It is impossible to provide a complete list of all the terms that should be included in every quitclaim assignment. For example, there are differences in what can be included in such a document that vary not only state-by-state, but also by country. However, there are a few fairly universal basics:

  • the rights that are and are not being given up, and a catch-all provision that the assignment includes even those rights that are unknown;
  • the payment or other consideration that will be provided for entering into the quitclaim assignment;
  • how disputes relating to the quitclaim assignment will be resolved e.g., through arbitration or a lawsuit; and
  • the fact that the assignor knows what they are signing (e.g., has had the right to be represented by counsel; to ask any questions; and in every respect wants to enter into the quitclaim assignment).

6. If You Do Receive a Cease and Desist Letter From Someone Asserting You Have Violated Their Intellectual Property Rights, Don’t Shoot First and Ask Questions Later

A cease and desist letter is not a lawsuit. The fact that you receive such a document simply means that someone is alleging that you have violated their intellectual property rights. It does not necessarily mean that they are prepared to file an immediate lawsuit, nor that they would win if they did so.

While every situation is different, there are a few preliminary steps that usually make sense:

  1. Determine with your counsel whether in fact you have violated the other party’s intellectual property rights.
  2. If you have, seek to open a dialogue to consider whether you can accede to their demand that you cease and desist in return for a release of liability. I hasten to add that it may not be possible to correct the infringement: the party sending the cease and desist letter may be making unreasonable demands; the determination as to whether you did or did not infringe may be arguable either way; etc. In other words, there is no one right way of handling a situation in which you have determined in your own mind that you did indeed infringe on someone else’s intellectual property rights.
  3. If you have not violated the other party’s intellectual property rights, respond to the letter in a substantive manner that sets forth why you believe you are right; the letter should leave open the possibility of further dialogue.
  4. You should retain an attorney to employ the above strategy. This comes under the heading of hoping for the best but preparing for the worst. Your attorney should author the above-referenced correspondence and discuss with you whether there are any preemptive litigation strategies you should employ. A perfect example would be the issue of whether to seek a declaratory judgment or other determination that your rights are superior before you are sued for infringement.
  5. Once you receive that cease and desist letter, you are officially “on notice” of the intellectual property holder’s asserted rights. If they have superior rights to yours and a valid claim, your continued use of the mark could put you at risk for enhanced damages based upon what is referred to as “willful infringement.” You need to evaluate immediately (ideally with legal counsel) what to do with the allegedly infringing product while you are engaging in this process. Do you continue your business and make sales while the dispute continues? Do you need to stop immediately and change everything, despite perhaps years and significant marketing spent building your brand? In answering those questions, you must keep in mind that whatever you do may have unintended consequences, such as for example, if your actions are later misinterpreted as constituting an admission that you did infringe.

Conclusion

All in all, it is critical that you not only take a challenge to your intellectual property rights seriously, but respond to it proactively. Your aim should be to anticipate what the challenge may be—to extrapolate, as it were—and head off the problem before it grows worse. I hope this article will help you start that process.

 

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Designing Mobile Websites for Voice Search

In January 2018 alone, consumers conducted over 1 billion voice searches. By 2020, it’s estimated that 30% of all online searches will take place without the use of a screen.

Needless to say, voice search is set to make serious waves in the not-so-distant future.

As more users seek out the convenience of using their voice to search online, you have to consider how this will impact mobile websites.

As of now, your main concern doesn’t need to be with designing a website that literally talks back to visitors. We have microinteractions and conversational UIs that can help with that. Instead, what you should do is consider the relationship between voice users and search.

Here are some things to think about as you approach the design of mobile websites in 2019 and beyond:

1. Place Answers to Common Queries at the Top

According to a Bright Local survey from 2018, 28% of voice users will call a business immediately after finding them in search.

So, while it’s important to have a well-designed website that appeals to local shoppers or customers, it’s just as important to get them the information they need right away. And when someone is using their phone and their voice to look up a website, chances are good they’re looking for a shortcut to get in touch.

But making a call isn’t the only kind of action a voice user might want to take in this instance. Think of other ways in which they’d want to engage with your client’s website or business:

  • To get the brick-and-mortar store’s hours of operation;
  • To find a live chat or support portal for help with a product or service;
  • To make a reservation or appointment;
  • To get information about current sales or free shipping offers.

Google/Peerless Insights provide some insights into the types of information most commonly sought out by voice users in search:

If someone has opted to use voice search over text, there’s a good chance they were trying to avoid the work of clicking and scrolling and taking other manual steps to convert. Instead, they engaged with their voice assistant or search voice widget in order to get a quick answer.

When it makes sense, place quick snippets of information in the header or navigation bar.

Take, for instance, this voice query I did for “when is the next marketing conference”:

Using this example of NEXT 2018, you can see that the answer is not provided in my search results:

However, upon opening the website, the answer is in the very top of the website:

As a voice user, I’d be mostly content with this. But I would’ve been even more thrilled if the answer showed up right in results. I’ll explain how to do that in the next two points.

2. Add Location to Your Content

When I wrote about how to design websites for a local audience, one of the things I suggested was that you localize content. This means using verbiage, visuals, and colors that resonate with residents in a certain area.

This point is especially pertinent when attempting to appeal to voice search users.

According to Bright Local, 46% of voice users searched for local businesses every day using a voice-assisted device.

If your website has been built for consumers in a specific geographical region, use this to your advantage.

  • Include the name of the region in your content and metadata;
  • Create location-specific pages when relevant;
  • Use visuals that are specific to the region;
  • Tag all images and videos with the name of the geographic area;
  • If video or audio content discusses a specific location, provide a transcription of it.

Do everything you can to ensure that voice searches for “near me” or “in [name of location]” pull up your clients’ websites first. Let me show you why this is important:

I did a side-by-side comparison between a text (left) and voice (right) search for “Find a spa in Newark, Delaware”. Already, you can see a slight discrepancy between the two search results:

Scroll down to the map and you’ll see that search results continue to differ between text and voice:

Take note of the discrepancy between the same Yelp result’s description in the text results and in the voice results. Further down on the page, I encountered a similar issue:

Yes, results continue to differ slightly, but it’s the differing descriptions of the same pages that I find the most interesting. Notice how the one on the left (text) for Massage Envy appears to be a straightforward explanation of the spa’s services while the one on the right (voice) sounds more personal. I don’t think that’s a mistake.

I’ll explain how you can provide these types of robust answers in the next point.

3. Answer Their Questions in Callouts

According to Google, 41% of voice users say that their search queries feel more like a conversation than a one-sided dialogue. As user comfort grows with this type of discourse, it’s going to affect how well your clients’ websites perform in search.

While it might not be up to you to write content that appears on the website, you certainly can frame it in a way so that it’s sure to show up in voice search results.

To start, figure out what kinds of questions the audience is most likely to ask as it pertains to your client’s business.

If you’re unsure, you can use a tool like Answer the Public to identify related questions:

Then, use KWFinder to confirm the popularity of them among your target users:

If the site has been around awhile, I’d also suggest looking at your Google Analytics data. You can find a list of search queries under: Acquisition > Search Console > Queries. You should be able to find the voice queries easily enough as they’ll sound more natural and be longer in length.

Once you’ve identified likely candidates for long-tail voice search queries, it’s time to place them in areas of your content that make sense.

To start, add them to your metadata. This is the easiest way to get your website front and center in voice search.

Also, add answers to common queries in featured boxes on your website. This’ll be beneficial to the end user in a couple ways: for one, it highlights the answer on your website and keeps voice users from having to do too much work to locate it; second, if you mark it up properly with structured data, they won’t even have to go to your website to get the information as the featured snippet will show up in voice search results.

Here’s an example from my voice search for “how do I groom my dog”:

This featured snippet from petMD actually provides me with a graphic and list of steps to take:

This helps me get started right away. It also lets me know if this is a link worth clicking into.

Further down the page, I also ran into these video clips which autoplayed (on silent):

I found this to be helpful as well since I didn’t have to waste any clicks or much time sifting through content to find my answer.

Summary

As consumers take control over how they engage with the web (i.e. predominantly using smartphones and executing more and more queries with their voice), web design must change as a result. No longer are visitors willing to sit by, passively consuming content. They want websites to respond to their queries more naturally and effectively.

And voice search optimization is going to be the way to do it.

 

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20 Freshest Web Designs, January 2019

Welcome to 2019! It’s a brand new year and there are plenty of sites taking advantage of the optimism to start afresh.

Every month we publish a guide to the freshest websites launched (or relaunched with significant new updates) in the previous 4 weeks, this is January’s edition.

The slowdown for the holiday season is well behind us now, and new projects are launching daily. With some old trends still popular, and new ideas coming through, there’s no single dominant trend, making this month’s list more diverse than ever. Enjoy!

Stockholm Design Lab

The Stockholm Design Lab is a design agency that works with high-profile brands, take a look at their client list and you’ll see several global names. As if to emphasize the depth of its practice, the site lets you explore by typing different terms. It’s an impressive way to present work.

Cure

Cure is a high-end nails and wax boutique and its site showcases the aspirational lifestyle it’s selling. The typography is fresh and engaging, the art direction is modern and carefully planned, the parallax is beautifully executed, and the underlying grid is inventive.

Goldkant Interior Köln

In 2019 you can expect to see designers looking for new ways to work with parallax. Goldkant gets it right by combining parallax with the split-screen trend. Lots of sites apply an effect like this on the home page, Goldkant uses it site-wide. Plus check out that slick animated logo.

Kalfire W53/50R

The inelegantly named Kalfire W53/50R has a site that features lots of full-screen video. Click through to the design page for more video, and the efficiency page for a detailed presentation of an extremely high-end product.

Layer

Full-screen video is going to be big in 2019 and Layer’s site is on-trend with a macroscopic view of its product range. Layer make intelligent products that form emotional connections, so their video is intimate in its approach. The whole site oozes human-centered design.

Talia Collins

The amazing Talia Collins company makes swimwear out of material regenerated from discarded fishing nets, making you look amazing on the beach this Summer, all while saving marine life. Its site does a great job of counterpointing flattering style, and a love of the water.

Without

Without is a design studio from London, UK. Its site features enviable typography, and a rigid application of UX principles. Scroll through the site to discover an impressive portfolio of case studies. If it wasn’t for the hamburger menu on desktop, this could be the perfect agency site.

Lesse

Lesse skincare products are 100% organic, cruelty free, and vegan. Its site and its branding follows the very recent trend of embracing organic feeling serif fonts—Lesse’s logo is almost Art Nouveaux—combined with the simple sans serif its a very 2019 design.

Knnox

I would, of course, never advocate smoking cigarettes (they will damage your health and that of your loved ones). But if I was a smoker, I’d want one of the brutalist brass lighters from Knnox, and it’s all thanks to the scandi-noir art direction on this site.

A&Mcreative

French creative agency A&Mcreative presents its work in typical Parisian style: understated, effortlessly cool, and probably three or four times over your budget. Compare the modest way its extraordinary client list is presented, to the way some agencies talk up their work.

OnCorps

OnCorps decision making systems use machine learning to teach themselves about human-powered decisions, and then automate them. Its site is a simple powerpoint-style scroll, but each slide features hypnotic Math-based animations.

Part Architects

The site for Part Architects, is both extraordinary, and difficult to love. The text is very hard to read, using a font that wouldn’t be out of place advertising a club night. Scroll through and the text projects along the surfaces at the extremes of the viewport. It’s bonkers, but brilliant.

Demisol

Who says work has to be boring? Demisol is a free co-working space in Brasov, Romania. Designed for hackers, designers, developers, marketers, “troublemakers and other disrupters” it’s a flamboyant site filled with energy. No doubt, much like its offices.

Fleuressence

Fleuressence is a Scottish florist that sources unusual flowers for events of all kinds. True to its product, its beautifully simple site features blocks of color that on the welcome page can be rearranged with a click. A completely original approach to this type of site.

MMK

Frankfurt’s Museum für Moderne Kunst (Museum of Modern Art) strikes the perfect balance between informational and conceptual, guiding visitors to the gallery’s three real-world locations. On top of that, they have a fascinating navigation system that’s surprisingly intuitive.

Raleigh Centros

Throwing its hat into the ring of the emerging electric bicycle market is Centros. Targeting customers who have more money than peddle power, the slick, animated site mimics tech sites like Apple, without ever straying from the tablet-friendly format that baby-boomers prefer.

Josefine Laul

Josefine Laul’s site is an exercise in Scandinavian minimalism. The Stockholm-based photographer’s work is presented as a simple set of thumbnails, clicking on them takes you through to a project page that plays with the underlying grid.

Only / Once

Only / Once is an unusual home accessories store featuring original vintage designs from some of the twentieth century’s greatest product designers. Fans of Dieter Rams, Christian Dell, and Josef Hurka, among others, will be in heaven.

Jordy van den Nieuwendijk

If you’re worn out by the ongoing design trend for light grey text, you’ll love Jordy van den Nieuwendijk’s site featuring wonderfully colorful text. His artwork’s a positive delight too.

Ruby Atelier

Ruby Atelier is a Copenhagen-based interior design consultancy that also sells mid-century objects. Its welcome page features a hypnotic, liquid effect. Grab and drag to distort the macro photography into beautiful distortions.

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Popular Design News of the Week: January 21, 2019 – January 27, 2019

Every week users submit a lot of interesting stuff on our sister site Webdesigner News, highlighting great content from around the web that can be of interest to web designers. 

The best way to keep track of all the great stories and news being posted is simply to check out the Webdesigner News site, however, in case you missed some here’s a quick and useful compilation of the most popular designer news that we curated from the past week.

Note that this is only a very small selection of the links that were posted, so don’t miss out and subscribe to our newsletter and follow the site daily for all the news.

Tracking Users with CSS

 

Guess the Most Expensive Domain Name

 

What Makes a Great Logo

 

The All-new Kirby 3.0

 

The Mistake Developers Make When Coding a Hamburger Menu

 

7 Tips to Design Faster

 

Front End Development Topics to Learn in 2019

 

Top Four Principles of Human-Centred Design

 

The Real Cost of WordPress

 

10 Year Challenge: How Popular Websites Have Changed

 

Core Banking System - a UX Case Study

 

Dark Patterns – Designs that Pull Evil Tricks on Our Brains

 

Static Site Boilerplate – A Better Workflow for Building Modern Static Websites

 

How to Design a Blog Post

 

How We Succeeded by Failing to Redesign Google Translate

 

What is UI Design?

 

7 User Research Hacks

 

UX Designer’s Identity Crisis

 

14 Places to Find the Best Font for your Brand

 

After the Reaction to Slack, I Tried to Give Designers a Better Framework to Judge Rebrands

 

The Color Gold Can Change the Way You Spend Money

 

This Font You Know from Old Pulp Novels is all Over New Books

 

Why Every Ski Trail Map Looks the Same

 

Styling a Select like it’s 2019

 

6 Handy Color Palette Picking Tools

 

Want more? No problem! Keep track of top design news from around the web with Webdesigner News.

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The Best Photoshop Alternatives for 2019

For many designers, Photoshop is the number one tool for editing images, but for many other designers, Photoshop is an expensive, bloated, and inefficient tool.

In the last few years, the number of apps coming to market and taking a bite out of Photoshop’s fanbase has grown. Photoshop has so many built-in features that few apps can match them all. But few designers need them all. The key to finding a good alternative to Photoshop is finding an app that matches what you want to use Photoshop for.

Today, we’re going to look at the best alternatives to Photoshop for 2019, for a variety of purposes. If you haven’t thought about switching tools for a while, then you might be surprised by what’s available.

Affinity Photo

Mac & Windows. $49.99 (one-time fee)

Perfect for: Image editing

Affinity Photo is one of the highest rated image editing apps on the market. Its UI will be familiar to anyone who’s used Photoshop in the past, but it is much faster. In fact, Affinity Photo is so performant that designers who are used to Photoshop often report missing the changes that are applied to the artwork, because they expected to see a progress bar ticking across the screen.

Affinity Photo is the professional’s choice of image editor. If you’re currently using Photoshop to edit photos, then Affinity Photo is the streamlined, full-featured app that you’re looking for.

Sketch

Mac only. $99.99 (annual subscription)

Perfect for: UI Designers

The best known, and original challenger for Photoshop’s crown is Sketch. Despite not being aimed at photo editing, Sketch has absorbed thousands of ex-Photoshoppers by focusing on user interface design tools.

If you’re using Photoshop to design layouts, then Sketch is the Photoshop alternative you’re looking for. On the other hand, if you’re keen on pushing pixels around, then Sketch might not be for you. Sketch is for designers working with vectors, but if you’re able to restrict your editing to basic actions like adjusting hues, saturation, brightness, or scale, then Sketch could be a good choice.

PhotoLab

Mac & Windows. €129 (approx $145) (one-time fee)

Perfect for: Photo editing

With so many Photoshop alternatives focusing on design, it’s a relief to uncover an application that’s aimed at editing photos. Little known, but multi-award winning application PhotoLab rivals or even beats Photoshop for its precision editing capabilities and correction tools.

PhotoLab includes optical corrections, and industry-leading denoising technology freeing you up to shoot at night, in low-light conditions, or with high ISO values, and still end up with a sweet looking image. Everything from optical correction to selections can be switched from automatic to manual. If you’re someone who values complete control over the tiniest details in your images, then you’ll want to check out PhotoLab.

Pixlr X

Mac, Windows, & Linux. $0

Perfect for: Quick edits

Pixlr is always on the top of any list of free Photoshop alternatives, but the old Pixlr has been deprecated (owing to the fact that it was built with Adobe Flash).

New for 2019 is Pixlr X, a next generation photo editor that works in the browser, enabling photo editing in the same carefully designed interface on any device. And because it works in the browser, it’s compatible with Mac, Windows, & Linux.

Pixlr X has tons of features that are great for bloggers, and marketers. You can even edit photos directly within Dropbox. Professional photographers used to tools like PhotoLab may find it a little lacking, but if you just need to make some fast edits, it’s an app to keep bookmarked.

Figma

Mac, Windows, & Linux. From $12 (monthly subscription)

Perfect for: Collaborative design

One of the most innovative applications on this list is Figma. Figma is less of an image editor than a design application, but if Sketch qualifies, then so does Figma. Figma offers pro UI design just like Sketch, but Figma also provides prototyping and collaborative design.

There’s a free plan, but if you want to collaborate with more than one other person, then you need the Professional subscription. All design work takes place in the browser instead of a desktop app, and you can see the other person’s input playing out live on screen.

If you’re looking for a Photoshop alternative that improves your workflow with others, you’ll find Figma to be a great choice.

Pixelmator Pro

Mac only. $39.99 (one-time fee)

Perfect for: Plugin fans

One of the newest tools on the market, Pixelmator Pro is one of the most feature-rich apps on this list. Layer-based, and non-destructive, it’s a really easy app to get creative with. If you’ve built up a large collection of Photoshop brushes or actions over the years, then Pixelmator Pro might be the app you’re looking for because it comes pre-installed with lots of brushes, textures, and effects.

Pixelmator Pro is still in the early stages of its lifecycle, but it already looks like a mature application. It’s even found space for machine learning and touch bar support, to make your image editing more intuitive.

PHOTO-PAINT

Windows only. $599.99 (one-time fee) or $199.99 (annual subscription)

Perfect for: Windows users

PHOTO-PAINT is the photo editing component in Corel’s CorelDRAW Graphics Suite. It’s one of the more expensive options on this list. You also get a whole lot more than just a photo editor, CorelDRAW is less an alternative to Photoshop than to the whole of Adobe Creative Cloud. It’s a big investment, but there’s a free trial if you’d like to try before you buy.

PHOTO-PAINT is one of the few professional options that is only available on Windows, and it’s ideal for anyone that is looking a premium alternative to Photoshop, and doesn’t work on Mac.

Krita

Mac, Windows, & Linux. $0

Perfect for: Digital painters

One of the tools most commonly recommended as a direct replacement for Photoshop is Krita. Its UI is very similar to Photoshop’s, with a familiar set of tools. If you’re trying to ween yourself off Photoshop, Krita is an smart alternative.

Where Krita beats other free apps is with support for drawing tablets. If you treat Photoshop as a digital canvas for creating original artwork, then Krita could be the replacement you’re looking for. It even supports the WEBP format, making it a serious contender for web designers too.

GIMP

Mac, Windows, & Linux. $0

Perfect for: Budget-conscious designers

GIMP (which stands for GNU Image Manipulation Program) is a free, image editor. Using GIMP feels like using a version of Photoshop from 15 years ago. Compared to some of the apps on this list there’s a lot of functionality missing, but GIMP is open source, so if you can code you can add any feature you want.

If you’re thinking of allocating your budget to something like Sketch or Pixelmator Pro, but you still need a good photo editing application, then GIMP could be the answer you’re looking for.

SumoPaint

Mac, Windows, & Linux. $0

Perfect for: Newbies

If you’re new to the world of image editing, then you may never have tried Photoshop, in which case, an app like SumoPaint is just perfect for you.

SumoPaint is a popular, free app, that boasts over 30 million users worldwide and was selected by Google’s edu platform as a featured application for Chrome Books. The UI is very similar to older versions of Photoshop, so it’s a great tool for getting into photo editing.

 

Featured Image via Unsplash.

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7 Ways to Sell Words Online

If a picture is worth a thousand words, a lot of photographers aren’t getting paid enough. When a writer actually manages to build a business for themselves…well let’s just say we do okay. Most of us don’t get rich, but we do okay. WDD and others are good to me. I’ve been lucky enough that I’ve been able to sell my words online, and make a living from it.

I recently re-designed my online writer’s portfolio (well, I’m still iterating), and it’s gotten me to think real hard about that: selling words online. Almost any other product can be sold with imagery, and some of them pretty much couldn’t be sold without some photos in the equation. But words? Words can be sold with just words; though images are often included.

I thought it could be useful to other designers and writers out there to see how some of the successful writers do it, so I went looking for examples. Here they are.

Note: I’m more interested in their strategy than I am in the originality or technical side of their site design, so this isn’t much of a web design showcase. You will see more than a few themes in here.

Nicole Fenton

Nicole Fenton seems to believe as much as I do that, ideally, words should sell themselves. Typography is the clear focus of the layout, with only a couple of light stylistic flourishes by way of distraction.

The sales strategy follows the design: less is more. There are perhaps four whole paragraphs on the entire site that you could classify as “sales copy”, and the rest just shows off her work.

Shawn Graham

Shawn Graham’s site, on the other hand, will remind you of every marketer who ever annoyed you, and it probably works for him. The design looks like a WordPress theme, with a logo ripped straight from Web 2.0 (the design style, not the social networking).

The strategy is a classic: the blog. It’s filled with helpful advice about a variety of marketing-related topics, and strives to educate its users while showing off Shawn’s expertise.

Sally Bacchetta

Sally Bacchetta’s site looks as corporate as they come, right down to the cut-out picture of her with the faint white glow around the edges. It could not possibly look any more plain and businesslike.

This actually is the idea, here. She writes and designs instructional and training materials for corporate clients, and so both the site’s design and her copy reflect this unerringly. It might look dull to some, but it will look comfortable and familiar to her ideal clients.

Michael Petrov

Michael Petrov’s site is quite minimalist, but makes use of heavy, and almost heavy-handed animation. At this point, though, that’s par for the course with portfolio-style sites, and we’ll see that style leak from the web design industry to every other industry where making an online portfolio might be appropriate.

Now I can’t read French, but imagery is clearly a part of the sales process, here. It’s all custom illustration with light animation, so it’s designed to fit the theme of the author’s work, and many of the illustrations seem to be paired with a quote. It seems the book being promoted is itself a fusion of both literary and visual art, so the site follows its lead.

Clare Barry

Clare Barry’s site is built with Squarespace, so it looks predictably modern, clean, and generally pleasing to the eye. There’s decent typography, a solid grid-based layout, everything you’d expect.

Clare Barry, it seems, has opted for a fairly classic approach: sell via personality. Where many sites on this list have a picture of the author somewhere, this one puts her front and center, smiling for the world to see.

Much of her work seems to stem from her own experience, and deals with personal issues like work/life balance, burnout, and wellbeing. Personal subject matter means you have to put some effort into selling the person, so it makes sense, and she hired a good photographer.

Cyrus Vanover

Cyrus Vanover’s site is built with Divi, and is very clearly targeted at fairly traditional clients. The design itself isn’t going to blow any minds, but it’s clearly designed to make you start reading, already.

You see, the idea here is to show you how persuasive the author’s writing is by exposing you to that persuasiveness first hand. I wouldn’t call it a hard sell so much as simply putting the proof out where you can see it. The writing samples are almost incidental: the portfolio site is the portfolio piece.

Kristi Hines

Kristi Hines’ writing portfolio uses a pre-made WordPress theme that has a flair for the dramatic. There’s the color palette that makes full use of almost-harsh contrast, combined with a clean and modern style. Even so, it’s nice and readable.

The sales tactics used are actually a bit of a hybrid system. There’s the blog, the “what-I-do” copy, and so on. But the home page really doubles down on the social proof. There are prominently featured testimonials, a huge collection of famous brands she’s worked for, the works. She’s not just a writer, she’s a social marketer, and she can prove it.

She’s also a photographer, and she includes her photos on her site, though I don’t think that’s a part of the service. Just an interesting tidbit.

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Unofficial Pantone Color for 2020 Revealed

Every December the color categorizing company Pantone nominates one of its colors as a hue for the next 12 months. The act is intended to create positivity around messages such as the environment, gender equality, and current affairs. But the color for 2019 has raised hackles in some quarters.

2019’s official color is named Living Coral, and it’s a nice idealized shade of red coral under blue water.

The controversy, according to Jack and Huei—a Melbourne-based design agency—is that Pantone’s choice glosses over the devastation being inflicted on coral by climate change. The agency, run by Jack Railton-Woodcock and Huei Yin Wong, is particularly concerned with the loss of coral around their native Australia, not least the decline of the Great Barrier Reef. The duo describe Pantone’s choice as “tone-deaf, and downright irresponsible”.

Not satisfied with simply boycotting Pantone’s choice for 2019, the pair set about subverting the decision with their proposed color for next year:

It’s the responsibility of all of us, creative or otherwise, to find creative solutions to big problems, and right now there aren’t many problems facing humanity that are bigger than climate change.

Jack and Huei searched through their Pantone swatches to uncover #F0F6F7, a very pale blue that matches the color of the skeletal stems of coral that are revealed as coral is killed off in a process known as bleaching. Then they dubbed the hue Bleached Coral, and hijacked Pantone’s branding to propose the color for next year’s selection:

This is an issue we care about deeply and we think the creative industry has an opportunity to bring this global issue from the depths of the ocean to the surface of our screens.

Pantone’s announcement at the end of 2018, was seen by many as a blinkered decision. Jack and Huei’s guerrilla design protest is part of a wider trend of designers using their craft to tackle serious social issues. It’s unlikely that Pantone will embrace this suggestion, but the trend for an ethical, politicized design world is set to continue long into 2020.

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Boost UX with Ipapi’s Geolocation

One of the must-have technologies for sites in 2019 will be geolocation. Not only does geolocation help with security, and legal compliance, but it also improves customer experience—one of the key metrics in turning a profit online.

Geolocation has a number of core benefits for businesses but the real benefit is in personalized content. Transforming an anonymous visit into a lasting customer relationship is the aim of all good sites, and that’s arrived at with user experiences crafted around the user’s real world situation. Geolocation is the best way of determining a user’s preferred currency, their language, even their legal status.

ipapi is one of the simplest geolocation services to use, and as a bonus, it’s one of the cheapest too because for many businesses, it’s free to use.

Why Use Geolocation?

Geolocation isn’t just about tracking data, it’s about improving customer experience and delivering the most personalized UX possible. Almost all Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) and websites benefit from accurately matching user sessions to real world locations. Whether you want to run an ad campaign, offer variable shipping rates, or just make folks feel at home, it all starts with recognizing where they’re from.

Tailoring a shopping experience based on geographic location has been proven time and again to increase customer engagement

Compare customers in Alaska and Florida. It’s highly unlikely that an Alaskan would be shopping for an electric fan in December, and it’s equally unlikely that a Floridian would be shopping for an electric heater in July. By customizing a product page for different locations, we can respond to user’s intentions. Tailoring a shopping experience based on geographic location has been proven time and again to increase customer engagement, boost your conversion rate and keep customers coming back for more.

One of the best uses of geolocation is to give users correct office hours. Lots of customers still like to speak to a human being on the end of a phone line, especially if something goes wrong with an order. Geolocation allows you to adjust the office hours you display so that East coast customers don’t call before your office opens, and West coast customers don’t call after it closes.

Being able to accurately identify the location of your users is increasingly a must have requirement for PWAs and websites. It’s never safe to rely on any geolocation service entirely, there are all kinds of reasons it could return false data, such as people vacationing overseas, or traveling to a different territory for business. Geolocation should only be used as a default, and users should have the option to change their location manually, but it’s a great place to start. Take GDPR for example, lots of businesses have fallen foul of the EU’s privacy laws, but ipapi lets you identify if people are residing in the EU, ensuring you stay on the right side of the regulations.

Why Use ipapi?

There are lots of geolocation lookup services available on the web, and many offer competitive pricing and simple setup. Where ipapi beats the field is with the quality of the data it returns. Any geolocation lookup service is only as good as the data it supplies, and ipapi maintains partnerships with some of the world’s largest ISPs, giving it data accuracy that other IP lookup services can only dream of.

Trusted by over 30,000 businesses globally, ipapi delivers the best data available

Trusted by over 30,000 businesses globally, ipapi delivers the best data available, helping web teams design the best possible user experience for customers, by tailoring content to each user’s expectations.

ipapi is built on a scaleable infrastructure, which means that no matter if you’re handling a few requests each month, or millions of requests every day, the service will promptly return the data you need. Because of this, it’s the perfect geolocation service for developers and startups, who need to make a few calls at first, but hope to be handling millions very soon. The cloud infrastructure can rapidly handle any volume of requests, so whether you’re catering to 12 people or 1.2 million, your codebase will keep working as intended.

Getting Started with ipapi

Integrating your PWA or website with ipapi is a cinch. You can connect to the API with a number of popular coding languages from PHP to JS. The data is fed back as XML or JSON as you prefer.

It’s insanely simple to get started with ipapi, here’s how:

Step 1. Sign up for a free account with ipapi and grab your API Access Key (it’s a long string of numbers and letters that tells ipapi who’s accessing the API).

Step 2. Build a URL starting with the API address:

http://api.ipapi.com/

Next, add the IP address you want to query:

http://api.ipapi.com/167.75.23.18

Then, add your access key:

http://api.ipapi.com/167.75.23.18?access_key=YOUR_ACCESS_KEY

(Make sure you replace YOUR_ACCESS_KEY, with your actual access key.)

Open up that URL in your browser and you’ll get back these details:

It couldn’t be simpler!

Now you’re ready to integrate however you choose. The simplest way is via Ajax using a library like jQuery.

In addition to this simple setup, ipapi provides a ton of optional parameters for customizing your request, such as whether to receive the response in JSON or XML formats.

It’s a simple system that will have you up and running in minutes.

Choosing ipapi

ipapi is free for the first 10,000 requests each and every month. If you need more requests than that, premium plans start from just $10. But think about how many requests 10,000 actually is. How many of your stable of sites bust that ceiling? It’s unlikely that most small businesses will ever need more than 10,000 requests, which means you could be using one of the best geolocation services on the web, for absolutely nothing.

The only thing to be wary of is that only the premium plans enable https. Something to keep in mind if you’re delivering a secure site, or relying on SSL for an SEO boost.

The free forever account is also limited, not just to the number of lookups, and http, but to the amount of support you can request, and the variety of data you can retrieve. Once you move into the premium options unlimited support is included, and as well as location data you can identify currency, timezones, and connection data.

Get started with geolocation for free, by signing up for a free forever trial account with ipapi, and get your first 10,000 requests each month free of charge.

 

[– This is a sponsored post on behalf of ipapi –]

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